I early adopt the crap out of new software, web and mobile apps. You probably do too. It's good for our professional development to keep an eye on what others are doing. I'm also just a lover of new stuff that makes my life more fun or productive. 

This past few years I've spent most of my time working on early stage products so this gives me a unique perspective when I'm taking them for a test drive and I'm trying to make a habit of not keeping my thoughts to myself but documenting and sharing back to the company. This information can be really helpful to the folks working their buts off to make us cool stuff. 

I would love to encourage you to do the same. Rather than enjoy it in silence or nitpick it to yourselves. Keep track of your thoughts and shoot them an email or ask for a change via a tweet .

I tweeted Slack a while back complaining of how many steps it took to switch between groups on the mobile app. They tweeted right back the shortcut (3 finger swipe). Then I gave them a suggestion for an improvement (Display the name of the group for a second after the swipe so you know when you are on the right one) They implemented it in I think 24hours if not less. Isn't that cool?!  Now I have a better product to use and they got smart feedback from a customer which is what every product developer wants. 

So to demonstrate here is the feedback I sent to recently launched and super awesome Gmail plug in Sortd.



Loving your product! Congrats to you!

Couple thoughts (I'm a product designer myself so just trying to help):

1. Try targeting your email communication better
I just got the below email letting me know I have invites to share but if you had your systems set up in a certain way you would have known that I have already invited close to 15 people. I implemented it on 3 of my gmail accounts because I love it so much and this gave me access to 15 invites. You missed an opportunity to thank me for being an early supporter and instead asked me to do something I have already done for you.


2. Did you know women are WAY more into the idea of your product then men?
I posted on FB about the product and asked if anyone wanted an invite. Lot's of folks did. The interesting thing is that of the 19 people that wanted a code 18 were women. My husband (the stay at home dad) was the only man who was interested. You probably already know this is the case but thought I'd share. Actually one other man responded. He said he is happy with Any.do already and isn't looking for a replacement. 


3. My biggest usability hurtles right now are
I want a big button top left to switch between regular Gmail view and Sortd list view. Right now I think the only way to do this is to click on the teeny tiny tab on the far right. This is awkward and outside of my usual gmail flow. My mouse stays on the left side.  I also find huge value in switching back and forth and I'm not a keyboard shortcut person (I know that's what you were going to suggest :)


All the buttons are too small. It's a surgical moment to find and select buttons like everything in the top nav bar and archive/trash on the email it's self.


4. Batch select would be nice
Everyday I batch select and Archive of Delete. It would be cool to do this from the Sortd interface but not a huge deal, especially if I get that quick switch button. 


That's all for now! Hope the week has been a great success. I have been working on an "in Gmail" product this year and it's a whole different beast bravo on the work so far!


Tyesha Snow


AuthorTyesha Snow

There's a lot of conversations going on about how brands should interact with us. The prevailing thoughts from the smarty pants is that a brand should work on developing a relationship with me through many light weight, meaningful interactions. Makes sense. But I've been noticing that since I've stopped watching broadcast tv and starting living in my world of personally curated content that I'm missing a ton and would enjoy a bit of disruptive advertising to turn my head in new directions. 

I never know what movies are out.
I miss huge cultural events.
I don't know about the latest this and that, unless it's coming from a brand I already have this so called relationship with.
When I surf the web I see ads for the stuff I already bought and my Twitter feed is totally gentrified. Dang it!

How the hell can I get some disruption over here! I want to know things I don't already care about. I want to buy shit I don't already have. 

Disrupted advertising isn't dead nor should it be and I'd like to see more of it.

When done right disrupted advertising says, hey you shouldn't have to be in the know to hear about this. This is important whether you are well plugged in or not.

If we rely on small interactions that spread through existing social constructs to develop the holy grail of a relationship with customers this alienates people not already integrated into these networks and perpetuates knowledge gaps between the connected and the non-connected.

An it's not just brands it's all types of organizations that have information to get out. It may not matter if I know about a new movie but it does matter when my experience of the world is limited to only what I "subscribe" to. 



Note: I realize parts of this position bump up against my last post A Steady Diet of Ignorance but that why this stuff is hard. 

CategoriesContent, Brand

In light of the uproar over Twitter's apparent plans to "curate" our feed using really awesome algorithms just like Facebook. I thought I would finish a little post that was sitting in my drafts for a while.  

I've been designing user experiences for over 10 years now and since the very beginning I've struggled with balancing the ever increasing trends of simplifying (removing functionality) and personalizing our digital environments, with my desire to empower people and put them in control.

