Got questions for Ginny Redish? Post ‘em here

Posted on by

Ginny RedishOn Oct. 25 at our UXPA Conference Redux event, we’ll be doing a Q+A with the always great Ginny Redish, Plain Language pro and author of some seminal books on UX. Have any questions you want to ask her? Post ‘em as comments below and we’ll ask them at the event!

 

UX Interview with Dan Brown: Working in DC, Conflict, and Collaboration

Posted on by

bio_dan

Author’s note: Welcome to the inaugural UXPA DC Interview series! Today we have Dan Brown, a founder of EightShapes, a prolific UX consulting firm in DC. He’ll also be presenting at the UXPA Conference Redux on October 25.

Norm: Why did you think DC was ripe for a user experience design studio?

Dan: Nathan Curtis approached me in 2006 to go out and start a company… We ended up getting engaged with companies who were looking to create more structure in their design process, specifically their design outputs. Nathan took the lion share of the work in developing a product we call EightShapes Unify, which is a set of templates and assets for for creating user experience documentation. We feel like being based here in DC is good for us because there’s a great pool of talent here.

What was the tipping point for user experience really taking off as the hot profession to be working in?

…Maybe a series of tipping points, it’s like watching your children grow up. We were talking to my son this evening and one of his teachers is celebrating a big milestone birthday. He’s seven and he asked, “When was my last milestone birthday?” I said to him, “You know, when you’re little, every birthday is a milestone because you’ve had so few of them, they each represent these new big stages in your life, but if you ask me and your Mom, everyday is a milestone.” …And that’s almost how I feel about user experience. Right before the bubble burst, even if it wasn’t new, it was clear this was the future. Everything was going to be online. Nowadays, for me, one of the most interesting design problems is people genuinely using the Internet and the web to solve real business problems… There’s sort of this trifecta of really difficult problems to solve: complex user experience design, real business strategy, and difficult IT architectures.

Awesome. And Dan, you participated in both the 2012 User Focus and the 2013 UXPA International events. What were your presentations about?

My most recent work and thinking has moved on from artifact and document creation, which was really important for user experience when it was in its infancy, to team dynamics which has largely grown out of my interest in documentation. My thinking really revolved around the idea that conflict is essential to design.

Poodle growling at a second dog that is trying to avoid conflict

Conflict in the sense that people need to disagree in order to come to a shared understanding. It’s that process of building a shared understanding that is nutritious for the design process…it sort of energizes it.

The other side of that coin is straight up collaboration techniques. How do we make use of collaboration tools? How do we build collaboration virtues into our culture to reward people for engaging with each other? My talks are really focusing about how do we deal with conflict and how do we make our collaboration more effective.

You’ve got a new book out on conflict and collaboration, right?

Yeah that’s right, it just came out in June and it’s called “Designing Together.” It gave me the opportunity to do two things. On the one hand, to try and articulate some of the underlying theory [of conflict and collaboration], and the second half of the book is almost like an encyclopedia of different situations, techniques, and behaviors you should be cultivating in yourself and your design teams in order to collaborate more effectively… What I keep coming back to is, if you look all of these online journals dedicated to our craft, you’re starting to see a lot more attention being paid to people skills, management skills, business skills, things that people need in order to thrive in an environment where we are constantly working with other people. I’m totally biased here, but if user experience isn’t at the center of that process, then I don’t know what is.

Are you going to be at any other local events soon?

One is called the Digital PM Summit, this is the first year it’s happening. It’s really around project management. That’s happening in Philadelphia. And then later on that week I’m actually going to Richmond to talk collaboration as well. I’ll be speaking at the UXPA DC Conference Redux event in late October. The UX Book Club in DC is doing my book in early November so I’ll be attending that, talking about “Designing Together.”

Dan, thanks again for being our gracious guest. And to our readers, thank you for joining us for this interview. Check back on the UXPA DC blog for more interviews coming soon!

Our UXPA Conference Redux – almost as good as a time machine

Posted on by

Action. Intensity. Passion. Cold beer.

No, it’s not the latest movie from Lindsay Lohan. It’s the 2013 UXPA Conference Redux, coming up Oct. 25, 2013 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

There were a ton of great presentations, discussions, and forums this summer at the UXPA International Conference, but understandably not everyone was able to attend. If you missed the three day conference, want to listen in on a talk that you missed, or even want to hear one of our great speakers again, now is your chance. Eight speakers and panels in just one day for super-low price of $55. That’s practically a steal given that you have some of the best and most experienced speakers in the DC region who can help you become a better User Experience practitioner. Not only are we kicking off the event by talking with UXPA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Ginny Reddish, you can come to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics in Washington DC to hear topics such as:

  • Designing for Findability
  • Content as a Conversation
  • The Notetaker’s Perspective During Usability Testing: Understanding What’s Important, What’s Not
  • Cultivating Collaboration in Creative Environments
  • UX in Nontraditional Settings
  • This is why my UX research method rocks!
  • UX Yourself: A Business Guy’s Perspective

And to top it off, we have a fantastic social planned immediately following the event (hence the beer).

