I recently had the honor of sharing my experience as a UX designer with Agile for Patriots and their 5th cohort to become scrum masters. This group of veterans get to learn this vital career skill in a 2-week class. It is an honor for me to speak to this enthusiastic, and information hungry group of adults who want to better themselves by picking up this fantastic skill. Plus, it is a great way for me to give back to the community and learn something from them as well. I am always blown away not by just their amazing history in military service, but the diverse professional backgrounds that this group of folks have already been in.
Thanks goes out to Greg Gomel and all of those supporting Agile for Patriots for letting me come in to class and share my insights and stories. So proud to participate and meet some of our proud veterans.
On Friday, I premiered on the big stage at Big Design Dallas. My topic was “Cognitive Biases: How to keep them out of UX Research and Design.” This topic us very near and dear to my heart because we all suffer from cognitive biases. You don’t have to hold a psychology degree to know that. The focus of this talk was how to recognize biases in yourself and others. Also what you can do ti fight of the symptoms cognitive biases. Finally, I told my crowd how they can “turn their frown upside down” and how to use cognitive biases for good in your UX designs.
For my first international/national conference speaking gig, I think it went really well. Sure there were a few minor mistakes that only (hopefully) the speaker noticed. My whole goal was to get the crowd interested and engaged in the topic. And I did that by balancing funny images, real-world stories and relatable content.
Since a lot of the slides more more visually driven, I will break down the talk below. But for the full visual effect, please download the PDF of slide deck: “Cognitive Biases: How to keep them out of UX Research and Design.”
Types of bias
- Blind spot bias
- Experimenter’s bias
- Observer-expectancy effect
Self vs others
- Social comparison bias
Aligning with me/my beliefs
- Semmelweis effect
- Not Invented Here bias
- Courtesy bias
Recent vs long ago
- Peak-End Rule
Use in your design for good
- Humor Effect
- Bizarreness Effect
- Default effect
Thank you for those who came to BigD and watched my talk. If you are interested in me giving this talk at your conference, let’s talk!
I am very excited to announce that I have been selected to speak at Big Design on September 20, 2019. My Talk will be about “Preventing cognitive biases from creeping in to your UX design and user research.
I feel really lucky for this first opportunity to speak at a national conference. I will be sharing the stage with some very prestigious UX professionals. This is a great opportunity for me and I am very excited. Read my full bio on the Big Design page. And save the date. My Talk is September 20 at 2:30 p.m.
Another reason why I have been neglecting writing on this blog, aside from all of the events and meetups I am involved in, is because I am helping plan for the Big Design Conference 2019.
As part of that planning, I am helping to populate social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter and the blog content on Big Design’s website. Much of my writing efforts will be devoted to Big Design’s website, so don’t expect content generation to be high on my own personal blog. Don’t worry, I will be back. But for now, see content I am working on the Big Design website.
“I heard about a need in the UX community, and I decided to meet it.”
This quote pretty much summarized the inspiration behind how the newest UX meetup group in Dallas got started. UX Research and Strategy, now just over a month old, has had one successful event so far, and continues to grow.
I regularly attend meetups, and while attending those, I heard repeatedly that attendees wanted more resources on UX research. They wanted to learn about different methods, best practices, how to “sell researcher to executives,” and other topics along those lines.
So I reached out to a couple of former co-workers and fabulous ladies, Lauren Singer and Lorie Whitaker to see if they were interested in helping me create a meetup group focused on UX Research, and with Lauren’s suggestion, Strategy too. They thought it was a great idea. First we crowd sourced the idea, to test that it was a valid concept. We posted the idea on LinkedIn to gauge interest in the topic. We got a lot of positive feedback and interest so we decided to move forward with the group’s formation. Thus UX Research and Strategy was born.
Our first meetup was held at Lifeblue in Plano. Our generous hosts provided food and beverages as well as an amazing view from their 12th floor balcony. Crazy storms rolled through just a couple of hours before our event was supposed to kick off. We were not sure if anyone was going to show up. No one wants to drive in monstrous thunder storms. But by the time the event started, the storms passed, the skies cleared, the temperatures dropped (a very good thing in Texas) and the crowd started rolling in. We had nearly 50 attendees which made our first meetup much more successful than we anticipated. Woot!
We first started the night with introducing ourselves and the group. We shared the group’s mission and motivations. Then we asked the attendees to participate in an exercise with us. The leaders of UX and Research and Strategy wanted to make sure that this group is meeting the community’s needs. This goes back to the original ask of what people felt was lacking in the UX community, and how we can fill that gap. What better way to get feedback on the group then have the members brainstorm the direction the group should go?
We asked the members to break in to smaller groups to come up with their hopes, fears and ideas for the group. Again, we wanted attendees to weigh in and help us shape the topics the group would cover through 2019 and beyond.
Everyone was happy to participate in this brainstorming activity. After the groups explored the fears, hopes and ideas for the UX Research and Strategy groups, we then recorded some of the highlights in a shareout so that all attendees could hear the fabulous ideas people had.
We wrapped up the night with a bit more networking and idea exchanging. What were the leaders of UX Research and Strategy planning on doing with this information? Planning out all of our future events, of course!
If you would like to stay on top of what the UX Research and Strategy group is up to, be sure to connect to us on LinkedIn. Also follow the group on Eventbrite to see all of the fabulous events we have happening in 2019 and beyond.
March continues to be a busy month for me with a speaking engagement for continuing-education students. I always enjoy speaking for the Agile for Patriots class. According to their website, Agile for Patriot’s mission is:
Preparing Patriots for Agile careers through focused training, practical experience, professional certification, and employment referral.
I am very fortunate to speak to these hungry and eager students, who are bettering themselves by becoming scrum certified. Not only have they served our country by being in the military, their commitment and drive will propel them in to a new career as an agile scrum coach.
My topic is very similar to the previous times I have spoken to this group. I talked about what User Experience Design is, and how it fits in the the agile process. The group seemed quite intrigued about the topic and asked a lot of great questions.
Best of luck to the next graduating class!
In case you were wondering where I have been for the early part of 2019, it’s been planning World Information Architecture Day in Dallas. After much hard work, planning and organizing, I can say that WIAD Dallas was a huge hit. I am very pleased with the outcome.
Planning and Organizing
Thankfully I did not pull this event together alone. I had a small group of volunteers and a co-organizer that helped me with the logistics. There are a lot of details that go in to organizing an event. And I am proud of myself for taking on such a challenge and surviving to tell the tale.
I worked on the planning committee for WIAD in Los Angeles in the past. I forgot how much work and event can be. Along the way this time, I did learn a few valuable lessons about process, organization, teamwork and myself.
Start early. Even though I got a lot of people interested in volunteering months in advance, it pays to get those people active in duties asap.
Share the duties. I took on too much for this event. I needed to delegate more of the responsibilities to the volunteers who where eager to actually pitch in.
Did I say start early? Get sponsorship locked down and payments submitted weeks, if not moths in advance. Secure the venue and give yourself time to check it out and make sure all is ok. Nail down the details of the meals as to not be worried about these details at the final hour.
Give the volunteers specific roles and tasks. If people are not responsible for a specific duty, they will not do it. That is why a lot of the small stuff fell on me to knock out for the event.
Relax. Everything will come together in the end. We got food ordered. We had a venue. We had a lot of RSVPs and a great turnout. Weather was great (last year we got hammered by rain.) And everyone seemed very pleased with the entire event. Well done you!
- I survived!
- I raised about the amount of sponsorship that had been raised the previous years. Last yeah all funds came from on source. This year we had support from over 10 companies, recruiters and community groups.
- I secured 7 high-profile and reputable speakers that talked about a variety of topics and shared valuable insight. Our fabulous speakers covered several different topics from research, to empathy, to content to Slurpees! Yep Slurpees.
- We doubled the attendance from the previous year.
- We had some pretty cool sponsors like 7-Eleven donated breakfast and brought a ton of cool food and drinks.
- We had fun swag and great raffle prizes to give away like a BigD ticket, plenty of Amazon gift cards and cool UX books.
- People seemed pleased with the diversity of the speakers’ topics.
- Overall, attendees were happy with the day.
Whew! So now that I’ve had a little time to recover and play catch up, I am finally sharing my experience with you. Thank you for all who helped me make WIAD a success. It truly does take a village, and I am lucky to have suck a cool UX village of support.
Check out the details of the WIAD Dallas on the website.
Listen to the Project UX Podcast where Jeff interviews most of the speakers and organizers.
Everyone hates to work with a jerk. So how can you do your best not to be the office asshole? I think there are some simple steps to follow that just might help you to be a better person to work with.
I have to give credit where credit is due. I recently read Marshall Goldsmith’s book “What Got You Here Won’t Get you There” which addresses how company executives should improve their behavior the higher up the corporate ladder they go. This is a great and inspiration book. And I think that a lot of the principles discussed not only apply to higher up executives but to any level employee.
Be a better co-worker
1. Check your ego at the door
No one wants to work with some who thinks their are “hot shit.” Being a UX designer means being part of a team. Yes a team. And that means playing well and working well with others. No one likes a prima donna. And sure, as a UX designer, you might carry some skills that others do not possess. But other team members have skills that YOU do not process. Keep that in mind.
