#65 Digital drawing comparison: One by Wacom vs. $6 stylus vs. finger

Photos of One by Wacom, $6 stylus on a trackpand, and a finger on a trackpad, with an overlapping image of the author.

I recently got One by Wacom, a very affordable $60 stylus.

A photo of One by Wacom, showing both a tablet and a stylus pen.

I would like to share my take on it by comparing it against $6 stylus on a trackpad, and a finger on a trackpad.

Let me show you how I drew a simple illustration in Photoshop based on a template that I created.

One by Wacom

First let’s take a look at One by Wacom.

Pros of One by Wacom are:

  • Pressure sensitive
  • More precise control
  • Very responsive when repositioning
  • You can rest palm on a tablet when drawing, which is comfortable

Cons are:

  • You need more space to place a tablet, probably in front of your computer
  • Sometimes too sensitive
  • You need to apply the same pressure to maintain the stroke width.

You need to get used to this.

$6 stylus on a trackpad

Second, let’s take a look at a cheap 6 dollar stylus on a trackpad.

Pros for $6 stylus are:

  • Cheap
  • No extra space required since you draw directly on a trackpad

Here are cons:

  • Take more time to register new position
  • Sometimes it doesn’t get recognized by computer right away.
  • Less precision control
  • Cannot rest your palm on a trackpad while drawing, which means you have to float your hand while drawing at all times.

Finger on a trackpad

Lastly, here’s how I drew with my own finger on a trackpad.

Pros are:

  • No extra equipments or devices
  • My finger always gets recognized by computer
  • Faster when switching back and forth between UI controls and drawing

Here are cons:

  • Less precision control
  • My finger and hand get sore and tired with unnatural movements and forced positions
  • Harder to draw a long line stably

Compare all three simultaneously

OK, let’s compare all three in action simultaneously.

Surprisingly, a finger on a trackpad took the shortest to draw the illustration.

But there are some caveats.

This was a simple illustration, and the task was to trace a template.

So it was sort of manageable with my finger drawing if I don’t care details. 

But when it comes to adding details such as changing the stroke width for certain part of the illustration, One by Wacom was the only one capable of this just by applying different pressure when drawing.

This is apparent when we take a closer look at the laptop computer keyboard part drawn with much thinner strokes in the illustration done by One by Wacom.

A comparison of drawings by One by Wacom, $6 stylus + trackpad, and finger + trackpad.

If you are a UX designer, there are many situations where making a quick drawing like this really helps you communicate your idea and concept to others.

An illustration of a UX designer communicating his idea and concept to his audience.

In most cases, you don’t need mastery in your drawings to communicate.

One by Wacom definitely feels much more natural and easier to draw with more precision and control. So $60 price tag seems worth the price.

But at the same time, more precision and control comes with more attention, such as controlling a pen pressure.

Finally it comes down to what is important to you, and you should ask these questions to yourself:

  • How much precision control do I want to have in my drawings?
  • What is my comfort level with my drawings?
  • How important are drawings for me?
  • What is it that I want to achieve with my drawings?

Check out YouTube version too!

Related articles:

#13 Can a $6 stylus + trackpad replace an expensive stylus?

#33 Comparison of stylus on trackpad vs. pen on paper

#64 Waymo One – riding a driverless taxi

A photo of Waymo One car at a destination.

A driverless taxi

I finally I had a chance to take a short ride on Waymo One.

Waymo One is a commercial driverless taxi service owned by Google.

A screenshot of Waymo website.
Waymo website

Currently, the service is available only in Arizona Pheonix area.

A screenshot of Waymo website that describes "Now taking riders in Metro Phoenix".
Waymo website

Mobile app

Waymo has an app that you can download. It works pretty much the same as Uber app. You enter a destination, set up a payment method, then request a car.

A screenshot of Waymo app, where the pickup location and the destination were set, ready to request a car.
Waymo app

I had to do a few trial and error though.

First, I tried to request a service from inside a mall/business complex, and it didn’t work.

An illustration of the author requesting Waymo One from inside a mall/business complex.

Also, my initial destination brought up a message saying Waymo can only get me to a place that is 5 min walk away from the destination.