But wait, it gets better! If you sign up as a UXPA DC member, you’ll be able to attend the UXPA Redux event at a discounted price and be able to attend other UXPA talks and events at members-only prices. It’s just like buying a CostCo membership, except there’s no guarantee that we can send you home with a 200 pack of paper towel rolls or a 55 gallon drum of oatmeal.

So set aside your prototypes, reschedule your usability tests, and tie a laser pointer to a ceiling fan to keep your focus groups occupied so you can come join us for a day of insightful and informative UX discussions.

For more information or to sign up to attend, visit the UXPA DC Conference Redux registration page.

Submissions needed for UXPA-DC Conference Redux!

Posted on by

megaphonekidcroppedThis year’s UXPA International Conference in DC had a dazzling array of speakers on just about everything: agile, mobile, prototyping, persuasive design, UX job hunting, and lots more.

So in case you weren’t able to make it (or if you just missed a presentation you really wanted to check out) we’ve got a treat for you: a condensed conference experience we call the UXPA-DC Conference Redux. This event will be held on October 25 at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (by Union Station).

At this special event, you will get a snapshot of some of the best presentations at the conference, plus the opportunity to network with peers, share your work, and hear what other local UX’ers are doing. Registration will open in early September, but for now, mark your calendars!

Call for Submissions:

We are currently seeking speakers who presented at the UXPA-International conference in July, who are interested in giving an abbreviated (approx 30 min) version of their presentation. Please submit your presentations that have already been prepared, submitted, and presented at UXPA 2013 by midnight (EST) August 23 to UXPADC2013Redux@gmail.com. You can submit the same abstracts that you submitted to the International conference, but please be sure to include the following information:
- Presenters name and affiliation
- Co-author name(s) and affiliation(s). if applicable
- Presentation title
- Abstract

Thanks! And we look forward to seeing you there.

- The UXPA-DC Board of Directors

Blog writers needed!

Posted on by

We at UXPA-DC have been fortunate to have some great blog writers and photographers volunteering as the real backbone of this blog.

And we need more! Whether it’s for a review of an event or a proactive interview, for just one time or regularly, we can use your help. Work on your writing skills and get involved with our fantastic UX community. And get some writing credits and some SEO Juice for your name, too.

If you’re interested, email me (Jonathan Rubin) at secretary@uxpadc.org

Karen McGrane’s Content Strategy Q&A on 8/5

Posted on by

Karen McGrane will be coming to Washington DC on Monday August 5th for a special Q&A session. This meetup is the perfect event for any UX practitioner, whether you’re a budding content strategist, formidable user researcher or an information architecture maestro. She brings over 15 years of experience and an opportunity to learn from one of the premier leaders in field of content strategy. She recently spoke at the Information Architecture (IA) 2013 Summit, which you can view the full set of slides or view the full transcript for here.

Karen’s maintains a blog at karenmcgrane.com, and is an excellent primer of the type of discussion you can expect for her Q&A on 8/5. Her articles vary from the current state of the mobile web to where she thinks the future of interfaces will become.

There are currently over 160 people signed up to attend this meeting, which makes for a very full house on Monday night. However, there’s still time to put yourself on the wait list to attend.

I got my UX job through Speed Networking (and you can too)

Posted on by

by Molly Schwartz

speed networkingAs a job-hungry graduate student, I was peripherally aware of UXPA-DC, but I never thought its events were meant for me. I always assumed it was an organization for “real” user experience and usability professionals to get together, hobnob, and that I wouldn’t fit in. Luckily, I was proved wrong.

My internship supervisor was involved with UXPA-DC and he always encouraged me to check it out as a way to network and get plugged in to the growing field of user experience. His enthusiasm and unwavering intent to include me in UXPA-DC’s activities eventually overcame my inhibitions, and I finally attended a User Experience/Web Professional Speed Networking event co-hosted by UXPA-DC.

