What is The Holy Grail of UX Design?

This week in my mentorship session with James Box, my good friend and design mentor, we discussed what he considers “The Holy Grail of UX Design’. The Problem One of the problems I have been facing in my work at Peak Democracy recently is that I’ve conducted almost a dozen user interviews in effort to build empathy for our users, but I don’t know the best way to uncover meaningful insights from those interviews. I have almost ten hours of interview recordings and troves of notes that I wrote while users spoke. I asked James to help me

UX Help! Advice For Switching Careers into User Experience Design

Over the past two years, I've gotten a lot of emails from people that go something like this: Hey John, I stumbled on your site from [source]. I appreciate what you've done and how you share your process. I am looking at starting a career in UX and I was wondering whether you might be able to give some advice. Here's my background: [Background Story] Cheers, [Kind Career Switcher] I've written similar responses to such kind career switchers that I thought it would be useful to publish one as a blog post so that other people might benefit. Here it

How To Run A Product Design Playback: A User-Centered Perspective

Last week I had the great pleasure of launching the MVP of a product whose design I've been leading at Peak Democracy. Peak Democracy is a 10-year-old Bay Area company on a mission to build trust between local governments and their residents. Every week, I’ve been meeting with James Box, my mentor and good friend who is the Director of UX Design at Clearleft. In this week’s session, we critiqued the MVP and also touched a bit on running successful playbacks. Playbacks James suggested that playbacks should: Frame the problem we as a team are trying to solve

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,

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