Sophia Yip

Design Musings

10 Things To Ask When Reviewing A Design

As a designer, there are plenty of questions that you would ask yourself when critiquing your work or other’s work. The other day I came by  Jason Fried‘s blog post called Questions I ask when reviewing a design. It’s a great list he compiled.

Having a list of questions to ask would be tremendously useful when reviewing design and giving constructive feedback. At Sniply, one question that we ask ourselves most often is ‘Is what the design says and what it means the same thing?’ For us, one thing we are constantly trying to refine and improve on is our overall message to the users. The rest of the questions I picked out from Fried’s list.

1. Is what it says and what it means the same thing?

When we say you can add a message to any webpage that idea may seem foreign or impossible, but we mean it.

2. Why do we need to say that here?

One of the first things people see on our front page is how many clicks Sniply has generated so far which is a form of validation and how many people are creating snips. 

3. How else can we say this?

When creating a snip and entering a URL that is not valid, instead of saying ‘We are currently not yet supporting this URL’, we now say ‘Due to security settings, we don’t support [insert site]- find out why‘. It wasn’t a good experience for the user because it wasn’t necessarily that we couldn’t support a certain URL, but because of the individual website’s security.

4. How would someone know that?

Because adding a message onto someone else’s website is a foreign concept to most, the first thing you will see when you land on Sniply’s website are use cases of effective snips.

5. How does that work?

Sniply is very visual. To help with the creation experience, people can see how their snip will appear as they are adding a message or a call-to-action.

6. Why is that worth a click?

Everything on the internet starts with a click. Especially when users use Sniply to drive conversion, it is important to know how to create a successful snip people will click on.

7. Is that worth scrolling?

We ask ourselves will the user derive benefit from having to scroll to find this material?

8. Are we assuming too much?

We can’t assume the average person will know how link shortening works and what they can do with it after. Some people assume that after creating a snip, it is automatically shared via Twitter. To avoid that assumption, we simply tell people to copy the link and share with options via Twitter or Facebook.

9. Why that order?

We try to put ourselves in the users’ shoes, ask ourselves how we go about creating a snip, and what is the hierarchy. We first see the webpage a user shares, the message in the snip they created, followed by their call-to-action. That determines the order of the fields people fill out as they are creating a snip.

10. How can we make this more obvious?

Helping people convert leads is great, but how do get people to know it’s powered by Sniply? Small decisions such as adding our logo to the snips and decreasing the opacity really helped increase our exposure.

3 Reasons Why It’s A Great Time To Be A UX Designer

Recently, I listened to Jared Spools: It’s a Great Time To Be A UX Designer at An Event Apart in Austin. Jared Spools founded User Interface Engineering, a leading research, training, and consulting firm that specializes in website and product usability. In his talk he highlights why designs are in high demand and what it takes to deliver great experience design.

1.  To imitate or Innovate?

There are a great number of imitation Apple stores, specifically in Kunming, China. They have copied Apple down to the last detail. Everything from the wood tables and stone flooring to how the employees are dressed. We also have Samsung who copied many aspects of the iPhone design and lost a billion dollar lawsuit because of it. So why do companies copy instead of innovating? The underlying reasons behind copying is because it is cost-effective and less risky. They take the good parts and use it because it already works. Companies are not innovating because it is much more risky, expensive, and there is a high chance of it not succeeding. The attitude of the organizations who imitate did not think of design as something strategic; but the companies who see design as a competitive advantage are the ones who ended up innovating.

“Business wins when it is intentionally innovative.”

It is not enough to just push a product out there. A great example Spools draws out is the Apple store’s appointment system. They did not invent appointments, dentists did. They just took appointments and applied it to a space that it hasn’t been before — retail. Strategically, it is actually better to be innovative and you need designers to be innovative, that means it is a great time to be a designer.


2.  Disrupting Experiences

Newspapers make all their money from classified ads. After Craigslist appeared, it disrupted newspapers. You can now find anything from a small gig to a new home to stay at, all on the website in one place. Then Airbnb came along and disrupted Craigslist with vacation rentals; it is intentionally designed and looks better. Consumer finance is disrupted by Square, changing the way people pay for things. The list goes on… Design is more than just the visual though, it’s about the business.

“Great business models are intentionally designed.”

Another great example is when Cirque du Soleil made a design decision to remove animals from the circus. Everyone thought this was a crazy idea because the animals were the attraction – it’s what people go to see. The idea was that animals are costly – there’s a hefty fee for transporting them and the cost for animal care. By removing animals from the picture the money can be spent on better performers, better staging, music, and so on. Since their target market were adults, kids were removed from the picture as well and therefore they can also charge more for serving alcohol. With this conscious design decision, they are apparently generating more revenue each night than all of Broadway does every night.


3.  Filling the Gaps with Intent

There is a general misconception that innovation means the creation of something new and revolutionary. Being innovative can simply be adding value to something that wasn’t there before. Products break all the time. If you have a smartphone, chances are something has probably malfunctioned before. Spools gives an example about how if your iPhone breaks you would make an appointment to go the Genius bar in the Apple store. You go back to the store and what do you do while you’re waiting for someone to service you? You shop some more.

“Experience design is rendering intent in the gaps.”

There’s been this talk of looking for a “unicorn” when describing someone who’s a jack of all trades. The list of what a user experience designer can do includes many things from visual design to information architecture, having domain knowledge to business knowledge, and being able to sketch and present. The reason they are nicknamed unicorns is because this type of person doesn’t exist in the real world. Spools says otherwise, that he has met some of these people. The best part of the talk is that Spools has a created a school to breed these unicorns. That’s right. It is called the Unicorn Institute and you can even apply to be student! The basics on how to become one is to never stop practicing new things, deconstruct as many designs, seek feedback on your designs, and be able to teach what you learned.

A cloud that simulates a thunderstorm and plays your music IN your living room? How awesome is that?! I need a thunder buddy for this. Props to Richard Clarkson.

I have my own newspaper!

So this is pretty cool. I started my very own online newpaper on!
They allow me to publish articles on topics of interest to me and my readers get fresh content daily. Read all about what I like here. Subscribe to me!

Google before you tweet

How cool is this letterpress print by Joe Newton? It’s unfortunate that it’s all sold out :(

Kor Delta

Ecstatic when my Kor Delta arrived yesterday! I haven’t even used my Kor One for that long. Read all about the improvements they made from customer feedbacks on FastCompany!

Mess no more

Thanks to my wonderful friend for getting me this cable box I had my eyes on for a while by blueLounge. It did a great job hiding my mess of wires. Too bad I didn’t take before and after photos. I got too excited setting it up right away!



Just found out something real cool! It’s called freelensing. So you detach your camera lens by only a bit, while hold it in place and focusing when you take a picture. Doing so allows more light to leak in, giving your pictures a vintage look and feel. I have yet to try. Can’t wait! More on it here.

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