Content-First Design

Jared Spool

November 16th, 2017

In this week’s article Steph Hay discusses how content can help to positively influence design.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

I never dreamed practicing content-first design and talking about it at a couple conferences would lead me to work for a bank. Especially one I knew nothing about. But the idea of creating jobs for people who get that content is product design, well that was too dang good to pass up. So now we’re growing a niche team of UX content strategists, sort of like our equivalent of the video game industry’s story designer.

Part of our process is working directly with designers and product managers to design conversations in plain text. We call them content prototypes, and they take many forms depending on the team and project.

Read the article: Content-First Design

How does content affect design on your team?  Share your thoughts with us below.

The Power of Experience Mapping

Jared Spool

November 11th, 2017

In this week’s I discuss how experience mapping can help provide useful feedback about your users problems.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Since the earliest times, humankind has used maps to communicate. Maps show where we are and where we want to be. They communicate the relationships between the elements they contain.

In design, we map experiences. These maps take different forms. Customer journey maps show how our users progress through our design, often highlighting the frustrating moments alongside the delightful ones. Service blueprints describe how the organization interfaces with the customer, often revealing the invisible steps that happen for every action a customer takes. Empathy maps explore what our customers see, think, say, and feel, as they interact with our designs. And system relationship maps describe how the underlying parts of the system interact with each other to produce the users’ total experience.

Read the article: The Power of Experience Mapping

Do you use a different method to diagnose your users issues?  Share your thoughts with us below.

The Back Up Question: Defining a Project’s ‘Good Enough’

Jared Spool

November 3rd, 2017

In this week’s article, I discuss the challenges stakeholder’s users face and how to find answers to those issues.

Here’s an excerpt from the  article:

It would be great if we didn’t have to ask the question. If our stakeholders and clients showed up at our door with a clear description of the problem, we could go from there. Collaboratively, we could work up possible solutions and whittle them down until we know exactly what project we needed to execute. But that doesn’t happen.

I think we can blame the service workers of the world—plumbers, mechanics, restaurants—for training our colleagues to find a solution before knocking on our door. You tell a plumber what you think needs fixing. You tell the waiter what you want for dinner. If they understood the problem we wanted addressed, they might have a better solution than what we’re asking for.

Read the article: The Back Up Question: Defining a Project’s ‘Good Enough’

Build scalable design systems

Jared Spool

November 2nd, 2017

Design Systems are critical tools for organizations to use to create a cohesive brand experience across products, devices, and platforms. They also allow teams to work more efficiently and quickly. However, the structure and maintenance of the Design System you create will determine its ultimate success.

Your Design System should be a living system that is relevant, flexible, and allows growth over time, and for that to happen, you need to have busy teams across the organization invested in its success. How do you do that?

As a starting point, Design Systems need to have a champion in management who gets it. Who understands the long-term value of creating a design system, and what it takes to support and sustain it. More companies, like Google and Airbnb, are releasing their design systems and pushing their business further in innovating ways.

A centralized team to manage your design system is a useful first step, but will fall short of success because of a lack of connection to other teams working independently. If teams aren’t invested in the success of the system, it will fail.

In addition to a centralized approach to maintaining a system, design leaders across product teams need to be identified and empowered to maintain the integrity and relevancy of the system. This federated approach in combination with a centralized group who maintains the systems creates a foundation for lasting success.

The Power of “See One, Do One, Teach One” with Design Sprints – Part 2: Adapting The Sprint Model

Jared Spool

October 27th, 2017

In this week’s article Kathleen Barrett continues to examine the ACT, inc. team and how to overcome doubts regarding design sprints using planning and communication.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Design sprints were a revelatory experience for the team at ACT. They opened up the business to tools and a process for understanding their audience better, and exploring and brainstorming new ideas. They could think big and fail safely in a low-risk environment, and every member of the team had a voice and a hand in the process.

Preparing for sprints is in many ways as critical as running them. Sprint leaders should spend time designing a process that fits their culture. They also need to communicate the process to teams before they begin to alleviate any fears or misunderstanding. Sprints often gather people in a room who don’t have a history or experience talking to one another, or sharing their opinions, and it can make teams uncomfortable.

Read the article: The Power of “See One, Do One, Teach One” with Design Sprints – Part 2: Adapting The Sprint Model

Do you have concerns about implementing design sprints?  Share your thoughts with us below.

