When “I Don’t Know” Is The Most Powerful Thing You Can Say

Jared Spool

September 21st, 2017

Inject Innovative Techniques into Your Design Process

Design Sprints have, perhaps, a less publicized but high value outcome, in addition to providing an effective model to rapidly test and prototype products. Sprints afford an opportunity to level the playing field of ideas.

At the start of a sprint, all ideas are put forth to be tested and validated, whether they come from the highest paid executive in the room to the most junior team members. It’s okay in a sprint to say “I Don’t Know,” because the team is free to explore, test, and validate the assumptions they have at the start.

Free yourself and teams from the expectation—and limitations—of certitude. Understand the problems you are trying to solve and for whom you are solving them with design sprints.

Service Design Thinking

Jared Spool

September 15th, 2017

This week were are taking a look back at Marc Stickdorn’s article on Service Design Thinking.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Service Design or Design Thinking is often linked with terms, such as innovation (process), change, and improvement. How can Service Design Thinking be integrated in an organization as a mean of change?

Service Design became more and more popular over the last years. Service Design refers to innovating both tangible products and services and is nowadays used, to connect people and technologies across multiple channels. The boundaries between physical products and services are blurring and mostly one doesn’t exist without the other anyway. We need to think in systems and understand the ecosystem in which services and physical products operate.

Read the article: Service Design Thinking

Have you applied Service Design Thinking in your organization? Tell us about it below.

Emergent Principles: A Rebel Leader’s Secret to Better Team Design Decisions

Jared Spool

September 8th, 2017

In this week’s article, I discuss how “emergent principles” can become tools for teams to make tough design decisions.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

…The principles came about as the team was learning, often deep in the middle of their projects. The list of principles was growing and the teams were embracing each one.

These particular principles emerged. They usually emerged from user research. The team would see patterns of broken things in the existing design. At that moment, a team member would propose they create a new principle to guide their future design work.

Teams latch onto emergent principles like these. They keep bringing them up in design discussions. They frequently have debates, where they argue about the semantics of whether something is or isn’t covered by the principles. Is that a knob or another type of control? Should we give the user an option in this case?

These debates are healthy, as they help the team understand the subtleties and nuance in their designs. Their new understanding of these subtleties helps them solve the real user problems they observed. The principles make it easy to see and agree on what needs to be different in the design.

Read the article: Emergent Principles: A Rebel Leader’s Secret to Better Team Design Decisions

Are you giving teams the tools they need to deliver great designs every time? Tell us about it below.

Reduce Chaos through Structure and Processes

Jared Spool

September 7th, 2017

Reduce Chaos through Structure and Processes

A living design system will save your business money and allow your team to work more productively and cohesively across business units.

To sustain your design system, teams need to be invested in its creation and maintenance, and to be communicating and sharing their work across the products and experiences that everyone is building and supporting.

What strategies can you use to maintain those lines of communication across teams? Nathan Curtis recommends that regular meetings can be useful and productive, if they are structured well.

  • Schedule recurring meetings
  • Invite designers and leaders across the organization to share concepts
  • Prep speakers at those meetings on system-relevant challenges
  • Avoid tangents in the meeting that distract from the topic and purpose
  • Encourage designers to take what they’ve learned back to their teams

Make sure your meetings are relaxed, informal, and allow presenters to discuss their work and get substantive feedback from the group on how to maintain that consistent look and feel your system identifies and maintains.

Create a Cohesive Customer Experience

Jared Spool

September 5th, 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.

Whatever 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.

Making Sense of Any Mess

Jared Spool

August 31st, 2017

Making Sense of Any Mess

We’ve seen the following words sprouting across interfaces before, sometimes across a single website: Become a Member! Partner With Us! Join Us! Get Involved! Volunteer! Make a Gift! Donate!

What is the distinction between a member and a partner, getting involved and volunteering, gifting and donating? It’s not uncommon for businesses to approach language organically, often using different words to mean the same thing.

Duplicative language can bloom easily within an organization across marketing materials, customer service, organizational silos, and eventually into the website’s information architecture. It goes without saying that lack of clarity in language is confusing to customers.

Shout out to the information architects out there, piecing through all that language.

Information architects need to get into semantic discussions with stakeholders and teams, to bring them together to find a shared vocabulary to describe what they do. The goal is for customers to know exactly what a business means when it says something. It’s easier said than done, but Abby Covert has tips on how to facilitate those messy discussions collaboratively and effectively.

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.