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Best Articles of Medium in 2015 as a Free Ebook


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Includes 190 stories of 116 writers such as Ryan Hoover, Gary Vaynerchuk, Stewart Butterfield, Tobias van Schneider, Jason Fried, DHH, Addy Osmani...

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Best Articles of Medium in 2015 as a Free Ebook

  2. 2. Best Articles of Medium In 2015
  3. 3. Created by Levent Aşkan and Ansın Öztürkmen. #raow ( Random Act of Wowers )
  4. 4. This is a small section - You can reach the complete book at
  5. 5. This e-book is a compilation of most recommended articles of Medium written in 2015, ordered by their tags and given expressive permission. Gifs and videos are converted to still images. This project is created without any affiliations or involvements from Medium.
  6. 6. Useful Tips - You can click on the picture of the writer, if you want to follow him/her at - You can go to the relevant section on the table of contents by clicking the tag of the story, placed on the top right corner of the every stories' first page. -
  7. 7. Thanks to all writers for their great stories and permissions! .io, Aaron Z. Lewis, Addy Osmani, Aleš Nešetřil, Alexander Klöpping, Andrew Merle, Arthur Attwell, Ayasin, Ben Wheeler, Beth Dean, Beth Steinberg, Bianca Bass, Bibblio, Bram Kenstein, Brandon Chu, Brian Nelson, Camile Seaman, Chase Bratton, Cheri Winterberg, Christophe Limpalair, Corbett Barr, Courtney Symons, Dakota Shane Nunley, Dan Edwards, Danah Boyd, Daniel Rakhaminov, Darin Dimitroff, Dave Pell, David Ams, David Barnes, David Byttow, DHH, Diogenes Brito, Eden Wiedemann, Emma Kelly, Eric Clemmons, Erik K., Gabriel Tomescu, Gary Vaynerchuk, Greg Isenberg, Gustavo Tanaka, Hector L. Carral, Hugh Mcguire, Ignatius N., Intercom, Jacob Laukaitis, Jasmine Friedl, Jason Fried, Jason Zook, Joe Birch, John Metta, Jon Westenberg, Jonas Ellison, Josh Puckett, Jowita Ziobro, Jozef Toth, Kamil Stanuch, Karim Boubker, Kasey Studdard, Kati Krause, Katja Bak, Kenny Chen, Kushal Dave, Lauren Holliday, Marc Eglon, Marie Poulin, Mark Jenkins, Matt Bond, Matt Sydeworks, Mattan Griffel, Matthieu Aussaguel, Meng To, Micah Daigle, Michael Wong, Mike Monteiro, Mitchell Harper, Muzli, Nathan Creswell, Nick Jack Pappas, Nikkel Blaase, Nitesh Goel, Niv Dror, Noah Weiss, Nora Levinson, Onur Oral, Pasquale D’Silva, Paul Malan, Pawel Bialecki, Philip Kaplan, Rafael Zoehler, Raghav Haran, Ross Hsu, Ryan Hoover, Ryan Sheffer, Sam Grittner, Sandra Nam, Sarah Knight, Sarah McBride, Scott Bateman, Scott Santens, Sebastian Gabriel, Stephanie Engle, Steven Fabre, Stewart Butterfield, Susie Pan, Thomas Degry, Thomas Oppong, Tiago Forte, Tobias van Schneider, Todd Brison, Tomas Laurinavicius, UnCollege, Vince Speelman, Wojtek Skalski. Also for their great support to us in design and editing: Aydın Özen, Murat E., Onur Tuna, Onur Yavuz.
