Imagine The Story of a Syrian

If you can, suspend your disbelief and imagine for a moment. What it would feel like to have someone knock at your door? You open it. There is an Ak-47 pointed in your face. The person holding the gun gives you very clear orders: Join the IS, leave, or die. The headless bodies lying in the street behind the man speak louder than his words. You have three choices. Make it fast. Your life depends on it. Now imagine fleeing for your life. You're forced to embark on a treacherous journey without much preparation at all. Across sea and desert,

My Dream Beneath The Sea

The Dream I had a dream last night. I was a young boy running away from war. I jumped into the water to escape the army. There were helicopters searching for me overhead. I swam along the shore to keep from drowning. The land's edge was my only safety. There were guards along the fence who looked for me in the water. I had to duck my head beneath the surface. Sometimes I held my breath for only a few seconds, but other times I had to hold it so long that I wondered whether I should surface at all.

Response to Attacks in Paris

I believe that we have two ways to respond to any tragedy: to love, or to fear. In watching the public reaction on Twitter and on the news, I have seen that polarity even more clearly. I was in Italy when I heard about the atrocities which were taking place in Paris. I didn't sleep the entire night. I was imagining the suffering of innocent people and trying to calm the rage that filled me as I imagined men dressed in black perform these horrible acts. I felt the anger and fear filling within and made a conscious choice to

Hero's Journey UX Workshop: Part II

Introduction This post describes the second and final part of the Hero's Journey Workshop. Hero's Journey UX Workshop: Part I details the first part of the workshop, and my post Personas Are Dead. Long Live The Heroes describes the premise behind these activities. Outline Module III: Identifying Opportunities Module IV: Analyzing Opportunities & Designing Value Propositions Task I: Analyzing Outputs Task II: Designing Value Propositions Task III: Presenting Value Propositions Purpose The purpose of Part I is: To create shared understanding amongst the project team about the people they want to help. The purpose of Part II (described in the

Hero's Journey UX Workshop: Part I

Introduction The Hero's Journey is a two-part workshop that guides project stakeholders and team members through identifying solutions that solve real problems for real people. The goal is to use empathy as a guide to collaboratively define and solve problems. Story is simply a tool we use to evoke empathy and insight in the process. Outline Module I: Emerging With The Hero Task I: Hero Characteristics Task I: Fleshing Out The Heroes Module II: Plotting The Journey Purpose The purpose of Part I is: To create shared understanding amongst the project team about the people they want to help. The

Personas Are Dead. Long Live The Heroes!

The Problem of Personas Personas are dead. They are lifeless pages hanging on a wall, screaming out to designers and stakeholders alike: "Design for real people! (like me?)." But as we look at the mugshots of the personas we construct, we battle against the knowledge that this isn't a real person. It doesn't matter how much research went into the personas, or how well the content is written. Even when a fantastic visual design is applied, personas still feel like motionless pieces of paper dangling from a wall. I thought I was the only one who viewed personas so critically,

Life Is Short—Do What You Love

When I was halfway through college I stopped and wondered: What was the end goal? What was the destination to which we all were bound? I stopped and looked into the tunnel of my future and saw a college degree that hung in my office. I saw a job that paid my mortgage, a house that kept my stuff, and an endless pursuit of more and more stuff. In that moment I made a choice. I decided that I didn't want what the world had to offer. I wanted to find myself, and in that treasure grow. I dropped out

10 Steps to Becoming a UX Designer

When I first set out to become a User Experience Designer, I had no college degree, and very little money—but I had a burning desire to learn and incredible life experiences. I had no roadmap for the journey that lay ahead, but I set out with all my heart, mind and soul and never looked back. This is the roadmap I wish I had from the start. These steps should provide a high-level overview for anyone interested in what it takes to become a UX Designer. 1. Understand & Articulate Core Concepts The most important task when approaching a

That Night In The River

I closed my eyes because I thought it would teach me what it was like to be blind. Never could I have known that it would teach me how to see. We walked down Frenchmen St. beneath the chorus of New Orleans's midnight choir: street performers, drunks, tourists, beer cans, and laughter. I heard playful voices rolling down the street from behind me. I felt someone wrap their elbow in the crook of mine. "What's wrong with your friend?" She asked. "He's blind," James said. I smiled and kept my eyelids closed as her fingers reached up and tried to

Purpose: A Road to Happiness

Many people tend to look at happiness as a far off destination that requires all of their aspirations to be met. Some people confuse happiness with pleasure and chase after it at all costs. Modern society has become enslaved by the perpetual pursuit of our physical desires. We're led to believe that once all our desires are met, we will be happy, yet happy people seem to be incredibly hard to find... Viktor Frankl in his book Man's Search For Meaning describes a different perspective on success and happiness which stems from purpose rather than pleasure: "success, like happiness, cannot