Newsletter – Fall 2018

Welcome to your LAUX newsletter and your full fall of UX-related goodness, already in progress!  

We had an exciting start to our UX Silicon Beach Series featuring Lex Roman’s UX and Data event at Patient Pop. If you missed it, read on to catch up.

In November, you’ll get a chance to experience Joshua Mauldin’s “Conflict Resolution for Designers Who Hate Conflict,” live, in person, at Pivotal Labs (also in Silicon Beach).

And there’s more to come, including a secret December event and our annual Holiday Mixer. Stay tuned for details.

For now, please dive into our curated pile of leaves, a/k/a your seasonal UX newsletter. Want to chime in? Feel free to “@” us, and send any and all feedback to

Last Thursday, in the Santa Monica offices of PatientPop, Lex Roman, formerly a product designer at InVision, shared her thoughts about the data of user behavior with the LAUX community. How can UX designers build a human-centric system to collect, understand, and communicate data?

What Lex Talked About:

What is Going Wrong?

In many cases, people within companies are not on the same page and don’t share a clear and consistent vision and mission. This leads to poor leadership and unclear ownership. Although many are “eager” to track every piece of user generated data, companies don’t have a complete and unified data system.

Getting It Right
First, set clear ownership roles. Who is in charge of what? When there is a downward trend on Google Analytics, who should be in charge of it? Second, define the success and the measurements, not only long-term goals but also the success of a single strategy.  Third, make certain that every interaction event has been documented (learn more about Lex’s preferred tool Amplitude below). Lastly, run QA loop testings on a regular basis and guarantee that feedback is transparent. What’s the response from the users? How do team members feel about the tools? How much do they want to talk about data?

Putting It to Work
Clear and honest conversation within a team is the key. We as designers should not pretend to know the data sight unseen. It could be a good practice to put the data chart in front of the team and encourage everyone to ask questions until each component on that chart is being well understood and interpreted correctly as possible.

From my perspective, working as a UX designer for a budding data-journalism product, I consider user behavior data as the core of our product. After Lex’s event, I initiated a team design sprint exercise, during which we (re)defined what “success” is and asked a lot of questions about our metrics. For example in our product, what does “enjoyable content” mean? How might we measure it? The takeaways I learned from Lex’s event were effective for me because our team ended up having a meaningful conversation that put everyone on the same page.

As product designers, we should actively look at data, to help direct our user-focused work. We should be conversation-starters and delve into the more profound questions related to our product, mission and vision.

Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter! Tweet @Calexity @Laurennxiong @LAUXMeetup

Watch the Event Video

If you attended the event, we would love your feedback! Please fill out the survey here:

During Lex Roman’s workshop “The UX of Data” last week (see above), Lex mentioned a tool called Amplitude, which is an analytics tool that she uses to track data at her company. Amplitude’s purpose is to help companies understand user behaviors, drive business outcomes, and build better products.

Amplitude’s Dashboard

Product teams rely on data every day to help make design decisions and measure success. They often run into problems of distrust, clarity, and confusion in data. By using this powerful tool, along with a good understanding of how to work with data, they can overcome these challenges and make better informed, more useful decisions.

I’ve had my own share of personal experience with data distrust during my UX internship in Summer 2018.

In one case, I was working on improving an update stream experience, and I wanted to track who was clicking the event. I saw many different naming conventions on the same event that were being tracked (for instance, “Home_update” versus “hoem_update”). My initial thoughts were:

“Okay, there are two different events that are overlapping and tracking the same thing. I do not know what these events mean. Without knowing who named, implemented and analyzed these events, how can I trust this data? I am just going to create my own event, and I will track it myself. Tracking my own event will give me better, more accurate results because I own it.”

There was unclear ownership and poor organization of data on the team. I assumed everyone owned and tracked their own events. As a result, our team suffered from inconsistencies, vagueness, and inaccurate data.

Data must be clearly organized and easily understood to allow teams to make data-driven decisions. Without meaningful data to back up our decisions, we cannot make the impact we want to make.

Lex’s material on Amplitude introduced one particular feature that could have helped solve this problem before it began.


Amplitude: Taxonomy Demo

What we needed from the beginning was a central place in which data and event tracking can be easily accessible for everyone on the team.

Lex introduced Taxonomy, a product built within Amplitude that addresses the problem of organization in event taxonomy. Event taxonomy is defined as the structure of the events and properties you use to define the actions that users take in your product. Maintaining a clear and consistent event taxonomy is key when working with data – just like how naming convention in event taxonomy is crucial in coding. Challenges arise when we make mistakes in event names or in tracking the wrong events. This can lead to small setbacks, wasted time in reorganizing our events, and distrust in the data.

Think of this product as the design system for data – the single source of truth where you can view all of the event names, properties, definitions, and documentation. In addition, Amplitude’s Taxonomy can instantly help identify duplicated mistakes in event naming and merge them. This creates coherence, consistency, and trust in crucial data.


