Sustainable design is the ultimate context of use.

It is time for UX design and product management to replace the now unrecognizable 3.5" disc Save icon with something we all recognize as worth saving: the planet.

A toolbar icon of a floppy 3.5" disk indicating the Save function in Microsoft Word.
A toolbar icon of a floppy 3.5" disk indicating the Save function in Microsoft Word.
That Save icon. Microsoft 365 (capture by Ultan Ó Broin).

If you don’t take care of your customer’s experience, your competitors will. A look at why user experience design is a must for businesses on the digital transformation journey.

A textbook example of what passes for digital transformation coming up. The “traditional” Irish banking industry continues to struggle with the superior consumer experiences offered by Revolut and N26, evident by the “new’ Bank of Ireland mobile app aimed at the consumer.

The user goal of completing one simple task using the app tells us there is no transformation here, but a poor refactoring of a UI to match existing banking…

(tl;dr?) The “disabled” community is not a design inspiration for others. People with differences are participants in design, not recipients. Yet, UX designers ignore the community’s key needs, and design empathy turns to sympathy. Recent multimodal HCI-based user experiences offer a chance to re-envisage the intent of design for people with differences.

Wheelchair access only, Dublin. Image: Ultan Ó Broin

We hear too much about empathy in user experience design for it to have any real meaning these days. Far too often what is actually applied in design thinking is a lazy sympathy. Designers reaching out to no one in particular, or to proxy users, coming up with…

Great article. Has the world progressed towards a chat design system yet?

How designing with collective social proof principles can be used to change individual behaviours or attitudes online. A shared user experience (UX) insight.


Let’s have a look into the concept of social proof; a design vehicle for persuading users to respond to a digital experience in the desired way. What are some examples in use? What social proof patterns or components might we turn to when designing? I’ve included a bunch of academic references within, in case that stuff is of interest to you now, or later.

Dryrobe customer feedback portal. Feedback is from a large selection of “real “customers.

Social proof and persuasion


“Social proof”, I’ll fancy up here as the deliberate change in individual attitudes…

Good article. IMO Dublinbikes could up their game on the whole UX journey especially now with improved infrastructure; competition from Bleeper bikes; eScooters, etc. Like you, I have a Dublinbikes subscription - I haven't used it in years though I continue to pay the subscription.

Thanks to Donald Trump: a lesson in awareness of regional differences and the requirements of localization in user experience design.

United States Treasury Economic Impact Payment. Image: Ultan O’Broin

My U.S. economic stimulus check (cheque) made its way in Ireland. I tried to cash it in the local shops; fairly low expectations about success, admittedly. I thought the staff might blink at (then) President Donald J. Trump’s name on it, at least.

Instead, without exception, the response was “Jaysis, haven’t see one of those for years!” or “What is this?” The shop folks were referring to the cheque itself. An antique. Who in Europe uses these things anymore?



Unpopular opinion about a domain touchstone, perhaps. But, I am not alone. A plea to the UX community and academia to gather around a new set of usability heuristics.

In the beginning

Time for a look at the ‘industry-standard set of usability heuristics. Yes, that seminal example of discount usability engineering, presented at ACM CHI in 1990.

You know the one: Heuristic evaluation of user interfaces by Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich.

How’s that usability heuristicy discounty thing workin’ out for ya?

The 10 usability heuristics remain UX educators' go-to instructional method and reference, whatever the digital design industry thinks of them. Here they are:

  • Visibility of system status
  • Match between system and…

A look at human-centered design smarts that enabled Ireland’s turn2me to deliver a digital mental health service to engage the country’s COVID19 frontline workers.

Turn2me frontline workers online mental health support service on tablet device.

Digital mental health in Ireland

In November 2020, Ireland’s Minister for Health announced the availability of the turn2me free professional online mental health service for frontline workers. There is a growing demand for this kind of support given the pressures and anxieties of providing essential services during the pandemic.

Turn2me is already an established charity providing a range of free, professional, online mental health solutions and information to the community. …

Usability heuristics, usually taken as meaning the 10 Usability Heuristics as formulated by Nielsen and Molich (1990) — there are others — are an industry-standard first-look assessment at website and app usability. Here are a few tips on using the heuristics approach — based on experience and by looking at the Indeed Jobs app on an Apple iPhone for some examples.

“Ten times the impact if you discover a needed design change early, and 100 times cheaper to make the change. The experience from both fields is clear: early is much better than late.” — Jakob Nielsen

How are heuristics used in action?

Think of a…

Ultan Ó Broin

Parent. Dog person. Dub. Digital UX design and producty type Experienced with product design, research, development, & delivery. AKA Mugateaux. 80’s hair.

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