Display Archives

Data, Craft, Inclusion, (Remote)


Pertaining to a quantitative, measurable approach that speaks to agile processes in action.

  • Ethnography is inspiration December 21, 2018 - A couple of years ago I attended a really fun conference in Whistler, BC about the impact of technology on business and culture. One of the talks really resonated with me and is still pretty fresh in my mind even though I forget who delivered it. The speaker shared how people use ethnographic research to […]
  • Crossing the digital divide September 27, 2017 - Taxiing home after my first Automattic Grand Meetup in Whistler, I was happy to get to know my driver Mohamed. He has been running his family business for over 20 years and also drives a taxi to help make ends meet. Like me, he has three kids and we spoke about them at length. We […]
  • Computer, do my design work. September 27, 2017 - Imagine you step into your car for your morning commute, then the car starts driving itself. You realize you need to make a stop at the cell phone store, so you tell your car. You walk into the store where you’re greeted by a shiny humanoid who offers you the latest model of its product. […]
  • Design-led Product Management July 27, 2017 - Within the WooCommerce division at Automattic we’ve been taking a design-led approach to building products. What does this (design-led) mean? It means we start with empathy, focus on the experience, and emotions (how a person feels about product/service). We work on understanding the people using our products – their problems, needs, and goals – and […]


Pertaining to the act of making something, prioritizing quality + consistency.

