A Rant About User Research: The Latest Episode Of The HumanTech Podcast


Logo for HumanTech podcast
For this episode of the Human Tech podcast, Susan Weinschenk goes solo at the microphone to talk about user research:

What it is
Why you can’t skip it
What kind of user research to do
Making the ROI case for user research


If you want to learn more about user research by the way, we have an online video course on the topic.

 

 

Helle Martens From Copenhagen On The Human Tech Podcast

Image result for danish party bike

In this episode of the Human Tech podcast we talk with Helle Martens, a User Experience (UX) consultant from Copenhagen. Our discussion includes the UX Copenhagen conference, why behavioral science has a hard time getting traction in UX communities, and the bicycle culture in Denmark, including “party bikes” and “beer bikes” (see images above and below).

To find out more about the UX Copenhagen conference and/or to contact Helle, check out the UX Copenhagen website.

 

Conference Bike


Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

Mistakes People Make With Personas, And Why You Should Care

Logo for HumanTech podcastCreating personas before you design a product seems quaint and old-fashioned these days. In this Human Tech podcast episode we get UX-nerdy and talk about why we still think personas can be useful, how they help you design, and the mistakes that people make when they create personas.


Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

A Conversation With Damien Borba from Adobe XD

Logo for HumanTech podcastI think that AI and robots will be writing all the code and doing all the design of digital products before too long. But until then, we need good design tools. My favorite is Adobe XD. Have you tried it?

We met Demian Borba, Stategic Development Manager for the product when we were out in San Francisco earlier this year, and in this podcast episode we talk with Demian about Adobe XD, about design tools, and about his background.

Here are some links we mention in the podcast:

xd.adobe.com for information on the product in general

https://adobexd.uservoice.com/  if you want to leave a message or ask a question for the Adobe team

https://www.facebook.com/AdobeExperienceDesign for the Adobe XD facebook page and the place to go to watch Demian’s livestream events that happen every Wednesday at 10 Pacific time.


HumanTech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

Why Lean UX Might Just Rock Your World

I was standing at the front of a training room at about 2 pm a week ago in Chicago. The room was on the 5th floor of a building in downtown Chicago. It wasn’t a very inspiring room. The windows looked out at another tall office building, so there was no natural light in the room at all. It looked like it was nighttime all the time. The ventilation system was loud and actually made the ceiling projector vibrate which made the slides at the froRock Your Worldnt of the room vibrate. The fluorescent lights were harsh. The workshop participants were sharing the results of the case study exercise I had just asked them to do. And that’s when the magic happened.

There were 5 teams, and each team had come up with plans and designs that were unlike any I’d seen in any class I’ve taught. We’re talking about DECADES of teaching, and hundreds, if not thousands of designs I’ve seen come out of classes and workshops. But these were on another level. These design solutions, these ideas, were the stuff of documentary films about the design process and how incredible ideas get started. These ideas were special. To be honest I was stunned. In fact the whole room got very quiet. I think we all realized that we had just experienced a transformative moment together.

Now I’m not particularly shy or humble. I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’m a great teacher and that my workshops are special. But this wasn’t just great or special. This was life- changing. I knew it wasn’t just me. And yes, it was a great group of people in the room, but it wasn’t just them. It was the process.

The workshop was “The Lean UX Workshop”. We’d spent the day learning and trying out Lean UX concepts like hypothesis testing, experiments, minimal viable products, pivots, collaboration, Get Out Of The Building, Build, Test, Learn, and all the other Lean ideas. And this exercise that was blowing me away was the last exercise of the day… the culmination of everything we’d learned.  A chance to put it all into action.