This is pretty self explanatory. Keep your mouth shut and your ears open. As Judge Judy says: “God gave you one mouth and two ears for a reason.”
3. Adding too much value
This is very close to the “Listen” point stated above. Not only should you talk less and listen more, but what you say should be valuable. That value is gauged more by who is listening than what YOU think is valuable to the conversation. You don’t always have to “one up” the person talking.
- Your story is not always more interesting.
- You example is not always better.
- You are not always smarter.
- You don’t always have the best solution.
4. Claiming credit you don’t deserve
No one likes the person who claims to have done everything. Back to that “UX is part of the team” concept. Make sure that you pipe up when someone has contributed in some say. Not only will the person appreciate the acknowledgement, but it will also show that you are a true team player.
5. Starting with ‘No,’ ‘But’ or ‘However’
This has been a particularly tough one for me at times. You hear a crazy idea or something that won’t work and you think, “There is no way that is going to happen.” But starting off negatively can really harm a conversation. Try to think on the bright side. Or at the very least, don’t shoot an idea down right away by starting off on a negative wrong foot. Keep an open mind and always start with a positive phrase rather than negative. Try to remove No, But and However from your conversation.
6. Refusing to express regret
People like others who are humble. Fess up to a mistake, and that will be remembered. We are human, and we all mess up from time to time. A brave person admits when they have done wrong. UX is all about learning from mistakes. You are no exception. It takes a big person to admit wrong-doing. Be that person. Be humble.
I recently attended a Ladies that UX Fort Worth event where Kayla Wren covered the topic “Rose Bud, Thorn.” This research method is designed to surfacing three things: the good, the bad and opportunity and insights. I thought that using these lenses was a rather interesting perspective, so I thought I would share the method with you today.
What is the Rose, Bud, Thorn method?
Rose Bud, Thorn is a “Design Thinking” activity that can be used to uncover and surface insights for a number of topics. It’s a way to proclaim what exists now, as well as explore ways for improvement. Basically, this process asks you to look at something from three different perspectives:
- Rose: Something that is positive or working well
- Thorn: Something that is negative or not working well
- Bud: An opportunity or area for improvement
The “Rose” of this process is a way to showcase the good things that are going on. Hopefully not all things are bad. The “Thorn” is the bad parts of the process/app/etc. You must be authentic and recognize that not everything is perfect, and it is critical to discuss what needs improvement. The “Bud” of this the gold mine because this is where you surface ideas and potential improvements.
You can use this method to explore a number of things. It could be reviewing a process, like traveling on an airplane or onbaording a new employee. You can review an app or enterprise software. It can even be a future concept or something that is not even real yet, like how you might envision a new policy or idea.
Why would a person do this?
There are many benefits of this of this procedure including:
- It is so darn simple.
- You do not have to be a deep subject matter expert on a topic to participate.
- Nor does it take any technical knowledge to work in this method.
- It’s super low-fidelity, so no computer hookup required.
- Only a few supplies are needed: sticky-notes, markers and a wall or whiteboard to accumulate the thoughts and ideas.
- It can be done in-person in any office or online on an electronic whiteboard like Mural.
- You can do this activity with a larger or small group of people.
Who can do it?
Anyone! Of course that is the answer you were expecting, right? Really though, this activity can be conducted by people with any skill levels. You can go through this process through members of your team, or with external clients. Rose, Thorn, Bud can be among students or professionals. All age levels. All levels of expertise. The more diverse the perspectives the better.
If you are working with a large group of people, it might be better to break this larger group in to smaller, more manageable clusters of participants.
How do get ready?
First, decide on the topic. Then determine if that topic can be broken in to phases or chunks so that the activity can be organized in to smaller, manageable portions if needed. Also determine if the problem is too large for this activity. It might need to be refined so that you are focusing on the right part of the problem you would like to explore for improvements.
Then decide who should participate. Are there subject matter experts who can bring expertise to the brainstorming session? Are there customers who can bring a unique perspective? Who from the team should be included? Developers? Designers? Product owners? Anyone else? Like I mentioned before, the more diverse perspectives you can bring to this process the better. This is a time to brainstorm and come up with a lot of ideas. So give your opportunity to do so with a variety of perspectives. Though, if the group gets too large, it might be better to multiple sessions, pending budget and time constraints.
Next deal with the logistics. I won’t get in to those details in too much depth here because those will vary on your circumstances. Keep in mind basic best practices when conducting any research session:
- Define the goal of the research. Also understand the hypothesis and the reason(s) you are conducting the research.
- Make sure that you are meeting the stakeholders’ and requesters’ needs and ask.
- Plan ahead of time and make sure you are organized and ready for the session.
- Run a pilot and make sure the plan that you have runs as smoothly as it can.
How do you do it?
Let’s fast forward to the day of the session. You already have your topic, participants, venue, etc. Now let’s talk about what you will need to do.
- Whiteboard or wall for post-it notes
- Sharpie markers for each participant
- Three color of post-it notes. I recommend pink for Rose/Good, green for Bud/Opportunity and yellow or blue for Thorn/Bad.
- Optional: voting stickers for the participants to vote on the Bud/Opportunity that he team will work on to implement or research further
- A whiteboard segmented in to topics you would like the group to work through
Talk to the group about the goals of the research process. You want them to be honest, open and creative. Tell them about the topic we are going to explore today and how we are going to explore it through three lenses: the good, the bad and the opportunities.
Overview of the process
- Grab three different-colored post-it pad for the phase we are on (pink for Rose, green for Bud and blue for Thorn) and a sharpie marker.
- Step up to the board and start with the (first of however many you have) portion of the process you want to brainstorm about.
- Take 5 minutes to quietly brainstorm the good and bad aspects of that process, as well as opportunities, by writing on the different colored post-it pad. Don’t forget to change the color of the post-it you write on based on whether or not is was a good point, a bad point or an opportunity.
- As you come up with an idea, write it down and then verbally state what it reads as you put it on the board. This is done so that you can inform others of your idea. Plus it might prompt other people to think of something related or different to what you wrote.
- Populate the board with as many good, bad and opportunities as you can in in 5 minutes. Don’t start side conversations or dismiss any ideas. This is the time to brainstorm as many ideas as you can and then capture them on the board.
- If the group is still going strong, give them another minute or two to get all of the ideas out.
- When the time is up, have the group cluster the post-it notes in to themes and similar ideas.
- Let the group take a few minutes to reflect on these themes and have a short discussion about what data has surfaced from the exercise.
- Are there surprises?
- Are there repeated problems?
- Are there issues that are present, have been for a long time, but don’t ever seem to be fixed?
- What are the opportunities?
- Any great ideas?
- Any opportunities that could be easily accomplished? Low hanging fruit?
An optional next step is that you have the group use stickers to “vote” on various opportunities to determine what the group should work on first.
There are so many aspects of Design Thinking. And there are so many ways to build empathy for the user and generate ideas during discovery. Rose, Thorn, Bud seems to be an easy method that provides an opportunity for your group to surface several opportunities for improvement. Don’t be intimidated by this method if you are nervous and feel like you do not have extensive experience to conduct or participate in such a session. Just go for it. If you do try the Rose, Thorn, Bud method, please let me know how it worked for you and what opportunities your team has discovered to work on.
To read more about the method, I found another interesting website that breaks down how to do it on Atomic Object’s website.
There is so much confusion between UI and UX. People, who don’t know better, use them interchangeably as if they are one in the same. You see the terms misused in job descriptions, in articles and in conversations. For those who do understand the difference between UX and UI, it can be quite frustrating when you come across these terms not being used properly. Let me take a few moments to provide some clarity between these not-so-intergangable terms.
Describe the difference between UX and UI
According to the Nielsen/Norman Group, “UX, or User Experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
So what does that mean? Well to me that means it is more than just what that looks like in a company’s website or mobile app. It also means how a person feels when they interact with these elements. And it might not be an electronic experience at all. So keep in mind user experience covers a lot of things: research, visual design, information architecture, micro interactions, content and crafting a person’s journey through all of the touch points.
Ok so I think you have a better understanding of what UX is. So now what is UI? According to a definition provided by Usertesting.com, a UI, or the user interface is the series of screens, electroinc pages, and visual elements that you use to interact with a device. In other words, the UI is the physical space or location that a person “touches” or interacts with a product or service.
Differences and Similarities between UX and UI
So you can see from the above definitions, UI and UX are not the same thing, Yes there are some similarities, but there are also very distinct differences. I view UI as an aspect that falls under the UX umbrella. User interface is just one aspect of the larger concept of User Experience. UX, as you can see in the graphic above, has a lot of pieces and parts. And UI is just one one of the components that build up the larger picture that is User Experience.
In some ways, the user interface is almost toward the end of the UX process. You’ve done research to determine what the interface should look like and how it should perform. You have done usability testing to validate your design and tested it with users. You have done the design and layout to present the information, or create an experience, in the best way you can for your customer. Yes saying it is in the end of the process is a general statement, but hopefully you understand what I mean.