In an of themselves simplifying and personalization can be great methods for solving specific design problems but their rise to cultish like status within the digital design world has me concerned. The uproar of the possible Twitter stream changes is a perfect example of the issue.  Farhad Manjoo in Fast Company explains some of the issues very well in this article and I love this quote.

"There is still too much presuming that we 
want a steady diet of what we just consumed. "

I will piggy back on that quote and say these trends (business practices) bug me for another reason we are creating a culture of ignorance. Each time these magic little algorithms are applied and each time we strip down our experiences to their most basic features we are removing opportunities for people to participate fully in their own digital lives. Correction: Lives.

We are not singular. 

We are not the same.

Our needs change (often). 

Interface should reflect this.

We need to ask more of users.

They need to learn and grow so they can have more control.

Designers have a responsibility to make better ways to do more and get better at providing innovative filters that we control. 

It's important to foster an environment of learning and achievement in service of a technology intelligent world.  Interestingly video games don't dumb everything down. They seem to understand that people can learn. 

Doing it for them is creating an ignorant populous, out of control of basic human activities - Consuming information. Learning. Sharing. Transacting.


Do we only get to learn what is put before us.


Just some thoughts and obviously business needs and specific use cases play a huge role in how to apply this type of thinking but it's always a good idea to put your decisions up to a test. Think about it next time. 

made in oregon sign

Wow. I just spent 4 months in Boulder, CO and came back so inspired. The startup scene there is vibrant and alive and I was able to meet and work with a truly outstanding group of people I hope to call my friends for many years to come. 

One company I had the pleasure of meeting was Conspire. They have a tool for finding the strongest connection between you and someone you would like to meet or contact  by analyzing your email behaviors and I must say it is quite amazing. 

They've just launched a new aspect of the product - Networks.  This feature harnesses the power of a community to support individuals in their plight to grow their business and networks. 

I asked Alex if Portland could be an early participant and he was nice enough to set up a Network just for us. 

"What is the PDX Tech and Design network on Conspire? Joining the network means you are willing to help others in the community. Each member of the network is connected so that we can facilitate introductions for each other. This empowers everyone with the strength of the extended community."

If you would like an invitation shoot me a message.

AuthorTyesha Snow


TechFest NW happened a week or so ago. I was unable to make it to much but I did get down there the participate in my first hackathon. Below is the resulting presentation deck and a recap of what my team did. 


There are hundreds of words, acronyms and jargon used when people discuss, debate and participate in the work ICANN is doing. It's important for people looking to engage in the community to truly understand what they are reading in order to be part of the conversation and understand the impacts of it's policy making. Glossaries work to a certain extent but three issues immediately come up.  



Lot of the discussions are going on outside of ICANN urls so how can we provide a way for the glossary to be accessed no matter where you are.  



Definitions can only go so far. Often context is needed to truly understand the meaning and implications of a word or phrase.



ICANN is a global organization and needs to engage folks around the world. Translations for this type of content will fail pretty quickly if not done by a person who is a native speaker and knows the matrial; even then one person's interpretation may not be accurate or could benefit from other voices. 



A plug in that a publisher can activate on their site that highlights any word found in the ICANN glossary. This highlighted word can then be hovered over for a definition and clicked to get further context or to add to the definition.  

Aside from this contextual access to definitions and translations the tool will ask readers to contribute to the definition and translation of the word or phrase. Crowd sourced understanding!

I was really excited by this idea because its usefulness as a product doesn't end with ICANN this could be applied to many different scenarios and garner some amazing results.  I'd love to build this for real if anyone wants to join me :)


Thanks to TechFest NW, Neo, Hackathon for Social Good and ICANN Labs and my team (see final slide) it was a great time!


I had no idea how big and beautiful the Albatross is. 

I attended Squawkathon a design jam held to come up with solutions for the unintentionally killing of seabirds due to fishing activity. It took place over 2 days. The first being an evening event where we were briefed by experts and broke into teams.  I joined the team that hope to find a solution that utilized incentives. It was a pretty great time. I enjoyed jamming on something completely new that didn't involve a digital solution. I also really enjoyed meeting and chatting with the experts. 

I had a great conversation with Howard McElderry, vice president, EM technology development, and a founding member of Archipelago Marine Research, about the amazing amount of data his company has collected since it's inception and how due to privacy concerns they can't do much with it directly but that he is hired because he is a walking big data machine. Smart guy and fun to talk with.

