Jacinda Ardern, Derek Henderson, Vogue, March 2018

I’ve been interviewing a lot of people for leadership roles lately, and one of the questions I like to ask is: “What are your values as a leader? What are your foundational beliefs about how you want to lead a team?”

It’s admittedly a big question, but one of the most important ones I ask potential leaders. Being a manager or in a leadership role where the careers of multiple humans are in your hands is an enormous responsibility. Bad leaders can degrade trust and quash enthusiasm resulting in low impact, demoralized teams and great people leaving. Strong leaders can…

I originally published this in March 2019 in another personal space I used to keep on the internet. I’m republishing it on Medium to keep my online writing together.

This morning when I arrived at work, almost the moment I stepped through the door, the strap on my purse broke. The purse is small and leather, more like a wallet on a strap that I wear over one shoulder, pressed against my side. There’s nothing special about the purse except that my mother bought it for a trip she took to Italy years ago. …

Unsolicited career advice for people in R&D

One of the best pieces of advice I have for people who are early on in a career in R&D is to learn to hold tension and sit with it, rather than seeing tension as negative or to be resolved.

When I look back, I can see that many of the things I struggled with earlier in my career came down to a worldview that assumed tension is bad. …

For as many years as I can remember, I’ve wanted to improve my technical photography skills. iPhones and automatic settings on digital cameras make taking nice enough images convenient and easy, but the experience is so lightweight that the outcome feels disposable. I take hundreds of photos on my phone, sync them to my computer, and often never look at them again. The photos I share on Instagram get a tiny bit more of my attention, but not much.

That’s one of the reasons I still like film. I won’t pretend that the difference in quality or the grain of…


Design systems — how they’re documented, shared, and maintained — matter because of what they facilitate and represent. If the system is created to enable real work, it should reflect how an organization makes things and what it values. A design system that doesn’t include anything about principles, or an approach to content, for example, may not prioritize thinking about those things in the practical day-to-day.

In The Writing Life, Annie Dillard says,

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing…

Hey there! I’m writing a book about interface content called From button copy to bots: Writing for user interfaces to be published by Rosenfeld Media in 2018. This is my first post about the book. It was originally shared on Rosenfeld Media.

I’ve written quite a bit about why interface language matters, but I didn’t understand quite how much until my mom got sick in the summer of 2016.

Before her illness, I had a pretty typical relationship with the software and apps I used in my life and work. I used Facebook to stay connected to family who lived…

Lady Justice Mural. Photo by Lotus Johnson. Some rights reserved.

A case study featuring Uber’s November 2016 update

In the UX world, we talk a lot about how important it is to design with the needs of users in mind. We’re passionate advocates for patterns that are recognizable, set clear expectations, and are easy to follow. We’re aghast at companies that place misleading text on buttons to inflate clicks, or that otherwise fool people into taking actions they didn’t intend to take. It feels warm and fuzzy to be in the important role of Protector of the User Experience.

Design-minded people are quick to rally behind a litany of good UX principles, but many of us are complacent…

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to do content strategy for chatbots and other conversational interfaces. These days, everyone seems to want their interface to talk. Here’s an unscientific graph that shows how many more enquiries I get about bot content now than I did about a year ago:

I grew up in the 1980s and my feelings about robots are mostly informed by pop culture. My first and most enduring memory of robots are these wondrous and helpful guys:

I’m currently staying in a hotel in an area of London I don’t know very well. I woke up early today and have spent the morning preparing for three days of consultancy I’m doing here. There’s no coffee in my hotel room and hotel breakfasts are notoriously low in value and nutritional attributes, so I decided to head to a Pret I noticed half a block away. Pret (or Pret a Manger) is a chain that’s particularly popular in the UK, though they do have stores in other international locations. …

Empathy Picture by The Shopping Sherpa on Flickr.

Empathy is a buzzword in the tech industry. Although it’s important to work to understand the needs of the humans using our products, sometimes it seems like we talk about empathy more than we actually do it.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Silicon Valley is a notoriously insular place to work. During the two years I commuted from San Francisco to the peninsula, I spent the vast majority of my time with people who were a lot like me. …

Amy Thibodeau

Writer and reader. Director of UX for Store Management at Shopify. Formerly designed with words at Facebook. Based in Toronto. http://amythibodeau.com

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