Pitfalls I’ve fallen into, so you don’t have to.

Crap traps at a fishing dock
Crap traps at a fishing dock
Traps are everywhere (Source)

These are a collection of my learnings in working as a product designer. I hope this article encourages you to reflect upon your learnings and share them with the world.

1. Equating visual design with product design

Here’s the truth I didn’t want to hear for the longest time: People don’t care about my visuals. They don’t care about how rounded my border-radii were, they don’t care about how I switched from one shade of blue to another — unless these changes get in their way. …


A story about the detriments of American capitalism

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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) is a black comedy about impending doom, how entire systems could crumble down with the slightest defects, and the absurdities of leaders who upkeep those systems — eerily relevant themes for 2020.

“Hey, do you know a guy named Michael Lofthouse from that startup you used to work for?” My friend asked me one day.

“Hmm, that last name does ring a bell. Maybe it was one of the salespeople? Not sure. What’s up?”

“Well, check this out.” She sent over a link to a local news article. I opened the link and saw the title, Video of man saying racist remarks against Asian family sparks public outrage.

I continued reading.

The viral video posted on social media shows the diner cursing at the family and asking them to leave at the…


A story about creating something new and valuable

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In the mountain ranges of Yunnan Province, at the southern tip of China’s mountainous region bordering Myanmar and Laos, stand dozens and dozens of newly installed, large wind turbines. Each turbine rises 80 meters atop the 2,300-meter to 2,700-meter mountain range.


A story about new media and China’s middle class

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Xu Husheng and “Yitiao”

Recently, a YouTube channel and Facebook page caught my eye. It’s called Yitiao — meaning “One Article” or “One Piece” in Chinese — and for the past three years it has been publishing one or two highly produced short videos every day, showcasing well-designed homes, architecture, crafts, photography, and art. These videos are mostly narrated in Mandarin, though subjects range from local to international.


Reflections on why design reflects culture

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Image Source

Recently I spent some time in Japan. The thing about spending an extended period of time in a completely difference place is that it gives you a new set of perspectives.

Japan to me is the antithesis of America. While American landscape is open and wide, large enough to span an entire continent, Japan’s geography is limited to a few islands in East Asia. Naturally people’s attitudes towards space and resources would be different.


— A story of two Venn diagrams

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“We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” — Walt Disney

In early 2016, I decided to work more on side projects after working as a product designer for a startup for two years. I decided to focus on writing and coding, which are the respective skills of product managers and engineers, who are also the two people I worked with most closely.

What I then learned in the next nine months however, fundamentally changed my perspectives on design and life. This is the story of how I did it.

Write about what you know

Everyone knows how to write, but not all writing is interesting or meaningful. …


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Product Design Studio / Glasgow School of Arts (Image Source)

— 9 Simple Hacks to Make Better Product Design Decisions

Clickbait title notwithstanding, this article aims to share some of my learnings in product design.

Let’s start with the high level stuff.

1) Define“the only metric that matter.”

The seasoned PM turned VC, Josh Elman argues that the key question that product people should ask, is “how many people are really using your product?” Elman points out that most of the fluffy numbers such as page views and monthly active users don’t reveal much. Instead the only question that matters is “who is really using the product?” The answer to this question should be defined in the form of “x amount of users did these things


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Xiaomi Mix, one of the latest bezel-less phones in 2016

This is the third and final entry of my series on China. Read Part One here and Part Two here.

Anyone who has witnessed China’s tech scene first-hand will tell you that something big is happening there. In the words of Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s VP of International and former VP of Android at Google:

“It would be very difficult for me, now that I’ve seen what China’s about, to even consider the possibility of going through life without spending time in China.”

Why is China such a fascinating place for tech?

After spending three weeks in Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Cyriac Roeding, a Silicon Valley based entrepreneur…


A story of the evolving Chinese dreams from 1976 to 2016

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An attendant adjusting overhead baggage a high speed train.

In part 1 of this series, I covered Chinese mobile habits, apps and ads. In part 2, I will examine China’s history, economy and politics. This is the bigger background story of China’s Mobile Revolution.


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A long walkway inside Shanghai HongQiao Transportation Hub — a 1.3 million square meters (10.8 million sq ft) structure that connects an international airport, a high-speed train station, and a city subway station. Photo taken by the author in Feb. 2016.

This is a three part series looking at China and its ongoing mobile revolution. In part 1, I will give a few examples of the kind of changes I’ve seen personally.

In February 2016, I went to China to celebrate Lunar New Year with my relatives. Having emigrated to North America over 14 years ago, I’ve always been amazed by China’s continuous transformation.

As my life in the West became interweaved with services provided by Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Uber, Youtube, and Amazon, I realized that my relatives in China couldn’t access any of these services (with the exception of Uber…

Tony J

My observations. Nothing more, nothing less.

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