Tag Archives: process

UX, we have a problem { or a few }

uxskimo

 

there’s the cute little UX eskimo — so innocent and cute, standing in his little Inuit happiness at the tip of the iceberg

the iceberg represents the UX process and our deliverables in this rather well-known and beautifully illustrated depiction of all those things that user experience actually is — and the eskimo is your happy tour guide to the iceberg, our little Virgil just waiting to show us around the wonderful processes and deliverables in our vector-drawn Divine Comedy of UX

go download the poster from PAZ — its something nice to print out and hang on your fridge

now psychoanalyze the poster for a few minutes here with me, because unfortunately i think that the informative nature of the this design piece is equally balanced by an unintended, expressive reflection that a many user-centered design professionals can relate to on myriad levels

here’s my high-level interpretation:

we stand alone at the top of a mountain of ice that’s floating in dangerous, deadly-cold waters

we know what we’re talking about, we can see The Big Picture from the vantage point we’re standing at, and this is a fantastic place to be in 2014 — we can feel like leaders in our profession, we hold a unique vision, a perspective that includes the intersection of design, people, technology, business and this mysterious force called experience, the thing that rules them all, right?

but i wonder as i examine this poster,
where are the other little eskimos?

where are the good people on the business side? where are the cSuite and product and project managers? where are the developers? and where are all the other amazing professionals that we constantly engage with and collaborate with on a daily basis to create an optimal, immersive and delightful experience?

we don’t do it alone

even if it oftentimes feels that way, and even if the setup just happens to put us in this solo spot

we can’t do it alone

but there we are — little eskimos that somehow need to keep the feeling of UX warm and friendly and cute, even amidst the most bitter, freezing elements of this strange wintry environment

but this is the myth — and its actually both the myth and the actual reality of the business on SO many occasions because most businesses still do not understand what we do in UX beyond the buzz of we need some UX to make this better

they’re still expecting a person to wave the magic wizardly wand to sprinkle that glittery UX dust on the original missed opportunities from Phase 1 not quite realizing that its not a person or the people of UX you need to invest in — its both the people and the processes they bring to the business table that need your trust, your empowerment and your investment

i’ve worked in the realm of interaction and UX now for 2 decades and i am flabbergasted at how many times the process falls to shit because the UX Team is not given the power and trust to contribute both at a reasonable pace and at a necessary level of leaderly quality in our daily collaborations

when i bring my automobile to the shop to get it fixed, per esempio, i might have a conversation with the mechanic to understand her/his diagnostic analysis of the situation and to understand the cost and consequences of my repairs, but my own sense of subjectivity never really enters the equation because i have a relationship with the expert professionals that are helping me get back on the road in a safe and reasonable manner

in almost the same scenario in the world of experience design, however, the expertise of the professional is almost always questioned, challenged and compromised — defend the quality and integrity of the design as best as you must, there is rarely the occasion that UX is given even a good enough sense of respect and trust to simply move forward with the plans as envisioned by the designer — there is always something to challenge the design rationale, the feasibility of the development work, the cost and scope of the design recommendations { such a wimpy-ass word, too, if you ask me, these recommendations }, even the usability, research and other current, established methodological practices all seem to get some sense of snarl-lipped scrutiny from the business forces surrounding UX

the odds are still against us

and the challenge and territory of experience design as a professional practice are still a much larger iceberg we’re touring, my friends and colleagues — the challenge for UX in 2014 and moving forward is formidable — formidable but possible — but it entails SO much more than what is so cutely included in this poster toy depiction of User Centred Design { intentional misspelling, i assume? — not that i’m opposed to any concrete poetics inspired by e.e. cummings and others, of course } — and the challenges are far more about: developing our soft skills; improving our abilities to command the other languages we need to speak with the entire milleau of vast and diverse collaborative teams; and optimizing the way we navigate and guide { or a stronger word, the one i prefer, would be lead } the over-politicized, internal { and external } corporate ecosystems that our processes and personas need to function within

we still have a lot to keep working on

we need to flip the diagrammatics, these visuals that both paint the expressive picture of our work while also simultaneously informing ourselves and others about what our industry is all about

firstly, we should always move up, not down, into the process — we need a different metaphor, one where we wouldn’t end up under water in the frigid Arctic Ocean as a consequence of flipping the paradigm — but first and foremost, progress is almost universally expressed through upward movement, unlike what we see with our friendly UX eskimo and iceberg { a very intriguing Freudian Slip, though, to keep in mind when you start to look at the poster by what the industry must feel like to the poster artist }

and secondly, we need more people, eskimos and others, as the leaders and guides to the process

