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Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Growing up, one of my favorite articles was a National Geographic piece on pufferfish. This fascinating creature (known as fugu in Japan) has two unique qualities. First, it can inflate itself into a round bulbous shape. This unique defense mechanism makes the fish much harder for a larger predator to eat. Second, most puffers contain a toxin deadly to humans. A single fish has enough poison to kill 30 people!

I remember the article most for the highly trained chefs using incredible skill and training to prep the fish to eat. …


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A Conversation with the Designers of LexGo Work

One of the great joys of being a product designer is to see a collection of scattered, tentative ideas take shape into a product that brings a new way of working to the world.

Because ideas are fragile, it’s vitally important for designers to protect and nurture those ideas so they can take root in a meaningful form.

The most recent example of that is LexGo Work, a digital workplace that rethinks the form of the physical office. …


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What testing Pencil Pal in Figurative looked like.

Last update: Jan. 25, 2021. I’ve updated this article to describe the state of Apple Pencil with Figma/Figurative and iPadOS 14.4.

With iPadOS 14.4, it is quite possible to use Apple Pencil with Figma via Figurative, an iOS app that supports Apple Pencil as an input device. This article covers what I’ve learned and some of the workarounds you’ll need to employ to improve performance.

In my latest testing, performance appears to have gotten progressively better from 14.0 to 14.4, to the point where using Apple Pencil is performant enough for general sketching and writing use, in my testing.

If…


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An interview with Figurative creator Matías Martínez

With the debut of the Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro a few years back, the world’s most popular tablet made design fabulously portable. The ability to sketch and create on iPad became as intuitive as well, drawing on paper.

The Apple Pencil 2 made the experience even better, thanks to wireless charging, custom gestures and incredibly low latency. Apps such as Procreate, Affinity Designer and Vectornator have enabled designers worldwide to create amazing digital artwork.

Yet despite this progress, one aspect of vector-based design seems to have missed out on this revolution…


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Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

In June 2019, Apple announced SwiftUI, a declarative UI framework for building apps for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and more.

After using SwiftUI to design a recent project, I now see its enormous potential to transform how designers work with developers.

SwiftUI just might be the Rosetta Stone for digital product design — the bridge that lets designers and developers speak the same language.

Here’s why SwiftUI will alter the future of digital design.

A Quick Quiz

If you’re part of a digital product team, what percent of your team’s design work can be copied and pasted into production code: More than half…


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Aric Roush (top right in black hat) stands with fellow team members at the OEMC’s Unified Communications Vehicle (UCV) during the 2007 NFC Championship Game between the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints. The UCV is a fully self-contained dispatch command post that can communicate via satellite rather than rely on terrestrial internet. (Photo courtesy of Aric Roush)

The only thing spreading more rapidly than COVID-19 is questionable advice on how to deal with it.

We’ve all been infected thanks to a rapid airborne dispersal of emails, social media posts, TV interviews and clickbait articles about “best practices” and “tips” and “recommendations” on how to manage through this emergency.

What’s real? What’s fake? Who has time to fact check all the things?

What worries me most? Outside of official government agencies, so many people telling you how to live your life or run your business in this emergency situation have little or no experience managing actual emergencies.

I…


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Photo by Shane Avery on Unsplash

One of Figma’s greatest strengths is the ability to collaborate in real-time with other designers, product owners and developers.

Anyone with edit privileges — whether it’s a fellow team member, freelancer, client or stakeholder—can go into a Figma file and change anything.

Of course, collaboration assumes all participants act honestly and openly … but in rare instances, that’s not the case.

Fortunately, a few key features in Figma and some best practices can ensure that if collaboration ever goes sideways, you can take steps to protect your design team’s work from bad actors. …


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Illustration by Nelson Taruc

I’m currently on my fourth Shape Up cycle as head of marketing at the company I work for.

Shape Up, recently made public by Ryan Singer at Basecamp, is a framework to help companies ship work that matters. While Shape Up primarily focuses on digital product creation, I quickly saw how it could apply to marketing.

The rest of this article assumes you’re familiar with Shape Up concepts.

Here’s what I learned after completing three cycles.

Demand v. Supply

I want to share “why” I got interested in Shape Up in the first place.

Prior to becoming head of marketing, I did extensive…


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Photo by Heather Applegate

I soaked up a beautiful summer day while waiting for a ride to the airport. I felt buoyant. Just moments ago, I finished a multi-day tour of a design innovation lab run by a well-respected Fortune 500 firm. Its mission: Improve employee and customer experiences around the world by evaluating and redesigning digital products that passed through the lab.

I actually got to witness, hands-on, one project go through the lab’s process. Incredibly well-run and thought out, I was filled with excitement about what the lab was able to create in such a short time. Although evidence was qualitative and…


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Figurative 1.2 for iPadOS

Last update: Jan. 25, 2021. This article has been updated to reflect usage on iPadOS 14.4. If you plan to use Figurative extensively with Apple Pencil, read my companion article.

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I originally wrote this article. It’s an understatement to say that the world has changed so much.

Originally, I wrote this piece to highlight the potential of being able to travel anywhere with Figma—a plane, coffee shop, a bus—with a tablet. Ironically, most of those use cases were made irrelevant due to COVID-19. …

Nelson Taruc

Principal Designer at Lextech. Focus. Boost signal, kill noise. Solve the first problem. Embrace uncertainty.

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