  8. 8. Contents Design / UX / UI / Design Thinking 14 Introducing Material Design Lite -- Addy Osmani 21 What If We Could Medium Articles As a Podcast -- Aleš Nešetřil 27 Emotional Intelligence in Design -- Beth Dean 36 Google Calendar Concept -- Brian Nelson 49 Starbucks Android Material Design -- Chase Bratton 56 The Johy Ive Principle -- Daniel Rakhaminov 63 Thank You For Everything, Adobe -- Darin Dimitroff 76 Designing Data Driven Interfaces -- Erik K 90 The Anatomy of a Credit Card Form -- Gabriel Tomescu 108 Has Visual Design Fallen Flat? -- Intercom 117 Messaging Is Just Getting Started -- Intercom 130 What I’ve Learned Designing Small Things at Facebook -- Jasmine Friedl 138 The Obvious, The Easy and The Possible. -- Jason Fried 140 Exploring the new Android Design Support Library -- Joe Birch 161 Modern Design Tools: Adaptive Layouts -- Josh Puckett 169 Modern Design Tools: Using Real Data -- Josh Puckett 178 7 Future Web Design Trends -- Jowita Ziobro 193 13 Mind-Blowing Statistics on User Experience -- Jozef Toth 200 The Best User Experience Design Links of 2015 -- Kenny Chen 212 The Big Mistake Nearly Every Designer Makes. -- Marie Poulin 218 Designing With Data -- Mark Jenkins 224 Slack’s Design is not Secret Sauce -- Matt Bond 227 What Happens When an Apple Guy Explores Material Design? -- Matthieu Aussaguel 238 Material Design is Different, Not Better -- Meng To 254 Circling Ourselves: The Story Behind Asana’s Rebrand -- Micah Daigle 286 4 Invisible User Experiences you Never Knew About -- Michael Wong 295 9 Hidden User Experience & Interaction Gems on Airbnb -- Michael Wong 302 In Praise of the AK-47 -- Mike Monteiro 307 Why You Need Design -- Mike Monteiro 329 Long shadow is Dead. Welcome Diffuse Shadows. -- Muzli 343 Why Product Thinking is The Next Big Thing in UX Design -- Nikkel Blaase 349 Mobile:2015 UI/UX Trends -- Onur Oral 363 Spatial Interfaces -- Pasquale D'Silva 389 Making Learning Easy by Design -- Sandra Nam 397 Redesigning Chrome Android. Part 1 of 2 -- Sebastian Gabriel 434 Intro To Product Design -- Stephanie Engle 454 Invisible Animation -- Steven Fabre 461 How Sketch Took Over 200GB of Our MacBooks -- Thomas Degry 466 The Inspiration Lie -- Tobias van Schneider 469 The Real Story of How to Become a Designer -- Tobias van Schneider 473 Ignore Everybody -- Tobias van Schneider 477 The Day You Became A Better Designer -- Tobias van Schneider 480 The Nine States of Design -- Vince Speelman
  9. 9. Startup / Startups / Entrepreneurship 487 Why I Won't Run Another Startup -- Arthur Attwell 491 How Product Hunt Really Works -- Ben Wheeler 502 5 Ways Not to Pitch your Product. -- Bram Kenstein 507 The Black Box of Product Management -- Brandon Chu 518 200+ Podcasts, 100+ Articles, 20+ Books… In 11 Bullet Points -- Dakota Shane Nunley 526 Stop Building Features, Start Building Brands -- David Ams 529 Why Nobody Will Steal Your Shitty Start-Up Idea. -- David Ams 534 Sunset -- David Byttow 536 Reconsider -- DHH 547 Why You Shouldn’t Take VC Money -- Gary Vaynerchuk 550 There is Something Extraordinary Happening in the World -- Gustavo Tanaka 556 Give It Five Minutes -- Jason Fried 559 Making Money Takes Practice Like Playing the Piano Takes Practice -- Jason Fried 561 PRESS RELEASE: BASECAMP VALUATION TOPS $100 BILLION… -- Jason Fried 563 What's The Difference Between Time and Attention? A lot. -- Jason Fried 565 How To Make Something People Give A Shit About. - Jon Westenberg 571 How I Went From Underemployed Waitress to the Top 1% of Millennials… -- Lauren Holliday 595 I Built, Launched, and Got Paying Customers for My Side Project in 3 Hours -- Marc Eglon 606 8 Reasons to Turn Down That Startup Job -- Mike Monteiro 614 28 Things I’d Do Differently Next Time Around -- Mitchell Harper 619 How To Deal with "Shit" As a CEO - Strategies For Managing Your Psychology -- Mitchell Harper 625 Entrepreneurs: Read This Whenever You Feel Like Giving Up -- Mitchell Harper 630 How I got $248,000 in pre-orders Before I Even Had a Product -- Mitchell Harper 636 How to Become a Millionaire — Understanding Time/Capital Leverage -- Mitchell Harper 642 The Exact Pitch Deck Strategy I’ve Used to Raise $125M Since 2011 -- Mitchell Harper 648 The Startup Framework to Validate Your Idea Before You Spend $1 -- Mitchell Harper 657 The Success Habit I Wish I Knew 18 Years Ago -- Mitchell Harper 660 An Honest Guide to the San Francisco Startup Life -- Nitesh Goel 670 When Exponential Progress Becomes Reality -- Niv Dror 696 Nobody Wants Your App. -- Ryan Sheffer 700 23 of The Best Tools to Hack Your Startup Growth (Starting Today) -- Thomas Oppong 705 The Complete Startup Toolkit (The Best Free Online Startup Resources... -- Thomas Oppong 710 Want to Be a Better Entrepreneur? Read These Books -- Thomas Oppong 714 No Struggle, No Change -- Tobias van Schneider 719 The Weird and Wonderful Characteristic Most People Don’t Have -- Todd Brison 724 Tools I Use To Learn, Work And Travel Anywhere -- Tomas Laurinavicius 734 Do Not Follow Your Passion. And Other Useful Tips. -- Wojtek Skalski Life / Life Lessons 742 Why You Should Do Your Work First, Others’ Work Second -- Andrew Merle 745 How to Create a Vision for Your Life -- Corbett Barr 750 Little Lifehacks Guaranteed to Improve your Life -- Greg Isenberg 753 When Somebody Steals Your Medium Post -- Kamil Stanuch 756 You’re only 23. Stop Rushing Life -- Susie Pan 759 7 Important Habits That Will Boost Your Intelligence -- Thomas Oppong 763 Be Lazy -- Tobias van Schneider 767 No Alcohol, No Coffee for 15 months. This is What Happened. -- Tobias van Schneider