An illustration showing my initial destination showed that Waymo could only take me to a point which is a 5 minutes walk from the destination.

Waymo did not like my initial payment method, so I had to enter another credit card.

Even after going through all these, I got a message saying “No car available, try again later.”

An illustration showing that Waymo app displaying a message saying "No car available, try again later".

After making several attempts, my request finally went through.

Waymo arrived

After 3-4 minutes, Waymo car arrived.

A photo of Waymo car arriving at my pickup location.

When I opened the door, it greeted me with a welcome message via audio as well as on a touch screen. Once I got in and buckled my seat belt, I pressed “START RIDE” button, which started the autonomous driving.

A photo of Waymo's touch screen showing a welcome screen with Start Ride button.

Riding Waymo

It’s definitely kind of a surreal experience to see a car moving with an empty driver’s seat.

A photo of the interior of Waymo One with an empty seat while it's driving.

As soon as it started moving, the touch screen in front of me started displaying a 3D map.

A photo of a 3D map displayed on Waymo's touch screen.

The 3D map also showed other surrounding cars as Waymo’s sensors detected those.

Waymo's 3D map showing surrounded cars with callouts.

An overall ride was quite smooth.

  • Waymo car stopped at a stop sign, did turns slowly.
  • It even slowed down when driving over a bump on a road.
  • It stopped perfectly at a signal, did smooth lane changes.
  • On a main road, it accelerated up to 45 mph at some point.

A pickup truck blocking the way

When it was getting close to the destination, which was a Starbucks, it slowly pulled in, and tried to get to the front entrance of the store.

As Waymo was maneuvering the parking lot, it detected a large pickup truck blocking the way. Waymo went around and came back again, but the pickup truck was still there.

But this time, Waymo approached closely to the pickup truck and waited.

The driver of the pickup truck noticed Waymo, and moved slightly, but that was still not enough for Waymo to go through.

Then the pickup truck made another slight move.

At the same time, Waymo yielded.

It got very close to the pickup truck, but as the pickup truck adjusted the steering wheel away from Waymo and slowly passed by, Waymo also managed to get through, and stopped right at the front of Starbucks entrance.

I was a bit worried about how Waymo was going to handle the pickup truck situation, but it waited and moved patiently.

A photo of a large pickup truck blocking the way, seen from inside Waymo.

4 Physical buttons

There are 4 physical buttons on the ceiling of the car facing passenger seats. Help, lock/unlock, pull over, and start ride.

A photo of 4 physical buttons on the ceiling of Waymo.

Start ride button was in blue, being treated as a primary button.

There was also an on-screen start ride button, but it’s a good idea to have a physical button too in case a screen does not work.

Waymo took off

Once I got out and closed the door, it slowly took off.

A photo of Waymo taking off after I got off.

That was it!

It was a short ride, 1.8 miles, 7 minutes total.

I have to say, that the ride was quite comfortable.

It’s definitely interesting and weird that no one is sitting on a driver’s seat and the steering wheel is moving on its own at all times throughout the ride.

Psychologically, I felt nervous especially when Waymo speed up to 40-45 miles an hour on a major road.

I also felt a bit uneasy when Waymo was getting really close to the pick up truck blocking the way.

Witnessing the history of transportation

But it’s great to be a witness of a transitional state in the history of transportation system.

A illustration of the author overseeing and witnessing the history of transportation graph, where autonomous cars are rapidly growing while automobile is declining.

Just like when Henry Ford invented his very first automobile, Ford Quadricycle, also known as the horseless carriage in 1896, the very first self-driving car that we now have is called “driverless car” with a driver’s seat.

A picture of Henry Ford's Ford Quadricycle in 1896, with a large text "Horseless carriage" on top.
A photo of inside Waymo with an empty driver seat, with a text "Driverless car" on top.

This is really interesting from a UX perspective, that we always inherit something that we are already familiar with when creating a new thing.

The same thing happened in a computer when a “desktop” metaphor was taken from a physical office, and GUI buttons took queues from physical, mechanical buttons.

A screenshot of the original Apple Macintosh 128K GUI from 1984.

Overtime, a new invention will evolve into something totally different as it gets optimized for a new, better way of performing tasks or achieving goals.

