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Pleasure and Pain’s Most Popular Posts of 2010

I hate end-of-year roundups. But they’re contagious, so I just can’t help myself. Here are the most tweeted, most commented posts I wrote this year. I hope you like them, too.

The UX Design Process for the Boxee Beta

January 27, 2010
175 tweets, 23 comments

More than a year ago I very proudly announced that Boxee, the much-loved social media center software company, had hired me as the user experience designer for their beta. In the five months that I worked with them, I conducted user interviews and usability testing to identify people’s needs, behaviors and frustrations, and redesigned the app’s navigation and key screens.

How Little You Really Know

February 26, 2010
39 tweets, 10 comments

You work in technology for a living. You’ve been using a computer since you were born. You are obsessed with learning new things. You are a nerd and you hang out with other nerds. You constantly think about the future. You love math. You spend the vast majority of your day staring at screens of varying sizes.

In other words, you are not normal.

Can Leadership Be Learned?

March 6, 2010
19 tweets, 12 comments

Since I am always brought in as a consultant, I am never the true project lead because it is ultimately not my responsibility to implement the solution and integrate it into the business. One day I would very much like it to be, but that’s simply not the case right now. While I do currently get to lead almost all of the user experience phases of these projects, I still have an overall project lead that I report into — and in order for my work to be successful and impactful, the leader has to possess some pretty specific qualities.

SXSW Interactive: Never As Good As the First Time

March 26, 2010
9 tweets, 11 comments

The first time you attend SXSW, it’s magical. It’s a long-awaited assembly of neighboring tribes who come together to share knowledge, and passion, and culture. And the first time you’re a part of it, you feel like you’ve arrived. There’s so much possibility; the field expands in front of your eyes and suddenly your career means so much more.

But once you’ve seen it, you can never un-see it. Anytime you return, you’re never going to experience that first discovery again. It’s always going to feel like a disappointment.

The NEW Frappuccino: however-you-want-it

May 12, 2010
10 tweets, 16 comments

Over the past year I’ve had a handful of really bad days where I felt the only thing that could cheer me up was such a Frappuccino. I’ve hopped into whichever Starbucks was nearby and asked for it not by name, but by recipe. Baristas, well-trained as they are, would look at me cross-eyed, but would oblige. I would walk away with my drink, satisfied but embarrassed by my off-the-menu order.

My Best Advice for Conducting User Interviews

July 7, 2010
101 tweets, 20 comments

When a cute guy asks me, “Do you workout?” my answer is always Yes. But if he asks me how often I work out, he’ll get a much clearer picture of reality.

Always start your questions with Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Open-ended questions can’t be answered with a Yes or No. Never start a question with, “Do you…” and expect to get more than a three-word answer. A better way to phrase it would be, “To what extent do you…” or “Tell me more about…”

Fulfilling My Dreams, and Saying No Along the Way

August 3, 2010
26 tweets, 31 comments

I read A List Apart when I was in college and needed to understand the difference between usability and design. I read A List Apart when I started my first full-time job and needed to create my first wireframes.

Today, people are reading Issue 311 of A List Apart and it’s my name at the top of that article. No One Nos: Learning to Say No to Bad Ideas by Whitney Hess. Woah.

My 2nd Indie Anniversary

August 23, 2010
12 tweets, 10 comments

Last year I was feeling a huge mix of emotions as my first year of full-time independent consulting came to a close. Quite frankly I was a chicken with my head cut off, and I was feeling it at hard. I knew I needed to make a change. So I created a strategic plan for how I wanted to move my business forward and how I wanted to better live my life — and now, looking back at Year 2, I’m happy to say that I stuck to it.

Literally Desperate

November 18, 2010
16 tweets, 19 comments

I’m not the first person to plead this case, and I doubt I’ll be the last. Complaints of the misuse of the word are rampant. But despite the growing reeducation and the obvious satire, the abuse seems to be spreading more aggressively than ever.

And I think I’ve figured out why.

What are you worth?

November 22, 2010
103 tweets, 10 comments

When anyone asks me, “How do I figure out my value?” I say that value is the greatest amount that someone is willing to pay. It’s incredibly elastic, so it’s crucial that we continually put ourselves in a position to figure out how that value is shifting.

But there’s a deeper issue here: your current value is not necessarily equal to your worth. And the only way to get your value as close as possible to your worth is to know how to sell yourself.

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