I’m faced with a design challenge everyday. Sweet! I like it. It’s fun and rewarding to find a solution, if that’s your thing. Like working on a puzzle: finding all the pieces, recognizing what’s their right position, joining them one by one, and finalizing with a composition that only makes sense when everything is together.

That being said, the pieces of the puzzle don’t have a clear shape or color, and a lot is left to analysis, and interpretation. And you don’t even have a reference of how the puzzle is supposed to look like.

Probably is not like putting a puzzle together at all. Whatever. Never mind.

Zie zombies

And who is the target? Who is going to end up looking at that puzzle — or whatever that is — that a UXUI Designer put together? You are. We are. The idle minded. Because that’s what we — the users — are in the end. Our brains are too busy thinking on what we’re going to have for dinner, where, with who, or if we will have take away on our own again. So when we grab the phone, open the browser, grab the TV remote, we’re not actively thinking. Content. That’s what we want.

1_vDM5iRh3usKXqlTrGeaVgg.jpeg

When I first heard about this, the fact that users don’t think, I felt disappointed on human intelligence. But after all, one of the must-read books for product designers is called “Don’t make me think”. Like it or not. We are contributing to feed a whole generation of Zombies. Users are zombies.

If you think about it, makes a lot of sense.

They move in big groups, without a clear objective, relying on automatisms and muscular memory, reacting slowly, and paying little or no attention to their surroundings.

Full attention, not necessary

Now, I am not saying that people are zombies. My point is that users are multitasking most of the time they spend in front of their devices. We eat sandwiches, drink coffee, walk around the city, talk to our friends, and listen to music. We even dare to think of more important stuff! Because using an app shouldn’t be cumbersome. After all it’s just a tool. The meanings to an end. And although some tools are far more complicated than others, once we learn to use them we don’t actively read any buttons or labels anymore. We knowwhere everything is. And when something changes we hate it, because it makes us think and reroute our wirings.

When I started designing websites, which would lead to designing software and interfaces, nobody told me psychology would play such a big role. Yet, we don’t get to play with full functioning brains most of the time, we have to make what we can out of 20% of the user’s attention — Yes, I made that number up.

Your users won’t be reading half of the labels, nor what the buttons say. They will type in what they consider that should be typed in, wherever they consider its supposed to be. And they will click that big chunk of color that looks like a button, and will always click and tap on the image, not the text. To make that easy, the design has to avoid possible distractions.

In order to make a user interface work, we have to strip it out of all the unnecessary. Here’s an example.

Keeping it simple, visually

A while ago, I work on a project at Asana. We called it Typography Update. During the redesign many hands touched the interface, and many engineers worked on the CSS. The result was great. But part of the collateral damage of having so many moving parts were little mismatches on font sizes, colors, and spacing.

So I went on and reduced the number of styles, fixed inconsistencies, and adjusted the margins. I reduced and standardize the body size, the paragraphs, and their line-height. Headings had the same exact style now, in a couple of different sizes for hierarchy. Project names became tokens almost everywhere. Margins became consistent around the objects, and relative to object their size. And different shades of gray for copy were reduced to only two, based on the contrast ratio with the background.

When I showed the first results to the product manager she couldn’t see the actual changes. She asked “How did you do that? You didn’t change anything and it looks way better!”. The multiple styles and little inconsistencies had been adding noise and clutter. Imperceptible. Little by little. Too many instruments going for a solo at the same time. We were making the brain work overtime, and forcing it to think. Not a lot. But more than what was necessary.

The voices in our heads

Why was this design more effective and harmonious?

Each different style is a new voice you add to the chorus that is the interface. Restricting the number of those will make things easier to process for the user, since they won’t have to register yet another voice in their head. A bunch of small disruptions will cause havoc in their visual field. But restrict it too much, and all the voices will be the same.

My advice then? When adding styles, make them dramatically different. Go from 10 to 14, from blue to black, from regular to bold. It either is really different, or it’s the same. Because zombies can tell a human from a deer apart. But all human are the same to them: just food.

We are idle minded, our list of priorities is to get what we want, not to understand how we are getting it. We are — and want to keep being — idle minded.

So when building a tool, design something that a zombie could use. That is good product design.

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E.

Essential Podcasts for Entrepreneurs & Tech Lovers

Podcasts are a great way to discover new subjects and new people. Whether you are a tech lover or an entrepreneur, bellow you will discover podcasts for entrepreneurs you should – without a doubt – listen to. 

Itnig Podcast with César Migueláñez, Bernat Farrero and Carlos Pierre
Itnig Podcast with César Migueláñez, Bernat Farrero and Carlos Pierre

« Masters of Scale » 

with Reid Hoffman

The host: Reid Hoffman decides to turn to the corporate world instead of pursuing a university carrier. He worked for Apple, Fujitsu for then starting his own business: SocialNet and left it in 2000 to join Confinity. Confinity gives life to Paypal after fusionning. Finally, in 2003, Hoffman co-founds LinkedIn. He is Master of Scale’s host. 

