UX’ers, I made a thing for you: I finally finished version 1.0 of an open source UX project planner / tracker template I’ve been working on.
I created it as a tool to document a user experience project in an efficient and collaborative manner, as well as give clients/stakeholders visibility and accessibility into various aspects of the project.
We all know the importance of setting appropriate stakeholder expectations, attaining alignment among contributors and stakeholders, and ensuring that your project schedule, process and data are accessible by all involved.
The planner / tracker is my solution to these challenges. It’s not perfect, but it functions well as a “one place for everything” resource. You can use it to frame up the project, identify contributors and approvers, lay out the schedule, design and document your recruiting and session protocols, record your project meeting notes, and even enter your raw notes from observations or interview sessions.
Best of all IMO, your client or stakeholder can comment inline on whatever section you need reviewed. Because I’ve utilized document headings and subheadings, you can do neat things like tell the client (via email, Slack, semaphore, etc.) something like:
Hi all, I’ve drafted the recruit request and put together an initial schedule of session times and dates. Could you please review these and provide comments and/or approvals?
The recruit request text is here:
And the participant schedule is here:
Some other thoughts:
- Leave the outline sidebar on. It’s incredibly useful for jumping between sections.
- I’d like to add a section for initial data synthesis, and possibly analysis. I just figured getting this out in the world was more important than making it perfect.
- As you read it, you’ll see references to other tools that I employ for project work, such as Slack, Google Drive, Moqups, etc. Obviously, use what works for you. But I highly recommend including direct links to any external resources in the project planner itself.
- I’ve set permissions for this as “viewable, copyable and downloadable by all.” So you should be able to just save a copy to your own G Drive, or download it to use in Word. Fair warning, I make no claims regarding formatting fidelity outside of Google Docs. 🙂
- I’ve licensed it under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. As a Creative Commons work, it’s yours to use, modify, adapt, etc. Please share it, improve it, and enjoy!
Here’s a short URL for the planner / tracker: http://bit.ly/uxprojecttemplate
During my UX career I’ve had the opportunity to work on several new-to-the-world products, both for early-stage startups and established companies.
One lesson I’ve learned is that a well designed, thoughtful initial user experience – that is, the onboarding process – is critical to driving user adoption.
A few months back the Cleveland chapter of UXPA invited me to give a talk for their June meeting. I decided to gather up what I’ve learned about user onboarding into an hour+ presentation. Here’s what I covered:
- What is onboarding?
- Why is it so important?
- A model for adoption and abandonment.
- Onboarding principles, patterns, and some anti-patterns.
Below is an embed of the slides. However, since I actually showed some short video clips of product onboarding patterns, you may want to download the source Keynote file. It’s in my public Dropbox folder here. Feel free to download and enjoy.
I just finished presenting last week at EvolveUX 2016 on the relative importance of soft skills vs. coding skills for user experience practitioners. It seemed to go well. The audience was engaged and the Q&A went quite long. Always a good sign.
The presentation is on Slideshare here. Source Keynote with speaker notes is here. Enjoy!
I’m excited to announce that I’ll be giving a presentation at the EvolveUX 2016 Conference on June 16 in San Francisco. The talk title is “The Unicorn Is Dead: Soft Skills Trump Coding Skills” and I’m fairly confident it’s going to spark some lively discussion.
Here’s the summary:
Good news everyone! UX salaries are up! Hiring is strong! So why are so many UX’ers still feeling like they have to fight for a seat at the grown-up table?
Is it because we’re not unicorns? That is, we’re not all UX researchers, designers AND front-end developers?
Nope. That’s not the reason.
Here’s why: UX’ers love to explore design and solution spaces. It’s what we do. Some of us even like (or at least don’t hate) to code. It’s never been easier, with frameworks, libraries and so many proven patterns for web and mobile.
But as a community of practice, we’re not so good at critical competencies such as:
- Articulating an experience vision, aligning it with the business’s product vision, and also subtly influencing the product vision through user research dissemination.
