Posts about User experience


The Secret to Giving Away Secrets

There’s a baker in San Francisco named Josey. He owns a popular bakery and coffee shop called The Mill. Josey’s bread is really good, but it’s also not cheap. Loaves sell for $7 and up. And they sell toast — with toppings like almond butter, cream cheese or house-made jam—for $4 a slice. This is a lot of money for toast, but it’s so good that people line up down the block to buy it. It is that good. 

Josey also wrote a cookbook teaching people new to breadmaking about how to make bread. He writes in an approachable, un-intimidating style. Joseys’ basic message:making bread is easy.  

In the same way Josey sells bread, and teaches people how to make bread—we do the same thing at the design consultancy where I work, Cooper. We sell our design services to clients. And as part of those projects, we also teach clients about design and our design process.

That sounds crazy.  

Why teach people how to design (or bake bread)? If you teach everyone how to design (or bake bread), then no one will buy your design services (or your bread). Well, the opposite actually is true.

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How design consulting is becoming more about teaching design (especially to non-designers)

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Sound Design: From the Ears of a Motion Designer

...How do you communicate with a user when their eyes aren’t glued to their screen? As a motion designer, I firmly believe that motion design is a critical consideration in the world of experience design. As I’m learning more about sound design, I’m realizing that it is equally critical to a user’s experience.

A few months ago, I was inspired by Adi Robertson’s article, “Sound Decision” in which she covers the audio branding created by Skype. Sound is something I pay particular attention to; maybe it’s my love of music that influences my interest or that I am intrigued by experiences that touch on multiple senses. I really believe that sound is an area that should be explored and considered when creating unique experiences for people who are constantly bugged to look at their screens.

I’m not talking about pops and pings that demand your attention to the screen, I want blips and bloops that reinforce interactions I have made without picking up my phone to see that I “got it right.”

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A few months ago, I was inspired by Adi Robertson’s article, “Sound Decision” in which she covers the audio branding created by Skype. Sound is something I pay particular attention to; maybe it’s my love of music that influences my interest or that I am intrigued by experiences that touch on multiple senses. I really believe that sound is an area that should be explored and considered when creating unique experiences for people who are constantly bugged to look at their screens.  

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Classification and Design

Us | Taxonomy | The World 

I’ve been interested in classification and taxonomy for a long time. Categories are everywhere, and we use them intentionally or unintentionally to understand a lot of stuff. They’re also great at slithering away when you try to pin them down. In this short series of posts, I want to explore how classification manifests in design, what its relationship is to other popular design concepts like mental models, and what kind of new lens it can provide for understanding how people understand.

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In this article, I explore how thinking about design work explicitly through a lens of classification. We think in categories and so do the tools that we use, and they make suggestions about how we should classify the world. By paying attention to this process of classification, we gain a new tool to see how people understand the world and how our products can, for better or worse, change how they see the world.

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Against Infinite Scroll

I was recently part of a Cooper Slack conversation about infinite scrolling navigation.

"I hate infinite scroll," I said. 

"👆," several people responded. 

"But why?" asked someone else.

In my worldview, infinite scroll has three major failings. I’ve listed them here from least to most important. 

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A user experience critique of infinite scrolling as a navigation pattern, based on a Slack conversation with colleagues at Cooper. 

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Uncovering Service Design Opportunities: A Checklist

You understand your customer’s experience and your back of house service delivery processes. Maybe you’ve even created a service blueprint or a value chain map. You’re ready to take on the world! Or rather, the service system. Use this handy checklist to make sure you don’t miss any major opportunities. 

We’ve identified five primary categories of service design opportunity. The first three are the most obvious and the most essential, and the final two are what we recommend for organizations who are ready to tackle the future.  

The next time you're reviewing a customer journey map or service blueprint, use this list to help you think through all the types of potential improvements that might be possible.

