A neon sign with the word “Perfect” in neon lights
A neon sign with the word “Perfect” in neon lights
Photo by Jonathan Hoxmark on Unsplash

The Value of Vulnerability in Design

I’m scared shitless of showing my designs. More than a decade as a designer has not cured me of this fear.

I fear the negative feedback I am sure will come. But I fear positive feedback even more. For I will quickly rationalize any positive feedback as superfluous flattery.

It’s a paradox where the negative feedback crushes me and the positive feedback is never enough to quell the appetite of my fragile ego. It isn’t easy to write about myself this way. But it is the truth.

This is still the one key aspect of UX design that can raise…


Your brain and design.

Computer-illustrated female super hero flying through the sky
Computer-illustrated female super hero flying through the sky
Image by Janos Perian from Pixabay

“What’s your superpower?”

I was seated across from the hiring manager in a swanky downtown Chicago office on Michigan Avenue. The interview had been going well until she asked what was arguably a cliched question — cliched even for ten years ago. She leveled her eyes and gave me a look as if this question were the sole deciding factor in her hiring decision.

What was my superpower?

If I could have shot flesh-melting lasers out of my eyes at that point, I might have.

I understood what the question was really asking for. It was a question designed to…


Design negotiation techniques when your team says no.

An image of a wall with “No” painted on it
An image of a wall with “No” painted on it
Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

It’s one of those days where everything went right. The design problems that had been plaguing you for days or weeks suddenly fell away as you found the right solutions. Everything snapped into place like a hand-crafted jigsaw puzzle.

You got it. Now you just have to sell it.

This is where other problems, new problems, typically come to light. Somewhere in the middle of your design presentation, someone says those four words you are all too familiar with — we can’t do that. It might be a developer or someone on the business side or, even worse, a stakeholder.


Photo by Douglas Sanchez on Unsplash

The Future of UX Design is Already Here

This is that time of year where the ritualistic end-of-year articles begin popping up — Looking Back at 2020 or 2020 in Retrospect. There always seem to be scores of articles predicting future design trends and the future of the user experience. That’s not what this is.

While I do harbor a certain fascination with our species’ ability to establish temporal landmarks and treat December 31st as distinct and different from January 1st, I don’t entertain any fantasies around the clean slate idea of closing out one year and beginning another. …


Waves crashing on rock with a derelict building in the background
Waves crashing on rock with a derelict building in the background
Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

My first telemedicine project, by even the most generous assessment, was a disaster on multiple levels. It was supposed to be a simple project — an academic study in geriatrics funded by federal grant money. We were going remotely hold exercise classes for aged patients and measure their progress over a certain period of time. The grant proposal was far more detailed than that, I’m sure. But the gist of it was we were going to “Zoom” patients into multiple weekly exercise classes and see if their vital signs and health improved over the duration of the program.

Simple enough…except…


The Platinum Plus Patient experience club.

Fine dining table setting with a reserved sign sitting on it.
Fine dining table setting with a reserved sign sitting on it.
Photo by Hitesh Dewasi on Unsplash

What if healthcare were more like the airline industry? I’m not talking about the bad seating and the stale pretzels, nor am I considering herding people into doctors’ offices like cattle or overcharging them for services. Our healthcare system already does that. No, I’m particularly interested in those loyalty programs. You know, the ones where you get a special status — like Gold Member or even the highly coveted Platinum Plus Member.

In this scenario, you could obtain VIP status in large healthcare networks or maybe even an entire national network. This would afford you head of the line privileges…


Managing Creative Burnout During COVID-19

Movie theater sign with the words “The World is Temporarily Closed”
Movie theater sign with the words “The World is Temporarily Closed”
Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

It’s 5:46 on a Monday morning as I write this. I’m more than an hour into my day and yet I still feel as though I am dreaming. My movements feel slower as though I am weighted down. Time seems to operate on a different set of laws — passing more slowly by the minute and paradoxically more quickly by the hour.

My fingers are heavy and each word I type on the page requires a concerted effort. Everything beyond the basic needs of survival seems to require an effort. …


Woman in disguise shushing the camera
Woman in disguise shushing the camera
Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

The most frequent question I receive from readers who reach out to me is: “How do you break into UX design?” The truth of it is, I never “broke into” UX design. I inched my way in, working on the fringes of design for 5 years in positions only partially devoted to UX projects. I took the scraps in each position working my way forward an inch at a time before I finally got that title.

But once I had “UX designer” printed on my company business cards, I worked a number of years feeling sure I would lose my…


Headshot of healthcare professional wearing a surgical mask
Headshot of healthcare professional wearing a surgical mask
Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

The first time I ever saw a doctor refuse to shake someone’s hand, for me, was the equivalent of sighting some rare species or witnessing a key historical event. I was escorting an associate to our research offices one morning when I spotted our medical director approaching us in the lobby. As he approached he held his hand out, but not in the way you would hold your hand out if you were signaling a hand-shake. Dr. Callahan was holding his hand out in a halting fashion — as if to tell us we should not come closer. He quickly…


Art courtesy of Supriya Bhonsle at Mixkit

In late April I was asked to participate in a question and answer session for Brooksource, a national staffing agency whom I have worked with extensively in the past. The session was one of many they have orchestrated and designed as a means to educate and help new designers in their career path. I always enjoy these types of sessions and feel an obligation to help those designers who will, someday, replace me. The following is what I drafted for my session, entitled, “Nobody Told Me UX Was Going to be Like This.”

A few years ago, I wrote an…

Chris Kiess

Healthcare User Experience Designer in the Greater Chicago area

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