Archive for June, 2009

Experience Storyboard

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Here is a photo of a whiteboard storyboard sketch I worked on with Michael Blakesley and Haya Gaviola.  We needed to show what the experience would be for someone as they planned and traveled to and from Baltimore. It has various modes of transportation. We needed to show real life, on-line, mobile, and even different actors. From this I suggest 3 things for making better Experience Storyboards


1. More People
This has people in it.  I feel more comfortable building experience diagrams that have people in them.  We are most often building these experiences for people, so why not put them in there.

2. Feelings in Thought Bubbles
And I don’t mean just goals.  People (and personas) should have both Goals andFEELINGS.  Too often we reduce people down to their utilitarian goals. In order to make sure you are having feelings, don’t focus so much on what people are saying, but what they are thinking – so there should be many “thought-bubbles” around people’s heads and not so many word bubbles.

3. Very Few Screnshots
Also notice, this has no screen shots in it of any interface. It is focused on the the person, not the interface.

I have a message out to Haya to see if she has a copy of the final version which is pretty sweet looking. If I get it I will post it here.

Example of Experience Storyboard by Geoff Alday
Example from Customer Experience
Example Nate Ball’s Tunnel Experience

GUMBALLS & Social Media: Peace of Mind Gumball Machines

Monday, June 29th, 2009

I saw this at the Mall. I just couldn’t help taking a picture of it. Something to chew on.

Peace of Mind Gumball Machine

Peace of Mind Gumball Machine

The things I found amazing about this product are the online reviews. You can see that 30 people have written reviews about these gumballs, ruminating over the merits and alternatives, even suggesting recommended uses. This is a GUMBALL!! Behold the power of social media. GUMBALLS PEOPLE!!! As I read the reviews, I got a number of insights that I could easily spin into multiple campaigns. Product Review

Picture 1

If you would like to buy me a whole bag of these gumballs and send them to me I would be so grateful.

Innovation Parkour: Experience Design Poster

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Last week I was up in Toronto and participated in an Innovation Parkour invented and hosted by Michael Dila and Matthew Milan. This is my group’s poster board from the innovation parkour exercise. We were constrained by time and decided to go hand-drawn.


Interesting things about it.
-You can see more than one perspective (like some architecture drawings) One perspective is birds eye view, from the top down, the other perspective is a side view giving elevation.
-We were “pitching” the idea so the poster even included some crib notes for us to hit on during the presentation.
-This was an attempt at an experience diagram to explain to other people what kind of experience we were trying to plan.

Group Members
Peter Flaschner
Dennis Schleicher
Patrick Keenan
John Worren

The Amish & Experience Design

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Amish Experience 1In the train station today I saw this flyer advertising visits to see, meet, and talk with Amish people. Wow. I have heard that agri-tourism is a growing business in my area, this proves it. It is almost like visiting “Disneyland” but “authentic.” It reminds of museum exhibit design. I like the idea and I wonder how much time/effort they spent “planning” or “designing” the experience. This reminds me of an idea that Steve Portigal had at one time. I like this “cultural immersion” as a way for people to see their own culture as well as learn about other cultures. For $50 bucks that sounds like a good deal to me. I think I might have to try this out.
Amish Experience 2

Amish Experience Visit-In-Person Tour Webpage

An article in the local Sunday News

Business Model White-boarding better than sketching

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Last Friday we were jamming through a product idea, and kept asking “What’s the business model?”

I can’t share that business model . . . yet, but one thing that has helped me (like grids and frameworks) is the following Business Model framework: Partners, Customer Relationships, Core Capabilities, Value Configuration, Value Proposition, Channels, Customers, Cost Structure, and Revenue Stream.

Business Model FrameworkThere are many different business modeling approaches. It comes from Alex Osterwalder, and he has now an updated business model framework. What I do it put the outline/framework up on a white-board and then put stickies in the appropriate places.  Really gets you thinking in different ways because it is so easy to take a post-it and move it from one place to another.  THAT facilities good “design-thinking” about the business model. I like using post-its better than how I understand that Alex Osterwalder and others have you “write” it on a piece of paper.

I think this is valuable exercise if you trying to start your own company, if you are consulting to one, or even if you are working or interning in a organization. It is just good sense to know how an organization works at this functional level.

Card Sorting with Pictures & Images

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Here is an example of a visual or image card sort Michael Blakesley and I did for the redesign of the Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI.)

If you want to do run-of-the-mill user research you are going to get run-of-the-mill insights that everone else gets. You need to get insights that your competitors aren’t by using techinques like this.

I got into cardsorting before I came into Information Architecture proper and so I have some different techniques. This is one that I really thinks helps us focus in on content and the core “things” that people are dealing with rather than just the “words” that describe the things.

Card sorting with pictures & images was and is a very useful technique for working with peoples who didn’t have a written language or were themselves illiterate. It’s ironic that we use it for helping to organize and structure large textual groupings.

For those who work on entertainment sites (with movie, video, and music) there are a number of very useful ways to use this way of card sorting to build a much better organization of your information that we currently see out there on the major media and entertainment sites. This kind of sorting I have also successfully used to generate metadata which is another weakness of so many movies, video, and music search & browse interfaces.

Right now I am planning to use a varient of this for some work on reports and reporting dashboards applications which have very complex visual information issues

Are you a User Experience Intern? 25 things you must do in the next 60 days!

