Sunday, May 8, 2016

Kent State UXD Program- UXD in Practice Reflective Journaling Week 7

I had the opportunity to listen/read to the first part of the book called Nonsense:The Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes.

It is a fascinating voyage into the power of letting yourself not know and the impact of doing this.

This is interesting to me because I believe designers are great at doing this more than anyone else.   Designers can hold a thought an idea in their mind and not make a decision right away what they want to do with it.  Most people have a sense of urgency to make a decision and find themselves that they are not creative.  They are creative but they not have the patience for taking a chance of
not knowing something.  The book discusses the impact of not knowing and most often our emotions are amplified, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.  I am still reading it but I would recommend anyone who is interested in this unique skill, of  not knowing (or not always having the answer) and still thriving and being successful in your career.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Kent State UXD Program- UXD in Practice Reflective Journaling Week 6

I had the opportunity to see Bruce Mau speak at the Bersin by Deloitte Conference called IMPACT in Hollywood, Florida last week.  The conference is mostly a Human Resources, Talent, Leadership and Learning conference.  In his introduction he asked everyone who was a designer to raise their hand, and about 1/10 the room raised their hand.  Then he looked up the description of the Bersin by Deloitte member community and highlighted that the word design was very clear in the definition of community members.  He asked again who was a designer and everyone raised their hand.  The members of this conference work to design human experiences for the purposes of meeting the needs of employees whether its designing a on boarding experience or designing a leadership curriculum.  Design is an important part of what we do but a lot of us are not aware of key design principals.  His presentation went on to further talk about the notion of enterprise design and I would share some images taken from the presentation but I am not sure I am alloweded to.

It was a great presentation and I recommend the book called Glimmer (audiobook version) by Warren Berger which talks about Bruce Mau’s career and the impact of design thinking on our world and culture.  The paperbook version has the interesting title CAD Monkeys, Dinosaur Babies and T-Shaped People: Inside the World of Design Thinking and How It Can Spark Creativity and Innovation.


Link to audio book version


Link to the paperback version


Friday, April 22, 2016

Kent State UXD Program- UXD in Practice Reflective Journaling Week 5

In the book Glimmer(Berger, 2009), Warren Berger discusses the controversy of doing too much research to do effective design. 

Bruce Mau has his own philosophy called speculative design.  Although he thinks it’s important to get in touch with your customers and understand their lives there is a danger in relying on this too much.  Mau uses his speculative design to write down some initial thoughts on a proposed design. (Berger, 2009) Although Mau does do the research he often finds his initial speculative design is correct. (Berger, 2009)

The book discusses opinions from John Thackara and Cameron Sinclair on if designers should stay to their local area in terms of focusing on design improvements.  (Berger, 2009) The summary is that while some designers in an attempt to do a lot of research do make mistakes in foreign environments, there are many more examples of designers who have made a significant impact to the world by looking outside their own environment. (Berger, 2009)  The Aquaduct, , is one such example designed by IDEO designers to tackle the problems of sanitation and transportation of water in developing regions of the world.

I think one area that the book does not address and can sometimes make a different is the passion that drives the designer.  A designer who does not have passion for the project and may lack some design skills may rely on research too much.   I believe it is this passion that is the difference and gives that person an ability to listen and pay attention better than anyone else.


Berger, W. (2009). Glimmer: how design can transform your life, your business, and maybe even the world. Random House Canada.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Kent State UXD Program- UXD in Practice Reflective Journaling Week 4

So in my project I am creating a ficticous app that tries to align long term goals, sometimes called life accounts (Hyatt & Harkavy, 2016) to our daily and weekly tasks. I took a life coaching class a few years ago and I enjoy testing out new productivity tools. I thought I would try to combined the challenge of setting long term goals with a App that could help steer people back to meeting those long term goals.

Google recently released something called Goals as a part of their Google Calendar product that tries to help use your available time to meet Goals. It is not the same as I envisioned it but in essence my own App and Google Goals project is trying to align (in their own way) the goals we have with the available time that comes to us. I honestly think for a user of Google Calendars their product would work better than mine even if I had a completed App ready. One of the findings from my research is that a persons business or personal calendar is a key tool in keeping things organized from day to day. I still might develop my own version of the App because there are more people that don't use Google Calendar that do. The other reason is I believe my own design tenents including a feature to ask for support for a Life Account or a reminder/todo is more thoughtful in design.

