Soccer, I love you, but you should be better by now.

The world cup has reminded me how much I really like soccer, or as the rest of the world calls it, futbol!!! The athleticism, intelligence and creativity required to succeed elevate it to an elegance few sports can match. Every four years we americans wonder if it’s about to take off here too. Then we’re reminded of some of the rules ridiculous rules that would be ridiculed mercilessly in other sports.

Here are a few humble suggestions to help improve things:

No More Penalty Kick Shootouts

Can you imagine if a hitter in baseball had the opportunity to hit from a tee? Or if an American football game was decided by field goals? It’s ludicrous.

The penalty shootout is inherently flawed because it makes soccer no longer a team sport. It removes most of what makes the sport beautiful: teamwork, creativity, strategy (deking the goalie is a tactic, not a strategy).

As an alternative I propose some rule changes that maintain the integrity of the game:

  1. Disallow hand use by goalies after 90 minutes
  2. Create an “orange card.” Any player that commits a foul in overtime is immediately removed from the game.
  3. Eliminate throw-ins. They just waste time and encourage  momentum killing tactics.
  4. Reinstate the “Golden Goal” rule so that the first goal ends the game.

Disallow “Running Out The Clock”

Too many sports allow this. Clock rules encourage idling and inaction. It’s bullshit that you can short cut the game. Baseball and tennis force you to give the other man his fair chance; you have to put the ball in play. The victory those sports is complete.

Football and basketball solve this problem with “shot clocks”. Soccer should have the same:

  • You must move the ball inside the 17y box within 2’
  • Moving the ball back into your half is a penalty (or it could be retreating twice in a row).

Why Add-on Time?

I simply don’t understand why we don’t know what the official time of game is. There’s no good reason in this day and age that the referee on the field is the only person who has the official time. The current solution of add-on time is a hack. Ask the NFL how they do it and just put up a single official clock.


Designing for Content

Provide The Complete Text

Don’t truncate. Your layout must accommodate the full text. If you need to cut text to fit a layout for aesthetic reasons then the layout must be redone. Design should complement the content.

Display Full Images

Imagery such as slideshows and mastheads are content. Covering them with buttons, labels, captions usually gets in the way. It’s a distraction. This is even more important when serving User Generated Content. Your customer is paying you to present their hard work. Don’t contaminate their content with your UI.

Content Before Ads

Never push content out of the focus area in favor of ads. Your customers’ intent is to access your content. Pushing that content over, down or in to fit more ads “above the fold” means you are really just pushing your users away. People on the hunt for content will navigate around those distractions and then receive an inferior content experience. Ads should be treated as content and integrated via timing and interactions instead of space.

Clarify the play button

Audio and video content that requires a user trigger should have a single clear point to begin playback. Do not add conflicting buttons or icons around and near the content.

Anticipate Error Conditions

User generated content will contain misshapen images, blurry photos, bad typography, grammatical errors, and run-on titles. A well design tool accommodates humanity.


A Londoner’s Guide to New York Cycling

Rules of the road

  • In New York cars drive on the right side of the road. In London they drive on the wrong side. Be extra vigilant of cars on your newly exposed flank.
  • You might think it’s safer to bike on the left side of the road as cars operate on the right. This is wrong. The correct position is the center of the road (or “ centre” as you incorrectly call it) to discourage cars from side-swiping you at intersections.
  • There are clear, well-marked bike lanes traversing the busiest intersections (i.e. Times square, Herald Square, Union Square, et al). Avoid these at all costs. The green paint and dearth of cars encourages pedestrians to clog the bike lane.

Basic Navigation

  • In Manhattan even streets run east, while odd streets run west. Except in the west village where streets bend in circles through the space-time continuum. It’s often faster to bike around this area rather than attempt to go through it.
  • Bike lanes are marked on the left side of the street. Except when they’re on the right side.
  • The cross-town bike paths found at 9th, 10th, 20th, 21st, 29th, 30th streets are by far the slowest routes. Use Houston, 14th, 23rd and 34th instead.
  • Uptown & downtown bike lanes can be found on 1st avenue and 2nd avenue respectively. Use the red bus lanes instead. Cabs accelerate into bike lanes during left turns, and the bus behind you will serve as motivation.

Cycling Safety

  • Never signal. It is a sign of weakness and will only help guide the cabbies who are trying to hit you. Hand signals are also more likely to confuse civilian drivers rather than alert them.
  • The correct way to run a red light, or “jump” as you incorrectly call it, is fading left with crossing traffic. This allows you to weave through the gridlock caused as cars slam on their brakes.
  • It is best to accelerate when approaching a crosswalk that is full of jay-walkers. Any hint of hesitation will encourage more of them to walk into the street.
  • Biking the Brooklyn Bridge is a full contact sport. Make liberal use of your bike polo mallet. Collect 10 points for each tourist you hit. 20 for any taking a selfie.

