An interdiscipline emerges: Pathways to Systemic Design

From system design, to systematic design and systemic design.

“In this theme issue of She Ji, we present work from the Sixth Relating Systems Thinking and Design Symposium (RSD6) in Oslo. The emerging field of systemic design has expanded to engage with increasingly important societal issues ranging from housing and quality of life in cities, to foreign policy, immigration, and cultural development, as well as our environments and ecologies. (…) The guest-editors have co-edited a number of works in the past. We normally agree enough to co-create a shared vision for the overall thrust of the publication. But this time, we found ourselves in fruitful argument about the issues of interest or concern posed by nearly every article, which demonstrates the compelling discursive value of the ideas. The viewpoint articles in particular raised a number of micro-arguments between us. Our discussion follows, revealing the distinctions arising from each of these thoughtful essays.”

Birger Sevaldson and Peter Jones ~ She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation Volume 5, Issue 2

Startups and UX: Relating success to good UX practices

Like we believed for years and years: UX is the success factor of products, services, and organisations.

“Incorporating UX allows startups to spot failures fast, scrap bad ideas, and stay lean. In the startup world, time is of the essence and correctly implementing UX practices allows startups to save a lot of time. User experience is a cyclical process; it always needs refinement and feedback to get better and better. Startups that are incorporating UX from the beginning have a clear understanding of where the field sits in relation to their build process, thus making them more efficient. They iterate faster, have higher adoption rates, and have happy, diverse customers.”

Ayesha Saleem a.k.a. @ayeshabydesign~ The Magazine of the User Experience Professionals Association

Who Makes a Good UX Person? Results of a Survey Using the Five Factor Personality Model

Focus on talent versus development of design competencies.

“What makes UXers tick? How are they different from other people? What do they have in common among themselves? We surveyed a group of UXers to see. First, we surveyed them using the Five Factor Model, a standard typology widely recognized in personality research.”

Cliff Anderson and Joe Grant ~ The Magazine of the User Experience Professionals Association

Teach Slower to Teach Better

But what’s the speed of learning and how to speed it up?

“Over the last decade, as a rejection to a tired model of higher education, new educational programs and structures have emerged. Many of these are in the fields of design, digital product development, and programming. The new models of education take many forms. Some are short day-long or week-long workshops. Some are meetups and brownbags. Some are online, some offline, and some hybrid. What connects many of these models is their immediate vocational emphasis. The majority intend to train practitioners, not academics. The focus is on preparing people to do design and get jobs. (…) We need educational innovation, but not at the expense of quality. Students need the space to develop problem solving strategies. Speed is not in our favor here. Let’s all slow down.”

Jon Kolko a.k.a /jkolko | @jkolko ~ modernist studio

Building an Ethics Framework for UX Design (2/2)

On the ethics, morals and norms of digital designers.

“This is the second of a two-part article. The first part of this article was devoted to exploring existential values and ethical issues where ill or misdirected intent occur. In this article, we will identify and examine ethical issues (with special reference to the healthcare industry) where the intent, though benevolent, results in latent ethical problems.”

Chris Kiess a.k.a. /chriskiess | @chris_kiess ~ UXPA Magazine

Creative next: AI, automation, and the practice of user experience design

Become more strategic, ‘creative’ and human, as we always should have been.

“The word automation conjures an image of a factory full of robots, a modern marvel symbolizing both technological progress and the regression of working-class opportunities and lifestyles. But our notion of automation generally remains ossified in this physical, machine-replaces-labor frame. We don’t think of automation in the realm of knowledge work beyond the most mundane and mindlessly repeatable tasks. But automation, powered by machine-learning advances in artificial intelligence (AI), is coming. It’s actually already been here for decades, going back to relatively primitive software innovations that eluded our ability to connect the dots back to industrial robotics before it. Perhaps surprisingly, modern AI automation has been making original art for years and has collaborated with a human team on an original painting that sold at Christie’s for $432,500. Beyond art making, AI automation can also write procedural content such as stock blurbs and minor league sports stories.”

