Posts by: Mike Rivera

Now That’s What I Call Diligent Customer Research

Get out of the building indeed: I specialize in [designing] downtowns, and when I am hired to make a downtown plan, I like to move there with my family, preferably for at least a month. There are many reasons to move to a city while you plan it. First, it’s more efficient in terms of travel and setting up meetings, something that can become very expensive. Second, it allows you to truly get to know a place, to memorize every building, street, and block. It also gives you the chance to get familiar with the locals over coffee, dinners in…

The Trouble With Surveys

I received this survey from Diana Degette in one of her regular newsletters. It’s designed so poorly that you have to ask yourself “who would consider the results from this survey seriously?” Well, politicians would, that’s who. You can ask a simple yes/no question on a survey, but the responses need to be yes and no. With this survey, both yes and no come with qualifiers that distort the true meaning of yes and no relative to the question asked. By including subjective qualifiers, the range of possible answers grows well beyond what’s presented and clearly skews any results received….

Denver Startup Week Panel Session

I had the privilege to sit alongside visual designer Geoff Thomas, developer Sean Dougherty and fellow UXer Jim Orsi as the panelists for the Caffeine, Bits & Pixels: Design & Tech Breakfast Panel, one of the many great sessions during this year’s Denver Startup Week. The discussion covered a lot of ground, but was grounded in a common theme, that of the benefits of agile/lean work practices. It was readily evident that the industry is quickly moving past a waterfall process and all of its inherent side effects toward a much more inclusive, collaborative and responsive mentality. It’s powering the ability of web…

Photoshop’s blend modes explained

I’ve used Photoshop for so long, I used to keep a backup copy of it on a floppy disk. Nonetheless, I’ve never really known how the blend modes worked. I simply experimented until wither my file looked the way I wanted it or I abandoned the exploration altogether (which was usually the case). Decades later, I come across this explanation. Too bad I don’t design much anymore.

Tips on Search Marketing

Organic search is becoming less important than paid search. Consider the typical sales funnel: awareness > research > consideration > decision Search works best in the research phase, it’s not good at awareness SEO advantages No incremental cost to traffic People click on them more Once you reach ranking you don’t have to do much to maintain it SEO disadvantages Less control over timing & landing page experience Can be difficult to rank for a broad range of categories Content is what ultimately matters in SEO, but if you are perceived not to have authority, great content won’t matter much…

Book Notes: Playful Design

Here are some highlights I took from John Ferrara’s book Playful Design: Creating Game Experiences in Everyday Interfaces. The elements of great game UX Motivation: There needs to be a reason to play, a goal. Meaningful choices: You need to be able to influence the outcome of the game through your choices. Partial ambiguity can work well here (eg. I don’t know what will happen if I do X, but I’ll take the chance because I have a reasonable expectation of what will happen). Balance: How well do aspects of the game work together to create an experience where the…

State of Social Media at DU

As I make my exit from the University of Denver, I’ve decided to write one last series of posts outlining what I consider the state of social media at the university. To do so, I’d like to use The Community Roundtable’s Community Maturity Model as a starting point. The model is part of the Roundtable’s 2012 State of Community Management report. Below is the model with my determination of where DU sits. One caveat: I’ve ranked DU as a whole in this illustration rather than my department- MarComm- specifically. There’s a lot of variance in terms of social media sophistication across campus, so you…

Book Notes: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

Cognitive friction: the resistance encountered by a human intellect when it engages with a complex system of rules that change as the problem changes. “#1 goal of all computer users is to not feel stupid.” Larry Keeley’s three qualities for high tech products: Capability: what can be done? Supplied by technologists. Viability: what can we sell? Supplied by business people. Desirability: what do people want? Supplied by designers. Need and desire are not the same. Desire leads to loyalty. Designing for a minority of users leads to success rather than attempting to accommodate all users. Specificity is key. Find a…

Mastering Difficult Situations

Aside from the ever present issue that decks aren’t nearly as good without the accompanying audio, this is still great advice. And since the audio is missing, I like to add audio in my head as I read the slides. For this one, I chose Marlon Brando’s slow and deliberate pacing that feels nonchalant yet wise and worth your attention. Your mileage may vary on that choice.

Car bumpers are stupid

I was in a fender bender last weekend. An SUV backed up into my Accord denting the hood with its bumper. Question: what’s the point of car bumpers if they don’t meet at a standard height?

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