Deciding for Decisive

Decisive_heathI’ve been a fan of the Heath Brothers book ‘Made to Stick’ so I was pleased to find that they came out with the book ‘Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Work and in Life’. I have a small set of books that I plan to re-read every year and this one made the cut.  As a designer, understanding how people decide is critical. Making decisions on design without a process can lead to poor outcomes. Without giving up too much of this book, I have to cite two of my  key take aways; (1) Ask yourself, ‘What would have to be true for an option you are considering to be the right one? ‘ and (2) ‘Multi-track’, don’t limit yourself to a few options, ‘think and not or’. Brilliant book for many reasons. Highly recommended read for anyone interested in the mechanics of decision making.

Lean UX, my take-aways

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Lean UX is the intersection of three principles: Design Thinking, Agile Software Development and Lean Start Up (auths: Jeff Gothelf, Josh Seiden)
I had a number of take-aways, of which i’ll share a few:
1) Cultivate an experimentation mindset
2) Place greater emphasis on ‘making’ versus ‘analysis’
3) Work more collaboratively, think of UX as design facilitators versus design heros
4) Set up infrastructure to enable continuous and collaborative user research
5) Drive for continuous improvement; frame and address your UX debt

Hit the Ground Running

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This was another very actionable insight that I gleaned from the book QE. Whether your research project is a few days, or involves tracking users over several years, it is imperative for researchers to get going. Spending too much time at the beginning limits the time you have to spend in the field. After your plan is developed, give yourself a goal to accomplish 3 key research tasks in your first 3 weeks in the field. One of the tools that may help to organize your research is a user research database. This can take on many formats but I personally have found spreadsheets to be both lightweight and effective in this regard. On a new research project, I would organize a user research workbook (one page per user) with sheets to include things like user characteristics, preferences, dislikes, tasks and any answers to specific questions. Documenting and organizing each user from the beginning is helpful, it’s very painful to do field work and then spend days on end trying to decode your notes well after the fact. As your research progresses, you can fine-tune the database to add more details or organize the details in a way that will help to uncover patterns or simplify the process of aggregating and analyzing your data.

Inside Looking Out

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I found two ideas in the third chapter of “Quick Ethnography” to be particularly useful. First, “seek to understand people from the inside looking out”. It can be really easy to use our individual perspective to construct or deconstruct how or why a user perceives a product of feature to be. However, using our perspective instead of the users could lead to very wrong conclusions. This leads to the second important point, “anticipate your best data by appearing a little stupid”. As UX practitioners, we must strive to push aside the expert in us in order to learn from the user expert. This way we can collect the best data to draw accurate conclusions and make effective recommendations on future designs.