  • Embracing web-safe fonts October 31, 2017 - Before webfonts were widely available, designers relied on a relatively small number of web-safe fonts, i.e. fonts that come pre-installed with various operating systems, and thus most likely to be present on user’s devices. As a result the web was saturated with Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Georgia and Times New Roman. While these fonts are not […]
  • Communicate with Silent Movies August 31, 2017 - It can be hard to describe a visual idea with words. Thats why photos exist. But sometimes even a picture doesn’t get the job done. Thats why GIFs exist.
  • One more thing… August 13, 2017 - I have a guilty pleasure. On a Sunday afternoon when the weather is bad I like nothing more than to sit down to an episode of Columbo. My wife and I have the entire box set and have made our way though every episode, including the pilots of Mrs Columbo. Watching a random episode is […]
  • Typographic Tweaks for Longreads August 7, 2017 - During the 7 years I’ve been involved with Longreads, we’ve gone from sharing links on Twitter to publishing our own in-depth, investigative stories. While we’ve grown substantially in scope and focus, the brand has largely stayed consistent. The core of the Longreads brand has always been simple, traditional typography, paired with a healthy amount of whitespace. I’ve made small […]
  • WordPress as a Solid Foundation for Applications August 2, 2017 - Usually, people associate WordPress with a blogging platform. It’s true, but WordPress has evolved to much more than that. As part of its evolution, WordPress has received several additions and built-in features that can be used when building Web applications, such as content sanitization, validation, caching, transients, and many more.
  • Guitar Effects and Themes August 2, 2017 - A long time ago in a theme shop far far away, well, not so far away….a few kilometers in fact from where I work out of now (home), I used to work on themes that had a lot of features and custom code in them. A sort of, multipurpose theme so to speak. Themes that […]
  • My Favorite Illustrator Tips for a Faster Workflow August 1, 2017 - Just recently, I had the opportunity to work on our team’s shirt design. Illustrator has always been my tool of choice when it comes to doing print work, but before we dive into some tips, let me share with you the completed design. Why a cereal box? This is actually spin off of a previous […]
  • Projecting trajectories August 1, 2017 - Updating a brand can be a difficult process. On the one hand, coming up with a new brand is difficult enough because of the blank canvas syndrome, but updating one; well that’s a wholly different albeit not incredibly dissimilar process. Ultimately they both really begin by defining tenants, or pillars of a sort, that can […]
  • Balancing Options vs. Overload July 31, 2017 - On WordPress.com, one thing we’ve been focusing on is making themes that just work. It’s a bit of a balancing act; it’s very tempting to allow customers to control every aspect of their theme, because it seems like the simplest way to give them what they want. That idea may sound great to customers, but […]
  • Thoughts on Compiled CSS Files in Git July 31, 2017 - An ongoing discussion about build tools in the Underscores GitHub repository reminded me of something that seems to come up a few times of over the life span of a project. CSS preprocessors, the best known being Sass and Less, have become essential resources that make managing complex stylesheets much easier. A common issue when […]
  • Filling in the Cracks: The Road to Better Brand Perception July 30, 2017 - I was born and raised within a rural town in New England. A place where public transit is virtually nonexistent and the primary mode of transportation is via automobiles. Traveling to the nearest grocery market, one finds themselves on a short pilgrimage— driving down long windy country roads whose sides are lined with trees and tall […]
  • Reflections on theme retirements July 29, 2017 - For the past few weeks I’ve been gradually retiring themes from the WordPress.com showcase. Retirement may sound a bit dramatic, but it simply means a theme will be removed from our offerings, and new customers won’t be able to activate it on their sites. This way we can keep our theme collection fresh and make sure […]
  • Sending the right message with form validation July 28, 2017 - Error messages. Those little things everyone hates to see. As designers, we like to design the best possible experience for getting users through the task at hand. But it’s our job to put as much consideration into error states as we do the success flow. Any error messages we show to users should provide helpful […]
  • The Next Chapter for Themes July 28, 2017 - Every few months I read a post about how the WordPress theme business has shrunk. The authors always reach a similar conclusion. Sales have dwindled. Competition has increased. Putting food on the table, finding a niche and standing out is near impossible. It may not be so impossible though. With a new editing interface on […]
  • Hundreds of Tiny Arrows July 27, 2017 - I recently hand-drew hundreds of tiny arrows for a Longreads illustration. It took about four hours, with a few breaks to check Slack and refill my chai. I knew I could have drawn a few arrows and duplicated them in Photoshop. I would’ve added some brush strokes to differentiate them from each other, and it […]
  • Fidelity matters July 27, 2017 - When trying to communicate a design idea in a work environment, it is essential that you do so in the most effective way possible for all parties involved. You want to be as clear and as purposeful as possible, and make sure the delivered message lends itself to meaningful feedback and action. How you communicate […]
  • Rapid Prototyping July 26, 2017 - A large group of designers at Automattic use Sketch for their work. It’s a great design tool, and with the addition of symbols it’s become super powerful. We’ve got a few internal symbol libraries, and each designer likely has a version of their own. Here’s a quick screenshot of the symbols from a recent Sketch […]
  • Improving the WordPress experience July 26, 2017 - The experience of creating a WordPress site can vary wildly. Occasionally, I hear how someone set it up without any major roadblocks. I more often witness nightmare-level setup experiences. Together, with help from the community and hosts, we’re working to improve the process of building a WordPress site. The fractured flow of the past and […]
  • Can positive feedback be used in place of negative feedback? July 25, 2017 - Feedback is difficult, especially because we don’t take it as a skill to be learned but we expect everyone to be already good at that. Even more, when we say feedback we often refer to negative feedback only. This is misleading because it doesn’t just ignore positive feedback, but also assumes that it’s the right […]
  • Learn Something Difficult July 25, 2017 - Back in the day, I designed Flash websites. I was pretty good at it too, and it netted me a job as a Flash animator and designer at a small Copenhagen based studio. We made really cool things, some of them are probably still around. As time went on, though, the shortcomings of Flash became […]
  • The importance of triage practice July 24, 2017 - At Automattic we have the concept of ‘trash pickup’. The idea being you see something that is an issue, you fix that issue. It’s a powerful idea, one that over time adds up to seeing a better experience for everyone. Living this idea for me also means focusing on every detail, even the smallest of […]
  • Imagining product authoring with WooCommerce and Gutenberg July 24, 2017 - Alongside the Customizer and the REST API, the other key focus for WordPress in 2017 is improving the tool we use on a daily basis to craft our content – the editor. Content creators are craving a richer, more powerful and more intuitive authoring experience. In response to this, the “Gutenberg” project was formed. Gutenberg […]
  • The Process of Processing with WordPress July 4, 2017 - I get excited about the little things people build on top of WordPress. All those things like websites, blogs, and ecommerce stores are really cool, but those pieces of software that extend WordPress into realms few of us think about… those are stinking amazing. I especially get excited about data visualization experiments that can reside […]
  • Staying focused by shifting focus. July 1, 2017 - As designers, we have a single task. Finding a solution to a problem. No matter what discipline of design we work in, the premise is always the same. A problem exists and we need a remedy. But the thing is—problems are sometimes hard… really hard. Depending on the scope of the issue, finding the answer often […]
  • Should designers API? July 1, 2017 - There’s plenty of discussions on the internet about whether or not designers should code, but what about API’s? Hear me out. I’m going to tell you about a project I’m working on and how I went from knowing almost nothing about API’s to knowing a little more than nothing and along the way, discovered how […]
  • The Art of Shipping and Fulfillment July 1, 2017 - Over the last 3 months, we’ve been thinking a lot about shipping and fulfillment on the WooCommerce team. When the thought of shipping comes to mind for most people, it usually goes something like this – “It’s not that complicated. You just mail an item to someone by going to the post office.” Yes, it […]
  • Teaching robots to steal my job July 1, 2017 - Have you heard about the robot revolution? According to the internet, it’s coming, and it’s coming for your job. As “creative” types, we often feel that we’re sheltered from automation. Sure, a robot can beat a human at Go, but can they pick a colour scheme?


