Archive for April, 2010

Media Tectonics & Design (Thinking)

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Patrick Whitney presented “Media Tectonics and design” at the Chicago AIGA meeting.

He talked about design thinking. One example he gave was Suruga Bank and how they built a working prototype of a “future” bank focused on what customers wanted to do with their money and not just about the money. Yes, there were tellers, but they were in the back of the room. One of the Suruga prototypes had a “library” in the front part of the building that had travel books for customers to browse. Customers could choose a book about a particular travel destination and then put them on a “reading” table that has a sensor that read a chip in each book and and displayed all kind of relevant information about hotels, travel arrangements, restaurants AS the customer read the book.

Whitney said one could not have asked customers what they wanted and gotten this, but that it involved deep knowing of what customers felt and related to when dealing with a bank. That this envisioning the future one has to make to know. He also used the example to show how to get into the “what” rather than the how by decoupling from craft, that if one can only approach problems from the craft toolkit that they have, then they won’t be able to re-frame the problem.

4 Aspects of Designing Thinking

1 – User Empathy & Corporate Context
2 – Do not take the Problem as Given
3 – Make to Know
4 – Envision the Future.

Yes, he covered many of other things too.


Patrick Whitney: Director of the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago, the largest graduate school of design in the U.S.
Thursday August 29 2010: 7pm to 8ish
Design Thinking talk at AIGA Chicago was titled “Media Tectonics and design.”
Michale Simborg and I from uxSEARS attended. Michael is an alumnus of IIT.

Why social ON-LINE trumps social IN-LINE

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

This morning I was getting my early morning coffee at my local coffee shop (to remain un-named). Usually when I am in there, there is no one except the barrista and myself, but this morning there was another customer, a very chatty customer. I thought, how nice, the two of them were talking and talking and talking. And I was waiting and waiting and waiting.

I thought – wow – at a busy time of day there could have been more customers in front of me. And if the customers and barrista would have been chatty, that would have irritated me more.

But ONLINE – everyone is ON LINE, they aren’t waiting IN LINE, so they aren’t waiting IN LINE.

This is where social online can beat social FTF. It might not be there yet, but with fulfillment getting faster and faster (same day in some cases) the online social advantage is going to “trump” the buy this second. Its not there yet, but I’d say when fullfillment can be made in less than 4 hours that will be the tipping point. My guess at 4 hours has to do with how long it would take to travel back and forth and shop.

Its all about the wait.

Experience Design Inspiration: Movie Title Sequences

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Inspiration from Movie Title Sequences

If you are working experience design on promos on your website a good place to look for inspiration are movie or TV title sequences. Here are some resources:

The Art of the Title Sequence

Forget The Film, Watch The Titles

How to Guide: How to Put On Your Own Bodystorming Event

Monday, April 26th, 2010

How to Put on Your own Bodystorming Event

20 Steps for Bodystorming


1.   Figure out a problem you are going to storm on.
2.   Figure out what people you’d like to be involved
3.   Divide out the people into  the troupes you are going to break people into
4.   Find a space to put it on
5.   Visit the SPACE, you must visit the space, no excuses
6.   Figure out what “stretching” activities you are going to do
7.   Figure out what how you are going to explain bodystorming to the people (Most important is it is acting out ideas, that the more talking they do means less bodystorming)
8.   Figure out if you need them to think or do “home” before so they are primed with experiences they can draw from


9.   Make a Issue Board to focus people’s attention on the BIG DEEP PATTERNS


10.  Explain the Main Ideas behind Bodystorming
11.  Do your stretching exercises
12.  Break them into their troupes
13.  Do a mini practice storm. A 1-2 minute storm.
14.  Then do your major storm. Storm Ideas/Acts usually 10-15 minutes.
15.  Present Acts to other troupes  (video them)
16.  If everyone stormed on the same problem,  have everyone talk about what they saw, compare and choose the best one and why they thought it was the best
17.  Ask what they’d like to do different (change the problem, the storming, or something else) and what could be better.


