User experience design

Alas, the first half of my notes are completely gone, so the 2nd half starts with a lot of profanity. The overarching theme was getting a deep understanding of the people who use your site/service/etc. And that this understanding shouldn’t be limited to people with “usability” in their title, or just designers, or just anything. Getting empathy helps propel action, and makes research durable. Then you have to work to make sure that understanding makes its way into the design. A big thumbs-up on personas, as long as they’re revisited frequently.


5 key points that lead to creating personas:

  1. business results depend on satisfying users.
  2. you are not your user.
  3. learning about users requires direct contact.
  4. knowledge about users must be actionable.
  5. decisions should be based on users.

Three methods of creating personas, each more data-oriented: from interviewing 20 or so people and then segmenting, then adding a follow-on process of confirming with quantitative data, to integrating the two by pausing after the interviews to just get to some hypothesis, rather than all the way to personas. There were lots of good tips and such in the slides. One idea I found fascinating: creating a matrix, persona goals on one site, business goals on the other, and then ideas for accomplishing both in the middle.

Thursday keynote

This had much more personal relevance than professional relevance, which I think it probably as it should be. All very way out freaky stuff, and it put two ideas into my head that I want to address at some later date:

  1. Dylan’s question about luddites and purity, which I didn’t write down because I’d already shut down the computer. (Battery.) There’s either a short story in that, or it fills in a section of my poor comatose novel.
  2. The question of geeks and depression, which has turned up in a variety of contexts over the last few years. I have this loose thread of a question in my mind about autism spectrum disorders, and to that I add: what effect does information overload play? (Especially if one feels that one should be keeping up.)

Project management

It was fairly obvious that this session was aimed at freelancers (which I am once in a long while) and small agencies. However, there was still plenty to glean. The basics of project management: controlling time, cost, and scope. Basically, organize and document. His recommendations for dealing with disaster reminded me of some basics of cognitive behavioral therapy, particularly around making sure your self-talk is good before you act. I’m looking forward to going over the documentation examples from the presentation. It was also a good reminder that I want to reread The Art of Project Management, now that I have my own copy.

Social media for corporations

The presentation didn’t give me the practical material that I wanted directly, but it gave me an opportunity to triangulate with and think about what I already know of this area. The critical data point to remember is that most people are most likely to choose a product, service, whatever, based on information from people they know and trust. Social media in a corporate context, then, means empowering employees and customers to become known and trusted outside of a hyper-controlled environment.

Two good starting points for an organization entirely new to social media: monitor what’s already out there (because it is already out there) and create internal blogs. A customer-to-customer forum is also a good way to build trust and learn about customer (read as member for me) needs and concerns. This links together with the Thursday afternoon sessions, as another way to get towards user research.

Web application hierarchy

This, on the other hand, was relentlessly practical. Lots of examples of pages with poor prioritization or organization, compared with good examples. Also some with progression from one state to the other. The most hopeful message is that quite a lot can be accomplished with relatively small changes. Every page should inform the reader of its meaning and connect to the most important action; the content chunk is more important than the navigational frame.

Web content roundtable, Friday keynote

The web content roundtable was so pointless that I’m not even publishing those notes that I do have. And I skipped the keynote in favor of shop talk with Dylan. Which is probably how I caught this cold.

I also have a list of work-specific points, but those don’t go here. 🙂