This is the first in my Career BAMFs series, (“idols” was a word with too much cultural baggage). Here, I’ll talk about the individuals and groups that inspire me to pursue the stuff I want. Note: This isn’t in chronological order (the first people I looked up to, for work, were David and Tom Kelley, danah boyd and Mimi Ito).
From their About page: What We Do — We create experiences that transform brands, grow businesses and make people’s lives better.
How my fangirl-ness formed:
I. I think the first trigger was when I found out that Huge was behind the Think With Google, Newsweek and the NYC.gov designs. They were all clean, beautiful and functional. That time we were auditing and keeping an eye out for different content publisher designs for our office projects.
I also loved their signature — the H that reflects the current project they want to feature.
II. But there was this one Instagram picture (which I can no longer find) that made me literally follow Huge’s “career” developments.
It was a picture of a slide from an Aaron Shapiro (Huge’s CEO) talk – I’ve been trying to Google it, but the slide said something like “What would your business do if digital were your only channel?” (but probably better written).
That question got me. For me, that question was exactly what business leaders to ask themselves, in a time where social media campaigns just keep popping up, which I don’t feel executives see as contrinuting to the bottomline.
And digital platforms have that power — of contributing ROI. Otherwise, it’s just a fun waste of money.
III. I also love how they organize and communicate their processes and culture. Follow them on slideshare, and it’s like a crash course on UX and design process in an organization that makes money.
Now that you have the requisite site and stats, you need to answer the first question of Habit Testing: “Who are the habitual users?” First, define what it means to be a devoted user. Ask yourself how often a user “should” use the site. That is to say, assuming that some day all the bugs are worked out…how often would you expect a habitual user to be on the site?
Be realistic and honest… you’re just looking for a realistic guess to calibrate how often users will interact with your site.
WHO’S GOT THE HABIT?
Now that you know how often a user “should” be using the site, it’s time to crunch through the numbers and identify how many of your users actually meet that bar. This is where hiring a stats wiz can prove exceedingly helpful. …The best practice here is to get create a cohort analysis to provide a baseline by which to measure future product iterations.
STEP 2 – CODIFY
Hopefully, you’ll have at least a few users who interact frequently enough for you to call them devotees. But how many devotees is enough? My rule of thumb is 5%. Though your rate of active users will need to be much higher to sustain your business, 5% is a good benchmark to being Habit Testing.
However, if at least 5% of your users don’t find your product valuable enough to use as much as you predicted they should, you have a problem.
…Even if you have a standard user flow, how users engage with your site creates a unique data fingerprint which can be analyzed to find patterns. Sift through the data to determine if there are similar behaviors that emerge. What you’ll hopefully discover is a “Habit Path”, a series of similar behaviors shared by your most loyal users.
STEP 3 – MODIFY
With new hypotheses in mind, it’s time to get back inside the build, measure, learn loop and take new users down the same Habit Path the devotees took. For example, leveraging their Habit Path, Twitter’s onboarding process now guides new users to start following others immediately.
There are many articles these days on the importance of content, but Modig’s proof seem to be the clearest, and simplest to remember:
“according to the latest statistics (verified by The Associated Press)and even the goldfish have an ability to concentrate longer than us”
“I had spent couple of all nighters watching Game of Thrones on my laptop and in the following mornings I realized I was explaining to clients that people are just browsing web, not really concentrating on the content.”
Thought-provoking. Because you keep hearing about how Google is revolutionary, but they’re never as suave at branding themselves as Apple, plus they have weird ideas like Google glass, and annoying decisions like killing Google Reader:
“In its behaviour and vocabulary, Google oozes scientific method. A couple of times recently I’ve heard Google executives say in public, ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it’. …engineers are trained not to act on intuition. You are allowed to have intuition, of course, but you use it to make hypotheses, which you then test. You act on the results of those tests…
When an experiment is completed, you either choose to follow up on it, or you terminate it and move on to something else. A scientist doesn’t get emotional about this; it’s the way the system works, and everyone knows that it’s all for the best.”