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You understand your customer’s experience and your back of house service delivery processes. Maybe you’ve even created a service blueprint or a value chain map. You’re ready to take on the world! Or rather, the service system. Use this handy checklist to make sure you don’t miss any major opportunities. 

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Customer Journey Map or Service Blueprint?

If you have a hammer, everything is a nail. If you have a service blueprint, everything is a detail to be nailed down, even if those details don’t contribute to your ultimate goal. To design and deploy services, it’s crucial to have both journey maps and service blueprints in your tool kit. This post will help you determine which tool is right for the job. 

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To design and deploy services, it’s crucial to have both journey maps and service blueprints in your tool kit. This post will help you determine which tool is right for the job. 

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Visual Design for White Labelled Products

Designing a product with the intention of being “white labelled” means that you are creating a software for a client to incorporate into their existing (visual language) system. Every now and then design consultants are hired by another consultant to work on a third party’s existing system. This what you call a super white label. Here, you not only have to consider your client’s needs, but your client’s client’s needs, too. It can be easy to start designing with everyone’s goals in mind and eventually lose focus, leaving no one satisfied in the end. These are some basic tips I’ve found that to help start and manage a white labelled project. 


It can be easy to start designing with everyone’s goals in mind and eventually lose focus, leaving no one satisfied in the end.

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Stop Solutionizing and Start Problem-Solving

I made up a useful word a while ago, though I doubt I’m the first to have done so. The word is solutionize, and it means “to come up with a solution for a problem that hasn’t been defined (and might or might not even exist).” Solutionizing leads to solutionization, or “any outcome of the act of solutionizing.” 

This all sounds like nonsense, because it is nonsense. The word solutionize comes from materials science and has nothing to do with design. 

The word is solutionize, and it means “to come up with a solution for a problem that hasn’t been defined (and might or might not even exist).”

Some blatant examples of solutionizing, as I define it:

  • Designing an iPhone app for users who don’t have smartphones
  • Building an MVP that addresses no customer need
  • Creating UI for a service users want to get from a person

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Easy win: Twitter

Being an interaction designer means you’re aware of improvements that can be made in the things you use every day. This one is about the notifications in Twitter’s iPhone app. Hey, Twitter! Here’s an easy win.

So you’re on your iPhone when it buzzes in your hand. Hey, neat! A Twitter somethingorother. You open the app, only to see that there are no notifications for your current Twitter profile.

That’s cool. It must be for one of the other Twitter profiles you use. So you open the list of profiles only to see…nothing. No hint of where this little tweet of goodness awaits you.

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Being an interaction designer means you’re aware of improvements that can be made in the things you use every day. This one is about the notifications in Twitter’s iPhone app. Hey, Twitter! Here’s an easy win.So you’re on your iPhone when it buzzes in your hand. Hey, neat! A Twitter somethingorother. You open the app, only to see that there [...]

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Design Fundamentals: 3 Key Practices for Building Your Own Design Process

This post was written by Cooper Intern Alex Mandel

A strong design process is the cornerstone of creating a great user experience. But finding one that’s right for your company isn’t easy. Each organization is different, and adapting a process to the specific constraints you face is a huge challenge, especially in an organization that might still be a little uncomfortable with design.

The human-centered visual design process we follow and teach at Cooper, based on the three key practices below.

As a design theory nerd, I’ve had the opportunity to explore a lot of different design methodologies. Though they can vary greatly, a few key practices have emerged that seem to drive every methodology I’ve looked at. Approaching design in terms of these individual practices, rather than as an end-to-end process, can help you to integrate human-centered design into your organization in a more fluid way. Smaller and more incremental changes driven by these practices, rather than a complete overhaul, are a great way to begin building a design-centered organization without upending the current system.

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This post was written by Cooper Intern Alex Mandel A strong design process is the cornerstone of creating a great user experience. But finding one that’s right for your company isn’t easy. Each organization is different, and adapting a process to the specific constraints you face is a huge challenge, especially in an organization that might still be a little [...]

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