18.  Post your video on the facebook page for bodystorming, a page from dennisschleicher
19.  Dennis will offer analysis, suggestions and ideas on the facebook page if you post your video there.
20.  Think about what you might what to try differently.

Growing Future CEOs: Time in a User Experience group will be mandatory

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Thinking about the CEOs of the near future. They will need to have spend time in a UX department. I see more future CEOs will be coming out of UX teams. Perhaps they took design thinking class in school or read a book about it, but where the rubber hits the road, the best place in the organization to learn what that can mean is in the User Experience department.

The shortest path to the CEO office will be through the User Experience Department.

I am not saying that they necessarily are UX people or have a design background. They might not do a long stint in the group, but they will have put their time in.

They will have earned the right to talk about the user experience, to know how making things that people find easy to use, that people want to use, and that people are willing to PAY to use is the easiest way to top line and bottom line growth.

Online channels are critical components in almost all business models nowadays and the trend only seems to be accelerating. I seek to build an environment where we are experts and guides to that future.

What to do in your first 10 days in your new UX job

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

So it looks like the tide has definitely turned in the UX employment space and a number of people are moving to new UX groups. So what should you do in your first 10 days with your new group. Here is a list of 14 things to do in your first 10 days. Come in early or stay late for 1 hour each day of your first two weeks and do the following:

  1. Set up a meeting with your boss and ask him what was the most successful project/program they had over the last year and why. Discuss this in depth and take notes. Try to figure out how you can duplicate that success.
  2. After your first day sit down and write up 3 things YOU can do to improve the on boarding process. Then execute on them.
  3. If your company is publicity traded read the last letter to shareholders. Understand how executive leadership talks about and views UX.
  4. Have lunch with 3 other people in your group. Interview them as to their definition of UX. Write up the responses and send it to them and your boss.
  5. For whatever your website is. Do a “man/woman on the street video.” Ask 6 people on the street “Have you ever been to the (name of your website you are working on)’s website? What did you do there?” If they haven’t been there ask them “What do you think you could do there?” Edit this down into 3 minutes and show it to your group.
  6. Write a blog post for your corporate UX blog.
  7. If there isn’t a corporate UX blog, start one.
  8. Compile a list of all the usability tests/personas/customer research you can find that your department or company has done in the last 6 months. Start referring to items on that list when you are presenting reviewing your designs. Start building your corporate “evidence based design” practice.
  9. Write a whitepaper on how facebook is going to impact your company and how you can change your group’s practice to better position the company to thrive in this trend
  10. Write a whitepaper on how mobile is going to impact your company and how you can change your group’s practice to better position the company to thrive in this trend
  11. Write a whitepaper on how gaming is going to impact your company and how you can change your group’s practice to better position the company to thrive in this trend.
  12. Find out what are the most important KPIs for your UX group.
  13. If KPIs can’t be found, then collect 6 recent product roadmaps and put them side by side and try to figure out from them what are the important metrics for success.
  14. Learn everyone’s name and what their strengths are, what they are really good at. Use this to ask for help and to get second opinions on your work.

Well, there you go.  Your first two weeks done and you are on your way to making an impact in your new UX job!

Other resources

Are you a User Experience Intern? 25 things you must do in the next 60 days!
Three Questions To Ask Your UX Consultants

Appropriate Staffing for UX groups

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

As soon as you get your second UX (user experience or Information Architect) person on staff you start thinking about “staffing” or more suitably “appropriate staffing.” How does one go about figuring out what is the appropriate staffing levels that you need to request in order to execute against planned work and roadmaps.