An illustration of various different horse carriages, Ford model T, then more modern automobiles, all lined up horizontally to show an evolution.

Once a driverless car, or an autonomous car advances to the next level, the empty driver’s seat will disappear and the entire space will be dedicated for passengers to fully embrace it.

I’m curious how that experience is going to be.

A futuristic image of autotmated-vehicle interiors. Source: automobilemag.com

How would that change our behaviors and lifestyle?

An illustration of the author relaxing on a reclining chair, looking at futuristic city view on a window.

And I cannot wait to see that future!

Check out YouTube version too!

#63 Always envision the future beyond your current project

A photograph of the author wearing illustrated sunglasses, which beams to envision the future.

It’ important for a UX designer to always envision the future beyond your current project. Let’s say there’s a new upcoming feature that is scheduled to launch next month, and you are a UX designer working on it. It’s worth stepping back and ask yourself these questions.

An illustration of a UX designer working on an upcoming new feature launch.
  • What is it that this new feature is trying to accomplish?
  • What user problem will it solve?
  • Is that the most ideal way to solve that problem?
  • Are there any other design solutions that can solve the problem better?
  • Is the current solution chosen based on a thorough understanding of a user’s pain points?
  • Did the team have a chance to do a user research to find out answers to these questions?
An illustration of a UX designer asking a question to himself, whether the team had a chance to do a user research.

In some cases, these questions might not have been asked during the process.

An illustration of team members saying that  they never asked those questions.

In another case, maybe there wasn’t  enough time and money to conduct user research sessions.

An illustration showing a manager saying that he has no time and money for user research.

In another case, the decision might be purely based on business goals.

Whichever the case might be, there’s always ways to make things better towards the future.

Even though you might be so busy working on today’s project and product, a UX designer should always be thinking beyond what you are working on, and envision the future beyond your current project.

An illustration of a UX designer looking beyond his current project.

Paradoxically, this additional work towards the future gives a UX designer an extraordinary power, energy and motivation, which fuels your creativity.

An illustration of a UX designer gaining x1000 power and getting huge by additional work towards the future.

It helps you get through the current crunch that you are deeply in, even if that’s far from ideal.

Thinking ahead into the future allows a UX designer to focus on user’s problems and user values at a fundamental level, rather than getting caught up in a feature level nitty-gritty details.

An illustration of a UX designer focusing on user's problem and user values at a fundamental level.

And whenever you do, you can always come up with various ideas and concepts beyond what is currently being planned for the next release, which is typically very constrained by practical limitations.

An illustration of a UX designer coming up with various new ideas and concepts.

Then, you can start to paint a picture visually by laying down various ideas and concepts along the timeline towards the future, starting from where you are now.

An illustration of a UX designer putting new ideas and concepts along the timeline to the future.

This exercise forces you to step back and see a bigger picture of achieving an ideal user experience that solves a user’s problem, and how you can get there.

An illustration of a UX designer looking at a bigger picture towards an ideal user experience.

You may not be able to get there right away.

An illustration of a UX designer moving towards ideal user experience slowly on a hover board.

The reality may not progress in the way you laid out.

An illustration of a reality progressing differently from what a UX designer initially laid out as a conceptual path.

A deeper look at the problem may end up redefining the user problem that was defined previously.

An illustration of a UX designer digging deep into the problem which ended up redefining the user's problem.

And that’s totally fine.

In the real world, there’s always various constrains, pushbacks and setbacks.

An illustration of a UX designer being challenged by constrains, pushbacks and setbacks in the real world.

The most important thing is, that you don’t lose sight of “always aspire towards the ideal user experience to solve a user’s problem”.

An illustration of a UX designer not losing sight of aspiring towards ideal user experience.

A strong drive towards what’s ideal will always push the product towards the right direction in the long run. A UX designer can and should be that drive within a product team.

An illustration of a UX designer being a drive to pus things towards the right direction by driving a train.

Always envision the future beyond your current project. This might inspire your team members. And in the long run, you will start to build your credibility as a UX designer within a product team a lot more than when you only work on what you are told to do.

An illustration of a UX designer earning credibility from the team.

Check out YouTube version too!