  10. 10. 771 Staying Busy -- Tobias van Schneider 775 The Secret is the Beginning -- Tobias van Schneider 782 Shift Your Mindset By Saying Less of These Four Things -- Todd Brison 786 The Answer is No -- Todd Brison Productivity / Self Improvement / Time Management 790 Why You Should Be A Morning Person -- Andrew Merle 793 5 Apps That Can Improve Your Everyday Writing -- Bianca Bass 795 You don’t need more than two years -- David Ams 798 Manufacturing Quality Time -- DHH 802 4 New Year’s Resolutions You Should Make to Improve Your Career -- Gary Vaynerchuk 805 Basecamp 3: Work Can Wait -- Jason Fried 810 Feeling tired? Do more. -- Jonas Ellison 814 You Must Learn How to Write a Damn Good Email -- Lauren Holliday 830 These 12 Habits Are Killing Your Productivity -- Thomas Oppong 834 The Secret Power of ‘Read It Later’ Apps -- Tiago Forte Business 852 5 Things Every Employee Should Ask Their CEO -- Gary Vaynerchuk 855 How to be an Overnight Success -- Gary Vaynerchuk 858 A Reasonable Man -- Jason Fried 860 The 17 Books That Made me a Better Entrepreneur, Father and Husband -- Mitchell Harper 875 “Rules of Business” -- Stewart Butterfield 878 28 Ideas for Becoming 5 Times More Productive Every Week -- Thomas Oppong 882 37 Must-Have Apps (and Sites) for Busy Professionals -- Thomas Oppong Careers / Future Of Work / Job Hunting / Recruiting / Work 892 The One Method I’ve Used to Eliminate Bad Tech Hires -- Ayasin 898 Why The Founder of Rails Automatically Rejects 80% of Software... -- Christophe Limpalair 905 What I Learned When I Gave Up the ‘9 to 5’ -- Jacob Laukaitis 911 The Person They'll Become -- Jason Fried 912 How to Get Any Job You Want (Even If You’re Unqualified) -- Raghav Haran 921 I Quit My Job Today. -- Sarah Knight Blacklivesmarter / Race / Racism 930 What’s Really Going On at Yale -- Aaron Z. Lewis 934 The Day My Daughter Discovered I’m White -- Cheri Winterberg 938 Just a Brown Hand -- Diogenes Brito 945 I, Racist -- John Metta 954 “What Happens After You’re Arrested at a Protest in New York. -- Nora Levinson
  11. 11. Tech / Technology 963 Stop Saying Technology is Causing Social Isolation -- Hector L. Carral 973 Why I Stopped Paying Attention to Industry News -- Jason Fried 975 Manage Your Time Like Google Invests Its Resources: 70/20/10 -- Noah Weiss 981 Self-Driving Trucks Are Going to Hit Us Like a Human-Driven Truck -- Scott Santens 996 These 39 Sites Have Amazing Stock Photos You Can Use For Free -- Thomas Oppong Writing / Writing Tips 1003 What I Learned Writing a Haiku Every Day for 100 Days -- Courtney Symons 1028 When Nobody Reads your Medium Post -- Ignatius N 1033 What I Learned After 30 Straight Days of Blogging -- Jonas Ellison 1037 What All Writers Can Learn From Mitch Hedberg -- Nick Jack Pappas 1042 Doing It Wrong -- Tobias van Schneider IMHO 1045 An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media -- danah boyd 1049 Stop Asking Me About Your Personal Brand, and Start Doing Some Work. -- Gary Vaynerchuk 1052 Ten More Reasons Why You Should Quit Your Job And Work For Yourself -- Karim Boubker 1060 Why The Cake is a Lie -- Tobias van Schneider Apple / iOS 1064 What’s Worse Than Paid App Updates? -- Dan Edwards 1070 Apple’s App Store Review Process is Hurting Users, but We’re not Allowed... -- Kushal Dave 1078 27 iOS Open Source Libraries to Skyrocket Your Development. -- Pawel Bialecki Culture 1117 My Weird Morning Ritual and Why You Need One Too -- Jason Zook 1122 It’s Time to Stop Using The Word “Retard” -- Kasey Studdard 1129 What I Learned About the Future by Reading 100 Science Fiction Books -- Tiego Forte Family 1139 Losing Amy -- Beth Steinberg 1148 Dear Mother — It’s Not Okay. -- Katja Bak 1152 Forever and Ever: Losing My Husband at 24 -- Sarah McBride
