Tom Elliott

Senior UX Architect
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I was the kid who drew well. Teachers and classmates both assumed I would go on to art school, but technology and science beckoned as well. Art schools with their thought provoking political gibberish, constructed from discarded food wrappers, sent me instead screaming into the arms of product design, which I studied, but never practiced. Instead I entered visual design. Print at first followed quickly by CD-ROM’s, DVD’s, and the Web. At the nadir of the dot com bubble, I made a foray into filmmaking, videography, and motion graphics. Now, I create e-commerce user experiences for Sears, dream of weaving social media and content into online shopping, and when no one’s looking, write and noodle on screenplays.

Recent blog posts written by Tom Elliott

Ladies and Gentlemen, May I Introduce, the Real Problem Here

You know, you just haven’t lived until you’ve stumbled upon your coworkers, giddy and full of mirth, doing an impersonation of you.  I suppose it could have been worst.  Nobody did funny voices, no nasally utterances reminiscent of Urkel.  None of them demonstrated a ‘funny Tom walk’ or enacted a skit that found me stymied by long […]

Weeding the Garden Because the Rain Won’t Fall – The Perils of Perfectionism

It’s been a dry year in Chicago.  Having labored for the last two years to transform my backyard jungle (inherited from the previous owner) into some semblance of a garden, I’m now watching my plants turn brown.  Rather than accept the drought, I’ve been noodling even more, quite literally, lost in the weeds. 

Simple, Simplistic – Elegance vs Problem Solving in Our Digital Life

My first work computer was a Mac IIx.  Yes, I’m old.  In my home office sits a 5 year old Mac Tower sporting a one terrabyte hard drive, a storage increase of 2,499,900%.  Fortunately, both share the same simple, desktop interface.  On the other hand, maybe this is a problem.

Unfriending your Friends – How Facebook’s Social Interface Damages Relationships

My wife’s a massage therapist working out of a gym.  A tight-knit group, the therapists and trainers were sad to learn that one of their own was moving on.  They decided to throw her a going away party, but then something went wrong.


We’ll Fix it in Post – A Cautionary Tale About Agile UX from Filmmaking

About twelve years ago, my friend Mark and I set out to make an independent film.  We had no idea how difficult this would prove, thank God.  If we had, trust me, we never would have tried.  It was awesome, but also, it was hell.

The Why that Joined Two Whats – Exploring Narrative to Enlighten UX

A guy buys a bomb from a man in an alley.  In moments, the cops are on him; chasing him, almost capturing him, but the guy escapes each time.  Finally, he reaches his destination.  Entering the building, coworkers yell, “Hey Clyde, nice to see ya.”

This Cube is Mine – Social Design Advice from Herman Miller

Man those Herman Miller chairs are pricy; you can plunk down a grand, easy.  What’s this Herman guy doing with all that green?  Is he chillin’ in a suite at the Vegas Bellagio, stripped down to his undies, rolling around in a pile of cash like Demi Moore in “Indecent Proposal?”  Well it turns out, […]

A Building Built by Diagrams – Lessons on Process from the Seattle Public Library

Imagine this scene.  The Architect enters the conference room of his firm’s airy high-rise palace.  Dressed entirely in black, his assistant takes his cape and fedora.  Seated now at the head of a sweeping glass table, the Architect mutters something both clever and inscrutable as his throng of minions laugh uncertainly.  The Architect removes a […]

There are No Fish – Absolute vs. Relative Taxonomies in Online Retail

What if I told you there were no such thing as fish; they don’t exist, never did.  You’d likely have a reaction similar to 18th and 19th century science readers who discovered that whales were not fish and bats weren’t birds.  Suddenly, both were mammals like the household dog.  Feels wrong doesn’t it?  No fish?!  […]

Animal, Not Animal – A Standard for Addressing UX Standards

So lets say you’re the very first zoologist on another planet.  Visiting humans gift you with theories unknown to your world – natural selection, extinction, exaptation, etc.  Of course as a scientist, you must prove these theories to your kind and you should probably avoid mentioning that aliens gave you the idea.  Unfortunately, you discover […]