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. 🙂

web application hierarchy, after lunch

back in the row of people vampiring off of a power strip.  not that I’m all the way down, but I don’t want to get there.

food comas all ’round! but the smartasses come out after lunch, too.

functioning form guy.  I had to unsub him a while ago, too overwhelming.

gotta love a typo in foot-tall letters. intro stuff. “form design best practices” hm. he’s written some good pieces on forms

ack. bullet points!

looking around feverishly for something that might be right. vid of eyetracking. scanning headline & graphics. I’ve seen that in practice. it’s fascinating.

what an odd diagram. of organization -> interaction -> presentation.

presentation != icing on the cake.

quickly communicate: usefulness, usability, desireability.

sms2quit, visual example.

another of a page with almost no hierarchy. nothing draws the eye. (especially at this distance) and then essentially the same stuff with more distinction.

“if you can’t make it big, make it bold, and if you can’t make it bold, make it red!”

what if you can only do incremental improvements. smallish color changes, move search box, text size and spacing. totally. that’s what I’ve been doing. and then even smaller changes.

oh, cute baby.  meaning based on differences. and this is the same stuff as in the little design book, and things that Ken taught in his class. visual weight. “buy that thing!” while you understand and use, you also get a brand message.

this is a problem I think with lots of offline places that let customers (clients, students, members, etc) do stuff online is that those functions are done by IT in toto, which makes sense structurally, but is a problem with the actual experience and the impression given to those customers.  hm.

how do you know the priority?

list of “stuff” — scanning at a high/mid level. you are here indication. I’d like to do that a lot better. plus nice error messages. easier way to see the health of a network. (kinda reminds me of the meraki interface.)

[digressive research: no, there isn’t anything we can do about the basic look/action of online banking. dang.]

sites vs content objects. the important thing is little high-quality bits of content.

chicago tribune: 76% site hierarchy stuff, 24% content.  which is why I want to go 2-column. and contrasted with NYT.

(oh, hey, I forgot I had a measuremap account.)

clearer, single strong message. maybe there’s some ways I can realign in that direction.

side rant re: signups. (but in our case, signup really is the first thing you do. hell, you gotta get checked against the gov’ts terrorist list.)

nice display of reprioritizing actions in an email.

giant honking button. gets a good laugh. and so on and so forth.

hey, look, it’s of U of Florida! (I totally borrowed their design for the pierce site a couple of years ago.)

work out units of related stuff.

scanning tables. I think I’ve improved the rate tables, but it could sure be even better. that last one in his example is damn nice.

and the loan lady is a problem.  I understand the GOAL, but I don’t know if it’s particularly successful. (which reminds me that I need to check Google Analytics.)

imply the fun slide? huh?

more quirky examples. enterprise software is notoriously ugly, which is totally depressing.  so many people spend so much of their life working with such painful systems.  ::sigh::

prioritization connecting with personas, working out what’s important to the audience, and then using the data to create priorities for design. nice. I want to go back to my idea of reviewing the goal of every single page.

prepackaged questions. hm.

Q: what about multiple audiences? make sure what the core is, and show it. “uber-prioritization”?!

social media for co’s

he’s doing some crazy livestreaming & off-site interaction. chat room? donde esta?

lots of asking questions & hand-raising. he’s gonna go practical.

web person “all his life” — I kinda know that feeling.

slide with silly amounts of bullet points. different methods of corporate use of the web. oh, and he’s going to read through all the points, describing each one. ::sigh::

we are still getting into the basics, I think. I’m thinking that the project mgmt stuff needs to inform this, things we might want to do. advertising is the one I’m looking at.

what is social media? def w/out describing specific tools. yep, conversations. and communities. nothing here is entirely new, just moved to the web. (user groups, etc.) and easy to use.

here’s the thing. cluetrain, et al is old hat to me, eye rolling and all that. but it hasn’t even touched the rest of the org.

blogs as trusted sources

oh, the meta. “somebody is liveblogging this now.” hi.