Here are 5 basic questions about staffing UX groups to keep you one step ahead:

  1. Workload – How many people for how much work? To even start addressing this question you need to build your understanding of what is on your organization’s roadmap.  If you don’t have these documents get your group involved in the strategy. SEE Strategic Planning Process & User Experience. Start conversations about what is coming down the pike for your industry in terms of “knowing the large,” perhaps your user based is going into heavy mobile adoption or international shipping regulations have eased and this should influence how much work you think your department will have over the next 18 months.
  2. Balance – How many UX people to how many visual designers OR product managers OR IT developers/engineers? Look to the amount of augmentation or reductions that are going on in these other departments.  Build out your ratios for what you think makes sense in order to work well with these other groups and get work done. The main concern here is you don’t want to be the bottle-neck that is always holding up the work.
  3. Bench Depth – What level of experience do you need, what proportion among the different levels of experience? How many fresh out of college grads can you really afford to hire even though they might be cheaper.  How many seniors can you have without eliminating career paths for promotions. Build a wide base pyramid, and give it a smooth slope.
  4. Experts or Generalists – Do you need to hire for your particular situation experts that  have years of experience in mobile, e-commerce, or intranets? Or if someone is a good UX person, the particulars of the context is irrelevant? Over time I am starting the believe that a good UX person can make the jump across these different experiences, but in terms of fielding a team at least 20% members need to be knowledgeable in the particular community of practice.
  5. Soft Skills – What skill set beyond UX?  Explain things to people outside of UX? Do you just hire people who can do the work, put out great wireframes/prototypes? Or do you need people who can explain it and show the connections to different business models and conversion metrics or KPIs? A good balance is  at least one good softskill person for each introvert/non-presenter.

The most significant thing to understand about figuring out the appropriate staffing for your UX group is growing the right culture.  An important ingredient in your culture mix is the people. The decisions you make in staffing have a huge impact on your culture, so make sure you are growing and changing your culture in the right direction.

Other Resources

Does your UX Organization Chart Look like this? An Organization chart for UX and Interaction Design groups.

UX Value Mandala (for my view of some important UX values a UX group should strive for)

Goal Setting and Richard Saul Wurman

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Richard Saul Wurman in 33 writes about some things that are deepening my understanding goal setting and altering how I answer, “What am I accountable for?” Here are various thoughts from Wurman that really got me thinking:

  • Show you know how to ask the right questions?
  • The solution is everything isn’t “more.”
  • Show how do your goals (measurements or what you are accountable for) translate into understanding the success or failure of the organization.
  • What is the real information that lets someone else understand how you will perform?
  • We need to measure our annual success by what you do every day.
  • Talk about performance rather than how (we don’t want to use a vocabulary that encourages makeshift solutions that distract us from real problems.)
  • Don’t put down a goal that is based on your expertise. Instead talk about what your are ignorant about, your desire to learn about something, your desire to create and explore, and navigate paths to knowledge, that curiosity is a bucket that is infinitely deep bottom that represents an unlimited repertoire.


33: understanding change & the change in understanding by Richard Saul Wurman

WARNING: Designing dashboards may cause crashes

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Why do we think someone is just going to just use a dashboard to drive.  Look close at the above image.

Do you see the WINDSHIELD and the world outside?

Would you paper over the windshield and go drive around by just using your dashboard? I don’t think so. Then why are we designing websites by just looking at the dashboard.

We need to focus on the road outside! Make sure you are looking out the windshield – Where do you want to go?

Some other peoples thoughts on this idea

Dashboards vs. Windshields

Bodystorming FAQ 3of20: How does the space change things for bodystorming?

Monday, April 5th, 2010

The space is one of the most important things to planning a successful bodystorming session. You need to inspect the space beforehand.  Look at the space as both a “brainstorming” space in which the troupes come up with a bodystorm and also a space in which they will perform their storms.  Ideally the troupes will come up with their storm in the same working space of 10-15 square feet that they will then perform in. This allows them to arrange props on the walls or in the space so each of the performances have zero set up time. Better spaces have fewer tables and chairs. Better spaces allow easy moving around so they can watch the performances of the troupes.  There should be some wall space to video project an example bodystorm  to help get people in the right stance. Also because this is about people moving around, make sure there aren’t wires on the ground that someone might trip on. There should be good airflow in the space too, with everyone moving about smaller rooms tend to heat up rapidly.