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user experience, product management, and design thinking

Last Build Date: Sat, 01 May 2010 20:50:50 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2012

Guerrilla Usability: Insight on a Shoestring

Sat, 01 May 2010 20:50:50 -0600

I had the opportunity to speak about Guerrilla Usability at Iowa Code Camp yesterday — what a well-executed event. If you're a techie in the Iowa area, definitely check out their next event in November.

I tried to accomplish two things with the talk: putting out a solid definition of usability and what usability testing is trying to achieve; and throwing a whole bunch of ideas and tools out to see what sticks, whet their appetite, and hopefully prompt people to at least give something a try. Here's the video of the presentation:

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Guerrilla Usability: Insight on a Shoestring from David Sturtz on Vimeo.

Iterative and Agile development mean shorter cycles and a desperate need for quick feedback. Luckily, improving the user experience of your software doesn't require days in a lab. This session will present more than twenty-five tools and techniques for gaining insight into your users' minds and actions.


Slides [PDF]: Guerrilla Usability
Audio [MP3]: Guerrilla Usability

Being Agile

Thu, 11 Feb 2010 21:52:58 -0600

I was invited to speak to a local group of Business Analysts this week on the subject of Agile development. The talk was well received, and seemed to help several people grasp the value that Agile can offer.

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Being Agile from David Sturtz on Vimeo.

View "Being Agile" at
Download the PDF of Being Agile.

"Being Agile" presents an introduction to Scrum, an Agile software development methodology. In addition to the basics of the iterative development process and roles, this talk explores Agile concepts related to requirements, documentation, communication, planning, and overall business strategy.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Experimenting with work/life alignment

Wed, 06 Aug 2008 21:09:20 -0600

(This is for all both of you who have been 'begging' me to blog more, hope it's worth it.)

I'm massively out of touch with the blogosphere lately (currently 42,035 unread items in Bloglines), so I may be bit behind the curve with this, but last week I learned about Total Leadership from a post on Tim Ferriss's blog.

I've watched the video of Stew Friedman's Total Leadership Google Talk (embedded after the jump), and have begun the process of examining the quadrants of my life, and devising experiments to help to bring them closer together. The goal is to achieve a 'four-way win' meeting the expectations of stakeholders in all areas of your life.

Sounds a bit b-school hokey when reduced to three sentences, but I'm in need of a few wins, and a little introspection never hurt anyone, right? Some info I've found helpful so far...

What experiments have you tried to better align work, home/family, community, and self? Did it work out? Post a comment or e-mail me.

UX Lunch: Story of the Ribbon

Wed, 09 Apr 2008 10:00:00 -0600

Next up, Jensen Harris of Microsoft Office's UX Team presents the design process that led to Office 2007's "ribbon" interface. It's an interesting case study of the analysis, iteration of design concepts, and testing of potential solutions.

Download the mp4 video file or a WMV file.

You can check out additional videos from the UX track of Microsoft's MIX conference, but first you'll have to install the Silverlight plug-in (like it's 1996) to browse the site.

See also: The Results-Oriented User Interface: IA, Live Preview, and Micro-Templates, my post on the interface from 2005.

UX Lunch: Wayfinding

Mon, 31 Mar 2008 10:00:00 -0600

The second stop in the UX Lunch series is Sylvia Harris' talk from last year's IDEA conference. The talk covers an ongoing redesign of wayfinding systems for patients at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. I found the process of organizational change, and even surmounting legal hurdles, to be interesting and a tad familiar.

Download the Powerpoint slides and audio (mp3) and make your own slidecast. Unfortunately a chunk of slides of the design concepts is missing, I assume they were proprietary and couldn't be shared. I think you'll get the gist anyhow.

UX Lunch: Experience is the Product

Mon, 17 Mar 2008 10:00:00 -0600

In an attempt to implement Jared Spool's "educate and administrate" model* for spreading UX goodness throughout an organization, I've been assembling a series of brown bag-style, lunchtime screenings of pod-/slidecasts. The first one happened to be this talk by Peter Merholz from the 2007 dConstruct conference, which he has generously posted to Slideshare:

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You may have read Businessweek's (brief) coverage last week of a SXSW talk on Apple's design process:

"Every week, the teams have two meetings. One in which to brainstorm, to forget about constraints and think freely. [...] Then they also hold a production meeting, an entirely separate but equally regular meeting [...] to nail everything down, to work out how this crazy idea might actually work."

I thought the idea of these "paired design meetings" meshed well with the emphasis Peter placed on having an experience-based vision for the product. Too often the focus is on implementation and the vision gets buried.

*For a little more info on "educate and administrate," head to this page of notes from the 2006 IA Summit and scroll down...