  12. 12. Humor 1169 How Product Hunt Helped Me Grow A List Of 12,989,483,288+ Valuable… -- Matt Sydeworks 1175 A Funny Thing Happened When I Was Typing My Suicide Note… -- Sam Grittner Journalism 1182 Blendle: A radical experiment with micropayments in journalism... -- Alexander Klöpping 1192 The Media did Cover Attacks on *Insert Country Here*. You Just weren’t... -- Emma Kelly Personal Development / Personal Growth 1195 How I Finally Got Serious About My Health -- Gary Vaynerchuk 1198 Six Minutes Now For the Next Sixty Years of Your Life -- Gary Vaynerchuk Others Climate Change 1202 We’ve Already Reached the Tipping Point on Global Warming. I’ve Seen It. -- Camile Seaman Coding 1208 DevTools Tips For Sublime Text Users -- Addy Osmani Content Marketing 1221 Why Everybody Has Permission to Make All Kinds of Content -- Gary Vaynerchuk Data 1224 Geeks vs. Writers -- .io Education 1230 60 YouTube Channels That Will Make You Smarter -- JavaScript 1237 Javascript Fatigue -- Eric Clemmons Jeff Bezos 1243 Some Advice From Jeff Bezos -- Jason Fried Letters 1244 When I’m Gone -- Rafael Zoehler LGBTQ 1251 Are You Against Gay Marriage Because: The Bible -- Scott Bateman Marketing 1254 The Business Model Behind The #AskGaryVee Show -- Gary Vaynerchuk
  13. 13. Money 1256 The Day I Became a Millionaire -- DHH Music 1263 The World’s Most Popular Genre is Cannibalizing Itself, and You Didn’t… -- Ross Hsu Peace 1268 A Love Letter To Paris, Beirut and Sri Lanka -- Sarah Jameel Pornography 1273 The Naked People In Your iPod -- Paul Malan Product Hunt 1282 Let’s Continue to Build Product Hunt, Together -- Ryan Hoover Product Management 1289 A Product Manager’s Musings -- Hugh Mcguire Reading 1293 Why can’t We Read Anymore? -- Nathan Creswell Steve Ballmer 1304 How to Be Like Steve Ballmer -- David Barnes Untagged 1310 Just Admit It, Part One -- Dave Pell 1312 My Mom Has a Question -- Dave Pell 1315 Obama’s Eulogy for Beau Biden -- Dave Pell 1322 This Fucking Dick is Also Mine -- Eden Wiedemann 1326 3 Things That Will Always Stand in the Way of Your Goals -- Gary Vaynerchuk 1329 Being a People Pleaser is a Strength, Not a Weakness -- Gary Vaynerchuk 1331 If Someone Has All Three of These Things, Hire Them -- Gary Vaynerchuk 1334 Specialist or Jack-of-All-Trades? The Answer’s Obvious to Me -- Gary Vaynerchuk 1336 The Age of the Introvert Entrepreneur -- Gary Vaynerchuk 1338 The Next Time You Want to Unload Your Problems, Think About This -- Gary Vaynerchuk 1341 This is the Biggest Mistake a Young Entrepreneur Can Make -- Gary Vaynerchuk 1344 Facebook’s Mental Health Problem -- Kati Krause 1353 How to Develop a Daily Writing Habit -- Mattan Griffel 1360 This is About The Time I Chose Not to Die. -- Mike Monteiro 1364 Founder/Product Fit -- Philip Kaplan 1367 “The World Doesn’t Need Another Blogging Platform. But I did.” -- Ryan Hoover 1368 We Fucked Up -- Ryan Hoover 1370 Avoid These 5 Things When Building Your Design Portfolio — Part 1 -- Tobias van Schneider 1376 My Top 11 Essential Tools I Could not Live Without. -- Tobias van Schneider 1386 The Agency is Dead. Long Live the Agency. -- Tobias van Schneider 1389 The Real Story of How to Become a Designer -- Tobias van Schneider 1393 The 10 Crucial Skills They Won’t Teach You At School (And How To Learn... -- UnCollege
  14. 14. Design / UX / UI / Design Thinking 13
  15. 15. Addy Osmani 4 min read Introducing Material Design Lite -a library of components & templates in vanilla CSS, HTML and JS Back in 2014, Google published the material design specification with a goal to provide guidelines for good design and beautiful UI across all device form factors. Today we are releasing our effort to bring this to websites using vanilla CSS, HTML and JavaScript. We’re calling it Material Design Lite (MDL). MDL makes it easy to add a material design look and feel to your websites. The “Lite” part of MDL comes from several key design goals: MDL has few dependencies, making it easy to install and use. It is framework-agnostic, meaning MDL can be used with any of the rapidly changing landscape of front- end tool chains. MDL has a low overhead in terms of code size (~27KB gzipped), and a narrow focus — enabling material design styling for websites. Get started now and give it a spin or try one of our examples on CodePen 14 Design
  16. 16. Components can be tried out on Codepen. For example, here’sbuttons. MDL is a complementary implementation to the Paper elements built with Polymer. The Paper elements are fully encapsulated components that can be used individually or composed together to create a material design-style site, and support more advanced user interaction. That said, MDL can be used alongside the Polymer element counterparts. Out of the box templates MDL optimises for websites heavy on content, such as marketing pages, text articles and blogs. We’ve built responsive templates to show the range of sites that can be created using MDL that can be downloaded from our Templates page. We hope these inspire you to build great looking sites. 15
  17. 17. Blogs: 16
  18. 18. Text-heavy content sites: Dashboards: 17
