To bold, or not to bold, that is the question

Recently I was designing a type-ahead (or autocomplete) text box. You’ve seen these all over the internet. You start typing, and the box presents you with some likely matches. I noticed the other day that major websites handle these differently.


1. Search engines seem to handle bolding all the same. They append matches to your search term, and bold it.

2. Shopping sites take the reverse. They bold your search term, then append matches, which are not bolded.

3. Facebook takes a different approach. They only match on actual pages they have, thus they show those pages.




Raw data



bingyahoo facebook youtubeamazon

UX Dead End

Bought the wonderful HP LaserJet 200. It’s fast, cheap, and easy to setup… until I got the the HP Connected, where you are able to setup an account that lets you print from anywhere.

Here’s the screen:

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 4.56.49 PM


I don’t have a Snapfish account. There is no way to complete this setup process.


A list of 50 real names for use in design

When creating prototypes and designs often you need to come up with a list of sample users. Finding a good list (Presidents? Cartoon characters?) can be difficult, and what about long names? You need to make sure even the longest names work OK in your design. This list will help you. Not only are they all real people, some have names as long as 25 characters, middle initials, three names, and hyphens, too! It’s a good mix of genders and races as well. These are all famous or “should have been famous” scientists. Enjoy.


Adriana C. Ocampo Uria
Albert Einstein
Anna K. Behrensmeyer
Blaise Pascal
Caroline Herschel
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
Chien-Shiung Wu
Dorothy Hodgkin
Edmond Halley
Edwin Powell Hubble
Elizabeth Blackburn
Enrico Fermi
Erwin Schroedinger
Flossie Wong-Staal
Frieda Robscheit-Robbins
Geraldine Seydoux
Gertrude B. Elion
Ingrid Daubechies
Jacqueline K. Barton
Jane Goodall
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Johannes Kepler
Lene Vestergaard Hau
Lise Meitner
Lord Kelvin
Maria Mitchell
Marie Curie
Max Born
Max Planck
Melissa Franklin
Michael Faraday
Mildred S. Dresselhaus
Nicolaus Copernicus
Niels Bohr
Patricia S. Goldman-Rakic
Patty Jo Watson
Polly Matzinger
Richard Phillips Feynman
Rita Levi-Montalcini
Rosalind Franklin
Ruzena Bajcsy
Sarah Boysen
Shannon W. Lucid
Shirley Ann Jackson
Sir Ernest Rutherford
Sir Isaac Newton
Stephen Hawking
Werner Karl Heisenberg
Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen
Wolfgang Ernst Pauli

User Research & Testing Gotchas

One of my favorite user researchers and psychologists Dr. Susan Weinshank lists 10 things people shouldn’t do in user testing and research:

#10 Skip the pilot
#9 Draw conclusions from early and insufficient data
#8 Test too many people
#7 Too many cells
#6 Do a data dump
#5 Too much stock in after-test surveys
#4 Test too late
#3 Skip over surprises
#2 Draw conclusions not supported by the data
#1 Skip the highlights video

I couldn’t agree more with this list. You can read them more in-depth in her blog post. I’ve added some commentary of my own, which you might find useful:

Testing too many people

So you have this swanky new user interface you want to check out. And you schedule 10 people to test it. Problem is the first 3 people all have the same or similar problem. Guess what? Those other 7 are likely going to as well. You’ve scheduled too many people. Just schedule about 5. If the first 3 people have the exact same problems, stop now and iterate on your design.

Testing too late

Ah, don’t we all like to have beautiful, full-fidelity comps to show testers? Fact of the matter is I usually wait myself until the designs are in pretty good shape before I show them to customers. But I work super fast fast so its not a huge issue. However, for really complex, linear, flow, or other highly interactive projects, I get sketches in front of people really quickly. Are their mental models lining up with the intent of the design? Great, keep going. If not, stop now and iterate. Remember the cost pyramid? Design phase is a prevention. Correction is development. Failure is launching the wrong product / design.




Other than the one-question Net Promoter Score survey, there is a lot of data to show that user surveys are rife with problems. Use with extreme caution. I personally never use them.

Highlights Video

Making videos is a snap in this day and age. I use Quicktime on my Macbook and can record screencasts and walkthroughs in a snap, which provide an amazing amount of fidelity to developers, product, UX designers – pretty much any stakeholder. Because you can scrub the video, you can watch any portion of it as much as you need until everything becomes clear. Here’s an example of one I did for a client recently.

Keep your user testing and research focused and just like design – it should solve specific problems you’re looking to solve.