That’s not an unlucky fate; it’s a design challenge.

Murphy’s Law is a much used but often misunderstood and misapplied adage. Below are four corollaries that broaden the law to product design contexts.

Advertisement for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that says “There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s”
Advertisement for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that says “There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s”

Corollary 1: If someone can interpret it wrong, they will

We’re all familiar with Murphy’s Law — at least we think we are: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” It comes up during our least fortunate coincidences, echoing the chorus of Alanis Morissette’s Ironic. If you plan a picnic, Murphy’s Law means it will rain on you. If you speed up to pass a slow driver, Murphy’s Law says there’s a state trooper just around the corner. …


When do we stand up in a design review, present our case, and say “this is a hill I’m willing to die on”?

Image of a green hill with a person standing on top from a distance.
Image of a green hill with a person standing on top from a distance.

I love to talk about designing with constraints. So much of the life of a UX professional is evaluating and compromising technical limitations, time limitations, and even other designers’ ideas. But at the end of the day, our job is really to advocate for the user. When do we abandon our willingness to compromise in order to commit to our idea of the “correct” design?

When do we stand up in a design review, present our case, and say “this is a hill I’m willing to die on”?

Impostor Syndrome

In order to pick a hill to die on, you first have…


Stock image of a purple snow-capped mountain
Stock image of a purple snow-capped mountain

My favorite thing about UX design is that it’s not some open-ended creative exercise performed in a vacuum. It’s a mechanical dance: the synchronized push-pull tension of time, constraints, budget, technical limits, and opportunities. A lot of what we study in design school assumes some idealized version of design heuristics when the reality of our workplace experience requires us to navigate the everyday compromises of these tensions.

I work primarily with enterprise cloud security and data products; my users are a highly-skilled niche, their requirements are complex, and mistakes are costly (figuratively and literally). And because design teams don’t work…


Is data visualization a branch of UX? It certainly doesn’t get the same attention that User Research or Design receives. I spent the first three years of my UX career with the title Data Visualization Engineer and often wondered if my experience really fit the mold of the “User Experience” industry.

Ultimately, I had to reason that there were only two things to consider:
> Does my job involve taking a human-centered approach?
> Could my job benefit from taking more of a human-centered approach?

Data Visualization has many facets: data science, business analytics, engineering. But data, like software and…


It’s not a “going off the grid” or a “social media detox” as many are inclined to do. Instead, it’s tech’s version of the Slow Movement.

Maybe it’s the winter weather. Maybe it’s the political climate. Maybe it’s just 2017 and the future is the present. But lately I can’t seem to shake the firm grasp of technology on my life. I wear a heavy watch and yet I still get this vacuous feeling when there’s not a phone in my hand. I can’t be the only one.

Whether it’s the need to wake up scrolling through notifications that bombarded my phone while I slept, to balance my lunch fork in one hand with Reddit in the other, or the complete tragedy it is to sit…

Joe Bernstein

UX Designer. Data visualizer. Dabbles in 3D Printing, Softball, Curling, and Trivia. University of Washington MS HCDE class of 2017. www.joebernux.com

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