LukeW on Web Application Design

Thu, 02 Aug 2007 10:00:00 -0600

Once again Luke Wroblewski brings it back to basics with his presentation, ""Web Application Page Hierarchy" (download slides of his presentation [PDF] and match it up with the audio [MP3]). Luke communicates design know-how in a way that makes the process seem so obvious and simple you feel like a moron that you didn't see it that clearly before.

I also particularly enjoyed this tangent:

"By the way, I have a rant on 'Sign Up' being the primary call to action on all these things. I think that sucks. And the reason I think that sucks is when you get a product in the real world and you start unpackaging it, the first thing you do -- you don't fill out a form before you open it up and start playing with it, right? You barely ever fill out that registration form. I bet you it's sitting in the box or you threw it out you never filled in the registration, 'here's my name and please give me your warranty.' Nobody does that. You get in. You start playing with it. Then if you decide you want to keep it then you invest some time in it."


If you're not already subscribed, take a look at his blog, Functioning Form, which always has great conference session summaries and more of his own presentations. There's also a great collection on slideshare.

The IA as Social Architect

Tue, 31 Jul 2007 10:00:00 -0600

I read danah boyd's essay, "Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace," at the beginning of the month and was thinking that it raises some points for information architecture to consider. Then suddenly, it was everywhere. I jotted down a few of my thoughts, but never finished the post. This week danah posted a response to the many criticisms of her essay, reminding me of the notes I'd made. Here they are, still rough, but you get the idea...The way danah has framed her thoughts may raise some ethical issues for designers. The whole topic is particularly interesting considering the discussion and criticism of MySpace that happened in the IA/UX/design communities a few years ago, when it was first becoming widely popular (see MySpace: Is "Ghetto" a Design Choice?, for example).Andrew Hinton has covered some of the main points I was thinking of, touching on how information architecture plays a role in "creating structures... to channel people in particular ways."So here are a few of my rambling thoughts and questions:I've read in several places the belief that the relationships people define online mirror those in the real world. Is that necessarily the case, or are we lacking systems that enable us to transcend offline barriers?One comment on the original post suggests that the divide may be more a matter of needs in "identity production and network capacity." In my casual observation MySpace seems to be all about "I am what I make/what I like" and Facebook is more "I am who I know/what I do."As designers, how do we go about discovering and understanding these needs in our users, and avoid creating systems that merely reflect our own needs? (Maybe it comes back to the importance of the beta in social software development, as Rashmi Sinha noted in her IA Summit closing plenary.)Or, do we need to "liberate the means of production" and allow more individuals with more viewpoints to create the systems that work for them? We're letting users create content, how do we let users create systems? Imagine a highly-detailed version of Yahoo!'s Pipes that gives anyone a graphical framework to create the next Digg or Twitter. Not unlike the Facebook platform, but simpler, more flexible, and more open.At the IA Summit this year, Olly Wright spoke about Information Architecture and Ethical Design (slides [PDF] and audio [mp3] available). What are the professional ethics of IA? and how do they fit into the decision to create systems that may isolate or exclude?I've definitely got more questions than answers, but hopefully the debate this essay spawned can help us all to examine the issue.myspace facebook informationarchitecture socialsoftware danahboyd class ethics [...]

Open Library Demo: Attempting a Wikipedia for books

Fri, 20 Jul 2007 17:36:54 -0600

Earlier this week, the [...]

Random Friday: I got my philosophy...

Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:23:14 -0600

Set iTunes to shuffle and this is what comes out (inspired by Marisa)...

  1. MIA - MIA (Piracy Funds Terrorism, vol. 1)
  2. Split Screen Sadness - John Mayer (Heavier Things)
  3. I am a Man of Constant Sorrow - Soggy Bottom Boys (O Brother, Where Art Thou?)
  4. Por La San Jose - Maneja Beto (Para Que Las Paredes No Se Aburran)
  5. Mango Mangue - Charlie Parker (The Essential Charlie Parker)
  6. Philosophy - Ben Folds Five (Ben Folds Five)
  7. Hotel Yorba - The White Stripes (White Blood Cells)
  8. Rip Her to Shreds - Blondie (The Best of Blondie)
  9. All Mixed Up - 311 (311)
  10. Alright - Ellipsis (Take What You Will)

No. 4 – WTF? Where did this come from? Mmm, looks like I loaded it with one of the South by Southwest compliations.

No. 7 – Crap. Now that's going to be in my head for the forseeable future. .."It's 1, 2, 3, 4 take the elevator at the Hotel Yorba I'll be glad to see later..."

No. 8 – Debbie Harry rocks.

No. 10 &ndash Check out Ellipsis' recent Philly TV appearance