 Dr. Phillip McGillivary Science Liaison for Coast Guard PACAREA, was on our team and man he's a power house of experience, knowledge and energy. If you ever bump into him don't hesitate to take him out to coffee and hear his stories. 

The rest of the experts were engaging and super smart. I was reminded how much I like scientist. I need to find more opportunities to work with them.

Squawkathon was an experiment organized by Context Partners for their client the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. They were testing the idea of using hackathons and design jams to develop problem solving ideas. I thought it worked ok although to get the greatest amount of value I would consider providing more information upfront and paying the participants to come ready to work having gone deep in to the research materials. As someone who practices Informed design it felt like we were ill equiped to spend the two days doing our best work when the issue was so complex and outside of what we normally do. I would also suggest that the teams should only be made up of no more than 5 people to take away the need to manage and just focus on doing.

Overall I enjoyed myself. The Context Partners folks were awesome! The prize money and water bottle were very nice cherries on top. I'm interested in how the Packard Foundation folks felt it went. Hopefully they will do some follow up with the group!

So here is a snapshot of our solution which I'm pretty proud of. 

I love that we found a multifaceted approach that looked at finding new solutions but also focused on looking at what the fishing companies needed to comply with solutions that are already available and work well if implemented properly. 


The Problem:

  • Marine birds are subject to accidental death due to current fishing practices
  • Fisheries require more tools for marine bird protection
  • Solutions already exist but are not widely adopted due to the difficulty of implementation and lack of incentives

Our process lead us to build our solution in this way. We had a product idea, realized a service arm was needed to support it, then realized that there was a larger business model that could and should emerge. 


Enter Hydra. Our solution is a new business who's mission is - 

Create and bring to market sustainable innovations that support the fishing industry to preserve the lives of seabirds.

The idea is this: There is a need for a self-sustaining system to support continuous innovation and product development and to leverage the larger fisheries to assist the smaller boats with their compliance initiatives. 

We had our first product idea the Smart Streamer, an innovation that removes the barriers to Streamer Line deployment. It creates a bird free area behind the vessel

Seismic survey vessels already use smart streamer technology that maintains even streamer spacing.

•SmartStreamer creates a bird free area behind the vessel

•Streamer lines equipped with precision spatial positioning

•Near real time data of streamer line deployment

•Potential upgrade for additional data


We realized we could build and deploy this product but how could we support it's proper and continuous use?  And how would we make sure we had the resources to continue to innovate.

Our idea was to create a service that installs and maintains this solution and others, including monitoring systems, so fisheries don't have to integrate this into their existing work flow.  We make it easy to comply.

The profits from the product sales and service side of the business would go into more research and development and also support smaller boats in their efforts. We would provide incentives to use the service like providing access to resources and relationships, worker enhancement activities and the most important would be making it super easy to report to the labeling organizations that you are in compliance which gains the fisheries access to special consumer labeling. 

Not bad for a day of work :)


Lastly, learn a bit about The Albatross Task Force

AuthorTyesha Snow

Dear Delicious, 

I don't think you understand how people use your product or you just don't care. It's exhausting. I should just leave but I'm in too deep and everything else is more product than I want or need. Will you read this and just think about it? If you can't figure out how to do better. Just make this whole thing Open Source and get out of the way. But I don't think it needs to come to that. You have a lot of people and content and you have history. I'm sure you can figure something out. Maybe look at some analytics or ask your users some questions. Just a thought...


1. This is what I want but it's over here. Marginalized, disrespected trapped in a design pattern that doesn't understand it. Why Delicious? Why?


2. You know I want this. The navigation label acknowledges this.  


3. What about this big space? My tags would love to stretch out here and be easy to browse and click. What's this stuff? I just saved these. I'm not here to remember them. Recency doesn't equal importance. 


4. Really this much space reserved for one saved link? You know there is a whole site behind that saved link. I only have to click it and I'll get more than you could every show me here.  Also, why do I care who else saved the link?  I have enough friends. Quit pushing these people on me. 


5. This list that I have been adding to for almost 10 years is a glimpse into my inner workings. It documents my professional development and my personal interest. This raw data about me is not for public consumption. You know that about me. I've never in 10 years responded to any of these social features.  

The problem with Delicious.jpg
AuthorTyesha Snow
HipHop Call and response.jpg

Found this in my draft posts. I don't know what I was getting at with the title but I like this little manifesto and thought I would take a shot at elaborating on it. 


