Hurry Slowly Podcast with Cal Newport

I caught up with my friend Luz on Friday via phone. We don't have a lot of conversations, however, they are so meaningful. She was telling me about the Hurry Slowly podcast by Jocelyn Glei. Her guest was Cal Newport (one of my favorite authors) and they discuessed Using Technology with Intention. It's a great listen as I'm trying to have more intention in my life both professionally and personally.

Hurry Slowly also reminds me of one of my favorite latin phrases: Festina Lente, which translates to "make haste slowly."



Avoid Design Re-Shoots: Leverage Thumbnail Sketches

Avoid Design Re-Shoots: Leveraging Thumbnail Sketches

The role of a product designer comes with a lot of responsibilities, such as ensuring you're making the most considered decisions since there is a downstream impact in the product development process. Designers can combat this by learning as quickly as possible. A designer has a unique skillset in which they can take requirements/problems and make it tangible in a visual way to create understanding. A very small percentage of this is screen design and in the conceptual process.

I am a huge fan of film production and am often inspired by the process. One of the most costly elements in the process is extensive and costly reshoots. The definition of a reshoot is when a movie has to incorporate additional shots to capture content, whether it's missing some key shots or there are changes in the process. Two prime examples of films that suffered from this are Solo: A Star Wars Story, and The Justice League; where extensive reshoots arguably affected the quality and success of the films.

Xin Xin, a UX Researcher on my team at One Medical often says, "You want to make sure you're not polishing a turd." There is no purpose in refining something that is not the right solution.

We want to learn as quickly as possible, and this is where thumbnail sketches come in handy Thumbnail sketches are quick, abbreviated drawings, usually done very rapidly and with no corrections. You can use any medium, though pen or pencil is the most common. Thumbnail sketches, usually are very small, often only an inch or two high.

The legendary Ridley Scott once stated that "the storyboard is the first look at the film." I equate storyboards in films to sketching, wireframes, and flows as it pertains to design.

Similar to filmmaking, we as product designers can avoid extensive debt in the development process by ensuring we have the whole picture thought out at a low fidelity level.

Page from the book "The Soul of Blade Runner 2049"

Low fidelity iterations in thumbnail sketches can really drive the direction to something excellent. So before your team starts designing screens, consider storyboarding the project out together in thumbnail sketches.

Three years at One Medical

Today marks my third anniversary at One Medical. Aside from my own ventures, this is the longest I've been at one company. It can feel like an eternity in Silicon Valley. Despite that, I feel there is still so much left to do. I'd like to share a few thoughts from the last 1,095 days.

Embrace Change

The biggest thing I've learned is that rather than anticipating change, prepping you and your team to embrace change is the key to a solid foundation. What I set out to do when joining on my first day is drastically different than what I'm doing now, and that's okay. A lot of unexpected change has led to new opportunities I never would have imagined.

Transforming the self

I've changed a lot as a person during my time here both professionally and personally. Working in health made me really cognisant about wellness in my own life. In fact, I lost 25 pounds since I've started until now (that probably fluctuated a bit over the holiday). On a professional level, I discovered the love for the team I lead and their continued success. As someone who thought they wanted to be the best individual contributor for the rest of their career, this was a big realization and change. My managers have embraced this continued evolution.

Designing with purpose

There is no doubt that One Medical is the place where I've felt the most impact during my design career. As I grow older, my desire is to use Design for good and maximize the impact that it can have on people and industries who need it most. We have the opportunity to shadow our clinicians on a daily basis and really be in touch with who we're designing for. It is really easy to get up in the morning to go to work.

Our frequent research sessions

Witnessing people grow

In addition to people on my design team, I've seen people all over the company grow. Whether it is first-time managers or one of our interns returning to join full time and now is a feature lead, it's amazing to see people develop on a day-to-day basis.

Our interns Finn and Priya in 2016. Finn ended up joining us full-time!

Building teams require long-term commitment

A mentor once told me that if you truly want to make a difference at a company, it sometimes takes years to see it come to fruition. This really resonated with me as the design team has grown from two people to now 10 with continued growth. What you decide and set in motion continues to grow over the years.

Recruit your friends

For me, the most important thing about a place of employment is the people. I'm a person who always will recruit friends to join. In 2018 my friends Tyten and Sofia joined—making it such an added bonus to see friends at work and see them love work.

I am thankful for everyone who has made it such an amazing journey and continues to do so.

2019 Focus

Happy New Year! It's now January and I'm feeling recovered and rested after a holiday with friends, family, and loved ones. As people start easing into their routine in 2019, I thought I'd share a few areas of focus for me this year. I don't do resolutions as I often feel priorities and goals can change. Instead, I think of Gregorian calendar year milestones as a time to set focus areas.

Be as predictable as possible

My life has some complexity to it. I work in San Francisco, my girlfriend is in Los Angeles, and have life-long friends in Seattle, Europe, and New York City. The first talk I ever gave was at Ignite about how to live in two cities. Though I'll try to simplify this, I feel my life is wired this way. My counterbalance is to be as predictable as possible. This means being predictable to friends, family, coworkers, and yes, myself. My goal is to create a routine and foundation that people can anticipate and know what I'm going to do. I'll mix it up to have fun as well, but predictability is the foundation.

Better posture

The new year is preceded by my birthday, which is a great reminder that I am getting older. My friend Jess Estrada and I often talk about the idea of getting older. I used to be terrified about it, but now I embrace it. I'd like to work professionally as long as possible (see Vince Carter scoring 20 points as a 41-year-old). In order to work at a high level, health is crucial. I'm focusing on better ergonomics in the office to make sure my back, neck, and joints are in good health.

