2017 UX Roundup

This post started off as an email to my team that I thought might have some useful content for other UX folks. This here is a collection of articles, webinars, tools, and other thingies that I encountered over the year that I think are worth sharing, with some inspiring quotes sprinkled in along the way.

Articles and Video

Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.
– Salvador Dali

Interesting read about how to prepare for the next stage of UX

READ: https://www.fastcodesign.com/90135223/the-golden-age-of-ux-wont-last-heres-how-to-prepare-for-whats-next 

Notes from article:

• Don’t just understand users, understand the business
• Think product strategy (understand the totality of the product you are designing for)
• Understand how UX affects growth

Instead of thinking outside of the box, get rid of the box

-Deepak Chopra

Video webinar from Jonathan Wheeler, Sr. UX guy from Oppenheimer

WATCH: https://www.invisionapp.com/webinars/ux-leadership-everyone-designs

Main takeaway from video:

  • Don’t be a gatekeeper pf design, be a design facilitator

The above video was from the great webinar series from InVision called Design Talks that has over 60 videos thus far covering topics such as UX Leadership, design systems, and user research

WATCH: https://www.invisionapp.com/webinars

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new

- Albert Einstein

State of UX in 2018: UXdesign.cc

This list does a pretty thorough job of going over the field
READ: https://trends.uxdesign.cc/


• “UX Designer” as a title is starting to differentiate; some people are specializing in UX for specific domains, while some are morphing into Product Designers, the new generalists.
• UX is moving beyond the traditional screen and must learn to accommodate new technologies and ways of interacting
• Understanding the complete diversity of your users is becoming more important the more diverse people become (interesting examples are software systems that assume Asian eyes are closed)
• Storytelling will only become more and more ubiquitous; UX and copywriters will collaborate more
• Branding is more than just a logo; how can a brand be expressed throughout an experience?
• AI is now a real thing (Amazon Echo, Google Dot, etc.); How will we design for it?

Anyone who influences what the design becomes is the designer. This includes
developers, PMs, even corporate legal. All the designers.

- Jared Spool

More trends for 2018


Quote I most identify with:

“I really hope 2018 is the year designers commit to designing with accessibility in mind. 
We need to stop using ultra light grays for essential elements, we need to stop animating 
every single pixel just because it looks nice, and we need to stop making it harder on people 
to understand the content of a page only because we want to prove ourselves as designers.”
— Hubert Florin, Product Designer at Slack; me too, dude, me too

UX podcast: High Resolution

This series has 25 interviews with industry leaders from companies like AirBnB, Uber, Facebook and Slack. You can watch them as videos or listen to them as podcasts.

WATCH or LISTEN: https://www.highresolution.design/

User Research webinars from Usertesting.com:

A ton of content here with a focus on user research and testing

WATCH: https://www.usertesting.com/resources/webinars/

Online UX conferences from UXPin:

UXPin had some great free online conferences in 2017 that you can access as videos.

WATCH: https://www.uxpin.com/studio/webinars/


Most of the tools I used in 2017 I have been using for years but I did pick up a few new ones.

Note taking and collecting: Milanote

This is a cloud-based tools for collecting notes, inspiration, links, images, and it allows you to organize them into boards. I have a board where I store interesting articles and links and one where I add images and examples of good design that I use as an old-school morgue file.

The tool has free and paid accounts and is definitely worth checking out.

CHECK IT OUT: https://www.milanote.com/

InVision: Boards

I’ve been using InVision for several years now but 2017 was the year I really started using Boards. I probably use this feature a bit different than intended. I have a board that I use as a morgue, which is an old-school term for a collection of inspiration. Another board is literally dozens of ebooks that I have collected. Putting these files on a board makes it easy to share them with the whole team. I use boards for large scale projects to store mocks, zips of assets, palettes, and specs. I also have boards that are filled with terms and their definitions, organized by category (such as Psychological concepts, Design Principles, and Quotes).

InVision has free and paid accounts and is a great tool that is about to launch a bunch of possibly groundbreaking features in 2018.

SIGN UP HERE: https://www.invisionapp.com

SnagIt: Update for MAC!!

SnagIt is a screen capture tool that has been an absolutely essential part of my workflow for YEARS. Unfortunately, the MAC version has been stuck in time while the PC version was much more full-featured. Well, 2017 brought us MAC users a real upgrade!!!! And this is such a cheap tool that upgrading is a no brainer. I use this tool to take quick screen grabs but also to make short videos that explain interactions or to show how an interaction works on another site.

LEARN MORE: https://discover.techsmith.com/snagit-brand-desktop-new-label/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAp8fSBRCUARIsABPL6JZ_yGEvSPTcybYWsoldn9DKE3rwtoXhBgnPNF1yFLAkSMCYepuXc1saAldtEALw_wcB


Welcome to my new series for 2018, Guerilla UX!