- Keeping up the slow, steady, often frustrating work of organizational change and alignment around user needs.
So what’s the fix? It’s deceptively simple: UX practitioners need to learn to play better with our neighboring disciplines, learn to “manage up” as well as borrow some techniques from our partners in product management. We need to develop our organizational influence skills, aka soft skills.
That is, we need to:
- Learn how to develop strategic vision and implementable tactical action plans that align with our organization’s goals.
- Internalize the fact that at least half of our job is to be change agents, and act accordingly.
Attendees of this talk will learn more about:
- What specific soft skills UX managers are desperately looking for in their contributors.
- How practitioners and those who train them can begin to address this need.
I’m really looking forward to this presentation. It’s the culmination of many years of thinking about and exploring the disconnect between what early career UX practitioners /think/ they need to learn and what UX managers and peers in adjacent disciplines actually /need/ UX’ers to know.
Here’s a 15% discount code if you’d like to join me and other great speakers June 14-16 in San Francisco: EVOLVEPS15
On June 23 I’ll be giving a presentation at UXPA Cleveland on the onboarding user experience. Talk title is “How Not To Suck At Onboarding: Patterns and Anti-Patterns Explored” and I’ll be, well, here’s the blurb from their event calendar:
What’s with the relative lack of love for user onboarding among UX practitioners? So many of us researchers and designers focus on creating great product and service experiences, yet we often give scant attention to one of the most important parts of the user experience: the critical phases between the time when someone first installs or signs up and when they’ve incorporated your offering into some aspect of their life.
Paul Sherman will provide you with ammunition you can use to sell the value of user onboarding design in your organization, as well as sharing some great, good, and not-so-good examples of user onboarding experience design from around the web and mobile.
If you’re near Cleveland on June 23, stop by!
A few months ago I updated and released a process guide for implementing a rapid contextual innovation program. Because I value open culture, I’ve released it under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The guide includes an overview of how organizations can conduct ongoing rapid innovation using UX methods and product management best practices. As you might expect, the process guide incorporates some concepts covered by Lean and Agile UX proponents.
Get it here: Rapid Contextual Innovation: How To Start And Run A Customer Value-Driven New Product Development Program
There’s currently 850+ answers on Quora to the question “What are some examples of bad design?”
Need bad design examples? This is the place to go.
Sarah Bloomer, founder of UX Managers Circle, just published my article on using UX research methods to set up and drive rapid contextual innovation programs.
This is basically a continuation and expansion of the topics I covered at the UX Strategies Summit in June. My main point, and I’m quoting myself here, is this:
UX techniques such as contextual inquiry can be adapted and expanded to become the basis for observation-based customer value discovery and innovation development.
Enjoy and feel free to reach out to me with comments.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been saving up some UX-related articles to read later.
On the theory that I’ll actually follow through if I publicly commit to it, here’s what I’m fixin’ to clear off my guilt pile this week:
While reconnecting with my colleague Jan Moorman, now a UX researcher at Walmart eCommerce, I found an article she and another practitioner wrote about personas. The main points definitely bear repeating:
- Half-baked and research-free personas can do more harm than good.
- To be truly useful, personas should be based on actual research and should focus on “goals, motivations, and expectations.”
- Ground your personas with (relevant) details from real users.
- Evangalize your personas.
Regarding points 2 and 3: I’ve always felt that personas containing extraneous personal detail (“Dale is a yoga practitioner who likes skeet shooting and extreme chess and dotes on his 3 bichon frise puppies”) can actually be off-putting instead of empathy-generating. And I’ve also strived to annotate my personas with user profiles to connect them to the raw data. So I was pleased to see them advocating for this as well.
As far as evangelizing personas…well, you’re reading the blog of a guy whose UX team at a former company laminated their user personas and distributed them to the executive team. So yeah.
Love, Hate, and Empathy: Why We Still Need Personas :: UXmag