guerillagirl – user experience designer

guerillagirl's (ux) design journal

by stef

What I am doing in…February 2021

I took three weeks off to prepare for two exams for my psychology studies. However, the preparation is going rather poorly, I could have done more this semester, but the whole winter went rather sluggish… However, let’s do this. Nice side effect: The more I read the longer my blog idea list grows. :D

This is my desk right now
Image of my desk at the moment

Also, I decided to try out a Now Page where I share what I’m up to at the moment and this is what you are currently looking at. I decided to do not a “page” that I will update regularly but try this as a category on my blog where – this is the plan- I can share monthly updates.
The idea comes from a project by Derek Sivers and I liked the idea right away, because I want to write more anyway!

I am also thinking about reducing the categories on this blog (this will be a painful task) and to add a “Talks” category

Besides that I am currently reading: Future Ethics by Cennydd Bowles, which is a fantastic book. Almost done!

by stef

What to pay user research participants?

A question which comes up a lot: What should we pay for research incentives these days? This calculator might help to get an idea:

by stef

Storytelling is a design tool

whitney quesenbery on a panel discussion about storytelling

Tonight I attended a panel discussion about Storytelling for User Experience with Whitney Quesenbery, Andrew Merryweather, Karina Van Schaardenburg and Julia Goga-Cooke (moderation) and it was great – so here are a few quick notes/quotes from it I’d love to share:

First, you have to know I’m a big advocate for using storytelling methods in design work e.g for developing future visions of a service / product or presenting design or communicating research. Storytelling is the process of using facts and narrative to communicate our thoughts and ideas to a team. It’s very beneficial for UX work simply because stories are more memorable than tons of research datasheets or abstract use cases, boring list or diagrams.

Ok here are the quotes:
This is actually an analogy I love from Whitney Quesenbery: “(…) journey maps are the landscape and personas are the characters” – it also reminds me a bit on Kim Goodwins metaphor of the persona as the hero in the story (which is the future Scenario)

And here’s a reply to that I loved:

Andrew Merryweather shared an Idea regarding one question from the audience how to communicate stories of future scenarios I liked a lot: “(..) One team recorded a 2min video focusing totally on the users experience and not the content on the screen Status quo (failing) vs. future (succeeding)

Whitney Quesenbery mentioned that “(…)Stories in UX give your work impact and help people see the visions you see for a service/product” and “(…) stories put a face on information and help understand / communicate future scenarios” which I totally agree with

She also said something that I mention in my class on “Bridging the research design gap” quite often: “Stories make insights from data memorable” – yesyesyes, I couldn’t agree more, maybe I share something about that topic also soon here (top secret hint well its about these often scorned personas / user models)

by stef

Presenting design work

Even if you’ve been doing the job for a long time, design presentations are always a challenge. But presenting and thus communicating conceptual design is a very important aspect of our work.

Listen to this great interview with Donna Spencer on the UX podcast on the value of scenario based presentations.

“[…] pointing out things like real estate doesn’t help the audience get the flow in their head. It doesn’t help them understand what the user’s experience might be. And literally does draw attention to the things you might not want any comment on like, you know, colours and buttons and drop downs.”

I’ll look forward to reading her book.
Podcast episode

by stef

Lorrie Cranor: The (lacking) usability of privacy interfaces.

Watch Lorrie Cranors very interesting keynote about designing useful and usable privacy interfaces. She talks in depth about the use of icons related to privacy settings and what to consider. This keynote was held at the on the annual conference of the Forum Privatheit 2020 which took place in November.

by stef

Accessibility Maze

Accessibility Maze

This is a great resource for learning some basic accessibility principles.

“For people who do not experience barriers, it can be difficult to empathize with the challenges that people with disabilities often face when navigating the Web. The Accessibility Maze was created to help those new to web accessibility experience firsthand what it is like to encounter those barriers. The game introduces a number of common barriers players must work around, mirroring the experience of those who encounter these obstacles daily, and provides quick lessons on how to avoid or correct them.”

