Earlier in the year I had the good fortune of presenting to a class from the University of Technology, Sydney’s Interaction Design course. As someone who occasionally hires designers, experience in user testing and a sincere integration of users in the design process is what makes candidates stand out. Why? Because this is what reduces errors, minimizes IT and build change requests and helps ensure users can understand and use our products. It’s a mistake to think something has to be detailed and almost production ready to be tested. Test ideas, test sketches, test digital, test services. Test early, iteratively and often.
“UX proponents tell tall tales about how good design really takes place. Bottom-up, evidentiary design implies that the designer is ultimately unnecessary, a mere facilitator who draws out a solution from the collective… And top-down, genius design becomes indistinguishable from salesmanship. As a result, design dissolves into other, more established disciplines like business intelligence, product marketing, and corporate evangelism. It’s an error that makes good design look far easier and more replicable than it really is. And worse, it allows people to conclude that their own expertise from data analytics to advertising to illustration is a sufficient stand-in for design.”
Should you be a UX designer, a UI designer, a visual designer, a front end coder, or a back end coder? Can you be all of them? Can you be a few of them?
I’m looking forward to seeing what Stan, Presto, and of course Netflix have to offer avid Australian movie and TV watchers like myself. I’m a ripe candidate for all of these new services: I don’t subscribe to Foxtel (can’t get cable at home), I haven’t bothered to bypass geo-location blocks to access US Netflix, I don’t want to download illegally, I don’t have an Apple TV (love hate relationship with Apple, hate relationship with iTunes), and I’m ready to see what else there is besides Quickflix for more than a few reasons.
There are some great UX/UCD resources online — my favourites to date have been Service Design Tools and more recently UX Mastery. But today I was knocked out by the phenomenal effort to define and encapsulate design research activities in a cohesive project framework. It was all revealed by a rather innocuous tweet that did not quite foretell the brilliance ahead.
Time and again I see requirements mixed with specifications. The rule of thumb taught to designers is that requirements shouldn’t specify or suggest the solution.
While I was a student I worked in retail. At one store we were encouraged (forgive me if you hate sales assistants) to ask open questions to invite conversation. It’s harder that it sounds. Years later while being trained in user research we were encouraged to ask why. Not only why, but as many whys as we could … and you know why … to get to the root cause, that deep fundamental driver of behaviour. Of course this too is not as easy as it sounds. Unless you’re a charming 5 year old asking why can sound pretty obnoxious and being asked why can make anyone feel quite defensive. I’m guessing advice like this has its roots in the famous 5 Whys, which I take to be a tool of analysis, not a script. If you disagree with anything here, or have more to add please say so in the comments.
Debriefing as soon as possible after your research encounter is vital. Push yourself beyond first impressions with these 10 questions.
I have a BUNCH of notes from books and articles I have read on design research. I had reason to revisit them all recently when I was writing a training course and thought to share them as a set of reference tools for others, you dear reader, and as a memory boost for me on our next field trip.