UX

What NASA Knows About Great UX Management

What NASA Knows About Great UX Management

In the 1970s, NASA undertook an assessment of airline pilot performance. They needed to understand why pilot error had become the leading cause of airline accidents. What they learned helped make commercial air travel one of the safest modes of transport in the U.S. today. Their research shed light on the importance of workload, leadership and communication — integral aspects of running successful UX engagements. What can we learn from this seminal research? Balancing Workloads Research found the best performing airline captains kept tabs on their crew’s workload. Interestingly, pilot error wasn’t typically due to lack of skill or knowledge of proper…

Book Notes: Dark Matter and Trojan Horses

Book Notes: Dark Matter and Trojan Horses

Notes (quotes, really) from Dan Hill’s Dark Matter and Trojan Horses. A Strategic Design Vocabulary. Some of these are a tad out of context. I’d read the book if I were you. It’s very good, short and has both high level strategy ideas and lower level tactical examples. What gives designers the right to approach such complex areas, usually the domain of political scientists and civil servants? Aren’t these essentially beyond the capacity and capability — if not remit — of design? Culture is not something that can be designed, after all; is it even ethical to consider that it could be? However, a…

UX Agencies Sell (and Clients Buy) Informed Decision Making

UX Agencies Sell (and Clients Buy) Informed Decision Making

What is User Experience (UX)? UX is a process, an approach, a way of thinking and an outcome. Outcome, in particular, is the key aspect to UX’s value. Are you solving a real problem? Are you tackling something meaningful to people? Are you bettering the organization, the system, the… whatever? I hope so. Otherwise, you’re selling an inferior product (be it a physical thing, a service, an idea, etc.). Let’s also be clear that outcomes are not journey maps or competitive analyses or any number of other artifacts that will be generated during the course of a project. As much…

UX Design and Congress are More Similar Than You Think

UX Design and Congress are More Similar Than You Think

I listened to this interview with retiring US Representative Rush Holt and it struck me how well his viewpoint could be applied to client services. Holt makes the case that his time in Congress was one where he would apply his ethics publicly (and he admits that he came up short from time to time). Similarly, client services is also an arena where you apply your ethics. Ethics can, of course, encompass how you treat people, your business practices, etc. but they should also encompass your principles and convictions. The process you use, your client interactions and your company’s culture…

Change and the Habit of the Present

Christina Wodtke gave some needed depth to an old cliché: people don’t like change. Whether or not change is adopted, she argues, is not determined by a simplistic and innate dislike for new things. It’s determined by how well the change is communicated and how smoothly people transition to it. Wodtke writes: “…when a big change comes, the end user is focused on what they have lost: productivity, comfort, familiarity. And the user weighs that loss as three times more important that any gain that company professes to offer.” Her thoughts are like those that underly the ‘habit of the…

Bad Feedback

I visited Ustream’s website and needed to update my password. The form they offered to do so indicated that what I entered wouldn’t work. The error it gave me said I used an illegal character, but they didn’t indicate what character was the issue. I’m left to guess what character is problematic. Why not tell me? Why set my expectation that I was entering a valid password (“Password strength: high”) next to the form field only to find out that it wouldn’t work? A better site experience would work like this: as I’m typing, the site tells me an issue…

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…

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…

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