UX is not a solo endeavor — it should not even remotely ever be considered the efforts and fruits for the hands of an individual contributor

and there’s obviously so much more beyond this poster to be worked on, but how we visualize who we are and what we do matters so much — we still have a perception challenge for UX — we need to keep working on it together

some reflections on the challenge of experience design

a huge part of ux has nothing to actually do with design and processes — ux is about establishing culture and curating the experience of ucd

storyFirst

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as with most of the concepts i come up with — i am flooded with ideas, raw direction, so much intent, and then i typically register a domain name, attempt designing the first iteration of a logo and put together a landing page to claim my new turf

i equate it to the modernday animal domination of mental property on the subconscious market

sometimes the investment is well worth it and the page i create blossoms into a blog or smallish web site — the initial concept evolves and moves, it comes alive either through further visual thinking or through writing down my near-daily thoughts on that particular and typically invented subject

at other times i realize my property purchase is a fixer upper or maybe a subtle spin-off of someone else’s idea, and i either work on it or i don’t, it becomes a dead end of the interwebz or a tiny root-like germinated seed of an idea in slow motion, not fully developed but just waiting to grow { but in dire need of food, water, soil and sun }

the term or phraseology storyFirst originates from Dynamic Media Institute at Massachusetts College of Art and Design

i really don’t know yet where i am taking this idea, but here’s the gist and the backStory for storyFirst

Jan Kubasiewicz { sometimes known as Jan Kuba } developed an assignment as an improvisational evolution of work from previous weeks in the DMI Course Design for Motion, Time and Sound — in this week’s workshop session, our teams were to take the work done to-date and start up again from scratch, focusing on putting the story first this time

what’s your story? was also a question i recall Jan asking me several times at reviews each semester — he wasn’t really looking to string my projects together in a more cohesive manner so much as he was trying to figure out why anyone should give a shit about my project work, my research and ultimately my design

and this became a very important way of looking at the entire body of my work, at examining my process, the materials i choose to work with and the very reason why i research using both critical reading and visual design methodologies to actively understand my terrain

i think i registered the domain name for storyFirst around the time that Joe Liberty, Andrew Ellis and i collaboratively designed and fabricated the embeddedStory System for MassArt Made — i think i understood back then on some sort of subconscious level how important story was to my work and to my research in cyberSurrealism

but it wasn’t until i read Luke Wrobelewski’s recent book Mobile First that i felt the full-on inspiration to write a book about using story to drive design in a new way — i want to use story as a means to drive my professional design work and also a means to design and redesign my life { and the lives of others }

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now, i’ll be the first to admit { since we’re in a safe place here and i know you won’t just give away my little secret to just anyone, right? }, i tend to have issues with figures of authority — its almost a built-in mechanism, something i’ve only discovered through deep psychotherapy and self-reflection — i know that my satiric and humorous demeanor, my uncanny ability to ‘make fun’ out of just about anything, literally comes with severely scrutinizing the philosophies and actions of others and then trying to articulate what i honestly think and feel about well-established and revered pillars of practice and thinking

but i want this project, as much as it is inspired by my gut negative reaction to the Mobile First mantra and movement, i want storyFirst to become something of its own — i value some but not all of the thought that was put into Mobile First, i don’t necessarily believe its as practical and realistic a methodology as its advertised to be { i mean, how many clients can you convince to restart everything with a mobile experience as the filter to every single design decision you’re going to make across every extension and experience related to the brand of an organization? are corporations even that unified and organized to begin with to get THAT much buy-in and work in some harmonious, collaborative way to actually go Mobile First everytime? } — i don’t even think my most recent thinking about storyFirst benefits clients, prospects and corporations as much as i hope to benefit real people, and specifically designers

i believe that people — as natural human organisms — always strive to make meaning in the world — in fact, i believe that meaning itself doesn’t actually exist on its own in any way and that people, families, villages, societies and ultimately the symbiotic entirety of our macro-organic civilization create fictions and fact and rules around what these meanings are all about

we own a personal story,everyone of us — we can tell stories from memories, from episodes of our past and bring those stories back to life in conversation, in photographs, in dynamic media, in dance — and then we can imagine stories for ourselves and others, we can project what we think our lives can be or we can also dream up what we actually want our lives to be and then we can tell that story to ourselves and others — and then through user-centered design processes, confounded and delightfully weaved into the fabric of storytelling and retelling and actively pursuing these stories we create, we can design our lives — as individuals, as families, as villages, and as a global society

a little utopian, i know — but unless we strive for the impossible we will never achieve the dream

we may fail, and i believe right now we live in a time that manifests far more of a distopian twist on the original promises made by dreamers of progress and technology from the 1940s, 50s and 60s — but we need to follow the story, we need to follow the story a LOT more carefully and adhere to the benefits originally enmeshed with the original stories

i hope i can do this idea justice — i hope i can adequately tell the story i envision behind putting storyFirst in design and in life