job, lean ux, UX

UXing your way into a UX gig.

Tracking the metrics of your UX job hunt.

I read an interesting although vague article (read: click bait) recently about a guy who was looking for a marketing gig in SF and came up with a way to get people to even just look at his resume. He hid a short cover letter in a box of donuts and pretended to be a delivery guy to drop them off with a link to his resume. 

He claimed to do an analysis on the competition and a few iterations of the campaign but it didn’t go into a whole lot of detail further than that.

Apparently it was rather successful. He marketed himself to his marketing job. Seems pretty obvious I guess, but it worked.

Point is, this got me thinking about how you could apply UX to land a UX gig.

By tracking the metrics while job hunting to give you a better insight into what level of interest certain companies have in you.

This could be pretty handy ammunition when going into an interview, I would think.

Last year I was on the job hunt. Due to being completely under prepared/not having hunted for a job in a long time/recently just moving to a foreign country, it was safe to say it started as a bit of an uphill battle. I have been reflecting on this a bit since then, as some of my friends are going through similar things at the moment.

So here is my idea.

Basically, if you had an online resume and portfolio that you could track exactly which company was accessing it, you could know exactly how much effort they put into reading it and which sections they were most interested in.

You could have a better insight on where you stand.

For example, apart from my resume, I have a portfolio with a stack of previous projects, UI’s I have worked on and I am planning on adding a whole lot more UX material and case studies down the track, because it’s a very lacking in that department at the moment. On top of that I have a blog and a keen interest in photography. While the photography is more of a hobby thing, it can be a nice extra skill or talking point that might interest some.

The thing is, when I am handing out stacks of resumes at once, I can see people hitting my site which my tell me that people are interested, but who?

What I am thinking is, have a bunch of duplicates of your site. They can obviously share images and things to save space on your hosting, but let’s say you have 26 copies of the site.  to And every time I hand out a cover letter, its tailored to the company and the URL is only used for that company (at least until they reject the application. We can probably recycle it after that).

Then when we see that site E is getting a fair few page hits and decent active user times, we can assume that company E is somewhat interested.

From here you have a decent idea of where you stand. You can see how far they dug into your portfolio, which images they clicked, how long they spent reading case studies. You can tell if one person skimmed over the first page or dug in and sent it to 5 other colleagues for an extra opinion.

If you don’t hear back, that sucks, but now we have a better idea of where we stand and potentially how far they bothered to investigate you. No time at all? Or were they inches away from sending you an interview invite. This is great things to know when sending a follow up email.

You could explain over email that you have been using UXing to find a job and explain that you have been tracking the interest of different companies. This could potentially give them the last little nudge to push them over the edge and set up a meet.

The best bit is, when you get the interview, and they ask the inevitable “Whats an interesting UX project you have worked on?” you can reply “This job interview!”

Make sure you have a bit of data to show off, analytics, some A/B tests you ran for different cover letters and site layouts. You can use the opportunity to investigate what busy people are more inclined to read and skip over, then present that! Or you know, use it to improve your job hunting experience.

Got rejected still? Send an exit survey to see what you can do better next time.

I’m pretty sure if you have the skills for the position and remember to wear pants that day you are probably in with a decent shot.

Now you just need a good way of getting the cover letters out there. Perhaps prototyping some boxes of donuts? I’ll help test.

app, Design, UI, UX

Cultural design

Some backstory

It’s been a while since my last post. Apologies.

Over the last few years I was busy focusing on running an app agency in Australia and blogging for that, but just recently, I sold up and moved to Japan for a new adventure.


Everyone knows that visiting another country usually comes with some culture shock, noticing the day to day differences and ways of life, and moving to a new country is ten fold.

Getting deeper into every day life rather than just the tourist bit, organising a bank account, registering at the ward office and finding good cheese was all a struggle just because it’s all done a little differently (not to mention the language barrier as well).

So it’s no surprise that after I landed a job here in Tokyo, I was again, in for some shocks.  Luckily, my company is very international, so language is not such a big problem but I did quickly notice that I had some learning to do.

I design UI / UX at a small startup in Tokyo. We are building a really cool money transfer app that will be the first of it’s kind in Japan.

One thing I have learnt since working here is:

Take what you know with a grain of salt.

I don’t mean everything you were taught is now wrong, but there will be times when you know something works back home but is just different now.

The information divide.

The first thing I noticed, while researching popular Japanese apps and websites is how much information is shown on the one screen. It’s quite incredible. I thought it was just that web design styles were a little behind here but thats not the case at all.

