5 User Experience (Customer Journey) lies, damn lies and absolute myths

1. Anyone can do user experience, nope!

I meet a lot of people claiming to do user experience, process and deliverables aside, they don’t have a usability background so they cannot do user experience.

User experience is a solution capability based upon usability principles and research findings not design aspirations

User experience is a solution capability (not all usability people can do user experience) based upon the experience of conducting usability testing and user research. Usability testing and user research provides the standards and experience of the user that is needed to understand their perspective, elicit the correct (there are wrong ones) requirements in workshops or testing and represent them in projects.

I met (in 2006) a UX expert, I’m always worried when I meet UX experts, because I am a UX expert. Anyway she was moving from Razorfish into the freelance world for the big bucks and working a large project for Honda cars through a digital agency. Unfortunately she did not know how to use any software apart from word, so I checked her out sure enough she was a PA at Razorfish not a UX architect as claimed.

This happens so often it’s shocking, my favourite one has to be the PHd student I met working as an accessibility consultant repackaging W3C guidelines as work for several agencies. What I love about this guy is he does public speaking and has even done UX London and people wonder why I’m not interested in these conferences!

There are loads more fakes some of them milking huge daily rates from major companies, as these companies don’t do any checking it’s their own fault, but it makes me quite sad that clients and employment agencies can’t tell the quality from the junk.

Not only is the user experience world full of fakes, I’d go as far to say that of the people I’ve met in the last 13 years involved in UX;

80% (8 in 10) of UX people are fakes and have no idea what they are doing

These fakes can certainly sell themselves and get work (now in some very senior positions) because the clients did not then and still don’t know what they should be getting out of a user experience professional.

2. User experience can be learned from reading books, nope!

Absolutely read books, but read lots of them, but don’t quote them like the Bible that’s a bit odd. But reading about someone else’s experience does not mean you have any or in fact really understand the context or scope of those experiences.

Do some testing and research, I’m seeing a great deal of roles advertised for UX researcher or UX workshopping this is a great concern as the priority of discovered requirements and their interrelation is almost impossible to communicate in written documents. This critical project information should always be available.

Separating UX research from the UX solution activity may make sense for IT activity but for User Experience Professionals it does not

I assume this was a bright idea of someone who doesn’t actually know anything about UX regardless of their job title.

3. User experience is an IT activity, nope!

User Experience is not an IT process, it starts in the business area before IT is involved

I know a lot of company IT departments have tried to subsume User Experience into their IT process; user experience is considerably less effective this way.

User Experience leads the projects speaking for the End User Stakeholders (customers) as the Business Stakeholders speak for the Business

User Experience fits better into Agile DevOps, Change Management, Operations or as separate Standards Authority within organizations.

4. User experience is a design activity, nope!

Not exactly no, it sets the project brief and requirements then latterly gets involved in research first before creating solution concepts, user testing concepts then defining the final solution.

If there is no research, user experience solutions are not possible

5. The cost of user experience is going down, nope!

Perhaps a better understanding is that the market is flooded with willing bodies, the quality goes down and so does the price because people find it difficult to sell invisible clothing (the kings new cloths) even to people who like the colour and the cut, so accept a reduced price.

So the value of the job title is going down.

User experience should provide major cost benefits and advancements to companies who wish to stand out from the crowd, provided they find people who know how to do UX correctly.

This is the same problem that Agile is going through, people have picked up the language and use one or two of the activities incorrectly but don’t exceed the current status quo because they don’t know how to.

Great Agile is fast and accurate, flexible and delivers usable software and change, just as Great User Experience should provide the experience that customers want and allow them to interact with the client, accurately and often.

Great User Experience delivers increased transactions, interactions and communications towards relationship building.

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#Recruiters requesting #UX #portfolio #breach #IPR

Recruiters requesting a UX portfolio can cause a breach of Intellectual Property Rights

So I posted this as an update on LinkedIn I got some great responses from people who read their contracts and got a whole load of really negative responses from people who did not understand the statement so I will try again here. I make no legal determination as part of this post, I am simply reporting an actual event.

The Background

First off this is from several actual experiences, years ago in one instance where a recruiter was found to be in Breach of Contract as the Contractor they supplied held on to client work (not in the public domain) and digitally published it as a portfolio breaching the Intellectual Property Rights of the Recruiters end Client. My involvement was discovering the content, explaining the context to legal teams and later hearing about the results.

The recruiter settled out of court, they were sued for $610,000,000, they paid $9,000,000 on the Government Contract, I don’t know what happened to the contractor, their portfolio was shut down in 10 minutes by the server company (a very well known one) after they were contacted, they also supplied a list of every IP that had visited the site.