Hyatt, Michael, Harkavy, Daniel, (2016). Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want. Baker Books.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Kent State UXD Program- UXD in Practice Reflective Journaling Week 3

This week I was fortunate to come across the book Make It So Nathan Shedroff.  His book is a really interesting read on how science fiction has impacted current day design.  The thought that science fiction as a result of suspending reality can create innovative designs is fascinating topic.

Nathan also has a series of videos on Lynda called "Nathan Shedroff on Design Strategy and the Merging of Business and Design".  His conversation on how those in the business world and those in the design world have to come together to create effective and innovative solutions was fantastic.  You can check out the preview (1st episode) if you don't have a Lynda Account here.

If I lived closer to Nathan's graduate school program I would definitely do my best to attend.  The program is a great mix of business knowledge and design knowledge at the California College of the Arts.  The information on the Lynda web site is a great site for those that want to take their design knowledge and gain a better understanding of how business and design can effectively combine.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Kent State UXD Program- UXD in Practice Reflective Journaling Week 2

I drive about 70 miles to work each way and to deal with the amount of driving I have been listening to Audible audio books a lot.  One book in particular that I love is a book called Glimmer by Warren Berger.  I strongly recommend the book for any interested in the field of design. 

One of the key topics discussed is the nature of using research for design.  There are some critics of using too much design.  Some say research is done for research sake.  Bruce Mau is one the designers Warren talks about in his book.   Warren Berger talks about Mau when he states “Mau sketched his model, showing that instead of starting with research (top drawing), he starts with design speculation and then uses research at intervals throughout the process.”(Berger, 2009).  Mau still believes like most designers that your instincts need to be tested in the field with potential customers to make sure your design speculation is correct.(Berger, 2009)

Berger, W. (2009). Glimmer: how design can transform your life, your business, and maybe even the world. Random House Canada.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Kent State UXD Program- UXD in Practice Reflective Journaling Week 1

I am in the learning and development industry and one of the skills that has been getting some press is something called performance consulting.  It is really the act of making sure creating an online course (most common example) is really the solution needed to address a performance/business problem.  Since taking the UX courses at Kent State I've realized that a performance consultant is a kind of designer.  A performance consultant thinks about the experience of the audience in a very similar way that a UX professional does.  A performance consultant looks at the areas of motivation just as a UX professional leverages empathy in the same way to understand a specific problem or opportunity.  In fact, there are more similarities than differences.  A performance consultant is in a manner of speaking a UX professional that focuses on the design of business performance.  The biggest difference is that a performance consultant is more aligned with the business than a standard UX professional because that is the lane where performance consultants and learning professionals work so to speak.   The client in the case of a performance consultant is always the business.  While this doesn't create a lot of variety, the principals of UX can help ensure there is always an alignment to the business by using principals in visual design and techniques such as creating prototypes.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Kent State UXD Program:Reflective Journaling Week 7

This week I wanted to highlight a book I just completed listening to (using audible) for the second time called Mindful Leadership.  The concept of Mindful Leadership has a place for every person but specifically for designers of any industry.

Last week I mentioned that as a designer when you start to ask good questions you start to earn the trust of your client/customer.  But as a individual in our hectic day of life it can be hard to find the space to ask good questions.  When this happens it becomes less about creativity and more about getting the job done.  Janice Marturano in her book "Finding the Space to Lead: A Practical Guide to Mindful Leadership" offers a practical guide to mindful leadership and one of the core principals is Creativity.  Creativity, Compassion, Focus, and Clarity form the foundation and as she describes in her book all of them are needed to be mindful in a leadership setting.

I strongly recommend the book to anyone who has found themselves doing things almost automatically without thinking about it.  If you find yourself asking why you are doing one thing in particular and cannot clearly answer that question this is a great book to steer yourself back to the path you are destined for.

I prefer the audible edition because she also includes several meditation practices on it.

Here is the Kindle version link

Friday, February 26, 2016

Kent State UXD Program:Reflective Journaling Week 6

I mentioned in our virtual class that I drive a lot, probably more than most to my job every day (about 130 miles round trip).  I listen to Audible audio books to pass the time and the book that I am wrapping up this week is a book about asking questions.  What?  I know, right.  What is so complex about asking questions you might ask.  Well, the book often cites and justifiably so that as we grow out of childhood we start to absorb a large amount of information and ask questions a lot less.  Why is this important and what does it have to do with User Experience Design?  The idea of asking good questions like why or what if is consistent with many great innovative leaders like the late Steve Jobs.

