How Are You Getting Your Team on the Same Page?

Jared Spool

October 8th, 2015

While developing the topics and workshop leaders for this year’s User Interface 20 Conference in Boston, November 2–4, I realized that a general theme was emerging—getting everyone on the same page about your designs. Here’s how each workshop at UI20 contributes to this theme:

If getting your team on the same page is critical for your design success, then you won’t want to miss this year’s UI20 conference. Go explore the full-day workshops and discover how they can make your team stronger and more in sync.

Modern Layouts: Getting Out of Our Ruts – Jen Simmons’ October 15 Virtual Seminar

Adam Churchill

October 8th, 2015

We’re in a rut. Web design solves problem by mirroring what’s always been done. This means reusing the same layouts again and again. And again. But it doesn’t have to be this way! In Modern Layouts: Getting Out of Our Ruts, Jen Simmons rallies web professionals to take a fresh approach.

Attend this seminar if you want to:

  • Find inspiration beyond what already exists
  • Use the ideas you had but didn’t think you could use on the web
  • Shake up your layouts with tools available today
  • Create something beautiful and fresh

Save your spot in this October 15 virtual seminar.


UIE Article: Prioritizing Opportunities Across the Customer’s Experience

Jared Spool

October 7th, 2015

In today’s article, I discuss how service design helps teams get on the same page about the context of their work.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Breaking large efforts into small teams makes sense. However, it also creates silos of effort. The outcome is a disjointed user experience. Employing a service design approach helps feed information into the project prioritization process, to ensure a better experience.

Read the article: Prioritizing Opportunities Across the Customer’s Experience.

How could you re-prioritize to provide a better user experience? Leave us a note below.

Aligning Your Team with Design Systems and Style Guides

Jared Spool

October 2nd, 2015

Nathan Curtis, co-founder of EightShapes, has worked with component libraries and style guides for years. He says that when you’re thinking about all the platforms that comprise the totality of an experience, these patterns (such as a sign-in form, or elements like buttons) need to be more broadly applicable. It’s one thing to create the structure and layout, then thread all the pieces together for a single app or web page, but when that app needs to scale across platforms, it suddenly becomes a very different animal.

Recently, I interviewed Nathan on design systems and style guides. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

Oftentimes, style guide refers to a core part, or a foundation of the library of parts that everybody has at their disposal. People have been building those for years. It’s been 10 years since I worked with the team, and they had a massive component library.

All these component libraries aren’t new, but they’re starting to get used by more and more people. When you start to think about all the people that participate in that, and all the products they apply these things to, suddenly you have to think more systematically, and that’s where the term “design system” comes from.

Listen to the full interview or read the transcript.

In Nathan Curtis’ workshop, Building Scalable Design Systems and Style Guides, you’ll learn how to:

  • Create a library to articulate standards across all product lines
  • Identify and prioritize patterns for product consistency
  • Use cross-product standards to design and build better products

See what else you’ll do during Nathan’s full day workshop at the User Interface Conference, November 2 in Boston.

Using Journey Maps to Visualize the Path a Customer Takes

Jared Spool

October 1st, 2015

Communication is at the heart of service design and Marc Stickdorn knows the core of it is getting everyone on the same page. He says that the importance of this lies in the fact that customer experiences sometimes aren’t tangible—a user or customer could be experiencing an internal event. It’s important to understand how different customers come in contact with the design.

One way of determining that is with a customer journey map. Being able to visualize the path a customer takes while interacting with your product is a powerful thing.

A few weeks ago I interviewed Marc Stickdorn on this topic. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

The journey map is as good as the data we use to create it. When we talk about journey mapping and getting everybody on the same page, we also need to make sure that the customer has a word in there. That means that we either have data about the customer, solid data, not so much talking about content of data, but rather qualitative research methods, ethnographic research, to really understand, “What is their experience?” from a customer perspective, step-by-step throughout the whole journey. Then based on this data, we can start to redesign or improve it.

Listen to the full interview with Marc or read the transcript.

In Marc Stickdorn’s workshop, Service Design: Creating Delightful Cross-Channel Experiences, you’ll learn how to:

  • Redesign the service experience using journey maps as the starting point
  • Map customer satisfaction and engagement throughout the customer journey
  • Sketch possible solutions to improve on top-priority problem areas in the journey
  • Make cheap, fast prototypes to test in the context of the service situation

See what else you’ll do during Marc’s full day workshop at the User Interface Conference, November 2 in Boston.

UIE Article: Service Design – Pushing Us Beyond the Familiar

Jared Spool

September 30th, 2015

In a conventional UX approach, we’d focus on the bits. With service design, we go beyond and think about the cross-channel experience. Today’s article discusses the intricacies of service design and why you need to pay attention to it.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

User research isn’t the only aspect of digital UX practice that we need to change when we start doing service design work. We need to look at how we prototype services, how we think about the information organized in the service delivery, how the service looks, and what behaviors we want each party to have when interacting in our designed experience.

Read the article: Service Design: Pushing Us Beyond the Familiar.

