INNOVATING DESIGN PRACTICE

Effectively applying design to foster innovation.

User experience’s role in helping a company innovate can and should extend beyond user flow diagrams, wireframes, and other design specific deliverables. The following provides entry points for using the design team to facilitate innovation within the business.

Before going over the ways, throughout the product lifecycle, that design and user experience roles can help a company innovate the first thing you should attend to is your growth. Reading articles like this — about practicing new activities—should be read with mindfulness towards your goals. …


INNOVATING DESIGN PRACTICE

A framework to kickstart writing stories that help prioritize strategy, direction, product, features…

Recently was working with fellow designers and product management folks on a new, large project. The PM had written an extensive list of requirements (40+) and we were trying to decide what to start designing first. We (UX) were asking what the priorities were to get designed first. Product Management gave a list with many items as the #1 priority, saying that these parts had to be done 1st because the system wouldn’t without them. These high priority items were the bulk of the design effort so this still did not help prioritize what was needed first.

At this point…


INNOVATING DESIGN PRACTICE

Useful information to have about users and their activities when starting to design a feature.

When designers work in an embedded environment, attached to a full-stack team, there is time and support to gain knowledge about the domain, its users, and their processes. In contrast, in a studio environment designers work with a number of teams across products or features. Due to this, often in a studio environment, (and sometimes in an embedded one) designers are approached to create an experience for something they are not intimately knowledgable about.

Adding to concepts that Feature Lists Don’t Cut It addressed, the following are some of the kinds of information that will help designers strategize and prioritize…


INNOVATING DESIGN PRACTICE

How to present your product to receive thoughtful, minimally biased feedback

So you have your new product and you want to see what your customers think but you don’t have usability staff. You stand up in front of the customers and give a presentation with in-depth slides and detailed descriptions of every piece of functionality…and then ask them what they think.

That is customer education — not how to gather customer feedback.

What is wrong with this approach?

You have not let your customers think for themselves. All of the in-depth and detailed information is swamping their ability to evaluate what they might want or need. The capabilities may sound good in passing, but by providing them…


INNOVATING DESIGN PRACTICE

Principles, goals, and heuristics are mostly formed of adjectives. Pick ones that will best evaluate the fitness of your product.

For most projects, designers are at a minimum trying to reach table stakes goals — Intuitive, Consistent, Useful, Usable. After meeting the table stake goals they try to meet desirability-based goals like Delightful and/or Efficient. And then there are product-specific goals — those goals which differentiate their product from its competitors.

While some design goals or principles are formed as phrases, single adjectives are often how a user describes a product (Delightful, Efficient). In this article, we will revisit some adjectives (Accessible, Consistent) and extend the set to find additional or more nuanced ways of finding and addressing issues.

The…


INNOVATING DESIGN PRACTICE

Designing experiences where ML/AI is helping users decide trivial choices, to socially important issues, to questions of life and death…

More experiences are using machine learning and artificial intelligence to help users make decisions about all aspects of their life. To date, this was often considered to be a “good thing.” However, misplaced reliance on ML/AI can have irritating to disastrous results — from picking a boring movie to watch to not bringing machinery in that has a fault. Careful consideration needs to be given on how users will evaluate a tool’s decision and incorporate it into their own decisioning process.

ACM Queue just released a paper titled The Effects of Mixing Machine Learning and Human Judgment, where researchers tested…


INNOVATING DESIGN PRACTICE

Get to the right design out of the multitude of possibilities of a feature list.

In some organizations, the user experience team is passed a feature list as a means to communicate what needs to be done. It may be that is how the team is comfortable breaking down problems. Maybe because they have a technical background and features closely match coded functions.

But feature lists rarely take into account usage context and so like getting a cake from a store, if the store doesn’t know “what” the cake is they have limited options to meet the consumer's desires.

Let’s take a fairly standard example you might see for an enterprise application…

  • Users need to…


INNOVATING DESIGN PRACTICE

Not sure how you want to grow as a designer? Answering these questions can help you decide how to approach growing.

My niece, who works as a graphic designer at an eyewear company, recently asked me what courses she should take to further her education. This led to a discussion to unpack what she might look for to increase her design skillset.

I’ve thought about this before when I came across The Differences Between Experienced and Inexperienced Designers paper. From this paper and discussions with other designers I’ve mentored, the way to think about design growth in any industry is threefold — learn new hard skills, learn new soft skills and learn how to learn to be an experienced designer.

What are you trying to grow?

  • I…


INNOVATING DESIGN PRACTICE

Tools for talking about user engagement while designing.

At some point in a designer’s career they create mental models about engagement — why users use an experience, are delighted and continue using the experience or are frustrated and abandon the experience. Having a way to talk about how engaged a user can be useful. A model of measuring engagement that I find useful is Interaction Equity (abb to IE).

Anything that is wasted effort represents wasted time. The best management of our time thus becomes linked inseparably with the best utilization of our efforts.
- Theodore Wilhelm Engstrom

Do you have time to spare, sir?

Interaction Equity is the concept that a user only spares…


INNOVATING DESIGN PRACTICE

How design thinking, design goals, design principles, design heuristics, design language, design patterns, design systems, and design execution relate. Oh my!

What is the difference? Why does it matter? When does it matter? Where do I use them? Who cares?

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a process that any team can use to come up with innovations for their business, product, or process. Conceived in the early 1960s, popularized in the 1990s, and “diluted” in the 2000s design thinking is a tool that businesses use when they want their company or team to be more “innovative.” [1]

Karl Mochel

User Experience Architect - Design effects every part of life. Life is designed. But design is not life.

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