User experience designers need to care about every aspect of their projects. I’ve written about the importance of making sure the market and the business model make sense. Now, let’s talk about something that used to be (still is?) a dirty word with designers.
And, when I talk about brand, I’m not talking about just logos and type standards. Nor am I talking about the kind of “aspirational” branding that can be so deliciously parodied.
I mean the essence of the brand: what the company or organization stands for. What its products mean. Why a customer should care.
A good company and its great products need to have a clear brand. Every digital contact with a customer can either reinforce or damage the brand. This is true even if the products themselves aren’t applications. When real people interact with a company online or by phone, that’s a direct connection. …
You used every best practice in the book to design your product. Your user-centred process ticked through every new co-creation technique. Thousands of Post-Its got sacrificed in living lab creation sessions with customers. Guaranteed success.
Except, the product died in the real world. Nobody wanted it.
Or, people wanted it but it was a money-loser.
For any product or service to succeed, there are three things you need:
You may very likely be saying, “Duh. Anyone knows that.” Well, anyone ought to know that. …
Imagine that a radical leftist got elected President of the United States in 2016. He strengthens environmental and safety regulations, reduces military spending. He raises taxes on corporations and the wealthy. University education is now free. He redistributes income downward. Free, single-payer universal healthcare is coming. Unions are being strengthened and roaring back. He appoints a progressive hero to the Supreme Court, tilting the balance to the left.
But he* behaves like Donald Trump.
Autocratic, thin-skinned, narcissistic, profane. Frankly unhinged, he rants in stream-of-consciousness. Prone to bigoted stereotyping. Pushing through decrees on a whim. A world-class kleptocrat, he stocks the government with cronies and family members. …
It’s often hard to figure out how to make something work.
When the problem is mysterious, it’s time to do research. But it can be really hard to motivate people to do research, and even harder to persuade them to do the right research.
In a world of scarce resources (also known as the “real world” in which most of us actually work), there is rarely enough time for everyone to cheerfully do whatever research they want and then put the pieces together. Instead, we product designers and user experience (UX) professionals can find ourselves fighting with our colleagues in neighbouring disciplines over whose preferred methods are better and more valid. …
Let me explain.
Every time I enter the bathroom near our front entry, our dog Mingus comes crashing down the stairs.
You might call this the Powder Room* Heuristic. For me, it means that if I close that bathroom door, the dog runs downstairs. For Mingus, it means that hearing the door close signals that it’s worthwhile for him to get down there.
Mingus knows that my wife and I usually take the prudent step of using the facilities before going out. And “going out” often means that he gets to come, too.
Possibly, he just wants to get ready. Possibly, he thinks that his adorable presence will persuade us to take him with us. There is no way for us to know his motivation for sure. …
There ought to be a word (and a special place in hell) for someone who pushes you to do something because he really believes it will benefit you — but doesn’t mention the fact that it will benefit him, no matter what.
The inimitable Nassim Taleb calls this having (or not having) skin in the game. He argues that any offer is bad if the proposer benefits from it while your outcome is uncertain. …
As we step into the bright sunlight in central Florence, a young man blasts by on a Vespa from which he has removed the muffler.
Wincing from the deafening racket — which is causing evident pain to all the passers-by — my companion says to me, “Questo, questo è il fascismo.”
“Now that is fascism.”
That day in 1973, Carlo Francovich had found a teaching moment to explain something profound to me, his young American student.
Professore Francovich knew what he was talking about. In his obituary, the New York Times called him “a leader of anti-Fascist partisans in Florence in World War II and a prominent historian of Italian unification.” …
Trump, with a grand flourish, signed his refugee ban. He chose to do this on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which should be a day of shame for North Americans. After all, we refused to accept Jewish refugees, ostensibly because there potentially (absurdly) might be Nazis or Communists hidden among them.
This is personal. I know refugees.
I’ve known them all my life. My mom grew up in a war zone (a story for another time), and a number of my friends have parents who were Holocaust survivors.
But this also is more immediate.
Two months ago, I went to the airport here in Montreal to wait for my friends and their seven children to arrive. It had taken our church a year to bring them here, filling out forms and waiting, waiting while they were vetted. It was excruciating for us — but, for them, it had been incalculably worse. They had endured four and a half years in a twilight zone, in a place where they received no assistance but were not legally allowed to work. …
Most professional user experience designers understand ourselves to be storytellers. We’re not just trying to make things easier to do, we’re trying to make them fun and compelling. That is, to tell a story.
That’s because people find truth in stories. This is why novels are so compelling. I’ve read a fair amount of history about modern Italy, but no non-fiction rings as true as Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. …
I know a lot of multilingual people. One thing that mystifies many of them: it’s really hard to learn French as an adult. I know several polyglots who’ve given up entirely after years of trying.
In theory, French ought to be relatively easy-to-learn for speakers of other European languages. The U.S. State Department calls it a Category I language, meaning it’s related to English and therefore easier to learn than, say, Arabic or Chinese.
There are lots of hypotheses — but none are satisfactory. French has lots of vowel sounds that are hard for speakers of other languages to differentiate and to reproduce — but then, so does English. …