July 11, 2013
User experience is not that simple and it doesn’t always go with the same speed with agile development:
“Finally, the biggest lesson I learned from the whole program is that UX is NOT, I repeat, NOT a lean process. It takes time. Everyone wants to move fast and iterate quickly, but we still need to reference good solid research. The best ideas address a witnessed or experienced user need. A properly researched and wisely applied strategy will uncover the breadth of your user needs. It will also reveal other exploitable areas. This requires time spent with the users and the data to produce the right insights.”
In the other hand… agile process can not replace a good research strategy:
“The UX process can be used to inject momentum into a multi-stage agile development process and when done so can be very beneficial. But an agile UX process seems to be self defeating and limits the strength and power of the output from UX work. Can the UX process be aligned with a good research strategy to support a lean and agile development? I would say yes. But, can an agile process replace a good research strategy, I would say no.”
(via Elisabeth Hubert)
May 27, 2013
Designers thrive on experiences. We use our sense in equal proportion to our problem-solving logic. There is simply nothing more important than for designers to open their minds and senses into the widest possible experiences.
When asked, “What do you do to keep yourself updated and educated?”, a designer can simply say that they buy design books, attend design lectures or seminars, discuss with fellow designers, or some even go further in their education by getting short courses or a complete master’s degree.
While I agree design education is important, there is more than just the design discipline to get one’s skills polished. Practice is equally important, but so is reading a wide array of topics and themes, discuss with the larger communities—not just design communities, meet a lot of people, maybe finish a different kind of degree or formal course, and if you feel adventurous, even go places. Yes, the actual kind of travel.
Travel teaches designers multitude of design soft skills that they will not get in the textbooks. It teaches problem-solving skills, time management, understanding how specific community views and solves problems, and will expose you to a world of different visual culture. It’s all about understanding people, and people are the forefront of our work. We design for people, not for theories.
So, if you have the time, take some days off and venture to a place (or places). The greater the differences in the destination than your home city or country, the better it is. Expose yourself. Risk yourself.
May 21, 2013
Today I received access to the new New York Times web site. I think it is a step forward.
Single article page:
The mobile-like “sandwich icon” that opens up a left sidebar chockful of menus. There is also a carousel of article thumbnails, making it easy to switch between articles.
April 18, 2013
Interesting insight on why multinational companies in Asia tend to hire foreigners (read: Caucasians, Indians, or native citizens of the origin of the company, like Japanese) to fill top positions in the country’s operation:
“They want people at the top who “understand the company culture”, and will “ensure communication flows easily between HQ and the region”, says Stuart Clark, a Brit who runs regional and global client relationships for media agency Havas Media, based in Singapore.”
Apart from that, the communication part actually deals with speaking English:
“And articulation in a business like advertising is key, he says. “Articulating nuance, brand platforms, ideas and strategies is tested every day in our business,” he says. Which can work against you if you’re not completely comfortable speaking English.”
There’s more. It’s about the tendency of Asians to be introverted or shying away from confrontation:
“The Asian tendency to be—and this is another massive generalisation—introverted by nature is a trait that doesn’t always mesh with a career in advertising, says Goh Shu Fen, co-owner of pitch consultancy R3. “We are less likely to go on about how great we are and we tend to be less flamboyant, which is a huge disadvantage in advertising,” she says.”
What a way to start this Thursday.
April 9, 2013
Retro Vectors is a free resource specialising in vintage graphics. Free to use for all purposes, and free of royalties too.
April 2, 2013
Last year I resigned from a corporate job and started working for two startups. From what I've gathered, there are a couple of things each spectrum can learn from each others. What corporate world lacks, startups can fill the gap. While most people believe "the startup ways" can help change the world, there are some things that startups can learn from the corporate world. Startups think they are the best bunch of people around, but in reality, we need the best of both worlds.