New York Life

  • There’s no need to purchase lights, bells, fenders, or other accessories as it’s quite acceptable to take any that are attached to bikes nearby.
  • Young white bike messengers are still a vibrant and crucial element in the socio-economic ecosystem of new york.
  • New York tends toward more extreme weather than London with hotter summers and colder winters. There is no bad weather, only bad clothing. Ask the delivery men.
  • As anti-theft measure you should purchase a lock that is more expensive than the bike it is protecting. This will help ensure only your lights, bell and fenders are stolen.
"School always gets in the way of learning."


"A usability test tells you if a person can use it; not if people will use it."


"Complexity increases exponentially with each feature you add. It’s not linear or gradual."



The Endless Race of Design

Design has no finish line. It only has a time limit.

The beautiful thing about programming is the certainty of closure. You know you’ve accomplished your goals when the code compiles. Either it works or it doesn’t. The measure of success is concrete: the little light turns green.

Developers love this certainty. The clarity and order appeals to the temperament of people who love solving puzzles. You’ll often hear developers tell you the greatest moment of programming isn’t when they ship, or earn promotions, or learn new skills; but when they achieve a “eureka!” moment and overcome a technical obstacle. They live for the break-through moment that flips the green light.

Design is totally different. There is no bell that rings to let you know the cupcake is ready. The measure of success for a good design is whether the user has a smile on their face when they tell people about their experience using the product. That’s almost impossible to capture mid-design.

I try to remove ambiguity from the design process and inject objective measures: brand guides, KPIs, browser constraints. These constraints act like bumpers keeping the designer on course. Without them we might never finish the race.


Publishing makes you better designer

If you don’t showcase your work because “it’s not good enough,” don’t expect it to get any better. -

Killer. That quote neatly encapsulates the paradox of creative work. You want to improve your design but must walk through the fires of critique to emerge hardened and proven on the other side.

Design critiques hurt. Hearing everything you did wrong sucks. The very goal of a critique is to expose flaws in your work. The exercise of questioning your process is institutionalized second guessing. It can be demoralizing to hear where you went wrong.

It’s understandable that a designer might be reluctant to share their work. But haters’ gonna hate. It’s better to hear it from a trusted source than to have your precious efforts ripped apart by strangers – or worse yet, your customers. They deserve better.


UX Data Causes Night Blindness

Quantitative analysis is a powerful tool for any UX practitioner. Traffic logs and multivariate tests offer insights into user behavior with less subjectivity and bias. Usability labs, interviews and surveys can provide color around user needs but objective measurement provides proof. Mining big-data can empower the novice UX research but it needs a wide area of focus to truly shine.

I like to compare mining big-data for UX insights to shining a flashlight in a dark room. The beam of light from a handheld light will brightly illuminate the darkness. The harsh beam brings highlights and shadows into vivid relief. In some ways the definition is even higher than under natural conditions. 

On the other hand the narrow beam limits your area of focus. Only a single vector is visible at a time. A sharp contrast forms between the lit area and the darkness surrounding it. This contrast creates fovea blindness as the eye shifts focus from cones to rods. This is the same phenomenon experienced by stage performers and put to use in one way mirrors.

The UX practitioner running quantitative tests faces data foveal blindness. Focusing on that data behind a single interaction can block you from seeing downstream effects. For example: Clarifying the pricing of your signup will cause near term and longer effects you need to be aware of. The close-range impact may be a decrease in purchase conversions; but at the same time there can be corresponding decrease in churn downstream. These aren’t equivalent changes because churn is always more expensive than lost sales. It’s a dissatisfied customer that requires support and maintenance. 

Making sense of the complex interaction between short-range and long-range impact of design changes is similar to navigating a dark room. A flashlight will illuminate your current vector but that vector is only valuable if it’s the correct one. A dark room with multiple dimensions has multiple pathways through it. Determining the correct pathway requires understanding the surrounding space. Moving that flashlight left and right will illuminate other potential vectors. New opportunities and dangers are revealed. A richer understanding enables you to purposefully change direction if needed.

The savvy UX practitioner needs to shine their beam of analysis in multiple directions to understand a problem. The insights from a single metric will always pale in comparison to triangulating that insight with multiple metrics. Deeper insights will help you improve your designing by illuminating the most valuable problems it faces.


On newsstands now, the Feb 2014 Entrepreneur Magazine features Tomorrow Lab as one of the top tech innovators! Read the article here.  

My boy Dean and his partners are designing epic shit. Now you know.


On newsstands now, the Feb 2014 Entrepreneur Magazine features Tomorrow Lab as one of the top tech innovators! Read the article here.  

My boy Dean and his partners are designing epic shit. Now you know.