weekist links: week ending december 20

by: Mike Kornacki | 2013

A short roundup of good things we’ve read/watched/listened to in the last 7 days. Sometimes about UX, sometimes not. All things you can learn from.

photo: Brian Dettmer’s “Book Autopsies”

  1. How is your closure experience.
  2. Somm – This is a super entertaining documentary about wine sommeliers.
  3. Great videos on Agile user research.
  4. Merry Christmas from CGI Chuck Norris.
  5. Should the United States have 6 Californias?
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how we designed the new mkeUX

by: Michael Seidel | 2013

When we launched this site waaaay back in 2010, we had one goal: Simplicity

We understood most people were visiting the site to find out about our meetups. So we designed it around communicating info about meetings.

It looked like this:


As time passed, we started writing micro-posts about the upcoming presentations, so we had to link people off from the main page to the main blog page. This started to break the simplicity and cohesiveness of the design.

Also, as we move deeper into the two thousand teens, responsiveness and all that become more and more of an imperative. Our site wasn’t responsive. Add lack of responsiveness to lack of simplicity and you get REDESIGN.

So what you’re looking at today is that REDESIGN.

We’ve done the following:

  • Kept focus on upcoming meetings
  • Made the site responsive
  • Integrated the blog into the main page design

It’s nothing uber-fancy. But that’s what we’re going for: scaled back, cut and dry. As long as you can get info about meetings, we feel we’ve done our job.

We’d love to get your thoughts as a user of the site. Please leave feedback on this post and let us know how we did.

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october 22 meeting – mapping ux culture

by: Michael Seidel | 2013

Mapping UX Culture
Presented by Mike Kornacki

When: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 6:30pm
Where: Lighburn (325 East Chicago Street, SECOND FLOOR) Hey, here’s a map!
Cost: FREE!
RSVP: Here (note: you are not required to RSVP to attend. Feel free to just show up!)

Did you ever feel like you are the only one in your organization who “get’s it”? You’re not alone. The UX field is still pretty young and was born out of necessity. But how do you get the rest of your organization to drink the yummy UX goodness?

Let Mike Kornacki show you how he did it at Johnson Controls.

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september 17 meeting – transformation through design

by: Michael Seidel | 2013

Transformation through Design
Presented by Jeremy White and Katie Barnes

When: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 6:30pm
Where: Stone Creek Coffee Factory – 2nd floor tasting room  (422 N 5th Street, Milwaukee)
Cost: FREE! But you buy your own coffee/goodies
RSVP: Facebook

User experience is more than user flows and wireframes. It is an opportunity to become a design leader. Transform yourself from a technician into a problem solver, and transform your organization or team into a supportive environment that will help you engage your users. We’ll discuss a few topics that may help you with your transformation journey.


After the presentation, join us for a social hour drink at Burnhearts (2599 S Logan Ave) in Bay View.

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weekist links: week ending may 24th

by: Mike Kornacki | 2013


A short roundup of good things we’ve read/watched/listened to in the last 7 days. Sometimes about UX, sometimes not. All things you can learn from.

  1. Amazon’s new headquarter design is pretty amazing.
  2. Microsoft announced the Xbox One on Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know about it.
  3. Upping Your Type Game
  4. Two words – pantone underwear.
  5. Doodling – amazing.
  6. How about some Fresh Cut Grass Vodka?
  7. Biblioburro: The amazing story of a mobile library on the back of a donkey
  8. Like technology, politics, and culture? You MUST subscribe to the recently re-launched Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything
  9. The Midwest UX 2013 conference is accepting proposals for presentations. Takes place in October in Grand Rapids, MI. GO SUBMIT.
  10. If you have a toddler, buy them the Petting Zoo iPad app. It’s the best. Hell, as an adult, you’ll probably spend waaaaaaaay too much time having fun with it yourself.
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accessibility across mediums

by: Michael Seidel | 2013

Guest post by Steve Grobschmidt of

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage telling this accessibility-related story from a past job: I was in a meeting about incorporating CAPTCHA (those ridiculous riddles you’re forced to solve when filling out a web form so that the system knows you’re a real person) into all the web sites the company developed.

I was fresh into my accessibility days back then, but knew enough to caution that whatever flavor of CAPTCHA we used, it should have accessibility considerations like audio equivalents to the garbled codes.

One of the lead technical people scoffed and said, “Yeah, because blind people use the Web.” Yes, he was dead serious. To make things worse, a project manager in the room started pantomiming a blind person, giggling at himself in the process. Yes, he was an idiot.

Fast-forward a few years to when I started researching video game accessibility. I was reading an article about how many of the color palettes in the game Bioshock 2 posed significant problems for color blind gamers.

In one comment, someone bemoaned disabled people thinking “the rest of the world should cater to them.” Another gamer pointed out that there’s just some things that people with disabilities should accept they can’t do.

What’s lost in those narrow-minded rants is that people with disabilities don’t limit themselves to just “the things that only disabled people do.” Think about the hobbies you are passionate about. If you were suddenly to lose your sight, or hearing, or motor skills, you wouldn’t immediately lose your love for those activities.

Of course a person who can’t use their arms isn’t going to experience a video game the exact same way someone with full motor skills will. Listening to a movie isn’t the exact same experience as watching and listening to it.

