Turning over a new leaf

Dec 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

Wow. So I have been seriously neglecting this blog… oops! This is mostly because this year has been crazy nuts-o:

  • In March,  I started a new design lab in California for the Monitise Create team. I got to pull from some of our best designers within Monitise to build a lean, mean UX machine… embedded ourselves with some cool financial service clients with truly meaty design challenges: like bank-agnostic money transfers and wealth management.
  • In June, I was incredibly lucky to attend FooCamp 2014, which is a dynamic annual gathering of the best & brightest in tech to discuss the world we work and live in. My contributions centered around building user trust in digital experiences through good UX, and the evolving nature of our money.
  • In August, my book was finally released thanks to my new pals at O’Reilly Media. Designing Mobile Payment Experiences is now available at your favorite bookstores in half a dozen countries!
  • In October, I took a short trip to Indianapolis to MidWest UX to give a talk on mobile payments UX design. Such a cool little city with a thriving design community.
  • In November, I brought my rapid mobile prototyping & usability testing workshop to a UX meetup in my old stomping grounds in Sacramento.

Throw on top of all this raising a precocious 20-month year old chatterbox, and a minor earthquake, and you’ve got one heck of a year…

And it looks like 2015 will be no different. Last month I bid a hard farewell to my friends at Monitise — it was certainly a rewarding  3.5 years there to be sure. Today, I’m happy to announce that I have joined the design team at Capital One. I’ll be heading up UX design for their small business mobile products, where I hope to one day rid the world of interfaces like this. I am excited about going back to work in San Francisco, and especially to join forces with the most progressive financial institution in the country.

First things first…

Jan 05, 2014 § Leave a comment

After almost a year of tinkering, collating and scratching notes in the margins, I’m happy to say that I’m nearly done with a book on UX design for the world of mobile wallets and payments. The book was inspired by a collection of best practices I put together at my day job, and then spun it into a talk that I debuted at MobX Berlin in 2012.

The other big news is that the book will be released by O’Reilly Media this summer! They have been incredibly helpful in guiding me through this process and helping me bring this book from concept to reality. I strongly feel that UX designers are best utilized for solving real problems. Financial, healthcare and government services tend to provide the worst experiences – no one likes dealing with their bank, filing insurance claims or paying bills. Good design can change that, and so I hope this book will help other designers in this space meet these challenges. You can pre-order the book now from Amazon or from O’Reilly directly.

Designing Mobile Payment Experiences

I’m working on a companion site for the book to which I’ll funnel supplemental content moving forward, this being a more personal site. Still, I’ll post updates when I can share more. For now, if you are curious of the types of interfaces in this space, I curate probably the largest collection of design patterns of mobile payments on Pinterest.

Stay tuned…

2013 in review

Jan 01, 2014 § Leave a comment


2013 has proven to be the most challenging and rewarding year of my life. It all started with finishing up my graduate program, after 5.5 years of chipping away at it via night & online classes. The hard work paid off: my thesis was featured in the school’s show at the Palace of Fine Arts, and I got tons of great feedback from potential users. Literally the evening after I passed the review board, we checked into the hospital to bring little Miles into the world.


He has changed my life in more ways than I can count. The hard days (like today when he throws a tantrum the second we put him down to play, or his sleep regression when we were in France & Italy) are washed away by the immense joy he brings us, and to the lives of every one he meets. Watching him grow into a precocious little boy these last 8 months has filled my heart with a love that can’t be put into words. In turn, seeing my wife blossom into a graceful mommy has made me love her more every day. Our sweet little family is looking forward to many years of laughter and love.

At work, the year has gone by in a blink, what with helping Visa release mobile payments to the world, and getting to play with all sorts of fun gadgets like mobile point-of-sale card readers and Google Glass. I am thankful to work at a place where we build things that solve real world problems. 2014 promises to be a huge year as well. Some of this will be due to a secret project that I’ve been laboring on all year, but I can’t quite talk about it yet. Hopefully I can go into detail in 2 months or so, but it really is an amazing opportunity.

Onward and upward!

The Galaxy Note 3… for my Mom??

Dec 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

My mom was badly in need of a new phone. She’s had the same phone, a Pantech flip phone, for 5 years.. which is like 45 in smartphone years. Sure, it gets the job done: it’s compact, it’s got easy-to-see buttons, and it doesn’t drop calls. However, Mom has become avid at texting and picture messaging. She also has a busy life between math tutoring clients, ferrying her grandchildren around two parishes, and a meeting up with her high school pals. She needed a phone that could keep up with her. The short of it: she’s outgrown her clamshell phone.