About: The podcast welcomes some of the greatest entrepreneurs. You will discover throughout the talk how they managed to take their companies from 0 to a lot of zeros. You can listen to Masters of Scale’s special guests like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Selina Tobaccowalla (Evite), Brian Chesky (Airbnb) or Nancy Lublin (Crisis Text Line). Must-hear: one of the top tech podcasts for entrepreneurs.

Listen to the podcast: On their website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Youtube

The Team: Reid Hoffman, June Cohen, Deron Triff and Jai Punjabi

« Rocket » 

with Christina Warren, Simone de Rochefort and Brianna Wu

The hosts: Christina Warren started as a Freelance Writer. Then, she worked at Mashable as a Senior Tech Analyst and Tech Correspondent and ended the journey at Microsoft as a Senior Cloud Developer Advocate. About Simone de Rochefort, she is  Senior Video Producer and co-host of The Polygon Show. Brianna Wu founded her first startup at the age of 19, Giant Spacekat. She was Head of Development at the time. She is now running for US Congress. 

About: In this podcast, you will discover three passionate women and their “geek conversation” as they like to call it.  No guest speakers, but you will be able to listen to a panel of tech subjects from Apple to Comics, you will not be disappointed. 

Listen to the podcast: On their website, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify and Castro

« This week in Startups »

with Jason Calacanis

The host: Jason Calacanis starts as an internet industry journalist in New-York. In 2003, he co-founded Weblogs, Inc and then a few years later he joined Sequoia Capital, launched the web directory Mahalo. He also founded ThisWeekIn.com. Furthermore, he created This Week in Startups podcast and a startup named Inside.com. Finally, he was part of the creation of the Sydney Launch Festival. 

About: Either you are looking to start your own company, or you are a successful entrepreneur, or you just love technology, this podcast will give you a peek to the entrepreneurship world. You will hear stories of all kinds! On his website, you will also find his events and some research on transportation, healthcare and more. This is one is part of the tech podcasts for entrepreneurs not to be missed.

Listen to the podcast: Apple Podcasts, Youtube, SoundCloud and RSS Feed

You can also subscribe to their newsletter in order to receive episodes directly. 

The Team: Jason Calacanis, Jacqui Deegan, and Tony Agapiou

« Recode / Decode » 

with Kara Swisher

The host: Kara Swisher is an American journalist specialized in the technology industry. She first started to work for an alternative newspaper in Washington for then working for the Washington Post. She wrote articles for the Wall Street Journal and New York Times and wrote her own books. Finally, in 2014, she created Recode, a website dedicated to the latest technology news. In 2015, she initiates Recode Decode. 

About: The weekly podcast welcomes tech experts and great entrepreneurs. They review how they got there, what’s on their mind about the current industry and what they would improve or create. Her recent guests were Elon Musk (Tesla CEO), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg. 

Listen to the podcast: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn

« K Fund PodKast »

with Jaime Novoa

The host: Jaime Novoa’s background is quite diverse. He is a writer and an investor, but he also worked in data analysis and social media analysis. In 2014, he founded Novobrief, a newsletter for startups. Then, in 2016, he becomes an investor at K Fund and he founds, in 2019, Dealflow, a weekly tech newsletter. 

About: The podcast discusses startups, entrepreneurs and Venture Capital. You will discover enterprises and their story. From data science, unicorns or digital platforms, you sure will find more than one interesting podcast. 

Listen to the podcast: On their website and Soundcloud

« Clockwise »

with Dan Moren and Mikah Sargent

The hosts: Dan Moren is an active author and writer as well as podcaster. He was a Senior Editor at Macworld. Today, he hosts two podcast shows: Clockwise and The Rebound. As for Mikah Sargent, he started as a Website Designer and Developer for then switching as a Senior Editor at Newsy. He now hosts few podcasts such as Clockwise on Replay FM or on TWiT.tv. 

About: The weekly podcast discusses technology and welcomes each time 2 special guests. For 30 minutes, they address 4 topics where all four speakers get to elaborate on the matter, highlight the issues and expose their thoughts. 

Listen to the podcast: On their website, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify and Castro

« Itnig Podcast»

with Bernat Farrero

The host: Bernat Farrero starts his career as a Developer. In 2009, he founded Itnig, a startup ecosystem that organizes entrepreneurship events. They also have a coworking for startups, a podcast and a fund for early-stage projects. Furthermore, he is a Founder of Factorial, Quipu and Camaloon. He is also a Board Member of Playfullbet, GymForLess and Parkimeter. Finally, he hosts Itnig’s weekly Podcast. 

About: The podcast welcomes every week a new guest. If you wish to learn from successful entrepreneurs, you are on the right platform. The discussions turn around Technology and its industry. You will come across guests like Carlos Pierre (Badi), Vincent Rosso (BlaBlaCar) or Oscar Pierre (Glovo).

Listen to the podcast: Youtube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Ivoox, and Google Podcasts

You can subscribe to their newsletter if you want to receive the podcast’s link every Monday. 

Whether you are at an early stage of your project, an investor or you are just curious, these podcasts for entrepreneurs give you the opportunity to be updated on tech and business news. Also, you get to learn from successful international entrepreneurs, which can definitely be very useful for your business.