Can you make good design for people if you’re a lousy person yourself?

Interesting article on “being human” as a UX designer.

I’ve encountered UX people who didn’t strike me as particularly good humans, consequently lowering my trust as a client in their ability to engineer experiences that would appeal to humans.¬†If you’re not a nice person, can you really design what is essentially an avatar of what your audience should see as a nice person?

Orson Welles and Harlan Ellison were/are known for being huge a-holes to work with, but on the ‘customer facing’ side, they’ve produced some astounding works of art. Maybe there’s a base level of good UX that everyone is capable of – stock common sense principles you get in any textbook – and it only gets better from there depending on how well you think critically and apply those principles to the problem at hand.

Personally, I want to believe that being a decent human being translates to putting out decent work. Even if we can’t be so magnanimous and noble, maybe the effort that goes in can’t help but lend itself to empathic, thoughtful solutions. But that’s just my little dream.

Maybe you don’t need to be a cool guy to make cool stuff – but I’m sure it’s more fun to work with someone who can do both. ūüėČ

MoodWall… and moods in general

This video is ridiculous and I don’t even like Harry Potter. But it made me laugh.¬†YouTube’sMoodWall¬†delivers.

You can read some sciencey thoughts about MoodWall at the Humintell blog Рwhat stuck for me was the distinction between emotions and mood:

[Dr. Matsumoto, Humintell’s director] defines emotions as immediate, automatic, and involuntary reactions to events that are important to us. Moods, on the other hand, are states of mind that may make us more predisposed to having a certain emotional response.

For example, being in an irritable mood may make a person more predisposed to becoming angry more easily.

Thinking back to¬†last week’s post on voice and tone, I wonder how empathic design & writing can help us understand moods better for those situations where we wish toinfluence¬†a user’s mood and emotions. When is it productive to use¬†happy talk, and when should you get to the point? How could a brochure site turn a skeptic into a buyer?

Many things to wonder. ūüôā

Good design is good business

Long article is long:

Interesting points for those who cbf reading:

Apple‚Äôs rise offers a few important lessons about today‚Äôs connection between design and business. The easiest is that design allows you to stoke consumer lust–and demand higher prices as a result.

You might wonder what design can possibly have to do with the success of a jet engine or an MRI machine. But hospitals and power plants are now linking their machines into ecosystems. And well-designed iPad apps are the simplest way to manage them.

If [the designers] do their job right, the result–a working ecosystem–is a far better platform for innovation than an isolated product. Just think about Apple and how its products have expanded from iMacs to iPods, iTunes, iPhones, and iPads, all linked via its iCloud.

Good designs seldom stay good for very long if they must navigate a gauntlet of corporate approval. That‚Äôs because the design process is as much reductive as anything else–figuring what can be simplified and taken out. Corporate approvals are usually about adding things on to appease internal overseers. When something has been approved by everyone, it may be loved by none. Just look at what happened to Microsoft in the 2000s and how only now is it trying to redefine itself by building a more design-driven culture.

[N]otice what unites Pinterest and Microsoft: Ultimately, each company’s success hinges upon how well it intuits what users want and how much each pleases them with products. Only design has that power to seduce and delight.

Now here is a beautifully designed cat. Happy Monday!

worlds_ugliest_cat_04.jpg.scaled1000

Img sauce.

Voice and tone – adapting to emotions and mindsets that underpin user scenarios

http://voiceandtone.com

Much of the time, we take a pragmatic approach to communicating with our users – as in: “Here’s a situation. Here’s what they need to know. Let’s tell them.” And much of the time, our circumstances are so simple, we get away with not fussing more.

Other times, it pays to consider a user’s emotions and mindset in a given situation, particularly when the stakes are high, a subject is touchy, a topic is complicated, or if the brand we represent is less than trusted.

The company who run MailChimp (a diy email newsletter service) run an interactive handbook of common communication scenarios, what users are feeling in those scenarios, and simple tactics for adapting your language to address those feelings.

All the examples are relative to email marketing, but skimming a few will give you a feel for good ways to cater to your audience’s mood.

