Tuesday, March 12, 2013

UX Design Process aka Web Product Design Process

So... I'm on Pinterest updating a 'board' for my portfolio and I discover that other people have pinned my Experience Design Process graphic from my website. Apparently this graphic comes right up in Google Searches if you search on on Experience Design Process. Since the image on my site is small I'm re-posting the graphic here! Can anybody guess what this image was originally create for?

Web Product Design Process Graphic

I don't know what I was thinking about these colors!

So what is going on here?
In the middle of the graphic is a series of linear main steps to take in order to design an interactive digital product. The process starts with identifying a project's goals and ends with meeting those goals. In order to meet those goals you need to do some careful work... Surrounding the steps are a set of tasks (or methodologies) to perform in order to complete each step of the process. Over-arching the entire process are guidelines like "vetting" and "informed iteration" (shown in the yellow zone).  Some tasks overlap steps and the entire process is meant to be collaborative and iterative, which means you could repeat tasks based on what you learn from testing or research. Or you'd repeat tasks until you get something right. OR you could repeat the entire process over again based on what you learn the first (or second, or third) time around. You'll notice that one of the first tasks is "Requirements Gathering" which includes getting together all the content and data you want in your product. You'll need something to research, plan and design around. These requirements should map to your end goals when you look analytics reports and you see how people are using your product, and how much it's growing.

Here are the steps in the process:

We start every project by identifying the project's goals

Then we research the audience and competitors to identify unique opportunities

We map out a plan, and tailor it with each client to suit their individual needs

We put together all the components (language, images, and interactions) to create a coherent design system

We prototype our work to ensure important details are captured in an interactive format, and to make the hand-off between designer & engineer as smooth as possible

Testing tells us if we're successful in reaching our goals. Some projects require testing and iterative design phases (hence the planning)

Conversions. Growth. New connections with more users. This is how we measure goals.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Good Management - Working from Home Takes Teamwork

The funny thing about working from home is that you rely on your co-workers and especially your managers even more than when you go to an office. I have worked in corporate offices, I have cranked out work on-site at start-ups, I've designed large scale websites in corporate environments, in agency environments, and at home. And you know what? It always comes down to management.

Good Management Handles the Work
Over the course of 2009 and 2010 I worked on a very successful project for Cengage Learning and - I never met my clients - ever.  However the project was managed very well by Cengage's internal team. My client/manager understood the entire scope of the project and was able to break down all the work into a very effective process. He communicated everything very clearly to the team, including a schedule, all the deliverables he expected, and when he wanted them. We always had two-way conversations about the work and we thoroughly reviewed my output on a regular basis.  My client was always clear about my pace of work, and I was always clear about his deadlines (this ensured that I could effectively manage my time as a remote resource for Cengage). Good remote managers are: Focused on business. They are not emotional or insecure, instead they are confident and goal orientated. But most importantly they communicate well, are organized and decisive. I cannot reiterate enough how important these qualities are.

Bad Management = Insecurity
And I've had bad managers too, we all have. The biggest pain point of working with these people is that we need to compensate for their insecurities. Maybe you've worked for somebody who is indecisive, they are unsure about what they want? Perhaps you literally do your boss' job? Often with boot strapped start-up companies I see entrepreneurs struggle with making decisions because they are worrying about money. At one start-up I worked at in San Francisco, I would watch the CTO pound his fist and demand that the entire company work at least from 7am to 7pm. This is clearly an insecure way to try to run a company and speaks volumes for how the CTO valued other people's time. I did notice this same CTO sneak out of the office and take entire afternoons off.  Which leads to my main point, only bad insecure managers want to corral their employees around them so they can make themselves feel better.

Remember, it's the internet!
My advice to Yahoo! and Marissa Meyer is this - Make sure your managers can handle their jobs.  We "eat the dog food". We are already doing so much work online it seems waste full to drive back and forth to redundant offices. The point of being onsite is to collaborate. If your managers don't enable collaboration then what are they doing? There's nothing more frustrating than commuting for over 2 hours a day only to watch your boss waste time in the office.