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

So you are User Experience-intern. Yes, half your time is done.What have you done? What did you learn? What should you do with the time left? Here is a list of 25 things to do before you clean off your desk, pack up your office supplies and head back to school. This is my advice for interns who are the future of user experience design.

  1. Update Your Resume with what you have done so far.
  2. Fill out your resume with ideas of what you WILL ACCOMPLISH for the rest of your internship
  3. If you haven’t yet, Do some “user research” and observe customers buying or making progress toward a purchase decision. You don’t need to video record it, just do it, at least audio record it and take handwritten notes. If you can’t find a current client to do this for, do so for a potential client that your company might submit a proposal to.
  4. Do an evaluation on the company’s web presence. Make it a one page report and send it to your boss and your bosses boss.
  5. Make some personas, see item 3 and follow a similar strategy.
  6. Write a list of your User Experience Skills. Give it to you boss and ask them to evaluate you on a scale of 1-5 and to rank the skills in order of importance. Then ask them how you can improve you rating in each of the top 5 skills.
  7. Ask to write a proposal for a project or client.  Identify a project or client. Call it a white paper idea (1 page long) and get it critiqued, if it is any good and you are encouraged to do so, add a page or so of more detail and get it critiqued again. Ask if you can submit it and send a letter along with it saying you and intern and would appreciate any feedback. This is a low-risk but high-reward activity.
  8. Ask to a Heuristic audit of a client website.
  9. Start doing the WILL ACCOMPLISH list tomorrow
  10. Take someone out to lunch.  Find someone at the office, invite them out, ask them what they think so far of your work and what you could do to be better, be quiet, listen, and write it all down.
  11. Ask your boss for a meeting to discuss your letter of reference. YES, you need to ask your boss for a letter of reference at the end of your internship. Discuss it now, make sure to ask if there is anything you need to improve or work on NOW, while you still have time for corrective action.
  12. Make sure you clearly communicate to your boss that you need a formal letter of reference at the end of the internship that you can put in your file.
  13. Imagine you are going to have your own company one day. Write down what you would do differently than what you see so far at where you are working.
  14. Build a Business Model of the Company or Organization you are working out. (See my post on Whiteboarding Business Models for an easy template.)
  15. Ask you boss if there is anything they think you should try to learn in your time left on the job.
  16. Make sure you collect everyone’s email address who you would like to stay in contact with after you leave. Now is the time to get their work email and their personal (permanent) email address.
  17. Take some time to write down in a diary how you FEEL about your job, your employer, your field. This is your opportunity to get a good idea of what this field is like, what you value, and the kind of work environment you do best in.
  18. Do a personal review of your skills and see if there is some “NEW” skills you learned at school that no one at your company is doing. Offer to give a workshop, lunch & learn, or to use it on a project. Employers want to add these NEW skills to their tool-bag , but often don’t even know what they are missing.
  19. Answer the following question: What have you been good at? Types of projects, problems, activities, etc.
  20. Answer the following question: How do you like to work? Individually, in groups, with alot of detailed instructions, with little direction, etc.
  21. Make sure your boss knows that in addition to helping them with work you are there to learn and that you are would like to be included in any staff meetings, continuing education opportunities, and any training classes.
  22. Start writing your draft”thank-you” letter to your employer that you will send after you finish your internship.
  23. Ask yourself “What else can I do to help my company?” Then do it.
  24. Ask your employer for permission to gather “Portfolio fillers” such as copies of completed personas, wireframes, prototypes, etc  that you can use in your future job search.
  25. Make a list of companies that do business or partner with the company you are interning at.  They will be a good list for you to look to as potential employers when you are ready to enter the work force permanently. And they will know you from the company you are interning at.

if you have any more to add, please comment below or email me at dennis (at) and I will add them to the list.

Interaction Diagram of Information Architecture, Tech, and Creative

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Here is an interesting diagram of the flows between three groups.  Information Architecture, Technology or Engineering, and Creative. You can see flows of questions and asks and flows of answers and documents. The value of this diagram might be high for someone new to an organization to know what expectations are; expectations that other groups will have of them and expectations that they can have of other groups.

MCWT diagram

Does Your UX Organization Chart look like this?

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

An Organization Chart for UX and Interaction Design Groups

Not only do I like to design interaction for the internet, but also I like to design interaction for groups.  Here is a structural diagram for an interaction design department.

Click on image to see higher resolution & read the tiny text.


If we are supposed to believe in the power of design and visual communication then why don’t we have more org charts like this one?

Both for ourselves and our departments we are a part of and for communicating who we are, what we do, and why it matters to other part of the company or even outside stakeholders or partners.

  • Along the left I show for each level in the organization the time horizon that those people should be concerned with.
  • In the center I have listed the major groups: Associate Creative Director, Head of Engineering, Head of Design, and Head of Program Management. Each of those groups have their various levels of Managers, Leads, Seniors, and Juniors.
  • Along the right side I have detailed out the responsibilities of each level and what types of decisions they should be making.
  • The other thing I like about this one is that it has more than just the design group, it’s about the ecosystem of roles, responsibilities, and relationships.
  • Note: ISD stands for Instructional Systems Designer.

What does your Interaction Design Org Chart Look like?

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An Interaction Design Org Chart like this is useful?

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Visual Diagram of Design Process

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Visual Representation of Design Process. Up in Toronto last week at OCAD session. In one exercise I drew this.