Don't do harm

Respect norms

Don't teach bad habits

Utilize innovative research and technology

Cooperate with the needs and desires of customers/users


What a nice little reminder for those of us defining and creating experiences.  

Don't do harm - This is vague, yet interesting and important. In order to not do harm you have to understand so much about the users of your product. This one sounds like the easiest but I think it's actually the one that gets broken most of the time. 

For example, how many times a month do you open an application and start to do something you've done a thousand times and find that the developers have changed it. Your stomach sinks a bit, you make an ugh sound, sigh and then sadly tap through what will be an experience you will morn and struggle with for the coming days/weeks/months. Lot's of ways to harm your existing relationships with users, your brand, the experience that so many people came together to design and grow. Gotta think about this one at every step. 

Respect Norms - As a designer I rarely argue for designing for the lowest common denominator. I am generally on the other side of this argument. I talk about respecting the intelligence of our users and the fact that people can learn and will learn if you are a good teacher/leader. But I like this one two. A person should feel comfortable and empowered by your experience (Unless your goal is to disrupt. That has it's place too). Being conscious of the norms of interaction, language and intent helps you wrap your user in a nice warm blanket of confidence and trust.   

 Don't teach bad habits - Even if it's the easy way to do it. Every moment in your experience is firing off a neuron and creating muscle memories. I would also add that we shouldn't indulge bad habits when we respect norms. Tricky.

 Utilize innovative research and technology - It's so easy to keep designing the same thing over and over again. Our clients and managers often encourage this or at least make it really easy to. Find your way to keep up with the awesome thinkers and makers. Be a thinker and maker. Partner with people who push you.

 Cooperate with the needs and desires of customers/users - Cooperation. I like this word as it pertains to finding balance between business and user needs/goals/desires. As the person on the team that has to ride that line and hold everyone accountable for it at each decision point this word helps me approach these decisions in the correct frame of mind. 


photo credit

CategoriesUser Experience

I'm not a graphic designer and sometimes this can be frustrating because I can't make things look like I see them in my head. This means I get to collaborate with amazing visual designers which is awesome but sometimes I have to do a few things on my own. Like this new site. So thank you to Creative Market for supplying us non-graphic geniuses with awesome tools to make our world look and feel much better.  

Check them out!


AuthorTyesha Snow

Old LinkedIn email notification for new invitation to connect:


Includes option to view the person's profile before accepting. Smart. Especially since the integrity of the site is based on people have real and meaningful connections.  


New LinkedIn email notification for new invitation to connect:


One button/link.

You either accept it or do nothing. This is dark man.

We know it's best to give users the options they would naturally look for even if we as the business really want them to do what we want.

Sometimes the business desires prevail but with this case I just can't see doing this. As a user of this service I really need to visit a person's profile before I decide to connect and I image most people would feel the same way. 


But wait!  Just a week or so later they are went back to the old way.  

I bet they got a lot of accepts for that short time they messed with us. So curious why they changed back but I'm glad they did.  

Happy ending. 


PS: Hope you ladies don't mind me not masking your sweet faces. If you do let me know. Go connect with these ladies ya'll! 


AuthorTyesha Snow

Facebook just launched and updated header and it's raises an issue we designers should be aware of.  If your users habitually use your product, like many Facebook users do they develop muscle memory for the tasks they complete most often. Before you decide to move an access point to a feature or play with the flow give some really good thought to how this will effect your most faithful users.   

This is the old header:


Notifications and access to friends, messages and activity are on the left.


Here is the new one:


They've moved the notifications and access points to the right! Very annoying for a user that has been using the site for a long time. I see lots of wasted mousing and tapping motions going on over the next while. 

I wonder why they thought this was an important redesign? 

One other point. Re: this new gigantic search box - isn't it form design 101 to make the size of the text box relate to the number of characters the user might enter?  Maybe that's old school but one of my pet peeves. 



AuthorTyesha Snow

Hey Big Fish is our gift to the SXSW community.It helps you engage in a more meaningful way during and after the event. It creates a record of  SXSW 2013 that represents what happened and what the community valued.

The Story

Our team came together with the goal of designing a product to launch as SXSW. The idea was to create a little gift for our peers and bring some attention to the great work our organizations are doing.

The first step was to find a technology partner and fellow Portland, Or company Little Bird was an obvious choice.  Their product quickly became the spark of inspiration we needed - We could use Little Bird’s technology to add a layer of smarts to whatever we come up with.