How have you blended your digital and non-digital channels to create better user experiences? Leave us a note below.

It All Comes down to Aligning Your Organization

Jared Spool

September 29th, 2015

If you don’t understand how users are interacting with your product or service, you don’t know what to design for. But how, as a team, do you come to that understanding? Telling the story of a user’s journey highlights areas where you’re right on point and where you’re missing the mark. And it’s a great way to get everyone on the same page.

A few weeks ago I got together with Kim Goodwin where we discussed how journey maps and storytelling plays into scenarios and the design process. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

If we focus on the story of what this particular human being that we’re envisioning is doing—what do they see and encounter—it doesn’t matter how the back end
does it.

It doesn’t matter what technology we use because we’re just getting at the gist [of the story]. That helps keep requirements at the right level instead of having teams that do requirements that are actual lists of solutions instead of lists of problems that must be solved.

Listen to the podcast interview or read the transcript.

In Kim Goodwin’s workshop, Using Scenarios to Solve Problems, you’ll learn how to:

  • Create journey maps to understand the users’ current experience
  • Dig into how scenario-driven design gets teams on the same page
  • Generate delightful design solutions using the power of storytelling

Help Designers and Developers Learn to Understand Each Other

Jared Spool

September 29th, 2015

The notion of being a “designer who can code” has been a prevalent topic in recent years. One of the greatest benefits of using CSS is speaking the same language as your developers. Having this common language aids in creating a more collaborative feel to conversations with developers versus dictating to them what to do.

Being able to use just enough code to create an interface element that not only shows how it should look and work but actually displays it in action, is a powerful communication tool.

Recently I interviewed Jenn Lukas on this very topic. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

When we understand the tools that we work with we all become better at our jobs. The same way as a developer understanding design principles can make me develop better. I know what to QA for, I know how to keep a consistent grid, I know what goes into good typography. These are the rules that make you more well-rounded.

Going the other way, to be able to know what CSS and technology is capable of really helps people to create better, stronger designs. To know where you can push the limits of design, to know where things can be scaled back, to know what goes into the building blocks of creating something.

Listen to the podcast interview or read the transcript.

In Jenn Lukas’ UI20 conference workshop Mastering CSS to Build a Living Style Guide, you’ll learn how to:

  • Build style guidelines to communicate effectively with developers
  • Understand the most common styles, including fonts, colors, and background
  • Define your design’s look and feel with divs and flexible layouts
  • Get everyone on the same page about how your design should look and feel

Your Boss is Talking About You

Lauren Cramer

September 28th, 2015

Setting: Ping! A high priority email comes in from your boss

When: December, 2015

Hello there,

What a difference you’ve made to our team. I’m super impressed with what you learned and brought back to us from the User Interface 20 Conference in Boston. It was just this past November and already you’ve put what you learned to work and made significant positive impact on the company.

You weren’t joking that your goal after the conference was getting everyone on the same page.

Here’s just a sampling of what you’ve put into action.

  • Showed the team how to understand big picture design priorities with scenarios
  • Gotten service design thinking into our daily work
  • Created a shared vocabulary to communicate across teams
  • Held conversations with PMs that influence product direction
  • Influenced our organization with a precise research plan
  • Saved the team valuable time by collecting reusable patterns
  • Written scripts for user interviews to test content and language preferences
  • Increased team learning by adopting lean principles

And there’s so much more valuable input you’ve provided. What a great decision it was to send you to UI20. I wish we sent more of the team. And you saved us $200 with the promo code BOSS. You rock!

This could be the type of praise heaped upon you after you return from the UI20 Conference in Boston, November 2-4.  Come explore what the conference has to offer.

Testing Versions of Your Content Might Be the Missing Link for a Useful Design.

Jared Spool

September 25th, 2015

Usability in products and websites is what most organizations strive for. Through research and testing, you can root out many issues with clunky interactions that hinder the experience. What isn’t as immediately clear is if some perceived usability issues are actually understandability problems. If your content works, it goes a long way toward improving your entire experience. If it doesn’t, then it’s the culprit.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Steph Hay about content-first, a method she promotes. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

What I actually learned is that they were testing usability and they were adding language where things were breaking down from a usability standpoint to try and help clarify the process. Adding to it wasn’t necessarily making it more understandable. It wasn’t even necessarily making it more usable.

There were a couple projects that had been in usability testing and the teams were saying “I know that there’s something here and we just can’t get at it.” What we ended up doing, taking a content-first mindset, is actually extracting the content from the interface, from the prototype that we were testing, and putting it in a Google Doc or in a Word doc and then going in and testing the language agnostic of the interface.

We would figure out where the ah-ha moments were and we would pay attention to the language that they were using, so that we could really understand what specifically were the compelling words that would make somebody want to move forward.

Listen to the podcast interview.

Steph Hay has conducted numerous workshops that focus on content-first design. In her workshop at UI20, Content-First UX Design: A Lean Approach, you’ll learn how to design conversations that engage and motivate your users, which in turn allow you to design fewer iterations overall.