Use Scenarios to Support Design Decisions at the Pixel Level

Jared Spool

October 26th, 2017

What are user scenarios and why are the useful? To begin, they are based on real data, a firm understanding of your customers and their habits. With a scenario, we take that data and inject it with life. We can imagine, given a specific set of criteria that is based on what we know about our customers, how they might behave in a situation with our products.

Scenarios can help teams reach the brass ring of team alignment. Teams visualize potential problems better by using them. And more importantly, scenarios help product managers understand product requirements, designers to influence those requirements, and engineers to get a very clear sense of what the requirements are aiming to do.

Scenarios minimize gray areas where teams can fall into confusion about what the product is, how the customer may respond, and what the product goals are.

These days alignment doesn’t extend to just teams, but to all departments, offline and online, across an organizational that touches upon the user’s experience. With scenarios, we can use the power of story to imagine our customer’s future experience with our products, illuminate our intentions, and brings groups together on a shared vision.

The Power of “See One, Do One, Teach One” With Design Sprints – Part 1

Jared Spool

October 20th, 2017

In this week’s article Kathleen Barrett examines the ACT, inc. team, and discusses how to use design sprints to explore innovative concepts and diversify products.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Consensus, says Richard Banfield, CEO of Fresh Tilled Soil, is often conflated with democratic vote. “The funny thing is consensus doesn’t improve the quality of the decisions. It allows you to improve the quality of the inputs but not the outputs. We are good at asking for opinions to the point where it stymies our ability to make decisions.” Richard’s company worked with ACT early on to demonstrate how design sprints could help the organization explore new product ideas and solve problems.

Adrienne and her team trained with Fresh Tilled Soil, but before they began, they had to develop a process, a common language, for internal teams to use. Product managers had been using different criteria for evaluating ideas.

The product innovation team at ACT chose a “see one, do one, teach one” approach to design sprints. The team wanted to understand how the model worked first before they could apply it to a problem they wanted to solve. The first step for ACT was a training exercise with Fresh Tilled Soil, before they eventually moved toward adopting sprints on their own.

Read the article: The Power of “See One, Do One, Teach One” With Design Sprints – Part 1

 

Design Sprints: An Ignition System for Teams

Jared Spool

October 13th, 2017

In this week’s article I talk about the importance of design sprints.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

In many projects, people ramp up slowly, finishing up their old obligations before starting. Without having everyone in the same room and focused, the project takes forever to get to speed.

With a design sprint, everyone starts at the same time with this focused activity on the new project. Even if, the following week, they have to return to their previous project to tie up loose ends, the sprint has given the team this focused burst to start with.

Read the article: Design Sprints: An Ignition System for Innovation Project Teams

 

Align Teams And Persuade Stakeholders With Story

Jared Spool

October 12th, 2017

Integrate Storytelling into Your UX Practices

The stories we tell in our work are drawn from real data, real people. They are not based on fanciful, anecdotal collections of assumptions. We learn about the why of our customer’s behaviors by doing the hard work, like the many varieties of qualitative research we use, including interviews, ethnographic studies, and more.

When we create an effective, data-driven story that encapsulates a certain experience, we can pull members of a team together toward a singular product vision. We can use stories to set up scenarios for teams to problem-solve around and address those pain points that our customers experience along their journey. We can use them to connect the dots between our customer’s experiences and our design challenges.

Get hands-on and creative with the stories you tell and analyze by using personas, journey maps, sketches, cartoons, and storyboards to find your customer insights, and bring teams and stakeholders to agreement with solutions.

Help! Is There a Cardiothoracic Surgeon in the Room?

Jared Spool

October 6th, 2017

In this week’s article, I examine the skills needed to build an ideal UX team.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Some of you may know that during the past 16 years, we’ve been researching what makes the ideal UX team. One of our early results is that roles don’t matter, skills do. It doesn’t matter if a team has an interaction designer or information architect. It does matter that interaction design and information architecture skills are present amongst the team.

Teams with the right skills are more likely to produce great user experiences. Teams missing the right skills are very unlikely to produce anything exciting or delightful. (Of course, we can’t say ‘never.’ Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every so often. But, if I’m staffing a team, I want to do so in a way that will have the best odds, no?)

Read the article: Help! Is There a Cardiothoracic Surgeon in the Room?

Does your team have the right skills? Let us know below.