Last Week’s Thoughts (1)

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I want to start a series where I do a summary of my main thoughts in the past week. I realize that twitter is fast becoming my sounding board and idea bank (drafted tweets), so I want to bring it all the way back here, mostly because there is space to expand without the distraction. M.  Gelb in his  book on Leonardo Da Vinci writes that randomness feeds intuition, so enjoy a bit of randomness here.

To start, a few things;

“Expected outcomes are not the bane of creativity, rigidity is.”Antonia Anni

Research: The impact of award-giving

I’m interested in the impact of awards on a community/ industry/individual. Check out LinkedIn, a large number of people are ‘award-winning’ I have won a few myself, so how does getting an award affect the individual?, their area of their work, their community. What’s the follow up like? How are past award winners? where are they? what are they up to? Do the awards really inspire? do they pressurize? Why do we keep giving them?

Life – Balance

I remembered telling an interviewer that one reason I left my job was the routine. It wasn’t that it was routine, it was that, it was 90% routine, which I found out stresses me out terribly.

However, everybody needs a good balance of routine and the novel. How do you know where your balance is? listen to yourself, take time to reflect on your past experiences, use tools like the MBTI. I’ve found out that the balance for me is 40% Routine, 60% Novel.

Without routine our lives fall apart, Without the novel, we get burnt out. Routine is a marriage, Novel is another day.

Jesus and The Gospel

Jesus is certainly out of this world, he basically turned things upside down.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” How hard is this but necessary.

“The gospel frees us from the relentless pressure of having to prove ourselves, for we are already proven and secure.” I don’t know anything more amazing and freeing than the Gospel. Grace is everything!

What do successful start-ups have in common?

Currently taking an Entrepreneurship course and this is one thing we are exploring. I put the question on twitter here are a few responses;

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I really liked that it all revolves around people, The Founder, The Team and The Tribe.

Mobile is not going anywhere

Since the beginning of time, man has been mobile and each new age has found new ways to move, why should the future be different.

First, man found he had legs, then animals to ride about on, the compass, ships, wheels, airplanes, mobile phones. The question to be asked is simply, what’s next?

 Career and Recruitment

Ever since I  stumbled upon Penelope Trunk, it’s hard to resist going back all the time. I appreciate honesty on any given day, 100%. I prefer a negative answer to limbolysis.  She writes,  3 Career paths and 1 will fit you

My tweets on the brokenness of recruitment led to a conversation of solutions so, someone gave me a link to what he is working on. This is Globeshifts which seeks to change recruitment in the Oil & Gas sector

Immigration

As an Expat in the UK, this is always on my mind. A lot of changes are being made with immigration policies and it can make one very uncomfortable. A startup that is trying to bring some simplicity and clarity to this is Migreat. Some links to read;

UK Immigration and Tech Industry

Is Britain closing it’s doors to talent?

New Quotes

Words- “I find myself reaching for the dictionary more than ever, ‘leverage’ ‘construct’ ‘ecosystem’ ‘pivot’ ‘revert’ in casual chats…necessary.”

Blessings- “Disappointments are not blessings because they magically morph into a blessing instead they clear the way for the blessing”

Work- “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” why are we so afraid of work though? I do what I love but it’s still work and work is good.”

Passwords- “My favorite new button on the web is ‘lost your password?’

TED Videos to Watch

3 ways to speak English – Jamila Lyiscott 

Are you human? - Ze Frank

Design For all 5 Senses – Jinsop Lee

 

Till next week :)

UX For Rookies

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Picture by Steven Lewis

A number of questions about how to get into UX and what it is, have come to me over the years. The things detailed here are fundamental, I try to remind myself constantly and keep them close to my heart. I am a UX Rookie in many ways, there’s just so much to learn! Some are words of wisdom learned from those who have gone before me. These things form the basic foundation of a person who will make good in user experience.

About UX

” User Experience is involved in; defining who the audience is, what they can do, how they can do it and matching the aspiration of the content provider with the desires of the audience” – Karl Smith

User Experience is complex. It has such a weight of responsibility that you constantly have to assess the why of it. ‘Why am I doing this? when it would have been more straightforward to be a doctor’. User Experience is about systems and the interactions within and without. User Experience loves and looks to the future while, at the same time considers strongly what the past has been, what the present is and how to get there. If this does not appeal to you, might be best to consider something else.

About You

“Curiosity undergirds Passion, so stay Curious ” - Antonia

There must be an in-depth desire to understand and love your fellow humans. How do they interact with each other?, work together?, make use of objects? etc. This role requires Initiative, Objectivity and Humility. One must be able to practice emergent leadership, taking ownership and responsibility for a number of things. The ability to say ‘I don’t know, but I am willing to learn’ Where you can be confident in what you do without arrogance. Humility enables you to work in a team which UX thrives on. It’s not about not stepping on toes, it’s about being able to say, ‘I’m sorry, Pardon me’ when you do so.  Objectivity helps you in the constant negotiation UX is involved in, balancing constraints, contexts and solutions.

