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Heidi Adkisson Principal UX Designer & Partner


Enterprise UX: A State of the Union

Alan Baumgarten speaking at Convey UX. For anyone who regularly designs enterprise software (raising my hand here), you have likely been asked to move a dated, difficult-to-use interface to a modern user experience. Below we have Exhibit A – rather extreme – but nevertheless an example of the type of interface that is still in… Read more

Rolling out the Radical Redesign

For years I’d heard references to the Winchester House—a mansion built over many years by an eccentric heiress without any master build plan. It is well-known for its oddities such as as doors and stairs that go nowhere and windows overlooking other rooms. A couple of years ago on a Blink project I wound up… Read more

Grappling with Platform Strategy

This summer, a blog post “Safari is the new IE” generated discussion and some measure of angst about the future of web-based applications. Specifically, the author was frustrated by what he saw as Apple’s reluctance to support the latest web technology in Safari. Why would Apple seemingly limit what could be developed for the browser?… Read more

Apple Watch

One UX-er’s View of the Apple Watch

The reviews and analysis on the Apple Watch have been voluminous—no surprise given the general buzz around Apple and the intense anticipation for the Watch specifically. However, reviews have been a mixed lot—from glowing to glowering to in-between. Having purchased an Apple Watch about a month ago and worn it daily since then, I decided… Read more

Continuity between devices

Considering Continuity: The Seamless Experience

Recently, I did something I hadn’t tried before: I was “reading” a book in two separate formats on two different devices. In the mornings on my walk I listened to the audio book using the Audible app. In the evenings, at home, I read the digital book on my Kindle. What I soon discovered is… Read more

3 Steps To Better Dashboards

An interface can fail its users in several areas, but the data dashboard seems to carry with it a particular risk. We suggest an approach to designing dashboards that begins with the what before getting into the specific designs. Read more

Heidi at work

Work Practice Matters

The person hovered over OmniFocus at the start of each day? Yes, that would be me. Rewind 20 years and there I am again, but this time lugging about a three-ring Franklin Planner. Suffice it to say that planning and I go WAY back. But beyond daily planning, I’ve been working recently to optimize my… Read more

Pono Players

The Uphill Climb of Single-Purpose Devices

Having started my tech career in the cellular industry back in the era of brick phones, I’ve had a particular interest in the evolution of mobile devices. And I remember when the first Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) hit the market the burning question was whether PDAs should be stand-alone devices or subsumed into cell phones.… Read more

WRAP For Better Design Decisions

Regardless of your professional field, the quality of the decisions you make ultimately determines the quality of your work. Earlier in my career there was a lot of emphasis on rational decision-making — sometimes elaborate ranking or ordering systems designed to identify the optimal course of action. But the shortcomings of this approach were brought… Read more

Using the Livescribe Smartpen for Research

Stakeholder interviews, user research, user testing—all are integral to our approach on a Blink design engagement—and all require superior note-taking skills. Enter the Livescribe Smartpen. I’ve found the Smartpen to be an invaluable tool for note taking of all kinds, but particularly for note taking during research. The Smartpen provides two functions that can be… Read more

Increasing Your Chances of Successful Design Decisions

It’s always disappointing when a design decision‐‐or collection of decisions‐‐don’t turn out the way you imagined. You may “feel the pain” through your customer service center or when you try to add functionality to features that were awkwardly designed originally. In the ideal world, every design decision would be informed by user research or usability… Read more

How Useful are User Interface Patterns?

This past June, I attended the Usability Professional Association conference—the theme for which was Patterns: Blueprints for Usability. It provided the opportunity to hear a number of different perspectives on user interface patterns—and I presented my own thoughts on the topic as a conference presenter. My relationship with user interface patterns goes back to the… Read more

Real-World User-Centered Design

A couple of months ago, I was part of a panel discussion on “Real-World User-Centered Design.” The topic was the outgrowth of questions from a more introductory forum on user-centered design (UCD) principles. After the introductory forum there were still many burning questions—specifically, how do you adopt and adapt UCD principles to real-world organizational constraints?… Read more

Consistency: When is it too much of a good thing?

Consistency in an interface is generally a good idea, but like many good things, it can be taken too far. Particularly in content-heavy web sites, pages with an overly similar look can make it difficult for users to get a sense of place. Too much similarity can also give a system an overall static feel.… Read more

web app risk

Minimizing Usability Risks in Web Applications

In the year 2000, there were two neatly divided user experience worlds: the world of the web and the world of desktop applications. The desktop world was about performing work: word processing, image editing, crunching numbers with a spreadsheet. In this environment, operating system vendors (primarily Microsoft and Apple) worked hard to enforce standards that… Read more

The Art of the Conceptual Prototype

At Blink, we are sometimes hired to create a conceptual prototype for a product that is in the very early requirements stage. Usually, the product does not yet have internal funding for development and one goal of the prototype is to secure that funding. The prototype may also be shown to trusted customers to get… Read more

Making Design Collaboration Work

At Blink, we feel one of the greatest strengths we bring to clients is the extent to which we leverage our internal expertise—and work with clients—in a collaborative way. But effective collaboration is not a slam-dunk. The key is to tap into individual competencies and perspectives in a way that improves the outcome rather than… Read more

Objects and Actions Analysis

Objects and actions analysis is a method of documenting what data (objects) need to be manipulated and what functions (actions) can be performed on the objects. A key benefit of the analysis is representing system functionality without consideration of how the interface needs to look or behave. At Blink we have found that conducting objects… Read more

research goals

Matching Prototypes to Research Goals

One of the most important parts of planning for any type of user research or usability testing is a clear set of research questions: what do you want to find out as a result of the study? It seems like an obvious step, yet sometimes this is overlooked. For usability testing, a common starting place… Read more

Keeping Page Layouts Simple and Easy to Scan

Complicated page layouts confuse users and cause them to overlook important content. Avoid this fate by following a few key design principles. An overlooked source of long task times and task failures is a destination page that is so poorly laid out that the user can’t find what they are looking for—even when they’ve landed… Read more

Heidi and personas

Characterizing Users and Usage

At Blink we create behavioral profiles, along with key scenarios, to characterize users and usage. If you have been around system design in the past several years, you have no doubt encountered personas: bright, whole, wholesome (and entirely fictional) users complete with family members, college degrees, cars, and recreational interests. Personas are created to help… Read more

screen width

800 or 1024?

Many sites are going wider, but should yours? There are several issues to consider before making the switch. Recently, several well-known news sites (,,, have increased their page widths to 1024 pixels (more accurately 984, accounting for browser chrome). This naturally leads to the question: Should we increase the base resolution of… Read more

red color blindness

Seeing Red

Approximately 8% percent of Caucasian males have some type of color blindness (more correctly referred to as color deficiency). Despite this fact, major sites rely on users' ability to distinguish red. Read more