Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

Alexandria — Issue #010: Killing Our Instincts

Adam Sadowski
5 min readAug 30, 2019


A bi-weekly newsletter dedicated to bringing you the best content related to design, technology, and entrepreneurship.

Welcome to the 10th edition of the Alexandria Newsletter. Let’s take a moment to celebrate this mini-milestone. Woo-hoo! Ok, now back to business. This edition kicks things off by questioning the limitations of data in design and product development process. Is it the end-all and be-all? Does optimization hurt creativity? Are we in danger of suppressing our instincts to the point of no return? Read on the find out!

We continue with an article by Lisa Dziuba, who gathers industry experts to provide their insights and analysis for what it takes to create and maintain a design community. Jose Torre, who’s spent over a decade designing for companies big and small, shares his learnings and tips for how to thrive in a corporate environment. Diversity in the workplace continues to be a popular talking point (and rightfully so) and the Eye on Design publication provides fantastic resources for how to make changes from within your organization to actually become more diverse and inclusive. We finish with a piece from the Dropbox team that shares how they revamped design to operate more efficiently at scale, review some tips and tricks for avoiding sneaky errors when working with typography, and dig into the nitty-gritty of how one would set up an eye-tracking study.

For resources, I present the tab-a-holics of the world with an extension that allows you to group and save your browser tabs, a handy and lightweight clipboard manager for those who may need to be copy and pasting various pieces of text, a website for quickly browsing 100’s of real startup pitch decks, and finish with a gorgeous SVG wave generator.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend!


Featured Article

99u 2systems

Do Creative Ideas Work Better than Data-Driven Ones?

Another interesting study comes from neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, who worked with patients who had damaged a small area of their brains that controlled emotions. Even with this chunk impaired, he found his patients were still rational humans. But when he would ask them to make even the smallest decisions, they struggled. What Damasio learned by studying these patients was this: a brain that can’t feel, can’t make a decision. We need emotion, not just logic alone.

More Amazing Reads

Data-Driven Design Is Killing Our Instincts

Over-reliance on data to drive design decisions can be just as harmful as ignoring it. Data only tells one kind of story. But your project goals are often more complex than that. Goals can’t always be objectively measured. If the false god of data overshadows other methods of design decision making, we risk optimizing for easily measurable goals at the expense of totally flunking the more subjective experience.

How Design Companies Build Communities
Engaged community drive product development, create plugin ecosystem, write guides and learning resources. Loyal users help spread the word about the product. This gives dream viral growth, while the company continues building their sticky product. But how to build such a loyal and engaged community? You’re now reading results of 4 years’ research on community building practices from the biggest design players, combined with our lessons.

Designer vs. Corporation

If you want to have a real impact, not only you must be good at your craft, and empathetic towards your end users, but you also have to understand the business, and what will make it successful. If you don’t, your design solutions will be short-sighted, not only it will be very difficult for you to push it through all the various stakeholders but also, your ideas might actually defeat the business model of your company. Let’s not be naive, it’s not just about what brings value to the user, it’s also about what will bring value to the business.

Let’s Cut the Bullshit — Here’s What it Really Means to Diversify Your Workplace
Have you ever felt like you couldn’t bring your whole self to work? That you couldn’t heat up your food at lunchtime without attracting comments, or talk about what you did on your weekend without fear of judgement or over-curiosity? While diversity and inclusion is a hot “trend” in just about every industry right now, there’s a gap widening between hiring a diverse range of candidates and making them feel like they belong. I spoke to a range of D&I specialists in the creative industry to address the questions: How can design organizations diversify their staff while avoiding tokenism? And how can they ensure that the workplace candidates enter is inclusive?

Design Tooling at Scale
Workplaces and productivity tools are rapidly changing. The proliferation of cloud computing and a move towards decentralized and flexible ways of working have both enabled and necessitated more collaborative tools. If our docs, spreadsheets, slides, and other files are in the cloud and easily collaborated upon by teams, shouldn’t the same be true for our designs?

5 Sneaky Typography Errors to Avoid
Here’s the deal: some of the most interesting, visually-arresting design comes from smartly utilizing a multitude of typefaces simultaneously. To be fair, the other edge of that sword is that it definitely takes a keen eye to do this successfully — but it’s not an insurmountable hurdle. While we wouldn’t suggest utilizing, you know, the entire suite of Google Fonts in a single project, there’s no reason to limit your typographic projects to just two typefaces if you do so in a thoughtful, deliberate manner.

Setup of an Eyetracking Study

We use this eye-tracking data to understand how people read online and how they process webpages. Our eye-tracking research has yielded major findings such as: Banner blindness: People avoid elements (like banners) that they perceive as ads. Uncertainty in the processing of flat UI elements: Extremely flat UIs with weak signifiers require more user effort than strong ones do. Gaze patterns: Users tend to process different content in different ways. Two of the most common patterns are the F-pattern and the layer-cake pattern.


Toast — Organize Your Tabs Into Sessions
Toast is a simple and lightweight extension that allows you to save all tabs in open browser window. This way you can switch from project to project or between work and home tabs in a second, without having a mess of tabs and windows.

Maccy — Clipboard Manager for macOS

Clipboard manager for macOS which does one job — keep your copy history at hand. Period. Lightweight. Open source and free. No fluff.

Startup — DECKS

Startup Decks is a website where you can view 100s of new and establish startup pitch decks or submit your own, completely free.

Get Waves — Create SVG Waves for Your Next Design
A free SVG wave generator to make unique SVG waves for your next web design. Choose a curve, adjust complexity, randomize!