But time and time again, creators of great user experiences find ways to open doors for the widest spectrum of people possible.

Web sites that are coded cleanly and organized, use color responsibly, have consistent navigation and concise, clear content can be fully enjoyable and useful to those with or without disabilities. The clean code and nav help screen reading devices correctly parlay the pages to blind users. The attention to color reduces obstacles for the color blind. People with cognitive disabilities have a much better shot understanding content that isn’t a convoluted mess.

Similarly, video games that have things like sub-titles, support for assistive controllers and devices, settings to brighten/darken the visuals, and mindful color contrasts at least open up avenues for disabled gamers to play, all without “watering down” the experience for everyone else. Don’t believe me? Check out this guy:

Apple and Microsoft consistently bolster the accessibility capabilities of their operating systems with each release. Amazon just announced enhancements to its Kindle iPhone app (and eventually for Kindles themselves) to make it easier for blind readers to enjoy their favorite literature through that medium.

The bottom line is that it’s much easier to make sweeping statements like, “Disabled people don’t use my product” than to take the extra time to figure out ways to enable them to get a rich user experience visiting your web site, using your application, or playing your game.

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weekest links: week ending may 17th

by: Mike Kornacki | 2013


A short roundup of good things we’ve read/watched/listened to in the last 7 days. Sometimes about UX, sometimes not. All things you can learn from.

  1. The User is Drunk!
  2. A round up of Google I/O stuff.
  3. Season 4 of Arrested Development is going to be awesome!
  4. Ahhh… Before the days airlines thinking of people as cattle. – Vintage air travel posters.
  5. Feeling the creative burnout? Fear not.
  6. You should read this book – Ken and Burn: Conversations with Design Entrepreneurs.
  7. The McDonald’s Theory.
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weekest links: week ending may 10th

by: Mike Kornacki | 2013


A short roundup of good things we’ve read/watched/listened to in the last 7 days. Sometimes about UX, sometimes not. All things you can learn from.

  1. Can you imagine a year without using the internet?
  2. The art of laser-cutting paper. Eric Standley is amazing!
  3. Powwowapp: Scheduling user research. – interesting app.
  4. Want to buy cigarettes? Not from these machines.
  5. Ahhhhhh – Craft Beerds. Wait, what?
  6. Here is a great series that goes along with our last meetup on “Becoming UX” –Beginner’s guide to UX. This is a 5 part series.
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don’t substitute responsive design for a mobile strategy

by: Mike Kornacki | 2013

“Our application needs to be mobile. Can’t we just take everything and make it responsive?” This is usually the way discussions start around mobility.

Responsive design is amazing. It allows you to design an experience that adjusts with the form factor you are viewing it on. It also adjusts the usability of the site/application you are viewing so it can be touch friendly when viewed on a phone and mouse friendly on a PC and everything in between.

The other thing it does really well is it shows your users/customers that you care about the experience ecosystem you have and that you are sensitive to their access needs. It helps establish your creditability as a modern company; one that understands that technology is not standing still.

This way of designing and implementing web sites, applications, etc. is a great leap forward. It isn’t, however, a substitute for mobile strategy.

“What do you mean, mobile strategy?”

What I mean is a business strategy that accounts for the “whys” behind the need for your web site/application to be usable on a mobile platform and how much content/application features your users need to complete tasks in a mobile way.

Mobile applications are meant to have bite-sized pieces of content, and focused task completion. Users tend to be motivated on specific things. They “go to the hip” when they have a specific question that needs answering, or if they need to check on status of certain information. Mobile web applications should narrow in on the important functions users are looking for to “get in and get out”.

Let’s look at it this way shall we – there are many pitfalls in mobile web design – and strategy is hard; so it is easy to say just make everything work on a phone and tablet. Unfortunately, there can be a great cost in having this mentality. Potentially, there is a lot of time and effort put into getting pieces of your application working on a mobile platform that your user base will never use. Then there is the maintenance and up keep of those features and functions as new things are added to your application.

Understanding your users needs in the mobile space will help you come up with a solid mobile strategy that will help you deliver a rock solid experience that your users are expecting. It will help you determine if you need a mobile web application or a “native app” or both. It will help you determine what features and functions will give your users the best experience possible.

Ultimately this approach to design will give you users confidence that you care about their needs and you are providing an experience ecosystem that responds to them.

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may 20 meeting! sensors give users super powers!

by: Michael Seidel | 2013

When: Monday, May 20, 2013 at 6:30pm
Where: Milwaukee Makerspace (2555 S. Lenox St. Milwaukee)
Cost: FREE!
RSVP: Facebook

For our Monday, May 20th meet-up, Mike Massie will give an intro to Ambient Intelligence and discuss how sensors can give the user super powers.

As shrinking technology allows us to cheaply put hardware eyes, ears and touch sensors on everyday things, the data now readily available can offer a magnitude of information without the user even lifting a finger.

Some are calling 2013 the “Year of the sensor”, and it is giving passage to the Internet of Things and Big Data; aside from buzz terms we’ll talk about how these tools will offer the ability for more interactions to get out of the way.


A social hour will take place at Burnhearts (2599 S Logan Ave, in Bay View) immediately after the event. Burnhearts is right down the street from Makerspace!

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