Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Music from the Heavens

It's such a small easy thing but seeing this made my day:

Sadly it's been so long since I started this entry that I cannot tell you the source. Here's why this is awesome: it breaks a very well established trend always masking passwords no matter the context. this approach considers the context.

It's proof that requirements must change to allow UX to be done very well.

Guest Post: Being a Designer for a Startup - Some things to expect

Startups are everywhere and when opportunity knocks for a UX designer to join in, should you answer? If you've found the right startup for you, what's next? In this guest post, Danielle Arad, Director of Marketing and User Experience Specialist at WalkMe.com, talks about what to look for and what to know before negotiating. Danielle is also chief writer and editor of WalkMe's  UXMotel.

Getting into the startup arena can be fun and exciting, but it’s something that needs to be handled properly. There are literally hundreds of different developers and entrepreneurs with whom you can work and there needs to be some special guidelines when working with one. If you are not careful, you could essentially lose out on a special opportunity that may boost your professional career. Another real possibility working in startups is not getting paid, so contracts are critical. Getting some money upfront can alleviate this problem in the short scheme of things, so remain persistent on building a contract.  Take the time to ask questions so that you understand understand what is expected of you and the entrepreneur so that there are no headaches later on.

Young talents won’t ask for a lot of money, but many are visual designers who aren’t familiar with the finer points of user experience, such the business impact of a user interface layout. As a designer, you are already familiar with how a layout of the user interface can impact ROI and what needs to be done to have the best impact for the business. You are also already familiar with what deliverables the founder may request, whether they are wireframes and whiteboarding, and factors such as time on the site. Many entrepreneurs are not taking the risk of seeking an amateur designer; rather, they are going straight to a well-seasoned UX designer, one who has experience with interface design and experience design Cut: how to design interface based on what the user needs and wants, and knows how to utilize it in a positive manner. This designer is the startup’s secret weapon.

Now, let’s say that you have the skills and experience, a great portfolio and you can prove your value to the startup. How much equity or salary should you expect? If you accept a low rate that could anger you or make tensions high when they press for revisions or upgrades to the site.

Before you jump the gun, there are a few key components that you want to critically think about. Firstly, are they already funded or do they need to be funded? If they haven’t been funded yet, they won’t be able to pay you off the bat. If they want to give you a portion of their revenue, make sure you are aware that they must compensate you a few months down the road. Some of you might be okay with working for free, seeing the potential benefits down the line, while others of you might not be too fond of this.

If the startup is pre-funded, but they can’t pay you regardless, consider requesting to be a co-founder. This is a fair request because you will be putting a lot of time and effort into the work and need some compensation for it. Remember that the site or app would not be possible without your help and becoming a co-founder is not a bad business move. Take note of the fact that many corporate laws don’t allow issuance of equity for future services, so the startup may need to invest equity after a certain period of time. This may be a tough sell, but if you believe in the business idea and the co-founder’s ability to make things happen, this could put you in a great professional position.

Proof humans have evolved

Thanks to Reddit.com

Friday, July 26, 2013

Geek out on non-verbal communication!

Facial expressions and body language are fascinating. Recently I stumbled upon Patti Wood's YouTube channel. Wow, how fun. Here, Patti talks about Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner on Neil Cavuto Fox News today.

 If this was not nearly enough, this playlist will let you obsess away!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Most amazing thing ever

I've already talked about game designer Jane McGonigal's TED talk, "Gaming Can Make a Better World, but her more recent talk, is incredible. Just amazing. I've placed my gushing about her below the video.  : )

Why Jane is my hero:

  • She's smart, inspiring, brave, & fun, the three most important things anyone can be.
  • She makes me want to download her game right now!! (I did right after her talk)
  • She dresses like herself & I love it!
  • She cares about other people enough to make games that change the world for the better
  • She dares to dream big & makes things happen
Did I mention she's my hero?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The not-so-obvious aspect of User Experience

If you watch BBC's Sherlock, you know he never says "Elementary, my dear Watson". Which is good, because if you've read Sherlock, you know Doyle's Sherlock never used that phrase either.

Instead, BBC Sherlock is forever saying incredulously, "Obvious!"

An question I keep running into in UX is that of "why doesn't every company employ user experience techniques when they create a site or a service?" or "it seems obvious, every company should build this way".  They don't. Or they do, and they choose not to pay heed to their user's emotions.

It's like any other business philosophy.

I like the restaurant analogy, so let's use that:
  • They should use a font that makes the menu easy to read
  • They should make it obvious if they are a cafe style or a classical restaurant style so you know what to do after you walk in
  • They should give you a smile when you walk in and put you at ease
  • They should drop personal conversations when they are near customers and treat the customer-facing area like a stage
  • They should check on you after your food has arrived.
  • They should appreciate all feedback as an opportunity to learn
  • They should embolden even the lowest level of employee with the power to wow the customer (not, "sorry our manager has to do that & she's not here today" Southwest is famous for this.)
  • If you're a regular customer, they should remember you and your preferences.
  • They should use fresh ingredients, ideally sourced locally
How many times have you seen one of these obvious "shoulds" not happen? Probably a lot. If one or more of these items isn't happening is not one waitstaff's fault, it's a systemic problem that is typically neglected by management. 

There are various 'interventions' to be taken (and if you watch Gordon Rhamsay's Kitchen Nightmares you know the interventions very well). Those interventions alone, aren't enough. If certain things do not change, months later the restaurant will falter and fold.

It's true for software development too. While the list above is obvious, it's not enough that the staff believes all of the above "shoulds" to be true. Management does too. Staff cannot effect change alone. 

Management has to be fully engaged in the user experience all the way through not just pay attention to it for a week out of the year. Yes, it's a great idea to focus on one aspect (according to the Power of Habit, when companies do focus on a "keystone habit" it tends to radiate elsewhere, prompting good habits).  

Why does management need to care? Because customers are the reason they are in business. Since they care about business they must care about customers. Customer experience and business are stubbornly linked. No, they aren't the same, but they cannot be unglued.

PS: Who else is interested in a Kitchen Nightmares-like User Experience reality TV show? Me, me me!!!! If you don't know the show, may I suggest watching one of the outlier episodes.

Lynda class excerpt: An explanation of Fitts law

Fitt's created an equation for location (proximity, really) and size of UI elements and their relationship to how easy they are to select. Sometimes buttons should not be easy to select (a great example is provided in this video for industrial equipment).

I't's a  classic example of science in user experience and one that is dear to my heart.

Is it obvious? It's certainly logical....but test your skills by attempting to answer the instructors question correctly at 1:50. If you got it right, awesome!