Ti Chang: 3 Things to Consider Before I Design Anything

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“Art is like masturbation. It is selfish and introverted and done for you and you alone. Design is like sex. There is someone else involved, their needs are just as important as your own, and if everything goes right, both parties are happy in the end.”

— Colin Wright

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For any product — and I’ve worked on a wide range — the process varies depending on the scope of the project and creative freedom given to the designer. In my current genre of products, sex toys, I strongly believe in the ethos that form follows function…and emotion. The last part is one that is what I believe to be the key ingredient to what I do.

So before I design anything (meaning putting pen to paper and conjuring magical forms) this is my process: Read More

Joen Asmussen on The Making of a Gridicon

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Great iconography taps into a universal language we all understand. Like the dove of peace or the red cross on hospitals, the very best of icons communicate thousands of words in a single graphic form.

In much the same way, icons can augment a user interface. If the icon speaks enough on its own, it can free up always-welcome whitespace. Alternately, it can sit next to a label to give it a unique silhouette that’s more easy to recognize at a glance.

What you see above are the Gridicons for WordPress.com. Here’s a brief overview of how we created them. Read More

‘Nothing Special’: Rohan Gunatillake on Mindfulness In Design

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Photo by Ashley Baxter

I don’t know how it works but there are moments in life when someone says something which stays with you forever. All of us will have our own different examples of this: wise advice from a friend, an inspiring phrase from a book, or even something from a political speech full of hope. Words which have that magical quality of our hearing them at what feels like the perfect time so that they resonate both in that moment and also when we remember them again and again in the future. Read More

Jules Walter on Diversity in Tech: The Unspoken Empathy Gap

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Photo by Scott Schiller

Ken Norton recently published a great piece about the importance of authenticity and psychological safety in order to help teams succeed. In his article, he cites research from Google that suggests psychological safety is the most predictive characteristic of successful teams. As a minority working in tech, this article brought to mind a pressing question: given the lack of diversity in tech, how can tech workers foster a psychologically safe environment for minorities, many of whom struggle just to be their true selves at work? For me, it starts with empathy. Read More

Tammie Lister: Design for Humans, Not Robots

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Before I begin this article, let me set something straight. I am not saying robots aren’t awesome — they totally are. Robots are amazing. However, beyond comic book robots, there is this discourse between humans and robots. Robots are ‘near human’. We as humans have this fascination with robots. We play with them as toys, we make them in our own image. We have even developed robots with emotional states, that mimic, that care for us. Read More

Jewel Burks: How My Identity Impacted My Business

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Photo by Loyall Hart

“Is your leadership team still black?”

I will never forget when a venture capitalist asked me this in a meeting. Much had changed since the last time my black co-founder, black CTO and I had connected with this insensitive investor, but certainly not that. I answered in the affirmative and quickly, awkwardly ended the meeting. The firm did not invest. Perhaps it was our business model they didn’t like.

This was one of the most overt, but certainly not the only time, my identity was at the center of an outsider’s analysis of the worth of my company. I started Partpic because I observed a significant pain point that I wanted to solve. While working at an industrial distribution company, I found our customers struggling to describe the parts they wanted to purchase from us. Agents on my team would try their best but often err in trying to help customers locate products. Based on customer feedback, it seemed taking a picture would be a better way to search for items that were not labeled with a part name or number. Partpic was created to solve this problem for everyone. We built a computer vision API that can recognize part images and match them to a specific SKU. Read More

Saron Yitbarek: ‘I Don’t Belong in Tech’

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When I was at NPR years ago, I did a story on public education in California. I don’t remember the angle, but I remember looking up a stat to use in the script. I used that stat in a few places, and after fact-checking, I realized there was an updated number available. I went back and changed the references to the new number, relieved that I’d caught this mistake before handing over my script to the host. But I missed one. I heard it over the speakers when Michelle Martin, the host, read it out loud during the interview, and my heart stopped. I knew it was my duty to report it, so I went up to my editor and told her. She didn’t say anything, but I could feel her disappointment in me. I melted into a pool of shame. Read More

Justin Dunn on Coding A New Path to the Championship

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Photo by Patrick Dunn.

Growing up, I had one dream and one dream only—that was to play ball. While my friends were gearing up for summer breaks filled with swimming and barbecues, I competed in basketball tournaments across the country. I was a star in my region and flourished against guys that were nationally known. My commitment to basketball as a means of success is not a foreign concept in the inner city. Like most Black males, my only exposure to the achievements of men who looked like me was through watching sports. When I saw Allen Iverson or Tracy McGrady play, instinctively I saw myself. Therefore, basketball for as long as I could remember was all I knew. Read More