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.

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6 mistakes companies make when working with a UX agency or consultant

So, you want want to create a great user experience? The truth is, it doesn’t matter how great of a user experience design team you hire.

The success of your UX project lies as much on your shoulders as it does on the team or person that you hired.

I’ve worked both internally at startups of all sizes. I’ve also consulted with a lot of companies through my freelance UX consulting practice. After years of experience, I’ve identified some common mistakes that companies make when working with a UX company or consultant.

I promise you, if you don’t make these mistakes, you’ll set your UX team or consultant up to create a great experience for your product.

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Product Strategy Lessons Learned From Google Plus

Last week, news broke that Vic Gundotra, head of Google+, would be leaving the company. A lot of articles have been written based on speculation about what will happen to Google+ and whether or not it will continue as a social product or instead if all the components (photos, Hangouts, etc) will act as individual products.

One article that I found really insight was written by a former Google intern named Danny Crichton. Upon graduating from Stanford, Crichton was a product management intern and worked on search within Google+. Crichton identifies a few early indicators as to why Google+ may have lacked an appropriate product strategy from the beginning.

Regardless of whether you’re an entrepreneur who has a product idea or you’ve already launched a product and are working on growth, this article is a must read. The nature of your role doesn’t matter (founder, developer, or designer) the lessons outlined in this article are applicable to everyone who contributes to the product development.Continue reading

Introducing Startup Series: A Day Long Event on the Product Process

Startup Series - Charming Robot

When I was 27 I moved to NYC to join my first start up. Want to know what our biggest mistake was? First, we tried to figure everything out on our own. Second, we didn’t launch soon enough. Third, our product was anything but “minimal”, I think we actually went for Maximum Viable Product! I know, I know, pretty crazy.

I’m glad I had that experience because it’s helped me have a lot of advice and stories for people as they build their startups and products. I’m super passionate about helping entrepreneurs, founders, designs, developers, and anyone who works at a startup avoid these mistakes. Hopefully, they end up doing a few more things right that we did, and in turn, give their products a greater chance of success.

My friends at Charming Robot, a leading UX Agency in New York City, share this passion for educating people about the product design process. They’ve created an amazing day long event, Startup Series, which will take place on Saturday, May 10 in New York City.Continue reading

User Experience: Systems Before Screens

The field of user experience is still fairly new and it’s exciting time be in the industry. But, with all the growing awareness and interest in the field, we need to do a better job at educating people on what user experience is.

Most people who aren’t in the industry would likely lean more towards defining user experience as how it looks and a few more knowledgeable people might also include function in their definition.

Why is this so important?

The truth is, a user experience designer can help set the course for a product, app, or service. But, there are many individual contributors who add and influence pieces of the user experience. There are copywriters, graphic designers, interface designers, front end developers, engineers, marketers, the list goes on.Continue reading

Getting Started In UX: On Becoming Technically Literate

A few years ago I developed and taught General Assembly’s first 12 week user experience course along with Dan Maccarone. One of the classes focused on development and in that class, I spoke about the need to become technically literate.

I started my career learning HTML, CSS, and Cold Fusion. In hindsight, I am so very thankful and thrilled that my career path involved getting technical. Through the process of learning to code, I realized some very important lessons and skills that I use every single day. Here are some of the things I learned as a result of becoming (and staying) technically literate. Continue reading

Getting Started In User Experience: It Will Never Be Perfect

One of the biggest mistakes that we made at my first company was that we tried to get it perfect on the first try. Countless months were spent trying to make every single interaction, page, and pixel just p-e-r-f-e-c-t. If we’d only known! This was before MVP became a term people used on a daily basis. I’ll never forget a moment when I was talking with a former team member and they said “I wish we’d just started this as an iPhone app and then built a full product.”

The hard truth is that when you have an idea, it’s easy for it to just build and build and build in your mind. It’s just like when you are telling a story and you keep adding to the story with “and then, and then, and then”.

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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