Do you delight in creativity? a spot of original idea? The need to validate intuition with data? An intense desire to understand and communicate the essence of things? This could be for you. While the top personalities in this area of work, have the N, T and J component (MBTI – See recent survey by Jonathan Shariat) Any ‘type’ is valuable to the process ( I am INFJ )

Ways To Learn

“Experience is the source of Wisdom” – Leonardo Da Vinci

The best way to learn is by practice and experience. Theories are great, I love theories but they are much better when validated through work in the real world.  There are a few good schools which instill the principles of design and design thinking but some go in-depth into UX like UCL.

Experience by proxy is also important which entails listening to/ reading about what others who have been there have to say. In the mean time and after, start by visiting Karl Smith’s blog. Karl Smith is a renowned User Experience consultant and has been honoured by the British Computer Society for his eminence and significant contribution to the fields of UCD and User Experience with a Fellowship. What I love most about reading his writing is the honesty on UX without any fluff.

Some posts I particularly enjoyed and are good to start with

Getting into User Experience 1 and Part 2

The difference between UX and Design

Never Bring a UX portfolio to an interview

In the next 5 years the term ‘UX’ as a role might be out of fashion but if you have these as your foundation, I don’t think you can go wrong in whatever creative endeavor you partake in. It is also very important to pass knowledge on.

“…Give as freely as you have received” - Jesus

Amen.

2 Lessons From TWOWS

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It was on an airplane ride I eventually got to watch the movie. I thought it was overhyped and wasn’t going to go out of my way to watch it but here I was, 40,000ft above the ground, with no where to go.

I found myself laughing, crying, being hysterical, I loved every minute of it. After the movie, I wrote in my notebook for about 10mins because I had realised there was so much to glean from it aside entertainment value. A few things;

“If you give people a good enough ‘why’, they will always figure out the ‘how’”

I watched in awe as Jordan told story after story, connecting with others. To me this highlighted the importance of storytelling even in Design. When Jordan asked people to sell a pencil and they went on about the features on the pencil I thought then I had made the connection.

There are a set of pairs that are very important in the proper functioning of the world; Intuition and Logic, Faith and Reason, Imagination and Analysis, Stories and Features, The Big Picture and Details.

These pairs have to work together, anybody that argues otherwise is a fraud. They also have a specific order in which they work, the first of the pair as written must come first. One needs to understand the ‘Why’ before they can appreciate the ‘How’. The big picture/story should sell and help one appreciate the details/features and in turn, the details/features reinforce and make you love the big picture/story more, a blessed circle.

People connect better with stories (See) work on that. They also make it easier for stakeholders to understand and to gain the support for your projects. However it is not a one time thing, it may need refining and you might get to iteration 4, but never forget the pattern. Share the ‘whys’, the big picture and then detail it.

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“When you live your life by poor standards, you inflict damage on everyone who crosses your path, especially those you love”

Not everybody is concerned about standards in the work they do or how it ties to their personal values but because UX is ultimately about people this is very important. Our mindset should be one that always strives for the best way of doing a thing, not just in the artefacts we create but in the way we live, relate and communicate.

Things in your life outside work seep into work and vice versa, there’s really no separation. We should strive for excellence mostly because other people are at stake. Do you love? then show it, be dependable, pay your bills on time, add a little more honesty, appreciate time with your family. There’s so much we can do better everyday. If you don’t know where to start, try laying your bed every morning, I promise that you will be designing a little better very soon.

Stay Bright.

 

Research: Mere Users or Real People?

This post is partly inspired by a tweet and by a profound moment that happened over 2yrs ago. In many ways it’s about the ethics of user research. It also ties in with my recent thoughts on empathy and stories. First of all, I am a big advocate for getting rid of the term ‘User’ but that will be addressed in another post.

The big questions are, Who are these ‘Users’ Do we think of them beyond the task at hand?. Do we see them as having lives interconnected with other products and services or just as the sole user of ours?

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It was a lovely cloudless Monday so I decided to go to the garden near my office on Piccadilly to have lunch and sit in the sun. There was also a project on my mind. I had done a round of guerilla interviewing during the weekend and didn’t mind continuing if I got the chance. A few minutes after I had settled on a bench and my food, la lady sits by me and opens a book. I thought this was an amazing opportunity to have a chat to her. My project was on redesigning the reading experience, how lucky I felt. So I asked if she had a moment to chat and she burst into tears.

I was taken aback and genuinely sorry, I didn’t know what to say. She quickly got herself together and apologized for the outburst. She mentioned rough times at work and how she tried to escape for a few moments in the garden. I was doubly sorry, here I was in the name of User research encroaching on what little time she had for solace.

I had never really thought about the lives of people beyond the projects I had been working, this was a real eye opener. We still had the chat about reading and what it meant to her but this only came after I just sat and listened. As we talked, I found myself empathizing with her.

I remember walking back to the office and thinking, wow we need a Book Spa/Book Lounge, where people can read in public without being disturbed.  Most importantly, I thought about how we interview. People do not use products in isolation, some times they use your products/service in combination or in comparison with others. We must remember that people live beyond our research and approach them with that in mind. As a researcher its also important to just sit and listen. People’s stories engender empathy and that’s what you need to design better.