“UX is focused on the user’s journey to solve a problem, UI is focused on how a product’s surfaces look and function.”
– Ken Norton Partner at Google Ventures
This was the third year for attending the local UX conference known as Big Design conference or Big D for short. All I can say that is we are really lucky to have such a conference here in Dallas, and at a pretty reasonable price. This year, Kim Goodwin, famed author and Cooper alum gave the opening speech.
I love attending Big D for a number of reasons. Like I mentioned before, it’s a great conference for any local level, let alone Dallas.
Second, there are so many good topics, it is so difficult to decide what session to attend. That is the most difficult part of Big D: to decide which seminar I am going to attend.
Big D it’s a great place to learn about new topics. I attending Marti Gold’s session about multi modal interfaces. As UX designers, we always need to evolve abd learn about the latest trends in technology to stay relevant. We’ve had to learn how to design websites and software, nd then how to apply that design to mobile devices. Now we need to think about designing for other senses like voice interfaces. Marti’s talk talked about the best practices of multi modal interface design. More importantly, how there are NOT best practices yet because it’s still a very young and emerging field. Her talk was particularly interesting to me.
In between sessions, the trade show or vendor area is a great place to hang out and meet new people. Most importantly, it’s a great place to pick up some swag. I think I have enough notebooks to last me a lifetime. ha. I would swing by there to meet recruiters, grab some energy candy and consult the schedule for the next session.
Finally, it’s a great place to catch up with old friends. I always see old co-workers from Capital One and always get the chance to exchange hugs with them. I also love connecting old friends with new (to them) friends. Conferences like this are a great place to network. Not only can you learn about your trade at Big D, you can also meet new friends and reconnect with old ones.
Oh the dreaded job interview. No one likes to have to interview for a new job. But it’s the necessary evil that we as UX designers all have to face at one time or another. I have found there are a few techniques that have helped me prepare for the interview as best as I can. I’ll be honest, I have not landed every job I have interviewed for. Not even close. But I look at every interview as an opportunity to improve my answers and approach.
I encourage everyone, whether they are actively looking for a job or not to take every opportunity to be ready for that next interview. That means having these tips below in your toolbox. That also means taking the opportunity to practice these interviewing skills whenever you can. That may even mean going on an interview even if you don’t want that job. I have certainly done that too.
The question comes back to:
Prepare for a UX job interview
1. Do you homework
Know the basics about the company: what they do, who owns them, how long have they been in business, why they have been in the news recently, what are they knows for, etc. Also know your team members. Find out who you will be interviewing with in advance and stalk them on LinkedIn. Know what their job title is, where they have worked, where they went to school and what their career path has been. Determine if you have any common traits that might be interesting points of discussion. Also see if you know anyone who has worked with your interviewers to get insight on what it could be like working with them.
2. Know the industry and landscape
Similar to the know the business aspect above. But this is understanding a bit more about the technology and how that impacts your job. Also know what competing companies are doing in a similar landscape so that you can ask questions related to technology and trends in the industry.
3. Practice the whiteboard challenge
No matter how you feel about a whiteboard challenge, (Uhg, that’s a discussion for another day.) a company might require you to do a whiteboard challenge as part of the interview process. Love it or hate it, you need to be ready to do it. Be ready to show your UX process and how you would tackle this request in a short amount of time. I am suggestion that you practice this so you don’t freeze under pressure. Believe me, I’ve been there.
4. Have behavioral interview answers ready
Have answers ready to go for questions like:
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- How do you deal with conflict?
- What would you do with a problematic boss?
5. Have behavioral design and technical answers ready
Not only knowing the Human Resources questions are necessary, you also need to walk the walk. Know your UX stuff. Be able to speak to the projects in your portfolio and how you executed them. Talk about the technology and tools being used by other UX designers. Show that you are keeping up on current trends and practices.
6. Have questions YOU want to ask about the company
A job interview must be a two-way street. You need to also find out if this is the company you would like to work for. Not only does it show that you are inquisitive, it makes you look like you are serious about the position. You want to learn about the culture, your co-workers, their process. I always like to ask “Why are you still working here?” and “What would cause you to leave?” Try to flesh out how happy their are there and if the company is a good fit for you.
I’d also like to include an image that I recently came across on Toptal’s website. though not super in depth, this is a nice visual representation of the difference between UI and UX.
Guess who is the latest city to have it’s own IxDA chapter? Dallas!
Guess who is one of the co-founders and leaders of the local chapter? Me!
What is IxDA
That is a very good question. “IxDA, or The Interaction Design Association (IxDA) is a member-supported organization dedicated to the discipline of interaction design. Since its launch in 2003, IxDA has grown into a global network of more than 100,000 individuals and over 200 local groups, focusing on interaction design issues for the practitioner, no matter their level of experience.” Yep, I totally swiped that from their website.
So why does Dallas have a chapter now? Well, quite frankly, it’s time. We have an ever-growing Interaction and UX design community here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. There are a lot of major (and minor) companies with a strong UX presence locally. We want a place to gather, share ideas and feel like we belong.
Also, IXDA was created in Dallas to give back to the community. This is our chance, as interaction designers, researchers, product owners, information architects, students or whatever your profession might be to get more involved in your UX community. We don’t want this just to be the same old meetup where you show up, listen to a speaker and then leave. Oh no…. We want you to come to our events to participate, have an interaction with another human being, meet new folks, teach someone something you know, maybe even give a talk yourself. There is a fabulous design community in Dallas, and we want to give everyone a voice and a platform to get more involved.
“All people deserve to live in a well-designed world.”
Who are these leaders anyhow?
Well you know me, Jen Blatz. I feel very honored and privileged to be asked to join the leadership panel with two other great local UX designers. Coby Almond is a UX designer at Pivotal. Rahul Akbar a Design Thinking coach, and Creative Director at IBM. We casually met a couple of times to determine what value we thought this group could bring to the Dallas UX community, as well as how to kick everything off. Once we met, we decided that this was the right time and place to plant an IxDA tree to grow and nurture.
Nice to meet you
So this past week, we had our first meeting. I feel so honored that we had nearly 40 people show up to the event, curious and eager to get involved. We started off by introducing IxDA as an organization, along with it’s values and (best part) lack of membership dues.
Then we gave the mic to Dallas Give Camp. This is a local hackathon that brings together designers, product owners and developers for one weekend. In that weekend, these groups come together to design a website for a select group of charities to help the group better promote their cause and mission. This is also a great way for local designers to give back and help their local community.
Finally we wrapped up the evening with an interactive activity. We asked the room to break up in to smaller groups and grab the old stand-by of a Sharpie marker and a pad of Post-its. It was brainstorming time. We asked the groups to take a few minutes and come up with what they wanted the local IxDA group to be. Specifically, we wanted them to think in 3 themes for the IxDA group:
- Their hopes and wants
- Their fears no dislikes
- General ideas
Then we asked each group to select a representative to speak on behalf of everyone’s Post-it notes. To us, we view these notes as the way we should form and shape the local IxDA chapter. In the spirit of IxDA giving back to the community, we also want this community to decide what their want and need from this organization at the local level.
Overall, the first meeting of the Dallas IxDA chapter was a grand success. Not only did we have a good turnout, we also generated excitement and enthusiasm that some said has been missing from the UX community for quite some time. We hope that this enthusiasm grows as we host more meetings. Thank you to all of those who came out to “check it out.” And thank you for giving me the honor and opportunity to help bring this group to life and lead it to success.
We want you
Are you interested in participating in the IxDA community here in Dallas? Our next event will be World Interaction Design Day on September 25 , 2018. We are still working out the details so the best place for you to stay on top of the latest news is our @IxDADallas Twitter account.
No matter if you are in a large company or small. No matter if your developers are next to your office cubie or in another time zone. As UX designers, there’s always (or at best, often) a point when you need to talk to a developer about the project.
Yes this can be a daunting task. Sometimes it feels like developers are talking a different language. And in some rare cases, you might be working with a developer who is arrogant and condescending. And he/she makes you feel stupid when you try to ask technical questions. Let’s hope that is not happening in your case.
No matter the vibe, we all have to work together to reach a common goal: get the project out the door. So just how do you do that?
Build a rapport with developers
1. Recognize developers are people too.
We are all have hearts, brains and pride and we are using them all to achieve success.
2. You have more in common than you think.
So take the time to listen to them. You might be surprised (but probably not) just how much design knowledge they have.
3. Learn a bit of code talk.
Yes folks, know enough to carry on a conversation. Do you know what a Hex value is? Do you understand what a Div is? Can you explain the difference between html and CSS and know why each is important in it’s own way? I am by no mean telling you become a code expert (that is a heated debate I will fight another day.) But do take a couple of online courses or read some articles to understand some basic coding terms and how those will apply to your designs. Believe me they will.
Developers have great ideas. They might even have a better alternative to what you have thought about. Hear them out and don’t let your “design poodle” ego get in the way.
