Reasons to celebrate 29th April 2010


One of the first things I did when I joined Canonical just over a year ago was conduct some user research. The idea was to identify some broad areas that needed to be addressed and so I devised sessions that included topics like dealing with music and photos, browsing the Internet, chatting with friends, etc. This initial set of participants had never used Ubuntu nor were they familiar with open...

What makes a good design critic?


While at CHI earlier this week, I went along to a session with the same title as this blog post. I was looking for some inspiration, something to take to a UDS (Ubuntu Developer Summit) session perhaps, something to turn into a blog post, food for thought. The session at CHI included a food critic, a restaurant designer, a food stylist, a chef and a user experience director; correction: the chef...

Living beauty


Reading Roger Scruton’s essay in The Times made me think. I like that. The title of the article is ‘What has art got to do with beauty?’ – in a time of Turner prizes – a very interesting question I am sure you will agree. The article raises many interesting points and rather than dilute, I shall only address one of them at this time. This search for aesthetic order...

What is a browser?


The lovely people at Google took to the streets with a video camera and asked passers-by three questions: What is a browser? What is the difference between a search engine and a browser? Which browser do you use? Less than 8% of people interviewed on that day knew what a browser was. Less than 8% of people interviewed on that day knew what a browser was. Are you surprised? I wasn’t. These...

Do design? Do open source?


One evening a few months ago, Leisa and I had dinner and were chatting – as one does – about work and the challenges of design in the open source community. One outcome of the evening was Leisa going home and registering . It sat for a while. Then, last week, as we were chatting about my last blog post Leisa set up the ning thing, I cut and pasted my blog post in, few bits and pieces...

Bye Bye Standby


My TV doesn’t have an off switch. The stereo doesn’t have a proper off switch either. In the war against standby this seems to be rather a big obstacle. Each of these devices has a big button which implies that it should be ‘easily turn on and off-able’ (to borrow from the old ad) and yet I hit the big button and am rewarded with a little red light. Turn it off at the wall, I hear you shout. Well...

No, really, which one?


  I was chatting away with SavageSays the other day. He had made a (fairly rare) foray to Waitrose to do some grocery shopping. “I didn’t know which Flora to buy” – he said – “I used to buy just plain Flora because I thought it was healthy but now they have loads of them. What’s omega anyway?” As one of my participants once said, “Choice is a terrible thing!” That remains one of my favourite...

All aboard the Facebook train!


I commute. The price I pay for living where I want to and working where I want to is approximately 4 hours a day travelling; about 2 hours 10 minutes of which are spent sitting on a train. I undertake a whole range of activities while I travel: sometimes I sit and think, sometimes I catch up with friends (the Stella express we like to call it), I read, I listen to music, listen to books, work...

Oh, is that how it works?!


“Her first idea was that she had somehow fallen into the sea, `and in that case I can go back by railway,’ she said to herself. Alice had been to the seaside once in her life, and had come to the general conclusion, that wherever you go to on the English coast you find a number of bathing machines in the sea, some children digging in the sand with wooden spades, then a row of lodging...

About Author


Ivanka Majic works in technology. She was Head of Design for Ubuntu, service managed Digital Marketplace through to beta, was acting director of digital for the Labour Party. She lives and works in Brighton where she works with the council’s digital first team, does a bit of teaching at Sussex University, and works with her husband on projects like and the BRAVOs. She has also started a podcast with her friend Michael which you can listen to at