Empathy as a Service: Applying Service Design to the Homelessness Issue

Jared Spool

August 28th, 2017

Empathy as a Service: Applying Service Design to the Homelessness Issue

Empathy. It’s an unavoidable word in the world of user experience design. Too often it is applied to designs in too narrow a fashion. Your empathy should come from the problem your design is solving, not measured in the level of frustration or delight experienced with your design.

Ariel Kennan is the Director of Design and Product at the New York City Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. She has been working on the HOME-STAT initiative which is an effort of the City of New York to properly provide services to the city’s homeless population.

In this podcast, Ariel shares her story and is joined by Marc Stickdorn who offers his insights on how service design can be done on such a massive scale. Marc is the CEO and co-founder of More Than Metrics and author of the book Service Design Thinking.

 

Goal Challenges and Tool Challenges

Jared Spool

August 25th, 2017

In today’s article, I discuss how to design for two types of challenges.  If users are distracted by controlling the interface, they can’t pay attention to the thing they came to do.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Two Dots’ designers also needed to put in tools to control the play of the game, such as changing levels, turning off the sound or music, and adjusting colors for color blind players. These tools must be easy to find and use, not a challenge like the game play itself.

Game designers are experts at ensuring goal challenges remain in the users’ focus, while ensuring that tool challenges are minimized or eliminated. By studying how the best game designers have made these trade-offs, we can learn how to improve the productivity tools we’re designing.

Read the article Goal Challenges and Tool Challenges

What are your thoughts on goal and tool challenges? Tell us about it below.

Designing the Customer Experience

Jared Spool

August 24th, 2017

Designing the Customer Experience

Our understanding of customers—their behaviors and needs—has grown more sophisticated, because the experiences we design demand it. Our customers routinely dip in and out of contact with our products, both offline and online. They reach across channels to contact us, to share their experiences. They fall short of converting at points along their journey. What triggers these behaviors and why? It is in those unexpected moments that we fail the customer. As designers and digital professionals, we work as detectives, sifting through data, both qualitative and quantitative, to understand, define, and create the ideal experience.

However you want to call your process, whether it is design thinking, service design, customer experience design, or Lord Buckethead Supreme Intergalactic Design, your task is to explore, prototype, and test assumptions, communicate across organizational silos, and reach agreement over what that ideal experience is.

Teaching UX Designers to Always Be Learning

Jared Spool

August 18th, 2017

This week’s article examines the ways UX designers develop their craft and the importance of self-learning.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Conventional educational programs use a Sage on the Stage approach, where a smart person stands in front of a classroom pouring facts and raw knowledge into students’ brains. Despite considerable evidence that this approach rarely works, schools still try to teach new skills this way. This is part of the reason why fresh graduates we hire aren’t prepared for the work ahead of them.

People learn best when they take charge of their education. Some people learn well by reading a comprehensive book. For others, books don’t work at all, but they learn when they hear someone explain the concepts and techniques. Everyone has their own way of learning. A good school needs to adapt its learning options for each individual student.

Read the article: Teaching UX Designers to Always Be Learning

How do you learn best? Tell us about it below.

Narrative Virality: Changing Course from a Simple Story

Jared Spool

August 14th, 2017

Storytelling is an essential form of human communication. You likely have a favorite story, and it’s probably something really memorable. The more that story is told and retold, the further it travels and the more influence it gains. A good story can be infectious. Stories can also come from unexpected places.

LaiYee Ho is the Head of Research at Wink and joins us for this podcast. Early in Wink’s research practice one story in particular resonated with the team that was uncovered during an in-home visit, the story of Dominic and Donna. That story spread throughout the organization and fundamentally changed the way Wink approached their products.

Also on the podcast is Whitney Quesenbery, the author of Storytelling for User Experience. She shares her insights about Wink’s discovery and how storytelling can be one of the most powerful research tools.

Improve The Stories You Tell

Winning a User Experience Debate

Jared Spool

August 11th, 2017

This week’s article is an excerpt from Undercover User Experience Design, a book by Cennydd Bowles and James Box. In it, Cennydd outlines his advice for winning a UX debate and explains what to do when you disagree with the feedback you receive on your design. We love this book, and think this excerpt is a great way to immerse yourself in his concept of undercover UX design.