This series will highlight some of the challenges of doing UX when the resources are low but the stakes are high. When there are not enough resources, such as time, people, access to users, access to tools, or just general knowledge of UX, to properly perform user-centered design, that’s when you need to employ Guerilla UX practices. These are short-cuts, workarounds, and best practices to help anyone tasked with facilitating the best possible user experience for a product.

In my nearly 20 years in the industry, I have never had the perfect set of variables for UX. Sometimes it was lack of knowledge or understanding. Other times, it was lack of access to users. The most common deficit was the almost constant lack of time to perform the entirety of the UX process.

I have learned to work with what I have, because even a little strategic thinking, coupled with a deep knowledge of research-based best practices, along with at least SOME testing and validation, can go a long way towards creating better products that are usable, useful, and attractive.

Other the next year, I will cover many topics, including:

Learning UX on the job – how to transition from whatever role you currently have to a UX role
Using user proxies – When access to real users is slim to nonexistent, there are other ways to test using user proxies – folks who interact with or are intimately knowledgeable about your users and their needs.
User testing with user panels and remote user testing services – Sometimes a panel may be your best bet to access people who are closer to your user base.
Performing heuristic evaluations on your products– Using knowledge of best practices, perform a review of your product to better understand what needs to improve.
Performing competitive audits – one of the easiest research methods as it does not require access to users, only your competitor’s products or services, or in the case of the web, their web address.
Working with developers – learn how to better communicate with developers and how to create specs that they can read and understand to ensure your vision is effectively brought to life.
Understanding your business – UX isn’t all about users. UX is best applied when strategy is employed and that means understanding your company’s goals so that what you design helps to satisfy business and user needs.
Tools of the trade – Common tools, software, and other resources.

First up in the series, to be published later this month: Learning UX on the job.

Stay tuned!

Yup, it's my puppeh

My UX Path

(Updated 11-23-2017) Everyone I meet who is a UX-something has had a different road to UX. Some folks started out as programmers, others as graphic designers. Some folks have even been lucky enough to gain HCI degrees. I find it extremely interesting to learn how others have come to UX and I thought I would share my path as well. My path is long and winding and still evolving.

Back in the nineties when I was in college, I started out as a biology major. I wanted to be an environmental scientist and save the world. Then I got into psychology and got pretty far in that. Psychological concepts are actually pretty important in UX, so this was a really good diversion. My best friend at the time was an art major and she encouraged me to take some art classes. I have always been into arts and crafts but never considered them viable career options. I took some classes and found them to be really rewarding. Another friend encouraged me to take a graphic design class-I didn’t even know what graphic design was. I excelled at graphic design and decided to change my major for the third time. I took a computer graphics class and fell in love with Macromedia Director and creating interactive presentations. I then got a student gig working on the university website and that is how I got started in the digital realm.

Even though I finished the graphic design program, I have never actually been a graphic designer. Sure, I’ve designed print pieces here and there along with many, many logos, but I have never had the title of graphic designer. I went straight into web design and production and have been an interactive something-or-the-other for over 18 years now.

Over the next few years, I taught myself HTML and CSS. I started writing functional specifications filled with wireframes and information architecture diagrams and user flows. I began to lead web development projects from start to finish, all the while doing all of the UI design and front-end production. I learned how to do QA testing. Then I became an expert in SharePoint branding and site collection administration.

I started to get into analytics and search analysis. I did competitive analysis and research and wrote a bunch of reports. I started to create training documentation, then I started to conduct in-class training.

After many years, I became a Creative Director and was responsible for large-scale redesigns of major e-government projects. Currently, I spend my days as Sr. UX Analyst and Designer at an asset management firm. My days are filled with research, wireframes, mocks, sketches, user testing and interviews, and UI design. I don’t do any front end development anymore, at least not at my day job. I also consult on the side doing expert UX reviews.

After all these years, it is easy to feel like you have it all figured out, but I feel like I am just getting started. I make a concerted effort to constantly learn new things, new techniques, new ideas. I also believe that a person’s career is in their hands and if your company won’t pay for training, pay for it yourself. Read books, blogs, newsletters, whatever. Teach yourself whatever it is you want to know-I did, that’s how I learned HTML/CSS and pretty much every thing I know that I use on a daily basis. I have or have had subscriptions to Safari online books, Lynda.com, Treehouse, over 30 Udemy courses, Creative Live and a membership to the Interaction Design Foundation. I also have two industry certifications – Certified Usability Analyst from HCI and an NN/g UX certification.

I’ve worn a lot of hats and have a wide-ranging set of skills. I feel like everything I have learned has helped me to be better at anything I do. I am able to solve problems quickly because chances are, I’ve solved it before (benefits of having a long career and working in different industries). I’ve worked at small agencies, at a death care company, an e-gov agency working with elected officials, and now, an asset management firm. I have always done freelance on the side, both for money and for the experience of working with more varied clients and projects. I am looking forward to another year in this industry and another set of skills that I hope to pick up.

Wherever you have started, you can use it as a stepping stone, just keep going and never stop. I sure won’t 😉

NOTE: That pup up there, yup, that’s critter number eight, Princess Buttercup. Adopt the planet!

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