Would you bet your bippy on it?

Assuming you had a bippy to bet, it’s an important question to ask when designing an experience… You could certainly replace ‘bippy’ with something you value more than your bippy.

Experience design is a series of choices based on assumptions. Assuming a user has a certain problem is the only way to create solutions. But what if you look at a screen and ask yourself how confident you are about each of the features represented. How would each feature rank based on your level of confidence that it is both usable and desirable? Is that layout/widget/nav etc. the _right_ choice?

Becoming comfortable with a design by acclimating yourself to the level of risk represented is a natural progression. But every once in a while you face a firing squad that forces you to stand by a decision. Thar’s when it is time to ask yourself if you have enough information to look someone in the eyes and say ‘i am confident you should do this.’ or better yet, become your own firing squad.

If you can’t recommend something with a certain level of confidence, it is a great sign that you need to go back to users. Validating your assumptions can give you confidence to move forward without losing a bippy.

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People I’ve met at meetings

Every meeting i’ve called or attended in the last 12 years has been different. Following are some of the archetypical cast of characters I have observed (and at some time been myself)…

Single agenda lobbyist: the ‘sal’ comes to the meeting with the intent of driving one particular agenda item for which he is passionate. Sal will say his peace and may bring it up again if not satisfied with the response, but generally moves on. Unlike…

Pitbull: does not enter the meeting with an agenda item, but is constantly sniffing one out. He latches onto one somewhere mid-meeting and gets all asbergers on his issue. Then, during the recap of the meeting, adds the cherry on top by making his point one of the takeaway items… Yup. Gotcha.

Stranger: the guy sitting at the end of the table who has never attended any previous meetings on the topic. Usually spends the meeting just listening though he privately realized 3 minutes in that he does not need to attend.

Sponge: the one who does not say a thing but seems to be listening very intently. Maybe even taking diligent notes. I’ve benefited from those notes at times.

Non-sequitor: sometimes disguised as the sponge then suddenly brings up a point he clearly thinks is related, but the rest of the room silently agrees is not. Staring and blinking ensues… Everyone moves on.

The friendly: just when you run of gas trying to fend off the non-seq and pitbull – the friendly speaks in support of the point you are trying to get across. Yes! Go friendly person. That’s exactly what i am trying to say.

The egghead: bordering on obsessive compulsive, this detail-oriented chap is the one everyone turns to when a discussion leads to the question ‘is x possible?’

Worker bee: attends the meeting simply as an excuse to sit down and catch up on emails. When the conversation is directed toward him, he will likely respond with ‘what was the question again?’

The final word: this is a rare sighting indeed, but a critical one in the life of a project. You’ve heard the name mentioned throughout the project, but now you finally meet the fw with a couple of weeks left. She will decide in the first moment of the meeting whether the project will live, die or be drastically altered.

I could easily follow up this post with people i’ve met on the train.

Applications need content strategy too

The buttons need a strategy. The menus need a strategy. The application needs a philosophy.

I had a strange, but inspiring experience the other day. I had a meeting to discuss an app with an executive sponsor. On a particular step i accidentally left my silly text blurb that i wrote off the cuff as a placeholder. That reserves the approx space required for the actual, boring… well, professional text.

He paused to read the text and just when i was ready to explain its temporary nature, he said he liked it. It may not make the final cut, but it made someone pause because it gave the app some semblance of personality.

I dont think there is a wrong audience for content with some personality. An application with personality may even build a different kind of bond wirh users.

Feel free to skip this one… seriously, it’s ok.

I enjoy print design. I enjoy the selection of beautiful fonts, and elegant papers. I even like the smell of a freshly printed piece, fresh off the line on a print check. But the concept of designing for something that has a final state is seems like a distant memory. Designing for a digital medium required me to shift the way i go about solving problems. I’ve come to learn that, the more comfortable I am with chaos, the more successful my work becomes.Read More »

How songwriting is like experience design (part 1)

Formally writing down how I write songs in order to see if there are any parallels with the way I design experiences. First the songwriting process.

In a previous iteration of me, I spent many many hours crafting songs. Many songs were written in conjunction with other people, but here I am looking into the solo-songwriting process. There are enough variables there to gnaw on for now.

This is… was… is my personal songwriting process:Read More »