Interaction design is a different kind of design

Road crossing a ranch with trees and mountains on the background a few animals to the left and a few human-made structures to the right like a hut a barn and fences. This is just a cool picture of where I live and is not really relevant for the article.

The brilliant author and observer, Scott Berkun (@berkun), asked (on Twitter) the provocative question:

What is the greatest design lesson you’ve ever learned?

There were many varied replies, and I finally weighed in with my answer:

The design of the behavior of digital systems is not at all the same…


If you love a design tool, set it free

Yesterday, on a video conference call, I gave a presentation to more than a thousand people around the world. I was billed prominently as “The inventor of Design Personas.” Afterwards, several people pointed out that I never once talked about personas. I didn’t even say the word. …


These are the books I read in the past year

As usual, I read lots of books this year. Some of them were fun and frivolous while others were as serious as a heart attack. Welcome to 2020, the year of breakdown.

It pleases me to find plenty of women authors on my list, and several of the best books…


A new story and an old story

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who pointed a pistol and an assault weapon at peaceful protesters in St. Louis last June, have filed suit against a news photographer who snapped their rumpled likenesses. The picture went viral and they instantly became an internet meme.

I can only hope that…


A serene view of a placid pond with a woman sitting on the end of a wooden dock, gazing at the waterbirds swimming.

Why your company’s actions seem counterproductive

I have this recurring vision of tech practitioners as skilled origami experts, trying to fold paper into clever and graceful swans while their house is fully engulfed in flames. As quickly as they create the little paper animals they burst into flame. …


Even weapons. Especially weapons.

On 5 December 2001, an American Army Special Forces team entrenched Taliban soldiers outside Kandahar, Afghanistan, ordered an air strike against their foes. A waiting B-52 bomber responded quickly, dropping a single 2,000-pound precision-guided bomb. The huge bomb fell with digital precision directly on top of the American Special Forces…


The Band-Aid of UX

Software designers often speak of “finding the right metaphor” upon which to base their interface design. They imagine that rendering their user interface in images of familiar objects from the real world will provide a pipeline to automatic learning by their users. So they render their user interface as an…


Tech practice in a post-capitalist world.

Corporations pay tech practitioners to focus their attention on tactical minutia, so when we are not heads-down slinging code or spinning wireframes, we’re heads-down debating the efficacy of various languages, design systems, or whether agile is a cult or a religion. I think it’s time for us to lift our…


Books I’ve read in 2019

Here are all of the books I read last year, presented roughly in chronological order. For some reason I read fewer books this year than I have in past years. Then again, more of them were by women, so that’s good.

1. Slöjd in Wood, by Jögge Sundqvist (2018)

One half of sloyd is a discipline of woodworking…


A purely aspirational litany.

Imagine a medium…

Whose essence is pure thought.
That is constructed purely from the arrangement of logic and intention.
That is completely invisible.
That is insanely complex.
That is composed of millions of extremely simple components arranged in fantastically complex ways.
That unlike things built from atoms, it has “behavior” in addition to function.
That doesn’t have to obey…

Alan Cooper

Ancestry Thinker, Software Alchemist, Regenerative Rancher

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