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Alexander Skogberg

UX, Web & Writing

Writing

Two hands forming the shape of a heart around the An Event Apart logo

Recap of An Event Apart in Boston 2019

To attend the design conference An Event Apart has been on my designer bucket list for several years. This Spring, it was finally time when it hit Boston for three days.

Every year since An Event Apart was founded in 2006, the conference series has been held in different cities throughout the United States with an always impressive roster of speakers.

When writing this, the conference has apart from Boston also been held in Seattle. Before the year is over, it will also be held in Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco.

After having spent an awesome two-week vacation in the Pacific Northwest (documented on my Swedish travel blog), I landed in Boston for three days full of great talks by skilled speakers.

Read my recap on the my employer inUse’s blog.

/Alex

Code shown on a monitor with a post-it note with a to do list stuck to it

Contributing to a great developer experience as a designer

Over the years, I’ve learnt that a great developer experience plays a large part in a successful project. Here are my tips for contributing as a designer.

For the past eight years, I’ve been working as a UX designer and frontend developer in Stockholm, Sweden. When I look back on the projects I’ve been a part of, the ones that were successful and provided a great user experience always had a great developer experience. When it was neglected, the projects often fell short of set expectations.

Developer experience (DX) could (somewhat oversimplified) be described as user experience (UX) for users that are developers.

While the term developer experience isn’t uncommon, I feel it doesn’t get the attention and love it deserves. While a great developer experience requires a joint effort, I think designers can make a solid contribution and make a lot of things easier for their fellow team members.

Be open and positive to criticism

When starting a new project, be upfront that you want to tailor your tools and methods for collaboration. This makes for an excellent first impression and proves you have a good attitude to teamwork. I recommend having regular feedback sessions on this topic throughout the project (perhaps during your sprint retrospectives).

Treat developer feedback just like you would treat user feedback and improve your tools and methods for collaboration.

You should ask for specific feedback on your tools and methods for making and sharing design deliverables. Even if your tools and methods have worked well in past projects, they can always be improved. Make a habit of questioning and improving them with feedback from your developers.

However, don’t be a pushover if team members don’t want to try new things. Argue for what often has worked well and show them some samples of, for example, a clickable prototype in InVision or an exported style guide in Zeplin. It can be an eye-opener for everyone involved.

Teach yourself some code

Should designers code? This question has sparked many heated debates within the design community over the past few years.

Read Contributing to a great developer experience as a designer.
Offical red Dead Redemption 2 artwork

The good, the bad and the ugly UX of Red Dead Redemption 2

Rockstar Games’ long-awaited title Red Dead Redemption 2 was released on October 26, 2018 and has been met with enormous praise. In this post I go through the good, the bad and the ugly UX of this western epic that most likely will go down in history as one of the greatest games of all time.

After releasing Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) in 2013, Rockstar Games has had gamers waiting patiently for the follow up to their 2010 smash hit wild west adventure Red Dead Redemption.

In this prequel to the previous instalment you play as Arthur Morgan, a member of the Dutch van der Linde gang just like the previous game’s protagonist John Marston. Arthur is trying to make a life for himself and his fellow outlaws after a failed bank robbery in the rapidly changing and less and less wild west.

As Arthur faces both opportunity and hardship, you as a player will face both good, bad and ugly UX.

Read The good, the bad and the ugly UX of Red Dead Redemption 2.
Holding a Japan Rail Pass on a Shinkansen platform

Lost in copywriting – experiencing Japan as a designer

The nature, architecture, people, language, food and culture. During my trip to the mesmerising country of Japan in October this year, I felt there was no end to the impressions I got. In this post, I’ll tell you what stood out about design.

Was it playing Super Mario World as a kid in the early 90s? Could it have been eating sushi when going to college on the Swedish west coast? Maybe seeing Sofia Coppola’s masterpiece Lost in Translation multiple times had something to do with it.

I don’t know, but for the past few years my curiosity about Japan had been steadily increasing. This fall I finally stopped dreaming and booked a flight to the land of the rising sun.

In this post, I’ll tell you what made impressions on me as a designer.

Riding the Tokyo subway with 38 million people

I started my trip in the nation’s capital of Tokyo. For getting around in this mind-blowing city, the subway is the best choice by far.

Since most of the city’s 38 million inhabitants also prefer the subway the experience is at first overwhelming, but after a few rides completely manageable (as long as it’s not during rush hour).

Packed subway car in Tokyo.
During rush hour, the subway cars in Tokyo are packed. Luckily, the commuters are respectful towards each other.
Read Lost in copywriting – experiencing Japan as a designer.
Character destroying car in Street Fighter 2 bonus level

Making your design by breaking your design

User interface design is hard. Smartphones, tablets and laptops come in all shapes and sizes with and without keyboard, mouse and touchscreen input. For making your design great in this context, you must first learn to break your design.

Too often in projects I’ve seen design fail late in the development process due to it not being tested enough in different ways. This waste of time and energy can easily be reduced.

There are several reasons for this failure. Sometimes it’s stress, last minute content changes or unclear initial requirements. But sometimes it’s simply because we designers can be unstructured and sloppy. We need to get better, we need to start breaking our design before someone else breaks it for us.

Here’s my guide for putting your design through the wringer.

Break your design with real content

Every designer I’ve ever spoken to has agreed that using real content as early as possible is the way to go. Yet, I often see design filled with placeholder images, Lorem Ipsum text and comfortable made-up content.

Read Making your design by breaking your design.
Much responsive Many CSS Very breakpoint So media query Such HTML Wow