Working with UX in Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

A toy train driving in snowy landscape.
A toy train driving in snowy landscape.
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Train!? Runways? What??? I must say I was confused when I started working with SAFe. Sure, I had heard of SAFe but it wasn’t until I started working with it that I started to understand the complexity.

I guess that all of you reading this have worked with, or are currently working in an agile team, using frameworks like Scrum or Kanban. As you probably know the agile teams are self-organized and consist of a product owner, scrum master, and the development team members. …


A book review of how nose breathing improves our health

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June 2020. I am running uphill and breathing through my nose. I am struggling. I feel like I do not get any air. My lungs are starving for oxygen. I am panicking, experiencing pure fear and terror. I am afraid that this will kill me. Why am I doing this to myself I ask myself. I can’t do it any longer. I breathe through my mouth.

It all started a few weeks earlier. I had just lost my job due to the Covid-19 pandemic and had a lot of free time all of the sudden. I wanted to read something interesting and I stumbled upon this amazing book. …


Online meeting with two participants. Both using pictures of dogs.
Online meeting with two participants. Both using pictures of dogs.
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I guess I am not the only one working from home nowadays. For me, working from home is okay. I mean, I miss my colleagues and the social interaction at work but I am much more effective when I work from home, and I save about one hour a day on commute which is great. So I do hope that working from home a few days a week post-covid-19 will be possible.

But I am quite unsatisfied with one aspect of working from home: the user experience of the currently available online meeting tools. They are quite rigid and it is not possible to use the tools to communicate naturally, the way you would have IRL. I feel limited. …


Designing one sprint ahead or in the same sprint?

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I remember a few years ago, I and my colleagues at the consultancy firm I worked for back then were offered the chance to attend a scrum master course. Almond everyone said yes. The firm was quite small, with only about 20 people at my office and only two UX designers. Our teacher was great, a guy with 20 years of experience and even though all of us have worked in scrum teams for years, he had tons to teach us.

Just before lunch, we discussed how UX and UI designers fit into the scrum team. We discussed their role, whether it was a good idea to include them in the team and how UX and UI design could be included in the sprint. My fellow UX designer colleague argued that the UX designer needed to be a step ahead. Researching and designing story’s for the upcoming sprint. The teacher argued that she was wrong and that we needed to read “Sense and Respond” by Josh Seiden and Jeff Gothelf. …


Designing a search interface for multiple databases or categories.

Magnifying glass in red forest
Magnifying glass in red forest
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From time to time I have designed search interfaces and the user experience when searching. Anyone who has ever worked with search options and inputs knows how time-consuming it can be to design a user-friendly solution. When working with lots of data, maybe multiple databases it can be difficult to visualize where the user is searching, and how they can change the database or category.

Yes, you can always implement some kind of advanced search but if the user is searching among huge amounts of data or in different databases the “quick-search” needs to be designed according to their needs. You do not want the users to have to use the advanced search to get a useful search result. …


Boxes, wrapped with the text “A box of fun”, “A box for me”
Boxes, wrapped with the text “A box of fun”, “A box for me”
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If someone had told me back in 2000 that in 20 years I would not own a single CD, not even a CD-player, I would not have believed them of course. But here I am in 2020 and looking back it is hard to wrap my head around everything that has changed during the last 20 years. I own less stuff, but still, I have more. And I guess so do you.

There is a trend in consumer demand away from ownership towards experience and utility, and many industries have transformed their business from product to service. Customers want to get from point A to B, they do not necessarily need to own a car. They want to watch a movie but not stack DVDs that they will not watch more than once. They want to have a hole in the wall but not have an expensive drill in the toolbox (the average drill is used about 13 minutes during its lifetime according to Reason and Løvlie, the authors of “Service Design: From Insight to Implementation”). …


The parents are choosing the apps after all.

Young children playing games on tablet
Young children playing games on tablet
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I have a 3-year-old daughter and lately, I have started looking for some entertaining and educational apps for her. I downloaded a few apps to try out before handing it over to her but I was surprised by the lack of user experience design in some of these apps. The navigation was a mess, it was unclear what the story was, unclear what you could do using the app. It was unclear what was for free and what cost extra. Parental settings were missing or lacked the necessary settings. And so on.

Since I have not designed for children I thought I would read some books to better understand UX design for children. I got two books, “Design For Kids: Digital Products for Playing and Learning” by Debra Levin Gelman, and “Designing for Kids: Creating for Playing, Learning, and Growing” by Krystina Castella. Great books, covering the cognitive development of children and guidelines when designing for different ages, from birth to adult. But both books were more or less missing the parental perspective. …


The man who cycled from India to Sweden for love

PK Mahanandia
PK Mahanandia
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Some time ago, we had an exercise at work. We were a group of people who hadn’t met before and we were to share three events or people that shaped us into the people we are today.

It was hard to pick only three, after all; events and people we meet every day help shape us into the people we are today. But there and then, three people came to mind. My daughter, Lea, my daughter, Elba, and my art teacher from junior high school, PK Mahanandia.

Do you perhaps recognize his name? Yes, he is quite famous nowadays.

If you Google his name you find a book about his life and an amazing story about love and how a young man from India cycled to Sweden to be with the girl he loved. And a movie by renowned Bollywood filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali is on the way. The story is truly amazing, and so is he. You can read it all in the book about his life, The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love. But I will give you a brief. …


woman at work
woman at work
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Thinking about working as a consultant? Conferences abroad. Free lunch. Great salary. You choose your assignments. Does it sound too good to be true? Yeah, those recruiters know how to sell it to you. I have been working as a UX designer consultant for six years and now, I would like to share with you my experiences. The pros and cons, why I loved working as a consultant, and why I have chosen to leave the consulting industry. This article is not for those who are self-employed.

First of all, what does it mean to work as a consultant? Working as a consultant means that you are hired by a consulting firm and that you are employed externally to help a client. So, your client is where you spend your days, and your consulting firm is paying your salary. …


Are you still hunting?

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It was at the beginning of April 2020, I was working as a UX consultant and had just finished an assignment at a large telecom company. Companies started laying off due to the corona pandemic and one after another, the assignments were canceled. I was still a candidate for one UX assignment but the message from my consultancy company was clear, get the assignment or you are laid off. No pressure there.

More than 70 candidates but I made it to the interview. The interview went well and I was to do the “design test”. I was to come up with a concept, describe and visualize my design process, and design a minimum of four screens in Sketch. The feedback? One sentence. …

About

Dina Zuko (she/her)

Mom, angel mom, UX & Service Designer. zuko.se/contact

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