Here are two passages from the article:

To bring UX to the heart of the business, you must persuade colleagues to trust your opinion and expertise. Handling critique well is an important way to earn trust. It’s easy to undo your hard work with rash disagreement. Never dismiss stakeholder feedback out of hand. Every designer makes mistakes, and there will always be approaches to a problem that you’ve not considered. The worst UX designers are those who succumb to the arrogant conceit that stakeholders are design-illiterate fools. It’s true that your business colleagues may not be able to express ideas in the same visual way you do, but smart stakeholders are always an advantage for a UX designer.

If you’re skeptical about your stakeholders’ requests, try them out anyway, then do it your way too. It takes longer, but you’ll gain trust by showing you can listen to feedback. You may be able to persuade your stakeholder why your design is stronger, or you may even find that his suggestion was better all along.

Read the article: Winning a User Experience Debate

Do you have your own methods for dealing with client feedback? Tell us about it below.

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

Jared Spool

August 2nd, 2017

In this week’s article, I discuss how to talk with stakeholders about their users and the challenges those users face to get an answer to the Back Up Question.

Here’s an excerpt from the  article:

The conventional reaction is to get them to specify their request in substantially more detail. What design would you like to see? Asking for more details puts these non-designers in the role of designing. That’s a role we should be involved in, if not taking over completely.

Instead, we need to know more about the problem. Why do they need this particular solution? There could be a better way to solve it. There could be a solution our design experience brings to the table, one that they wouldn’t know to propose.

How do we start to understand the problem their proposed solution wants to address? After dealing with this very problem for decades, I’ve come up with a simple question. I call it the Back Up Question.

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

Uncovering a deep understanding of the benefits of our designs is just the first step of a smart design process. We need an efficient process to take our team from a shared understanding to a successful delivery.

Do you have your own method for getting stakeholders and clients to take a step and talk about how the desired outcome of a project will benefit their users? Tell us about it below.

 

Learning from the Work of Others

Jared Spool

July 28th, 2017

In this week’s article, Will Schroeder discusses two studies by Rolf Molich in which several usability teams independently tested the same interface and how we can use this analysis to hold a mirror up to our own work.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

There are a lot of usability handbooks and guidelines out there with seemingly good advice, but should we adopt methods we’ve never seen in action? How do we learn from usability tests if the details of screening, test protocols, and analysis are not presented along with the test results? Can anyone accurately reproduce a usability test series from the limited descriptions in a typical conference paper? Most importantly, how can we learn from others without dogging their steps from start to finish?

We were excited when we learned that Rolf Molich had completed two studies that truly facilitate this kind of learning.

Read the article: Learning from the Work of Others

Are there other ways that you’ve been able to learn from the work of others? Tell us about it below.

Ultra-Contextual Design

Jared Spool

July 21st, 2017

In today’s post, we’re happy to share an article on Contextual Design from Abi Jones.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The first step in creating a context­-aware system is understanding the context for use. There are two levels for contextual understanding, the broad context for the user journey and the ultra­-contextual aspects of each touchpoint within the journey.

Read the article Ultra-Contextual Design.

How do you implement contextually-aware designs? Tell us about it below.

Despicable Design – When “Going Evil” is the Perfect Technique

Jared Spool

July 14th, 2017

In this week’s article, I discuss how “Going Evil” can break creative log jams and encourage collaboration.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

In many other exercises where you ask a group to talk about user experience, the designers often take over. They have the experience and generate ideas faster than their peers, so they dominate the discussion. This has the effect of pushing the non-designers aside.

Yet, in this exercise, making a design worse goes against every bit of training those designers have. It slows them down.

The people who believe they’re not designers can jump right in. A bonus is there’s no wrong answer. You can’t make something “not bad enough.” There’s always room for more badness.

Plus, it’s fun. Giggling. Laughing. Snickering. The room is alive and vibrant. This is a creative exercise with no downside. Everyone gets involved.

Read the article: Despicable Design – When “Going Evil” is the Perfect Technique

Have you had to “Go Evil” to foster a creative breakthrough? Tell us about it below.