You are your best UX Resource

When clients or co-workers ask me “what’s your go-to resource for UX, and experience design best practices, inspiration, and guidance?” Of course, I have my go-to references, like Luke W, Lean UX, and Jakob Nielsen, among others listed in detail below, but my best, most reliable resource is my own experience. Eighteen years designing digital experiences for clients that include, what I refer to as mega clients, Google, Facebook, Chrysler, General Motors, the NBA, Carnival Cruise Lines, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Coca-Cola, Burger King and ESPN.

This has not only given me experience, but confidence throughout the years in my decisions. I’ve collected data, and insights first hand through these initiatives, and working with these clients. My advice, always backup your thinking and reasoning with a reference or your own professional findings, citing stats is key.

A few observations that have emerged for me, three common themes, lessons learned, ways I’ve been schooled, however you want to refer to it, three things continue to be revealed and very applicable.

  1. Your users are either ready or searching // You have two sets of users, that’s it, those who know what they want, and those who don’t. Some people want inspiration, others are ready to buy (or convert). If you don’t create an experience that addresses both, you are alienating a very large portion of your potential customer pool. Speak to your users.
  2. It’s all about the conversions, baby // Navigating people down the funnel, and driving conversions are not to be messed with. Large corporations value their leads, and measure them daily if not hourly. Be cautious when attempting to shift metaphors that could have a negative impact on conversions, and ultimately revenue. Ideally, you do want an impact, but it needs to be a positive impact, like 47% increase in conversions or 9% increase in revenue — yes these are real stats.
  3. Know when to bail // If your client meeting looks like it is going south, it probably is. Constantly monitor your audience, and be prepared to pivot the meeting, it could mean skip ahead, pause and ask for feedback, or if you’re up against a clock you may want to reschedule before you even start. Lean on your team, practice this scenario as if it was a fire drill, be prepared with a secret signal, finally and foremost do not get precious about a pre-planned agenda or presentation.

References I would not be able to live without:

  1. Luke W // One of my favorite sources is Luke Wroblewski. He has been an amazing inspiration for me. I have been following his UX guidance for over 10 years. My co-workers will know him most from me referencing his “Forms best practices” work from 2008, still immensely valid.
  2. Jared Spool // Long time innovator, fellow Bostonian, Jared is future thinking. Sixteen years ago I attended a conference where he talked about smart refrigerators, remember this was pre IOT. Humorous twitter handle to follow.
  3. Nielsen Norman Group // Jakob Nielsen and Don Norman are the no frills, keep it simple duo. Often controversial, but always confident, this duo will keep you honest about your design decisions.
  4. Lean UX // This is today’s UX, if you’re not onboard, you will get left behind. Jeff Gothelf’s book “Lean UX” is a great read, even if your organization does not practice this methodology in full, it is a great source of tips and tricks and will make you appreciate sketching as a valuable tool.
  5. Digital Product Design // Without this video I would not have been able to connect all the dots between agile, lean, and product development. It’s all about slack (not the communication tool), great video regarding process from Bob Gower. Bob earned my respect immediately because of his UX designer past life, as well as his organizational design background.

If you’re new to UX, do all you can to gain your own experience. If you are a veteran, always backup your decisions with your own professional knowledge and analytics. Whether you’re experienced or just starting, stay abreast of new processes, ideas, and tools.