I thought I’d share a couple of articles I enjoyed reading recently:
The Case Against On-staff IAs
A strong case is put forward by Hana Schank that being an outsider can give you a better perspective. While I do agree that its hard to maintain complete objectivity working inside an organisation, the familiarity also brings some benefits. I have seen many cases of consultants making poorly thought through recommendations because they didn’t have a firm grasp of all the issues.
So, how do we get the best of both worlds? A lot of it boils down to the value an organisation places on customercentricity. If its regarded as being important, employing all the necessary tools and tricks to see the world from the users perspective will be routine and welcomed. If the interest in UX is just lip service (which is often the case), then all the subtle deterrents will be drip fed into the project, until all usercentricity is slowly asphyxiated. The only weapons against this are passion and education. You need to win over each stakeholder one at a time. And that is something only an ‘innie’ can do.
5 Design Decision Styles. What's Yours? http://www.uie.com/articles/five_design_decision_styles/
Jared Spool outlines 5 approaches to UX. A horrifyingly accurate summary in my experience.
Inspired by a number of UX related diagrams, I offer mine: the UX toolkit, a framework driven by quality of user experience and the focus of the digital product that maps out the relevant tools used to drive each of the four areas that make a product, relevant and usable, leading to loyalty and delight.
In each of the quadrants, I have mapped tools that drive each area: with business tools concentrated in the lower left. They help to establish product strategy. On the lower right hand quadrant, are all of the tools that expose usability issues and define a usable model for the product. Moving up the model, you start to get the tools that reveal what could be called the “nice-to-haves” (although in UX terms, they are absolutely fundamental), that take a product out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary.
About 50% of the work I do these days is Agile. While I like some aspects of the approach, I have to confess I am not a big fan. I think it has a lot of potential to smother vision and innovation, because its easy to take a couple of small steps in the wrong direction and find that the destination is a few miles adrift of the original goal. The iterative nature of the Agile process allows key elements to get accidentally dropped or forgotten, which can take the project in a subtly different direction.
Given its “just enough” strategy, Agile also promotes short term goals ahead of long term thinking, so that you end up with what is referred to as “debt”, meaning a lot of rework needing to be done. Its usually referred to in a technical capacity, but I think there is a great build-up of shortcuts in all aspects of the development, particularly on the UX side. By not knowing what is coming, its impossible to make anything other than educated guesses about where the product is going. So every discipline in the team is likely to be confronted with rework as time goes on.
My experience is that getting resource to repay an accumulation of “UX debt” is often impossible, unless there are pressing commercial issues - in which case they shoot right to the top of the backlog. So the product limps along, hobbled by an ever increasing technical and UX burdon.
But, there are some great aspects of Agile, which should be celebrated and embraced. I love the great communication that comes from daily scrums and the innovation that results from working in mixed teams. From a UX perspective, the more the different disciplines collaborate, the better the outcomes will be.
I want an easy life - for everyone. The only way to achieve that is if we all work together, to make the world a better place, one interaction at a time. This blog is aimed at people who are either starting out in UX or just want to know more about it.
Freelance user experience strategist. Passionate about making life a little easier, through intelligent use of design.