I’ve been designing digital interfaces since ’95. I’m passionate about bringing maximum value to customers in the shortest amount of time using Lean UX methods.
This is how I like to do it…
It’s way too easy to assume what our customers need and want. Assumptions might allow us to incrementally improve our product, but in order to deliver a truly great product we must “get out of building” and conduct research that gives us a deep understanding of our customers; why they use our software, why they don’t, how often they use it, what they love, what they hate, what other software they use. We must understand their businesses.
Synthesis & strategy
Using our research we can map out business flows, user journeys, common tasks and problems, as well as formulate a set of typical personas. From this we can garner common themes and identify opportunities. Aligning these opportunities with our own business objectives, or in some cases shifting our business objectives to align with the opportunities. It can be difficult to muster the courage to do this, but we then have the opportunity to be the disruptors, not the disrupted.
An important technique in the designer’s toolbox is co-design. I’ve had extensive experience facilitating co-design sessions where we bring a multidisciplinary team together for an hour or two to work through a problem. I usually do this on a whiteboard, wall, or use paper-prototyping. It creates trust and buy-in from the whole team and gives everyone the priceless gift of a shared understanding. Everyone becomes more aware of each others roles and concerns.
User-focused wireframing and interaction design
It’s important to remember you’re designing the product for the customers. You are not your customer and the minute you start assuming you are you’re ignoring the most valuable source of feedback. Mapping out user journeys and building interactive wireframes is a powerful way to obtain user feedback before committing any code. I also like to do contextual studies, watching the customers use the product in their own environment where possible.
Well versed in html/css and a basic knowledge of js, I’m able to quickly prototype designs to validate the interactions I’m designing and that they feel right in context. Having previously worked at Atlassian on their Fisheye, Crucible and Stash products, I have a healthy knowledge of version control systems and the differences between the most commonly used. I use git to manage my prototypes so it’s easy for colleagues to fork and modify when needed.
Design cannot be done in isolation and thrown over the fence to developers. It needs to be visible. Walls filled with designs, user journeys and visual artefacts are an essential part of sharing and getting constant feedback, not just on the designs, but the design process too. This is what my talk at UX Australia 2012 was about.
Despite the fact that probably only around 10-15% of my current role is visual design, I have come originally from a visual design background, holding a Bachelor of Design degree and so feel right at home adding some polish to the UI.
Living style guide and interaction pattern library
Working closely with multiple stakeholders, the design, development and rollout of a living style guide is crucial to increasing velocity in an Agile team. When everyone has a shared understanding, developers can use a simple hand-drawn sketch in conjunction with a pattern library to build both prototypes and production-ready front-end code at pace. I was heavily involved in the early stages of Atlassian’s living style guide and have done it again at AlchemyTec, delivering a working, living document that multiple developers frequently use and evolve.