A sketch of a hand in the thumbs up positionSketching is a really, really important part of the UCD process, in my opinion. It allows us to communicate, and get feedback on, ideas and approaches quickly and with little cost.

However, not everyone is initially comfortable doing it. People may feel that they can’t really draw, and are uncomfortable sharing rough sketches, as they feel that it isn’t good enough. You can tell people all you like that fidelity is not important, that it’s about communicating an idea – but that doesn’t always work.

I believe that, in order to move a team to a more sketch led culture, this is the first hurdle that must be overcome. An idea that I got from my colleague and friend Lee McIvor (@leemcivor) is to play a form of Pictionary. And this is exactly what we do at our team meetings here at TUI.

I choose a different theme each time (brand names, cities, household items), write a dozen or so on pieces of paper, split the group into 2 teams and start the game. The teams play head to head, the first to guess the answer correctly gets a point. It’s a playful way of showing that sketching is about conveying a concept quickly and not worrying about fidelity.

This technique not only breaks down that sketching barrier, but it also helps to bring the teams together more. Most of all, it’s fun, and that’s important.

However, it’s just the first step to instilling a sketching culture; the next step is making sure that the process has a sketching step and project plans give time for this.

Image courtesy of magicmarie at stock.xchng

Alex Horstmann’s user experience, usability, design, eCommerce and design bookmarks for November 23rd.

  • James-Lange theory – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The James-Lange theory refers to a hypothesis on the origin and nature of emotions and is one of the earliest theories of emotion, developed independently by two 19th-century scholars, William James and Carl Lange.
  • Web Content That Persuades and Motivates :: UXmatters
    There are several key elements that are missing from a large number of Web sites, and these missing elements often lead to bad user experiences and the total ineffectiveness of those sites.
  • » Design Jam London 1 Johnny Holland – It’s all about interaction » Blog Archive
    Design Jams are one or two day design sessions, during which people team up to solve engaging UX challenges. While conferences and talks are very popular in the UX community, we don’t have many events for actual collaboration, like the ‘hackdays’ enjoyed by the development community. Only a few UX designers participate in hackdays or open-source design initiatives –  how can we change this and get UX designers more involved? How can we introduce them to open collaboration formats? The idea of an event to get designers together to learn from each other while working on actual problems was born. Design Jams champion open-source thinking & sharing and are non-profit, run by local volunteers. The London team are Desigan Chinniah, Johanna Kolllmann, Joe Lanman and Franco Papeschi.
  • E-commerce (A-Z of user experience design resources)
  • Bounce Rate Demystified
  • Agile UX in Practice | Agile UX
    Agile development and user experience can work brillantly together… well, but how?<br />
    <br />
    Even if the effort related to Agile User Experience (Agile UX) continues throughout the project (with “just in time” designing and user testing) the User Experience foundations must be initiated at the very beginning of the project, during the first sprints.
  • Stressed Out About Holiday Shopping? Your Customers Are! | experience matters
    Regardless of their budget though, consumers told us that holiday shopping is stressful. Of course there are obvious reasons like crowded malls, outrageously chaotic traffic conditions and increased family obligations, but consumers face other speed bumps that companies can help with.

Please do feel free to suggest other related (and unrelated ones)!

Picture of people at an exhibitionWikipedia defines a symposium as “a drinking party (from Greek sympotein, ‘to drink together’)”, so I’d like to start by stating that, while I’m a big fan of drinking together, this is not what I’m referring to! What I’m referring to is the format, often taken in the academic world, of meeting to discuss and share ideas around a particular theme.

So, what does this have to do with user experience?

I work in a large FTSE 100 organisation, but regardless of size, as a UX person in an organisation one of the biggest headaches is sharing your work with everyone that feels they have a say in what you are doing (and that’s generally a long list). Sharing work is definitely not a bad thing – getting a broad spectrum of people giving you feedback gives you interesting and different perspectives.

However, were you to individually sit down with everyone that asked to see/feedback on what you are working on, you would spend 99.7% of your time taking people through the work you’ve been done, and the remaining 0.3% of your time evolving it and/or moving on to the next thing!

A technique that I’ve used, successfully, is to hold a symposium. We take over a large room for half a day, and stick all of our work on the walls. We then invite as wide an audience as possible to pop in at any stage during the symposium, and have a look at our work.

We present the various streams of work as areas on the wall, where deliverables are shown, and the person/people who worked on them are there to talk people through the posters, answer question and gather feedback. These ‘station’ type areas could be at a page level, or present the results of some research.

I believe that there are a number of advantages to this format:

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I bookmark a lot of pages and sites which I find interesting, inspirational and informative every day! I’d like to share some of them with you here. In general they are about user experience, usability, UCD, accessbility and design. In general, but not always!!

  • Absorb Emulate and Innovate
    There’s something good to be said about mimicry. When artists learned their trade in the way old days (and often today), they were pushed by their teachers to emulate the great masters, to understand their choices, to learn their brush strokes. Sometimes, it would be years of emulation and copying before a student was set free to try her own hand at a creative work. In marketing (and in business innovation overall), I’ve made quite a habit of absorbing other ideas that make sense from other industries or verticals, emulating key elements of their methodology, and then innovating to make them make sense for me.
  • 4 Unexpected Situations For Creating Content
    To an already busy small business owner or marketer, you may wonder, how in the world do I make time to create content? To blog once or more a week on top of everything else I already do?
  • How to treat new employees
    A person’s first day on a new job is a stressful time even under the best of circumstances. You don’t know anyone there, you don’t know your job, you don’t know the written and unwritten rules of the workplace – and yet you have a burning desire to do well, to show your worth and to excel.
  • Start – Treehotel
  • Old Spice Sales Double With YouTube Campaign
  • Balanced Arguments Are More Persuasive — PsyBlog
    Every argument has at least two sides, even if sometimes, we're not prepared to admit it. But in the heat of battle many people present their own side of the argument as though there's no alternative.

Please do feel free to suggest other related (and unrelated ones)!

I bookmark a lot of pages and sites which I find interesting, inspirational and informative every day! I’d like to share some of them with you here. In general they are about user experience, usability, UCD, accessbility and design. In general, but not always!!

Please do feel free to suggest other related (and unrelated ones)!