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Make Decisions.

Design is not the act of putting pixels into a pretty arrangement on the screen; design is a process of decision making that culls bad ideas in favor of working ideas.

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On Redesigns

Unsolicited redesign work is never acceptable in a professional portfolio.

Recent Articles on Medium

I've been using Medium as my blogging tool of choice lately. It's pretty, it's slim and streamlined, and I enjoy its UX. Here's a collection of the recent articles I've published there.

Don't be Afraid of a Pencil - Here I discuss the concept of sketching as communication, and that drawing skills aren't required to sketch. And that you should be sketching.

UI: It's Not the Tool - Too many people think that making great UI means digging into Balsamiq Mockups or other wireframing tools. But UI goes beyond tools.

The Right Fidelity for the Job - Wireframes are only one part of the UX design process. Don't work at high fidelity when you're just trying to sort out early problems.

What Are Your Project's Design Pillars? - Every project has their foundational design principles, and every bit of design should always speak to those principles.

Embedded or Centralized?

I've worked in all kinds of team configurations in my ten years (so far) in the game industry, so I thought I'd talk a little bit about what I've experienced as a game UI/UX designer from two different perspectives: that of the embedded designer, and that of the "client services" designer. Both styles of working have their pros and cons.

Good Design: Cupcake Royale

I believe that there are two sentences that sum up adulthood: "I can have a cupcake whenever I want" and "I should not have a cupcake whenever I want." These two statements are frequently on my mind now that I work right next door to a Cupcake Royale.

The Evolution of UX Design in Games

I've been following with interest the discussion among non-game-industry UX designers that "UX is not UI," and finding that the evolution of UX from UI within the game industry has created a unique type of UX designer that really does seem heavily tied into UI design.

Doesn't Exist? Make it.

A huge portion of my UI/UX design time is spent in the sketching phase. I don't rely completely on stencils, but when I need one I like having it. The other day I realized that, for a long time, I'd been doing something that I wish I had a stencil for. I was sure such a stencil existed, but I did a Google search, asked around on Twitter, and turned up absolutely nothing. Completely surprised by this, I decided that it's not hard to make my own -- after all, I'd done it for quilting way back in the day, when I was into that sort of thing.

UX Thoughts: Twitter, Facebook, and Stream Control

I use both Twitter and Facebook, but in very different ways, and I get very different user experiences out of both of them. My Facebook friends list is very highly curated; although I sometimes feel bad about it, I have a fairly strict rule about only having people on my friends list that I actually know, in person, and are friends or close colleagues in some way -- not just people I met at a game dev conference somewhere. The reason for this is that I use Facebook for more personal updates and targeted discussion.

My Twitter feed, on the other hand, is a much looser, less committed stream of stuff. Unlike Facebook, there's no mutual requirement for following, so I'll tend to follow anyone who seems remotely interesting until they prove themselves not to be, at which point I'll remove them -- because, unlike Facebook, I feel less obligation to follow someone on Twitter since it's less personal.

The problem with both of these is that they're at opposite ends of the stream control spectrum. Facebook has always had algorithms that are out of our control as users that dictate which posts from which friends you see, and has implemented even more controversial stream-throttling mechanisms recently with their promoted posts. You're able to set up lists to offset this, but the effort to do so is high enough to be a bothersome user experience.

Twitter, on the other hand, has zero internal stream-throttling mechanisms. Again, like Facebook, you can set up lists to manage this, but it's to achieve the opposite experience from Facebook -- your feed can be so noisy that you need to set up lists so that you don't miss anything.

I do some management of my Twitter feed in order to make it useful rather than too noisy. But even with some pruning and management, there are posters I enjoy following who are just really, really prolific. And while I might enjoy many of their posts, I often wish I could throttle their post stream just a little bit, depending on who the poster is.

The type of throttling that I'm envisioning already exists in Google News. Google News allows you to list your favorite news sources, but then set a slider value according to how much of that source you want to see in your news feed -- "seldom" to "always", with values like "rarely" and "occasionally" in between.

I would love to see this kind of slider implemented on the profile of people I follow, and setting it controls how many posts I see from them in a given time in my stream.

What would the algorithm be for determining how to throttle a user's posts? Would it be time-based or content-based? I'm not immediately sure, but I imagine some basic UX research could be done with Twitter's users to determine what value they get out of the posters they follow or how they "use" their stream to find the answer.

A Post About Legalizing Same Sex Marriage.

I have no horse in this race. I’m a 40-year-old straight, white woman. I’m married to my husband, and we have a son. I have acquaintances who are gay and some who are transgendered -- no one that I spend significant time socializing with (and I have plenty of non-gay and non-transgendered acquaintances I also don’t spend significant time socializing with), but people that I keep in touch with because I’ve crossed paths with them either in my professional life or via my hobbies, and I enjoy having them in my life.

Throw My Work Away. No, Really.

In order to for us to avoid wasting valuable engineering time, it's almost vital that much of my work gets thrown away. It's better to test out ideas and waste only a day of my time than it is to waste several days of several people's time, only to discover the idea didn't work.

If Video Games Were Card Games

Ever since working on my own card game that initially started life as video game, I've been wondering what my favorite video games would look like if they were card games.

The User Experience of Customer Service

When companies hire people who are given some incentive to care about the company they work for and the customers they serve, the improved user experience of customer service would pay back in dividends.

The UI Sorting Hat

If you're a game developer, into which house does your company's Sorting Hat put your UI team members? Art, Design, or Engineering?

Rape, Violence, and Strong Female Leads

The new Tomb Raider trailer has been generating some discussion online about how appropriate it is to show female characters getting beaten to a pulp and then nearly raped. You know, the usual light video game fare.