5. Communicate early.
You have the best design in the world, but is it technically feasible? Maybe it can be done, but the level of work is out of this world. Get ready for a debate, but a healthy one by bringing in developers in to your design early. Find out what walls are up, and determine which walls are worth fighting to break down.
6. Go out for lunch or a beer.
You work with people as much as you sleep. Sometimes you spend more time with your work mates than your family. And that is why I am referring to them at “mates.” Do your best, as a UX designer, to build empathy for your developers. A healthy, happy working relationship will go a lot further than a competitive, ego-driven one.
There seems to be an article about every topic these days. In fact, I find that a lot of articles on Medium are kind of full of fluff, and when I read through to the end, I’ve discovered that I really didn’t learn much from the article. I want quick lists, with explanations if I have time.
I’ve decided to start a short- to medium-form series of how to lists of doing things. I plan on covering topics related to UX, careers, working with others and any other topic that I hope others might find interesting.
I say it is short- to medium- form, but let’s see how the project evolves. Thank you for taking the time to read my articles. Hopefully you might learn a little nugget of information from my serious. Please feel free to leave comments on any “How to…” article. Or contact me on Twitter to start a conversation. Thank you.
I have accepted the challenge: sketchingforux100.
What is this?
- You get emailed 3 interface design concepts that you are to sketch every day.
Why am I doing this?
- I need to sketch more. It’s a skill I seem intimidated by, and therefore tend to avoid. But forcing myself to do it once a day, or in this case, 3 times a day, I am hoping to build confidence in my sketching abilities.
- It’s fun. It’s low investment and it takes me back to my drawing abilities of my youth.
- It’s a challenge. And I am always up for a challenge.
- It’s not time consuming. I like that it’s lightweight and not a high commitment. I am hoping that such a small commitment can be handled with ease.
- I want to be able to have more instinctive design solutions. Perhaps having to draw an idea on the spot will help me develop this design gut instinct.
- Why not? It need to push myself in the area of interaction design, so this is a great start.
Want to join me in this challenge? Just sign up for Krisztina Szerovay’s weekly newsletter and daily UX sketching prompts at her website: https://sketchingforux.com. I will post my sketches here from time to time to show my progress. I hope to get stronger in my concepts as the days go by.
WIAD, or World Information Architecture Day is an annual event held around the world. This year’s event, which took place on February 24, took place in 56 locations in 25 countries.
This was not my first WIAD rodeo. A few years ago, I acted as the project manager for the WIAD event that took place in Los Angeles. Planning an even like this is a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding once the event wraps.
For the Dallas area WIAD event, I acted as the Chief Social Officer. What does that mean> I was a lean, mean Tweeting machine. ha!
I had the honor of tweeting leading up to the event as well as documenting all of the highlights on the day of the event. We got a lot of retweets from our sponsors and attendees. Though our attendance was less than anticipated due to a huge rain storm that certainly deterred attendees, those who did brave the storm seemed to enjoy the event and said that they learned a lot.
Overall I would say that they day was a grand success. For me, I enjoyed meeting my fellow volunteers and making new friends and connections. I also enjoyed hearing the speakers and seeing the attendees enjoy the topics as well. Events like this are a great reminder of how wonderful the UX community can be! I certiainly hope I can participate again next year. If I have anything to do with it, I will.
One professional goal I am working on for 2018 is to speak publicly more about my craft. I do feel comfortable talking in front of a group. It just takes a bit of discipline on my part to have a presentation ready to go. ha ha
My good friend and professional networking guru, Greg Gomel, reached out to me to ask me to speak to the current Agile for Patriots Scrum master certification class. I was honored that he thought I was capable and a good candidate to speak to his class. I was nervous because I didn’t have a lot of time to throw a presentation together. Yikes! But I knew with a kick in the butt like this, I could get a good presentation together in no time.
I was up for the challenge. I had a presentation I created a while ago for a previous employer explain the basics of UX. So I could use that former presentation as a base. But I wanted to cater this talk to show the scrum masters-to-be how UX ties in to agile.
I know there is a lot of confusion about how and where UX falls in the the agile lifecycle, and in to the developers’ sprints. I wanted to demystify that a bit and prepare them for the future of when they will be leading teams that will (hopefully) include a UX designer. I wanted them to not only learn about UX, but know how User Experience Research and Design works in to the development team.
After I gave my presentation, the asked me to stay and review and critique the website they were building for the class. So I gave them practical advice on some of the design decisions they had made as well as how to improve some things. The students were very receptive to my professional feedback and suggestions. It was a healthy dialog. I helped them to learn about better User Experience and Design. And they helped me to learn about the constraints they were dealing with and the business goals they needed to accomplish for their client.
One point I wanted to emphasize to the scrum masters in training is to always to include the UX Designer in all scrum ceremonies. As a UX Designer, I have been excluded in scrum ceremonies because it was considered too “developer” focused. The value of UX designers being included is so vast:
- UX Designers should be in the scrum meetings so that we are “in the know.”
- We need hear what is coming down the pike so we can plan our projects and research accordingly.
- We can hear when design decisions are being made without consideration from users or the UX designer. (This should NEVER be happening, but it does. Uhg.)
- We can provide insight in to how we can do testing on the projects as they are in flight.
- Finally, we are part of the team. Make sure we are not excluded, and therefore left out of important discussions and decisions.
One problem with much of tech coming out of Silicon Valley is the lack of diversity. When the members of a team are primarily one gender (yep, it’s mostly dudes) and of a limited number of ethnic backgrounds, there is the tendency to design in a vacuum. I know it is not intentional for the most part. But I see it time and time again. I have witnessed discussions of what should be included in a design. These debates do not tahe`1 in to consideration racial, cultural or language differences. And I am not even in Silicon Valley!
I was recently taking an online class on Coursera and the segment was over the importance of considering diversity in your product design. So many designers take this for granted. They assume that customers use the same technical terms that are being thrown around by the developers and product managers in house. Designers assume that the designs they make use clear language, when they might just be alienating the user. This type of alienation can unintentionally span into other realms as well.
Examine the chart below. The chart shows the many ways that people input their name and address. Note that countries use different formats. For example, the USA has a 5 digit zip code (sometimes with an additional 4 digits) and other countries have more than 5 digits. We need to keep these differences i mind when we design an address for on our website or app.
Image courtesy of: Coursera Training Course Software Product Management discussion forum
- In India, people use the term “Surname” to refer to last name.
- Some countries have pin codes or postal codes in their addresses, instead of zip codes.
Here are a few other cultural differences that were shared on the Coursera’s class discussion board.
- The USA has the date formate as Month, Day, Year.
- Other countries have the format Day, Month, Year.
Make sure that the date inputs are clear when you are asking for a date format.
It is well known that the number 4 is not a good number in China as its pronunciation is close to the word meaning “death”, therefore, I am always careful not to use it without carefully identifying its relation with a software user interface. Having 3 clearly identifiable horizontal bars in a layout (clearly identifiable columns or other elements for example) is also to be avoided as it resemble the incense sticks used during worship at buddhist temples. The number 8 however is a go. It is symbol of fortune and prosperity (try to have a vanity plate with a lot of number 8 in it in hong kong and see how much it cost you :). I heard 9 is good in thailand as well.
Avoid brown. This is a very special one. If you ever design a character for a game application… avoid dressing him / her in brown. Brown is close to the color of suits worn by grieving people in traditional china. This is very little known and I had the experience trying to dress up in a particular way when I was told about it. Probably not the most common mainstream issue but good to know.
Avoid white as it is associated with funerals.
Red is good. Happy events are always covered wit red in China / Hong Kong.
Yellow: thinking of a all yellow themed app for china or hong kong? Depending on which political inclination you have, you may want to look at the recent history of the yellow umbrella revolution in Hong Kong.
Developing for the chinese market means having an app in chinese language (duh!).
I have seen app design build with english in mind and not fitting chinese at all. Typical issue would be the size of a label. Fits in english… layout is broken when chinese characters are used. Result is ugly and unusable for the user.
For truly global apps, bear in mind that some languages such as arabic are also written from right to left (this is a tough one for UI designers).
No need to say you should not have anything red and yellow in your app which would be considered as an insult to the chinese government or chinese flag.
As an anecdote…. dont build a Winnie the Pooh app for china. The character is banned ever since the chairman was depicted as the character.
No sexually explicit material of any kind. It would be censored as indecent (I hear from relevant sources Hong Kong is more relaxed about this).
Data export and location (not directly linked to user interaction but still good to know): this one is a nightmare for database managers. In some cases, either the government or the client will require data to remain in China (this is also true of some european companies linked to governments activities). Having a datacenter in China less difficult than a few years ago but represent a considerable investment and data confidentiality is following local rules. a few years ago, China also banned any export of data in some cases (survey data for example would not be allowed out of the country). The latter is a difficult one for anyone to track but the rules did apply when I was working for a company performing surveys in China. Any application covering this type of activity is vulnerable to this.
Infrastructure: Hong Kong as the fastest internet speed you can find for consumer grade connections and it is hard to find a spot where no one can call you or send you an email. Pass the border with mainland and it is another story (it is getting much better but China is big… it takes time to setup high bandwidth everywhere). Infrasctructure will impact your end user if your app require heavy bandwidth or needs to be connected all the time (no offline mode).