Some websites are beautiful and cutting edge, other are packed to the brim with content in your face.

After doing some basic wireframe user testing, it started to become clear. People like to see everything, and be in control. Progressive disclosure (only showing what is needed until more information is requested) makes people feel like they are missing out on something.

Web designs started to make more sense. Apps started to make more sense. Especially apps with a Japanese version and international version. It’s obvious the design talent is around to make nice clean apps but sometimes that’s not what people want.

rakuten VS Rakuten Global

It certainly explains why Yahoo won over google.

Full control

Another surprise was around making a transaction in the app.

You choose a friend, you put the money in, you add a comment and hit go. Quickly confirm and it’s sent. Simple right?

Hold on, maybe not.

After doing some A/B testing with a few different prototypes, using different flows & interactions, I found that people didn’t mind tapping and navigating a whole lot more to feel in control. Especially as we are dealing with money, people don’t want to make mistakes. So instead of 4 taps, its more like 7 taps and some added friction to make the user feel safe.

With that said, this could be affected a little by the money factor, but between my international friends and Japanese friends, the results certainly did sway a bit.

In the end 

As a result, I have tried to hit a good mix of both minimalism and enough information to keep people happy and in control of their money.

It certainly grounded me a little and made me remember that you always need to ask real people to get real feedback.😉


Sleeper for Windows Phone 7


The other night I was lying in bed with a million things racing through my head, mostly, all the things I had to do the next day, and couldn’t sleep at all. I tried to take my mind off them and just get some rest but I always seem to slowly start thinking about things again.

There has to be an app for that right? Something to take your mind off things. 

Well I got out of bed and jumped in front of Blend for an hour or 2 and came up with sleeper. It’s a very simple app, just something to keep your mind off all the other stuff and relax and doze off to sleep.

Most of the time was spent designing up the little sheep, banging it together in Blend was actually probably the quickest part. 

Barely any code, a bunch of animations and vector graphics and and a handful of behaviours and I had my little sheep counting app up and running in no time. 


It’s in the windows phone marketplace now if you’re interested.



app, Design, metro, surface, Uncategorized, win8, windows, windows 8

10 quick notes to design polished Metro Apps

I went to a UX workshop recently for Windows 8 and thought it would be cool to share my notes and take-aways from the event.

Besides a few tips and concepts, I have also added a few things I think are important to keep in mind when designing your application so you don’t run into and road blocks down the track.

And just remember, these are just some quick notes and things to keep in mind and I may have doubled up on a few items in other posts, sorry about that

1. Skeuomorphism is out.

I have written about this before so I won’t dwell, but your application is running on a screen, its digital, its pixels on a surface. Let’s leverage it and see it for what it really is. We are moving past the need to make users comfortable by making UI’s look realistic and familiar. We are well into the digital age now.

Examples of Skeuomorphic design

2. Type Ramp

There is a suggested type ramp for your Metro Apps and follow it will provide a consistent flow for all the type in your app.

These are the sizes I use, and I think they are pretty close to Microsoft’s recommendation. This is just a guide though, use your best judgement.

Check out this type ramp post for more info 

3. Fonts

Segoe is Metro. This font family has been designed for use in metro applications. It’s clear, clean and doesn’t muck around.

It’s suggested the only time you move away from this font family is to meet branding guidelines. There are some concessions around these though, for example, if you make a eBook/Reading application, you can use a Cambria or Calibri. Calibri is also suggested to be used when creating a writting app.

4. Grids

Designing your app on a grid is one of the most important parts of making a really polished Metro app. Make sure all your elements line up to the pixel.

A good trick is to set up a custom grid in photoshop when designing your app. You can do this by going to View > Show > Grid to turn on the grid, and then change its measurments by going to Edit > Preferences > Guides, Grids & Slices.

Set your Grid settings to:

Grideline Every: 20 Pixels
Subdivisions: 4

This will make make nice 20 pixel boxes with 5px sub divisions to work with.

5. Designing for touch 

Windows 8 and Windows Phone are very focused on touch as being a main point of interaction. There are a few things to keep in mind to support this.

7mm is the perfect size for touch targets

Uncritical items can be smaller.

Make sure padding between items is no less than 10px.

Visual feedback for items is really important for touch because you lose the haptic feedback you get from a physical keyboard. Use animations to show that buttons have been pressed and items have been interacted with.

6. Panoramas

Panoramas are a long list of items, intended to show off your app. Make sure they contain a few feature items that people might be interested in and then allow the user to dig deeper into the app to find/refine the content.

