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illustration credit: Luke Prater, Rewired UX

I entered the UX world twelve years ago — let’s see…carry the one — that’s like infinity in Internet years. And I’ve been self-employed for six years now. So how in the heck would I know anything about today’s entry-level job market challenges? Great question.

I know because I mentor a ton of people entering UX. As an organizer of Ladies that UX, the founder of the UX Hustle Summit, and having personally mentored dozens of incoming UX designers, I hear the stories and I commiserate on the reg. …


A 3x3 grid of heads in 16x9 Zoom boxes with the blue, pink, green, and yellow colors of OOUX post-its as background.
A 3x3 grid of heads in 16x9 Zoom boxes with the blue, pink, green, and yellow colors of OOUX post-its as background.

This year has been a wild one for the business world, especially for those of us in the creative fields who thrive on lively brainstorming and white-boarding sessions.

We are SEVEN months into our work going remote. And even though I’ve been working from a home office for over five years, before COVID-19, I’d never run an Object-Oriented UX Workshop online. I had delivered “interactive lectures” through Zoom, but never a truly collaborative workshop. …


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When we walk into a new physical environment, let’s say a friend’s home, we immediately begin identifying the things: couch, jug of lemonade, kitchen table, other people. These objects, their implied relationships to each other and to us, give us cues on how to behave and act in the environment. A beer in an ice bucket on the counter is different from a beer in the fridge. A beer in the fridge is different from a beer in your friend’s hand.

This seems so obvious, but the truth is, we UX designers often make it hard for our users to intuitively identify the important objects that make up our digital environments. When users enter our apps, websites, and software, their poor “physical world” brains desperately try to figure out: “What are the things here?” For a system to be truly intuitive, we need our users to quickly — subconsciously, even — answer this question. …


This email was sent to my newsletter Monday July 15th, 2020. I’ve decided to publish it here so I can share with an even wider audience.

Dear UXers,

Last week, I wrote to you about how I’d been examining my own website so we could build an object-oriented design system. I wrote to you about how I’d found shapeshifters on my very own site! Gasp. A hard pill to swallow.

Well, this week, the self-examination goes deeper. WAY deeper. The pill is 100x harder to swallow. This level of vulnerability — it is a place I don’t know if I’ve ever been. It’s scary, because I want so much to be liked, to be seen as a good and generous person. …


Screenshot of BBC’s Moorish Meatball Recipe
Screenshot of BBC’s Moorish Meatball Recipe

BBC Food is so much more than recipes. This delicious slice of The BBC’s elegant digital presence is a system of Chefs, Stories, Dishes, TV Episodes, Ingredients, Techniques, Diets, and of course, Recipes. And, for the most part, the connections between these concepts are supported by lovely contextual navigation: navigation that is powered by relevant content as opposed to a static list of persistent links.

The BBC has been basing their website design on domain models for over a decade (nod to Mike Atherton’s work) — years before I started practicing and teaching Object-Oriented UX. In OOUX, the design process focuses on objects, relationships, calls-to-action, and attributes (ORCA, if you need another acronym). …


5 bottles squirt 5 liquids. O.O.U.X. = design of substance. Figure this out first. Design Systems = design of packaging.
5 bottles squirt 5 liquids. O.O.U.X. = design of substance. Figure this out first. Design Systems = design of packaging.
OOUX = Design of the substance. <<Figure this out first.

There’s no doubt Design Systems are in vogue. There are talks about them, there are articles being written about them. Companies are assembling dream teams dedicated to them. There are even full-day, virtual conferences that revolve around them — like Sparkbox’s fantastic UnConference, which inspired this article. Design Systems are so hot right now, up there with N95 masks and rolled paper products. And it’s no wonder why: an on-brand style guide and a comprehensive pattern library can revolutionize the way digital products are made, saving time, money and that most precious resource, creative energy. But is something missing?

Design systems are fantastic, but if they aren’t based on anything deeper than surface-level implementation (aesthetics and UI), aren’t they a bit like Hobbes without Calvin? Like Jelly without Peanut Butter?! …


Let’s not reinvent the wheel. Can we leverage how we already think about Atlanta to build our dream transit system of the future?

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Atlanta is on the verge of its largest transit investment in history. On October 4th, “MARTA’s board of directors is expected to vote on a plan to expand the city’s transit network by way of roughly $2.5 billion in tax funds, to be spent over the next four decades.

The current proposal is ambitious—if implemented well, it’s surely going to be a more robust and accessible system compared to what we have today. I assumed that the design of the More MARTA plan was born from a cross-functional team of hard-working government officials, city planners, and transit experts. Probably the opinions of a few local industry tycoons were taken into consideration as well. And. allegedly, the list of projects was prioritized by “Atlantans like you.” …


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Failure. It’s a vulnerable subject. We regret the failures of our past and fear the failures in our future. Even in the present moment, we wonder—am I failing? For instance, this post that I am writing right now… Does it suck? Is my writing shit? Will anyone read this? Will anyone hit that “clap” button?

But wait. None of those questions actually have anything to do with failure. The real question is—will I hit publish?

This article was originally drafted in Evernote, years ago. A few months ago, I pasted it into Medium and moved a few words around. And today, I open it up again. I’ve been meaning to share my thoughts on failure since 2014. This article has been in “draft-state” for FOUR YEARS, people! And you better believe it’s not the only article sitting in limbo. I have a backlog of dozens of un-published ideas. I don’t want to work hard on something and then no one read it. …


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An updated, expanded, roughed-up version of an article printed in the November 2016 issue of NET Magazine.

How do people understand their worlds?
When people draw pictures in their head, what do those pictures look like?
What is the stuff of mental models?
What is the stuff of thought?

Ruh-roh…shit just got deep. But wait, don’t go anywhere! If you design digital products that people have to use and navigate, considering these questions might revolutionize the way you work.

***

For over three years, I’ve been teaching something that I call Object Oriented UX (OOUX). In a nutshell, it’s the practice of defining a system of objects before jumping into task flows and interaction design. …


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After exploring about a dozen cities in the past year, I’ve come to appreciate two city plan patterns:

  1. A strong core
  2. and rings around that core.

First, I love a city with a a clear focal point. Why? Because, If I can detect where I am in relation to that focal point, well, then I’m not so lost. And if I am not so lost, I am a much happier wanderer.

Second, if that core has a visible, distinguishable ring (or better yet, many rings) around it, I have a continuous point of reference. Recognizable edges in a city are like the walls of a dark, unfamiliar room.

About

Sophia V Prater

Found and Lead UXer at Rewired. Speaker on object-oriented UX. Recovering perfectionist.

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