Highly related article: #47 Visionary vs. incremental approach

#62 Photoshop Rich Tooltips – Cool but annoying

A screenshot of Photoshop Rich Tooltips appearing in Photoshop on top of the author's artwork.

I recently noticed that Photoshop added “Rich Tooltips”.

Rich Tooltips are tooltips that visually explain features in animated fashions.

When I mouse-over onto one of tools in a toolbar, I can exactly see how that tool actually works. The animations are done nicely, and it certainly explains about the feature very well.

A screenshot of Photoshop with Rich Tooltips showing how a zoom tool works.

Photoshop Rich Tooltips problem

The problem is, it takes up a lot of space to fit an animation within a tooltip window.

As a result, it covers up my artwork that I’m working on every time I switches a tool in the toolbar. From a pencil to an eraser to a magic wand for example.

Not only it covers up my artwork, it covers up my artwork for a considerable amount of time. This is because playing an animation takes time to finish.

Even after the animation completes, a Rich tooltip does not go away.

Altogether, it starts to get in the way of my work!

An illustration showing Rich Tooltips is getting in the way of the author trying to work on his artwork in Photoshop.

And because it was enabled by default, I had to go to Preferences > Tools, and hunt it down proactively to actually turn it off.

A screenshot of Photoshop > Preferences > Tools showing how to turn off Rich Tooltips.

Is Photoshop Rich Tooltips for proficient or novice customers?

I can totally see that this is super helpful feature especially for someone who is completely new to Photoshop.

But to me who has been using Photoshop for quite some time, it’s quite annoying to see this all of the sudden blocking my artwork.

It’s a disappointment to see such a well respected company like Adobe does something like this. I had to say this new feature annoyed me as I tried to do my daily work.

AN illustration of the author looking at Adobe as a well-respected company.

I do use Photoshop to do basic image editing almost on a daily basis. And I’m pretty comfortable with it.

If this was done in Photoshop Elements, the lighter version, it makes perfect sense as it’s targeting more casual users.

An illustration of the author looking at a combination of Photoshop Elements and Rich Tooltips.

But the full version Photoshop was meant for professional photographers and designers.

An illustration of an icon of Photoshop full version and its core users, who are professionals.

There are many professionals who’s been using Photoshop for more than several years like myself. I’d expect that Adobe treats such customer with more appropriate care.

An illustration showing the author on a couch expressing that Adobe should treat proficient users with more appropriate care.

What Adobe should have done when introducing Rich Tooltips

At least, Adobe should enable an ability to close or disable Rich Tooltips right away directly from Rich Tooltips, instead of forcing a user to go to Preferences.

An illustration of Photoshop Rich Tooltips with "Disable" button within itself for easy access to disable it.

Or at the minimum, Adobe should include a quick link within Rich Tooltips that takes me directly to the exact preferences screen where I can disable it.

An illustration of Photoshop Rich Tooltips with "settings (preferences > tools)" button that takes you straight to settings page so that you can turn it off easily.

Is this too much to ask?

An illustration of the author saying "Too much to ask?".

Interesting case study

This is actually an interesting case study to think about how to target different customer personas when launching a new feature.

An illustration of the author pointing out that this is an interesting case study of "how to target different personas when launching a new feature.

In case of Photoshop, at the minimum Adobe should have two broad customer personas:

  1. Proficient
  2. Novice
An illustration depicting the minimum two customer personas, proficient and novice.

There are many Adobe Creative Cloud customers who’s been paying for their subscriptions for several years. And some of these customers have been constantly updating Photoshop too.

For such customers, Adobe should not have introduced Rich Tooltips in a way that made them feel annoying.

An illustration questioning introducing Rich Tooltips to proficient users, especially for people who's been Adobe CC customers, paying for years, and having been always updating Photoshop.

Check out YouTube version too!

#61 Nike customer support – delight and frustration

An image of the author's damaged soccer cleats with a title and illustrations of stick figures experiencing delight and frustration.

Nike customer support – I experienced a delight and frustration through communicating with them. Let me start with my delightful experience.


Nike fully refunded me for a badly damaged soccer cleats as a result of a normal use.

An illustration showing a Nike customer support giving the author a refund voucher, the author getting excited.

