Panda laying on a rock outside
Panda laying on a rock outside
Credit: Elena Loshina

Design, creativity, technology, etc.

This is the blog of Joanna Ngai. I frequently write about design, creativity, technology and share anything that I believe that might be of interest to others. You can always read the latest here.

If you’re feeling generous, buy me a coffee 🍵

Person taking notes on journey.
Person taking notes on journey.
Credit: Climate Reality

Tips on improving your conference experience

Nowadays, there’s a growing number of UX conferences (gone virtual) that deliver sessions on a range of topics from UI design, usability, interaction design, front end design, branding, career growth and research, in every single format imaginable. But among all those options (and there are a lot of options), how do you find the right one for you?

Here’s some common problems around finding and sorting through the content of a UX conference and tips on what to do so you get a more enjoyable and satisfying experience.

Problem 1: Content level mismatch

This occurs when the speaker tries to accommodate too many levels of…

Credit: unDraw

Type this text so we know you’re not a robot

Dear customer,

We’re stopping you from logging in because we’re not sure you are you. Though you’ve logged in at this exact time everyday for the past five years, we still need to make sure. Please type this phrase in the field below.

Now stand on one foot, close your eyes and re-type the same phrase in all caps using your forehead.

One more step — please complete this security check. Is this a picture of a bridge? A traffic light? A fire hydrant? Select the squares and we’ll tell you what you already know: your eyesight sucks.

You seem…

Credit: Blake Wisz

We want to hear from you ⭐

Feedback from customers have a tendency to bounce between extremes, you’ll either hear from those who hate your business with a burning passion or are delighted fans (hopefully it’s the latter).

Customer support often has to be the receivers of bad news and deliver gentle words in difficult and emotional situations. Here’s a handy guide on phrases (and what they actually mean) in tricky conversations.

Please accept our sincere apologies = You seem upset, we’re not sure why

We’d love to address your concerns directly = Stop badmouthing us in public

We will have this looked into = Someday something…

Meet Ben Stokes, ice cream/cookie dough vendor and indie hacker launching tiny projects on the internet

** ART <3 CODE **Projects and stories from the intersection of art, code and everything in-between.`````````````````````Name: Ben Stokes
Role: CTO fintech company, indie hacker
Location: Bristol, England
Likes: Running, hiking, exploring VR, playing video games
Website | Twitter

I build and launch tiny internet projects, and in the process try to make a bit of money. On Tiny Projects, I document the whole process of taking an idea and launching it. …

Credit: unDraw

We have several important announcements to make today


Due to ongoing challenges of COVID-19, we’ve decided to make some changes to start this planning cycle on the right foot. Though change is difficult, it will help prevent future inefficiencies from harming our agile processes and strategic innovation strategies.

We are announcing the following changes, effective immediately:

Metrics on individual employee productivity must continue to increase exponentially. Regarding the daily routines you engage in while working from home (ex. sleeping, eating, breathing, etc.), it is your responsibility to decide which are optional.

Office chairs will be replaced with toilets so employees have more time to add value to…

Credit: Miro

Ways to simplify your workflow

As your user research team transitions to remote work, here’s some tools to help you organize your notes, cluster findings and collaborate with your team, wherever they may be.

For more tool recommendations on recruiting participants, logistics, capturing remote or in-person sessions, usability tests, generating reports and more, see: 13 Helpful UX Research Tools

1. Note Taking Spreadsheet (Google Sheets)

2. Free User Research Template (AirTable)

3. Design Workflow Templates (Miro)

4. Recordings → Tagged Video Clips (Dovetail)

5. New Ways to Communicate Insights (Dscout)

6. Generate Meeting Transcriptions (

7. Usability Testing Notes Template (Notion)

8. Qual Data Analysis (MAXQDA)

9. Collaborative UX research database (

10. Extensible Note-taking (Obsidian)

11. 14 UXR Research Templates (Figma)

12. Participant Debrief Board (Figma)

From the founder of Studio D Radiodurans

Below are some takeaways from Sensemaking for Impact, a masterclass led by Jan Chipchase of Studio D Radiodurans that introduces his team’s approach to qual research strategy to generate inspired, prioritized insights, and high quality deliverables.

  1. Evolution of understanding: hypothesis →data →information →knowledge →insight →wisdom
  • Hypothesis: asking question based on existing frames/assumptions
  • Data: collecting observations, quotes, ideas, photos/videos
  • Information: giving data structure, synthesis where key points are highlighted
  • Knowledge: finding patterns and relationships between parts of info
  • Insight: reorganize the data in a way to reveal new perspectives, new way of seeing something
  • Wisdom: insights put into a broader external…

People sitting for a meeting
People sitting for a meeting
Credit: You X Ventures

How to decipher what your client is really saying

Hi, just checking in! = It’s been 30 minutes and I’d like to see some progress

We sort of know each other already… = Can I get a discount?

We are looking for something very specific = I expect spec work

Make it pop = Change this drastically by reading my mind

Let’s make it like [x] = Copy this exactly but do it in a subtle way

I may get passionate about design = I may fight you on your design choices

I dabbled a bit in design = I will definitely fight you on your design choices


Credit: Catherine Heath

How to creatively ruin any meeting

It’s fashionable to be late since you’re had other plans, especially when all you have to do is click a button to teleport into the meeting through the magic of technology.

If you’re the one who called the meeting, send periodic IM messages so they know you’re always on your way. This sends along illusionary slivers of hope.

Tip: Vary how late you are each time, this keeps people on their toes.

Make a bold statement and first impression by leaving your video on but mic off for at least another 5 minutes. That will confuse everyone in the call…

Joanna Ngai

UX Designer at Microsoft, illustrator, green tea drinker | UX for Beginners

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