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Erik Gloor
Chicago, Illinois
Designing online experiences for humans since 1997
Interests: history, art, good friends, science, good movies, good music
Recent Activity
Although his politics and observations took a sour turn somewhere in the mid 1990's, Dennis Miller was arguably the Jon Stewart of his day. On Saturday nights me and the rest of the staff at my school newspaper pulled up a chair for our weekly dose of unvarnished reality from one of the most iconic fake "newscasters" ever to appear in the 'Weekend Update' segment on 'Saturday Night Live.' So it was with some amusement that I re-read the memo I submitted to the head of product for a recent employer when he solicited my input as to how best we might improve our UX practice. I thought to myself at some point this memo should have included the catch-phrase Miller would use to intro... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2016 at Zen of the Experience
"Uh, does it work?" "Yes, but not as designed." "So what's the big deal?" Scenes from nearly every engagement I've ever had. Usually, I'm able to evangelize my way in to getting the extra time, iteration, or developer bandwidth I'm requesting. But to all for whom this was more of a challenge, please read on. This is what I've been talking about. Braden Kowitz, Design Partner at Google Ventures testifies on the merits of sweating the design details. Some salient excerpts: Trust increases when we get the details right Customers judge online credibility by evaluating visual design, copywriting, and interactions. If trust matters to your business, then design details should matter too. Check out the academic literature on the topic of interface design and trust,... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2014 at Zen of the Experience
Have you just had a run-in with your Product Designer? Did she suddenly look at you like she caught you picking your nose? Do you have a cold feeling like you may need to call that recruiting firm back that’s been pitching you Product Designers because this one is about to bail on you mid-project? Maybe you just gave your Product Designer what I like to call "What/How Input" -- or WHI for short. Allow me to explain: What/How Input is when you’ve critiqued some part of your Designer’s work by suggesting one or more alternatives. For example, “This button should be a tree menu so the User will know everything that’s on this page.” You’ve simultaneously expressed a concern and suggested a solution. Here’s... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2014 at Zen of the Experience
Creating software may at first seem as similar to civil aviation as apples are to asteroids, but there is actually quite a bit of overlap. Both endeavors involve providing a highly arcane and technology-driven service. Both require the integration of multiple technologies and disciplines. And both depend on human factors for their success. The main difference, of course, is that when civil aviators get it wrong, people’s lives are jeopardized. The only thing jeopardized when Software Designers get it wrong is your bottom line. But isn’t that enough jeopardy to consider this comparison a little more closely? If pilots, air-traffic controllers and airplane designers got it wrong as often as PM’s, QA staff, and UX Designers do, airplanes would be coming down all over the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2013 at Zen of the Experience
Here's a quick post in celebration of five years of 'Pleasure & Pain,' this blogger's favorite blog. Whitney Hess has been fighting the good fight of helping companies understand the difference between addressing a market need and solving their users' problems for five years now. By having the courage to say things like, "hey, do you even care about your users?" she is breaking important ground every day. Bravo, Whitney Hess, and keep 'em coming. Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2013 at Zen of the Experience
I don't remember so much outcry about miscasting Tom Cruise since 'Interview with a Vampire.' Apparently the character in the novels beloved by so many is a physically large man who suffers from PTSD. Cruise's portrayal includes neither. Luckily for me and my girlfriend, the Reacher phenomenon had eluded us... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2013 at Unvarnished Reviews
When this film previewed, it occurred to me that Quentin Tarantino was going to either be the best director in recent history to take on the subject of American slavery or the worst. That his zeal for displaying aggressive, cruel violence and all the things that engender it would either... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2013 at Unvarnished Reviews
I took the girlfriend to this stupid movie because I figured it was a win-win: She reads a lot and I figured she’d enjoy a cinematic adaptation of such an important book. And I get to look at Keira Knightley for a couple hours (I pay for these in Ryan... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2012 at Unvarnished Reviews
Erik Gloor is now following The Movie Informant
Nov 29, 2012
I’m not sure if it was the shape of the handle, the side of the door it was on or some other kind of standardization issue described perhaps in a Chicago building code somewhere. But when anyone got off the elevator and walked down the hall toward my employer’s office and neglected to read the little sign above the handle, they invariably tried to pull the door open instead of push it open, as the sign suggested. Problem was, you couldn’t pull it open, you could only push it open. My desk was very near this door and every day I’d see frustrated faces wincing outside this mostly glass door. Faces that were attached to heads that had almost certainly learned to read at some... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2012 at Zen of the Experience
Steve jobs announced he is stepping down as the CEO of Apple today due to his ongoing battle with a rare form of panchreatic cancer. He will be staying on indefinitely as chairman. A good moment to stop and review the contribution of this titan of the computing industry and father of so much that is right in American culture generally. I was just complimented by a colleague who had stopped by my cubicle to discuss this development. When I said Steve Jobs is the one guy who really gets that the machines need to be there for people, and not the other way around, he, my colleague, told me Steve Jobs had said some version of the very same thing. I don't know this... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2011 at Zen of the Experience
Just before construction was about to begin on a new building at Ground Zero in New York just a few years ago, the New York Police Department got a hold of the plans and stopped the whole thing in its tracks. The entranceways, they warned, were way too close to common public areas, making them much too vulnerable to a possible terrorist attack. The entire blueprint was scrapped and it was back to the drawing board for everyone. In its most drastic form, this is the kind of consideration it falls to UX to account for. The human component. Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2011 at Zen of the Experience