TRUST. I’ve seen a version of that graph. People trust people they know.

there’s a fancy-pants graphic. ladder of participation. a finer breakdown of the 90-10-1 ratio.

online & offline blurring. everything happens online, eventually. embraces vs. freakout.

bloggers as the new media. yes, well…with caveats a plenty, as far as I’m concerned. treating the bloggers all sweet at some event.

web marketing has spread all over the internet. our interesting experience with financial forums & blogs re: accelerator checking. decision not made on the corporate site, but just going at the end to get specs, buy, or whatever. look at what other people say. (I do that all the time)

“Edgeworks” by Brian Oberkirch

traditional messaging through marketing, controlled, being overtaken by conversations at the edges. not THAT much different from the marketing effect of customer service.

(pause to look at crazy MSFT/Yahoo story)

asynchronous going closer to real time. okay, now he’s going all buzzwordy.

letting go (of the message) to gain more. the challenge of control issues. the “not while I’m here” person. what is the way for me to put this in a way that makes sense in our environment. remembering that I’m out here on this weird webbish edge.

connection point: I want us to go out and talk to members in order to understand what of of this would actually make sense to our membership…or potential members.

@hitachi, created “data storage” industry wiki, linking to competitors even. to become the first source that customers go to…and building trust, which rebounds to the actual business.

scoble & microsoft stuff. letting people say that the company sucks, things are broken, etc.

what are people already doing: forums seem to be a biggish thing. internal meetings of what to do! yeah. internal blogs. (which leads me back around to the intranet.)

not getting into understanding the tools, because there’s lots of other sources.

listen & monitor. maybe this is where I need to be right now.

internal experimentation. typically first thing is a corporate blog. “gently” align with the corp.

organic spaces already emerging. (as we discovered)

Q: re ROI. (this came up on open source cu blog recently) flippant: what’s the ROI of a billboard? of a conversation at a coffee shop? two people just talking? when you can measure that, then you can measure social media roi. more seriously: actually it can be measured. opportunity costs. what would it cost to get the same media attention in advertising vs. attention to blogging. costs of blogging relatively low: mostly time. yep.

evangelist, educator & cheerleading. “yay, good for you!” but make sure somebody’s following. (I should go talk to MZ.)

community mgr. everybody is, but somebody gets paid for it.

organic blogger. hi. but then again, I don’t talk about work. how do you connect the organic & the corporate. the balance of credibility.

the Vice President. (aka my boss.)

corporate controller. the message owner. not changeable? go after the agnostics, not the atheists. do we have atheists? (I think we’re all godless pagans.)

what about legal? compliance is a big freaking deal.

use of social media outside of marketing. part of the entire product process.

but impacts to marketing. media, press, analysists (do we have those?). now add social media. less hyperbole, more pull strategies, meaning USEFUL. that’s what I’m trying to do with our email newsletter! (hmmmm, that makes me think about something. come back to that later.) customers as marketers, because they like you.

ceo of sun says “intranets are gonna die [are an anachronism].” talking outside of the firewall to build better products. how does that interact with compliance?! (also, I should probably also send my summary to the strategic planning people.)

nobody here’s heard of Dell’s ideastorm, voting on wanted features. now they are putting out laptops with linux, because of that kind of feedback.

forums as the main customer to customer tool.

data outside the firewall.

IT depts way behind the curve on this stuff, typically. “let’s ask IT if we can do that” IT says no and then Marketing runs off to Typepad, Blogger, et al. which has its own problems.

100 year old japanese company, and now they’re open, which means (theoretically) that anybody can do it. lots of stuff deployed. tied strategically to other company activities. understand the customer lifecycle. (and what about personas?)

what he learned, in many many bullet points. just absorbing.

“your employees are going to blog, no matter what.” (i know of at least one person on myspace.)

ethics policies cover online, why should it be any different from anywhere else? but of course. (I tried to use this over & over with pierce web guidelines: how do we handle the analogous situation IRL?)

Q: air traffic controller? internal blog observing everything happening in social media in our industry. oh, nice. (I have a creditunion tag on delicious.)

blah blah blah buzzwordyness. nothing super-new.

Q: DNA is not to share? how does it change the org? answer not helping. talking about orgs getting “run over”. have to change to still be relevant. BS. ah, yes, banks using blogs. comment from the audience about regulated industries, and when customers start to say things that the company can’t say. wells fargo building other sorts of blogs, related to other community issues NOT in regulated spaces. (I have hate for wells fargo from long ago, but it does sound like they’re the only one out there in the banks. the greater diversity of credit unions, IMHO, means that there are actually a handful out there. Verity is the one I keep an eye on.)

