“Why should we do this instead of that?” “How do we measure that?” “What do we know for sure?”
Need someone that keeps asking the hard questions? Who’s great at user requirements gathering, data analysis, goals and analytics, information architecture, usability testing, prototyping and is fully not bad at a bunch of other stuff? Then perhaps you need me!
I am a board game enthusiast. So much so I’m a mod on the popular boardgames subreddit.
I am a data scientist wannabe. I do a lot of the stats stuff on the aforementioned subreddit and it’s super fun. It’s helped me get a lot better at R programming. I’ve also slowly been pecking away at the Coursera Data Science course and make spreadsheets for… well, everything.
Also, I am basically a hobbit, a weight lifter, an urban planner, a lover of hard and gritty sci fi, and a musician.
What would I work on if I had my druthers? I’m keen to use my skills in cognitive science, interaction design, user research, and usability evaluation to attack wicked problems in city life and create infrastructure, public transit, websites, maps, buildings, places, streets, neighborhoods, and – yes – cities that work for people, with or without imbuing these artifacts with technology.
Let me start by standing on the shoulders of the great Erika Hall: “Design by prototyping and testing is like answering a question before checking to see whether anyone had asked.”
Time is always short and pockets are never as deep as anyone wants them to be. I get it. But spending time to understand the problem you’re solving is way, way cheaper than building the wrong thing. It takes money – and focus on your users – to make money. (You don’t have to take my word for it.)
With that said, my preferred process, broadly summarized:
- Understand the problem you’re solving as best you can. If you have time and money for intensive ethnography and interviews, do that. If ad hoc personas and design sprints are all you can manage, that’s way better than nothing. You can always validate assumptions as you go.
- Iterate holistically with plenty of user testing. After user stories are nailed down, start with user flows, continue through pageflows, information architecture (including content), wireframes, interaction design, and visual design. The unit of iteration should be a holistic experience, not a feature. Iterating the customer and seller experiences separately? That’s ok. Iterating the product listing separately from product search? Less ok. And, before moving on to the next iteration, confirm the design adds value via user testing or other forms of guerrilla user research.
- Profit! and capture new problems to solve. Design work is never done, not really. But if the business and experience goals were well-written and feedback from real users has been obtained throughout the process, it should be pretty obvious when the project adds enough value to unleash whatever-it-is on the world. There will be some leftover issues to solve, and introducing the solution will change the environment and cause some new ones. This is not failure – it’s opportunity! Celebrate a bit, then prioritize the issues and start all over again.