Wrapping up another long, hard, but also highly stimulating day at the user testing lab and reflecting on a colleague's performance. The scene is the standard one: A suburban low-rise just off the interstate with a suite of testing rooms each skirted with an anteroom behind a 2-way mirror where subjects can be scrutinized anonymously by the UX team and assorted other stakeholders who might care to pop in. I’m not facilitating today – my job is too scribble notes furiously and wish I'd developed a short-hand system for myself. “I can always replay the recording when we do ‘interp,’” I remind myself. The facility is third party and they’re Johnny-on-the-spot with the coffee and snacks and lunch orders and dutifully run a video recording... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2011 at Zen of the Experience
[When] you’re designing a vending machine, the goal couldn’t be more simple. You don’t need to ask. You don’t need to perform usability studies. There is one reason and one reason only someone is standing in front of a vending machine. They want one of the products they see behind the glass of the vending machine or advertised on its surface. Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2010 at Zen of the Experience
I was working on a portlet design with my partner on the project who we'll call Joe. Both the width and height of the portlet was fixed. Problem is, it needed to display multiple nuggets of tabbed-out text and each nugget could easily include more text than could fit in the space allotted. What to do. Two issues: how to present the overflow and how should its presentation be triggered. My thought was a fly-out containing all the text that was triggered when the user moused over any part of the truncated text body. Joe liked the fly-out but not the way I suggested it be triggered. He was convinced the user needed a mechansim, a trigger which enabled him or her to conciously choose... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2010 at Zen of the Experience
User experience design happens as surely as the sun rises in the east. It's inevitable. Whether you let your developers design your UI or your BA or your PM or an experienced UX designer, someone or some set of circumstances is going to determine your user's experience of that software. The only question is whether or not that experience will be a constructive one. UX design is tough because it's highly conceptual and many of the other disciplines involved in software design are far more linear: They have beginnings, middles and ends. The temptation in some of these other disciplines is to decide UX design is sort of a fancy suit you dress your software up in to make it more presentable when it's all... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2010 at Zen of the Experience
Edward Tufte is clearly one of the most important thinkers in recent history on the matter of representing data visually. Letting data speak for itself means getting to its essence and dispensing with fluff that not only doesn't ADD to the informative value of graphs, charts, or diagrams, but actually SUBTRACTS from it -- leading the eye away from essential meaning. Dispensing with fluff and getting to the heart of the data aren't always the same thing, however. Tufte's ideas can often get abbreviated down to a "less is more" strategy. I know because I've made that mistake myself in my own designs on occasion. You think you're letting the data speak for itself and you get the feeling that if Dr. Tufte himself were... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2010 at Zen of the Experience
Discovered an extremely well-versed and well-spoken UX designer online yesterday working out of New York by the name of Whitney Hess. There's an ad for some brand of cereal on TV lately in which a customer inquires of the store manager as to the product's quality. The gag is he's so used to fielding the same questions about the product that he anticipates every one of her questions before she has a chance to finish her sentences -- to her amazement. Upon encountering Whitney's observations, I felt a little like the amazed customer in this ad. I'm thinking it and she's saying it -- and way better than I ever could have. Her Blog, 'Pleasure and Pain' has posted to it a presentation entitled 'The... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2010 at Zen of the Experience
Just put the finishing touches on what may have been the fastest turnaround time I've yet achieved on a freelance mini-site job. About 13 hours fom rough sketch to finished Web-site. That's gotta be a record. As usual, the client needed it yesterday and cost was a priority. Here's the site: So how to produce a site your client can be proud of without racking up the billable hours? Two decisions I made early in the process proved to have been very much worth making: "I'm not going to worry about color." "I'm not going to worry about font." Everything in this mini-site is either black, white or red. And with the exception of the skinny text (Arial Narrow) used in the bottom two lines... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2010 at Zen of the Experience
Very provocative 18-minute clip from Simon Sinek, author of 'Start With Why.' More evidence that what may seem like an obvious question to many UX and UI professionals isn't always where many of our clients and employers are starting out. It often falls on us to help them think clearly. Most of Sinek's speech here hits the mark and fits in nicely with the first question I always ask of any UI design job: "What is this app supposed to do?" Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action | Video on Continue reading
Reblogged May 19, 2010 at Zen of the Experience
Glimpsed an interesting comparison breakdown of app "simulators" on the Boxes and Arrows site this evening. These are the products people use todefine and map out apps before they get built instead of AS they get built and when Visio just ain't makin' it. Axure RP4, LucidSpec, iRise, Composer, Enterprise Simulator and Profesy all square off on a list of 12 valuable features: Scenario Design Page Design Widget Library Dynamic Display Data Interaction Decision Logic Annotations Centralized Server Portable Distribution Requirements Management Enterprise Support Export to MS Word iRise was the hands down winner with solutions for all 12. NICE. Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2010 at Zen of the Experience
Erik Gloor is now following DWR
May 17, 2010
I could probably count on one hand the number of sentient human beings whose quotes are worthy of a change in the business-plan of any for-profit enterprise. Leave it to Steve Jobs: “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Dovetails nicely with one of my other favorite quotes of all time. Judge Reinhold's soliloquy at the very end of this clip: Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2010 at Zen of the Experience
What my Grandfather said turns out to be true: Those first steps into the blogosphere are always the hardest. Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2010 at Zen of the Experience
Erik Gloor is now following The Typepad Team
May 14, 2010