Thinking it would be an informal opportunity to meet lots of UX professionals and hear about the work that they’re doing over a beer, I just hopped over to RFD after work with the mindset that I was going to loosely organized happy hour. Boy, was I woefully under-prepared. The speed networking event was a structured, rapid-fire event with one purpose and one purpose only: to get people jobs. Even though I had no business cards on me and my “elevator speech” was unrefined at best, the event was incredibly productive and life-changing. I had the opportunity to sit down with employer after employer in three-minute intervals to tell them about my professional interests and giddily listen to them say those three little words that are music to any grad student’s ears: “We are hiring.”

I came away from the event with a huge stack of business cards, multiple contacts, and job leads. I was contacted the next day by the UX Architect at BoxTone, a tech start-up company, who I particularly connected with. I went in for an interview at BoxTone the next week, had a job offer the next day, and am now a happy member of the UX team at a tech start-up company. For any students looking for a job who are interested in UX, I would definitely recommend checking out UXPA-DC’s events because in my experience they produce more real results than any other networking event I’ve been to.

 Molly Schwartz is the Information Strategist on the UX Team at BoxTone, a mobile enterprise management company. In September she will begin work on a project to make digital information usable and accessible as one of the Library of Congress’ National Digital Stewardship Residents.

UXPA 2013: Stop, Collaborate, and Listen!

Posted on by
User Experience Posters being presented and discussed to an audience at UXPA 2013

UX Posters and Discussion at UXPA 2013. Photo credit: Tom Tullis/UXPA International (flickr)

After four amazing days of user experience workshops, panels, discussions, UXPA 2013 has  come to an end. The opening keynote presentation by Noah Kunin, John Yuda, and Dan Munz from the Consumer Protection Financial Board (CFPB) set the bar high for the rest of the conference. Their story of how the government can engage the public in a discussion fit perfectly with the theme of the this year’s conference: collaboration. By relating to people using the human story, or in simpler terms, having a conversation with others, CFPB is reforming the public perception of what the Federal Government is capable of doing. Brilliant.

There were over 50 sessions over the course of the conference, and my biggest regret is not having a quantum mechanical solution to being in multiple places at once to have heard them all. Thankfully, a number of the sessions were recorded and I count myself among the many who look forward to listening in on some of the other talks when UXPA International releases those recordings.

A few tips and takeaways:

  • Collaboration sometimes means working outside your comfort zone. Even with strange bedfellows. (Navi Radjou)
  • Accessibility isn’t just about making your site 508 compliant. Did you know that step-by-step instructions on maps were an accessibility accommodation? (Whitney Quesenbery)
  • As we get better with UX, we see more problems with content. (Kerri Straub)
  • Four rules for creativity from Leonardo Da Vinci: 1. Strive for quantity 2. Defer judgment (both positive and negative) 3. Seek new combinations 4. Use your imagination. (Brian K Sullivan)
  • Read everything you can, keep an open, empathetic mind and learn things that you were not taught in school. (Ginny Reddish)
  • Remote testing allows easier access to participants in natural environments and hard to reach participants. (Jennifer Romano Bergstrom)
  • Always do a observer debrief after each usability test session. S/he’ll appreciate it. (Kyle Soucy)

If you weren’t able to attend this year’s UXPA 2013 conference, or just want a recap of the highlights, be sure to check out the #UXPA2013 information on twitter to get some of the best takeaways and discussion that happened. I’m sure you’ll find all the more reason to attend the UXPA 2014 conference in London!

Audience participating to an informal poll at the UXPA 2013 opening keynote presentationKeynote speech by CFPB on collaboration for the greater good: how a new government agency changed the face of financial experiences. Image taken from Tom Tullis/UXPA International (flickr)

The countdown to the 2013 UXPA International Conference

Posted on by

On July 9th, the 2013 UXPA conference will kick off in Washington DC and start one of the biggest user experience community events of the year. It’s a great opportunity to learn and share ideas on how to make your user’s life even better. With four days of tutorials, discussions, panels, and workshops, I can’t say I’m not personally excited to head over to the Washington Hilton in a few weeks and hear about new techniques that I can implement with my clients. I never fail to leave the annual UXPA DC conference without hearing at least one good insight, learning one new technique, and meeting one new person that I would not have otherwise connected with. I don’t plan on this year being an exception! This conference also provides you with a unique chance for you to bring your clients along and have them learn more right next to you, whether it’s lean UX, usability, or just user experience in general. Or maybe you’ll join in on the Thursday afternoon Georgetown cupcake crawl and find out which cupcake provides the best user experience. Here’s my tip: it’s all about the frosting to cake ratio! So if you’re still waiting to sign up for the conference, consider this my sugar fueled war cry to come and attend this year’s UXPA International conference. It’s always fun, enlightening, and a way for you to renew your passion in being a user experience practitioner. I’ll see you there!