Field Research at the Speed of Business

Better late than never: I’m speaking at UX In The City in Oxford England this week. My talk is about doing user research at the speed of business. Blurb below:

Field research: to many it’s the gold standard of user-centered design. Want to learn more about how your current or prospective customers think, work, live and play? Go observe them.

If you’re early or even mid-career, organising, carrying out and analysing the results of field research can seem daunting and time-consuming. This tutorial will provide you with information and resources you can use immediately to start conducting insightful and effective field research.

You’ll be provided with an overview of how to advocate for, carry out and drive organisational decision-making with field research. There will be tangible takeaways, including,  a field research project planner, data collection document, and a sample visit profile template.

I’ll post a link to the slide deck after the session. More here: Field Research at the Speed of Business

UX Kit: Updated For 2017

Here’s something for UX’ers and people who hire and manage UX’ers: I’ve updated the UX Kit for 2017.

I originally created this document as a guide for product management and development teams that wanted to incorporate user experience research and design practices into their processes, but weren’t sure how to do it.

Over the past 6 or so years it’s grown to cover new areas, including:

  • UX strategy and content specialist roles
  • How UX contributors function in agile software development environments

The most recent update includes minor corrections, updated salary information, and the addition of other publicly-available UX resources.

The UX Kit is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License. Support open culture! You can learn more about this license here:

Get it here:

Now Available: UX Research Daily Recap Template

Here’s another resource that I wanted to share with the UX community: it’s a template and example for a daily research recap.

I created this template as a way to quickly communicate research results to team members and stakeholders on a daily basis.

One of the more important lessons I’ve learned during my UX career is that it’s vital for UX practitioners to keep team members and stakeholders informed and aligned. Another lesson I’ve learned is speed of communication is critical in this brave new world of agile/lean product ideation, design, and development.

As the people who glean insights from users and customers, we should strive to communicate our results quickly. At the same time, we need to be clear that daily recaps should not take the place of considered analysis.

This template is intended to communicate “here’s what we’re seeing after n user sessions” as opposed to “here’s the results, go write stories and code to this information.” When you use it, you should ensure that this understanding is shared.

It’s set up as an email, but you could just as easily drop it into Slack, Jira Agile, etc.

The template is here:

Like the UX project planner, 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!

Now Available: UX Project Planner / Tracker Template

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:

User Onboarding: Patterns & Anti-Patterns

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.

Upcoming Presentation: The Unicorn Is Dead

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

Upcoming: The Onboarding UX – Cleveland, June 23

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!

Resource: Rapid Contextual Innovation Process Guide

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