Q: social media in edu? yeah yeah yeah. nothing new here.

I’m too hungry & tired to really track, esp since I’m not getting anything new.

what a dick. so much blather. I’ve never fucking heard of ustream. oh, hell’s bells, describing the journalist as a “middleman”.

he said at the beginning he was going to be practical, and he really wasn’t, at least not as far as I’m concerned. all either stuff I knew, or WTF? stuff. more than anything else, an opportunity to rattle this around in my own head.  which I guess is good for something.

waking up + project management

was starting to make morning notes when Dylan showed up, and then Russ from Red Canoe found me. and now I’m sneaking into the project mgmt session right as it starts.

scope, time, cost.

gotta like a presenter who swears like a sailor.

human make things more complicated, and it just comes down to those three things.

why project management? to not waste time & money. this is geared towards freelancers & small studios, so I’ll need to be internally translating. (and thinking about my freelancing, too.) the problem of worrying about when you’re going to be done, and people breathing down your neck. (oh, crud I need to work on the weird stuff that Nathan found in his project. would be nice to finish before he goes to Aus.)

confirms work ethics. (?) we value working with you, not making this shit up as we go along. (I will say that having a promo schedule seems to make M & P happier.) makes for repeat customers.

failure! (“I must have been half-drunk when I did this slide.” ?!) problems with end dates, and it just keeps going on and on and on.

defining team roles. ah, but then again, there is the one-man-band. otoh, I know that our DEPARTMENT has gone from one-man-band to an actual team, and I’m not sure if as a team we’ve worked out the roles. other than the obvious.

scope creep. everybody’s favorite. “can we do one more….” and then not knowing the objectives of the project. goal: get more guys to buy deoderant: and does a new website meet that goal.

unstable funding. (this is where it’s kinda nice to be an open-source nut…and naturally a cheap bastard.)

4 D’s (hey, that’s the name of the computer store down the hill!)

Discovery: what is this thing? who’s working on it?

Design: starting to make the thing. reviewing.

Develop: making. (not sure of the difference.)

Deploy: launching the thing.

Discovery can include: kick-off meeting, a set date to start. hm. I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those. which sort of comes from my predeliction for the stealth project. but maybe I should have my own personal kick-off meetings.

(I have intranet thoughts rattling around in my head, and how to get a project started to improve it.)

project scope worksheet. fairly involved, series of questions. this reminds me of something…a file I used occasionally with college subsites. oooh, though: asking if the mission and the objectives match. kewl. I like this sheet a lot, it articulates things I often ask. (I’m really big right now on over-articulating.)

stakeholders. (on my last project, that was M, C, and P. and then after it launched, I actually found out about a stakeholder I hadn’t even known about! that was weird.)

he’s really going into agency stuff. interesting to think about this from the D-B point of view, though.

(oh, hey, it’s supposed to be really nice Sunday on. can’t wait to get back on my bike. sorta kinda wishing I had my bike here.)

the quality triangle! heh. cheap, fast, good: pick 2. fast + cheap = low quality. good + fast = expensive. cheap + good = long time. (the “spare” project. sounds like Paula, much as I love doing stuff for her.) he actually draws the triangle.

scheduling worksheet…can’t be found on this server. line-by-line tasks, etc. vs. big charts & graph. (gantt-a-licious!) as a way to determine who’s doing what and what else people can take on.

Q: how can you give an estimate before you actually know time requirements? he’s going on, but it sounds like guesstimating. previous projects and all that. plus the old classic of take the first guess and double or triple it.

Design: oh, he’s talking about “design” as the conceptual work. and project mgmt apps. MS Project makes sense in working with clients who also use Project. vs Basecamp as slimmed down & simple; easy for the client to see everything that’s going on. (I did enjoy it a lot with this last ENA newsletter.) clients & profits is designed for ad agencies & similar, and comes as either application or web version. studiometry, new, for running an entire studio. he loves OmniPlan, which is only Mac. ::sigh:: (is that from the omni outliner people? I really like that program.)

(my experience with things he doesn’t mention: I really enjoyed using Tasks Pro. I miss it a lot. I’ve also used…oh, I can’t remember the name of the top of my head…like Basecamp…oh, hey, it just came up: ActiveCollab. which is pretty nice; he uses it for personal stuff. somebody mentioned Copper and DotProject. I use numara footprints for work, which…yeah.)