Designing good UX for old people

3cb73954-3ebb-473a-aef8-f861c870a41f.jpg.scaled500

“We’ll use your site, but first we have to trust you.”

http://uxmag.com/articles/simple-and-secure-sites-keep-boomers-happy

UX Mag offers quick tips on how to design appropriate web user experience for the growing Baby Boomer market.

Key takeaways:

  • Educate your Boomer user before asking them to dive in.
  • Be reassuring – remind them how secure your site is, offer a heads up of what sort of information they’ll be expected to give – be nice, hold their hand.
  • Clear, simple, fairly static design is best – give lots of margin for shaky-handed, tired-eyed error.
  • Big text

When cool goes mainstream and becomes less cool

airwalk-original-one.jpg.scaled500

Do you guys remember Airwalk, the skate shoe that was all the rage when we were kids?

Through ’95 and ’96, Airwalk created a shoe epidemic by staying close to what their customers wanted, then channeling their understanding into innovative products and creative, appealing advertising.¬†But things took a turn once they got big and neglected the core stuff –¬†what their customers actually wanted¬†–¬†that earned them their fame.

In case you can’t be bothered reading,¬†the key takeaway is that it pays to keep our users at the heart of our decisions¬†– whether designing products, websites, campaigns, brands or tools.

For those interested, this is the story of Airwalk’s decline:

The Airwalk epidemic did not last. In 1997, the company’s sales began to falter… In critical locations, [they] failed to supply enough product for the back-to-school season… [and] began to lose that cutting-edge sensibility that it had traded on for so long.

“When Airwalk started, the product was directional and inventive. The shoes were very forward,” said Chad Farmer [creative director at Airwalk’s ad agency, Lambesis]. “We maintained the trendsetter focus on the marketing. but the product began to slip. The company began to listen more and more to the sales staff and the product started to get that homogenized, mainstream look…”

Lambesis’ strategy was based on translating Innovator shoes for the Majority. But suddenly Airwalk wasn’t an Innovator shoe anymore. “We made another, critical mistake,” Lee Smith, the former president of Airwalk says. “We had a segmentation strategy, where the small, independent core skate shops – the three hundred boutiques around the country who really created us – had a certain product line that was exclusive to them. They didn’t want us to be in the mall. So… we segmented our product.”¬†… The [Innovator customers] always got to wear a different, more exclusive shoe than everyone else. The mainstream customer had the satisfaction of wearing the same brand as the cool kids.

But then, at the height of its success, Airwalk … stopped giving the specialty shops their own shoes. “That’s when the trendsetters started to get a disregard for the brand,” says Farmer. “They started to go to their boutiques where they got their cool stuff, and they realized that everyone else could get the very same shoes at J C Penney.” The epidemic was over.

Smith says, “Cool brands treat people well, and we didn’t. I had personally promised some of those little shops that we would give them a special product, then we changed our minds. When we became bigger, that’s when we should have paid more attention to the details and kept a good buzz going, so when people said you guys are sellouts, you guys went mainstream, you suck, we could have said, you know what, we don’t. We had this little jewel of a brand, and little by little we sold that off into the mainstream, and once we had sold it all… so what? You buy a pair of our shoes. Why would you ever buy another?”

Abridged excerpt from The Tipping Point (p. 213-215) by Malcolm Gladwell.

Picture from Ninetiestalgia: October 2010.

Better prototyping makes UX design less annoying in Agile development

True to life good advice or finely crafted advertorial for fourth generation prototyping tools? You decide.

Key points:

Prototyping is an ideal means of defining the requirements for an agile sprint, during which the development team transforms the prototype into working code.

…feeding a good prototype into each sprint means the UCD activity for a sprint must begin far in advance of that sprint‚ÄĒtypically, at least three sprints ahead. Problems arise when a sprint‚Äôs prototypes don‚Äôt arrive on time, and the production line has to stop.

Sadly, many organizations … have very inefficient prototyping practices.

The solution is to move to … a fourth-generation prototyping tool (to) seamlessly handle all aspects of the prototyping activity, enable everyone to use the same software tools, provide support for multiple platforms, allow designers to embed specifications in prototypes (and) support multiuser prototyping.