UX Book club (London) – The best interface is no interface by Golden Krishna

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I found out about UX book club about 5 years ago but never got round to going.

I got an invite to UX book club and said it would talk about ‘The best interface is no interface’. The book title really grabbed me so I bought it. Once I had read it I got another email notification to go to the UX book club. I decided this would be interesting to experience and feedback to you guys.

The UX book club is a strange event, on the meetup it looks like there’s going to be over 40 people coming, which in reality it was eight. This was a much better amount of people for a book discussion.

 

UX book club consists of having some food, drinks and discuss the book of the month. The book is announced one month before the event to give you some time to read it.

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 12.45.51This is my view of the book:

Tone of book

Ranty pub conversations about the problems with technology. (Some genuine laugh out loud moments).

Memorable quotes

On putting a screen on a vending machine – “Order your favourite drinks through a series of menus and error messages”

View of UX – “UX stopped being about people, and started being about rounded rectangles and parallax animations.”

 

What I didn’t like

Very exaggerated Solutions are not very ‘real worldly’

Examples are very specific

Very biased

Mostly web based ‘research’

What the reality is

UX designers should wireframe

Apps are an established technology, of course companies will make them Users see companies as ‘sites or apps’ – comfortable

Screens are not a bad thing

You get paid for delivering digital experiences

 

General summary

UX book club is cool

Great examples for stakeholder management Challenge the screen

Krishna bloody hates screens

People are uniquely special

The reality – not so simple to apply Krishnas thinking

Overall I give it 4/5 – I recommend giving this book a read, its pretty quick to get through and pretty fun.

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Guerrilla Testing – top tips

In my current position we have run multiple guerrilla testing sessions within the work place. Guerrilla testing is a quick way of getting your designs in front of people. It isn’t always the best testing method but to be able to get real users feedback is at least better than nothing to have some form of guidance and validation with your design decisions.

Here’s what I have learnt from guerrilla testing:

On boarding – Let the user know its going to be quick, they will be more likely to help i.e. Have you got 30 seconds to test our app?

Let the user do the work – Don’t be too guiding, get a user to interact as raw as possible

Be approachable – Introduce yourself properly with a hand shake. Make it clear what you are there for

Get the user to speak aloud – getting the user from the start to speak aloud while going through a design is just a great way to get them to really communicate whats going through their head

The user is testing us, not us testing them – make it clear that they cannot fail the test. They are testing our designs, and we need them to pick holes in it

Test with other industry professionals – if working in-house try and get people who are more likely your users. We tested with cafeteria staff, people who work in the post room and security guards. These people won’t be as biased as those who work in a similar industry.

Bribe – Bribery is good. Give the user something for their time i.e. biscuits, coffee etc

Do not test with devs/QAs – A biased is set from the start and you will soon realise they will repeat saying ‘users generally would…’ rather than ‘I would generally…’.

Short and sweet – make sure you know exactly what you want to get out of the testing. Keep it small so you can focus on more incremental changes. On the flip side if you’re testing something BIG, look for more flavours and themes rather than the details.

Have you done much guerrilla testing? Do you agree or disagree with my points? Would be great to hear your experiences.

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Tech Insight – 30/03/2017 (takeaways)

User Interaction 2.0 – Kathryn Webb

 

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Resources:

Honda Emotion car

Ava Sessions – Ex Machima promotional site

Mivor – Mood interpreting voice orientated robot

Crystalknows.com

 

Progressive web apps – Rowan Merewood

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Resources:

Lighthouse – Automate checks

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Luke Wroblewski – Parti and the Design Sandwich (summary)

I recently watched the talk ‘Parti and the Design sandwich by Luke Wroblewski.

It was fantastic talk looking at a ‘structure for better design decision making’.

So what is a parti and a design sandwich?

Parti
A parti is the central idea or concept of a building, like a mission statement but more articulate.
In design, this plays the role of a guidepost for the design sandwich.

Design sandwich
A design sandwich is the structure of a project which is contained by design principles and design considerations.

Parti and design sandwich diagram

How is this useful?

  • Helps pull all data and information together
  • Great tool for getting buy in – at the right level
  • Guides a project to keep the ‘vision’
  • Vets out subjective ideas
  • Rational decision making
  • Helping people to let go and move on from design that doesn’t align with the vision

Informed decision making

In all situations where bad design decisions were made, people lacked some information that would have helped them make the right decision. – Jared Spool

Decisions can only really be made when we have all the information. If we go about making decisions without all the information then our solution won’t work too well.