     The book I read/listened to was called  “A More Beautiful Question:   The power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough ideas” by Warren Berger.  Warren goes into detail about how to ask good questions.  What I am getting at is that as a designer you want to make the web site or app the best it can be and that means making sure it makes the largest impact for the customer.  Those designers who want to elevate their skills will look beyond just creating an effective design using color, contrast, and grids.  Those designers will look deeper into the emotion so that the tone and context of the web site or App is very powerful.  In order to get that far it will help you to understand how to ask good questions.  Now as a designer you can't ask why does the customer want to build this web site or App at least initially.  After all it is your job to build it.  But you can make specific observations to the client and ask a question like "What are some specific impacts you believe this site may make in your business/industry?"  When a client or customer starts to understand that you really care about the mission of the project and not just the dollars you are getting paid they will allow you the space to ask those why questions.  In due time you may help the web site or App go from a good or a great looking site or App to a beautiful vehicle of communication and awareness for your client's project that you will never forget. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Kent State UXD Program:Reflective Journaling Week 5

This week our class read about the golden ratio, grids, symmetrical and asymmetrical design.  These are all great tools for helping you decide how to present the most relevant part of your story first.  What is most challenging is often we try to make things complex because we believe that is what people want.  It is true that many people want to see a great design.  But the story you want to tell is often the most powerful when it is told in the most simple way using a minimum number of bell and whistles.  Grids and principals are a great way to reduce the complexity into something that is manageable for the end user to understand.  Great design is about a great amount of effort to understand the story you want to tell and how your story fits into the lives of others.  Great design is a good first step but the information architecture of your design and how much value you are providing to the viewer is something that is just as important.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Kent State UXD Program:Reflective Journaling Week 4

Workflow is often an overlooked part of user experience.  Many including myself try and come up with the best looking color pattern and spend time looking on kuler for the best color combination.  In a previous post I mentioned that design is a service oriented business.  That is, the best designers are often those who think about their audience and serve their audience by understanding them better than any other designer.  Workflow is a pivotal but often overlooked step in the area of user experience.  My wife and I although not dancers enjoy watching the show so you think you can dance.  Some of their best moments in those dances are the transitions from one movement to another which are basically akin to workflow.  As a designer you always need to be thinking of the steps your audiences take and the transitions they make from one step into another so they don’t get confused or worst lost.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Kent State UXD Program:Reflective Journaling Week 3

In a response to a post this week I mentioned a study that showed people forget more frequently when they walk through doorways.  The point here about design is you want to make sure the audience you are designing for doesn't take too long to perform their task.  If it does take a long time then it is important as Johnson(2013) describes that you allow them to record what actions they took.  The wonderful thing about design is that it is so open and you can be so creative.  The bad aspect is design is that many people start to care about the elements of a design more than the audience they are designing for.  As designers we should celebrate when we create a cool new design but we should also celebrate when we design something so well people don't even notice.  Design is a service as much as it is a craft.

Johnson, J. (2013). Designing with the mind in mind: simple guide to understanding user interface design guidelines. Elsevier.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Kent State UXD Program:Reflective Journaling Week 2

   Based on the last few readings and the posts by a lot of people here in class I am getting a better appreciation of how important it is to know your audience.  What made me think about this was Sarah's example of the National Ballet of Canada Web Site, .  

While the ballet web site did use certain pieces of technology for responsive design the focus was the large picture of two dancers and the tickets for Romeo and Juliet.   An argument could be made that it takes too long to find information on the web site and perhaps the web site's design team is working on this.   But the web site invites exploration and the use of the tiles with pictures is designed so well.  The site also offers at the top right side a way to easily browse important categories and to do a quick search.  

It may be true that new visitors to the site find it challenging to find certain things.  But the web site like any other site has to prioritize who are their main audiences, and what are the most important things they want people to find.  I believe this is where the business strategy component of Jaime Levy's book UX Strategy shows its value (Levy, 2005).  The decisions of a web site ultimately have to be driven by a business strategy and not strictly by a cool design.  The four components of a  Business Strategy, Killer UX, Validated User Research, and Value Innovation together make a UX Strategy. (Levy, 2015)

Levy, J. (2015). UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want. " O'Reilly Media, Inc.".

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Kent State UXD Program:Reflective Journaling Week 1

One of the things that stuck with me from this week was the simple power of noticing or observation.  This was well presented in Tony Fadell's TED talk.  As a former IT professional I understand we can often start to think about solutions before we really focus and listen.  It is much easier and fun to immediately start thinking about a new design or a new solution.  The romantic notion of creating something and being innovative in your career is very seductive.  But I believe the profession of User Experience unlike many is a great example of a career that provides a service vs a specific product.  If you believe that you are providing a service to your customer or client then observation is probably one the most important skills you can build upon.