7. Semantic Zoom

When creating semantic view for your app, remember it’s an overview for users to quickly jump from section to section in your panoramas and lists.

The user should only be able to select groups of content in the list and not specific items.

Semantic view can look very different to your standard list so use this to your advantage, for example, instead of showing all the content items, just show a heading and how many items are under that section.

8. Tiles

Creating meaningful tiles one of the most important elements of your app. It’s the front door and if used well, will encourage users to return to you app.

Make sure the content pushed to your tile is useful, relative and always fresh. Not only will it keep people interested in your app, but will make them want your tile front and centre on their start screen.

Also consider the ability to pin more than one tile for your app. If you have different sections that you feel people might want to deeplink into, allow them to pin those items to their start screen as well.

9. Animations

I mentioned before the importance of using animation to show feedback, but Metro considers animation as a first class citizen to be used in every part of your app.

Use it to make your content feel alive. The way items flick into place and fly out. Use animation to create a mental model to help users know where they are in the app. By making the content fly off to the left, it makes users feel like the next page is just right of the last content. It’s arbitrary, seeing as the content is not actually there at all, but can really help users understand the app and navigate easier.

Direct manipulation has become a very important part of touch applications as well these days. Real time gestures are powerful and allow the user to feel in control. Use them to your advantage.

10. Screen size

Windows 8 supports a huge array of screen resolutions. Design your app to accommodate and use the screen wisely. Make sure you content adapts and fills the available real estate.

Windows 8 also supports different pixel densities or DPI. It has been limited to 3, so if you have art work, make sure you create it at 100% 140% and 180% to avoid pixelation on denser screens. Windows will handle the images and change them when needed.  It will also make sure your fonts and vector graphics are scaled accordingly so everything looks nice.

For a whole lot more info on screen capabilities in win8 check out this post 

Some other things to check out

Here are a few links that have some great info about creating apps for Metro.

Great post from Arturo Toledo on Metro 

Helpful content from Microsoft

Interesting case study about redesigning an iPad app for Metro 


Well that’s about it for the moment. Hope this has helped out a bit  and you are on your way to creating some awesome apps.




The Digital Surface – Windows 8


With the launch of Windows 8 preview and working on Windows Phone 7 and Xbox, I have been spending a good part of my days working with Metro (Microsoft’s design language). I recently did a presentation at a local Melbourne user group about the subject and one part of the talk that seemed to gel with lots of people was the idea that we are designing UI for a digital surface. The idea that it’s pixels on the screen and nothing more, so why aren’t we playing to it’s abilities.

 Digital Authentic.


I have been watching lots of future UI videos lately and after a while you start to see patterns, these videos are not focusing on highly graphical UI but relying on the interactions, content and the technology behind it to make them look amazing. 

As soon as we start realising that you don’t need to make the graphics in an app represent real world objects, we can really start to focus on making experiences that are completely inline with the way users are interacting with them. On a screen. Whether its touch, mouse/keyboard, voice, or full body gestures, we should be playing to the abilities of the device, instead of taking what we know from the real world, and trying to make it work on a digital platform. 

 Examples are Rock’n’Roll!

I feel one strong example of real world objects not working so well in applications are knobs. For some reason (especially music applications) designers insist on using the metaphor. Image

This is a bit of a pet hate, controls like this work fantastic in the real world, they are compact and allow accurate control. But the idea just doesn’t translate as well on a screen. Even when a user can directly interact with the control through touch, what is the standard? Applications use up and down, left or right and even a circular motion to change the value. It always a bit of a guessing game and if you are using 10 different apps with knobs that are all different, it can get pretty frustrating. 

Sticking with the metaphor, I designed up a quick concept of how to utilise direct manipulation and the digital platform to create a better experience.


This does a couple of things well, whilst retaining the fine control element of a real world knob, it also helps avoid screen occlusion by the hand a bit. Its not perfect, but its a start.

 Moving past Skeuomorphism.

Metro design language moves past the need to complex graphics and gradients to achieve it’s goal, which is to complete tasks and deliver content to users in most cases. It takes a step back and focuses on what is the most important part of an application, the content

This isn’t without its own set of problems though, the first being the lack of affordance, how do users know what they can press and interact with, when a button doesn’t always look like a button? 

 We can’t afford a bad experience.

Through the use of animation and direct manipulation we are able to make experiences that feels alive and interactive. Allowing the user to feel connected to the content and in complete control will urge users to explore your application with confidence, and with that in mind, consistency becomes very important. 

Making sure your user feels at home with your application is an easy task to achieve with Metro if you spend the time to understand the platform and guidelines. Making your content interactive and using common controls can go along way when you are not relying on graphical affordance within your app.

