My Podcast Debut: An Interview About UX With Talking Code

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed for the Talking Code podcast. If you’re not familiar with Talking Code, it’s really awesome. Created by Josh Smith and Venkat Dinavahi of Coderly, Talking Code aims to help decode and demystify product and technical development.

When they asked me to be on the podcast, I was thrilled because I’m a huge fan of making big topics approachable and trying to talk about things in plain English so people can really understand and learn.Continue reading

Identifying Your Product Story: Try This MadLibs Style Activity

Creating a great user experience starts before you ever have a single brainstorm, whiteboard session, or sketch a wireframe. One of the most important parts to creating a great user experience for any product is establishing the story of why the product exists and what the product does.

We’ve all heard the term “value proposition” but, sometimes I question the value of our value propositions.

I work with a variety of clients and do some teaching so I’m exposed to a lot of product ideas. One of the main problems I encounter is that teams often have a great idea, but the idea lacks enough focus to be a great product. Why? Because so many times we get excited by our ideas and see the vision of where the product could be in 3 years, and we forget that we need to start small.

Some common mistakes I see people make are thinks like using generations and vague statements. For example, have you ever heard someone describe their product as being for “soccer moms” or “millennials” or some other stereotypical phrase? Or, here’s one I bet we’ve all heard … “it’s like Pinterest for _______”.

Another mistake I see is when people talk about a project in terms of it’s features and not why those features will matter to the intended user. Too many times we become mesmerized with how the product will work and not why it exists.

We need to stop talking like this! Why?

Well, because speaking about our products without specificity allows room for assumption and re-interpretation of the idea. When this happens, you end up with a disjointed product and experience.

Remember when you were a child and you played the “telephone game” where everyone sat in a circle and whispered a phrase in each others ears? Then, at the end of the game someone would say the word or phrase and it would be wildly different from what it started out as.Continue reading

What Science Says About The Effect of Stories On Our Brains

Storytelling is quite the buzz word right now, and to me, it’s almost reached the level of being cliché. It seems most chatter about storytelling focuses on how to talk about your product to consumers … but I want to go a step further and focus on how storytelling can be applied to our process of creating products.

I know that if a lot of people were to approach their colleagues or bosses about applying tactics from storytelling to the product development process, they wouldn’t get a lot of support. Many people dismiss the idea of storytelling. But the truth is, there is real science that supports the power of stories.

Think about a time when someone told you a story that you just couldn’t stop thinking about — a movie or a book. Continue reading

Slides from my talk at Asbury Agile 2013

I had the pleasure of being a speaker at Asbury Agile 2013 in Asbury Park last week.

My talk focused on storytelling in product development. Now, I know storytelling is a bit of a buzzword and has reached cliché status. But, I wanted to dig a little bit deeper and see how we can use elements of storytelling not just as a way to talk to consumers about out product, but as a way to help the teams who create the products function more efficiently and create better products.Continue reading

A Lesson From Shark Tank: What happens when you don’t have a great product story

I’m a huge fan of Shark Tank (and the Canadian version called Dragon’s Den). Apart from the interesting product and business ideas, what I find more fascinating is the quality of the pitches. It’s clear that some people really have a clear vision of why their product exists — the promise to their customers — and how it delivers on that promise.

But, every now and then, there’s a entrepreneur who simply cannot articulate their business or idea. I find this truly amazing!!! I’m sure part of it has to do with casting, and for entertainment value they need to have a few entrepreneurs who the sharks might just attack! But, there’s a lot that can be learned from these ill prepared individuals.Continue reading