Develop: he brings in testing here, which sort of contradicts yesterday’s sessions. this is the place where the schedule often goes off the rails. yeah, that’s been my experience too.

ah, technical difficulties. project timesheet. sooper-basic. like the way I’ve used slimtimer. (sorta kinda.) the power of paper. I’m fascinated by the development of a culture of paper amidst the computer people.

Deploy: like the resolution phase of a novel: critical, but kinda short. (my analogy, not his.)

keep a playbook. I like this idea. it fits with my own impulse towards journaling. something to come back to later to figure out what to do better. got the idea for a comic, who kept a book of his jokes and how long people laughed at each one. nice. (cognitive behavioral psychology: it shows up everywhere!)

re: question: he doesn’t do usability testing in his project. his commentary on this topic is craptacular. IMHO: throughout. another comment is that it should happen with use cases & wireframes. okay, here’s the deal: he’s an ad agency guy; I need to filter everything he says through that.

checkins, assign tasks. hoverers make people nervous. on a physical level, I’m really happy to be moving to a cubicle where I can see the entrance head-on.

let people screw up. the worst thing to say: “you shouldn’t code it that way”

preach time management. show by example. GTD. I like GTD, although I’m not terribly thorough about it.

weekly status meetings, the whole team. I have an instinctive loathing, but that comes from the freakishly dysfunctional staff meetings I have been at elsewhere. but it’s probably a good idea.

managing a meeting worksheet. hey, I was hoping he’d spend some time on that! (for the peanut gallery: Death by Meeting was corny, but useful.)

the client: assign THEM tasks. consistent communication. (this is where my dysfunctional thinking often gets in the way. hiding out because of fear of criticism. hm, maybe something for the log. because this has been very problematic with personal projects.)

one channel of communication. hm. dunno. I like being able to get materials directly from the DB designer. but otoh, is that the most effective thing?

Q: mismatch of communication preferences. you like email, they like phone. what to do? find the happy medium. for him it works well. and also double-cover in many instances: a phone conference, then with minutes by email.

Q: when decision-makers aren’t the single channel of communication. conference call. put that onto the client, to make sure the decision maker is in the right conversations. “this is what we need to do to give you a good product.” I’ve used that one with getting content from people, in combo with the not-psychic thing.

be honest.

and the classic: under-promise & over-deliver. I could get better at that!

staying organized. papers & files. this is where the GTD filing thing seems to help me a lot. I love the department labeler, too. interesting looking project folders, with a spiffy tab with all the info you need. a little bit overkill.

standardize file structure. stuff in the same spot for every project, naming conventions, etc. I’ve noticed that all of us have our own version of that. a worksheet for that, too.

tasks, this is where project mgmt apps come in. getting a hierarchy. another worksheet! list about GTD, DIY planners, Franklin Covey, etc.

retaining ideas. when do ideas arrive? car, bathroom, cooking…not at the computer. find some way to keep them! worksheet: his faves are index cards, sticky notes, moleskine, voice recorder. I like having a pad of paper handy, sticky notes, the MDA (I use Mobile Word way more than I would’ve expected).

“when shit goes wrong” (nice.)

stay “focued” lovely. that would be focused. talking about the cognitive issues, good self-talk. like leaving a burning building?!

don’t act too quickly. (as Hank used to say, count backward from 10 and focus on yr breathing.)

rely on staff, get them involved in fixing things, and keep them all informed.

don’t play blame game. creating a confrontational situation, which doesn’t help anybody. (tips in the anger chapter of book I’m reading.)

realize that something will have to be sacrificed, because something was miscalculated. no deus ex machina here!

then making a calculated decision, which flows out of all the rest of that.

“change order” which I think is an exceptionally dorky name.

make it official, get it in writing. only in serious situations effecting the big three: cost, time, scope. include details of change, cost, time needed on yr end & theirs, and then sigs all ’round, plus a date. (today’s date? yep.)

“projects can be as easy as you want to make them!” hrm.

Q: controlling scope creep from the art director to the production people? that’s where the buffer comes in.

he relies on the programs to keep track of whether stuff is overlapping. I could really stand for a project *calendar*. email folder per project. I do a bit of that.