Flexibility can overkill, manage it
Even though startups strive and pride on their flexible working hours, flexible places and flexible time, this can be a bit of an overkill. Based on my own small experience alone, the corporate world can be much more flexible than startups. Early-age startups can be quite a drill, people need to stick together to make a solid team. My advice is that startups need, from early stages, to define standard operating procedures, such as how to submit bugs, working hours, allowable amount of "flex office" times and more, including seating arrangements in the office.
Garage office isn't the way to go for the long run, design your office
We all know the romance of starting things up in a garage. Bands do it, tech companies did it. A "garage office" today can take many forms, not only in the real car garage, but practically in a deserted room or unused space, or a small room in a posh co-working space. However, it can get very crowded and messy. Even though you have a small space, make it "workable" and "livable" in terms of ergonomics. Provide enough lighting, privacy, space, and if you can, design it. A good working environment is a good prerequisite for employee retention. Also, do not ever consider a home office for all your employees. Rent a space in an actual commercial space. It doesn't have to be in the CBD, but it needs to be in a strategic location. It boosts up mood of your employees and get them to start believing that they actually do some serious stuff.
Employee benefits = (at least a consideration of) employee retention, be ethical
In today's fast and changing world, nobody in the intellectual or technology industry wants to be paid only salary. They have health considerations, life quality goals, career advancement prospects, and some of them are experienced and are running a household with kids. They want to be good citizens, too. So, my advice for startups is: pay their taxes, pay their health insurance (including their immediate family member), pay their pension savings. Those three are the most basic. If you can provide more like education or transportation incentives, it will be more attractive. Do not say that you're still in early stages, so every employee has to understand to keep up. No, employees don't always share the same vision as you, they work for money and compensations. They also need sustenance. Be an ethical employer!
If you produce creative work, you need to respect other's, too
Nobody wants their work to be copied without consent, moreover if it's for the financial benefits of others. Stop using pirated software and believe in the power of the industry. Invest in original software, respect copyright, do not just copy, and produce work yourself as much as possible. And yes, don't start with "everything is not original in this world anymore" stance. I didn't say anything about originality, but at least when you cook a dish, you try to reinvent something from the cycle.
Communication is as important as code
Establish a proper communication protocol from the start. I don't mean this as setting up Basecamp or paying for domain names. They are the technical parts, I'm talking about the contextual part. Establish a good brand for your company, not only the visual identities, but the way you communicate. The way you use words in your emails, the way you negotiate, the way your customer service talks to your customers (and potential customers). Also, establish a sensible standard for hiring and interviewing candidates.
Startup is not a play thing
It is not entirely an experimental lifecycle. Only the products are experimental. Do not experiment with your resources. Mean serious business from the start. Don't just quit your job and try because you believe it's energizing and preachable.
March 7, 2013
“We all need to use them but hardly any of us know how to type them. Here is a brief guide of how to type smart quotes and accented characters (and dashes) on a Mac. If you’re on a Windows computer or some nerdy space machine, I’d recommend googling “keyboard commands for accented characters”. If you use a non-English keyboard, you probably already know how to find all the accented characters you need. Made by Jessica Hische for your enjoyment and enlightenment.”
A handy web reference on how to type that proper curly quotes, and more.
March 5, 2013
A great post by Leisa Reichelt, a UX consultant:
“It’s been my experience that the main reason most designs go unsolved is not the lack of talented designers or their interest in solving the problem. Instead, the problem is with the organisation themselves — their inability to allow themselves to implement the right design, or even any good design.”
March 3, 2013
This is one of the most comprehensive write-up on a design project I’ve read. Impressive work!
February 18, 2013
“One of the most important lessons I learned during my years as a CEO was that great employees are not replaceable. It isn’t the technology or the product that make a company great, it’s the people. And companies who see their good employees as ‘replaceable’ are wrong. Good employees are not replaceable. Let me clarify what I mean by ‘replaceable.’ Can a company hire someone to fill a position to replace someone else? Of course they can. In today’s market, the world is ripe with candidates who are eager and willing to take the job. But putting a behind in a seat doesn’t replace a great employee. It simply puts a new behind in a seat.”