Goodbye Vietnam, Hello UX…

Right, well. After quitting my job at MMU and buggering off to Asia for two months, the UK has welcomed me back with freezing temperatures and drizzle in Watford Gap coach station.

I start a new job on Monday. Fortunately I did a bit of reading while in Asia so I didn’t forget everything, and even learned stuff. I read UX Storytellers, which is one of the best web books I’ve ever read. I made a few notes, which are below. It’s a collection of stories from UX professionals. I will be working for an urban food experiment with permaculture ideals and I believe UX and permaculture have a lot in common. My public Kindle highlights and notes are at my Kindle profile.

The main point, I think from the UX Storytelling book is simple. User stories are your product.

The Stamp, by Cennyod Bowles

You make something terrible on a website much better. And the users hate the improved version. Lesson: users get used to things, even if they are awful, and changing it can upset them. You can’t read users’ minds. A/B tests essential.

Cutting Through Opinions, by Erik Hafner Ronjum

Content is expensive. Not making it, but keeping it updated, organised, relevant, linking… that it content is cheap (e.g. the long tail) is a great mistake. Most organisations have the opposite: a long neck. A few specific tasks that users visit them for. But most organisations don’t know what their long neck is because they are unclear about their aims. Focus on the long neck.

Culture Shock, by James Kelway

Culture and environment can make or break a project. Working culture in Denmark is different: modesty, hard work, and considered design are common. It’s a more rewarding and enjoyable place to work than the culture working in the UK which is more big-headed and lazy (my opinion not his).

Shaping Spaces, by Andrea Rosenbusch

Users want to find data often in ways that systems cannot handle – in her experience, user queries in emails came from this fact. This can be just because users ask things in unexpected ways, but also because developers don’t understand – often don’t want to understand – user needs. It’s the UX job to communicate this to other developers, but not to actually do it, as that’s everyone’s job.

Love Your Audience, by Chris Khalil

Cultural “probes” are great for finding out about your audience… he describes three kinds. Ethno software is really good to capture visitors to a site and ask them to be involved in a test depending on factors like their location. Tumblr is great for capturing a user’s online behaviour. User research in Salford about our audience would be really important to read as a first step, to understand how Whole Box will fit into their life.

Using The Right Tools, by Martin Belham

Worked on the Guardian Jobs site. User testing included informal user videoing; sketching and prototype testing; surveying existing users. Best tip: ambush people in public and ask them to use the site there and then!

How To Avoid Wasting Millions, by Jay Eskenali

Rushing projects to be the first can mean you end up with a useless product.

Something, by Clemens Lutch

Sorry, this was so technical I skipped most of it. Not exactly a “story”. However I wrote down the bullet points. Use scrum for large teams. UX blueprint as an early step. Always test (with users). Use user stories and paper prototypes.

 

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