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Nathan Dumbleo on Unsplash

Just because your training budget has stopped doesn’t mean your training should. Instead of making cuts to staff training, I want to suggest some alternative and cost-effective ways to achieve similar results.

In times of economic uncertainty, one of the first things to get cut and last to get reinstated is the training budget. Upskilling staff is often perceived as an unjustifiable expense. A luxury, an extra, a perk only to be rolled out during the good times. Yet team members who feel invested in with up-to-the-moment skills are likely to be the catalyst for the growth of your business.

Make learning a habit

Whether you are a military unit, a dance troupe, a sports team, or a rock band, training is the way to become match fit or performance-ready. …

I find training people in UX, research and digital design skills both a rewarding and fascinating part of my role at Clearleft.

Over the years I’ve done a fair amount of remote training sessions. However, my preference has always been for delivering in-person classroom-based training. Well, times have changed. For me, this has been an opportunity to reconsider the best ways to run training at distance.

I recently had the privilege of running some training sessions with the design team at Duck Duck Go. We covered product design and research techniques. Beyond having a great search engine that puts privacy first, they are also a really interesting team that has always been distributed. …

Whether creating products or services, working for an agency or for an in-house team, the list of potential features and ongoing fixes is always outpaced by the available time to explore, build and release them.

In ‘Good Strategy. Bad Strategy’, Richard Rumelt says sagely: “strategy is at least as much about what an organisation does not do as it is about what it does”.

With this in mind, here’s a roundup of some simple techniques for prioritisation. These can help project teams take control and manage their backlog. …

Want to create better designs? Interested in becoming a better designer? There are few shortcuts to better design but introducing regular structured critique to your design process is one of them.

In my role as a UX consultant, I’m often helping clients improve the impact and efficiency of their design work. In reviewing how design is done I’m surprised that there is frequently an absence of routine critique sessions.

The good news is that critique is an easy habit to adopt and develop. I’m going to give a few tips in this article to show it’s quick to do, rewarding to participate in, and will lead to immediate improvements in the quality of your design work. …

We regularly use design sprints to help clients to accelerate design, unblock problems and investigate new ideas. We’re big fans of design sprints when done well.

However . . .

. . . we also find there are some common misunderstandings about the technique pioneered by Jake Knapp and the team at Google Ventures.

During UX London Jerlyn and I ran a Design Sprint 102 workshop. As part of it, we tested 5 myths we often hear by getting people to run to different sides of a room to show if they thought a statement was true or false.

We discovered there was little consensus in the attendees’ answers. …

‘How do you know your site structure is needing attention before it becomes really broken?”. I’ve recently been asked variations of this question by a couple of clients, a colleague and the attendees of an IA presentation I was giving. Here are three tell-tale signs to look for and some ways to avoid the problem in the first place.

A great information architecture (IA) tells a story, creates flow and aids discovery for the people using your products or services.

An ailing IA threatens to silence your content, prevent conversion (sales and engagement) and frustrate your users. …

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Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Bang! Out of the blocks. Arms and legs pumping. Blink and you’ll miss the human-missile as they burst through the finishing line swiftly followed by a rapturous ovation.

The perception of the 100-meter sprint is that it’s won between the blocks and the finishing line. I’ve often heard the same said about the five-day design sprint format popularised by Jake Knapp and the team from Google Ventures. Get Monday to Friday right and success is pretty much guaranteed.

But, it’s not just the 9.58 seconds of running fast that makes Usain Bolt a world champion sprinter. …

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Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash

In this final post in a series about how to get more useful answers from asking better questions, I’m going to look at five tips to help develop your skills to become a questioning ninja.

I firmly believe that more effective and innovative design comes from gaining a deeper understanding of the problem you are looking to solve. Asking questions is at the heart of uncovering ideas and opportunities that can then be translated into products and services, software and interfaces.

The five suggestions below are all techniques that I have tried and continue to practice. They are all easy to do and require less time than you might think. They will all help you to develop the vital skill of asking better questions as part of your UX toolkit. …

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Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash

In this second post in a series on how to get more useful answers by asking better questions, I’m going to look at five things to think about during a research session.

The list is deliberately short to help me hold onto a few key tips alongside all the other things you need to juggle, think about and do within a research session.

The five tips are simple principles to help achieve better results. They have been tried and tested in research sessions with users, stakeholders and subject matter experts.

How can I get more insightful answers from my research questions? …

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Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

In the first (and longest) of three separate blog posts about how to get better answers from asking better questions, I’m going to look at eight key characteristics that make up a good question.

The list comes from reflecting on why some questions achieve more insight, and why others do not. Through numerous digital projects I know that better questions form the starting point which leads to creating more effective and innovative digital products and services.

It is by no means intended as a definitive list. However, I find it a useful reminder and checklist when writing and reviewing questions to ask in research sessions. The characteristics work with all kinds of research activities from writing tasks for usability testing, when coming up with stakeholder interview questions, in facilitating workshops and conducting user research. …


Chris How

Principal UX Consultant @clearleft & Co-organiser of @uxcampbrighton. Insatiable curiosity for people, digital design and tech. Recovering Post-it note addict.

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