Mobile UX Guideline: For Every Animation, an Equal and Opposite Gesture

It started with small, optional interactions like swipe menus and pull-to-refresh — things without which a user could get by. But more and more apps are relying on gestures beyond the tap for their primary interactions. Flingable cards, edge swipes, and draggable side menus are now the norm, and that norm continues to evolve.

In the short term, this creates confusion as patterns conflict and change. But that’s the inevitable cost of progress in a relatively new space. Over time things will settle down; and while it would be premature to codify human interface standards, we can start to write some guidelines. Here’s my first, inspired by Newton’s Third Law of Motion

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Think Your App Is Beautiful? Not Without User Experience Design

Lately, every app is “beautiful”. If you read tech news, you’ve seen this pageant: Beautifulcharts and graphs. Beautiful stories. Beautiful texting. Beautiful notebooks. Beautiful battery information.

Aspiring to beauty in our designs is admirable. But it doesn’t guarantee usability, nor is it a product or marketing strategy. Like “simple” and “easy” before it, “beautiful” says very little about the product. How many people, fed up with PowerPoint, cry out in frustration, “If only it were more beautiful”?

Read the rest at Smashing Magazine →

A Smart Watch I’d Actually Wear

oprj-watchI’ve started wearing a watch again. I was sick of fishing my phone out of my jeans just to see the time. I also missed the opportunity for self-expression that comes with a piece of jewelry.

So I bought a Cadence 4-Bit two years ago, and have been wearing it ever since…long enough that I feel naked without it. It suits me stylistically, and I love that it’s secretly geeky.

Today, “smart watches” are the talk of the tech world.

Read the rest at Medium →

So Much Information, So Little Space: Evolving Emu’s UX


In 2012, I missed a meeting. The founder of a well-known tech company had emailed me, asking to meet up. We’d picked a time, scheduled it, and…I’d forgotten to put it on my calendar. By the time I realized, it was too late.

I’ll never know why this tech celebrity wanted to chat. Add it to the list of embarrassing moments that bubble up to the surface when my guard is down.

This has happened to me more than once — and, I suspect, to you as well.
Not every problem has a technological solution. But I couldn’t help thinking this one did. Read the rest at Medium →

Brutal Honesty Doesn’t Work


Everyone hates corporate politics. They waste time, energy, and resources. They’re just plain infuriating.

What if we could avoid politics entirely? Today’s tech entrepreneurs, accelerators, and investors are doing just that. They’re replacing messy politics with “brutal honesty.” In the words of’s AJ Agrawal,

When you join an accelerator, feelings get left at the door and functionality rules the day. If you can’t take the critical heat, you may think twice about stepping foot [sic] into the Accelerator kitchen.

These techies are sidestepping the emotional “squishiness” that dictates we be nice to each other, that requires us to tiptoe around each other’s feelings. This is a more rational, efficient, and effective approach to business.

There’s just one problem: this view is delusional.

Continue reading at Medium →

Hatching Emu: Making Technology That’s Actually Helpful

hatching-emuA year ago, I teamed up with my co-founder, Gummi Hafsteinsson, to found Emu. Our mission: make technology into the labor-saving device we always meant it to be, by building a smart, contextual assistant into everyday tasks. We started with texting, and launched Emu for Android last month. An iPhone version is just around the corner. Though our story is still being written, we’re pysched to start telling it.

When we first created Emu, we didn’t set out to build a messaging app. Our passion is both simpler and broader: creating products that simplify people’s lives. And for the past decade or so we’ve been convinced the answer lies in a marriage between great user experience and really smart technology. That’s why we’re so excited about Emu: both of us are product people, but Gummi’s background is steeped in machine learning and natural language processing, while Dave’s is in UX and design.

How do you simplify through technology? Take daily tasks; analyze and understand them; and reduce the effort required to complete them. (Maybe add some beauty and delight along the way.) We succeed, not when you’re mesmerized by our app, but when you can put your phone away two minutes sooner and get back to your life. Or when you feel more organized and in control because our product helped you get there.

Continue reading on the Emu blog →