Cameron Collis
Design as Jobs, Actions, and Information
September 28, 2022

A design is a glimpse into the designer's mind. If a product is well designed, I assume the designer was thinking clearly. If a product is poorly designed, if it's not self explanatory. I assume the designer was unable to think clearly. Wrangling with many complexities.

I'm also vulnerable to complexity. But I'm learning to view design as a bunch of jobs, actions and information. What I refer to as design in its simplest form. This lens is helping me remove complexity and think clearly.


It begins with jobs. We all have jobs and we all use products to help us do a job.

This morning my job was to wake up at 6:30am. I used the alarm on my Google Home to wake me up. My next job was to rehydrate. I used my fridge, cup and water.

My jobs were to wake up and rehydrate. My Google Home, fridge, cup, and water, where the products I used to do my job.

Understand what motivates people to choose your product and what job it helps them do.


To do a job, we must perform actions.

After waking up and rehydrating. My job was to pay my quarterly energy bill. I signed in to my mobile banking app. Then input the energy company's details into the payment form. Followed by the amount and reference number. I double checked the details, then confirmed the payment. These were all actions I performed to do my job.

The job and actions lens narrows the designer's focus. From a complex problem with many interdependencies to a single job or action. Removing complexity and helping the designer to view the user experience holistically.

Jobs and actions are invisible. They aren't seen, they're performed. Information is different.


Information is everything visible. The text, colours, icons, shapes, and images.

A button isn't information. Information is the light purple rectangle with rounded corners. Information is the icon, and dark purple label, Download.

Some information signifies an action is available. The purple rectangle, icon and label, Download, matches my mental model of a button. I unconsciously know it affords an action. Other information helps me do my job or perform an action. The file name doesn't signify an action, it tells me what is available to download.

Through information the product communicates the actions available and how to perform them. But how the product communicates depends on the jobs and actions hierarchy. If a link button speaks to the user in a soft voice. Then a primary button, with its high contrast dark rectangle and white text speaks in a loud voice. It's engaging, more discoverable and used to communicate the most important actions.

Example, Google Flights

​​Google Flights helps me do a job. To book a flight from point A to B. I expect my first action will be inputting point A, then point B, then the travel date. Followed by searching for flights matching my criteria. This is my mental model for booking a flight, formed from previous experiences.

If most people who use Google Flights have the same job and mental model as myself. They will perceive Google Flights to be a well designed product.

Google knows my location and anticipates my first action, inputting point A, Brisbane. Outlined in a thick blue stroke, with a blinking insertion point is the Where to? field. It's the loudest field on the page and nudges me to perform my next action, inputting point B, Vancouver.

Sitting highest on the z-axis. With its high contrast blue rounded rectangle. White text and white magnifying glass icon. Is the Search button. It's clear what action I perform to view flights matching my criteria.

Jobs, actions, information. Design in its simplest form. How I'm learning to remove complexity. To narrow my focus and think clearly.