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

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!!

  • The 4 questions to ask in a cognitive walkthrough
    Although the cognitive walkthrough gets less coverage than Nielsen’s heuristic evaluation, it’s just as effective at uncovering interaction problems. It’s also an ideal way to identify problems that users will have when they first use an interface, without training
  • Considering Prototypes | UX Booth
    Although prototypes have been used in other domains for quite a while, their value to the design & development of websites has only recently taken shape, so to speak. Modern websites take a lot of work. Whether the ramifications of their creation are uncovered at the outset—typically with design and development considerations—or in the longterm—how is archived content going to be accessed? is this the best way we could have designed this?—building a prototype allows us to explore natural omissions made during the design process in an efficient, cost–effective way.
  • The importance of sketching and why you should be doing it :: 10,000 Words :: where journalism and technology meet
    Sketching allows you to share your vision of a project with others early in the design process before you begin working with time-consuming tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, or Flash. For example, in my role as a multimedia producer for California Watch, I sketched my vision for multimedia components during or before talking with the reporter or editors. The sketches — sometimes made on the fly using giant Post-It notes — allowed my colleagues to see exactly what I had in mind and make suggestions and amendments before too much time was sunk into the project.
  • Updating Our Understanding of Perception and Cognition: Part II :: UXmatters
    Many college-educated people have read about “the magical number seven, plus or minus two,” psychologist George Miller proposed as the number of items humans can retain in their short-term memory (Miller, 1956). Later research has found that, in the experiments Miller reviewed, some items that were presented for people to remember could be chunked—that is, considered related—making it appear that people’s short-term memory held more items than it actually did. When the experiments were revised to disallow chunking, they showed that the capacity of short-term memory is more like four, plus or minus one—that is, short-term memory can hold only three to five items (Broadbent, 1975).
  • Creative Ways to Use Unmoderated User Research :: UXmatters
    Over the past year or two, unmoderated usability testing has become a popular option to help guide product design. It is especially popular for Web sites, providing startups the opportunity to get relatively quick-and-easy user feedback on design iterations. From a user research perspective, the improper use of unmoderated research services presents a certain amount of danger. However, there are a number of ways you can use unmoderated user research tools that can provide a great deal of value. This month, we’ll discuss some of the more interesting ways in which you can derive value from unmoderated research tools.
  • Why Agile UX is Meaningless without an Agile Attitude – Anders Ramsay.com
    Imagine yourself walking down a fictional hall in a fictional office building and passing two different offices.  In the first office sits a UX designer, busily plugging away at a deck of wireframes, preparing to review them with the rest of the team.  In the second office sits another UX designer, also busily plugging away at a deck of wireframes, preparing to review them with the rest of the team. At the surface level, these practitioners appear identical.  And yet, they are worlds apart.
  • 500 Internal Server Error
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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!!

  • An epistemological critique of Grounded Theory | mixing social science and software design
    ‘Because emer gence is the foun da tion of our approach to the ory build ing, a researcher can not enter an inves ti ga tion with a list of pre con ceived con cepts, a guid ing the o ret i cal frame work, or a well though out design’ (Strauss and Corbin, 1998, p. 34).
  • Shortboredsurfer – 11 Principles of Interaction Design
    The following short presentation was put together for our fortnightly ux meetups at Redweb. It covers 11 principles of Interaction Design. It’s not intended as an exhaustive list, simply an introduction to the subject.
  • 3 Universal Goals to Influence People — PsyBlog
    The art and science of persuasion is often discussed as though changing people's minds is about using the right arguments, the right tone of voice or the right negotiation tactic. But effective influence and persuasion isn't just about patter, body language or other techniques, it's also about understanding people's motivations.
  • Top 10 Reasons for Slow Velocity
    I work with quite a few product teams, and after a while you start to see patterns.  Many organizations are frustrated because they believe that it takes far too long to move from concept to delivery.  They often just blame the skills of their developers, which is rarely the root cause in my experience.
  • Agile and UCD: Building the Right Thing, the Right Way
    When integrated, Agile software development and User-Centered Design (UCD) allow development teams to extract the right information from their users, to verify assumptions, and to validate design decisions.
  • Ident Engine
    Without much conscious thought, most of us have built identities across the web. We've filled in profiles, uploaded photos, videos, reviews and bookmarks. The Ident Engine uses semantic web API’s to bring together these web footprints.

