Collaborative remote sketching workshops – Lessons from the field:

sketching utensils

  1. All kind of workshops, not only remote: Neverever facilitate AND co-create at the same time. These are two modes of thinking – at least for me. Furthermore, as a facilitator, you might have inhibitions to use your own idea in the following refinement process: This is on some kind of a meta-level. It could leave the impression as if you just want to do your own thing, as you hold a special role as a facilitator. In addition, when you are the UX Designer and a sketching workshop facilitator at the same time, you might develop inhibitions to use your idea in your concepts because this could also transport a wrong message ( like: „they do what they want to do anyway“; leaves the impression the sketching workshop was a „farce“)
  2. Think about doing the ideation/generating ideas sketching ahead of time a bit before the workshop and scan them. Then share them in your team so people can refer to them during the workshop.
  3. When you have no supporting presentation in your virtual room: Prepare index cards or sheets of papers with largely written clear instructions. Hold them in the camera and make sure everybody can read it. Test-run it.
  4. In remote workshops, it’s absolutely critical to have a super clear agenda and a clear process for how sketches will be shared during the workshop that everyone understands *ahead of time*. To ensure that, prepare a super clear „please-read-upfront“ – agenda with all links needed (eg for shared folders to upload artifacts). Send the agenda ahead at least one day before the meeting. Let co-workers proofread it.
  5. Plan enough time – especially the generating ideas/ refining one idea process: Make sure there is enough time for all these exercises: minimum 15 min. generating ideas; minimum 15 min. agreeing on one solution within the group to refine, minimum 15 min. to actually refine it.

Demographics do not make Personas – but neither do stereotypes

They might look different and we might infer different motivations and attitudes on them, but we might also be very wrong! Both eventually travel very often (so they share a behavior) and they might share expectations or questions about a hotel room or something. So we should be very reluctant to infer different motivations, goals, and attitudes based on appearances.

— Jon Davie (@jondavie) August 18, 2015

Plato’s cave allegory and experience design.

What does Plato’s cave allegory have in common with human centered design ?

It demonstrates the effects of narrow and non-holistic thinking, a phenomenon we can still observe in many organizations – where it sometimes seems that one department doesn’t talk to other departments to get a holistic, cohesive understanding of the customer’s experience and their problems.

„That is someone else’s responsibility“ is often a standard jargon in such organizations. But: in the user’s or customers mental models – meaning how your customers/users think how things work (also called cognitive representations or mental models) – there is only one responsibility, not several based how internal things might work. That means: Customers do not split up responsibilities in department-like silo thinking, like the organisation itself probably does.

So, getting rid of this department-like thinking and instead gaining a holistic understanding of customers and users is key to get an idea of the ways how your customers think, and then put this learnings of your customer’s way of thinking first – not the mapping of the underlying internal business structures and hierachies (or the the underlying tech-backend structure) to the users interface

Everything else will most likely lead to something called silo-thinking and most likely, self-referential design and will most likely have negative effects on the user’s or customer’s experience.

About „good“ design

„Successful products meet user goals first […] The essence of good interaction design is devising interactions that achieve the goals of the business or service and their partners without violating the goals of the user“

Cooper, A., Reimann, R., Cronin, D., & Cooper, A. (2007). About face 3: The essentials of interaction design

My three alltime-favorite books for interaction designers.

Even though my shelf is very full of good ( and also not that good books) there are exactly three books that have had a tremendous impact on my professional thinking, and to which I keep coming back to again and again. Although some say Cooper is „outdated“ – I don’t think so – quite the contrary: I think it’s the most timeless classic ever written for interaction designers. And yes, I think the industry needs more „flamethrowers“. Bonus if they’re female, ha!

