Wednesday, July 10, 2013

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"Its a Great Time To Be a UX Designer" by Jared Spool


Jared Spool, CEO and founding principal of User Interface Engineering, spoke last night at the
BayCHI Monthly Program on the topic "It’s a Great Time To Be a UX Designer."

My notes are below.

It’s a Great Time To Be a UX Designer

Apple and Design

  • Everyone want to be like apple
  • The Apple store is powerful in the way they display products
    • iPads as signs
    • Checkout from a mobile device carried by any employee
    • They focus on the tiny details of retail experience that no one bothered with before
    • Everything in the Apple store is intentional

Design: the Rendering of Intent

  • At the heart of design in intention
  • Design runs on a spectrum from imitation to innovation
  • Imitation is cheap - take what works and copy it
    • Organizations that often imitate see design as unimportant
    • Design is a commodity
  • Business wins when it is intentionally innovative
  • Business wins when it values design

Case studies: Innovation by focusing on design

  • Square
    • suddenly anyone can accept credit card payments (babysitter, neighbor, etc)
  • Zipcar
    • The innovation was the reduction in staff needed to maintain a single car
    • Costs were lower, meaning higher volume and better prices
  • Cirque de Soleil
    • People went to traditional circuses to see the animals
    • But, animals are expensive to maintain (health, transportation, feeding)
    • Cirque created a circus with no animal acts
      • Cut costs overall
      • Money could be spent on better performers, music, sets, costumes, etc
      • Children no longer came to the circus
        • Means higher ticket prices can be charged
    • Cirque makes more money every evening than all of Broadway combined

Design: About the Business

  • Apple is its own manufacturer, distributer, and retailer
    • They get all the money and never discount
    • Can beat the competition because of this
  • Great business models are intentionally designed
  • Great businesses need designers everywhere

Innovation is NOT Adding New Inventions

  • Apple titled their help people "geniuses"
    • Makes customers geel cool even they their products break
  • Appointments instead of waiting in a long line
  • Innovation is adding new value

Experiences can be mapped, measures, and designed

  • What do we intend?
  • TurboTax SnapTax
    • Most people can do taxes in 60 seconds by taking a picture of W2
  • GE Adventure Series MRI for kids
    • Designed by Doug Deitz
    • MRIs are scary to kids with cancer
      • 80% of kids have to be sedated to get through it
    • Deitz designed a machine that is a FUN experience
      • Looks like a pirate ship
      • Everyone dresses like pirates
      • Kids and parents get an experience
      • Kids are told if they lay still they will see mermaids
      • Sedation rate went from 80% to 0.01%

Experience Design: the rendering of intent within the gaps

  • Experience designers are in demand
    • Big companies acquire to get them
    • Estimated 150,000 job posting for UX designers in the US

What Skills are Found in the Best Design Teams?

  • An Experience Designer knows:
    • Information architecture
    • Copy Writing
    • Design Process Management
    • User Research Practices
    • Interaction Design
    • Information Design
    • Visual Design
    • Editing and Curating
  • The BEST also know:
    • Ethnography
    • Domain Knowledge
    • Business Knowledge
    • Analytics
    • Marketing
    • Technology
    • ROI
    • Social Networks
    • User Cases
    • Agile Methods
  • Of those, the very, very best also:
    • Knew how to explain to people through story telling what they were trying to do
    • Effectively gave and received critiques
    • Could sketch an idea so that everyone would "get" it
    • Could present ideas at the drop of a hat, and everyone would "get" it
    • Facilitated groups to bring across the nuances of what would make a product great
  • It's really hard to be a UX designer

Specialists vs Generalists

  • The differences between a specialist and a generalist are what the economy can afford
    • Specialists appear when the economy can afford to have them
    • Generalists succeed the rest of the time
  • Design had a 3rd category: Compartmentalists
    • Compartmentalists can ONLY do 1 thing
    • Compartmentalism = a career-limiting design
  • The design world favors generalists
  • UX Generalist = Experience Designers (aka Unicorns)

How do you become a Design Unicorn?

  1. Pick an area where you need help & master it
    1. Train yourself to be good at it
  2. Practice your new skills at home (a lot)
  3. Deconstruct as many designs as you can
  4. Seek out feedback on your work
    1. Listen to it
  5. Teach Others
    1. You learn a lot from teaching something to another person
The Unicorn is Design's most important innovation

 Making Unicorns

  • Junior UX designers have a place in companies, if they have the right stuff
  • Skills are cheap; craftsmanship takes time
  • The Unicorn Institute

Additional Resources:

What I asked:

How do I do a better job of getting my engineering team involved in valuing design?
  • Get everyone talking the same language
  • Look at your product and a competitor side by side
    • describe the differences, and come up with vocabulary to describe it
  • Once you have a vocabulary, determine a scale from good to bad for each
    • Define that scale together
  • With common vocabulary, you can then look at any feature together and talk it through, set goals, and understand each other more easily