When I reported my damaged soccer cleats, their customer support chat person kindly walked me through the return process. Then she sent me a UPS shipping label, so that I can put my cleats in a box and drop it to a nearby UPS store.

An illustration showing Nike customer support chat person kindly walking the author through the return process, including emailing a UPS return label.

When Nike received my cleats, they examined the damage, and gave me a refund in form of a voucher, admitting that the damage was due to a product’s defect, or a design flaw.

Nike customer support who received the author's soccer cleats examining it.

This is great and I truly respect their attitude and professionalism in terms of taking pride in producing a quality product, and care for their customers.

The author showing respect to Nike's professionalism and care for customers.

This is a delightful experience as a customer. No questions.

Frustrating part

Now let’s move on to the frustrating part.

When I reported the damage of my soccer cleats, I had a new address because I moved since I purchased the cleats.

This caused a problem in their system because my old address was tied to my initial order that I placed when I was still in my old address.

For this reason, Nike initially sent me the refund voucher to my old address.

Illustrative diagram showing that Nike  customer support initially sent me the refund voucher to my old address.

So I contacted Nike via a customer support chat again.

The author contacted Nike customer support again, and explained what happened.

After a few back and forth conversation, she said that she had to escalate this to an Elite team. She also told me that I should be getting an email from the Elite team in a couple of days.

Nike customer support chat person escalating the case to the elite team.

A few days later, I did receive an email from Nike saying that the voucher was successfully shipped to my new address.

The author receiving an email from Nike customer support elite team saying that the refund voucher was shipped to my new address.

At the end of the day, everything worked fine.

But to get there, it took a few days to finally get a confirmation that the problem was solved.

A diagram showing that it took a few days for the Nike customer support  to solve this incident.

What went wrong? – building blocks

Let’s look at all the building blocks.

My original order record contained my old address.

A diagram showing that my original order record was attached to my old address.

Therefore, the return was triggered from this original order, which had my old address associated with. As a result, Nike’s system automatically pulled my old address and shipped a voucher to my old address.

A diagram showing that the return was triggered from my initial order tied to my old address, therefore Nike customer support initially shipped the refund voucher to the author's old address.

But here are the things.

For this particular return, I already shipped my damaged cleats using UPS return label provided by Nike. The return label did have my new address with my name as a sender.

An illustration of the author dropping the returning product at UPS, with a return label provided by Nike customer support with the new address.

In my online account profile section, I already updated my address to a new one several months ago.

An illustration showing that the author updated his address on his Nike.com online account several months ago.

As a result, Nike already had my correct new address in two places.

Technically, this means Nike already had all the information about my latest address. It was just the matter of pulling the right address for this return.

An illustration showing Nike customer support wondering which address to choose, the author's old address or the new address. The author getting frustrated observing it.

It does not make sense that their return process had my new address for creating a return label, but used my old address for shipping a voucher.

An illustration showing that Nike customer support is using the author's new address for creating a return label, while using the author's old address for shipping he voucher.

Case study – system design flaw

It’s kind of frustrating as a customer. But it also makes an interesting case study of a system design, especially how to accommodate error cases.

An illustration of the author pointing out that this is an interesting case study of system design, considering various error cases.

And I can see that Nike staff tried their best to support me throughout the process which I respect.

An illustration showing that Nike customer support staffs tried their best throughout the process, and the author is showing respect to that.

But still, the fact that it did not work without an escalation suggests a system design flaw. Whenever such flaw surfaces, both customers and the company’s staff members suffer.

An illustration of a  system design flaw depicted as a monster stomping on a customer and staff members.

As UX designers, whenever we design a system, we want to be able to cover various error cases to prevent something like this to happen.

An illustration of a UX designer thinking through system design with various error cases.

Check out YouTube version too!

Also, here are other customer support articles.

#60 Selecting time – learnings from Material Design time picker

So here is Material Design time picker. (below right)

Screenshots of Material Design time picker and date picker.

It’s typically paired with a date picker, which is a calendar-based (above left). The date picker works very well. But it’s the time picker that has problems.

Here’s how it works.

