Have you seen the new site?

Four months have pasted since I migrated this blog, I am very proud of what it has become and even more thankful for all of the support my followers have shown. If you have not taken a look already, check it out!



UX Video Review

Just watched a video I would like to share that was presented by Scout Stevenson who is the creative director at ExtensionEngine, where he and his team take a strategic approach in developing creative marketing solutions that engage users visually while driving business results.

In this video he introduces user experience and as I have noted before, spent just as much time looking at whats it is as he did “selling it”.

Right off the bat he had a great was of describing what UX is, through a “math problem”. He argued that “Business Goals” + “User Goals” + “User Interface” + “Technology” = “User Experience”. I thought that his model was spot on. Not only spot on but also an amazing way of hitting UX from many perspectives with one statement. He got across the purpose and importance very nicely and in unison.

Most of the video worked through what UX is by looking at the 5 planes of UX; strategy, scope, structure, skeleton, and surface. These 5 planes represent a hierarchical manner in which the user experience is developed. The process works from “abstract to concrete” steps. It was very interesting to work from why something was going to be done all the way to the visual design which housed things like functional specs, information architecture, and navigation design which all came from previous “planes”.

CHIFOO meetup #2

speaker at meetup

Another CHOFOO meet up! As expected it was a great presentation, given by Whitney Quesenbery. Following the theme of applying storytelling to UX tonights focus was on using personas. Before diving into the surprisingly interesting topic the meeting went through its regular procedure; sharing what prizes would be given and offering a chance to perspective employers to announce job openings. Reminding me once again that I am so happy/lucky to be investing in such a thriving and fun field or “work”!

Whitney’s presentation was quite interesting to listen to… she had me listening quickly by pulling out a Norman diagram. She spoke of how data needs to be translated, which was a topic that we had not only covered in class but also something I had given great attention to. She was tying in this fact with how personas can help give proper context. That using the correct imagery you can not only give insight as to what the subject is but also connect with corresponding audience. She stated that a persona can fill the gaps in between what you do in-fact know and don’t.

While there were numerous great takeaways, I must say the true highlight for me was when she said,

Our brain creates its own reality

This is not only the singular greatest thing she could have tied in with her presentation, but also a notion that I deeply believe and care for. Applied to personas the idea rang very true, and as she noted, creating such a reality in the users mind leads to action. That was the greatest takeaway for me, that “personas embody data” and give richer understanding, involve real needs, are more persuasive, put a person in the center of the process/situation.

I’m excited to get out for the next meet up!

Issues in the UX field

The primary issue you will see in the UX field is the need for UX professionals to not only have to be skilled in UX but also in selling the need for UX. Did you notice that through out Rocket Surgery Made Easy and the “what is UX video” I posted, most of the information is orientated toward why UX is useful and should be embraced. Best stated by my UX professor, “people don’t see how important UX is to the bottom-line”.

Patrick, a classmate of mine expanded upon this by saying,

This phenomena brings about a paradox in which there is a struggle to make progress in the field because,  the very people that we have to convince that there is value in UX are the ones dictating the structure of our education. Our field its then directly influenced by them. With a system like this in place, how do you make progression in this field?

We covered this subject, among many others, today in class.

By the end of class we had a whole list of questions to answer.

