Notes from UX Advantage

I had the opportunity to attend UX Advantage (put on by Jared Spool of UIE) last year, and I forgot to write about what I learned. This is what I wrote down. I’ll write more soon on what I learned and how it has affected my work the past few months.

This is just rapid-fire notes transcribed from my notebook at the conference. It was super helpful and enlightening to see other teams at other large corporations having the same struggles we are. I apologize for the frantic sound-bite nature of these notes.

Main takeaways:

“Soak the team in customer feedback.”

“Always be getting reality from customers.”

Results and problem-solving is easier to sell than the visuals of design for design’s own good, or for the pretty factor.

“Colocation is hugely important, so a team feels like a team.”

“Schedule is king -> Customer is king”

Get legal in the room at the start, not tack it on at the end. Make them understand the project, not just put a boilerplate at the end.

Find out “Who is saying no and why are they saying no?” Don’t let empty “no’s” stop you from making something you know is better.

​”Understanding the users is catnip for executive teams.”

Anyone who has product influence should spend 2 hours with users every 6 weeks.

Product roadmap should be problems you will solve, not features you will build.

People have empathy, but there is no structure in our culture for empathy. Need to engage ourselves with users.

 

Bill Scott, PayPal

Create a shared understanding between design, engineering and marketing.

Have the humility to improvise.

Get legal in the design process early and explain the problem. Get them involved in the solution, not just tacking on the disclaimer.

“Soak the team in customer feedback.”

Note certain people that you can’t change and work around them.

“The UI layer is the experimentation layer.”

“Change from a culture of delivery to a culture of learning.”

Create tweetable moments when talking with executives. You don’t get much time, so make your conversation and points memorable.

They will start to repeat them and you want them repeating the right things until they start to believe them.

RITE usability testing (1-2 week sprints): MTW – Build, Th – Test, Fri – Report, feedback, decisions

Old system was 3 months -> usability test

New system was 1 week live coded testing

12-week sprint of tests

“If you make other people successful instead of policing them, they’ll come to you for advice, not avoid you.”

“Always be getting reality from customers.”

“We really sucked. Here’s how we got better.” (re: PayPal over time)

Nuisance distance architecture

 

Steve Turbek, Fidelity: Design-driven UX Team

Results and problem-solving is easier to sell than the visuals of design for design’s own good, or for the pretty factor.

Getting developers involved in a project before it’s an official project can be transformative.

“Funny thing is silos are meant to protect the corn from birds.” – balance of silo vs. full collaboration & productivity

Device lab is in a prominent place in the space – establishes the importance of the mobile shift. Investment in tools to properly test for all contexts. Put it in front of yourself as a reminder to build for real context.

A modern office send a message to existing and new/future employees that you have a cultural understanding of design.

The creative director role for low-level designer development, as more and more moves to code – deliverables are fuzzy.

They created the track of Senior Individual Contributor, instead of a forced management role to move up. SIC’s roles spread and their influence on projects can be more broad. Long-term effect of faster/cheaper projects.

Senior IC’s spend time mentoring and diving deep into their expertise.

Distinction between innovation space and design space – innovation encourages more collaboration and invitation.

When an agency isn’t involved in how things are built, it’s hard for them to do something that can be built/integrated.

Usability testing shouldn’t be done by the people designing the experience – too much bias in designing the test and the conversation with the user.

 

Scott Zimmer, David Baker: The Role of Outsiders

​If you hire the brains, let them do the work. If not, the in-house team will be uninspired to build it. (#loyalty)

“The only thing that terrifies firms more than a conflict of interest is incompetence.”

“Colocation is hugely important, so a team feels like a team.”

 

Samantha Soma, Bringing UX to All of GE

They inserted their team into the hiring process, after learning that friends got form letters from their recruiters. Took over the process to get the team they wanted.

 

Mark Rettig, Organizational Becoming

Observe. Reflect. Make.
Open attention & dialogue.
Quality of attention -> quality of result.

Design Capacity is not Design Culture.
(an innovation lab does not by existing create an innovation culture)

“Cynicism is a product of repeated disappointment.”

“To remove cynicism, move outside of yourself.”

We all care about quality.

“Schedule is king -> Customer is king”

“Research brought back orange.
Management sees orange.
‘Hang on, we only do blue. Take what you learned from orange and use it make better blue!'”

Ask “Who do we need to become to do orange?”

 

Yes Lawyer

Get legal in the room at the start, not tack it on at the end. Make them understand the project, not just put a boilerplate at the end.

Understand the actual rules and the spirit of them, so you can push back when you understand it.

You shouldn’t be given solutions to build. You should get problems to solve.

Find out “Who is saying no and why are they saying no?” Don’t let empty “no’s” stop you from making something you know is better.

Have empathy for legal and they will have it for you.

 

Christ Avore, NASDAQ

A deliverable is something you pass off as a spec; An artifact is something you just throw out there for consideration.

“The prototypes aren’t optional.” re: devs not building what you intend

New title being used, UX Prototyper

​”Understanding the users is catnip for executive teams.”

 

Adam Cutler, IBM

​”Empathy, not ego”
1,200 designers by 2016 at IBM, 10k applications

Onboarding at IBM for new hires is 6-12 week process – boot camps

Design is the expression of intent. ​So anyone can design.

“You’ve sucked for so long and now design is here to save the day.” is not the way to win hearts & minds.

Senior Executives are invited to design reviews. Quick run-through of all visible work, even sketched in the project.

Moveable, transportable whiteboards. On hooks to transport around to different rooms/walls.

 

Jared Spool

Stages of becoming design-infused:
– Dark ages
– Spot UX projects
– UX Effort
– Embedded teams
– Design-infused culture

Customer satisfaction surveys are not the best way to learn.
Anyone who has product influence should spend 2 hours with users every 6 weeks.

UX should be where the decisions get made. IT if IT-led. Marketing if marketing-led, etc.

The UX Tipping Point in a design-infused culture is when more than half the projects ship when the design is ready and not before.

Successful Design-led companies have these in common:
1. Exposure to users
– 2 hours with users every 6 weeks
– “I think” turns into “we saw someone…”
2. Vision of the experience
– what will the whole experience look like (regardless of technology) look like in 5 years
3. Culture of continual learning

Product roadmap list problems, not features
– problems you will solve, not features you will build
– stories of those problems come from users

People have empathy, but there is no structure in our culture for empathy. Need to engage ourselves with users.

We have to design how we make UX a competitive advantage.