  19. 19. and more. Technical details and browser support MDL includes a rich set of components, including material design buttons, text- fields, tooltips, spinners and many more. It also include a responsive grid and breakpoints that adhere to the new material design adaptive UI guidelines. The MDL sources are written in Sass using BEM. While we hope you’ll use our theme customizer or pre-built CSS, you can also download the MDL sources from GitHub and build your own version. The easiest way to use MDL is by referencing our CDN, but you can also download the CSS or import MDL via npm or Bower. Standalone articles: 18
  20. 20. The complete MDL experience works in all modern evergreen browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Microsoft Edge) and Safari, but gracefully degrades to CSS-only in browsers like IE9 that don’t pass our Cutting-the-mustard test. Our browser compatibility matrix has the most up to date information on the browsers MDL officially supports. More questions? We’re sure you have plenty of questions and we have tried to cover some of them in our FAQ. Feel free to hit us up on GitHub or Stack Overflow if you have more. :) We’ve been working with the designers evolving materiall design to build in additional thinking for the web. This includes working on solutions for responsive templates, high-performance typography and missing components like badges. 19
  21. 21. MDL is spec compliant for today and provides guidance on aspects of the spec that are still being evolved. As with the material design spec itself, your feedback and questions will help us evolve MDL, and in turn, how material design works on the web. What will you build? MDL is built on the core technologies of the web you already know and use every day — CSS, HTML and JS. By adopting MDL into your projects, you gain access to an authoritative and highly curated implementation of material design for the web. We can’t wait to see the beautiful, modern, responsive websites you’re going to build with Material Design Lite. going to build with Material Design Lite. 20
  22. 22. Aleš Nešetřil 5 min read What If We Could Listen to Medium Articles as Podcasts (Concept) There is one big problem on Medium for me: So many great articles posted every day, but so little time to read them all. What if we could listen to all these great articles? I’ve come up with a quick concept to transform Medium App into an audio player by making just a few small adjustments within the existing app. 21 Design
  23. 23. Problem I was looking for a more effective way to consume all the content I save during the day and fit it inside my busy schedule. I mostly save articles I see on Medium (+ occasionally articles from big tech websites), and my bookmark section is growing almost daily. The only thing is that I have no time to read them all. Even by end of the day… I hate myself for this, because I’m missing so many great stories. I was thinking someone could read the articles to me (if I can’t handle it myself) … Maybe some app? Text-to-audio? On the other hand, I still want to feel the emotion of the story and not listen to some robot reading. Every. Word. Separately. With. No. Accent. Sooooooo what now? Solution? I listen to a lot of podcasts, shows or talks in the background while I work or when I walk to the office, and I think it could be awesome to do the same thing with my saved Medium articles — listen to them as audio instead of reading them as text. The whole functionality allowing this feature could be handled inside the existing mobile app. There is no need for a standalone app. How? Let’s take a look on the existing Medium iOS app and its article detail screen. Focus on the white bar in the bottom of the screen, which is used to introduce features available for each article. You can see “bookmark,” “like” and “share” icons. What about adding one more icon that allows you to play the article as audio? It fits perfectly with the overall style of the app and fits the existing usage pattern of having similar features at the bottom of the screen. 22
  24. 24. If you want play the article as audio, you can just tap this little icon to open the audio player, and that’s it. Happy listening! 23
  25. 25. Nice, huh? Let's focus on the technical side now… No extra software You may be wondering where all the audio content could be made, what kind of text-to-voice software could be used in the background, etc. I think there is no need for such things. Writers could record themselves reading their own work and attach it to the story as an audio file. Of course, adding an audio version of you article should not be required. Once you finish writing your story in the current version of the app, you are asked to add a few tags to help readers find your story. I think there is the best opportunity to ask for one more thing — a recording of your story. Note: Users should not be pushed to record anything, but if they are asked to do something extra, they may feel they are improving their readers’ experience by allowing them to consume articles in a new way. To give you a better idea about how it could look, I made a quick mockup to compare the current version and my version: 24
