Experiments: Why You Shouldn’t Focus On The Right Or Wrong

When was the last time you decided to run an experiment? If you’re like me, it was probably a long time ago.

I’m the type of person who has a ton of ideas, but I often don’t make time to act on my ideas. And they get tucked away in a notebook and left there. That is … until I stumble upon someone else on the Internet who’s done my idea! Then, I beat myself up and think, “if I’d only started 6 months ago, think of where I’d be.” 

Continue reading

2 Simple Ways To Bring More Clarity To Communication

This week I read a great article in Wired about the concept of simplicity and how in design, simplicity is overrated. I loved this part of the article:

… a major factor in screaming matches between people is the lack of a shared definition of a key term. ‘Clean’ for example, can be measured in degrees. Then there’s the word ‘simple’. Two people can have very different definitions of a word like that.

Continue reading

The Danger of Habituation in UX & 3 Tips For Avoiding It

The Danger of Habituation To UX & 3 Tips To Avoid It

For product designers, success is all about seeing the details. Every detail is an opportunity to shape the experience that someone will have when they engage in your product. But before you can design the details, you first have to see the details.

With the rise in our use of technology, our brains are simply overwhelmed with information, and though I don’t have data on this, my guess is that it makes our brains really tired. And as a result, we easily fail to see the details that actually matter.Continue reading

Five Websites For User Experience Inspiration

A lot of people ask me where I get user experience inspirations.

A blank whiteboard can be really daunting and a lot of times I too feel lost when I am first working on a project. But, the more projects you work on, the more ideas and inspirations you’ll have in your brain.

I’ve found that it’s critical to organize all your user experience inspirations. So,  I always have an inspiration folder on Dropbox for each project I work on. In that folder, I put whiteboard drawings and paper sketches, screenshots from sites and apps I find helpful, articles, and any other artifacts that I find inspirational. Then, when I feel stuck, I just browse through my inspiration folder to see if something sparks an idea.Continue reading

Why The Pre-Product Phase Matters To Product Development

Recently Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures wrote a post called “The Pre-Product Phase” in which he outlined a key weakness he says he has, mainly the inability to fully understand a product and it’s potential when that product is presented through wireframes, sketches, fully designed screens, etc.

As a result, he says that he prefers to invest in products that are created in code — products that actually function so he can try them out and have them come to life for him as a user. He goes on to say that he has “pretty much given up investing in products that aren’t ready for public use.”

For the record, Fred is not saying that wireframes, sketches, and designs don’t have value. He’s just saying that for him, he has a hard time grasping a product and understanding it’s viability without experiencing the product in real time —  fully coded and fully functioning.Continue reading

Getting Started In User Experience: A Usability Research Example

For people who are just getting started in user experience, I think one area that can seem daunting is usability research. To put it simply, usability research is the process of evaluating how people perceive and use a product — drawing insights from observing them interact with it.

It doesn’t have to be a overly complicated, time consuming, or expensive process. However, I don’t advocate the “coffee shop” method that some people talk about. Sitting in a Starbucks and asking random people what they think of your product is not taking into account the most important factor of all — who that person is and whether or not they are the intended type of person for your product.

Sure, if you want a quick gut reaction or a set of fresh eyes, I suppose the coffee shop method is good. But please, please, please consider the context of that feedback! I’ve seen a few bad ideas be validated or good ideas be ruined by this exercise!Continue reading

Moving From Perfection To Purpose

A very important lesson I’ve learned throughout my career is this:  it will never be perfect. 

Yes, it’s hard for me to admit that! But, over time I’ve learned this is best for the business and user.

Earlier in my career, I remember the temptation to hold a design or feature launch until it was perfect. I remember sitting with a founder and reviewing designs in Photoshop with him pointing out every little pixel to perfect. The truth is, many of the changes were so subtle that they wouldn’t even matter once the design got to the browser. Many of the designs were purely form and had nothing to do with function.

I can’t believe I just typed that because I believe in beautiful design. But it’s not enough to look nice. Design must perform. Design must inform. Design must transform someone from being an acquaintance to an actual user and ideally an ambassador.

Purposeful design trumps beautiful design.Continue reading

Managing Input & The Art Of Pushback

art of pushback

The art of pushback is a topic that I learned about through a very personal experience. As a user experience designer, one thing you become very good at is managing input. It is your job to listen to and identify problems, design solutions, and gather and evaluate input from everyone involved.

But, what happens when the input isn’t quite applicable to the project at hand? What happens when you have to say “no” to input that some people provide?

Saying “no” to someone else’s idea is never easy.Continue reading