The value of Design

A recent McKinsey research confirms again that good Design is good for business and that design is a top-management issue:

„What our survey unambiguously shows, however, is that the companies with the best financial returns have combined design and business leadership through a bold, design-centric vision clearly embedded in the deliberations of their top teams.A strong vision that explicitly commits organizations to design for the sake of the customer acts as a constant reminder to the top team. The CEO of T-Mobile, for example, has a personal motto: “shut up and listen.” IKEA works “to create a better everyday life for the many people. […] It’s not enough, of course, to have fine words stapled to the C-suite walls. Companies that performed best in this area of our survey maintain a baseline level of customer understanding among all executives. These companies also have a leadership-level curiosity about what users need, as opposed to what they say they want”

Understanding customers creates business value.

„When we can understand the things that users want to do, we have the basis for serving customer needs, thus creating business value“

– Jeff Gothelf, Josh Seiden: Sense & Respond: How Successful Organizations Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously

Whats wrong with UX: Automated translations, part two

Again, auch wenn statt Türkei da nicht Truthahn steht: Automatische Übersetzungen wirken immer so distanziert und sind meist kaputt, und well, ja PEOPLE NOTICE und man attribuiert ein gewisses Desinteresse am Kunden auf Firmenseite, das gibt Minuspunkte in der credibility, seriously.

User Experience work is too expensive

„It costs much less to code the interface in a customer acceptable way the first time than it does to introduce a poor UI to the field and then rework that UI in version 2. In addition a poor UI will increase support costs.“

– Joyce Durst, Infraworks CEO in Cost-Justifying Usability (An Update for an Internet Age), 2005 Elsevier

Putting personas to work: The value of scenarios

Very good article about how to put your personas to work!

„While Taré is a made-up character, the story isn’t. The UX team met many travelers in exactly this situation, having to scurry through a layover airport without time to get food. It was an easy story to craft out of the research […] The stories are different. The personas are not.“

Read it here:

This article is deeply related to this fantastic talk on scenarios by Kim Goodwin.:

Orga culture and UX: Competition vs common vision


Image: Cooperation, exemplary image. ;)

The famous robbers cave field experiment conducted by Muzafer Sherif (1954, 1958, 1961) investigated how and why group conflicts occur.

Sherif argued that conflict between groups (intergroup conflicts) occur in case of two groups are in competition for limited resources (like e.g recognition etc)

The research group arranged an artificial competitional environment (which does not necessarily reflect real life conditions) where friction conflict and frustration between the groups was likely to occur.It didn’t take long and the predictions of the researchers came true, the two groups had become strong rivals and behaved hostile to each other. The conflicts only subsided as the researchers began to create situations in which the opposing groups had to solve problems together, thus creating a common goal and vision to achieve these goals.

Sherifs studies could teach us a little bit about organizational conflicts like eg silo thinking, political and ego driven processes, etc – which we are often confronted with in our work as experience designers and which have a direct impact on product development and at the end of the day: the users’s experience. The experiemnts also emphasize how important it is to have common goals and therefore a common vision.

The study was and is ethically questionable and was also biased. Nevertheless I think it can teach us about how intergroup conflicts occur, what to do against it – also in organizational structures and teams.

Sherif, M. (1954). Experimental study of positive and negative intergroup attitudes between experimentally produced groups: robbers cave study.

UX Research: Writing a research objective

This is just great. Having no shared objectives and so suffering from ambiguity in research kills everything: your data will simply be not valuable if you don’t know what you want to find out – so research objectives have to be clear and well communicated in the team.
Awesome @LaiYeeLori provided some help:

Whether you’re using your research to influence a product decision, inform a policy, or change people’s minds about a topic, it’s good practice to solidify what your research objective is. Here's a quick guide. @LaiYeeLori #delve #qualitativeresearch

— Delve (@delvetool) August 29, 2018

UX/ Design principle: Give instead of taking

If you are interested in specific information people should provide to your organization think of reasons in terms of how it would benefit those people and not how it benefits you as the business – because we are really more interested in people who are interested in us and not so much in selfish people.
If there is no benefit for the people then perhaps you should not ask for that information.

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