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!

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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!

 

 

A few videos were just shared with me; they were interviewing Richard Saul Wurman, the creator of Ted Talk. I loved what this man had to say.

That the key to creating/designing great things is to first design your life.

I touched on this in a post on simplifying your life, the concept rings very true. Think about how conducive a well fitted lifestyle is to success, it almost goes without saying. However, you often have to take a step back and look at the simple things to get oriented. It’s all too easy to cloud your judgment and draw faulty correlation’s as to why you are struggling with something.

Have you taken a step back and looked at your life lately?

UX – Putting it all to use!

You have seen me blogging endlessly about user experience design, today you get to see some of what that all goes toward!

I’m very excited to share with every one a project I am working on! I am fortunate enough to be a part of an extremely involved web development program at Clark College. Not only is my user experience class taught by Robert Hughes, the director of my program, but many of my other classes are taught by people who are truly working in the industry. I am taught WordPress by Lorelle VanFossen,  who helped develop WordPress itself! I learned all of my coding skills from Bruce Elgort, who owns a software company called Elguji among many other successes (to say the least). The project I am working on now has so much support that we have had the library staff and even the president of Clark College come into class and see what we are up to.

So what are we working on?

Our class is working with the library to rework their search page! A seemingly simple task that much is going into. We are not only changing the look but doing so is correlation with the movement toward  a new way of connecting users with the material they are looking for. What we do will be the face of a the libraries’ next big step to accommodate changing times and technologies. There is an article on Clark’s site covering what we are doing if your interested!

Here is what we are working with…

clark library site (looks rough)

Here is what our group envisions to be best…

our mock up of what the site should look like
*This is of course a mock-up, to be developed much further

Amongst a group of me and three other students ( including Jesse Byars) this is what we came up with. Later this week we will Continue reading

I have done one thing since waking up; rework my blog. I have learned a lot in the past month about blogging and grow more and more fond of it each day. I feel like I have takes a huge step forward with what I have done. I reworked EVERY post to be sure it was tagged and formatted correctly and embraced a new theme. My hopes are that this will make my site easier to navigate and more ascetically pleasing. Enjoy!

Designing in the moment – Ch1

This chapter started out by reiterating the simple fact that,

A first impression lasts a life time

Every one knows that a first impression is important, and this holds especially true in regard to a website. I have heard many numbers in attempting to figure out how long users take to decide if they are going stay on your site. Who cares if its ten seconds or less than one second, the fact of the matter is that its important. So that being said let’s jump into looking at the books first few tips that will work to keep users on your site.

First and foremost the layout of the site comes into play. Every one knows that layout makes a huge difference in experience and that cluttered of confusing layouts are dreadful. In the book we start by looking at a sites layout and critiquing it so that important fields were properly sized for their content. The most important parts of the site were then capitalized on, every site has something its trying to promote, from products to site subscription; these are the calls to action. We can accent those by doing many things, namely making them large, repetitive, and/or having a accenting color. On top of those ideas there was one last concept introduced… that our eyes naturally work through the site from the top to the bottom and left to right simultaneously. A layout that compliments all of these aspects is sure to bring good results.