As you can see from the design sandwich diagram the real meat is the design decisions that are characteristics of use and evaluate the design decisions.

Patterns and best practices take up a big chunk of the sandwich filling. These are the pieces that will make up our interface. Testing is also just as important, but has a smaller focus due to the reality that we can’t test everything.

Change is ok but don’t give up on having a parti

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Mathew Frederick (screenshot from Luke Wroblewski original talk)

Rather than patching local fixes or loosing the integrity of the project over continuing with the current design, we as designs need to change if we aren’t going towards the common goal. The parti can be adapted if impacting the design process. Either way, don’t keep doing something if you clearly see it isn’t going to work in the long term.

 

Resources:

Original talk: https://vimeo.com/4420806

101 things I learned in Architecture school – Mathew Frederick

 

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Creating design principles

design studio

Working as a UX architect / designer for the past five years has given me a good view of a variety of different processes. Some of those being great and others being ways that I do not want to ever do again.

Joining my new team recently there is a big emphasis on collaboration with our stake holders as well as getting validation early on from our users. As part of our process design principles are required in order to keep integrity within a project. Before working here I had used them more generally as a  company view, where as here they change on a project by project basis.

The project I am currently working on is communicating ‘incidents’ to user, meaning when things go wrong we need to communicate this so that a user doesn’t get stressed about what’s causing the problem. The solution really should be ‘things shouldn’t go wrong’ but the world we live in is flawed so this is never going to be the case.

The principles for this project were formed from experiences our incident managers have had as well as running a stake holder work shop to collaborate on the vision through the means of a Studio workshop. A studio workshop essentially gives stakeholders a platform to align through visuals and ideas and permission to not have any right or wrong ideas. The end results are a few ideas from each person that are shared and critiqued. The result of this means that we have some ideas to start with but more importantly themes are made clear.

The next step is to take these themes, the business goal and user requirements to create the basis of the design. I found this article really useful in creation of the principles for this project: https://www.cxpartners.co.uk/our-thinking/design-principles/ There’s some great examples but also it shows the bad examples to get a better idea of how to write these.

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Retro tea time – UX Dev retrospective

I was given the task this week with my development team I work with to run the sprint retrospective. A retro is something that is done at the end of a sprint (agile two weeks of work) where everyone reflects on the past two weeks and gives feedback. The idea is to come up with a set of action points and learning from the sprint in order to improve through time.

I came up with the idea of the ‘Retro tea time’ by originally just thinking about it as a time to have a bit of a tea break and reflect on the past two weeks. The idea was to use the cup of tea as a metaphor for the sprint/project. The idea was using different elements that affect ‘a perfect cup of tea’.

Retro Tea time

A cup of tea is made up of different things – a mug, a tea bag (including the water) and milk and or sugar. The other factors are heat needed to keep it nice and warm and cooling, who wants a cold cup of tea?

The different elements represent:

Tea bag (and water) – The integrity and consistency (Are we still following the road map / vision?)
– The tea bag represents what we are working on. Have we cut corners? Is the work what we set out today? Have we lost or gained anything during the sprint in terms of the final product?

Mug – Team work (scale score)
– Rather than typically scoring ‘how we thought this sprint went’ I decided that a teamwork score would work. Just like the mug the team work itself is was keeps everything together. The score would be 10 being the best and 1 being the worst.

Milk and Sugar – More of / Less of
– Just like milk and sugar when it comes to a perfect cup of tea, these are the variables items that can vary from person to person. In this case, as a team what do we need to do more of and what do we need to do less of?

Heat – What’s kept us going?
– A perfect cup of tea needs the right amount of heat. In metaphor sense the heat represents the good things we have done.

Cool – What’s going wrong?
– Tea is supposed to be warm, so we don’t want a cold cup of tea. The cool represents those things that people have thought haven’t gone too well.

There is overlap in some of these categories i.e. something that we should do less of could also come under things that aren’t going to well. The point of this metaphor is to more highlight different areas in order for conversation and collaboration of actions and improvements can be facilitated.

All you need to do is print out this page and get everyone to write on some post-it notes to fill up the categories. Going through the post-it notes afterwards in order to create conversation and get together a list of actions.

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AI Course – University of Columbia

I started an AI course with the University of Columbia.

It’s pretty awesome and highly challenging. I’m learning all sorts of new things (or trying to).

Most challenging is having to build some things in Python that I have never used before.

 

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