What a year in comedy taught me about User Experience by Joseph Palumbo

I recently got an opportunity to speak at Generate NYC, which is a conference for web designers. When I was first approached on giving a talk, I wasn't exactly sure that I could contribute anything of value. I know how to code and I've built some cool things for the web, mostly for personal use, but I've never been a professional web designer or developer, and certainly didn't think that I was in a position to stand up in front of them with a lecture. 

The more I thought about it, the more I started to connect dots in my head. Web designers do more than just wireframe and write Javascript. Ultimately, they're trying to solve a problem for their users. How did I know this? Because the only reason a business exists (or should exist) is because it solves a problem for somebody. Ideally in a way that people are willing to pay money for that solution. 

OK, I know a thing or two about solving problems. And I definitely know something about building products that solve real-world business and technical problems for customers. But hasn't that been done? Is there a way I can present the information from a completely new, somewhat unexpected angle? Well, actually, yes I can. 

In 2016 I walked away from the corporate world to pursue a lifelong dream - to be a standup comedian. And not just somebody who does open mics a few times a week so they can say they do comedy. I wanted to be a professional standup comedian. I wanted to be able to pay the bills off of my ability to make people laugh. 

Fortunately, comedy is a craft that can be learned by anyone. Trust me, you don't even have to be funny to make people laugh on stage. Secondly, putting together a comedy career isn't that different from a startup. You have an idea of an opening in the market (another comedian) and you need to put together a product that fulfills that need in a unique way. 

Ultimately, what I stumbled upon is that comedy is about user experience. You can approach comedy (a joke, a set, an act) in much the same way you would approach putting together a digital experience or a customer success program. It's all about the customer journey. And if you're humble enough to listen to your audience (customer), you might just be able to pull it off. 

So, I give you my 40 minute presentation on What Comedy Taught Me About User Experience

Mac App: Browserism by Joseph Palumbo

Classify this one as a Mac App recommendation, which I plan to do more of because I've been uncovering a lot great Mac apps and utilities lately. 


In my own words, Browserism is an app that manages all your browsers for you. And while I know it has a number of great features, the one that I can't live without any more is the ability to tell Browserism which browsers should open specific links. 

My use case is that sometimes I use my personal MBP for work. I use Safari for personal browsing and Chrome for work. It used to be that if some Slacked or emailed me a link, it would either open in Safari (my default browser) or I'd have to remember to right-click it and tell it to open in Chrome. 

Browserism allows me to set rules stating that certain domains (i.e. zendesk, confluence, salesforce, et.c) should be opened by Chrome regardless of where I click them. 


In addition to setting these global rules, I can also decide on a link-by-link basis which browser I want to use to open it. 

Probably the best $1.99 I've spent so far this year. If you're a fan of using multiple browsers, Browserism is definitely worth getting. 


Setting up a new MacBook Pro by Joseph Palumbo

I'm super OCD about the setup and organization of my computer. Probably because I like things organized and structured in general, but more so because I work (and live, to some degree) on my laptop.

It's my primary tool. It's my virtual office. I need it to be organized and efficient. I need to be able to find what I'm looking for when I need it. I need it to be predictable and intuitive, like a great sidekick. So over the decade of almost exclusive Mac-use I've become very opinionated about how a new Mac should be setup. These opinions are suited to my needs, wants and biases, but based on what I've seen on other people's computers, I think some of you could benefit from a few of my basic guidelines. 

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JavaScript Hack: Prevent outputs from stacking in an HTML element by Joseph Palumbo

I'll often write a JavaScript function that populates an empty HTML element with some kind of output, either text or HTML. That's easy enough. The problem is that when/if function runs a second time, the second output is appended to the original output. 

I never had a good way to "reset" the target DIV when the function runs a second or third time. So I'm stuck with a long list of output stacked on each other. 

Last night I found a way to use an if statement to check if the target element already has something in it, and if it does, empty it out. 

Here it is. 

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 12.18.15 PM.jpg

The function in question outputs an HTML unordered list to a div with the id 'adv'. When the function runs, this logic checks the length of the HTML in the div and if it is greater than 0, it will empty it out. 

Definitely not saying this is the best way to handle a problem like this, but so far it has worked very nice for me so I thought I'd share. 

TLFAT: Lessons we can all learn from VA problems by Joseph Palumbo

Listening to NPR on my way into work this morning. A story about problems with the Veteran's Administration had a panel with a VA administrator, a military veteran, and somebody who worked for a firm that navigated the VA system on behalf of former soldiers. 

The key take away from this story is that designing to meet the needs of the "system" instead of meeting the needs of our users is a much more prevalent mistake than I thought. It appears that this happens outside of computer applications and extends to bureaucratic systems as well, specifically the VA. 

The bottomline is this - systems must be designed to meed the needs of users, not internal systems. Secondly, until this becomes a widespread maxim in business, there will always be a need for Customer Success Managers and Leaders.