Q: thinks traditional project mgmt hasn’t caught up to the interactive studio. digression about PMI…things they were teaching were way over what he needed to be doing. construction of a building, gov’t grants lasting months or years, when his projects can be as short as a week. focus on the basics!

I want to triangulate these notes with re-reading Art of PM.

more of a back & forth between speaker and this particular IA.


sitting right behind one of the projectors in the main room. head guy (whose name escapes me) talking about the first webvisions in ’01, right after the bubble crash. which iirc hit really damn hard in pdx.

fun, casual, creative, inspiring. which is why I love it.

I have 1 hr ~11 mins left according to my battery clock.

party afterwards…should I invite Tom et al, or just continue with my original plans?

intro blather. 🙂

sensory overload with david pescovitz (make magazine, boing boing, etc.)

institute for the future is a rand spinoff. huh.

weird stuff with screen res. aw. happy baby.

::sigh:: oh, the silliness. is THIS distributed intelligence?

VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous (term from army war college, apparently)

they don’t make predictions! don’t believe predictions, when you hear them. instead, narrow the cone of uncertainty.

sensing the problems, getting insights, and acting.

methodologies (which reminds me much of the research discussed in previous sessions)

cabinet of curiosities, weak signals, wunderkammer. sense making.

208 unread emails. (ack!) “suffocation” and that’s what it feels like. (Bit Literacy book?!) and we’re only scratching the surface.

so this is his collection of “weak signals” of ways that people are finding to deal with this.

15 thousand terabytes. (my barely organized photo collection. MP3s I ripped from CD in 1999. 6 years worth of blog posts.) 800 mb of data created by each person every year, and that’s before the rise of blogs.

waves of technology (pretty graph) computing -> communicating -> sensing

stuff that connects to the human body. (like the pedometer I’m wearing right now!) when things start to blog? when every single action is a piece of data, everywhere, anywhere. (Everyware?)

smart dust. weird shit.

geoweb. which gives me that freaky feeling of awe and dismay. (what does location awareness do to people fooling around? or playing hooky? or? or?) and also skin crawling.

how do you deal with the data?

next curve: sensemaking?

a personal digression, if I may: I’m tracking four things in my life right now, all of them collected electronically in one way or another. focusing on those particulars helps, with one thing or another, because I can see the trends, or get excited by the highpoints (27.4 mph!), or look back and remind myself of one thing or another. all of which helps me to be more of the person who I would really like to be.

and the rise of infographics. cabspotting (weren’t they @ sxsw last year?) by stamen design.

and then ambient info devices. glowing threat level? fountain reflecting the movement of xerox stock price.

art & technology, using the old saw about hemlines & the stock market.

people want to replace the old clock radio with something smarter. chumby? (open source, coming out later this year.) actually this is how I use my cellphone, when my alarm clock last year.

the ambient devices thingamabob. I put their google gadget on my google homepage, and it sucked.

and then the bacon-cooking alarm clock. some coffee makers work this way.

my battery notice is in the red zone, 43 mins remaining. dunno if I’ll make it all the way to the end.

“imakeprojects” 6th sense, vibrations, for wireless networks. (oh, hey, wasn’t that in wired 2 mos ago?) I loved the idea of the guy who could sense direction.

ew. magnet in finger. but he can feel where the wires are in the wall. at this stage, that seems freaking useful.

delicious! yay! also digg, which I’ve never gotten into. and mefi. 🙂 mathowie right over there. and ask mefi, which I’ve found useful a few times. (how I decided not to wear makeup for my job interviews.)

messages at places.

wtf? making sense of nonverbal cues. (ah, the aspergers people, which kicks back to a previous discussion about geeks and depression. would something like that be a reasonable treatment addition in cognitive behavioral therapy?)

BS detector?! I missed the details.

task switching tracking, and remembering what the hell you were doing. program to download: onlife (for mac)

mmmmm…lifehacker. although I never seem to catch up with all the useful things I see there.

continuous partial attention, which can be tiring. oh, hey, that’s why conferences can be so exhausting. “if you drink too much coffee, it gets much worse”

(every so often C tries to get me to monotask for a while, which I find harder than seems appropriate.)