This is About UX not UI

Second this is about UX not UI if you don’t know the difference here is post explaining it The User Interface (UI) is not the User Experience (UX).

So what is in a UX portfolio?

Method Statements
Research Raw Data
Research Analysis and First Findings
Market Research
UX Research
Business Research
UX Requirements Specification
Key Interaction Models (also known as Eco-systems)
User Logic Models
Demographics and Personas
UX Innovations based upon Insights from the Data, for Interaction Behaviour, Market Targeting/Capture, New Products or Services
Proposed Human Centered Business Models
UX Recruiting Protocol
UX Concept Testing Methods
UX Concept Testing Analysis
Project Concepts
Interaction Design
Interaction Design Testing

If you understand what UX is then the statement below seems quite reasonable.

The customer experience becomes the intellectual copyright of the client company, showing how it works to anyone opens up an unlimited financial risk to anyone who sees it. Hiding the client name is less important than exposing details of the customer experience that has been created.

One caveat to the above statement, clients cannot own the moral rights unless stipulated in the B2B recruiter contract and the contractor sub-contract, they remain as a veto for the contractor. Also the methods and IP of the contractor don’t become property of the client or the recruiter unless the contractor agrees and is paid for them (a separate contract, from their service contract, with another and more substantial fee).

If a recruiter requires the viewing of confidential information in their role adverts, they are liable as a participant in the contract breach.

Jophy covers it really well here in his update, in the corporate area information security is critical in UX projects disks are required to be wiped after projects and are subject to random checks by security. Having a copy of a project that has been completed for a client or that you leave is considered to be a form of theft.

Jophy Joy UX Information Security
Jophy Joy UX Information Security

When recruiters ask for portfolio’s it would be better that they stipulated personal projects only. Or that they change their contracts to allow contractors to show the work they produce as part of their portfolio.

In turn the contract between the clients and the recruiters will need to be changed as that is the point at which a breach is determined to have taken place from a client perspective.

Todd Zaki Warfel said portfolios aren’t the problem.

I recently interviewed a few MA grad candidates. One of the best portfolio reviews came from someone who’s showed 2-3 personal projects. We use the review sessions to dig into process and the candidates thinking and doing. Having them use examples they are intimately familiar with is a good way to gain insight.

And that kind of exposes the problem, the recruitment industry has built up with a reliance portfolio’s when experienced recruiters prefer to understand the candidates skill, than look at a portfolio of things the candidate may or may not have created.

I’m only providing this information to help people, if you don’t want to know, then fine. Please don’t respond with self righteous explanations of why your practices are safe, just enjoy your view of the sand.

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#Strategic and #lean #thinking in private investment and asset portfolio management, part 1

This article is intended to review the current process problems that many investment and wealth management companies are attempting to solve. For many years these businesses have been wreathed in secrecy regarding how they do, what they do, often this has not been by choice but merely a by product of business processes that have not fundamentally changed in fifty years and in environments where technology is not considered as an enabler.

The creation and management of investments have evolved into a complex time consuming and inefficient practice due to many complexities not only within financial advisory companies and people but also management services, financial product offerings and regulatory structures and the various platforms they use. However by mapping the basic interactions between these groups and investors it is possible to not only determine quick wins but also radical time and cost saving leading to increased transactions with existing clients deeper market penetration and capture with new clients.

There are five basic interactions I will be mapping as part of this paper;

  • On boarding (including Fact Find, AML etc.)
  • Financial Review
  • Advised Financial Modelling / Portfolio Construction
  • Self Service Financial Modelling / Portfolio Construction (including Self Service Trading)
  • Regulatory Reporting

There is a lot to pull together to do this, it is very insightful if you have not been involved in financial services or you are involved but have not kicked off your financial services transformation project yet.

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Getting #UX done the UX #engagement #process

UX is a highly complex set of research tools and outputs, the use of which is dependant upon time, cost and the clients willingness to accept them.

Question 1, why are you there?

If the client were to think in best practice terms which for them would deliver exactly what they require then everyone would have a great experience of the process. Unfortunately it is pretty much a given that clients want to prove themselves knowledgable about well everything, in control and this is one of the main problems. I often hear clients say “I understand our users” or “I built this company so I know what users want” maybe they did or used to, but the fact they have called in an agency or consultancy means they don’t anymore. What clients mostly mean is I have my agenda and I want you to listen to it and agree with me. That way is the road to mediocrity.