4. I don’t know which I enjoyed more – the Maricor/Maricar watercolor typography exercises…
It retains the strengths of a text content-rich magazine, plus the way they structured the information, and how to navigate through it, is just practical.
It prepares for and takes advantage of the strengths of web.
On paper or print, a large part of the ease is just being able to randomly flip-through.
I just realized now that I can go through and enjoy an entire magazine without even reading the table of contents.
Not the same for a web experience – people won’t click on things that they don’t feel will have something interesting “behind” it.
Now, that makes it hard because that means every single piece of content you have has to have an enticing way of being found.
Be it through a text link, an engaging image or a meaningful description.
But, what the web has, that print doesn’t, is adaptability (according to your personal taste). It can allow you to explore a single set of information using multiple systems of navigation – going through something the way you’d find interesting.
See, I want to be a User Experience professional. I want to be a user researcher and, hopefully, an interaction designer.
That is much more than usability. Usability only refers to the ease with which you are able to do something. Whether a task can be accomplished or not; whether people make errors and how easily they navigate through a device or interface.
A user’s experience (hence the phrase “user experience“) can’t be oversimplified into just how easy it is to do something (otherwise it would just be called “user ease”).
It has to be enjoyable to use, or give some sort of value. It’s an entire package of sensations and delivery beyond “efficiency”.
As the article points out, it’s usability + value + desirability + adoptability.
Multiple frameworks have already cropped up I know, this just seems to be the most concise and memorable one I’ve seen (so it’s easy to repeat).
2. Acknowledge that it takes a lot of humility, emotional maturity and self-restraint (not just creativity and camaraderie) to make a multi-discipline group work together
This strikes a chord because a) there’s this one particular boss in our corporation who loves using the word “silos”, in meetings, to repeatedly refer to why it’s difficult to create successful strategy.
b) Because I’ve realized that product development teams are composed of people from different educational and professional backgrounds, all required to be creative and productive together.
The really really great thing about Anderson’s entry, is that he argues for both the good and bad sides of deferring to each other’s expertise and “leaving your _____ hat at the door”. Because, that is how complex the UX design team situation is.
On one hand, you do want to respect that the designer knows design best, the developers know code best and the researchers know social sciences best. But, yes, once you’re all discussing “UX”, everybody really tries to stir the pot and get their hands in the stew.
I also like his conclusion, regarding the collaborative process centering on delivering a “good experience” to the consumer.
I sympathize with Mr….. Dirk. Despite my not having worked in or with as many start-ups. Mostly because of humility.
I am humbled by my new-ness in this field, and by the fact that, realistically, I am primarily a market researcher and a user researcher.
Meaning: As much as I badger and hammer my digital strategist teammates to refine their strategy (or actually make a sound one), since I’m the one who “knows the user”, I respect the difficulty of what they have on their plate.
Product Strategy, particularly in my team, is differentiated from…my role – user research. And, as much as, sometimes, I’d like to think I could create better strategy, it isn’t my job to and I honestly wouldn’t enjoy just doing that day-in and day-out.
I’ve always been the one checking how people respond to products or content, or finding out user needs, but it’s a whole other level of responsibility to put a product out there and your ass on the line, juggling business decisions and all. This is why I particularly dream of becoming an Interaction Designer, not a Product Manager or Brand Strategist. I’d rather work with systems, framework and evidence, more than price points and competition.
To each his own, basically. I just hope that people had as nuanced a view about work.
Again, being new in a web design team, these are phrases I kept hearing over and over and over during my first weeks of work.
It was almost funny, sometimes. People would get into lengthy discussions or arguments on what kind of method to use, when, if you really thought about it, it’s not as if they were mutually exclusive.
This article, Agile User Experience Design, communicates how “Agile” is a web development process and “User experience” is a design tenet and methodology. They can actually work together. Please read the article if you want to know more; Ms. Janet Six is much more articulate.
It’s really practical and funny at the same time. Thank you very much, Peter Hornby, for writing this.
“Worst answer—You’re kidding, right? You’re employing me as a UX designer, and you want me to code? Sure, I’ll hack something together. Perhaps we should discuss my hourly rate?”