Merging Duplicate Event Properties Example


There is no right way for naming conventions, but it is a good idea to get the whole team to come up with the naming conventions together, or at least actively agree on them so everyone is in sync. In order for the team to make informed decisions, we need to consistency, trust, and clarity in our data. Amplitude’s Taxonomy product provides a solution for a more better way to organize data so that teams are 100% confident in the insights they are generating.

You can check out a demo of Amplitude here.

Thank you, LAUX Meetup and Lex Roman, for such an insightful event. I enjoyed learning more about how teams could better organize data to make more informed data-driven decisions.

Joshua Mauldin, a product designer currently working at Pivotal Labs in Santa Monica shares with us some details about his upcoming event, “Conflict Resolution for Designers Who Hate Conflict.”

So, Josh, can you tell us a little about yourself? I understand that you are an O’Reilly author. Can you share with us a little about that too?

Sure. I’m a designer who’s been at it a while. I started making album art and doing photography, then graduated to designing mobile apps. Now I design and prototype for mobile and desktop applications. It’s nerdy, but I like it.

I started the O’Reilly project because Sketch was growing like a weed and I saw a need to help people learn it. The folks at O’Reilly were super kind and helped me get that course out to everyone. It was a great experience but I did get really tired of hearing my own voice as I recorded everything.

As a product designer, what do you do at Pivotal Labs?

I’m responsible for things all over the spectrum: research and interviews, wireframes and prototypes, and high-fidelity visual design. Mostly, I ask clients a lot of questions and try to make sure we’re building the right thing.

So what is your talk happening in November about exactly?

One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that we aren’t that great at conflict; I definitely wasn’t. In fact, I was horrible at it and wanted to get to a point where conflict didn’t stress me out. The talk focuses on showing a few frameworks for approaching conflict and how to navigate it. Essentially, I want to remove the sting from conflict and help folks embrace it as a tool for good.

What inspired you to create this talk & have you given it before?

I found a lot of teams aren’t great at conflict even though it’s something that can help teams thrive and perform better. The first version of this talk happened in 2017.

Can you provide an example of a conflict a team would face and how it can help benefit them? Also, are you covering anything “new” since you last gave this talk?

Sure. Let’s say someone oversteps and micromanages you. If you don’t address it, this will build resentment, hinder productivity, and hurt everyone’s psychological safety. If you do successfully address it, you’ll ideally be able to stop that behavior and its effects. Additionally, you’ll help foster an environment that supports candor and honesty, which is really what makes teams thrive.

As far as new things, my time at Pivotal has influenced how I think about conflict. My approach is a little more refined now, so I’ll dig into that a little more.

What are some of the key takeaways attendees will be able to walk away with?

In one sentence: I’ll give you tools you can immediately use to make conflict easier on everyone. Here are of the other large takeaways:


  • How to prepare for a tough conversation
  • How to know what you want out of a conversation before going into it
  • How to maintain psychological safety for everyone, even if it goes sideways
  • How to get to the heart of the issue by asking the right questions
  • How to know when to walk away


Last thing…I hear you enjoy dad jokes…What is one of your favorite one?

I had a really good joke about eggs but omelet you figure out the punchline.

Conflict Resolution for Designers who Hate Conflict” is happening on Wednesday, November 14th from 6:30 to 9:00 PM at Pivotal Labs in Santa Monica. If you are interested in attending please RSVP here.

Thank you to our sponsor, Pivotal Labs, for hosting!

Continue the conversation with @JoshMauldin @LAUXMeetup

UX Research Night

ADP, Pasadena – Thursday, October 25, 5:30 PM (Yep tomorrow!)

There’s a growing community of researchers and designers in Los Angeles who are interested in using customer research to build the best products. Ethnio’s Nate Bolt  wants to support the community by hosting casual events for UX researchers, designers, and anyone else interested in the needs, motivations, and behavior of our users. We met in Santa Monica in August, and now we head east to Pasadena, where the fine folks at ADP Innovation Lab have agreed to host. There will be short talks, plenty of food and drinks, and Q&A.


Startup Weekend SM
Blankspaces, Santa Monica – Friday, October 26 – 28, 5:30 PM

Your idea in 54 hours – interact w/ leaders at BAM Ventures, LUMA Launch, Expert Dojo, TechStars, Lightspeed Innovation, and Amazon Studios

Do you have an idea you’d like to pursue or a problem you’d like to solve but don’t know where to start or who to start with?

 Techstars Startup Weekend Santa Monica is the place to look for a team, create a prototype of your idea, validate your business idea, and receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs, all in one weekend.

Get your exclusive 25% off coupon code: BUILDIT


Co-ops for Creatives

E-Central Credit Union, Pasadena – Saturday, October 27,  1:30 PM

Feeling anxious, disempowered or unsupported as a freelancer/contractor, employee or an entrepreneur? There is a fourth alternative business structure, Worker/Owner Cooperatives (Co-ops). Find out more and network with like-minded people at this event!