I think I used to have a Firefox extension that did that. (anti-procrastination alert)

mind-hacking. medications. law students using ritalin to study better?! not using it for fun (ala acid, pot, etc) but to be more productive. (freaky.) what happens to the people who aren’t? the anti-narcolepsy drug, not being used by narcoleptics. CX717, people doing better than people who had slept.

(and how does this connect to my experiences with depression & medication?)

memory-enhancing drugs. (which book was that? breakpoint?)

goofball military names/acronyms. machine sensing your sense of anxiety, distraction, and reducing input appropriately.

magnetic thingamabob. (isn’t that also showing promise in treating depression? again, that book by…richard clarke, iirc.)

and then of course the implant, dude controlling robotic arm with his mind. cyberkinetics neurotechnology. (name of co.)

again moving into the realm of the exceptionally wiggy.

Q re ADHD & sensory overload. As evolutionarily advanced. ::rolls eyes:: obviously didn’t live w/Raul.

Q: ethics? esp. w/military involvement? the social/economic divide. but he has faith in the DIY culture. what about [missed the question]?

mac says she has 21 mins. I’m going to turn off.



okay, that worked.

“if our tvs went down like computers….”  (which led to reminiscing about antennas, vertical hold & not having remotes.)

yep, a follow-up to the last session I was at. not everything you’d want to know, more like whirlwind tour.

again with the durable & actionable.

office room == painting of signing of consititution.  “what happened to feature x.” “customers don’t want it.” “but that’s not what we said we were going to do.” to be answered by jargon blather, and back and forth. “forget everything you know about users. we need to be innovative.” (apparently an actual quote.) and the conversation goes downhill from there.

omg I want that graphic of jefferson with head exploding, because that’s what I always say!

1) business results depend on satisfying users.

2) you are not your user. (hey, another financial services project! opening new accounts, couldn’t talk to financial advisors. redesigning fundamental interface w/out actually talking to the users, only thru stakeholders.  so they built for power. and then they could talk to users in testing: and they HATED it. had to start from scratch, and this time got to talk to real people instead of just stakeholders.

3) learning about users requires direct contact. (who is doing that @work? anybody?!)

4) knowledge about users must be actionable. moving from raw notes, spreadsheets, etc.

5) decisions should be based on users.  what to build, how to build it. also need to be talking about users in a memorable way (thus personas, I suppose). friend’s quest to buy a house. but no clue where to start. (hm, when we did that, we actually started with WSECU; this was of course when I was still @ Pierce.) ah, she’s actually a persona. 🙂 archetype, with unique characteristics.  (but that doesn’t negate the thought I was starting on.)

ooooh, lego heads.

personas bring focus. build empathy (as previously mentioned), use our hard-wiring of attaching to individuals.  encourage consensus. “well, do we need this feature on this page?” when you’re supposed to be working on the design comp.

distracting weirdness with the mic.

personas create efficiency. making the right decisions earlier. asking who we’re serving and what they need, earlier. adding the step up front so as to save stupid work later. lead to making better decisions. used to be just a design thing. “cute stuff” now moving into different parts of the org. again personas vs. market segmentation. (in re: marketing) and then in strategy. holy moley. the squeaky wheel persona was about 5%, not too valuable. vs. frank the frequent customer, 60% of users, 80% of business. doesn’t care about the stuff the squeaky wheel person is fussing over. redesigned entire business around that one persona!

creating personas

landscape x/y chart of user research. aspirational (what they say) vs. behaviors (what they do). sony boombox focus group: everybody picked yellow. and then take one on yr way out…and people actually TOOK the black boomboxen. the quantitative vs. qualitative. (insight vs. validation)

nobody has time to make personas from all of that!

method one: talk to real people, do segmentation (how do they group together), then each segment = persona. easiest way to get started. cross-section of people, not just people using website now. very unstructured. 15 interviews is a good starting point. uncover what you don’t know.

huge slide of bullet points. topics for interviews. “tell me about your experience.”

elements to segment on. digression re: segmentation in traditional marketing, selling to people, and demographics. this: not just selling to get them to the site, but to understand how they USE it. most important: goals, behaviors, attitudes.

working from the smallest goal (learn about points) to the larger goals (be happy & independent). task leads to need leads to goal leads to motivator. the middle (need & goal) are the most useful.

okay, so does this feel like the real people? then go to behaviors (frequency? channel use?) and attitudes (how much do they think they know? perceptions of us?)

