I have seen plenty of articles on breaking in to the UX field and lessons learned in the first year or so of being a UXer, but not many that describe what happens further on in one’s career, or the transformation from practitioner to a mentor or manager role.

Have you been a UX designer for a while and think you know everything? Not so fast, grasshopper… Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Being a UX designer is never easy, regardless of where you are in your career. We are, however, also uniquely qualified by our training to notice patterns and behaviors and learn from them. …

Thinking of today’s wearable interfaces, I can only think of the massive design influence that Swatches have given designers over the years. Now that I use my Google watch for my fitness goals, I now wonder how to apply more Swatch-like aesthetics to my default fitness watch interface.

Can we make fitness tracking in a watch more fun? Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash

Why Swatch? Some cultural history

I have been a fan of Swatches since the 1980’s. Swatches were (and are) relatively cheap, very collectible, and the designs were new and fun. Swatch the company was also very innovative at that time, collaborating with artists like Keith Haring for example. They were able to jump on 80s trends, like…

Applying user-centered and trauma-informed design techniques can help apply some calm to a stressful job search and give your prospective future employees a better application experience.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

I’m a UX designer and chances are if you are reading this, you are one too. This likely means you identify with two things:

  1. Like other designers, job opportunities come and go and you have probably lost a job at least once, and probably you have lost jobs more than once. You know when budgets shrink, often designers are the first to go.
  2. You use the internet to apply for jobs. Many jobs.


Keeping up a creative practice is necessary but challenging. Online courses found on sites such as Domestika can help with accountability and inspiration.

Domestika can help you fill those empty sketchbooks! Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

I am a UX designer. Does this mean that I design interfaces all day long, every day of the week? Of course not. It is both healthy and necessary to design things as a hobby, especially if you design as a career. It helps relieve burnout while exercising a different part of your creativity like a muscle.

In my case, illustration is something that I love and want to get better at doing. Yes, I could just…

A beginners guide to building and presenting a persona.

If you have made a character in a video game, you can create a persona. Photo: Photo by Sergio Rodriguez on Unsplash.

Here is the good news: if you have ever created an avatar on a website or a video game, congratulations, you have experience in creating a persona: you can totally do this. Here is the bad news: in creating a persona, there really isn’t a right or wrong way to do it, and that can be overwhelming, especially if you are a designer like me and are prone to getting into rabbit holes easily.

Persona basics

The way I approach creating personas is that I apply structure to them at the outset so…

“More is better” isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to brainstorming sessions. Adding structure to your brainstorming sessions can help generate more quality ideas with minimal fuss.

If you’re a designer you have been there: a “brainstorming” session where only one, or at most two, people are contributing. It’s frustrating and often does not produce the desired results, which is to get into divergent thinking, considering different ways to do things, and making connections that you would not ordinarily make.

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

I have witnessed brainstorming sessions with stakeholders who are not confident at all in their own creativity. It can…

How to use a creative challenge to spark inspiration and gain confidence in building your creative skillset.

Photo of an ink pen by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If you’re reading this, I’m a lot like you: a professional designer who had been by fall 2020 working from home for over six months living in a radically shrunken world.

A very large part of this shrunken world for me has been the online meeting. While it has been an essential part of doing my job, it is also exhausting for me as an introvert with clinical anxiety and chronic depression. For example, I still ask myself questions every day like:

  • Will…

UX Designers hear all kinds of excuses from companies who don’t want to do any user research or testing. This is why cutting research and testing costs much more time and money than it saves.

post-its on a wall showing common user experience research tasks

I’ve been a designer in the digital space for over 20 years now. If you worked with me for any amount of time, you will hear me defend user testing as a practice, and I will probably get unusually animated about it. …

You can add OOUX to your toolset to strengthen your UX process and dramatically improve your discovery phases. I go through the full process here step by step.

Using Object-oriented UX will transform your discovery process

I recently completed my certification as an Object-Oriented UX (OOUX) Strategist, and this was my project for the duration of the class. Here, I go through the process of OOUX, step by step, in context. While this methodology may seem complex at the outset, especially if you, like me, have done UX for any length of time, I was able to use this process to make a better prototype.

If you want…

How to use OOUX to make sense of the mess and quickly make a difference on an existing site, by a quick discovery round and retrofitting existing assets.

When you want tacos, you want to eat, not deal with a messy interface. Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

I recently earned my certification as an Object-Oriented UX professional and I made this presentation, originally in Mural, as part of hosting a Lunch & Learn session for my UX colleagues at InformedXP.

Object-Oriented UX, also known as OOUX, is a UX process that unwraps complexity by way of focusing on navigation elements as easy-to-recognize nouns, in keeping with how brains learn and work. Ideally, this practice is done as part of…

mary mahling carns

#UX Designer and Strategist. I care more about typography than I probably should ❤️💚💙 for life 👀

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