Calm technology

  1. Technology should inform and create calm
  2. Technology should make use of the periphery
  3. Technology should amplify the best of technology and the best of humanity
  4. Technology can communicate but doesn’t need to speak
  5. Technology should work even when it fails
  6. The right amount of technology is the minimum needed to solve the problem
  7. Technology should respect social norms

From UX trends


How can I be more strategic at work?

When designing, start with a concept.
Concepts are simple metaphors we can use to help people understand how a system will work, before getting too attached to the details.

Prototype the most radical idea first.
As Jason Fried said: “When prototyping, always try wackier/quirkier stuff first. The deeper you get into a project, the more conservative it tends to get. Stranger ideas are more at home earlier in the process.”

Advocate for less. Or as Julie Zhuo states: prioritize and cut.
“When the discussion becomes ‘should we ship this mediocre thing, or should we spend additional time that we don’t have to make it better?’ the battle has already been lost. The thing we failed to do weeks or months ago was cutting aggressively enough. Either this thing matters, in which case make it great — don’t make it mediocre. Or it doesn’t, in which case, don’t work on it in the first place.”

Practice zooming in and zooming out of your designs
Force your brain to be idle; test your design in a different screen (print them out!); share your design earlier and often, talk aloud about it; write a summary of your idea; write the case study while you work on it. It’s all about creating the habit.

Be patient.
We like intensity. We love things that are fixed in time and easily measured. But only by staying with it for the long-run will the vision be delivered. Consistency, patience, and hard work are the keys to good design (and any other work, really).

From UX trends

Designing the opportunity

1. At the top of the product design process, you have the surface-level work of designing the interface — the visible manifestation of the design process in layouts, colors, styles, and interactions. Organizations that only focus on the top layer won’t succeed because the underlying structure, function, and features haven’t been considered thoughtfully and systematically.

2. More success comes when you dig to the middle layer — designing the experience. This means applying design thinking to understanding the problem, goals, and users, and then designing the right set of features and product architecture to meet those needs. There are plenty of products that do reasonably well by only addressing the top two layers.

3. But the products and companies that have true success, the ones we look to as revolutionary, are the companies that go one level deeper and apply design innovation. I think of this layer as designing the opportunity.

Designing the opportunity means understanding the system itself, the people who use it, and the external landscape in which that system exists. By comprehensively looking at all three of these factors, one can start to identify hidden opportunities and gaps.

Alexis Lloyd: Designing the opportunity: the deep layer of product design

OKR summary

OKRs are usually attributed to Google, but while reading this book, I realised that in fact, they originated here. Andy Grove developed Peter Drucker’s Management by objectives into OKRs, and then John Doerr learned them at Intel and took them to Google. Reading them here was the first time that they actually made sense to me rather than feeling cargo-culted.

Objectives are what you need to do; key results are how you know you are on your way. The example that really made it clear to me was: your objective is to reach the airport in an hour. Key results are: pass through town A at 10 mins, B at 20 mins, C at 30 mins. If after 30 mins there is no sign of town A, you know you’ve gone off track. So they need to be clear enough that you know you’ve met them, and that you are on track.

He points out that the system requires judgment and common sense. Objectives are not a legal document. If the manager mechanically relies on the OKRs for the review, or the report ignores an emerging opportunity because it wasn’t one of the objectives, “then both are behaving in a petty and unprofessional fashion”.

And finally, a very important point: you should not have too many! “To focus on everything is to focus on nothing”.

Anna Shipman in her book notes from High Output Management by Andy Grove


The acronym OKR stands for Objective and Key Results. The Objec‐ tive is qualitative, and the Key Results (most often three) are quanti‐ tative. They are used to focus a group or individual on a bold goal. The Objective establishes a goal for a set period of time, usually a quarter. The Key Results indicate whether the Objective has been met by the end of the time.

Your Objective is a single sentence that is:

  • Qualitative and inspirational: The Objective is designed to get people jumping out of bed in the morning with excitement. And while CEOs and VCs might jump out of bed in the morning with joy over a three percent‐ gain in conversion, most mere mortals get excited by a sense of meaning and progress. Use the language of your team. If they want to use slang and say “pwn it” or “kill it,” use that wording.
  • Time-bound: For example, something that is achievable in a month or a quar‐ ter. You want it to be a clear sprint toward a goal. If it takes a year, your Objective might be a strategy or maybe even a mission.
  • Actionable by the team independently: This is less a problem for startups, but bigger companies often struggle because of interdependence. Your Objective has to be truly yours, and you can’t have the excuse of “Marketing didn’t market it.”


  • Don’t create objectives that rely on the input of other teams unless you’ve agreed with them that you share priorities.
  • Don’t create objectives that will require people we haven’t hired yet!
  • Be realistic about how much time you will have to achieve your goals.

Key Results take all that inspirational language and quantify it. You create them by asking a couple of simple questions:

How would we know if we met our Objective? What numbers would change?

This forces you to define what you mean by “awesome,” “kill it,” or “pwn.” Does “killing it” mean visitor growth? Revenue? Satisfaction? Or is it a combination of these things?

A company should have about three Key Results for an objective. Key Results can be based on anything you can measure.


Christine Wodtke: Introduction to OKRs