Pertaining to customer-thinking, qualitative information gathering, “them”-over-us-as-evidenced-by-interactions, mobile-thinking, email-thinking.

  • Accessibility Standards: Defining What Success Means June 4, 2019 - Announcing the first pass at Team 51 accessibility standards. Spread the love.
  • 常に新しいお客様の体験を見直し続けることの大事さ October 21, 2017 - 数日前、私はJohn Maeda氏からScott BelskyのCrafting The First Mile Of Productを紹介された。この記事は昨年に書かれたもので、内容をご存知な方が多いかもしれない。実は私も昨年に読んだのだが、その頃私はプロダクトデザイナーではなく、そしてすぐに活用できる機会を見出せられなかったせいか、多くのブックマークの一つにしかなかった。しかし、今回読み直した際、この記事は私にとても共鳴したので、まだ読まれてない方のために、私にとってのいくつかのハイライトをシェアしたい。続きを読む
  • Bot encounters of the human kind September 29, 2017 - There’s been a lot of talk about how bots will take over. Dystopian theories aside, there’s a fair argument to be made that many of the tasks we currently do on a day to day basis will eventually be done much more efficiently by bots. Some day, maybe even more effectively as well. That’s an easy […]
  • Building 10 non-profit sites in 8 hours on WordPress.com September 28, 2017 - This past weekend, a few of my colleagues and I participated in Out in Tech‘s Digital Corps hackathon in NYC. Along with about fifty other volunteers, we worked to create websites on WordPress.com for ten international organizations fighting to protect LGBTQ+ rights. Because participants were constrained to building sites on WordPress.com, it was a great […]
  • Crossing the digital divide September 27, 2017 - Taxiing home after my first Automattic Grand Meetup in Whistler, I was happy to get to know my driver Mohamed. He has been running his family business for over 20 years and also drives a taxi to help make ends meet. Like me, he has three kids and we spoke about them at length. We […]
  • お客様のお客様 August 31, 2017 - 私はデザイナーがプロダクトやUXをデザインする際に、お客様と直接会い、彼らの生活に感情移入することが大切なことを書いたが、今月はそれにまた一歩深く習ったことを書きます。続きを読む
  • Unifying the UX with Emails August 1, 2017 - Consider this: Dinner time is fast approaching. Your pantry is bare. You need to go to the store to buy the ingredients for dinner. How would you define your journey to purchasing those ingredients? Where does it start? Once you enter the grocery store? Maybe, but you had to get there somehow. Did you drive, walk, […]
  • Designing mobile native first August 1, 2017 - One design technique that I’ve heard casually mentioned here at Automattic is to design the product or feature you’re working on “native first”, or better yet, “mobile native first“. Mobile has been a priority at Automattic for several years now, and the mobile first approach has helped WordPress.com immensely. In addition to mobile first, we also […]
  • Improving Accessibility with Dynamic Font Sizes July 31, 2017 - We've been working on a number of accessibility improvements to our apps for Android and iOS. Here's a look at how dynamic font sizes are making our apps easier to read.
  • Insignias y team building July 31, 2017 - Would you like to read this post in English? Google Translate does a pretty good job translating it! Una de las cosas que más me gustan de nuestro equipo de Happiness es la increíble complicidad y solidaridad que hay entre sus miembros. No solo trabajan para dar soporte a los usuarios de nuestros productos: también hacen […]
  • To be a design-led company July 31, 2017 - What brought Automattic success in the past won't be what brings the company future success. Learn about Automattic's commitment and journey to becoming a design-led company, scaling design to have broader reach and impact in newly collaborative ways.
  • A Store Story: From features to flows July 31, 2017 - Fairly recently, I went through a rough time at work. I was working on a project that seemed to go on forever with no end in sight. The scope kept growing, we designed for all the edge cases, and we focused on features instead of who was going to use the product and how. I […]
  • Mobile design or the lack thereof July 31, 2017 - Before the era of WordPress there was a time when Macromedia Flash was the industry-leading web design solution. Today, that sounds like madness but back then, the world of Flash offered design possibilities that were simply not possible with just HTML, CSS, and Javascript. I studied web design in college under one of the founding […]
  • お客様への誠意 July 31, 2017 - 最近、私はWordPress.comにて中小企業主のお客様に向けての新しい一つの機能に取り組む機会を頂いた。まだその詳細については言えないが、鍵はこの機能を利用するお客様へ必要事項を通知するのと同時に、その機能を生かすサイトオーナーの成功を彼らと共に分かち合うことであった。続きを読む
  • Designspiration from the field of play July 31, 2017 - As a marketing designer at WooCommerce, most of the work that I create lives exclusively on screens. You might logically assume, then, that a large amount of my design inspiration would come from other digital designers in the same (or similar) industry. That’s only partly true. Since I can remember, I’ve always been slightly obsessed […]