  1. How do you find out more about how one can attain and utilize a UX skill set if UX is not their primary job responsibility?
  2. How would prospective employers quantify the “nonacademic attributes: intrinsic qualities” (pg. 76) they’re looking for? Other than listing your soft skills is there a recommended way to document them?
  3. The report mentions being a great communicator as a plus. What are some good methods by which a person can improve their communication skills and what kinds of communication skills are especially useful in the UX field?
  4. In the report it is stated that many times a career path in usability is not always clear.  Are career paths becoming more available?
  5. Do you foresee a day where a UX professional will be in a better position to be heading towards a management career path in a company?
  6. What steps are collegiate business programs taking to incorporate UX practices and skill sets into their programs?
  7. Are their entry level positions in UX where one is primarily involved in User testing?  And if so,  how does one train, locate and attain such a position?
  8. Only six respondents have done work in the field of robotics. Why isn’t robotics a larger field yet? Have movies like Blade Runner and I, Robot scared people away from the desire for humanoid robotics?
  9. How badly can an idiotic user screw up testing?
  10. A lot of UX jobs are self-employed if some one hires you as a UX tester what are the typical deliverables?
  11. How can I mold my work  experiences (examples from the military,  as a professional in the trades who did troubleshooting)  that may seem unrelated, appear useful and valuable to employers?
Let these questions sit in the back of your mind a while…We intend to work out answers in the near future, so stay tuned.

Rocket Surgery Made Easy – Looking back

Today is the day I had to finish Krug’s “Rocket Surgery Made Easy” by, but if you follow my blog you know I finished it months ago. In the spirit of being knowledgeable and well prepared I am going to look back at the book this morning. As mentioned by Joe Seeber, each time you look at a book you are a different person that will take away new things…

By the end of the first chapter when I initially read the book I wrote down, “I am a bit weary of the journey I am about to take; how will it change me and my approaches toward developing sites? I feel like I need to take this book “with a grain of sand” so to speak. ” Now however I swear by the book, and could not recommend enough that you read it! It is certainty the goto guide to user experience testing, capitalizing on simplicity and use of  accessible tools.

Early in the book there is a link to a demo video of a UX test being done and throughout the rest of the book it is broken apart into modular parts. It becomes clear watching the video that UX is easy, and if a handful of rules are followed there is no way to really mess things up!

That being said, the first rule given was to simply do the testing and not make a big deal of it, “A morning a month, that’s all we ask” was the Krug left to embody this concept. Before the book ever said how to test it said test, test, test, and test some more!

I was excited both the first and second time reading the book to get to the actual testing. We of course started with the basics by looking at who we would be testing with and what we would be testing for. It turns out that about 3 people (any 3) and a few specific goals of the site should be used each testing cycle, embracing a broad range of people as well as web site goals.

At this point the book provided an amazing resource, a check list to help you prepare for testing and be sure it runs smoothly. A whole chapter was dedicated to this subject, rightfully so.

On the note of check-lists the book worked its way into performing the actual test which was recommended to have just as much (more!) structure as our prep. Each test participant should feel welcome and encouraged to share during testing, getting them to and keeping them in that state of being is the administrator’s job.  These responsibilities were best summed up by Krug in 4 bullet points

  1. You’re trying to get them to externalize their thought process
  2. You’re trying to not influence them
  3. You will say the same few things over and over
  4. You have ethical responsibilities (respect them, and know there limits)

On top of testing there comes a responsibility to make a difference by fixing what you learned was not working. Before this comes you need  the support and collaboration from your team.  This means you need to get them in and see the test, understand what should be taken away from it and then…

Do the least you can do.

Fix things, but don’t kill yourself by making it a huge project. Just get it done! This is the whole approach that the book took to every aspect of UX, embrace it!

The book ends by looking at how to ensure your work does not go to waste, basic management of goals, tasks, and coworkers mostly…


I am excited to do some really UX testing in the next few weeks and share how it goes with you!

*if you made it through this whole post and find yourself wanting the book, I would be happy to lend it out too you!



Make your blog work for you

I am just amazed to see what blogging as capable of… did you know that I created this article in my spare time, along with many others, and set when I wanted it to post? I can create enough material in one sitting to successfully keep my blog active for a whole week! Not only that but I can reference several of my other posts to maximize both the efficiency and traffic with in my blog. I have made countless connection through it, foresee things only getting better, and can not get enough of it! If I could do nothing but blog all day I probably would!

I highly recommend investing in blogging!

What I put in versus what I get out is almost unfathomable… It seems as if each article I put out and each new thing I learn serves to make my life that much better! I can not wait to learn more!