come up with a ton of ideas.  then explore combinations with x/y axis. (I’m seeing an indexed drawing in my mind.) again is it complete? does it match actual people?

fedex example.

list of tests. (I hope these slides are going to be available!)

why should we believe you based on 20 people? so version 2 involves a second run getting quantitative data (survey, traffic analysis) to validate. 100 data points per segment is a good minimum.

question types: things we want to test (against our segments) and then independent variables. recommended order of questions on a slide. do the demographic stuff at the END. huh.

and then traffic analysis, what people do! log files. big @ss list of things to look for, which includes some of the data that Paul tracks. so segmentation can then show both what they say and what they do.

(digression: oh, hey, this is the guy I first learned about CSS from, way back in the webmonkey days.

what the user says, does, and is worth. nirvana! jeebus, cross-tabs in excel.

version 3…can happen in v2 that your segments are totally off. so then the middle step is slimmer, with hypotheses. and then segmentation is done by the machine. weird. bringing science into the process as much as possible.

dump in all the variables, number of segments (3-6), and get options. data says: here’s however many sets of segments, and then it turns back into art.

blah blah blah spreadsheets. (and while you might not want to show it to people, it’s good to be able to say that you have it!)

what makes each persona unique? goals and such.

alliteration can help with names and memory. must make them real! photos are fun. (hey, i think I was thinking about using the bottom left woman for an ad!),, again with the real people.

just the right data would reinforce the message, invented hobbies, jobs, etc. that match the persona.

then what’s specific to the industry/project, and their technological access.

but not just lists! a story (again, made to stick).

and label as primary, secondary, unimportant, excluded, to prioritize in competitions.

a scenario describes how we want them to interact with us in the future.

now on to using personas! practical advice

having a document, but repackaging as cards. (with gum?! go around the room and say who is most like each persona. and that can affect hiring?!)

lifesize cutouts. (on my ride to work, there’s a house where a guy has a lifesize cutout of a marine by his front door. totally wigs me out.)

persona cubicles. faux environments. doodads, quizzes, etc., etc. anything to keep them in people’s minds. (hm, like how the core values are promoted.)

can be useful or goofy, depending on the environment.

personas shine historically in the arena of features & functionality. directed brainstorming based on a personas goals posed against our business goals. in the middle: features and content that might fit BOTH. that’s damn rad.

and then a crazy matrix of prioritizing — adding personas along with all the other decision-making.

site structure. and back to task analysis. the scenario is the emotionalized context of a set of tasks. nice. or a use case.

paths personas might take through the site.

primary persona may be different at the page or section level.

okay, all of this reminded me that I’ve been meaning to register (done.)

back to the session….

matching the contents and style to the persona. word cloud! ooooh. fun fun fun.

mood boards vs…. a more implicit process. how does the look match their needs and concerns? for one, it’s making links big open and clear, and then for another, adding a headshot and other elements to inspire trust.

and then iterative testing. QA scripts from persona POV. filter feedback & surveys thru lens of personas. how do I look at my log files and know whether the people in those segments are actually doing what we want them to do?

Q: 4000 page site, elearning, does personas help with creating navigation. his take on the old higher ed navigation problem of topics vs. audiences: only do audiences if you’re also doing topics, as a secondary method.

Q: example of amnesty international site redesigned by happy cog as successful use.

Q: adaptability of a site that’s built on personas? and how do you know who’s using/not using features. ah, this sounds like you can only really know in cases where you have known people logged in. (like online banking?) otherwise you’re kinda guessing. oh, no, it’s also connecting usability testing, use testing, to the personas.  is this test case a “fred”, etc. subtly guiding the experience? with predictive modelling.

user experience design

fuck. fuck fuck fuck fuck. I tried to save a post and it’s entirely fucking gone.

pardon my french. but I was getting something really useful written down.

goddamn convention center wireless.

context, emotion, complexity. missed a bunch of stuff about research, which we aren’t even doing.

thing I really want to capture from my lost post: people go through the motions like they know what they’re doing, because they can’t admit that they don’t. framing tasks with a path to knowledge.

get out there! can I set up a workstation at a branch?

in their project, went out and talked to people about statements, where their computers actually were, etc. not a useability lab! “you had to be there.”