  1. You first pick an hour.
  2. As soon as you are done, the UI jumps to show minutes.
  3. You pick minutes, then you are done.

Here are the problems.

  • Circular analog clock representation is visually interesting, but does not work well, especially because hour and minute are separated.
A visual showing Material Design timer picker separates hour and minute.
  • An automatic transition from hour to minute feels forced, and you get confused especially at the first time.
An illustration showing that there's an automatic transition as soon as an hour is selected in Material Design timer picker.
  • As a result, it does not fully represent a clock with a long and short needles anymore that it initially took a queue from.
An illustration showing that a guy and a clock thinking that Material Design time picker is "clock-ish".
  • When you switch between hour and minute by clicking the number, “a clock needle” animates from 9 hour to 29 minute, but this animation does not mean anything.
An illustration showing that there's an animated effects when Material Design time picker shows selected hour and transitions to show a minute.

It could have been better if hour and minute are both represented simultaneously in the “clock”, so that it resembles how a real analog clock will look like on that time.

A prototype of Material Design time picker with a slight adjustment where hour and minute are shown simultaneously.

When you compare this to iOS calendar time input UI, I have to say iOS is much better. It allows a user to swipe up/down hour/min, or use 10-key to enter hour and minute altogether.

A screenshot of iOS time picker with a scroll wheel control.
iOS time picker with 10-key input.

Now, Material Design also has a different mobile time picker that you can directly type in, which is better than clock-like version.

A screenshot of Material Design time picker mobile, that allows a user to type in hour and minute.

So what is the lesson from these?

Entering time is such a basic, common things to do in various products and services.

  • The experience should be as straightforward and crystal-clear as possible.
  • The UI should use a metaphor that people are already familiar with.
  • It should not confuse a user. 

From this perspective, using a calendar for selecting a date is perfect. We are all used to using a calendar.

An illustration and a caption showing a calendar is something that people are familiar with.

But for time, it would be best if hour and minute are not too separated.

And for faster input, direct typing would probably be the fastest and easiest.

I think a scroll wheel for hour and minute separately is fine too. An hour only has 1-12, or 1-24, and minute only has 0-59, which is manageable.

An illustrative diagram of how hour and minute scroll wheel work.

Someone mentioned that Material Design time picker with a circular design is very “designery”.

An illustration showing a woman making a remark about Material Design time picker as "designery".

It’s an interesting remark.

I think it’s fair to say that many designers tend to get attracted to a circle as one of the most beautiful geometric shapes.

Analog clock is a manifestation of that as a symbolic representation of time.

An illustration of an analog clock shown as a symbolic representation of time, compared to digital clocks.

While it makes perfect sense to make time picker using an analog clock metaphor because it’s about time, ironically the result feels wonky.

This illustrates an interesting aspect of user experience. How you feel is what ultimately matters, rather than the pure logic that brought you to your design solution in the first place.

An illustration and a caption saying "how you feel is what ultimately matters, rather than the pure logic that brought you to your design solution in the first place.

I respect the designer who created this, that she or he, or the team had a courage to try this type of design.

But at the end of the day, this is not the most intuitive, easy to use design, even though it may look interesting and unique on its surface.

Check out YouTube version too!

#59 Auto-save UX

Illustration showing how auto-save is working in the cloud, and that command + S is no longer needed to manually save files.

Auto-save is definitely a cool, very convenient feature.

But at the same time, it gets tricky.

Sometimes, you are not exactly sure when the auto-save actually happened.

Gmail, Google Docs, Medium, Figma all have auto-save features.

Google Drive,Gmail and Medium do fairly good jobs showing a subtle icon that changes from Saving… to Saved, then just an icon on a header.

Interesting thing is, both enable auto-save while you are making changes to your document or an article, but settings don’t have auto-save, and use Save buttons instead.

On the other hand, Figma does not show any message when it’s auto-saving.

But it does show a message when an auto-save did not occur for some reason such as when you are disconnected from the internet.

It’s kind of an opposite approach, with a stance that it’s always saving, and it only lets a user know when it’s not.

Since we are “always connected” to the internet, this Figma’s approach is quite aligned to today’s world.

But it does make me feel a bit nervous when I have to work offline on the airplane, or when I lose the internet connection.