Do fewer things at a higher level

I am passionate and interested in many things. There is this infinite energy I have when it comes to collaboration, creation, and generating ideas. Often ideas can tie if you don't tend to it. My solution to this is to do fewer things and at a higher level. It sucks to say "no" to things, especially ones that really interest you. However, I see this as a good forcing function to get things done in order to move onto things equally as interesting.

Less screen time

I'm no longer interested in the latest smartphones. My iPhone from a few years ago serves its purpose at a high level. Screen time seems to be a huge area of focus for a lot of people; the attempt to reduce the amount of app addiction and scrolling. As someone who works in digital, this is a tough balance as screen time also is a professional focus. I'm trying a few things to combat screen time:

  • Having a Braun analog clock as an alarm and leaving my phone in the living room when I go to sleep
  • Spend the majority of design time on paper and whiteboards before creating in front of a screen; to see how far you can get
  • Using Siri and voice command more as a way to get things done
  • RSS. Curating my own feed of content instead of having to go on Instagram

Being mindful of my data

It is very difficult to fully own all of your data in this day and age, so my goal is to be mindful about it. Last year I deleted my Facebook account and feel so much healthier from an information perspective. This year I am going to continue this trend:

  • Deleting unused accounts
  • Hosting more content on my own domain
  • 3rd party hygiene. Spend time to groom apps like Twitter to make sure the 3rd parties that have access are still relevant
  • Frequently changing passwords (I recommend 1Password)


Before all titles, I consider myself a Maker. I like to build, create, and make, whether it is digital or physical. Last year I found some patches of time to paint again (I am a visual arts major). As 2019 progresses I'd like to continue that trend with drawing, painting, and photography. Perhaps I'll have enough content to do a show again. I haven't done an art show since 2008.

Write daily

It started with this post! My 2019 is focused more on writing and less on speaking. Though I'll consider doing one or two conference talks, I am really looking forward to sharing ideas in written format. Daily writing can be a blog post or a simple post on my

How about you? I'd love to hear some things you're focusing on, and wishing you a healthy 2019.

Video from UXDX: Prototyping to the North Star

My talk from UXDX is up. Thank you UXDX organizers for invited me to speak and taking the time and resources to record it!

Bring back personal websites

I'm at home in Seattle visiting my family for Christmas. This time of year is one of the few moments in a revolution around the sun that I sit on the couch and be a bit lazy. Looking through my feed, Brad Barrish posted this article from Motherboard, We Should Replace Facebook With Personal Websites.

I deleted Facebook about six months ago and have no regrets. There are certainly times I wonder how certain friends are doing where Facebook was the only place we interacted. That said, my digital wellness is a lot better since I deleted Facebook.

The days of people maintaining personal websites were in my mind the golden age of the web. Digital presence has evolved into streams and feeds, so I don't think we'll revert back to static websites any time soon. However, I've been spending more time on RSS feeds and subscribing to the news I want to see from the people I want to hear from.

If you have a personal website or blog, please let me know as I'd love to follow it.

Undiscovered Power Gestures

A few weeks ago, Twitter blew up about an interaction on iOS that people discovered. This behavior allows users to navigate through a text field by pressing down on the device.

This feature has been available for 3D Touch-enabled devices since the iPhone 6. However, the release of the iPhone XR probably re-surfaced this discovery.

This sparked a lot of criticism by people on social media. Some were upset that Apple was not explicit about this to users and just rolled it out as a feature. I’m writing to challenge the criticism and say that it is not bad UX for Apple to roll out a feature like this without clear instructions. No, it’s not because of company allegiance or fanaticism, but on principle.

Let’s start by being clear that I’m not in the business of blaming the user. Is it wrong that users don’t know this? No. Should users have to watch an Apple Keynote to know how interactions work? No.

This interaction is an accelerator gesture, which is a supplementary way to achieve something. The beauty of multitouch interactions is that there are multiple pathways to achieve something. I believe the primary interaction has to be intuitive and clear. However, for secondary interactions, it does not have to stand out like the primary one. In this case, the primary interaction is tapping on the area you want to edit.

When Android rolled out this feature (prior to Apple) there was a similar sense of discovery with about the same level of onboarding and education.

Primary interactions need to be clear and obvious. However, secondary interactions and accelerators can often be something more broadly accessible, and can be a moment of delightful discovery.

The “No NUX” (New User Experience) rule does not seem to apply to Apple as much these days. There is a dedicated app for Tips and now onboarding has been introduced to iOS devices. That being said, here are a few reasons in defense that this design decision is not bad UX.

Interaction Accelerator

Multi-touch often also means multiple ways to use it. A few more examples of interactions like this on iOS:

  • Tab and hold to bring tabs you recently closed in Safari
  • Tap and drag to select photos
  • Tap and hold to archive emails instead of deleting
  • Swipe to delete digits in Calculator
  • Hold the compose button in Mail to see drafts
  • Interaction accelerators do not necessarily need to be discoverable as long as the primary interaction is clear.

Shortcuts that can be discovered and mastered

A mentor of mine once taught me the idea of interactions that can be mastered. He used the example of a light switch. It’s so simple that after interacting with it, it can be mastered. His point was that if you installed a light switch backwards, it’d be moments for someone to learn how it works. Multitouch gestures behave in a similar way. The more you use it, the more one understands how the ecosystem works.

The user should always feel empowered, and Apple has an opportunity to raise awareness of features without expecting people to sit through a Keynote event.

However, to call this “Bad UX” is a bit of a stretch.

P.S. Thank you Rosa McGeefor edits and feedback.

UX Cambridge - Human-Centered Design Leadership

Thank you for coming to my workshop on Human-Centered Design Leadership! I've included slides to the talk for those who asked and appreciate any feedback you may have on it!