Here’s my theory on why the Lean concepts caused break-through designs and solutions in the workshop:

  • Approaching design and user experience solutions from the lens of testing hypotheses meant that people were asking the right questions. It’s not the answer that is important, it’s the question that’s important. Asking the right questions led to totally different, insightful and innovative solutions.
  • Doing design as part of an experiment — Build, Test, Learn —  and then deciding whether or not to pivot, was freeing and empowering. These were not just people in a workshop following instructions. These people felt bold, they felt powerful. They took their ideas and ran with them. They were confident.
  • Designing and solving problems in the experimental mode of Lean UX makes people fearless because it breaks the connection between design and ego. You are experimenting with a design idea in order to see if the hypothesis is true. You aren’t married to the hypothesis and so you aren’t married to the design. It’s not YOUR design, it’s the design that tests the hypothesis. The hypothesis might be wrong or right. It may be neither and may lead to another hypothesis. But you don’t have to worry about your design being accepted or not accepted, because that’s not the outcome anymore.
  • Lean UX elevates the UX practitioner to a UX Strategist — the level they should be working at. When you do Lean UX you aren’t creating the user interface for a screen or page. You aren’t designing a form. Well, you might be doing those things as part of your hypothesis testing, but what you are REALLY doing is solving design problems. You are crafting a user experience based on data.

I was a fan of Lean UX before the Workshop. After my experience last week I’m more than a fan. I’m an evangelist.

Lean UX, carried out with true and basic Lean concepts, is pretty powerful stuff! It’s the best thing since sliced bread!

What do you think? Have you experienced any of this with Lean UX?

P.S. If you are interested in learning more you may want to check out our Lean UX Online Video Course or our next in-person Lean UX workshop that is in New York on June 15, 2015.

P.P.S.S. Thanks for letting me rave!

 

The 4 Magic Questions To Ask Before You Design Anything

Magic Want

I’ll go so far as to say that if you don’t know the answers to these four questions before you design, then your design will be, at best, mediocre, and possibly a disaster.

Designing anything — websites, software, apps, TV ads, physical spaces, documents – is tough. It takes art and science. Most design principles don’t work in all situations. Designers end up saying “it depends” a lot.

But these four magic questions ALWAYS apply. I ask these questions of my clients every time I design a product, or evaluate a product. Interestingly, although these are basic questions and not really hard to ask, it’s often the case that my clients don’t know or aren’t sure, or aren’t in agreement on the answers.

Here are the 4 magic questions:

1. Who is the target audience? This thing you are designing — who is it that is most often  going to use it? Who is it that you really want to use it? Everyone thinks they know who the target audience is until you ask the question. Then you and everyone else find out that the team doesn’t agree on the target audience. If you don’t know who you are designing for, then what is it you are designing?

2. What does the target audience want to do? Recently I want to the Healthcare.gov website. This is the website you go to get sign up for healthcare insurance in the USA. I had two basic things I wanted to do at the website:

a) My family has been getting health insurance through my husband’s employer, but they’ve announced that they are no longer going to provide insurance, and that everyone will have to go to the “exchanges” and purchase their own insurance. So one of the things that I wanted to do at Healthcare.gov was see what my options might be for insurance, and what it was likely to cost.  You can’t do that at the website. You can find out if you are eligible, based on income, for subsidies. You can read about what to do to “get ready” so that you can apply on November 15 when applications open up. But you can’t input a few basic pieces of data and get an estimate of cost or see what types of policies are available.

b) I have my own business, so the other option I am considering is offering health insurance to my employees. I am wondering if that would be a good option, and then I’d be covered, right? Would it cover my family too? These are the questions I had about employers buying insurance through the “exchange”.  Guess what. You can’t get information on employer plans at the website either. Or if it’s there it’s really well hidden!

Maybe I’m just an outlier. Maybe there aren’t very many people who want to do these two tasks at the Healthcare.gov website. It’s possible. Maybe I’m not the target audience. If we asked the Healthcare.gov design team what the target audience wants to do at the website I wonder what would they say?

3. What does the product owner want the target audience to do? This is not always the same as what the target audience wants to do. I may want to use the pharmacy app to see if there are drug interactions for prescription medication and the pharmacy company may want me to notice the store specials and come into the store. I may want to look up information on climate change and the website owner whose site I go to may want me to sign up for the newsletter. I may want to communicate with my friends and the product owner may want me to sign up for a premium account.

Some designers get stuck on taking only the target audience’s point of view.  You need both. It’s ok for the product owner to want the product to be used in a certain way; to want the target audience to take a certain action. After all, they are committing a lot of money and resources to building this product. And it’s likely for a reason other than or in addition to, fulfilling the target audience’s desires and wishes.  There’s likely to be a business/organization goal too. Does the design team know what that is? If they don’t, how can they be sure to design to match the business/organization goal as well as do what the target audience is hoping for?

