A solid piece, with evidence and arguments against using focus groups for product design exploration/validation.
Very much looking forward to attending the Introduction to Co-Design workshop with Liz Sanders next weekend …
Look, all of this is good, but these two made me laugh out loud.
“The problem is correctly diagnosed that to transform an organisation, you place some clever people in a room, they make some things (maybe meeting some user needs in the process), show the thing and wow, everyone is won over by agile service design processes and we ride into the sunset overtaking slower, shitter businesses.
And then we wake up.”
“On a recent trip to Australia, I was chatting with a friend at Treasury who described her opinions (which I am paraphrasing only slightly) on the Digital Transformation Office (the Australian GDS cargo cult) as “we’re going to crush them. I will not be told how to govern by a load of Brits with macbooks”.
I wrote this a couple of years ago for the corporate blog of a company I used to work for. I still agree with most of it.
My career goes a little like this:
I love designing. I have very earnest opinions about Helvetica. I am very good at Photoshop.
The things I design should be easy to use, not easy to look at. I think I’ll throw around the words “delightful user experience” in stakeholder meetings and just ignore the eye rolls.
I should probably talk to some people who are going to use these designs. But I am pretty sure I’ve got most things right so far.
Read all of the books. Try all of the techniques randomly but with enthusiasm. Every user experience blog post and podcast is a revelation to be treasured forever.
I am sick of reading blog posts now.
Practice, practice, practice, critique session, crying in the bathroom, practice, practice, the horror of implementation, more practice.
I wonder if this supports our business strategy? If I design it, I don’t think we’re going to get the expected value out of it. I should probably validate our assumptions. I think this technique would be best …
Junior designers know everything
A junior designer is a lethal weapon in Converse all stars. Luckily, being junior, nobody ever lets you loose on real problems without supervision. Even though you will be junior enough to dispute the validity of their approach. “I know so much about colour theory. And everything! And I do all the actual work while the senior designer just sits around in meetings doing presentations.”
On the Dear Design Student blog Mike Monteiro writes:
“You might have been the greatest design student at your school, and you still have no idea how to be a designer. At best, you’ve picked up a very strong set of formal and aesthetic skills which will serve as a foundation to become a designer. But you’ve never dealt with a client or a boss, you’ve never had to sell an idea. You’ve never dealt with having to convince your engineering team of why something was important, you’ve never learned to say no to a bad request, you’ve never had to gather requirements, and you’ve most likely never interviewed a user.”
Mike Monteiro is right. From 2008 to 2010 I worked in a range of jobs that did nothing to help me move on from being a junior designer. When I designed I was the best! Because I was the only one designing.
In 2011 I started working as an in-house designer for [name of org I used to work for].
Senior designers are very mean
Suddenly, I was working alongside a whole bunch of people with different strengths and expertise. There were designers with specialist user research skills, visual designers, strategic visionary types, and interaction designers who could reel off design patterns and components whenever the situation required. And sometimes when it didn’t.
I had no idea how much there was to know.
The first time I worked through a set of my designs with the design team, my work was challenged in all sorts of horrible and annoying ways. People had ideas, people were sketching alternatives, people were giving me advice and suggesting I try different methods or rethink a flow. It was terrible.
By about the fifth time this happened I had begun to understand how important and valuable it is to have access to this kind of feedback and expertise.
At some point you will become the senior designer sitting in meetings all the time
At some point we all end up becoming the thing we said we would never become. Those of us who are parents will already know this. “BECAUSE I SAID SO. THAT’S WHY”.
And I have ended up becoming the senior designer who doesn’t really ‘design’ much anymore. And, paradoxically, especially to my younger self, I believe I am much more valuable to an organization now that I was back then.
Also paradoxically, I know how much I don’t know now. And how much my team does know.