The AdobeMAX conference was last week and in addition to taking place virtually this year, it was also free for the first time ever(??). For a designer with time on her hands, it was a thrilling three days full of product reveals and demos, conversations with thought leaders and a dizzying array of breakout sessions to choose from covering an impressive range of topics.

As a first time attendee, I walked away from the experience feeling inspired by all the creative voices I heard, excited about the technological possibilities. Adobe knows how to sell their products and monoliths will always…


Just over a week ago I participated in my first hackathon. As an early career designer, I was equally excited about the opportunity to gain more experience and the prospect of participating in a design challenge with a team of other designers and engineers to solve a problem. As someone who has long been interested in impactful work, I was intrigued by both the name and the tagline of the event: Hacks for Humanity: Hacking for the Social Good.

The stated goal of the event is to “challenge participants to innovate solutions to local and global issues” and in order…


A wooden pathway through the woods on a fall day.
A wooden pathway through the woods on a fall day.
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

If there was ever an instance where a Happy Path was needed, the year 2020 is that instance though there’s a real case to be made that all the data and information was there to at least make the path happier, shorter and without shutting down an economy, but the decision maker decided that there were other things to Tweet about..and this analogy is starting to go off the rails a bit.

Suffice it to say, building a Happy Path is all about preparation, testing, and understanding the goals and behavior of the user.

Ok so what IS the Happy Path and how do we get one?

Happy Path is the series…


I initially wrote about Psychology in Design as it related to the overlap between interior design and product design but now I’m exploring it as it relates to design strategy. We know that design decisions are based in large part on who our users are, how they behave, their goals and what their motivations and frustrations are, but it’s also important to look to psychology itself and what we’ve learned about human behavior from various studies. After all, even the most self-aware user is still often unaware of how invisible forces may be shaping their own decision-making or behaviors.


The power of microcopy

I remember the first time some microcopy made it past my subconscious and made me stop and take notice. I happened to be scrolling through my apps that had updates available. I rarely read the details about the reason for the update, but today, Twitter’s leapt off the screen to me:

A screenshot of the update notes for various apps. Twitter: Not all changes are visible, but we can still celebrate them.
A screenshot of the update notes for various apps. Twitter: Not all changes are visible, but we can still celebrate them.

In the sea of “various improvements and bug fixes” here was something different and for the first time I realized that a real human being is actually behind these descriptions and more than that, I felt like I could even begin to imagine who that…


*disclaimer: everyone’s experience is [same same but] different.

“The toughest job you’ll ever love” is the unofficial slogan of the Peace Corps and what we would jokingly toss at each other when we were riding in an overloaded furgon (vans that acted as a cross between a taxi and a bus in operation and were the main form of transportation) that meant that one of us was riding in the trunk, or when we reached the summit of a mountain (of which there are many in Albania) with the most incredible view.

Image on the left shows a man standing in the trunk of a van, the second image shows four girls hiking in the mountains.
Image on the left shows a man standing in the trunk of a van, the second image shows four girls hiking in the mountains.
Kip took the trunk seat on that trip. On the right, close to the summit of the trail between Thethi and Valbona in the Albanian Alps.

The thing was, for as much flak we…


Going back to my love of psychology, learning the fine art of creating and implementing a user testing plan was a real brain treat during my bootcamp. It took some trial and error before I was able to get a good grasp on the differences between a usability test and a desirability test, how to determine the areas we want feedback on and how to formulate unbiased questions focused on those areas. Most importantly, I learned how to drill down into the why behind the user’s responses.

A row of trees in a forest all have a question mark spray painted on them.
A row of trees in a forest all have a question mark spray painted on them.
Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash

Lots of organizations are large enough that there are separate UX research departments…


This was the post in the series that I’ve been looking forward to writing the most because it’s my favorite topic: psychology in design. The human brain is a fascinating place and I’ve always been captivated by the way it works. Psych 101 was the Gen Ed class I was the most excited for in college — talk Pavlovian to me — and Criminal Minds was always one of my favorite crime shows because of the psychology that was crucial in identifying and catching the unsub.

Within the built environment, psychology is everywhere. Design (done well) is subtly influencing our…


People walking in a crosswalk in a city.
People walking in a crosswalk in a city.
Photo by Chuttersnap

When I began the Flatiron UX/UI Design course, I discovered that I’d already learned the core tenets of user-centered design, I just didn’t know them by that name. User-centered design incorporates the needs of the users at each stage of the design process. Part of that also includes taking into account users’ existing beliefs and behaviors in order to lessen the capacity for user error, which was also a major part of my interior design education.

That included things like accessibility considerations (as mentioned in my previous post), functionality (what is the purpose of the space, what sorts of activities…


A vegetable peeler with a wide rubber handle that is easy to grasp for everyone.
A vegetable peeler with a wide rubber handle that is easy to grasp for everyone.
The OXO Good Grips Vegetable Peeler — Photo from the MoMA

I’m sure you’re wondering what’s up with the vegetable peeler. I’ll explain later. Of all the transferable knowledge I brought from my interior design education, the topic of accessibility was both the most surprising and exciting. The topic of accessibility in design was something that my professors at Kansas State University (shout out KSU ID profs!) introduced early and often.

With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, not only were employers prohibited from discriminating against potential employees with disabilities, but the architecture and design community were now required to design buildings and spaces that considered…

Lauren Dukes

I’m a Product Designer, interested in the “why” behind behavior and the stuff that makes you go 🤩 | laurendukes.com

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