"product design" entries
The O’Reilly Design Podcast: Aaron Irizarry on getting and keeping a seat at the table.
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Welcome to the inaugural episode of our newly launched O’Reilly Design Podcast. In this podcast episode, I chat with Aaron Irizarry. Irizarry is the director of UX for product design at Nasdaq, co-author of “Discussing Design” with Adam Connor, and a member of the program committee for O’Reilly’s Design Conference.
Design at Nasdaq: A growing team
I first noted Nasdaq’s commitment to design when talking to Irizarry about his book and the design conference hosted by Nasdaq that Irizarry helps develop:
It’s interesting to see an organization that didn’t have a product design team as of, what — 2011, I believe. To see the need for that, bring someone in, hire them to establish a team (which is my boss, Chris), and then see just the transition and the growth within the company, and how they embraced product design. We had to work a lot, and really educate and pitch in the beginning, explain to them the value of certain aspects of the job we were doing, whether that was research, usability, testing, why we were wanting to do more design of browser and rapid prototyping, and things like that.
We believe we’re helping structure and build, and I think we still have work to do as a design-led organization. We recently did our Pro/Design conference in New York. Our opening speaker was the president of Nasdaq, and to hear her reference the design team’s research, and to be in marketing meetings, and discussing the personas that we created, and to hear the president of Nasdaq speak about these kind of artifacts and items that we feel are crucial to design and the design process, it was a mark for us like, ‘We’re really starting to make a mark here. We’re starting to show the value of what these things are,’ not just because we want design, but we believe that this approach to design is going to be really good for the product, and in the end, good for the business. Read more…
Design Sprints bring clarity to your roadmap to kickstart and obtain initial validation for product design work.
Download a free copy of “The New Design Fundamentals” ebook, a curated collection of chapters from our Design library. Note: this post is an excerpt from “Design Sprint,” by Richard Banfield, C. Todd Lombardo, and Trace Wax, which is included in the curated collection.A Design Sprint is a flexible product design framework that serves to maximize the chances of making something people want. It is an intense effort conducted by a small team, where the results will set the direction for a product or service.
The Design Sprint consists of five discrete phases:
- Understand (review background and user insights)
- Diverge (brainstorm what’s possible)
- Converge (rank solutions, pick one)
- Prototype (create a minimum viable concept)
- Test (validate with users)
A Design Sprint reduces the risk of downstream mistakes and generates vision-led goals the team can use to measure their success. For the purpose of this book, we’ll focus on digital products since our direct experience lies in that arena, though the Design Sprint has roots in gaming and architecture, and many industries have employed them successfully. Read more…
A design process paved with empathic observations will lead you, slowly and iteratively, to a better product.
Editor’s note: this post was originally published on the author’s blog, Exploring the world beyond mobile; this lightly edited version is republished here with permission.
If I’m ever asked what’s most important in UX design, I always reply “empathy.” It’s the core meta attribute, the driver that motivates everything else. Empathy encourages you to understand who uses your product, forces you to ask deeper questions, and motivates the many redesigns you go through to get a product right.
But empathy is a vague concept that isn’t strongly appreciated by others. There have been times when talking to product managers that my empathy-driven fix-it list will get a response like, “We appreciate that Scott, but we have so much to get done on the product, we don’t have time to tweak things like that right now.” Never do you feel so put in your place when someone says that your job is “tweaking.”
The paradox of empathy is that while it drives us at a very deep level, and ultimately leads us to big, important insights, it usually starts small. The empathic process typically notices simple things like ineffective error messages, observed user workarounds, or overly complicated dialog boxes. Empathy starts with very modest steps. However, these small observations are the wedge that splits the log; it’s these initial insights, if you follow them far enough, that open up your mind and lead you to great products.
Usability does not determine usefulness.
Register for the UX Design for Growth — Improving User Conversion training session with Laura Klein. In this online, interactive training workshop, Klein, author of “UX for Lean Startups,” will teach you to design for product growth.
First, let me give you my definition of “prototype testing.” I often build interactive, or semi-interactive, prototypes when designing a product. These prototypes are not actual products. They’re simulations of products. People who see the prototype can often click around them and perform some simple tasks, but they’re generally not hooked up to a real backend system.
“Well, what good is that?” you might reasonably ask. Excellent question. Interactive prototypes are incredibly useful for finding problems in usability testing settings. In a checkout flow, you might create a simple interactive prototype and watch four or five people go through the process (with test accounts) in order to find out if there were any parts of the flow they found confusing or hard to use.
It’s a great technique for any reasonably complicated interaction that you want to test before you spend a lot of time writing code. Interactive prototype testing can save you a ton of time because it helps you make sure that you’re building the product right before you spend a lot of time and money actually writing code.
However, the thing I see all the time is people using prototypes to try to validate that they’re building the right product. Stop it. Stop it right now.
Let me explain. The common pattern is that people go out and do some research on a problem (yay!) and then their next step is to build a prototype of their solution in order to show it to people and get feedback.
This is a wonderful thing to do. You should absolutely show your prototype to people in order to get feedback. You just shouldn’t expect feedback about whether or not anybody will actually buy or use your product. In other words, you can’t use a prototype to learn if you are building the right product.
Why not? Well, it has to do with the nature of doing qualitative research on a prototype.
Imagine that you ask somebody to look at your product. Maybe you stopped them on the street. Maybe they answered an ad on Craigslist. Maybe it’s a friend or a friend of a friend. You ask them a few questions about their life or job. Then you show them something that looks kind of like a product. They can click around and input some data. They can perform a few tasks. Then you ask them if they would use this product when it becomes available in a couple of months or weeks.
They will overwhelmingly say, “yes.” If they don’t say yes, they will say, “probably,” or, “no, but my cousin would use it.” You will get a huge number of false positives for all of the following reasons:
- People want to be polite and helpful.
- People dramatically overestimate their willingness to adopt new things.
- People are bad at predicting the future.
- People are bad at extrapolating real product behavior from an interactive prototype.
None of these problems come into play when you’re using a prototype to test for usability because usability testing is about evaluating facts. It answers questions like:
- Will a reasonable person be able to perform a specific task?
- Will a normal person get confused by the messaging?
- Am I building this product right?
Testing for usefulness, on the other hand, is about trying answer questions like:
- Will a lot of people buy my product at some uncertain point in the future?
- Is this product the best solution to a problem?
- Am I building the right product?
And these are simply not things you can answer with prototype testing.
But don’t worry. All hope is not lost. You can still test whether you’ve got the right solutions to problems before you build an entire product. You just need to validate in other ways. Important ways. Ways I’m not going to go into right now, but I covered a few of the key points in my talk at the Lean Startup Conference in 2013 though, and you can see a video of that here.
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