No google / Facebook: Anything depending on google / Facebook will not work in mainland china. Apple products are still also limited so plan android if you develop for mobile users. Have Baidu and Tencent products in mind as an alternative if your app needs online search / social media interaction.
Chinese people (i.e. mainland Chinese) are not as exposed as the western world to applications and websites. Google is still banned and apple just made it through with being allowed to open stores in mainland china. Facebook is not accessible.
For more pointers at what people are used to, see apps as WeChat, QQ, go on the taobao.com website (chinese only but google will translate it pretty well when using Chrome). The user experience on these apps and website becomes more and more in line with global trends but there are still differences.
Hope this helps. Hong Kong and China are fantastic places to live and work despite its challenges for western people. I encourage anyone to experience it as it really opens minds to developing truly global ready softwares.
First thing I did to think about 2018, is to review the goals I set for myself in 2017. Man, I did knock a few of those off of the list, but I was not nearly as successful as I should have been.
Here are my lame excuses for not accomplishing last year’s goals:
- I changed jobs 3 times in one year. I had a huge learning curve to every new job, and I am still trying to understand the new industries I was working in.
- I was a bit stressed having landed in positions that were empty promises and not career-growth opportunities. Thus, the change in positions so many times.
- With all of the new jobs, I was devoting any extra free time I had to getting up to speed, and not focusing on networking or getting involved in the local UX community.
OK, OK enough with the pity party. Now let’s focus on what I really want to accomplish in 2018.
- “Design of Everyday Things” (started in 2017, need to finish)
- “Checklist Manifesto” (charted for 2017, pushing to this year)
Write blog posts
- In 2017, I was shooting to post 25 original blog posts.
- I want to shoot for 12, long-format blog posts with valuable content.
- Plus I would like to continue my series of “UX Tidbits” and “UX Quotes” sprinkled throughout he year. I enjoy researching, gathering and creating these fun short snippets of info. I will shoot for 18 “UX Tidbits in 2018
I have felt so lucky to have the followers on twitter that I have accumulated this far. I would like to continue to grow my Twitter following.
- On jnblatz on Twitter, my goal is to tweet enough interesting content to gain 1,200 followers. Ambitious goal I know!
- On Ladies that UX Dallas on Twitter, my goal is to tweet enough interesting content to gain 700 followers.
- Continue to tweet for The North Dallas Agile Product Owner Meetup and report what is happening with that organization.
- Continue to participate in local Meetups to expand my network and to get to know others in the UX community and other related fields.
- Have the opportunity to participate in one panel at a Meetup, meeting or class as a person who has some sort of UX knowledge to bring to the table.
- Give a presentation to one Meetup group. Group and topic to be determined.
- Attend Creative Mornings events to meet more designers and artists in the local community.
- Continue to learn Sketch well enough to mock up several designs to expand portfolio and skill set.
- Understand the industry I work for, cloud computing, better.
- Learn about managing teams. It might be something I am interested in, so I would like to learn more.
- Create UX assets and deliverables to sharpen my skills and enhance my portfolio.
- Wrap up the “UX Process” project I have been working on at work and develop a strong case study on the process of creating it. Continue to visit the project through the year to see how it is going and iterate as needed.
- Determine what topic I need to know more about when it comes to UX. Perhaps Customer Experience or Service Design? See how these tracks can be explored further in my current work space.
- Revisit these goals in the mid year to not only track my progress, but to add to it. I feel like I need more concrete goals than just listed here. Stronger possibilities tbd.
- Have better work/life balance. Right now I am spending any extra time I have in the evenings working on “Cloud Computing” or “Leading the UX Team” related tasks and not having any rest or personal development time.
- 2017 was not a great year for travel for me. This is especially true for international travel. I would like to explore the world a bit more, even if it is in my home state.
- Read more outside of UX. I would like to learn more about another discipline. Be that fine art, history or social sciences. I would like to increase my knowledge about a field that could be complementary to UX, but is not strictly UX.
Not all companies are created equal. Neither is their UX maturity. Some companies really appreciate the value of User Experience Research and Design. Other companies hear the term “UX” hear that everybody is getting it. So they feel like they need it too. It’s the later companies that have the low UX maturity.
I, unfortunately, was recently working with a company with low UX maturity. I had supervisors who were looking at me saying,
- “What do you do again? Why are you here?”
- “I don’t really understand what UX is.”
- “What does UX stand for? Oh User Experience….So what does that mean?”
- “So you are a Front-End Developer?”
- “I think the most important deliverable you can provide is working code.”
Ahhhh, you can imagine how these questions and comments really hit me hard. Granted, I am in a business where I am surrounded by engineers. So I expect some of this mindset. But I don’t expect this sort of mindset from my superiors. Even the one who said, “Oh yeah, I have ‘Done UX’ in the past. Hmmmmmm.
In these scenarios, it is our responsibility as UX professionals to educate out supervisors and peers about what UX is, how is is so valuable for business, but most importantly, how UX folks can save time and money for developers.
Leah Buley wrote a fantastic book called “The UX Team of One.” I have used her book as my bible, trying to introduce the value of User Experience Design and research in to my organization. One way I did this, was jumpstart their education with a presentation. I gathers some of my key stakeholders and supervisors in a room, and gave them a quick and brief overview of What is UX? in a presentation.
Some of the high-level points of my “What is UX?” presentation include:
- What UX research provides
- The definition of UX
- That UX is not just resigning things or making it pretty
- The “Double Diamond” and how that process feeds developer’s process
- How UX research can reduce developer’s rework time
- The financial value of UX research and design
- Illustration the UX process, and the steps involved
- Emphasizing that we are not the user, and we need a user advocate amongst the group of engineers
Finally, I wrapped up my presentation with that famous Steve Job’s quote:
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like.
Design is how it works.
I would love it you would look at my entire What is UX? presentation and provide your feedback. Did I leave anything out? Did I focus too much on one aspect? Please share your thoughts so that I can make it better. I never know if I will have to give a presentation like this the next time.
Back in 2015 I pushed myself to learn a little something extra about User Experience for 100 days. Granted, I did skip a few days, but for the most part I was pretty consecutive. I got over 100 entries of quotes, laws, terms, principles, lists and more.
The practice was simple: keep a User Experience-focused journal and write down things that you learn. Force yourself to seek out some information every day. And keep a record of your findings.
As I am re-reading them today, some of the things have been forgotten. So I decided it would be good practice for me to resist and share some of the UX tips, tidbits and terms I am rediscovering. My new series called “UX Tidbits” will be in addition to my regular writings and insights. Please enjoy the new series of “UX Tidbits” and let me know what you think.
Yes, folks, there are still many industries and companies that do not understand the difference between interaction design and User Experience design. You would think that major corporations would have grasped the differences between the concepts by now. Alas, through my recent review of job descriptions, there are many companies, especially in the Dallas area, that say they are hiring a UX designer, but what they actually want is an Interaction designer.
Many in the field of User Experience are familiar with the above chart. Perhaps, like me, you had to include this in a presentation to educate your client or co-workers. Despite the fact that there is some level of maturity in the field of UX, there is still a lot of confusion between the two.
As I mentioned before, I was recently perusing job descriptions for a UX designer in the Dallas area. I was noticing a trend:
- The job title said UX Designer
- The job description listed skills like research, strategy, wireframes and usability tests
- It also said they company was looking for deliverables like personas, user flows and wireframes
However, upon further investigation, I discovered that these companies do no really want a UX designer, they actually want someone who is specifically a UI designer.
It is completely OK to want a UI designer. Nothing wrong with that at all. But I feel like these companies are just copying other job descriptions and applying them to their own organization. (This is the same reason why you don’t just copy someone else’s design without understanding the context and reasoning as to why they came to the solution they did.) To me, just swiping a job description from another company and finessing it slightly so it sounds like your own is just lazy. I think it speaks leaps and bounds to the level of UX Maturity within your organization. Even if you are a large corporation with thousands of employees, or a highly respected agency with many high-end clients, you should know the difference between UX and Interaction design. If you don’t, shame on you!
My advice to companies is this: if you are looking for an Interaction Designer, just say that. Ask for skills like visual design, user interface design and interaction design. It is OK to be that specific. No need to pad up the job description pretending you wants skills like research, personas and task analysis. You, Dear Company, don’t really want those things. So be specific in your requirements and you will get the ideal candidate that much sooner. You will not waste your time or a potential job candidate’s time if you are more accurate in your job descriptions.
How do you stay on top of things?
Ahhh the golden interview questions that I am sure every UX designer has heard at least once.
- Where do you go for resources?
- What Websites do you visit to learn more?
- What tutorials or other resources do you use to learn a new software or service?
- How do you stay on top of the latest trends?
- What software are you using for (fill in the blank)?
- What is your “best practice” for (fill in the blank)?
Yes, we have all asked these questions, or heard them asked, or wanted to sleep but could not because these questions are bouncing around in our heads.