Another way Metro combats this, is by placing all action controls in a common place. The use of app bars and charms gives users a big head start when they are seeing an app for the first time. If an app follows the guidelines, users can be pretty sure that all the content is interactive (able to click through items to drill into more content ect.) and any actions that may be needed can be found in the same location as all the other apps they use day to day.


Metro is the base design language for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 7, so anyone who uses one of these devices should have a good feeling for it already and through consistency, should feel comfortable to jump right into your app and get things done.


What do you guys think?

Thanks for reading. 


car, Design, Personal, phone, win 8, win8, windows, windows 8, wp7

Windows 8 Car Stereo Concept

The Background

Between being completely flat out with running Xamling and being lucky enough to have a little time to do a bit of travel, there has been one personal project I have continued to chip away at over the last few months.

In one of my earlier posts I spoke about how annoyed I was when I bought my new car and decided to spend a bit of money on getting a good stereo installed. Turns out it was not very good at all. Besides a few of the features not working as advertised, my biggest issue was the interface. It’s a touch screen device and as far as I can tell, it just has buttons littered all over it like someone has thrown darts at a design to decide where they should go.

Being an interface designer, this probably annoys me a lot more than your common consumer, but I just can’t understand why they can’t add a nice capacitive screen with some tasty gestures to make the driving/music experience better. I would be happy to fork out a few more bucks, although I shouldn’t have to, seeing as I already paid over $1000 for something that is not even a quarter as good as an ipad.

I have also noticed a bit of movement in this area lately, with Ford teaming up with intel and Project Detriot by westcoast customs going to town with adding win8 stuff in cars, which are awesome, but I feel it’s kinda missing the point a bit. I want a head unit I can buy off the shelf, plug into my car and have a great experience when driving and listening to music. Those systems seem to be focusing more on features rather than a simple and easy way to listen to music.

Anyway, I set off on designing an interface for a car stereo and hope to one day get something similar running in my car.

Seeing as I am an designer that works a lot with windows 8 and wp7 that seemed like the obvious path to take, so the design is based on the idea that it would use win8 (probably embedded) to power it.

The Designs

This is the basic home screen, you will notice just one button, pause. and it’s a decent size so it’s simple to hit. Just about everything in the interface is controlled via gestures.

Next/ Previous track: 2 fingers left/right

FastFoward/Rewind: 2 Fingers Left/Right (hold until position)

Users can also use the scrubber for quicker skipping (not for when driving)

Search/SubMenu: Pinch (the UI would shrink to sub menu)

Volume: 2 fingers up or down (this would slowly raise or lower volume)

Volume can also be controlled by the slider at the right (this also shows user current volume)

Attenuate: Tap anywhere that isn’t a button or action (this lowers the volume to very quiet quickly, and also returns to current volume when tapped again)

There are a couple of other actions you can perform on the screen that help the user find music with more ease.

The user can click the name of the artist or the album to be taken directly to that list. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought, “oh I love this band, I wanna listen to their whole album”, and then not bothered because it’s a bit of a PITA.

The weather would use GPS location to keep you updated, but it could also cycle through current location and destination.


This screen is accessed by pinching on the main screen. From here you have search as your main screen, but can access other data sources from the tiles across the top. At the moment, these designs only really cater for HDD music, but it wouldn’t be to hard to get videos and other media items in there as well.

Users can scroll left/right to flick through the albums, or quickly search via the letters across the bottom if they know what they are after.

2 fingers down gesture will take the user to the parent menu, in this case it would be artists.

I haven’t got as far as design how the other sources would work at this stage but it’s something I will look into soon.

Other Features

I have been toying around with is using wifi to sync with your PC inside the house. Allowing the user to update their music from their computer without needing to interact with the car. This could be achieved through having the car stereo staying on for a short time when it’s connected to the wifi and simply syncs up.

Also providing other means to update your music if your car park isn’t close enough

Another concept is a phone app companion. This would allow you to set up your trip before you have even left the house.

Input GPS info

Set up a playlist

and the app could also act as a remote for passengers in the back seat (via bluetooth)


I guess that’s about all I have at the moment. My main goal here is to try and make an interface that is relatively easy and safe to use whiles driving. Most of the actions can be performed without even needing to look at the screen.

The best part is, it’s all very achievable with today’s technology, all it needs is a small form factor tablet, windows 8 and a bit of time up your sleeve.

Let me know what you guys think about it, I would love to take it further and maybe even get a prototype up and running at some stage, just have to find the time for it.