My mom had to use a magnifying glass to see pictures or video messages on her old phone.

When helping her find a new smartphone, I found myself torn between the worlds of Apple and Android. I own several products from both camps, and work with mobile devices on a daily basis. So why then did I guide her to Samsung’s new phablet, the Galaxy Note 3, instead of an iPhone or an iPad mini?

ImageMany articles I see about UX and older users tend to paint seniors as near-blind curmudgeons who expect billboard-size UIs, type in all caps, and are resistant to trying new-fangled things. I find these generalizations to be based mostly on myths, illustrated by gadgets like the Snapfon (above), which looks like a cross between a TV remote and the board on Wheel of Fortune. Pew reports that as of 2012, seven in ten seniors have cell phones and a third of them use social networking apps. My mother has welcomed new technology — as an algebra teacher, she can do wonders with a graphing calculator. She can stream Netflix movies on her smart TV. She’s active on Facebook, and has even written an eBook.

2013123195180216She had a few basics to shoot for: makes calling her favorite numbers a cinch, allows her to type with proper capitalization and punctuation (she is a teacher, after all), and a crisp display for pictures and video messages. Putting aside the specs (where the Note 3 beats iPad mini hands down in some categories like double the camera size and battery life, with half the weight), I couldn’t in good conscious recommend any product that runs iOS7 to an older user. This was apparent especially after watching my in-laws, who were relatively comfortable with their iPhones, struggle to read the ultra thin fonts and miss buttons-that-don’t-look-like-buttons.

The Note 3 has a vivid display and tap-friendly keypads, which made it the clear winner. She can watch videos of my son giggling without having to use a magnifying glass (she literally used a magnifying glass when viewing pictures on her old phone). Mom primarily uses a mobile phone with two hands while she types or navigates, so the size of device accommodated this while still being small enough to hold to her ear for phone calls.

Of course, Android UX is by no means perfect, with its funny Back Key and “creative liberties” with UI iconography (here are three of the biggest offenders IMO, with captions). I did have to dispatch a bunch of AT&T & Samsung bloatware apps cluttering up her screen, which I promptly deleted or hid (by dragging the app icon to the Hide option at the top of the Apps screen). After taking a few minutes to customize her settings (full brightness, key lights always on) and download widgets from Accuweather and Google Now, she was up and running with a fancy new phone that doesn’t make her feel like a cavewoman. In the end, the Note 3/Android’s customization features and accessibility won out. And it doesn’t hurt that it matches her ivory white winter coat.

Graduation, Palace of Fine Arts show

Jun 07, 2013 § Leave a comment


Had an incredible graduation weekend with the family in Napa… probably ate my weight in BBQ ribs!

Also had the opportunity to come by the AAU Spring Show at the Palace of Fine Arts, and give a talk about building Road Case and the process of completing my thesis for the Web Design / New Media MFA program. You can now look through some of the documentation from my work on Road Case here, which covers everything from the initial research and sketches to the design & build phase and user testing.

Screen Shot 2013-06-02 at 10.16.50 PM

Spring update: Good things come in threes

May 21, 2013 § Leave a comment


Say hello to the newest addition to the Allums’ family, little Miles. He was born a coupla days early on April 19, a sweet little 7lbs package. We’re slowly getting used to his schedule, and learning how to function on scant amounts of sleep… but this kid has brought more joy to our lives than I could ever express here.


The other big news is that tomorrow I will receive my MFA from Academy of Art University’s graduate web design program. My project, Road Case, passed the committee’s review with flying colors, and will be featured in the school’s spring show at the Palace of Fine Arts. In fact, after I presented my work to the committee, we were admitted to the hospital to bring the little dude into the world.


The third bit of good news will have to wait until a bit later this year to announce, but suffice it to say that 2013 is a pretty damn delightful year so far.

Fine New Year, AAU design challenge

Jan 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

2013 is gonna be HUGE, and I will be busier than ever, I expect. I’m finishing my thesis app & graduating in May, and there’ll be another really cool announcement coming shortly.

The year is already off to a good start. It looks like I came in first place in a design challenge at school, where we were asked to do UX design for a new feature integration for the AAU Campus Mobile App on iOS & Android (powered by HTML5 & SalesForce). They will use my work to implement a new community voice tool.

The design challenge was facilitated by CloudSpokes, which uses crowdsourcing to find solutions to technology problems. I’m really very honored to be a part of it… and that $700 prize is gonna come in handy! Hopefully they will continue to utilize the student design community to enhance these kinds of experiences.


You can view my submission here on Google Docs/Drive.


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