  • Teacakes and tablets July 28, 2017 - I’m forever trying to learn new things. It’s one of the things I love most about working on the web—there’s something new to learn every single day. This month, I’ve spent a lot of my time learning React. Now, I talk a lot of 💩 about Javascript, and I’m not shy to admit that I […]
  • Brix Wine & Charcuterie site design – Detroit Hackathon reflection July 27, 2017 - This February, I visited Detroit along with a team of fellow Automatticians to participate in the Detroit Hackathon, an initiative of Rebrand Detroit. We did a quick tour of Detroit (we only had a weekend, afterall), and learned about the realities and challenges that small businesses often face. Later, we visited each business to meet […]
  • What’s Your Freedom? July 27, 2017 - “We don’t make software for free, we make it for freedom.” The idea of freedom rings true to Automattic’s roots. Our CEO, Matt Mullenweg, blogged about the four software freedoms back in 2014. In fact, this concept of freedom is so important you’ve probably spotted it on our homepage. We’ve been exploring how the concept of […]
  • Your support team might just be your biggest user research asset in your company July 27, 2017 - We speak a lot about user research at Automattic within our various product divisions and it’s easy to get your head down in the trenches and feel like you don’t have the time to come out to even see your users, never mind speak to them! At times I feel like this, and in my […]
  • How we build empathy for our customers July 27, 2017 - In my last post, I wrote how we use interviews to learn about our customers. They allow us to ask them questions and in their responses we find insights and get inspired. In this post, I’d like to share some other ways we build empathy for the people using our products. Support Rotation 💬 It starts […]
  • Let’s Cut To The Chase July 26, 2017 - Estelle Weyl’s tweet today: Stop asking me for my location. Stop asking me about push notifications. Stop asking for my email. Especially on my 1st visit to your site! is especially compelling to me today because I was earlier managing a customer support issue around embedding MailChimp technology on one their WordPress.com sites. Our current […]
  • Inclusive marketing July 5, 2017 - During my hiring trial for WooThemes in 2014 I wrote a fictitious backstory about Woo’s original mascot – a little ninja designed by Jon Hicks. The story was written from my understanding of Japanese culture and unequivocally well intended. Two years later (with Woo part of Automattic) I came back from a week’s holiday to a storm […]
  • Democratizing Identity July 4, 2017 - One of the core ideas we stand for here at Automattic is Democratizing Publishing—the idea that anyone with a story should be free to tell it, regardless of income, gender, politics, language, or where they live in the world. We support this idea by providing hosted website services through WordPress.com for our global customer base […]
  • Don’t forget the emails July 1, 2017 - Have you ever signed up for a new site or product, forgotten about it, only to remember later when you check your inbox and see the welcome email? What if that email looked nothing like the service you signed up for? It would lead to a lot of questions in your mind, rather than a […]
  • 始まりはただのバナーデザイン June 29, 2017 - 私はAutomatticにてプロダクトデザイナーとして、日常WordPress.comの機能やUI、UX等のデザインをしているが以前に少し違う物をデザインする機会があり、それを経験した上で感じたことを話したいと思います。続きを読む


Pertaining to things that are about remote-ness and about *us*.

  • Recruiting participants for remote user tests August 23, 2017 - I recently attended my first remote design sprint at Automattic. It ran over a two week period and  was attended by fellow designers, developers, data scientists, happiness engineers, and marketers. Together we created two prototypes and tested them out with real customers. I found the experience to be both rewarding and inspiring. We came up […]
  • Conquering isolation on a remote design team July 28, 2017 - Every designer has experienced overlooking something along a project lifecycle. We are so focused on the task at hand that we want to keep going and fail to request feedback. In a context of remote work there’s even more room for this to happen as there’s more isolation, and we need to have mechanisms in place […]
  • Remote Leadership July 1, 2017 - I believe remote work is the future. I’ve been working as a designer for Automattic for three years and I worked from home half time the two years prior. Before that I did freelance work on nights and weekends at my dining room table. Working remotely allowed my wife and I to move from Philadelphia […]