  26. 26. Recording audio I also tried to design a recording screen using the existing UI style and colors. Again, the whole flow fits the existing style of the app. It’s a bit similar to adding tags, which is already something you can do. All you have to do is press the microphone button and start reading. I was also thinking about adding some kind of indicator for highlighting words to help you maintain rhythm/speed while recording your story. But I wasn’t sure about the correct implementation. It may be confusing for users if they loose track on this indicator, and it could mess up their recording. Once you finish recording, you can save it and go back to the “publish” screen, which will be in a different (finished) state. You can see the tags you selected and attach the audio file you just recorded. Hit “publish,” and your story is out… More possibilities Of course, this is just a quick concept I came up with in a few hours. But imagine how many things could be added soon or later. Just to mention a few of them: 25
  27. 27. Playlists — These would be like the music playlists we have on Spotify but with articles waiting in a queue to be played. Interviews (because two voices are better then one) — There are plenty of interviews on Medium. It could be great to have a chance to play them as well. It could work in reverse: people could record interviews as audio, and then write them as articles as well. Podcasts — These could be taken even more seriously and extended into their own podcast section on Medium. Podcasts are now coming back, and it could be great to have one place that includes great stories in both text and audio form. No need to have this as a separate section. People with reading difficulties — Not able to read a story? Just play it. Bedtime stories? — Some of us love reading before going to bed. • • • • • Some of us use meditation or nature sounds to calm down and fall asleep. But what about listening to Medium stories while you’re in bed? — — — — — — — — — — Let's be friends! Ales Nesetril, UI/UX designer with passion for minimalism & simplicity, currently working for STRV between Prague and San Francisco. Twitter, Dribbble, Behance, Instagram STRV is a top-tier, one-stop mobile app development shop working with top-tier startups from Y Combinator and 500Startups, among others, across offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Prague. Thanks to Maggie Appleton. 26
  28. 28. Beth Dean 9 min read Emotional Intelligence in Design How Design Grows Up It’s a big world out there. . . . We’re on a journey together, you and me. We’ve come a long way, but design for the web is still in its adolescence. In the early aughts we learned to build websites without tables, then we learned to use data to make decisions. Emotion never played a role in driving page views, purchases or video plays. We just needed to get people from point A to point B. People live their entire lives online now, we’re embarking on a new frontier as designers; we’re designing frameworks for people to exist online — a lot like they do offline. 27 Design
  29. 29. I first started to notice the disconnect between design and how people actually live after my mom died. Every Mother’s Day my inbox filled with messages suggesting gifts for my dead mom. It used to sting, especially when I worked at a greeting card company and all 10 of my test accounts would be bombarded with reminders she was gone. I felt utterly alone in those moments, but somewhere a marketer was watching open rates and conversions go up and to the right. They weren’t thinking about me, and it’s not personal, they’re making something for the majority of people  — people whose moms don’t happen to be dead. Almost a decade later I’m pretty used to it, but I know even the most benign design can be loaded with risk. To verify my identity, this site asked if I knew my dead mom. When I worked in travel we ran the risk of sending people promotions based on trips they had booked for funerals. When I worked in insurance people most commonly accessed their policy documents after experiencing an accident.. 28
  30. 30. In one user test a woman was shown her credit score in an effort to provide more helpful context about how her auto policy rate was calculated. Confronted with this number she broke down in tears, the score triggered memories of a terrible hospitalization that had caused her family financial crisis. Even filing your taxes can be anxiety inducing if you’re down to the wire and can’t make sense of the software. People completing seemingly straightforward tasks do so in a variety of contexts and life circumstances. Humanity can be sad, complicated and messy. We don’t stop being human when we go online. Sometimes even when you’re trying to make something with the best intentions, something can go terribly wrong. Sometimes the