UX Strat Workshop
Ticketmaster, Hollywood – Tuesday, October 30, 9:00 AM

LA UX Meetup is partnering with UX STRAT to bring their UX Strategy Workshop to LA! The workshop will take place at Ticketmaster’s offices in Hollywood on October 30, 2018, from 9 am to 5 pm. The UX Strategy Workshop is facilitated by Paul Bryan, organizer of UX STRAT Europe and UX STRAT USA conferences. LA UX Meetup members get a 25% discount by using the code UXSMCGRP25. You can buy tickets or get more info about the workshop at We hope to see you there!


WORLD USABILITY DAY 2018: Dark UX Case Studies and What To Do

Philosophie, Santa Monica – Thursday, November 8, 6:30 PM

Taking advantage of human haste, inattention of desire, frustration factors and the sense of “lacking” – or the fear of missing out (FOMO) – is the dark side of UX and the definition of Dark Patterns and Dark UX. We’ve all met services that are a pain to unsubscribe from, products in our shopping cart we’ve never added there, money withdrawn from our account without any notice – the list could go on. In this event, we’ll listen to 3 great case studies and learn about Dark Patterns that drive us and our users to madness!

Conflict Resolution For Designers Who Hate Conflict
Pivotal Labs, Santa Monica – Wednesday, November 14, 6:30 PM

Have you ever needed to have a tough conversation with a teammate who drastically overstepped or a client who didn’t respect your decisions? Maybe you’ve wanted to bring up a problem you’ve had at work and don’t know how. If the thought of having those conversations stress you out, this talk is for you.


Design + Data: Emerging Trends

Honey, Downtown Los Angeles – Wednesday, November 14, 6:30 PM

Design + Data is back with an event on emergent trends in data!

The field of data science is rich with opportunities. Every week, there are new ways to collect, analyze and visualize data. This Design + Data event will examine a few of these emerging practices in working with and presenting data. This month, we’re featuring two main speakers and will start our evening off with a few lightning talks.


World IA Day 2019: Design For Difference. Emerging Tech
Location TBD – Saturday, February 23, 9:00 AM

At World IA Day 2019 Los Angeles we will explore how designers currently working with emerging technology are designing for difference and discuss how to cultivate a more mindful practice of design, raise community awareness and inform our practices.

We invite you to join in the discussion, make new friends and see familiar faces.


Member Discounts
Get a 10% discount to the Front UX & Product Management Workshop Series in Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov 8-9. Use the code “front_meetup”.

Editor’s Notes: Convergence is a new feature of our newsletter, focused around domains that User Experience Design aligns with. Sometimes the similarities are obvious and sometimes not. “Convergence” is meant to be a conversation starter, a way to help bridge the gap between the different disciplines within technology, products + services, and User Experience
A few weeks ago, some of the LAUX team members collaborated with Nobl’s organizational designer, Jane Garza and the What About Humans? Meetup to facilitate a “Design Thinking” mini-workshop for HR professionals. We asked Nobl’s founder, Bud Caddell (formerly SVP Digital Strategy at Deutsch) a few questions about why UX practitioners should care about the emerging field of Organizational Design

What is Organizational Design?

When you put the user at the center of a product design process, it’s called design thinking. When you apply design thinking to the shared experiences of customers and employees, it’s called service design. When you apply design thinking to the way companies behave and change, it’s called organizational design (org design for short). Our fancy, single sentence definition of org design is: Organizational Design is a human-centered approach to improving how people work together and how companies respond to change.

What similarities does Organizational Design share with Service Design?

There are so many similarities between organizational design and UX and service design. First, all of us put the user at the center, it’s just that our users shift from one discipline to another. Second, we all borrow from the design thinking toolkit, chiefly: empathy, systems thinking, co-creation, and experimentation. Good UX practice is a collaborative process with the end user. Good org design is a collaborative process with the employee. Lastly, good UX and service design talent make excellent org designers. At our company, to design better workplaces and processes, we always pair an organizational psychologist with a service designer (and often they spent much of their career working in UX in one capacity or another).

What can someone in UX learn from org design?

Let’s admit it: bad teams make bad products. When all of us use a product or app or service and it sucks, we know that there was organizational dysfunction somewhere in the process. Someone’s ego or outdated way of working contributed to that mess. Especially in big companies, our products become more of a reflection of our org chart than our user’s needs. If your little team or a big company isn’t thinking consciously about how they work, they need their UX people to step up and help them consciously design better ways of working. We’re hoping we can help give you a jump start and some free tools to make an impact fast.

Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter! Tweet: @LAUXmeetup @WorkNOBL @hijanegarza @bud_caddell and include #LAUX #OrganizationalDesign

Crystal Ehrlich, Jessica Brown, Emerson Dameron, Cynthia Hong, Zhuxin “Lauren” Xiong and Noel Saw.

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