Archive for February, 2010

Beliefs Behind the UX Value Mandala

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

The UX Value Mandala is based on some simple principles or beliefs.

The first pair of knowing the large/small is based on the belief that knowing is powerful. That if one acts on the curiosity that one has about an object that better understanding results.

The core of this belief is that discussion from multi perspectives is valuable. The second pair of seeing the same and discussing the different is a recipe for how to get the power of people together. It is a recipe for success with the most important part of any system we work in – people. But getting people together to talk isn’t enough. Most importantly there needs to be a common object that everyone can see or bounce ideas off of and feel they can contribute to. It is also not an idea that one person has. It depersonalizes the discussion. It should not be MY idea versus YOUR idea. We need to move beyond that if we want to get the innovation leverage of having multiple people contribute to something.

Dreaming and planning are the keys to both short term and long term success. And this third pair of UX Values of planning the possible and dreaming the better speak of how we are making the world better. We must be able both to make practical plans and to dream a better place/situation that what we currently have.

Actually doing something, changing something, putting ideas into the real world to see what happens is powerful. We must get it done, but launch and abandon is not enough. We must look and see if the impact we were expecting happened and the way to do that is by measuring the impact. This is the best way for you to becoming a better designer and continually growing. If we don’t reflect on what we have done then we don’t know if our guesses and bets were correct we lose the opportunity to become better.


UX Values Mandala

Bodystorming in Chicago – A Design Thinking Stance

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Last night we did a bodystorming in Chicago. We had a great group of people who came to do bodystorming and they enjoyed it. They were a mix of designers, engineers/Computer scientists, and actors. One of the most interesting comments of the evening was by Byron Stewart of Dramatic Diversity , my theater partner in this, who commented about half-way through the exercise to me that he had initially thought some of the engineering and computer science people were actors because they were getting into it so well.

That speaks to the importance of structuring an environment and activities. Everything about the evening was positioned and arranged to encourage people to bodystorm. We weren’t just telling people “Ok, now bodystorm.” Even though this is similar to improv and as such seems not to be scripted there is a lot of preparation and planning involved.

Roger Martin writes about “stance . . . the knowledge domain in which you define how you see the world around you and how you see yourself in that world.” In last nights bodystorming we put people into a different stance and it resulted in encouraging exploration and innovation in how people saw and approached the design problem. As Martin also writes “The design thinker has a stance that seeks the unknown, embraces the possibility of surprise, and is comfortable with wading into complexity not knowing what is on the other side.”

I enjoy very much how Martin writes about design thinking and believe that bodystorming like this are one of the few ways to cultivate this kind of stance for people.


Roger Martin in “The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage.” 2009
Issue Boards (Another Technique for Design Thinking)

The Missing Piece of the Semantic Web – The Social Browser

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Chris Messina made a great presentation at OpenIDux. He basically took the browser and re-imagined it or redesigned it with social in mind.

He based his redesign on three principles – or three verbs. His three verbs were follow, share, and connect.

With those three words Chris hit the nail on the head for what does social mean for people today. As a quick little experiment I typed those three words into my search engine and the #1 result was . . . “FaceBook.” Very interesting.

What are those three words, those social verbs. Were there any other verbs that he tried to use but didn’t help him redesign the browser. What other options did he have?

Perhaps other options might have dealt more with creating meaning. With those 3 social verbs and other social verbs – the idea behind them is that they are all social actions; in that sense the social verbs don’t change the meaning of the object that is changing hands.

Other verbs perhaps learning verbs.

And the big daddy of them all identity

Maybe this moves us closer to using the the semantic web better – we need to also have a semantic browser to browse the semantic and social web. Perhaps the semantic web has been hamstrung by not building first a solid basis of the social. The foundation needs to be first social, then build on top of that. As Brynn Evans pointed out – “the meaning making takes place in social context. The social verbs are the backbone.”

I think Chris Messina has identified a missing piece of the puzzle in the sematic web. They forgot the social foundation.


Thanks @Brynn for your comments on an earlier version of this.

OpenIDux was the event at which Chris Messina talked

Integrating Browser and Social Networks

Social Verbs

Bodystorming homework assignment

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

On Friday Feb 26 we are going to do a bodystorming exercise. We will be doing it in just two hours. To help the participants get more out of it, they will get a “homework” assignment.

The following is some homework that can help you get the most out of this exercise. It isn’t mandatory, but will help get the participants to get in the right stance.

Go buy 4 things.
As you go about purchasing these things think about what the object means for you. Also think about who you are buying it for.
1. Buy buy some stamps for mailing your bills, or a monthly transit pass.
2. Go buy your kids some pens, pencils, erasers, or notebooks for school, or
when your some needed underwear or socks for your partner.
3 Go buy some of your own favorite music or if you collect things, something that you can add to your collection.
4. Go buy some wine or food that you can share with some friends.

These are items which represent 4 shopping ecologies and can help us start to think about about feel our way through different kinds of experiences that people can have with buying things.

After you buy each of these things write a sentence or two down about each one.