4. What is the target action at this particular point? At every point, at every interaction moment, on every page, on every screen,  there is a target action that you want the target audience to take. Does the designer know what that target action is? If not, then how does the designer know what to design? Is the goal to have the target audience click on the Add To Cart button? Is it to share information with a friend? Is it to fill out a form and press the  “Sign Me Up” button? Is it to play a video? Is it to click for more information? Is it to pick up a product to try out in the store? If you want people to take a specific action then you have to design with that action in mind. If there is no action in mind then what is the designer doing?

When clients bring me in I always ask these four magic questions, and I’m often surprised how often the answers aren’t clear, or the team doesn’t agree, or no one has really thought about it.

Ask the 4 magic questions. Know the answers. And then your designers can design or re-design a GREAT product!

What do you think? Do you ask/answer these 4 questions before design? Do you find that your team/stakeholders/clients know the answers when you do? Are there are questions that you consider the “magic” critical questions to ask and answer?

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our white paper Why Re-designs Fail.

Top 10 Skills and Knowledge Set Every User Experience (UX) Professional Needs

Top 10The user experience (UX) of your products is only as good as the knowledge and skills of your UX staff.

​As organizations realize how important the user experience is to the success of their products, UX teams are expanding. People come to role of UX from more and more diverse backgrounds. Some UX staff used to be web designers. Others used to be visual designers. Others used to be usability testers. The plus side of this is that you may find yourself with a team that has a wide variety of skills. That sounds like an advantage, and it is. But it has a down side too. As the diversity of your team increases, it’s possible that particular individuals may have gaps in their skill-set. And the team loses a sense that there is a core set of skills and knowledge that everyone possesses.

So I’ve put together my “Top 10 List” of skills and knowledge that I think UX professionals should know and be able to do.

I’m aware that publishing a list of the “Top 10 Skills and Knowledge Set Every User Experience (UX) Professional Needs,” could be controversial. Your top 10 list, therefore, may not be exactly the same as this one, but let’s see how many you agree with:

Note:

  • The list is not in any particular order.
  • I have not included “soft” skills, such as communicating clearly, making powerful team presentations, or effectively managing projects. These are critical to success, but not as specific to UX, so I’ll cover them in another blog post.

So here’s my list:

  1. Psychology – including cognitive, social, perceptual, and the new work on unconscious mental processing
  2. User Testing – basic user testing planning and conducting
  3. User Research – more than user testing, including interviews, task flow analysis, personas, scenarios, wants and needs
  4. Principles of Usability – how to make a product easy to learn and use
  5. Principles of Engagement  — how to make a product engaging and persuasive
  6. Lean UX Design – lean start-up methods for doing UX
  7. Conceptual Modeling – making transparent all the macro decisions you make before you even start sketches pages and screens, such as information architecture, navigation design, object/action decisions
  8. Iterative Design – how to design collaboratively with others, including storyboards, sketches, wireframes, and prototypes
  9. Interaction Design  – how to make the best decisions about micro-level interaction design
  10. Current Trends – knowing what the current trends are – Parallex scrolling?  Flat design?

If you’d like more details on each of the 10 items, then check out our report:

Button that links to the Top 10 Skills Report

 

 

 

What do you think? Do you agree? What would you add or take away from the list?

 

Obstacles To User Experience Success

Have you ever been the User Experience point person on a product team and found yourself explaining over and over again what it is you are actually doing? Working with a team that doesn’t “get” user experience is one of the obstacles to creating a great user experience.

I talk about that obstacle plus a few more, as well as what to do about them, in this video. It’s one lesson in my latest course course called “An Introduction To User Experience”. And the entire course is FREE.

Even if you are an experienced UX professional you might enjoy this video and the whole course.

In the video I talk about three obstacles:

  • Working with a team that doesn’t “get” what UX is
  • Being a UX team of One
  • Not having a high level advocate in the organization

What do you think? Have you experienced these obstacles? More? Others?

If you know someone who needs to learn about UX, what it is and why it’s important, point them to the free course on our TeamW Courses page!