So I would like to open this post up for discussion. Because I feel like I am wounding about these types of questions all of the time. I want answers. Can you provide some of the answers to the above questions? Or do you have a resource that might answer them? I know I don’t get a lot of traffic on this blog, but if you do swing by and feel like chatting about this topic, I would be forever grateful.
Now: Let’s talk!
Ken Tabor shares his tips on how to over come imposter syndrome and give a presentation to peers.
He used emojis to illustrate a story with humor
- Be authentic
- Open your mind
- Be a servant to your community
Why speak publically? So many good reasons:
- Advance your career
- Teach others go to events for free
- Meet new people
- Learn more
1. Point of view
- Don’t measure yourself up to an imaginary gauge
- People worry about preparing
- This leads to procrastination
- People are worried about others judging them and things going wrong
Over come your worries, fear and doubt
- Find your voice
- Sharpen your understanding
- Give knowledge to others
- Be authentic and smash the idea that your point of view is not valid or good
- Don’t wait for your opinion to be fully formed
- You don’t have to be a subject matter expert
- Think about your skills and experience that you can show others
- Pass your expertise to the next generation
- Find a crowd that doesn’t know
- People are open to learning because we must to survive
- Write down all of the things you know – brainstorm
- Delete the things that you hate
- Keep the ones you think that others would want to know
- Keep topics that would work at a conference lanyard.com for conferences
- Write a great title
- Write a great description
- Drop names of other speeches
- Put in skills and credentials
- Add something personal and fun so the person can bond with you
- Personal bio
- Speaking history
- Blog, twitter, apps, websites
- Video sample
- All stuff is reusable and you can build off what you have created
- Always be writing
- Give yourself time to write and don’t creativity
- iAwriter is a not frills word processing program to help you write. It eliminates all the distractions of MS Word
- Trello is good place to organize projects and notes
- Create a custom design (for your slides) so it has a unique look
- Examples: speakerdesk.com slideshare.net
- You can even practice in front of an empty room
- Make sure you are speaking out loud
- You need an idea of pacing
- Check out the room before you speak
- Be open. If you are rejected for a talk, do a workshop. Just do anything.
- Speak to Teach. Present to learn.
- Start with a story
- Take us on a journey
- Don’t thank organizers
- Don’t give bio
- Don’t say you are nervous
- Your audience wants to learn from you and they want to succeed.
- Square breathing technique: inhale/exhale for 4 seconds. This will help calm your nerves.
- Look at Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk for body language
- Our behavior can drive our beliefs.
- You’re empowered to be awesome, so show them that you are.
- Use cheat mode/ speaker notes in software to help you remember what you want to say.
- Make everyone around you feel better.
- It may seem strange, but give away “trade secrets” or share what you know.
- Consumer insights and rapid prototyping
- Quickly get beyond assumptions to know if we are building the right product
- Get beyond assumptions that can block effective solutions
- Good design is a competitive advantage.
- Understanding your user is the competitive edge
Discovery phase of User Research
Stakeholder and customer interviews
Business Model Canvas
- Trends in tech and social
- Efficiency >> Value
- You can compare your business to another competitor or benchmark in each box
Value Proposition Canvas
- Products and Services
- Gain Creator
- Pain Remover
- Understand the customer profile
- Pain reliever – already exists
- Gain creator – something new
- Compare value map and client profile to see where they align
- Visualize your research
- Done create one just to make one
- Tailor it to the project you are working on
- Usually it is printed out so you can see and discuss
- Put the timeline of the vision across the journey
- What are the patterns you are seeing? Use those as quotes
- Thinking, feeling, doing
- List the opportunities: ways the process can be improved
- At the end of the discovery phase
- More concreate about what we are creating
- What are the jobs and tasks that people have to do
- You can use the story map to guide your agile sprints
- Marketer / front end coder / hacker
- Run a/b tests
- Create versions that can be quickly tested and changed
- Do this to understand why people use or don’t like your site or service
- Get a better understanding of their behaviors
- We need to understand who we are building for.
- We need to be cure that we are creating value for that user.
Another good class I took as part of the Big D Conference was presented by Eva Kaniasty, the founder of Red Pill UX, and a research and design consultancy.
The role of the UX researcher is an important one. We, as UX researchers, need to design our research studies for analysis. Obviously when we perform a story, we are trying to gather important data. This data we gain in our research efforts need to be analyzed and our findings need to be communicated to others. We need to think about how to visualize our research.
Get your stakeholders to empathize with their customers and users. One way to do this is to take photos of the real people using the product. Don’t use fancy stock photography with posed fake models. Use your smartphone and take pictures of people using the product. And take more pictures of the person, sort of posed, to use as your persona image. This makes the persona more realistic and will provide the opportunity for your stakeholders to see the real person behind the persona.
I learned about the website UI Faces where you can go and get more “realistic” photos that are free to use in your personas or other needs. Granted, I checked this site out, and there’s a lot of avatars from people I follow on Twitter. But hey, your customer probably does not follow them and therefore they won’t recognize the images. So go ahead and check out the site to see if it needs your image needs for personas.
The problem with personas today is that many people just make them up. They don’t generate them using interview data or base them on real users. People often create personas based on “ideal” customers which is not accurate. Be sure that when you create personas, create them based on real research. Also make sure that they represent real people and customers, not ideal ones.
Additional notes from this talk
- Pie charts are poor visualization tools much of the time.
- Icons can be used to visualize data, but don’t over use them.
- After you have a research session, write a quick summary right afterwards so you don’t forget the important details. The longer you wait, the more you will forget.
- Videos are time consuming and become outdated quickly.
- Quotes can be very powerful and easier to generate than video clips.
- Look for patterns in your data.
- Don’t use a word cloud to summarize data.
- Word clouds are hard to read, noisy and the colors used can be confusing, portraying a confusing hierarchy.
- A treemap shows the frequency of terms used in a combined bar chart.
- Make any color coding meaningful and explain what it means.
- Test with color blindness tools to make sure that color can be seen.
- Do no over aggregate that data. That happens when you smooth and combine data together too much. When this happens, the data can lose its meaning. Don’t combine much because if you do, you can lose where the problems are.
- Use words instead of illustrating with a bunch of repetitive icons.
- Don’t use statistics for something subjective like severity ratings.
- For “Ease of Use” ratings, use a bar chart, not a pie chart.
- Stars are not good to rate the severity of something. People think more stars means “good” and that is the opposite mental model for the severity rating scale.
- Dot voting is good to give everyone a chance to vote and it surfaces up the problems that need addressing first. The most votes wins!
Top visualization mistakes
- Implying statistical significance
- Over aggregation
- Comparing apples and oranges
- Leaving out context
The keynote speech of the first day was given by Sara Wachter-Boettcher. The topic covered designing to avoid biases and exclusion. It was really interesting and inspiring. Here are a few highlight from her speech:
- Think about how your app or message could make the user feel alienated or as if they don’t belong in some way.
- Make sure the voice of your product does not push people out or make them feel like they are not part of the “crowd.”
- When a person has to choose his/her race, think about how that makes him/her feel. What if they don’t identify with the choices? What if they are more than one race? Making a person choose a race could make them feel “flattened” and generic. This is especially true if they do not identify with the categories you have presented.
- Security questions are not for everyone. Some people have never had a pet. Some people went to many schools and don’t know how they should answer. Let people create their own security questions that they can identify with.
- We are used to defining our audience and we think it’s easy to do. We see what is “normal” or “like me” in the media and TV. We forget how diverse the world is.
- We must own up to our biases and consciously work past them.
- Stress cases normalizes the unexpected.
- Talk like a human and add some delight. But delight might not always be appropriate. You can fail to see what could go wrong when you decide to add delight.
- If you are not asking yourself “How could this design/text hurt or exclude someone?” you are not thinking about it enough.
I was happy to find out that there is a regional UX design conference here in Dallas. My worry was that I would not be able to find good local events once I left Los Angels. I stand corrected. I attended the Big Design Conference at it was really worth my time and energy. I met a lot of great folks, expanded my UX network, and learned a lot about the UX community here in Dallas and the surrounding area.
For my next few posts, I am going to share some of my notes of the talks I attended during the conference. I hope that more slide decks and notes will be shared from the classes I could not attend. There were so many great options. I had a tough time choosing which courses to take.
As my project with Wingspan Arts comes to a close, I am pleased to share the results of my Website Audit.
What did I do? I volunteered to perform a Website Audit through Catchafire. For those who don’t know, Catchafire is a website that allows professionals to give back to the community. The professional who volunteers will use his/her skills, be that UX Design, Web development, Graphic design, Marketing and other creative fields. They are providing their exercise to an organization that needs help, and saves that organization sums of money.
What is in a website Audit? A Website Audit report that includes:
- Outline of Organization’s goals for the website
- Feedback on current website’s layout, user functionality, visual design, content and other features
- Recommendations for improvements to help achieve Organization’s desired goals
After I completed the project, I got a wonderful and very lovely review from Rachel, who was my parter in this projects and the representative for Wingspan Arts.
You can read my entire Wingspan Arts Professional Review on the Catchafire website.
