Process and Methods

The following is a composite of experiences I’ve had in the last year when talking with startups. Some dialog is paraphrased, some is verbatim, but I’ve tried to keep it as true as possible and not skew it towards anyone’s advantage or disadvantage. As professionals in the user-centered design world, we are trained and inclined…

Improvisation is a very old and time-tested form of theater. The earliest use of improvisation is found in records of a Roman farce performed in 391 BC. Given its long history, it’s surprising to me that in our modern world, comedy–and comedic improvisation–is considered a low-brow form of entertainment. It is generally eschewed by the…

December 19th, 2013

Building the In-house Design Agency

Getting the best of both worlds

The first article discussed the pros and cons of different UX team structures. For companies that depend on user experience for business success, a strong internal team is essential. But how do you get there from here? Having built one UX group from scratch and managed another 230+ person internal UX groups, I’ve learned a…

November 26th, 2013

Soldiers & Hessians, Ronin & Ninja

UX team organization can make or break a company's design strategy

When UX’ers talk, they tend to talk about process, but the ability to deliver an innovative user experience starts before kickoff and lasts after the launch. Repeatable success in UX depends on the right culture. This is particularly important in enterprise scale organizations, with long-lasting relationships. Having worked as a consultant, at an agency and…

October 29th, 2013

Context matters

Using eye-tracking to test email marketing

What makes a marketing e-mail or newsletter efficient? One can judge, for instance, by the number of users that opened the message or clicked on a specified element representing primary action, such as a product link or button. Those indicators measure user engagement precisely; however, they are limited to the last phase of interaction with…

September 17th, 2013

UX One-liners

The UX of UX

A little background to start: I’ve had the honor of working as a designer-in-residence for General Assembly’s User Experience Design Immersive Pilot Program (UXDI) from June through July. Our team built, launched, and taught a UX course 5-days a week, 8-hours a day, for 8-weeks straight.  It was quite the challenging, yet rewarding experience. However,…

The adoption of Agile software development approaches are on the rise across our industry, which means UX professionals are more likely than ever to support Agile projects. Many UX professionals seem stymied by the challenge of effectively integrating UX within an Agile development framework–but there are others in our field who have encountered the same…

My first experience in improvisational comedy was in 1989. I was a freshman at Texas A&M University. Some of the students in the theater department decided to get an improv troupe started and somehow talked me into joining them. In the beginning, I was petrified to perform without a script. Looking back now, I can…

Imagine if you will information architecture as a pimply-faced, malcontent teenager.  IA is eager to express and redefine itself. It wants to be an individual yet accepted by its peers. It is simultaneously aggravated and apathetic about its parents, mentors, and role-models. It is a bit of a mess, but a wonderful, beautiful mess with…

April 9th, 2013

The Shallow Dive

How to Survive When UX Meets Budget Cuts

At a recent job, my department faced large budget cuts. When the dust had cleared, I found I had become a UX group of one. This didn’t come with a corresponding slowdown in work – in fact, following a major rewrite of our call center application, our department was already struggling to keep pace with…

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