Biased by Design

Understanding power in the workplace by:   |  Posted on

Back in the mid-90s, as the personal computer was booming, I was just your fairly average tween with a Skip-It™. I spent my summers in the California sunshine counting: 100, 208, 300, 986, always aching to get to 1,000. While my parents worked long past sunset, I played on the sidewalk of my parents’ company, Design Matters. Before it was a podcast, Design Matters—one of the first agencies in the San Francisco Bay area—was my personal experience with design. My parents were early web designers who rode the dot-com boom back when the area was still ripe with possibility.

This sounds idyllic, but I’m here to tell you from a child’s perspective: It was many long nights for my parents, and there were waves of regular tension. Although their success did come, it was far from certain, and it certainly wasn’t easy. I overheard many unpleasant conversations as my parents grappled with all the messy stuff that comes with building a ragtag team in a field that was neither well understood nor yet defined.

A complementary duo, they built their team, secured the accounts, and improved the experiences of sites from 3Com to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—together.

I didn’t know what a glass ceiling was at the time, but, if I had, I’m sure I would have thought it had been shattered. What I saw in their personal and working relationship led me to believe that my contributions would be heard and considered equal anywhere I went. I was raised to believe that I could, and would, change the world. Continue reading Biased by Design

It’s a Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s a User Champion

Thoughts On A Hybrid Role by:   |  Posted on

Like a superhero created when the contents of two beakers accidentally combine, a powerful hybrid has emerged in the software development world: the user champion.

In this origin story, the beakers would be labeled “agile” and “user experience (UX)” because the user champion borrows some of the best ideas from both disciplines. From agile, it takes the idea of the product owner (or in this case, product champion). From UX, it takes a conviction in the value of user feedback.

This role of user champion may be the distinctive product of a distinctive design process—our shop focuses on highly knowledgeable, highly engaged business users—but it seems to have broader application.

As you might expect, the hybrid reflects its components. Continue reading It’s a Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s a User Champion

User-Centered Design Is Everyone’s Responsibility: A Launch Checklist

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I cannot count how many large-scale projects my team has been a part of where we’re scrambling last-minute to take care of some seemingly small but integral task necessary for launch. I’ve talked to others in the web design and marketing industry; my team is not alone in this launch frenzy. But does that make this odd ritual okay or even acceptable?

The risk when things are missed prior to launch

The worst case scenario? Once live, a project stakeholder notices the missteps and calls out the project team, damaging trust, credibility, and ultimately the relationship.

Scratch that.

Continue reading User-Centered Design Is Everyone’s Responsibility: A Launch Checklist

Unveiling the Specifics of ‘Unsubscribe’ for Email Marketers

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Email unsubscribe is one of the most dreadful things for any email marketer. After all the hard work you put into a campaign, it is particularly annoying to get your emails unsubscribed.

According to Mailjet, if your unsubscribe rate is below 1%, you are said to be within the industry norm. However, emails sent to new lists—to subscribers who have not received an email from you before—are not included in this calculation because they usually have more unsubscribes. Your industry also influences the number of unsubscribes you get. An agreeable unsubscribe rate is below 0.5%, and you should work on creating better emails if your unsubscribe rate exceeds that.

Continue reading Unveiling the Specifics of ‘Unsubscribe’ for Email Marketers

How to Avoid UX Burnout

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As I watched the app go live in across the various app stores I felt exhausted.

The steps leading up to the launch had been intense, involving multiple stakeholders, scores of different user personas, and innumerable iteration cycles spread across a multitude of design teams. We shipped the project on time and shared high-fives all around, but after the dust had settled, I realized how truly tired each step of this project had made me.

After the launch, I was all UX’ed out. Even the sight of a Post-It note felt exhausting. Attributing the fatigue to creative block, I planned to take a few days off to recharge. But because my version of “recharge” also means “process everything,” I also decided to write an article for creatives about how to deal with this kind of block.

Continue reading How to Avoid UX Burnout