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Professional software designer. Amateur writer.

After reading Lisa’s post about Undoing the Toxic Dogmatism of Digital Design I felt inspired to help. There’s a lot that needs to be undone.

This is shit, isn’t it?

“We love making them. The storytelling potential of a well-constructed journey map is immense. It is a highly effective workshop facilitation tool. It produces a nice artifact for external communication afterward. But if I’m truly honest with you, in my gut, I know that the majority of them don’t help do more than tell the most surface-level story of limited user paths. And an inaccurate story at that.”

I remember chuckling. Nodding in agreement. Somehow, I also felt the need to defend journey maps…


Don’t talk about solutions or problems. Instead, talk about progress.

When we talk about a solution, we’re talking about a point of time in the future when a new tool, process, or behavior exists. Someone could be able to do something.

When we talk about a problem, we’re talking about the present where a tool, process, or service doesn’t exist. Someone should be able to do something.

Even though we’re talking about two different points in time, we’re still talking about the same thing.

No matter how hard we try, we can’t untangle these two points in time without sacrificing clarity. …


Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

A good objective (or goal) is a combination of a specific form of progress, a direction for the progress, and an expectation of change.

For example…

We intend to reduce the amount of time it takes to write a medical note so that our clinical staff is no longer working into the evening.

Time spent writing medical notes is what we can influence through the design of our software. We want to reduce the time spent. …


When designing interfaces, we value clarity, efficiency, consistency, and beauty. Designing interfaces with these values in balance is possible. Unfortunately, it’s time — and resource — intensive. To get things done, we make sacrifices.

When we’re forced to make sacrifices, we focus on:

  1. Clarity above all
  2. Efficiency when things are clear
  3. Consistency when things are efficient
  4. Beauty when things are consistent

Clarity above all

Everyone should understand the content of an interface. They should also understand the consequences of every action. This shouldn’t demand training. For example, a guitar only takes a few seconds to understand, but a lifetime to master.

When an…


As the complexity of our product grows we can’t keep interacting with it, and its users, in the same way and expect a similar response. This may seem obvious. Unfortunately, while it’s happening, when things are working, we tend to miss the opportunities to reflect on what we could do better.

During the early stages of a company (or an idea) we can look at the world with fresh eyes. We can talk to domain experts (or be the domain experts) without the baggage of an existing product. We don’t have previously made decisions constraining our point of view. …


When we don’t have infinite resources, the way we intend to allow progress is the only part we really need to understand.

Yeah… That’s vague. Photo by Frank Mckenna on Unsplash.

Let’s take a vision or mission or goal and exaggerate its vagueness for dramatic effect.

Make the world a better place for people.

It’s a statement. It makes sense. However, it’s laughably vague. There’s no meaningful way to design or build anything with it.

It needs more … what? Clarity? Specificity? For which parts?

I’d suggest ‘make’ is the only word that matters in that statement. It’s the way we intend to allow progress. …


My favorite customer interviewing framework I learned from Josh Porter with Nelson Joyce and the UX Sisters. It’s a condensed and simplified version of the Scientific Method. The main idea is to decompose a simple “choice” into three buckets:

  • Observations
  • Inferences
  • Conclusions

If you can find patterns of observations that lead to an inference, you can better predict what will lead to a desired inference. If you can find patterns in inferences that lead to a conclusion, you…


I’m currently fascinated by a book about cities. Why they decay. Why they thrive. It’s called The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs (published in 1961).

There’s a point in the book where she discusses sidewalks. A sidewalk in a small town is very different from a sidewalk in a large city. Which makes sense intuitively, I guess.

But why?

In a small town, I’m likely to know many of the people on the sidewalk. In a big city, I’m not likely to recognize anyone.

This dramatically changes the experience I get from using a sidewalk…


Many of which aren’t about design

My favorite books are usually very direct, simple, and in plain english. They’re books that someone who isn’t a designer can read and understand. I don’t usually like “beginner” books, just books that are written clear enough that you don’t need to have any special skills or background to translate.

Badass: Making Users Awesome

by Kathy Sierra

Kathy is one of my heroes. She does an amazing job reframing how a product shouldn’t be cool, but help make the person using it cool. It’s a subtle shift in thinking, but makes a big difference in how things are designed. …


Is blogging just now finding its real audience?

Today I saw another great blog post about the death of blogging (irony?). So far, I tend to agree with every one of these posts. I wonder, though. Is owning your words the thing most people need? Maybe they only have something to say. Maybe they only need to get something off their chest. Maybe they only want to share an idea.

That’s typically my explanation for using Medium instead of my own website. I don’t have a plan for my blogging efforts. I just have things I’d like to learn and explore through writing and sharing. If each blog…

Dan(iel) Ritz(enthaler)

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