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!!

  • Supporting User Experience Throughout the Product Development Process :: UXmatters
    Frequently, problems arise when capturing requirements. Some product people feel more comfortable describing requirements in terms of the user experience.
  • Using Eye Tracking & Mouse Movements to Analyze Search Behavior | Eye Tracking Update
    For those in the business, it must be a pretty nice thing to see usability studies come of age. We’ve touched on recent debates regarding the relationship between what a user is looking at versus what they’re thinking about (Is it the same thing or is it something entirely different?), and it’s exciting to see further research into the details of eye tracking and usability. Data is easy to come by if you have the right equipment, but making sense of that data, analyzing it for usable information and gaining insight into the process is a much more difficult task.
  • LukeW | Social Engagement Checklist
    Having recently heard several overviews of what fundamentally motivates people to engage with others, I decided to try turning these principles into a high-level checklist for social Web applications. These questions attempt to answer the most vexing social design question: "why would people participate in a new service/product?"
  • Faceted Navigation: Typical Structures for Values « Experiencing Information
    Facets are categories that describe the properties of an object or collection of objects. Facet categories then have values. In faceted navigation schemes, the values are the things you click on to navigate to a set of items or to filter a list. The type of structure that those values have, however, can vary depending on the type of facet you are dealing with.
  • Keep users in the flow by prompting for continuation
    A new trend on content-based websites seems is to animate a small box popping up at the bottom or top of the page, guiding users’ next move as they reach the end of an article. This technique is smart as it waits for just the right moment to break users’ attention.
  • Skills to transition to content strategy | Intentional Design Inc.
    You may say that all this is fine and good to position content strategists as the management consultants of the content world, but what does an aspiring content strategist do with that information? What concrete steps can you take to make the move to content strategy?

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!!

  • The Five Most Influential Papers in Usability
    I compiled a list of papers that have had a large and lasting influence on the field of Usability and User Experience. I then asked Jim Lewis and Joe Dumas, two pioneers in this field for their top five. There was considerable overlap in both the papers and topics suggesting that while there may be some disagreement with the conclusions of the papers there is strong agreement on their impact.
  • Showcase of Beautiful Photography – Smashing Magazine
    Sometimes, a picture can be powerful enough to be inspirational material all by itself. To provide you with some inspiration for the upcoming week, this sunday we feature some truly beautiful and impressive images from talented artists and photographers worldwide.
  • The Dirtiest Word in UX: Complexity | UX Magazine
    It’s hard to read anything about UX without finding a reference to the constant tension between simplicity and complexity. People have strong preconceived notions about the words, especially when it comes to experience design. You don’t have to be a UX practitioner to understand that simplicity is a good thing; no one goes around the office saying, "Alright team, let’s make this application really, really complex!"
  • Storyboards, Scenarios, Design Personas
    I almost always begin design by talking with users. Initially, my goal is simply to collect people’s stories. I believe that the stories people tell about what they do and how they do it contain information vital to designing good interfaces. Stories reveal what people like about their work, what they hate about it, what works well, what sorts of things are real problems.
  • Agile UX and The One Change That Changes Everything – Anders Ramsay.com
    In my previous post, I talked about how shifting your UX practice to an Agile approach first and foremost requires a change in attitude. But changing your attitude can be much easier if you have a clear and concrete goal you are working toward. And one of the most common challenges I come across when talking to UX designers transitioning to Agile is that they do not have a clear understanding of the journey. It is not clear what is different and what remains the same. It is not clear where to begin in making a change.

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