Inventing new interface directions is an example when high quality outcomes require high quantity explorations. Paradigm shifts take time and require human adoption for them to transpire. In order to not default to status quo patterns, you must play and prototype.
The [Social Security] Board first considered a small card similar to a credit union or trade union card, but some objected that it was too flimsy. Alternatively, a ¾ x 2⅞ inch metal card was proposed by a manufacturer of such cards. It was estimated that it would have taken 250 tons of metal for initial registration. The arguments in favor of the metal card were its permanence, accuracy (records could be imprinted from the embossed token), and economy (because of the imprinting capability). Still, in early June 1936, the Board decided to use a small paper card (McKinley and Frase 1970, 327 and 329).
In October 1936, the Social Security Board selected a design submitted by Frederick E. Happel, an artist and photo engraver from Albany, NY, for the original Social Security card, for which Happel was paid $60. The Board placed an initial order for 26 million cards. In late 1937, a second version was adopted, and a version just for replacement cards was adopted in 1938 (SSA 1990, 1). Since 1976, the design of original and replacement Social Security cards has been the same. In all, over 50 designs have been used from 1936 to 2008. All versions remain valid since it would be cost-prohibitive to replace all cards previously issued.
Product managers love to ask for middle-range research that they can use to justify decisions they’re reluctant to make on their own. UX designers love to ask for middle-range research because it fits their model of what a proper design process should look like. Executives love to ask for the middle-range because they don’t really understand what UX Research is for, and it helps them do performative user-centeredness. In the end they will decide based on their own opinions.
As more and more digital traces become legible, data science strengthens its position relative to user research. “As data collection and engineering has evolved”, observes Heli Rantavuo (ex-Spotify), “there is increasing pressure for all decisions to be driven by data science.” By comparison, once progressive qualitative approaches such as “Design Thinking” feel staid and indeterminate, a relic of a past era. Data Scientists sense the expanding influence of their dynamic discipline, and, in truth, have little incentive to engage with user research.
Optimistic but dissatisfied is the road to progress.
I have managed many people over the years, and the easiest people to manage are those who get their jobs done efficiently in the time allotted to do those jobs, without much fuss. Not everyone should be a raging ambition monster — it is not sustainable for a varied and functional workplace. If, as a manager, you’re constantly requiring people to work overtime or out of the scope of their job description, it’s a sure sign that your company is not well structured.
Everything rises and falls on how you lead your team, and keeping people happy is a pretty important part of keeping them productive. And a great way to become a good leader is to shift from, “how’s everything going?” to “what’s one thing that could be better?”
New technology generally makes it cheaper and easier to do something, but that might mean you do the same with fewer people, or you might do much more with the same people. It also tends to mean that you change what you do. To begin with, we make the new tool fit the old way of working, but over time, we change how we work to fit the tool.
Interest will drive you to work harder than mere diligence ever could.
…there is a consistent unfair competitive advantage I’ve witnessed when the talent stack was collapsed – when the lead designer was also the product leader, when the front-end engineer was also a designer, when the designer is also a great copywriter, when the product leader was also the founder/CEO, etc. Tighter conduits for decision making and synthesizing information are an incredible advantage when it comes to crafting products.