very tools you create to protect people cause harm. What can we do? For years designers have approached software as though it were neutral: here’s a set of options, now complete a task. In reality, people interact with software like it’s a human. As designers, we can shift our approach to thinking about how people might feel using our products much like we would think about having a conversation with another person. The ability to handle relationships and be aware of emotions is called emotional intelligence, and it’s what’s often missing in software design today. Emotional intelligence is defined with five characteristics: Self awareness Self regulation Motivation Empathy People skills Self Awareness The difficult thing about “know thyself” as it applies to software, is that software doesn’t have feelings. Ultimately what’s expressed to a person using software is either explicit from a designer when we have opinions and try to persuade, or implicitly from how the interaction makes the person feel. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 29
  31. 31. For example, on Facebook, we want to be respectful guardians of people’s data, so in ad settings we want people to declare intent about how they want to be advertised to. This is in contrast to presenting an array of every possible option which a person may never take action on. We ask how you want to see ads: “Do you want to see ads based on your behavior?” This is how we designed empowerment: we gave people the tools to make an informed choice, by not muddying the message with all of the more granular options within that choice. It’s easy for designers to be aware of our opinions and design interactions that support the outcomes we want. Being aware of how non-choices affect an experience is much more challenging. Emotions spread. Humans mirror. If a people perceive an interface as expressing an emotion, they are likely to also feel that emotion. Whether designers intend to or not, we’re building relationships. Standing on top of mountains reminds me how small I am 30
  32. 32. Imagine the relationship you might have with a piece of government software as if it were a person. How do we act and feel in relationships? Things can escalate quickly. An interaction could be just the latest in a series of slights, it’s like the app just left a wet towel on the floor or forgot to take out the trash. You’re screaming in your head “I can’t believe it’s doing this to me!” Maybe it’s preventing you from doing something really important, like renewing your license. This has a real effect on our bodies. A universal trigger for anger is a sense of endangerment, which can be signaled not just with physical threat, but more often symbolic threats: being treated unjustly, or being insulted and demeaned. This creates an energy surge in our body which lasts several minutes, but the effects of which can last much longer. Self Regulation The risk with the neutrality of software is that we may be able to understand every possible logical outcome in a situation (though often we don’t) but we’re unable to assign values to those outcomes. This is especially true with binary systems: a person completes a task or they don’t. This sounds neutral, when in fact the consequences of not completing the task could range from inconvenient to devastating. This lack of awareness is where we get into trouble and sometimes unintentionally do harm. Reason without feeling is blind. Intensity can’t be quantified. What is the cost of a decision that harms a few thousand people compared to a decision that irritates millions? Ellen Pao talks about problems of scale to The Washington Post “If mistakes are made 0.01 percent of the time, that could mean tens of thousands of mistakes.” So much of an emotional message is nonverbal, and a computer can’t pick up those cues. Designers can’t see people’s expressions or body language, but we can try to understand reactions by paying very careful attention to what people do, particularly in aggregate.Numbers often don’t mean what we think they do, they tell us the what but not the why. Metrics are a great way to come up with assumptions to be challenged, but don’t say a lot without context. If someone is spending more time in a product, is it because the 31