According to Figma, all those unsaved changes are stored in a web browser cache.

Ever since I started using Figma, auto-save worked great for the most part.

Now I’m free from keyboard shortcut a thousand times a day that I used to do.

But at the same time, having my master files only in the cloud makes me feel nervous.

Sometimes I feel like I want to make a local “backup” of my important files just to be safe.

I can actually do this by saving a Figma file as .fig file on to my desktop.

But the problem is, this downloaded Figma file will never have a full feature when I am offline.

On the contrary, Google takes good care of this aspect.

I can download a Google Doc file as a Word file.

I can download Google Sheet file as an Excel file, and downloaded files work perfectly fine on my computer without the internet connection.

While auto-save is super convenient and removed a pain point of having to manually save files all the time , it introduced a new prerequisite: the internet connection.

Now, I’m more than ever dependent on the internet connection!

And that makes me wonder if it’s a good thing or not.

As UX designers, we create new experiences.

When we do, we need to be mindful about how we balance things that users are already familiar with vs. something new.

What are pros and cons for both old experience vs new experience you are about to introduce to the world?

Changing something that users are already so used to doing may often bring up a lot of frustrations and push backs.

Check out YouTube version too!

#58 Are we too obsessed with metrics?

We live in a world where many things have realtime analytics already put in place. I’m not against any of these. In fact, I love these. I can gather a lot of insights out of these metrics. But we have to be careful about being too much caught up in metrics, or start chasing metrics too much.

I do bodyweight trainings regularly.

Bodyweight training is exercise such as pushups and pull-ups, primarily using your own body weight instead of using gym machines.

When I do pushups for example, I set a goal such as 

“Do 10 pushups as one set, do 3 sets with 30 second intervals between sets.”

My actual record on the first day might be:

  • Set 1: 10
  • Set 2: 9
  • Set 3: 8

On the second day, I might get:

  • Set 1: 10
  • Set 2: 10
  • Set 3: 10

On its surface, I did better the 2nd day with 100% completion rate.

Or is it?

To answer this question accurately, I need to dig deeper, and ask these qualitative questions.

  • Did I do each rep with a correct form?
  • Did I do each rep without using a momentum?
  • Did I do each rep with enough range of motion?
  • Did I do each rep with focusing on a target muscle to do the primary work?

If my answer is no to these questions, my second day’s metric becomes meaningless.

If I achieved those numbers by using momentums for example, that means I only did a very easy incomplete version of pushups.

I did not give my muscle enough stress that a proper pushups is supposed to provide.

I am completely missing out of great benefits that I could have gotten if I did it right.

Metrics are powerful and easy to compare. But metrics could be deceiving too.

A lot of times, we tend to get caught up in metrics.

And because of the nature of metrics being so simple and easy to compare, we sometimes start chasing just metrics.

When “just chasing metrics” becomes a primary goal, that’s where I need to ask myself, what is the most important thing that I want to achieve.

In the previous bodyweight training example, achieving 10 reps per set by itself does not mean anything, if each rep is done improperly.

Goals are set to be something that I aim towards when performing the exercise.

But the focus should always be maintaining my posture, form and do each move as correct as possible so that it puts the stress to the targeted muscle as much as possible.

It does not matter if I end up only being able to do 7 or 8 reps as a result of focusing on quality of each rep.

Actually that is way better than just achieving 10 reps by using momentums every time.

Overtime, I slowly realized the reality that being too obsessed with metrics is meaningless.

To me, this is quite an eye-opening, interesting realization.

I think this applies to not only training, but also many things.

Metrics are mere indicators.

It gives me what to aim towards.

It helps me stay focused.

It helps me see my progress, patterns and trends overtime.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

The most important thing is always quality, not quantity.

With that said, I will always aim towards some sort of quantitative metrics in order to improve and grow towards a quality I want to achieve, like the body weight training example.

To do so, most likely I will end up accumulating quantity to improve my quality too.

All these will help me constantly improve and grow to a better version of myself.

And that’s what matters.

Check out YouTube version too!

#57 Being empathetic – one of great UX designer’s traits

The author with a hand-drawn title illustrations

One of critical traits to be a great UX designer is being empathetic to a user.

