A short while ago a student asked me “What if I love being in tech but don’t love to write code? Is there a place for me?” It reminded me that there’s this perception that developers are the most valuable people on a tech team, but building a successful product definitely takes a village. There are a ton of different things that people do in tech to help make the digital products and services that we use everyday possible. Some of the non-programming jobs focus around design and content, others are more directly linked to development like quality assurance and technical management. Having at least a high-level understanding of each is super helpful no matter where on the team you sit, so I thought it might be helpful to look at a few of the more common non-development roles.
Last month on my portfolio I wrote all about being a product designer at local startup Chirpify. One highlight of that case study is a post-up exercise that I held with the team just after I joined the company. That workshop has come up a few times since I posted the case study so I thought a more in depth look at how it worked would be fun. Enjoy!
Sticky notes are an experience designer’s best friends
My favorite part of being a user experience designer is facilitating between people with different roles. I love getting strategists, developers, designers, and managers together in a room, speaking the same language, and solving problems together. This post-up exercise is all about letting the team get their thoughts out and creating a safe space to discuss those thoughts.
So a post-up exercise is a design thinking workshop. A facilitator (you!) guides a group of participants through jotting ideas down on sticky notes and arranging the notes on a wall in ways that provide insight about a problem. There are a lot similar of exercises that UX-ers use in their work. Affinity mapping is one super common exercise that is the base of the post-up. In an affinity mapping exercise you focus on collecting similar ideas together into groups. We’ll also encounter bits of plus/deltas and general brainstorming techniques. I first experienced this exercise while working with the excellent team at XPLANE, a visual thinking consultancy here in Portland. They use plus/deltas as follow-up exercises to see how the team feels at the end of a project. I love to use this exercise as a way to realign a team around common goals and help focus everyone in the same direction.
Exercises like this have a lot of benefits for both your team and your project. Maybe my favorite feature of this post-up format is that it’s introvert friendly. Sometimes in open brainstorming sessions the most extroverted participants can take over (usually on accident!) because the conversation tends to move fast and free. Giving participants a chance to think before expressing to the rest of the team can help quieter teammates feel more comfortable speaking up. Another awesome benefit is you get pollination between teams that sometimes don’t otherwise talk to each other. Having developers hear what the sales team is thinking and worrying about—and vice-versa—is a great way to build empathy within your company.
Okay, let’s get to it.
Not only is it Monday, but it’s the first Monday of August! I’m hoping the heat in Portland lets up this month to give our poor little air conditioner a break. It’s been working overtime!
Have trouble getting productive? Maybe you should try the Ultra-Schedule that Jessica Hische wrote about last week. I have done similar calendars, and they do work!
I can’t believe I haven’t come across this sooner: How to Choose the Right UX Metrics for your Project is not only super informative but also super well designed.
That’s it for me today. Have a great Monday!
“There’s no purebred ux designer, we’re all mutts.”
Jason Hu, UX Designer at General Assembly
“A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.”
The really cool thing about this UX Magazine article is that it includes a workshop outline! I <3 workshopping, especially with people from all around an organization. It’s a great way to get people talking to each other in a way that everyone can understand. If I were running this workshop and had tons of room I’d probably set up the empathy maps on the walls ahead of time. That way participants could focus on getting their thoughts out and mapped, instead of setting things up.
“People get blasted by emails all day long, newsletter or Mailchimp-like templates are everywhere and, as a consequence, users started developing some patterns of recognition when in front of their emails: if pattern matches they quickly skim the content and trash the email. Maybe a catchy headline can help gaining a couple of seconds of attention but a good designed newsletter (9 out of 10 times a commercial proposal or a deal-like thing).”
There is a bit of data to back up this click-baity title along with some good ol’ fashioned design intuition. The take-away here isn’t that good looking emails don’t work, but that emails matching typical marketing email patterns don’t engage customers. Want to really reach your users? Design emails to look as hand-written as possible! Remember, people like to connect with people, not with brands.
Making checkout forms that convert is all about how users feel. Your potential customers want to feel like your site is secure and know exactly what they’re getting. This post outlines 7 things that made conversions on this form go way up.
Avocado is a new mobile app prototyping tool from IDEO. It sits on top of Quartz Composer and Facebook’s Origami. With Avocado you can quickly throw bits of experience, like carousels and animations, into an app. Plus, Avocado is a delightful name: