Make Me A Website!

20140409-004155.jpg

So my neighbor asked what I do for a living. I explained that I work for a software company on the product design team. His response?

“Awesome! So will you like, make me a website?”

My immediate thoughts:

1. I said, “product design” which isn’t even remotely close to what he’s asking for.

2. “Making a website” requires a killer website design, content strategy, great content, excellent UX , hosting, analytics and a plethora of other things. Judging by the way he said, “make me a website,” I think he was envisioning a mouse and magical fairy dust being involved.

3. I have a pretty sweet blog, but it’s hosted through WordPress with a pre-made theme applied because stick figures are the extent of my artistic prowess.

4. The dude legit didn’t know the difference between software product design and “making a website.” This made me sad and also made me want to sing songs about the multitudes of design disciplines that are out there. But I’m a little tone deaf, so I’ll just keep blogging instead (because I like you and value your auditory health.)

5. If I had said I was a goat farmer, would he have asked me to give him a goat?

Attack of the Killer Feature Bloat

20140403-193721.jpg

So have you ever used a an early adaptation of a product, V1 or V2, and absolutely LOVED it? A best thing since sliced bread, completely awesome, wonder how you lived without it product?

Then V3 comes out and all of a sudden there is all this extra… stuff. And the charm is suddenly gone. Now you’re digging through a layer of crazy to get to the underlying base features that you loved in the first place.

You stare at the screen thinking, “What happened here?” Then move on to a different, simpler product.

I’ll tell you exactly what happened. We like to call it feature bloat. It’s when a company starts out with a great simple concept with awesome UX, and moves into “design by committee” mode as the product expands.

They start tacking on all kinds of random features, and bells and whistles, until the original concept is barely recognizable.

Then users start to bail on the product, so the company panics and tosses on another layer of miscellaneous stuff no one wants.

Eventually the product and sometimes entire company, explode into oblivion and wind up in that great big startup grave yard in the sky.

Sounds… horrible, right? So how do you avoid the terrifying feature bloat implosion scenario?

All it takes is a qualified, experienced product manager who can see through the fluff, and who isn’t afraid to say, “No.”

We are fortunate enough to have absolutely phenomenal product managers on our staff, along with absolutely incredible senior management. They’re so in tune with the true needs of our users that we sometimes accuse them of being psychic.

So if your company is expanding out of startup mode, do yourself a favor and land a quality product manager ASAP!

Art Prints of UX Sketches Available!

Hi folks! I first of all want to thank you for your absolutely HUGE outpouring of love and support in response to my UX/UI bike sketch!

20140331-215703.jpg

It was RT’d, favorited, and downloaded an astounding 3000+ times internationally over the course of the past few weeks! Your kind words and tweets about the sketch absolutely made my entire year! Love you all!

Many people reached out and asked if I would turn it into a purchasable art print… Ask and you shall receive! :) The UX UI Bike sketch is now available for purchase as a print, t-shirt, onesie, hoodie, pillow, even a shower curtain if that’s what you’re into! Lol

You can check out the full selection of available items at http://society6.com/userexperiencerocks.

If you really enjoyed another sketch I’ve done, and would like me to add it to the print library, just let me know and I’ll do my best to get it up there!

Someone asked if I make any $ on the sales of these items, I get about 10%!

Thanks to the generosity and support you all have shown, many items have already sold! T-shirts, mugs, art prints and laptop skins are most popular thus far!! :) I want to send the most giant thanks in the universe to every person who purchased an item! <3 You folks rock!!! :)

Several people asked if Society6 ships internationally, yes they do! :)

Another person asked if they can buy in bulk for staff gifting purposes (mugs specifically). Please feel free! :)

Thank you again to every single person who took the time to tweet, retweet, favorite, link to and view or purchase the sketch items! You are all absolutely amazing, and have brought me tons of joy over the course of the past few weeks. I'm sending you all giant thanks and tons of love! <3

Low Stress Sketching For The Artistically Challenged

Tonight someone asked me what kind of software I use when I make my sketches. I almost always sketch with a black fine point sharpie on lined Post-It notes.

20140328-184612.jpg

Why did I choose those two items when there are about 90 billion other art supply options?

Shut Up Self

I use Sharpie permanent markers because then my perfectionist streak can’t get in the way of my creativity. I can’t sketch in pencil, I’m too tempted to erase and revise, and it distracts me from creating. With Sharpies, once it’s on the paper there’s no getting rid of it, you just have to keep moving forward.

I <3 Post-Its

I use Post-Its because they’re low pressure. Looking at a giant white sheet of paper is intimidating for me, but a little rectangular yellow Post-It is friendly and familiar. They also feel less official, and therefore make me more comfortable drawing fun things.

20140331-210341.jpg

When I finish a sketch on a Post-It and it’s horrible, no harm done, I toss it in the trash. When I like a doodle, I take a pic of it with my phone and post it on my blog.

Low Key and Doable

It’s the easiest, most low pressure drawing method for me. That probably sounds insane to super artistic folks, but since stick figures are the extent of my skill, it works for me. :)

Lies! How did you make posters then?

When the UX/UI bike sketch blew up, I took a mega high res photo of it with my camera that is capable of zooming in on craters on the moon (Seriously, for a point and shoot my Nikon P510 is a beast. I took this in my backyard without a tripod.)

20140328-184720.jpg

and then I used Pixelmator to strip out the background with their extremely handy magic eraser tool. A little more clean up and boom: my post it sketch could be blown up to large art print and shower curtain sizes.

Thanks for sharing?

So why did I just take the time to outline my process? Because I want every self proclaimed “artistically challenged” person out there to understand that a doodle I drew on a Post-It was RT’d, favorited and downloaded literally THOUSANDS of times internationally over the past couple of weeks. You don’t have to be Picasso to tell a story or get a concept across with a sketch!

So shake off your fear, pick up a Sharpie and some Post-Its and get to work!

If I can overcome my fear of sketching, so can you!

If you go for it, I’d LOVE to see your doodles and sketches! Tweet them my way at @jma245! :)

And as always, thank you so very much for checking out my blog! You all are the very best folks on earth! :)

Great UX: It does a body good!

20140324-231418.jpg

So we’ve all, at some point in our lives, used a piece of software that raised our blood pressure to kill-you-to-death levels, and made us grind our teeth to powdery nubs.

For me it was a heinous near DOS insurance program. For you it may be your bank’s new mobile app, or any system required for your job.

I think workmans comp should be provided for employees whose health is destroyed by software that makes them want to stab out their eyes with hot pokers.

We’ve all also used that one website, or app, or piece of software that had such fabulous UX that it made us smile, and caused a ray of light to shine down from heaven on our monitor/phone screen.

Bad UX can quite literally damage your users’ health and mental states. When software ticks me off, I remain ticked off for a fair amount of time, especially when the issue is rooted in poor design. Having stress and rage associated with your product and brand is a very, very bad thing.

Your goal as a UX pro is to make your clients pull a Buddy the elf: “I love this app/product/site! This app/product/site is my favorite!”

And if you hate your clients and making more money with killer happy-client-making UX, then do it for the puppies. If you hate puppies… well… then go see a counselor and seek some help for your rage problems. ;)

Tagged , ,

Then my kiddo asked, How did you get your post to show up 1st in Google Search results?

Right this minute, if you type “mobile usability testing tools” into Google Search, an article I wrote last May pops up as the #1 link!

I got really excited about this, nerded out a little bit, and showed my daughter.

She said, “Whoa! How did you make it show up first like that?!”

Sooo… I decided to draw a quick sketch about SEO, quality content and search rankings.

20140317-225524.jpg

Then I explained that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

SEO can help the crawlers along, but killer content is definitely king.

Then she said she thinks it’s cool that our industry uses secret code names for everything. Lol. Maybe we should use less acronyms going forward. :)

Also, FYI, this is a pretty fab list of ways bloggers can improve SEO while using WordPress. http://www.wordtracker.com/academy/seo-wordpress-mistakes

Tagged , ,

“Why do you love your job as a UX pro so much?”

20140314-212921.jpg

I was chatting with a friend that I haven’t seen in years on the phone tonight. We were catching up on kids and careers and home purchases.

When I got off the phone, my daughter said, “Mom, why do you love your job so much? My friends’ parents hate their jobs but you LOVE yours! Why is that?”

I had to really, really think about my response, because there are about 90 million reasons that I love my job.

I love the people I work with, I love that my company helps to enhance school districts’ abilities to connect with their students, parents and communities, I love that my job lets me heap creative energy on each and every project, I love that we focus on finding new innovative ways for districts to leverage technology, the list goes on.

But the number one reason that I wake up pumped to go to work is: Each day I get to help come up with solutions for the problems that our clients face on a daily basis. My job is to help make peoples lives a little bit easier, through design.

Everything we do as a team, is to improve the experiences our clients have with our products. We find ways to save our fabulous clients time and energy, so that they can focus on educating the future of our country.

Working as a user experience pro lets me make the world better place, one little software interface at a time. So really, what’s not to love?

Side note: I showed this sketch to my daughter and her only comment was, “Yo? Really mom?” Haha

Hey mom, what’s a prototype?

So my daughter asked me what a prototype was. It was a little tricky to come up with a quick explanation since prototypes can range from a block of wood carried in your pocket (I’m looking at you Jeff Hawkins) to a nearly minimum viable product version of an app.

20140311-224240.jpg

After giving it some thought I decided that in kid language, prototypes are kind of lame samples of your idea, used to see if your idea makes sense/will work or not.

If it works you invest the cash and time into the concept to fully develop it. If it doesn’t work, no harm done because you didn’t waste an exorbitant amount of time or money on it.

Top 5 Reasons We Conduct Constant Usability Testing and User Research

20140311-112316.jpg

Someone asked me recently why we do so much usability testing, simple prototyping, and user research throughout our design process.

Top 5 Reasons

1. We the designers are not our users.
2. Sometimes when you’re really close to a design, you lose sight of its flaws.
3. Folks don’t always use things the way you expected them too.
4. Usability feedback at the beginning of the design process can save you mad cash in otherwise wasted dev hours!
5. It lets your team focus on future innovations rather than redo’s of designs you “thought would go over well.”

Don’t guess what *might* work! Make usability testing, simple prototyping and user research the core of your design process, and watch your cash and your clients multiply!

We do remote usability testing, in house usability testing, A/B testing, simple prototyping, analytics usability analysis, support case analysis, and more… and it’s all worth its weight in gold! The insights you can gain and the cash you can save your business by applying those insights to your designs is incredible. Try it! You won’t be sorry!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 70 other followers

%d bloggers like this: