Three years ago today I was on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, on my honeymoon with my husband. It was just the two of us. A few days in, we met a couple from Kansas who got married just a few days before us, also on their honeymoon. We became friends, arguably because we were the only other couple there under 70 during the relative off-season of late October.

Now it’s just the two of us again– plus our dog Freddie, whose velvety little face I take in my hands every day as I thank him for being here…


Conversation designers carefully craft voice interactions to feel as natural as possible, yet we’re still tied to the feasibility restrictions of mandatory device wake words, rendering all interactions fundamentally, well, robotic.

Implicit wake conditions are the key to natural — and even intimate — voice experiences in 2020 and beyond.

Currently, wake words alert a device that it should listen to what the person is about to say next, which may contain an invocation which, in turn, is a trigger phrase that prompts the assistant to connect the user to a specific voice app. If the person speaking asks for a skill or action by name, that is referred to as an explicit invocation, as opposed to an implicit invocation.


Today, UX and UI designers can download asset packs to modularly build interfaces that are almost immediately recognizable, because of visual norms and established conventions. It’s now totally possible for newly minted interaction designers to build a career by copying and pasting pre-built elements.

However, voice experiences lack the established design patterns. The imaginations of designers and developers have led us this far, but we need to start centralizing and standardizing the practice. …


I live every day with generalized anxiety and clinical depression. This makes establishing and reinforcing psychological safety critical for me to succeed in my role as a design researcher.

By its very nature, a researcher’s relationship to their participant is intimate in a way that few other professional relationships are. While it is crucial for us cultivate psychologically safe spaces for participants to answer honestly, it is imperative that researchers take care to maintain our own psychological safety.

What Does a Design Researcher Do?

Design researchers (DRs) can come from almost any professional or educational background — I happen to have studied industrial design and then…


Diversity in tech gets a boost in Toronto with LGBTQ+ Venture Out Conference

Hot on the heels of the Venture Out Career Fest this past February (which we thoroughly enjoyed!) a cross-guild group of Connectors converged on the Venture Out Conference hosted at MaRS in Toronto, which Connected also co-sponsored.

The comfort of walking into a conference that you know is conceptualized from the start to be a safe space for queer tech professionals is what makes Venture Out stand apart from other tech events. Even before arriving at the conference, we felt at ease knowing that we would be among people who had true empathy for our lived experiences. …


Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

VR, AR, XR, Mixed Reality—call it what you want— will fail unless we stop repeating this blunder

Virtual and mixed reality has, so far, been heavily positioned as a gaming platform, but that is a mistake.

Presenting these new interaction paradigms as primarily for games and escapist entertainment is not only alienating to people who don’t identify as part of the gaming community, but also trivializes the technology. To create a sustainable product ecosystem for both creators and audiences, 10 million people need to be actively engaged on one platform. How can we help more people to realize that VR is for them?

To succeed as an industry and practice, it is imperative that VR designers must…


The key to a successful voice user interface (VUI) design is managing what lies beyond the happy path. Here are some pointers.

Those who own a smart speaker won’t be surprised to hear that when it comes to interacting with voice assistants, users are easily led astray. Without any visual cues to show them what their options are, it falls to the user’s auditory “sense of direction” to find the right path forward. …


How to reduce risk and build better products

Illustration by Emily Soo

The journey from product concept to business launch is risky, messy, and often unsuccessful. No matter how you slice it, risk is an inherent part of product development. And the more leading edge the technology, the riskier it’s likely to be.

“But I have a really great idea!”

You may think you have a great idea, but the odds are against you:

72% of all new products end up failing. — Simon-Kucher & Partners, 2014

42% of failed startups were unsuccessful because their product or service didn’t address a real market need. — CB Insights, 2017


I don’t do New Years Resolutions.

Instead, every year, for the last 6 years, I have made a list of 20 goals at the beginning of each year.

Yep, I know, I already sound insufferable but bear with me.

I started doing this after reading Letters To A Young Artist by Julia Cameron in which she recommends the practice. Sure, it looks floofy, but anyone who considers themselves even remotely creative should give this thing a look. Read that book. Please.🙌

Here’s the thing. ^

That being said, I think at this point I have modified it a bit, and include goals of all…

Hilary Hayes

Conversation Designer at Facebook. also, a Powerlifter.

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