Bots: Conversation is More Than Text

What goes up must come down. A few months ago, chatbots were The Future of Everything. Forget the web, forget app stores. The Time of the Bot was at hand.

Now, it’s allegedly all over — with many in the media suggesting bots are just the latest round of empty Silicon Valley hype.

Thankfully, some of the dialogue is less extreme. After all, nothing is the future of everything; perhaps what we need is a little nuance. Bots captured our imagination with good reason. Before we write them off, let’s explore these issues and their implications.

Does the problem lie in our insistence that bots be conversational? Continue reading on Medium →

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

Continue reading on Medium →

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 →