But this trait, translates to how you behave in your day to day life as a good citizen too.

Let me give you an example.

I drop my kid to a school in the morning. Typically, that means you are in the line of cars in front of the school waiting to reach the dropping zone.

Once you reach to the dropping zone, that’s where you can stop your car, drop your kid, then move on.

This simple process gets tricky when you have many busy parents dropping their kids, each car with a different pace.

The school gives parents a general procedure in terms of how to do this efficiently so that it doesn’t cause a traffic jam.

But that requires everyone conforming to that procedure.

Obviously, everyone wants their own kid to be on time.

Probably every parent have busy schedule so that they want to get the job done as soon as possible so she/he can go to the next scheduled event.

And the thing about the official dropping zone is that if you drive all the way to the front edge, its further away from the school entrance.

Naturally, most people don’t want to scooch over all the way to the front, because that make their kids having to walk a longer distance which could result in tardy.

As a result, parents start dropping kids before reaching the dropping zone.

This leaves the actual dropping zone empty and wide open, causing all the cars behind having to wait until these “flying” cars to open up their spaces.

Some drivers get frustrated with this, and sometimes pass by these cars to get to the wide open dropping zone in front of them.

Other drivers may start dropping their kids way before the dropping zone.

Observing this as one of parents, it reminds me of one of great UX designer’s traits “being empathetic”.

In this context, being empathetic translates to being empathetic to other parents after you.

When I think about this from a UX designer’s perspective, it’s an interesting UX problem.

There are various factors that come into play.

  • In the morning, everyone is busy
  • Many people tend to arrive at school right before the bell rings
  • Most people want to park their cars closest to the school gate
  • Once you drop your kid, your mind is filled with your next schedule, so that you don’t care about people behind you

As a human beings, it’s probably impossible to remove your own ego completely.

But still, if everyone becomes slightly more compassionate to others, the situation would improve dramatically.

And I’m glad to see some improvements over time.

When this happens, I feel great.

This kind of impression is something that we as a UX designer wants to leave to our users when they use a product that we design.

Check out YouTube version too.

Also check out #40 Twelve traits of a great UX designer.

Here’s my Medium article version on 12 traits of a great UX designer.

#56 Useful, usable, delightful

Illustrated title of useful, usable, delightful

It’s been decades since the UX has become a mainstream, and essential part of product development.

But even as of today, many people seem to have limited views of what UX is.

Some people might think UX is just making things pretty. Other people might think UX is about making wireframes. Other people might think UX is just about usability, and use the term usability and UX interchangeably. 

All those are part of UX.

The field of UX is pretty broad.

One of simple ways to help people understand the UX better is to visualize UX layers in concentric circles like below. Useful, usable, delightful (or desirable). This shows 3 most important, fundamental values of UX.


This is the most fundamental and important part of a product or a service. A product needs to be useful. A product needs to provide a value that solves a user’s particular problem. In reality this might not be something a UX designer is part of in defining. By the time a UX designer is brought in, this might be already defined by a PM (product manager).


This is the next most important aspect of UX. The product experience should be easy to use. Rather, it should be as easy and clear as possible. This is where usability comes in to play. In many cases, this is where a UX designer typically focuses on the most, by creating wireframes, UX flows, prototypes, and conducting user tests.

But that’s not all.


The most outer layer is being delightful, or desirable. Ideally, a product should not only be useful and easy to use, but also delightful to use. This is where things like pleasing visual design and smooth animation come in to play.

But making things fancy and pretty is just one aspect of being delightful.

The most valuable “delight” is achieved, when everything works flawlessly without a user even noticing it, because everything works so intuitively.

This includes the clarity of the overall UX flow without any confusions.

Information organization.

A clear feedback through effective micro-interactions that constantly give you visual feedback on actions that you take.

Clear messages that give you confidence and a peace of mind throughout the process.

And so on.

The next time you see someone in your team who seems to have a limited understanding of UX, explaining about these 3 layers might help that person further understand the value of UX.

Check out YouTube version too.

Previous articles on delightful.

#9 Delight from Office Depot LIFT & PRESS envelope

#29 Delightful OOBE from a boring home product