– via a11yweekly

by stef

Finally – M4 Sozialpsychologie Klausur: erledigt

So , heute hab ich endlich etwas zum Abschluss gebracht, was schon viel zu lange fällig war: meine Modulabschlussprüfung in Sozialpsychologie. Vielleicht wissen ja einige, dass ich “nebenbei” noch Psychologie an der Fernuni in Hagen studiere.
Ewig mache ich mit dem betreffenden Modul schon rum, mitten im Semester nicht weitergemacht, die Klausur nicht mitgeschrieben..weil immer was war etc pp. – aber nun ist es endlich erledigt, juhu… und es fühlt sich gut an, dass dies vom Tisch ist! 😊 Das Modul interessiert mich sehr, und es gibt da immer so viel links und rechts interessantes und relevantes zu gucken, bringt aber nichts für die Klausur. :D Die Prüfung fand ich teilweise persönlich nicht so einfach (und viele meiner Kommilitonen auch nicht, wie man in Gesprächen direkt nach der Klausur merkte) da ein großer Teil in der Mitte auftauchte, den wir wohl alle *in dem Ausmaß* bezüglich Statistik und Forschungsdesign nicht ganz so auf dem Schirm hatten, naja, egal, denke, dass ich bestanden habe – sicher wissen werde ich das allerdings wohl erst in 5-6 Wochen. Übrigens schreiben wir in Berlin seit letztem Semester die Klausuren elektronisch auf iPads und ich war selbstverständlich megaskeptisch wegen der Usability und malte mir schon die schlimmsten Szenarien aus – Berufskrankheit 😬 etc, aber großes Lob an Dynexite – super einfach und null Featureitis, wirklich sehr übersichtlich. Das Tool wurde an der Fakultät für Wirtschaftswissenschaften der RWTH Aachen entwickelt.

Ab April geht’s offiziell weiter mit Allgemeine Psychologie 1: Kognition – auch bereits einmal angefangen und liegen lassen. Die wunderbare und spannende Welt der menschlichen Wahrnehmung, yay.
Nun bin ich von den letzten Wochen gerade ganz schön platt und erledigt,dachte eigentlich, dass ich sehr ruhig bin, merkte aber teilweise erhebliche Schlafstörungen die letzten beiden Wochen etc…und schätze, dass ich das doch nicht so easy wegsteckte. Aber nun ist erstmal unglaublicherweise ein *richtiges* Wochenende, yeah.

Und für alle die mit Statistik was anfangen können hier der passende Song:

by stef

Conversations with Machines

Happy 2020 everybody! 🎉 New Year’s starting with the *big* questions and a great (ok, last years) podcast episode: What makes a human a human? What makes a machine a machine?

“Weizenbaum had programmed ELIZA to interact in the style of a psychotherapist and it was pretty convincing. It gave the illusion of empathy even though it was just simple code”

Listen here to “The ELIZA Effect”:

Also if you haven’t seen it already I highly recommend watching “Plug and Pray”
official Trailer:

Image source: Wikipedia

by stef

Security and UX: Don’t blame the users

A very good read by Albrecht Schmidt (LMU Munich) about security and UX >> Don’t Blame the User: Toward Means for Usable and Practical Authentication

“[…]When the user comes to use a service for the first time, many companies require registration. This is reasonable, as registered users are a valuable asset. However, asking the user for a password at this point is a bad idea. The user’s primary goal is to use a service. Providing a password is an obstacle; hence, it is likely that they will not give much thought about it and will choose a weak one.”

by stef

Accessible means usable

“Often designers use color as a method to identify if a form control is required. When a user moves into the form field or moves out of the form field, the form control changes to a red color. This method is not recommended as it is not accessible for users with low vision, colorblind users, users with cognitive disabilities, and users with visual disabilities. This method can be implemented if there is an alternative fallback method that is “a visual cue,” which can help all users identify if the form control is a required field.”

People with disabilities (temporary or permanent) feel and *are* less disabled if things work for them.
This is a very good article – also for UX Designers: The Anatomy of Accessible Forms: Required Form Fields

by stef

UX Camp Europe 2019 Session: Friend or foe? Lessons learned from human-to-human interaction

After UX Camp Europe Berlin being around for 10 years now (Happy Birthday!), I finally made it this year and got a ticket. I always wanted to go there and looked jealously at Berlin when I was still living in Mannheim.

In a nutshell: This was a perfectly organized event with so many enthusiastic UX people around! Everything did run smooth, and the organizers showed great enthusiasm for what they were doing.
The atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly. With so many interesting sessions going on, so it was hard to decide where to go.

Sadly Sunday I attended only one session, spending the rest of the morning preparing my slides and talk for my own session in the afternoon. I had to compete with Eric Reiss holding a session in the big audimax about ethics plus a few other sessions going on, so there were only a few attendees in my own session which was actually great. This was a real “improv show” as I did not rehearse it and put the slides together and edited them really fast & spontaneously. So actually this was a good “real-life” beta test run. :D Now I know also very well where I will make additions, refine and where to go more in depth.

Here are the slides.
CAVE: This is a rough, first “beta” version of this talk- unpolished and there might be typos.

So thank you for this great event and hopefully seeing you all next year!