What does the client really want?

It’s worth at this point asking the client what they want out of the process. If they only want a pat on the head and to be told they are great, best to give them that, do the job get paid and don’t put it on your CV.

If the client (really) wants their products or services to have higher impact, increased transactions, market share and gain advantage, then explain what your doing, how they gain and that great ux will fundamentally change how they work.

Question 2, what does your client understand about what your doing there?

UX is not UI, the experience is not only the interface, it’s what you can do with the interface, what tasks can be completed, what data can be inputted, transformed or called into the UI.

The real pitch for real UX.

The pitch to a new client is not we can make your product or service like your competitors it’s “we can make your offering stand out from the crowd”. Great ux is about shouting over the noise and changing the rules, “don’t catch up – great ux creates the opportunity to jump ahead”.

Question 3, how will your client know they have succeeded?

This is not a KPI hunt, clients are not really interested in you proving success, they already have their own success metrics, strategic plans and objectives they need to report up the chain. They may not be able to directly tell you as these things are highly confidential the important thing from an engagement perspective is can you work them out? Then can you articulate these back to the client in ux terms.

The real job of ux, find out about the users.

The real job of ux is to align the business with the users, from the user perspective. Users ask “what’s in it for me”, “what do I personally gain”. This means that user research is required by the clients customers, in order to work out what they want for from the business in order to take up their services or buy their products, how they will want to interact and what they will give the business for a relationship.

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#Banking #Change #Management through #Human #Centred #Design #HCD

There has been massive change management taking place across all sectors of British banking over the last three years. Much of this is driven by buy outs and mergers, some by efficiencies and a little more recently through questioning the nature and controls around risk management.

However simply changing the owner has caused major problems in these banks as their competitive advantage and therefore their value has been an amalgam of very different skilled people, internal processes and market penetration from the bank or group buying them. These internal processes have often evolved in a highly organic method through acquisition and proven delivery often driven by individual people. However once this people based relationship is broken and these processes are exposed to a wider audience they pose serious questions in relation to risk management, value and the continuance of revenue flow.

The standard process applied has been to pass these processes over at division level to change program managers, at department level to business analysts to define the scope of the current structure. After definition many of these process based activities are passed over to information technology to resolve. I remember being taught at University (Napier, Edinburgh) that technology should never be used as a substitute to sound business process; however this technology determinant does not seem to have been passed on to banking business people. While not the best starting point, people who work in technology do tend to ask the right questions, to define epic requirements, even when it’s unpopular with the business.

Information technology analysts take these epic requirements and define an A to Z system ‘what it does’. However to get the B to Y user requirements (or stories), a user centred design analyst, ux research and designer spends time with the users to define ‘how it works’. This may seem obvious to digital practitioners outside banking, but it’s a revelation to those inside banking and banking technology, that users who normally find ways around poor software are able to define the requirements that turn a useful application into a killer application.

This is not really the end, more a beginning, if other sectors can learn from banking, that users (not stakeholders, usually no longer active users) can determine the overall success of software. And that user centred design (UCD) can assure and amplify competitive advantage if underwritten by skilled practitioners, then the possibility of success is significantly raised in all software and change programs.

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#User #Experience #UX #Process

Process thinking in User Experience (UX)

The first step in user experience needs to be the recognition that every problem is different and will require a separate solution. Because if they are not, then every business is the same which they are clearly not.

In effect there is no quick fix or single standard method but rather there is an armoury of methods each with associated risks, limitations and plus points. Anyone offering a standardise method without flexibility should be asked to leave as they about to cost you a fortune.

Karl Smith User Experience Research Testing 200711

Offering user experience services is a bit like dungeons and dragons in that you role your 12 sided dice and hope the business does not throw some trolls at you.

I have worked with very well known agencies who are unable to get their clients to understand the importance of user experience – research, testing and solutions as they focus on the solutions component without proper understanding that it is only one part of a three stage process. The reason that clients give for not paying for research and testing is the assumption that user experience people a such great experts that they can do their job in total isolation from the business and the end users.Maybe ‘Super User Experience Person’ does exist but I doubt it, most importantly users change over time, in what they want and mean by their actions.

Some process steps for user experience

This process list is based on personal experience and is open to reduction or extension based upon just how savvy the client is and how much they really want to be successful rather than just being seen to be doing something.

Understand the problem (concurrent with 2.)

