Mental Health Design Guidelines

There are over 500 apps available to consumers that promise everything from relieving symptoms of depression to “curing” bipolar disorder. They are minimally regulated, and while some are fantastic, many others inadvertently hurt the very people they are trying to help.

Although designers want to help, many don’t have the basic information they need to successfully create an application for people with mental health disorders.

Enter Mad*Pow: my colleague Jen Smerdel and I have been conducting research into the intersection of mental health and UX design. As a first step in sharing our research, we’ve created an infographic to help design for mental health.

Use it. Share it. Spread the word.



The Role of Requirements

I worked on a recent project with very enthusiastic stakeholders. They were very hands on, and we had many long discussions to come to consensus and take in feedback. Plus, they loved the design recommendations, they were on board with the content strategy, and as a result they kept our team on as partners well into development. However, as development went on the implementation of our design didn’t quite match our expectations. Over time, larger and larger issues became apparent, and by the time the dev team was ready for launch, we designers and strategists were feeling disillusioned about the entire process.

What went wrong? Continue Reading


Transitioning to UX

One of the best questions to get to know a fellow UX-er is “what was your major?” The answers are often unexpected, and tell you more about the person you’re speaking with, as well as more about the field of UX.

My answer, of course, is theater. For most people, this sounds like the exception to the rule. But there is no content strategy major. Not even a major that “most” content strategists studied in college.

Everyone finds their own way to UX. My story is just one example, one possible journey. Continue Reading


There’s no Wrong Way to Convey Information (except when there is)

Videos, infographics, articles, Facebook posts… we have so many ways to share information at this point. I firmly believe that the medium, channel, and content type should be determined by the user’s needs or behaviors. For example, emails are likely to be more successful than video when the user is likely to be in an office. This is more informative than making decisions based on stakeholder interests. With that in mind, I’ve written before about the value of steering clear of “let’s make videos” and instead thinking “let’s explain how to build a treehouse” and then choosing the best method for conveying that information.

Similarly, when focusing on UI, there are numerous interactions we can choose from. Our job as user experience practitioners and content strategists is to find, test, and finesse the best content medium or interaction to convey the information.

But sometimes there’s more than one two best way to convey something. What do you do then? Continue Reading


How to Write Useful UX Articles

As the managing editor at UX Booth, I see a lot of article submissions. Over the years, I’ve started to get a sense for whether or not an article will be relevant and valuable for UX practitioners. Only it’s not “a sense.” It’s actually an observation of patterns, and one I apply to articles I find and personally read in addition to those we publish on UX Booth.

With that in mind, here’s a quick list of tips for how to write compelling and useful articles for the UX community. While this article is by no means comprehensive, it is a guide I hope will be handy and perhaps amusing – and if I’m lucky, fellow authors will find it both relevant and valuable. Continue Reading


Small Destructions Everywhere

I’ve talked before about my favorite talk of all time, Mike Montiero’s How Designers Destroyed the World, which starts with a terrifying and impactful story. The story boils down to this: a young woman in college joined the LGBTQ choir. Her choir leader added her to the group’s Facebook page, and Facebook automatically shared her joining the group on her Newsfeed. However, the young woman had not come out to her family yet, and her extremely religious community at home sent her hate mail.

The moral of the story is that we, as designers, need to consider not only the best case scenarios, but also the worst case, the edge cases, the stress cases, etc.

When Montiero first gave this talk, audiences were wowed. The idea that we, as designers, might cause harm rather than good was frightening and unexpected. However, I fear that in the years since then we’ve begun to see stories like this as “other,” the sort of nightmare that happens to someone else – not to us. Continue Reading


Designer Biases

When new technology comes into being, there are often two radical beliefs that spring up:

  1. That new technology will corrupt our youth and irreversibly damage our society
  2. That new technology will create a utopian society of equality and opportunity for all

The two beliefs are reflected as far back in time as Socrate’s day, when he feared that writing would erode memory (it has, in part) and ruin society (it hasn’t, I personally believe). It is mirrored in reactions to the industrial revolution, the telegraph and then the telephone, and most recently, the Internet.

While we hear a lot about the first belief, brought mostly out of fear, today I’m more interested in the second: Utopianism via technology. Continue Reading