Tag Archives: XD

How to Hire a Great UX Designer

In the midst of the awakening that is happening over the criticality of a quality user experience to product success and in some cases, survival, I’ve seen increasing discussions on line about how to find and keep the best UX design candidates. I think I can help.

Start by (this is going to sound like dating advice) being a good candidate yourself. Think about it. Great UX people are innovators and problem solvers. They are highly motivated by making someone’s experience better than it was before. If one comes to work for you, will you empower them to solve any problems? Will anyone’s experience be altered? Or will you ask for their input, smile and nod and go on with business as usual?

Why would a highly motivated UX designer want to hang around with you? If they offered you strategic design brilliance, would you recognize it? Or would you explain “that’s not what we do here”.

Of course, UX designers, like everyone else, like to be paid well for their expertise. But if you can’t tell the difference between mediocre, good, and excellent UX design direction, or execute on it, you might as well save your cash and hire from the discount bin. If the bottleneck to results is in the organization, the outcome will likely be about the same.

Remember what your mother said, if you want to have a good friend, be one.

– roger

On Hammers & Nails

A visionary is someone who understands the problem at a level of abstraction such that when a potential solution appears, he can spot how it might fit the need, even though it isn’t packaged in a box with a label that says, “Solution to the problem”.

Back when the web happened along, I happened to be studying ways to deliver large amounts of maintenance data to airlines online. The problem was complex. Airlines wanted updates immediately; an updated CDROM every 90 days was not sufficient. Large data transmissions were tedious and error prone. All the client reader solutions required that customers buy and install certain hardware and software.

When http and the Mosaic browser appeared, I instantly saw in it solutions to many of these problems. What’s more, the more I looked at the potential capabilities, the more I saw of possibilities for solving other problems that I had familiarity with. The list seemed to be endless.

At that time, the official word on the web from all of my management was that it was just a fad and would never be a company standard. Somewhere in the archives of the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company is a request form with my name listed as the petitioner recommending that http and the web browser (Mosaic was the only one at that time) be adopted as an architectural standard. Attached to it is a copy of my long list of potential applications / problems we could solve using it. That list had been forwarded around the company so much that today, it would certinly be caught by a spam filter for all to fwds in the subject line.

Resistance to such a vision seems like nonsense now, but at the time, I was speaking heresy. And i was speaking it anyone and everyone that would listen.

A colleague chided me saying “To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. He was right. And now, after nearly two decades of the World Wide Web, it is plainly evident that everything was in fact, a nail.

I saw the future corectly; even my outlandish vision was a gross underestimation.  My only regret is that I was in an ill position to capitalize on it properly. I didn’t start or join a dot.com and I struggled to find a niche among others who shared the same vision.  As the sci-fi stories often conclude, seeing the future and being able to do something about are two different things. I have, however, gotten a little better at it than before.

These days, I have a large box of hammers and like collecting news ones. Some I discover, others I make. Nails come in all shapes and sizes. I still spend a lot of time studying them. And I when it comes to solving problems effectively, I hit the nail on the head on a routine basis. It’s what I do.

If you have a good hammer, don’t be shy. But do study about nails.

– roger, a self-proclaimed visionary and nail hammerer

Lean UX & Chihuly’s Glass Team

Lately I have been pleased to have found Lean UX to be very successful, meaning an hour spent at the white board with some gifted programmers is worth a week wire framing and documenting. Instead of a clear handoff of a fully documented design, we are joined at the hip. I direct in real time while they code. Like artist Dale Chihuly does a quick sketch, then directs his glass craftsmen in the execution, we create UI in real time. We can’t work in this mode all the time, But when we do, it kicks ass

To see the Chihuly example, go to  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRJXZcSslao&feature=related. At 1:30 Chihuly explains how he conveys his designs and directs his team of glass blowers. See my photos of Chihuly’s art on my blog at http://belveal.net/?p=1496

The following photos show how he creates initial images in colorful sketches then directs the team in the execution.  This is the essence of Lean UX, the UX designer creates designs in a low fidelity media, such as hand drawings on paper or a white board, simple and very changeable to explore concepts quickly, then directs the programmers who are able to execute fluidly in html5 and CSS or othe similar code.  It works!




Experience Design Icon

XD Steel Icon

This is a gift to my group at my day job.  Experience Design “XD” is the name we are known by in a culture that gets it.  Usability is the target, yes, but it is the target’s edge. In 2012 the center is an awesome experience.  That is our mantra.

A little side note about XD in place of UX

The term “User Experience” happened when we realized that creating a User Interface (UI) is not the goal, but the means. The user experience is the goal.  In that title, “User experience, or UX, needing to explicitly include the word “user” is actually baggage leftover from the days when an “interface” without that distinction of user interface was assumed to be something connecting different parts of a system.

Ironically, interface was a purely technical term that borrowed the word “face” from the human context and metaphorically applied it to mechanical or virtual elements.  The coining of the term “User interface” was actually borrowing the term back to describe a human element as one side of the connection. That usage grew so much that the word interface alone has now come to more often mean the user interface.

The word ‘experience’ has no such baggage. There is no history of any part of the system besides the user having an “experience”. So making such a distinction is unnecessary.  So, since we know that we most definitely are not referring to a part of the system having an experience, do we really need to even say “user” anymore?  And if there is someone else, another person or group of people, that is impacted by what we do besides the “user”, well okay.  It’s still an experience isn’t it? And that is what we are designing isn’t it?

So then, just “experience”.  Yes, it sounds a little Hendrix-esque. And that’s okay too.

– roger

– Music in the short video is by Zuriel Merek