  33. 33. product is great or because the person can’t find what they need? A friend of mine used a feature on a professional networking site that scraped her address book for contacts. She didn’t know the service would automatically connect her to every person in her inbox, an inbox that spans a decade. She was suddenly connected to a person she never wanted to speak to again. Somewhere in a data warehouse, the volume of connections on this service appears to be going up, which superficially seems good. However, the quality of those connections is diminishing. How many of these people actually want to be connected? How many are actually going to return to the site because they were connected to someone they exchanged an email with 3 years ago? That number going up isn’t very meaningful. Motivation Designers need their users’ motivations to inform their own. The best way to understand motivation is to change perspective. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy, and I had to learn the hard way. After college, as one does when adult problems and a desk job catch up to you, I gained a lot of weight — over a hundred pounds, which I later lost. I learned very quickly what it meant to live in a world not designed for me. Things most people take for granted are ordeals: seat belts on airplanes, buying functional workout clothes, or really any clothes. The first time I walked into a store and realized they didn’t carry my size I felt a lot of things. I felt like the store was actively hostile. I felt like the store was rejecting me and was saying another type of body was better than mine. I walked out feeling like I didn’t deserve to look good. I do not recommend trying this. Our perspectives can also be informed by the people we spend time with. If a team is diverse, more perspectives are brought to the table, products have fewer blind spots and designers create more things people actually need. Think about five people you know with wildly different backgrounds and life circumstances, how would they feel using different products? 32
  34. 34. Empathy A little humility can go a long way. Designers are not the users of their products. Right as designers were learning about web standards, popular design offered the wisdom “scratch your own itch.” This works well for solving one specific problem, but ignores all other problems. Designers can’t assume everyone wants what we’re offering. People don’t always use things in the way we expect, only research can tell us what’s really going on. For a while after my mom died, every birthday and Christmas my Stepdad would get me a Bath & Body Works gift card. His reasoning was that my mom loved Bath & Body Works, so I probably would to. I hate Bath & Body Works. His intentions were sweet and sincere, but every time I got one of those gift cards I felt like he didn’t know me. Every time I design something new I ask myself if I am giving someone Bath & Body Works gift cards. Risograph print I made following Eric’s talk at Facebook 33
  35. 35. People Skills Good content strategy is a great tool for communicating with an intentional tone. What’s the product’s voice? If the design were a person, how should it be perceived? Friend? Teacher? Trusted advisor? Sham-wow spokesperson? What kind of reaction could this voice elicit when someone is experiencing the product in the worst case scenario? Let’s be honest about priorities. The definition of priority is “a thing that is regarded as more important than another.” By prioritizing one thing, we are inherently deprioritizing something else, do I know what I’m deprioritizing? Eric Meyer says when you call something an edge case, you’re really just defining the limits of what you care about; he calls them stress cases. (He would also like to give credit for paraphrasing Evan Henſleigh.) In December Facebook’s Year in Review product suggested Eric should relive a “great” year, resurfacing a post about his daughter’s death. We invited him to come speak to us candidly about his experiences. Generously, he told us the reason we don’t see planes falling from the sky is because there’s 60 years of air crash data to draw on when designing planes. This is uncharted territory, and mistakes are going to be made. When designers make mistakes we have to take responsibility to move forward. An honest process has enough time to test assumptions, and to be wrong and iterate on those assumptions. Good research will bring as many new questions as it does answer. Sometimes a product works great in carefully controlled tests, but won’t be stressed until wide release. . . . Try your best and then try a little harder Without mindfulness, products might only be rude, but they might also affect someone’s health, their support systems, or their very livelihood. A good friend once told me that to be an adult is to be aware. It’s time for design to become an adult. As product and service design collide, designers are responsible for understanding every ripple of our work. Nurture the relationships your products are creating as though they were happening in the physical world, and give without expecting anything in return. We have a saying at Facebook, this journey is 1%finished. 34
  36. 36. No one can ever be fully aware, but designers have to be open to growth and the possibility we’re wrong. Less up and to the right, more up and to the heart. Many thanks to Jonathon Colman, Lisa Sy, Hannah Fletcher and Ed Salvana for their feedback on my drafts. Thanks to Lisa Sy and Jonathon Colman. 35