  1. Do research
  2. Analyse research
  3. Get validation of what has been discovered by Target Users and Stakeholders

Define the audience (actors) this is the detail level the Target Users

  1. Create personas a tool used by the entire project team BA’s, PM’s and Developers to be acquainted with who will use the systemResearch persona types, activities, attitudes etc.
  2. Define critical tasks Research tasks ecosystem and review engagement strategy
  3. Define key pathways Main pathway
  4. Alternative pathways
  5. Failure pathways

Compose concepts

  1. Create buy-in with Stakeholders

Set the tone of voice

  1. Type of language
  2. Level of formality
  3. Use of jargon, brand identity or subject specific words
  4. Content style
  5. Meta standards
  6. Content object model
  7. SEO if web based

Wireframes

  1. Selection of type & method
  2. Wireframe Concepts
  3. User testing of Wireframe Concepts
  4. Wireframe sketches

Client sign off

Wireframe prototypes

  1. User testing of Wireframe prototypes

Client review

Wireframe & Visual design integration (prior to this point the use of high fidelity images are counter productive)

Functional specification & analytics specification

  1. Instruct development
  2. Usability Test plan
  3. Accessibility Test plan
  4. Functional & Content Test plan

Testing with participant screening document

  1. Review testing results
  2. Modify labels, interactions & structure in line with findings

Done, until …..

Check interactions based upon analytics and more user testing

Offer enhancements to clients

Some people will look at this list and think it takes years, depending on the project complexity it can take days or weeks for simple web or mobile applications and only months on complex software systems.

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12 #UX things you need to know

Getting into user experience, what you need to know?

What will a person need to be able to do to get into user experience;

1. Can you think?

Not the most subtle way to ask, but can you be creative? Thinking at the beginning of a project can save a huge amount of money and time later, but many user experience people blast their way into a project by starting on wireframes, without knowing what they are doing.

A huge amount of user experience simply is not user experience, its pretty pictures with poor justifications ‘it’s best practice’ my usual response is ‘prove that it’s best practice’.

2. Can you find things out?

Do you have a critical mind, can you work out what is missing from the information you have been given.

A project requires a bit of detective work because there are always gaps in the information provided to user experience, mainly because clients and IT don’t know what to provide or what is provided has had the juicy bits (outlier views) removed because clients and IT don’t know they are important.

3. Are you objective?

Having a strong opinion on user experience is really important, but it must always be tempered with an open non judgemental attitude. Are you willing to be changed by what your client, users or IT people know?

User experience people are not the gate keepers of an absolute set of rules, we have two ears and one mouth, we should listen twice as much as we speak.

4. Can you discern Fact from Fiction?

Again talking with clients, users or IT people can be pretty confusing unless you can work out if what they are talking about is still within the boundaries and various time lines of the project. A quick guide;

  • Clients tend to talk about the desired end state
  • Users tend to talk about any snippets they have heard about the project or their hopes for it
  • IT tends to take the pragmatic approach by thinking ‘what can we really deliver’

They are all true or were true at some point, or may be true if we had more time and money etc.

5. Can you deal with the politics?

Can you avoid taking sides in the various feuds that were going on before you got there and not flame the fires of distrust between business and IT.

6. Will you understand the business you are serving?

Your in a service relationship with the business, helping them get past their assumptions about their users and giving them some facts to act upon.

7. Will you understand the users you are serving?

Your in a service relationship with the users, helping them get what they need and desire.

8. Can you test – concepts, theories, business thinking, user perceptions etc?

Your going to need a lot of guts to question other peoples thinking.

User experience people reserve the right to ask stupid questions, in order to avoid doing stupid things, by Karl Smith 1999.

I’ve been saying this since 1999, I say it on every project.

9. Can you seek validation?

The user experience person is not right, they can come up with concepts and questions but a user experience person never decides they are right, they must check out what they do with other people. Often this process of seeking validation reveals more information and opens door to previously inaccessible people.

10. Can you communicate – findings and concepts?

Can you talk to people and provide information to them in a digestible way? The best way to work is to not use jargon, not assume that people understand anything especially verbal references to famous people or design principals.

You need to be able to package your information in the users and stakeholders own verbal environment, so that they recognise and understand it when they hear it.

11. Can you understand and benefit from the project teams expertise?

Do you know what other people on the project do? For example do you know enough about technology to carry out research with developers to pre-scope extra user requirements.

Can you cope with the give and take that happens during development and know which things to fight for?

12. Finally do you keep your common sense active?

Can you spot a non sensible request, a great example of this was NASA spending $1,000,000 on a pen that would work in space, while Roscosmos (USSR) gave their astronauts a pencil. Can you give a reasoned non personalised argument for not doing something?

Related

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