As product designers, we are told that every decision we make must be backed by research, data, or a hypothesis. This is mostly true! Especially when discussing drastic changes to things like navigation, structure, or how different components are used/interacted with. These are rarely decisions we can make without doing our due diligence.

However, there are other times where defending changes can be a waste of time and resources.

I am currently working on an enterprise dashboard. Because I’m at a startup, and the first designer hired to focus entirely on the design system, there is a lot of design…

A clipboard with a resume next to a computer
Markus Winkler Unsplash

This is a somewhat debated topic in the design industry. I’ve heard good arguments for keeping and removing these two sections from your résumé, but I’ve concluded that it does more harm than good, and I’m here to explain why.

Design isn’t about the tools

First off, you are not a designer because you can use Figma or Sketch. You are a designer for a whole host of reasons that have nothing to do with the tools you use (other than your brain).

Let’s say I’m working at a company that uses Figma. I get some résumés in and some of them have Figma listed…

Using logic to get what we want from unhelpful endpoints

Scan Feature


I was tasked with redesigning the Pay/Scan feature of our apps. The basic premise of this feature is that the user can scan their phone at the register and either:

  1. Pay, using a stored payment method, and earn loyalty
  2. Earn loyalty only (and pay with a separate payment method)

What was really interesting, and challenging, about this feature — is that it isn’t something that exists in many apps, which made any competitive analysis very limited. (Starbucks introduced the feature about a month after I finished these designs!).


Design Manager — Sloane Thomson
Product Managers — Wadie Abbas, Lee Orlandi

Current Pain Points

Math and ethics influence design decisions

Six iPhone screens showing the UI of this particular feature.
Primary UIs for Payment Preferences v2: Wallet (iOS)

A poorly designed payment preferences UI was resulting in accidental charges and left users at risk of repeat charges that could cause banks to lock their cards. In addition to addressing these pain points, we managed to maintain a level of possible customization unmatched by competitors.

Design Manager — Sloane Thomson
Product Managers — Wadie Abbas, Lee Orlandi

Current Pain Points

The previous design resulted in two main pain points.

  1. The steps required to load funds onto the app were both too easy and unclear.
  2. The ability to choose a reload amount and a balance threshold resulted in an edge case that would…

Feeding users food — and content

In the past, the enterprise agency apps used a navigation style that we refer to as “home screen.” This involved a landing page with a large hero image, a couple of icons in a grid, and an “Order Now” button. Although functional, it minimizes opportunities for brands to engage with their customers. I was tasked with redesigning this experience to support a more modular “content feed.” This involves a more dynamic header, a shift in navigation, and a scrolling feed of content.

Design Manager — Sloane Thomson
Product Managers — Wadie Abbas, Lee Orlandi
Product Designers — Lauren Andres

A designer’s worst nightmare

A kid underneath a sheet pretending to be a ghost by an abandoned building
Real-life picture of stakeholder engaging in “what if we just…?” Patrick Tomasso Unsplash

A large part of our job as designers is to share our work with stakeholders. Our work can range from a research deck to a component design to the design of a new feature. The stakeholders can range from design peers to product managers to your boss’s boss’s boss.

Regardless of what you’re presenting and who you’re presenting it to, you’re bound to come across these dreaded words:

What if we just…?

These painful four words are often followed by an idea that someone, after seeing something for the first time, would like to suggest.

The problem isn’t with…

Desk with computer and tools for wireframing
UX Store Unsplash

Design tests are a hotly debated topic in the field. Almost daily I see someone post on LinkedIn referring to them as horrible, unfair, outdated, and sometimes even as theft. The moderates weigh in to suggest that companies should pay the designers for the labor. The more passive claim that a small test is fine if it doesn’t result in material that could be used by the company. I am here to defend the design challenge and to discuss which pieces I believe should be improved.

Doing work to get a job is not unique

Many designers seem to be under the impression that design is the only field…

In design, the happy path is what happens when the user does everything exactly the way you expect them to. Although this can happen, it won’t always happen.

A straight, sandy path.
This is a happy path. Alice Donovan Rouse Unsplash

One of the most common mistakes I see in portfolios from junior designers is that they often show too much — and too little — simultaneously.

One unfortunate reality of the many design boot camps out there is that they seem to encourage students to design entire apps or entire web pages for fake businesses.

Now, before we continue, I am a big supporter of design boot camps. I believe that there is a lot of work to be done to improve many of them, and I also feel like General Assembly is a borderline criminal enterprise. The most unprepared…

An unattractive figurine of Donald Trump.
Sean Ferigan Unsplash

One of the most popular words in design is “empathy.” I’m here with the firm belief that empathy is bullshit. Empathy as the concept of “truly being able to feel what someone else feels,” is a terrific way for companies to avoid paying for in-depth research, but that doesn’t make it any more true. We can only reference our own lived experiences, and to say otherwise diminishes the experiences of others.

Empathy under Trump

I’m not going to pretend to be neutral on this issue. I despise Trump. …

I was discussing the problem of partisanship with some friends recently. And as we were discussing the seemingly insurmountable divide between the two parties and their beliefs, I had an idea.

If the divide is insurmountable, what if we stop trying to surmount it?

My proposal is simple — give Republicans and Democrats exactly what they want.

Jakob Owens Unsplash

In my proposed Utopia, everyone must register as either a Democrat or a Republican. You are given an ID with your party on it. And how you operate within the world is based off of this.

Some examples:

  • You are a Republican, your…

Aaron Cecchini-Butler

I’m a Product Designer at Grubhub working on the LevelUp Team to create branded apps for restaurants.

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