Components of the report (download entire report Wingspan Arts Website Audit Summary)
- Mission statement alternatives (shortening suggestions)
- Google analytics
- Surveys (interviews) with stakeholders and users (parents)
- User goals
- Competitive benchmarking
- Content audit and text review
- Design analysis and consistency
- Social media presence and activity
- Strengths and weaknesses of the site
- Information architecture and proposal of new taxonomy (navigation)
- Footer proposal
- Recommendations for improvements
- Wireframes (to share with the developer)
What I gained from the project
- Pride in helping a community center in need
- Exercising professional “muscles” that I don’t get to “flex” on a regular basis at my current job
- Learned more about my UX process
- Working remotely and coordinating meeting and data
- Synthesizing survey results
- Content analysis of the current websites (yes they have 2!)
- Creating a full report summarizing all findings and recommendations
- Feelings of accomplishment that I hoped someone else out, and used my professional skills to do so.
I encourage you to check out Catchafire as well and volunteer your time. They have opportunities that can take as little as an hour, or as much as a few weeks.
I am happy to report surviving another Global Service Jam. So what is global service jam? Is it some sort of cook off? Are you making jam? What does service have to do with it?
The Global Service Jam is a non-profit volunteer activity organized by an informal network of service design afficinados, who all share a common passion for growing the field of service design and customer experience.
The website goes on the say
As a participant in the Global service jam, you will work through a whole design process in one weekend. Whether you are experienced or completely new to the field, you won’t just be talking about service design, you will be working with others on developing concrete ideas and designs which could become real.
- You will learn more about a design-based approach to problems, and about sustainability.
- You will pick up a load of new ideas and work practices.
- You will meet a lot of cool people at all levels of experience.
- Your work and ideas will be reviewed by your peers, and presented to the world, where they can be seen by potential customers or employers, or people who could make them real.
- You will design something that may become a real business.
- You might get rich and famous.
- You will certainly have a blast.
And have a blast I did! It is exhilarating, exhausting, energizing and exciting. I get to participate in activities I don’t normally get to at work. I get to collaborate with complete strangers, who become friends through a weekend of intense team work. I get to flex some UX muscle, and keep skills sharp. I get to explore new ideas and learn about new skills like Service Design Blueprint and Business Modal Canvas. I know it might seem crazy to give up an entire weekend for an activity like this. But I think it is fun and I am always up for a challenge.
Today, I attended my third WIAD or World Information Architecture Day, established by IAI Information Architect Institute. A couple of years ago, I acted as Project Manager for Los Angeles’ WIAD. So ai map to see that the torch has been carried and this event is back in the Los Angeles community. It’s a great opportunity to hear some of the industry’s well regarded IA experts, to meet other great people in the field, and hopefully to get fired up and inspired. What is WIAD? According to the website:
World Information Architecture Day 2016 is a one-day annual celebration of this phenomenon. Hosted in dozens of locations across the world by local organizers on February 20th, we focus on telling stories of information being architected by everyone from teachers to business owners; technologists to artists; designers to product managers.
With representation from all over the world, we believe that the power of similarity and the beauty of difference between stories will inspire those who work in information architecture, as well as those who may be new to it. We aim to teach, share, and have fun — all through the lens of Information Architecture (IA).
I would like to share some of my notes and highlights from today’s fabulous event.
- If you’ve ever wondered where you are on a website, than that is an issue of IA.
- An aspect of “play studio” is to pick a behavior and design for it.
- Shift from a designer to a facilitator.
- Research is becoming more collaborative.
- Design work is not precious. So it’s good to work on low fidelity objects to keep that true.
- Design work is not about ornamentation, it is about implmentation.
- Think about creative solutions rather than what requirements are supposed to be delivered.
- Designers need to be more collaborative and not worry about people (who are not designers) stepping on their toes and entering their “craft.”
- Put the work out early to get user feedback, knowing it is an iterative process.
- Try creating ad hoc personas when you don’ have time to create full-fledged personas.
- Know your audience. This is so often forgotten. Keep in mind what your user’s current needs and behaviors are. Don’t lose site of who you are designing for.
- Know when it is appropriate to work with an established design pattern and not reinvent the wheel.
- Take the information you have gathered in research and shake things up when you need something different.
- Some corporations appreciate hiring people who will rock the boat and provide a diverse outlook to the company. Get hired to make a change in the corporate structure as well as the product that you will build.
- Some companies will avoid innovation because of risk. This leads to fast following.
- Tell the story | Develop the culture | Be the voice of the customer.
- Innovation requires atriculation.
- When you work on a design solution, what will people think, feel, do and become?
- UX designers have great skills like: inter-discipline, like people, empathy and listen to others.
- Think like a founder, not a designer.
- Designers inherit problems, founders define them.
- Design THE business, not for it.
- Do you expect the world to anticipate your needs? Because you should.
- The problem you have been given is not the right problem. Discover the right problem.
- Every designer should have some skill in leadership.
- What motivates a designer is a frustration with the world and a desire to improve it.
- As a designer, you see something better.
- Consider delivery mechanisms that extend your core experience.
- Leverage what people love, address what they don’t.
Complexity is not the problem
Simplicity does not solve ambiguity
We are comfortably in the new year, 2016, and I am glad you have made the journey so far. I guess that people make goals for the new year huh? Here’s my to-do list:
Improve coding skills
- Refresh my knowledge about CSS and HTML
- “Information Architecture” aka the Polar Bear book
- “Design of Everyday Things”
- “Checklist Manifesto”
- “How to Get People to do Stuff”
- Start another “100 Days of Learning” journal, but expand it for the entire year
- Review the “Learning Stuff” journal from last year
Write blog posts
- I am shooting to post 30 blog posts in 2016
Join a side project
- I would love to join another project. If you know of any short term projects that need a UX designer, please let me know.
Build out portfolio
- Improve the content of my portfolio by introducing new clips
- Present my acquired knowledge illustrating my software proficiency
Ok just 29 more blog posts for 2016. Thanks for reading.
As you know from my previous post, “100 Days of Learning Stuff,” I set up a challenge for myself to learn something new every day for 100 consistent days. My goal was a success, and I continued the learning experience through the rest of the year.
Looking back at my book today, I am pleased with myself for taking a bit of time to take note and learn a few things along this year’s journey. Some of the topics included in my UX journal include:
- Several “Golden Rules” lists for UX
- Numerous definitions of key terms and concepts
- Great UX quotes
- Laws like Hick’s Law and Fitt’s Law
- Principles and steps
- Abbreviations and methods
And a lot more. I am going to set a goal to create a new UX notebook for 2016. I encourage you to develop a journaling method for yourself and keep on learning in the New Year.
I hope 2015 was great for you. And best of luck in 2016.
As professionals, we always need to be learning. The times have passed that we can just coast through our careers.
I recently attended an Interaction Course presented by CooperU in Los Angeles. They are often offering classes only at their facility in San Francisco. So I was excited to attend this workshop and to learn to new skills.
What did I like the most?
- Getting some time off of work
- Engaging in new activities
- Jump starting the brain and creative processes
- Meeting new people
What did I dislike the most?
- It only lasting 3 days. I could have learned more.
- Some exercises seemed too “on the surface” and I would have liked to have the chance to dig deeper or try the exercise again on a different topic for more practice.
- It seemed very “Cooper” focused and I am not sure there would be time to apply some of these tactics in the real-world agile environment.
What surprised me the most?
- How quickly the time would fly by in the breakout session.
- People were other disciplines besides UX design.
- Lunch was not provided as part of the admission fee. (It would have been a good opportunity to have break out sessions on other topics.
- How exhausted mentally I was by the end of the third day. I guess I was really giving my brain a workout.
When riding home one evening in the back of an Uber car, I took advantage of a situation. Sure, I could have sit back quietly and enjoyed the ride in silence. The driver did not have the radio on, so it could have been a peaceful ride.
Instead, I decide to make the ride a bit more interesting. Don’t worry, I was not going to engage in anything illegal. I decided to engage the driver in a conversation. Gasp! Talk to a stranger in Los Angeles? What? Who does that??? Well, I do.
You see, I am a gal from the Midwest. People from that part of the world are not afraid to engage in a conversation. In fact, this art form was eloquently taught to me by my father. I can recall on several instances the following circumstance: I am in a long line for an amusement park ride. My dad is waiting for me outside the ride on a bench until I am finished. By the time I get back from the ride, my dad has had a long chat with the person sitting next to him on that bench. I didn’t even notice the person when I started to get on the ride.
So what was happening here? My dad was a very smart man, and knew that having a conversation would help pass the waiting time. He didn’t want to read a book because he liked to people watch. These were the days before smart phones. So he wold strike up a chat with a complete stranger.
Not only did a conversation like this pass the time, he also learned something. And that is what I am trying to promote here. Instead of looking down and checking your smart phone, strike up a conversation with a stranger. What was so magical about the conversations my dad would have with strangers is what he learned about the other person. He would say things like, “That guy lived just a couple of blocks down from where I grew up in New York. And our parents when to the same social hall for dances and parties.” Or he would say, “The lady I sent next to on my flight is the inventor of body glitter.”