If you would like to read more about shopping ecologies please go to


IxDA Local Event

Bodystorming in Chicago Feb 26 from 6 to 8pm

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

On February 26th. 2010 at 5:45pm.,thirty participants from around Chicagoland will come together to do a Bodystorm, a physical brainstorm that will result in solutions to problems facing retail in the future.

And we very much need the gift of your participation.

This will be an activity in which we learn about and then do a bodystorming exercise. A bodystorm is a live presentation (think: a short play) in which participants improvise several scenes and the audience asks questions.

Is it really possible to change the world simply by exchanging ideas with those who appear to have little in common with you?
We look forward to showing you how.

Dennis Schleicher, uxSears and Byron Stewart, Dramatic Diversity, DD+D

Limited # of spots. First come-First Serve
To RSVP and for further details please email We will email you with logistics.

For more info.on Bodystorming please visit:

Good Design & Bad Design: Using virtues to guide us

Friday, February 19th, 2010

What is good design? A combination of aesthetics & ethics and exhibits virtues writes Marty Nuemeier in The Designful Company. Here are the virtues as they break out for good and bad designs.

Good Design

  • Generosity
  • Courage
  • Diligence
  • Honesty
  • Substance
  • Clarity
  • Thriftiness
  • Wit

Bad Design

  • Selfishness
  • Fear
  • Laziness
  • Deceit
  • Pettiness
  • Confusion
  • Apathy
  • Wastefulness
  • Stupidity

Based on the above here are 3 things I need to do or build

  1. Write a virtue into a creative brief. Choose 2 or 3 good virtues from the list that a particular design should go for & write it in the creative brief. Choose 1 bad virtue & write that in as a one to avoid.
  2. Build Issue Boards that pull from these virtues as concepts in the structured diagram.
  3. Use this language in critiques.  Beyond just using the basic principles of design learned in my design 101 class (balance, unity, focus, rhythm, proportion) bring these good and bad virtues into the discussion.


Adapted from page 78 of The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation
by Marty Neumeier

Issue Boards

Justice as a Design Virtue

Beyond Duty and Virtue in Design Ethics

Humanistic Virtues in Information Graphics

Drinking Your Own Beer – better than eating one’s own dog food

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

When a company uses the products that it makes it is called “eating one’s own dog food.” The intent was a way for a company to demonstrate confidence in its own products.  MillerCoors has done that a step farther. They have a “bar” located in the HQ in Chicago. Yesterday I was invited their with Michael Leis to meet up with Rob Saker who works there.

It was a great space. The bar is located right next to a couple conference rooms. There were numerous tables for small gatherings and conversations. What a great way to experience what you sell. I kept thinking that that is why I love working above a Sears Department Store. It offers a similar benefit. Having easy access to “experience” your brand. Now the MillerCoors bar isn’t for the public so the employees aren’t shouldering up to regular customers, but its a great idea and speaks to knowing your products and services on an personal level.


Video of The MillerCoors HQ Bar

Setting Analysis

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Here is a an example of a setting analysis I did this for the myford experience.

The main structure of the setting analysis is based on Space, Actors, and Activities.  Spaces have Places and Objects. Actors have Feelings and Goals. Activities have Act, can coalesce into events, and different kinds of time.

One of the most important implications for User Experience Designers is the Actors and their feelings.  Too often we just put in the goals of actors.  The two feelings area does get into branding and sometimes interaction design or information architecture doesn’t yet have the tools to go there, but diagrams like this help step in that direction.

Now a setting isn’t an experience.  And the truth of the matter is that we can’t create experiences, but we can arrange settings in which people have experiences.


How to do a setting analysis

myford navigation OR Global Navigation for World Domination

A new way to settle requirements conflicts.

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Mark Goetz and Nina Bieliauskas have discovered a new way to settle conflicting requirements.

How to get promoted to Senior User Experience Designer?

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Your job title is User Experience Architect, or User Experience Designer, or Information Architect. One question on your mind is probably when will I get to be a senior? What do I have to do to get promoted to a senior?

Getting promoted or moving companies into a new position as a senior is a big step. It means that you are experienced, skilled, and a leader.

A Senior User Experience Architect

  • More than 5 years experience in UXA
  • Can lead a small temporary team, including external people
  • Well experienced with all the skills of UX
  • They have the skills and experience to support almost every one of the UX values. There might be one or two they are learning.
  • They teach and inspire others in supporting the 8 UX values.

Before you start on your journey to be a senior you need to make sure you have mastered all inner circle things. You need to then start to master the 4 things below.

Knowing the large – This means knowing what you competitors are up to (both direct and indirect) as well as how your customers are changing.  Even larger context issues such as twitter, something that just 2 years ago was just starting which is now a major force.

Discussing the different – This is the respectful voice that allows the senior to build experiences that are owned by all stakeholders. It is a difficult role, but we need to facilitate the conversation. These conversations can include external stakeholders and executive clients.

Dreaming the better – This is the ability to generate great ideas, collect them, and have them at the ready for other projects or later phases.  These is related to service design, product roadmaps, white-papers, business modeling, vision prototyping, and conceptualizing.

Measuring the impact – Seniors need to be able to predict the impact of our different recommendations.  This means watching the different metrics. Omniture, Customer Satisfaction, Search Logs, etc.