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Full-day workshop on Quantitatively Measuring UX for just $20?

Do you know someone in the Philadelphia area who would be interested in attending a full-day workshop on the Quantitative Measurement of UX for just $20? All they have to do is be willing to be the first group to take the workshop and give me honest and candid feedback.

I’m hosting the event for a limited number of attendees in Philadelphia on Friday, October 21st, 9am – 5pm, http://countonit.eventbrite.com

If you know someone who might be interested, please let them know – thanks!

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Why Robert Hoekman, Jr’s reaction vindicates Whitney Hess

I’ll keep this short.

Robert, in his post “That’s enough, Whitney Hess” [now removed from his blog], challenges Whitney’s right to be considered a leader in the UX community. I think Robert is missing something though – the major focus of most of Whitney’s speaking engagements (in my opinion) – is that anyone can have a voice. She’s been very open about the fact that she was unknown in 2008 and yet now regularly speaks and keynotes. That’s very inspiring to many, many UX professionals.

I consider it a mark of her success that members of the “UX establishment” – generally older, male, more experienced and published – don’t “get her” (and lets face it, it’s not just Robert). They’re not her target audience.

I’m not suggesting that Whitney’s message is the only one that should be told – and to paraphrase Robert himself – i’m certainly not attacking him, however, isn’t there room for multiple messages appropriate to all of the different audiences out there?

That is all.

IA Summit Kano: Great content is satisfying; Community is delightful

This past weekend at the IA Summit (and subsequently on twitter) there was a lot of discussion about what makes the Summit a valuable conference. Many people believe that it’s the great content but I think it’s more than that. Don’t misunderstand me – great content is a necessity, but attendees paying money for any conference need to be satisfied by great content. The real differentiator for the Summit is the engagement in the community (both at the event and on-going afterwards).

At work we’ve recently been using the Kano model to analyze our experiences and the model describes this situation well. The four main categories of the model are: Delighters, Satisfiers, Expected and Inconsequential.

The IA Summit’s content is satisfying – great content makes people feel good, bad content makes them feel bad. The community that attendees are immersed in, however, is delightful – it’s really not something that attendees expect – so there’s no downside if it’s not there, but it’s a wonderful thing when they experience it.

It’s easy to see this from typical tweets:

uxluis (Luis A. Lopez) By far and without a doubt it is the quality and passion of the people that make this the most significant event of my career, thanks #ias11

Kalabird (Michaela Hackner) Awesome time at #ias11! Thanks to everyone for being so warm and collaborative, and welcoming me into the fold 🙂

johannakoll (johanna kollmann) @uxable the interactions, hallway discussions and spontaneous skillshare sessions are worth every penny of the #ias11 ticket

So by all means – lets make sure we have great content – but every conference organizing committee does that. Lets also make sure that we do everything we can to enable the Summit to be a place that encourages and nurtures the amazing community that already exists.

A Practical Guide to Measuring User Experience

What do helicopters, HAL9000 and parrots have in common? None of them have anything to do with Vanguard but all appear in the presentation I gave recently at Adaptive Path’s MX conference and the IA Summit. I highlighted some of the techniques we’ve been using at Vanguard to measure our user experience and some of the cultural challenges we face when using data to inform our decision-making. I gave out copies of an example Capability Strategy Sheet, here is the PDF.

And although I hate seeing myself on video, if you really must see it, here it is from MX 2011.

Evil Design: Blueberry Crumb Pound Cake

Ok, perhaps “evil” is too strong, but using design techniques to intentionally mislead the consumer really pisses me off. I bought this for lunch a week or so ago. It’s clearly individually wrapped for a single person with “150 calories” in large type. A closer look (closer than I gave it at the cash register) shows a much smaller “per serving” under that – in itself misleading since it doesn’t say how many servings it is – for that you have to look above the “150 calories” to see that this is 2 servings! Bastards!

Getting stakeholders to say “yes” to the dress

RandyMy wife and I watch Say Yes to the Dress on TLC (I know, I know) and during an episode tonight I realized that Randy and his team of bridal consultants are absolute masters at giving their ‘stakeholders’ both time and space to adjust their initially negative reactions into something more positive without losing face or appearing to back down.

This was illustrated tonight in an episode featuring the guy from American Chopper, Paul Teutul, Jr. and his fiancée Rachael. After trying several dresses, Rachael appeared in the viewing room in a dress that she loved, Randy loved, her family and friends loved, but her mother did not. This didn’t faze Randy though, he knew that he just needed to give Rachael’s mother a) some time to observe how much everyone else liked it and b) a way to justify to herself (and everyone else) why she now liked it. He accomplished both of these by having Rachael try on several accessories (veil, headpiece, etc.) and voila – Rachael’s mother suddenly started seeing the dress in a new light and loving it.

UX professionals can learn from this, when our stakeholders are split in their opinions we need to develop techniques to help the detractors gracefully change their opinions. What are some ways you’ve seen this work?

UX *IS* all about the Technology

Well, ok – not really – but the idea i’d like to explore with this provocative title is that the U in UX, standing for User and being rooted in HCI and digital history as it is, means that UX is a term and discipline that is concerned with those human experiences that have a significant digital aspect to them.

Whitney Hess’ excellent article 10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design includes a quote from Bill DeRouchey, director of interaction design at Ziba Design, “User experience design is not limited to the confines of the computer. It doesn’t even need a screen”. Whitney herself then says, “Really, a user experience designer could help to improve a person’s experience with just about anything — a doorknob, a faucet, a shopping cart. We just don’t typically refer to the people using those things as “users,” but they are”.

Well, we could refer to someone using a light-switch or a doorknob as a “user”, but we don’t, and when was the last time someone designing a doorknob referred to themselves as a User Experience Designer?

Now if we drop “User” and just referred to “Experience Design” we could make a case for this being a discipline that transcends mediums – think Disney imagineers for example.

Thinking about the human experience is not the exclusive domain of UX, other design disciplines like Architecture, Landscape Design, and Industrial Design to name just a few, have been doing it for decades or centuries. UX is simply applying that thinking to experiences where there is a significant digital element.

P.S. I forgot to mention that it was this article in UX Magazine that prompted me to write this.


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