What do you do to learn more? Just start a conversation. I know this is not easy for some people. Striking up a conversation with a complete stranger can be terrifying. But if you want to be a UX designer, you have to break out of your shell and learn how to be comfortable in a conversation with others. It’s ok, the (probably) won’t bite.
- Start the conversation small, maybe make a comment about the weather or the current surroundings.
- Or ask a generic question about something you “seem like” you need assistance with like the time the the store is closing or do they if know….
- Maybe you can make a comment out the phone they are looking at. Ask, “Oh is that the new iPhone? Do you like it?” People love to talk about their gadgets.
- Gage the person’s reaction, if they give you a short answer, they might not want to chat. See how negative they seem.
- If they ask you a question back, it’s a good sign they might want to have a conversation.
- If a person is reading a book or has earphones on, this is a sign they might not want to talk to you. But if they are just gazing at their phone, they are probably just killing time.
- Don’t get too personal. But it’s ok to ask what they do for a living and what they do in that type of job.
- Just remember that people love talking about themselves, and the point of this exercise is to learn, so let the person do a majority of the talking.
- Be brave, learn to read others and be safe.
- But most importantly have fun and embrace the opportunity to learn from every experience.
The Nielsen/Norman group recently published Checklist for Designing Mobile Input Fields featuring a quick reference of what you should review when designing for mobile.
Text version of checklist of 14 guidelines to follow for mobile input field UX
Should it be there at all
- Is this field absolutely necessary?
- Is the label above it? (Not inside, not below)
- Is the field marked as required (*) or optional?
- Have you removed any placeholder from inside the field?
- Is the field big enough so that most possible field values are visible?
- Is the field visible in both orientations when the keyboard is displayed?
Filling it in for the user
- Do you have any good defaults for this field?
- Any history available?
- Frequently used values?
- Can you use the phone features (camera, GPS, voice, contacts ) to populate it?
- Can you compute it for the user based on other info (e.g., state based on zip code, coupon field)?
- Do you support copy & paste into the field?
- What is the right keyboard for this field?
- Can you make suggestions/autocomplete based on the first letters typed?
- Do not autocorrect for names, addresses and email addresses.
- Do you allow typos or abbreviations?
- Do you allow users to enter it in whatever format they like? (e.g., phone numbers credit cards)
- You can autoformat it for them.
When conducting user research, there are a variety of methods to acquire valuable data. This chart, courtesy of the Nielson Norman Group, illustrates the ranges that your research can measure.
Let’s break this down to the extreme ranges of this chart.
Ethnographic research is a fine example of behavioral research. This is where the researcher goes in to the user’s natural environment and observes the user in the user’s normal and regular context.
Surveys and Interviews are some ways to see what the user says they would or would not do something. Often users will give answers they think the research wants to hear or what they think is the “correct” answer. The key here is that the user might actually believe what they are saying is true. But in fact, when the researcher actually observes the behavior, what the user has said might not be accurate.
One-on-one interviews and ethnographic research are a couple of great ways to get qualitative research information. The researcher can devote individual time to the user, and really get deep information about them. This takes time, and therefore can be difficult to accomplish in mass quantities. But submersing yourself in the users world will provide much more in-depth information than more quantitative research methods.
Surveys accomplish quantitative research very well. Especially with the plethora of online survey tools (many of them are free), one can easily send out a survey to hundreds, if not thousands of participants and gather a large amount of data. This data can then be accumulated to show trends, make charts and post results of several people. However, this research method does not provide individual insight and appreciation that a more qualitative research will provide.
All in all, there are many research methods that a UX researcher has at his or her disposal. They key is to know which research method is best for the type of information he or she is seeking. Also, many of research methods fall within the middle ranges of this chart, and not at the extremes. I encourage you to use a variety of research methods in your next UX project.
This graphic is part of the Prototyping class I am taking offered for FREE at iversity.com. I find this simple chart, that a person would fill out, is a good exercise in really getting your thoughts out on paper. I am finding that it is helpful to actually get the idea out of your head, and force yourself to get the ideas out on paper. And it is great to really push yourself to come up with more than one idea. Go for it! And use the chart below to explore the reasons and products you will need for your next prototype.
Frank Kloos: prototyping canvas explanation
- First, I learned that it is very difficult to write one entry on exactly every single day. So yes I did cheat a bit and write more than one entry a day to play catch-up on days that I missed. Don’t kill me.
- Second, though many of the principles I was already familiar with, it was good for me to write them down and work harder at committing them to memory and learning.
- Third, its rather nice to have all of these little lessons, from lists, the definitions to UX quotes all in one small UX journal.
- Finally, now that my experimental deadline has been successfully met, I plan on continuing to full out my UX journal of learning. My notebook is less than half full, so there are plenty of other pages I can fill with valuable UX lessons and content.
Let the learning continue!
Findable – Able to be located
Is it Findable? Can users easily locate that which they are seeking? How is ﬁndability affected across channels and devices? Are there multiple ways available to access things? How do external and internal search engines “see” what is provided? Is information formatted with results in mind? What is provided to make the delivered results more useful?
Accessible – Easily approached and/or entered
Is it Accessible? Can it be used via all expected Be aware that upwards of 20% or more of the channels and devices?! worldʼs population has. How resilient and consistent is it a disability. when used via “other” channels? The internet is a public place. Does it meet the levels of place. Itʼs like building a ramp to your building, or accessibility compliance to be refusing to be considerate of those users with disabilities.
Clear – Easily perceptible
Is it Clear? Is it easy to understand? Is the target demographicsʼ grade and reading level being considered? Is the path to task completion obvious and free of distraction? Would a user ﬁnd it easy to describe?
TOP 3 Clarity Offenses
• Corporate underpants: When you are obviously making a navigational decision based on your organizational structure, not user decision paths.
• Inside Baseball: When you are calling something a term that is unclear to anyone that doesnʼt work for your company.
• Weasel Words: When you are being purposefully unclear in language to avoid making a promise or decision about process or commitment to a user.
Communicative – Talkative. informing, timely
Is it communicative? Is the status, location and permissions of the user obvious? How is messaging used throughout? Is messaging effective for the tasks and contexts being supported? Does the navigation and messaging help establish a sense of place that is consistent and orienting across channels, contexts and tasks?
Useful – Capable of producing the desired or intended result
Is it Useful? Is it usable? Are users able to complete the tasks that they set out to without massive frustration or abandon? Does it serve new users as well as loyal users in ways that satisfy their needs uniquely? Are there a few navigation options that lead where users may want to go next? Are they clearly labeled?
Credible – Worthy of confidence, reliable
Is it Credible? Is the design appropriate to the context of use and audience? Is your content updated in a timely manner? Do you use restraint with promotional content? Is it easy to contact a real person? Is it easy to verify your credentials? Do you have help/support content where it is needed? Especially important when asking for sensitive personal data.
Controllable – Able to adjust to a requirement
Is it Controllable? Are tasks and information a user would reasonably want to accomplish available? How well are errors anticipated and eliminated? When errors do occur, how easily can a user recover? Are features offered to allow the user to tailor information or functionality to their context? Are exits and other important controls clearly marked?
Valuable– Of great use, service and importance
Is it Valuable? Is it desirable to the target user? Does it maintain conformity with expectations throughout the interaction across channels? Can a user easily describe the value? How is success being measured? Does it contribute to the bottom line? Does it improve customer satisfaction?
Learnable – To fix in the mind, in the memory
Is it Learnable? Can it be grasped quickly? What is offered to ease the more complicated processes? Is it memorable? Is it easy to recount? Does it behave consistently enough to be predictable?!
Delightful– Greatly pleasing
Is it Delightful? What are your differentiators from other similar experiences or competitors? What cross channel ties can be explored that delight? How are user expectations not just met but exceeded? What are you providing that is unexpected? What can you take that is now ordinary and make extraordinary?
These heuristics are provided by @Abby_The_IA
You can view the IA Heuristics by Abby Covert Slideshare deck of the presentaiton.
I have taken on a new task. I am challenging myself to keep a little notebook of items I learn for 100 days. The toughest thing will be remembering to enter an item every day. I sure hope I don’t miss a day. But if I do, then I will force myself to carry one until I get all 100 days — or until my notebook gets full. Whichever happens first. I encourage you to take the same challenge. Maybe it’s a notebook of doodles, or a notebook of learning a new word every day. Encourage yourself to take a moment every day to learn.
I recently came across a valuable resource that I thought I would share with the group. “20 Websites To Find Free High-Quality Images” is an article sharing some of the latest ad greatest (?) sites to get free high resolution imagery. Though I have not perused all of the sources, this might be a good list to start with if you are looking for some images.
Thanks to Hongiat.com for all of the valuable articles. If you are not a regular reader of this blog, 2015 is a great time to start.
I found this graphic in a post written by Megan Wilson on her blog, UX Motel. I really thought it was interesting, though someone difficult to read. Do you spin your computer around or spin your head around? Forget about looking at it on mobile. Nevertheless, this is fun to look at isn’t it?