social interactions, what people are made for. (except autism spectrum. hm. something meaningful there perhaps.)

and integrating with design & development.


take the skinheads bowling! (engineers & designers into the field) even more powerful than making racer-boys watch usability tests.

getting empathy helps propel action, and making the research durable. (there are still things I remember from usability testing @ pierce. the woman who COULD NOT SEE the navigation.)

what if I can’t?! (his question) a continuum. getting everybody in the same room.  I have some hopes for being in the same cube neighborhood as strategic planning.

weird, just leaving the audio from testing on while people were doing work, and even that seemed to help.

there’s a conversation I need to have, and I don’t want to forget.

if you have to jump over a wall between research & others, research reports are where good insights go to die.  (what I heard about the last accreditation process @ Pierce.)

effectiveness of research is inversely proportional to thickness of binding. heh.

one good example….

Personas! (and hey, that’s the next session I was thinking of going to)  as a place where insight and empathy can meet.

case study: people and possessions. emotional relationships with stuff. (my much beloved bike.)

more common: show & tell (opportunistic more than proactive; when asked vs prostletizing).  anyway, behaviors tell us which patterns to design for.

groups of motivations. symbolic: my grandmother gave me. activity-oriented: love using the thing. also people who love looking for deals or just the right thing. misc: confirmation of choice, representation of self (both of those are ego & identity-based).

motivation as trigger for desired behavior.

and then personas. names, 1st person (quotes or assembled snippets), and then actions across motivations & behaviors. then looking at specific obstacles.

wwkd? (what would Kitty do?) a way to introduce empathy. a persona as a pattern that comes from observation.

we should totally do that. not the life cycles stuff that I’ve read, but actual members.

tshirt: “we are not the target audience” (can I mail those to pierce?)

skits?  ::wince::

dark side: revisit them periodically, to retire personas when no longer relevant.

mmmm…gantt chart. and now with research continuously! and then the whole iterative thing.

okay, I totally want to take the gang to lunch to talk about this stuff.

modified: with overlaps between research/design, research/design/development.  ::sigh:: but we don’t have much to do with the development of actual experience. (oh, hey, except maybe on the intranet.)

ideas are cheap, making them work is hard. mixing helps.

as you have conversations with the audience, you start to have ideas. then take 10 mins to share ideas at the end of new interviews. iterating the idea, cheaply.  I really, really, really want to do research for the intranet.

the long view. the history of interaction. (as I said in the lost entry, my intense loyalty to my credit union, even as I work for a different one!)


1) understanding people

2) getting the understanding into design

passing on a mission. to make these things happen. (simple != easy)

amen. 😉

mathowie: let’s get practical. high-ups dissing personas, very polarizing. what to do? some people had been in a situation where it went very very wrong. also hadn’t been done well. and over-promised, over-generalized. (try in a smaller context?) “behavioral archetypes” heh. getting people to come along, either in person or through frequent reports.

hey, maybe the delay on the KB project is a good thing.  maybe I’ll have a chance to do some of this with members pre-launch.

Q: what about small agencies w/out the time? (not to mention all us one-man-bands!) field interviews aren’t that expensive, and then on the phone even cheaper. NOT out of market segments, surveys, etc. Mostly a person he specifically talked to, to enforce rigorousness. and just arguing. use books, articles, etc. (prophet from the east, as Dale used to say.)

Comment from some guy: cafe testing. buy people coffee. or bug friends & relatives. and after the first success, it gets easier to argue for it next time, working yr way up.

anytime you do it the first time, you’ll get things wrong. failing early & often, 1000 ways not to make a lightbulb, etc. (hey, this came up in an ENTIRELY different context 2 days ago.)

Q: when you’re involved, how do you keep from changing things? Mmmmm, epistomology.  Anything you do changes something, and the more you do, the more perspectives you get. (triangulating^N) dude, he just said triangulating! more data!


I’m going to be at Webvisions tomorrow and Friday, getting into Portland midday. Probably having lunch with Dylan, hopefully going out to dinner with C., Tom, and Tom’s gf. (Ye gods. Tom hasn’t updated his site since ’04, when he was still in the UK.) Holler if you’re around!

(This will be my 5th year at Webvisions….or 4 1/2th? since the first time I went for a half-day, by accident. Seriously.)

As usual, there will be copious stream-of-consciousness notes.