Dirk Knemeyer a.k.a. /knemeyer | @dknemeyer and Jonathan Follett a.k.a. /jonfollett | @jonfollett ~ ACM Interactions (XXVI.3)

Ethics of identity in the time of big data

Never could have preducted that ethics was so closely connected to technology. I’m not a futurist.

“Compartmentalizing our distinct personal identities is increasingly difficult in big data reality. Pictures of the person we were on past vacations resurface in employers’ Google searches; LinkedIn which exhibits our income level is increasingly used as a dating web site. Whether on vacation, at work, or seeking romance, our digital selves stream together. One result is that a perennial ethical question about personal identity has spilled out of philosophy departments and into the real world. Ought we possess one, unified identity that coherently integrates the various aspects of our lives, or, incarnate deeply distinct selves suited to different occasions and contexts? At bottom, are we one, or many? The question is not only palpable today, but also urgent because if a decision is not made by us, the forces of big data and surveillance capitalism will make it for us by compelling unity. Speaking in favor of the big data tendency, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg promotes the ethics of an integrated identity, a single version of selfhood maintained across diverse contexts and human relationships. This essay goes in the other direction by sketching two ethical frameworks arranged to defend our compartmentalized identities, which amounts to promoting the dis-integration of our selves. One framework connects with natural law, the other with language, and both aim to create a sense of selfhood that breaks away from its own past, and from the unifying powers of big data technology.”

James Brusseau ~ First Monday (Volume 24 Issue 5)

The map is not the territory: Empathy in design

The analogy of map and territory has its limits.

“If you ask a user experience person—academic or practitioner—whether empathy is important to design, it’s hard to imagine anything other than a resounding ‘Yes!’ Indeed, statements like the one above seem to imply that empathy is a silver bullet that will transform design and lead to innovation. Before empathy was a buzzword, many of us would still have said that helping product teams develop empathy for their users was a core function of user experience research. After all, what else could it mean to study another’s experience and share those insights with others? As often happens in business, though, once a concept like empathy catches on, it’s treated like a fresh discovery. The groundswell is then translated into a small number of new techniques that instantiate the concept concretely. As these techniques become codified, too often reification takes over and their artifacts, or deliverables, seem to substitute for the more abstract virtue they supposedly represent. We act as though the map is the territory.”

David Siegel and Susan Dray ~ ACM Interactions (XXVI.2)

Reframing the conversation on patient experience: Three considerations

Reflection on naming is framing.

“In experience, every voice matters, and each of those individual voices are contributing to an ocean of ripples that are positively impacting countless lives. In experience, no one organization owns, nor should claim to own all the answers, but many contribute to the possibilities found in elevating the human experience in healthcare. In experience, when we ensure this is a true strategic focus at the heart of healthcare we will find our way to achieving all the outcomes we aspire to achieve and know are possible in healthcare. This issue helps frame that reality though contributions from around the world touching on a broad range of topics, but yet in their distinction, find a powerful commonality, a commitment to the humanity of healthcare. If we reframe the conversation on patient experience to one that is about all we aspire to achieve, about how every role matters, every voice contributes, every perspective brings value and seasoning to an ever expanding mix of possibility, than what we can do in healthcare is boundless. A conversation on experience is not tangential to this opportunity we face, rather it rest squarely at its core and it is incumbent on each and every one of us to contribute. That may be our greatest opportunity in a global healthcare system where access and equity, quality and safety, empathy and compassion and health and well-being are not just what we do as work, but the fundamental reality of all do as human beings caring for human beings.”

Jason Wolf ~ Patient Experience Journal (Volume 6 Issue 1)

Researcher introspection for experience-driven design research

Like with second order cybernetics, the role of the researcher in the researched system is essential.

“We challenge the unquestioning pursuit of the appearance of objectivity and ingrained designer-user dualism in human-centred design research and propose a resurrection of introspection as a valid approach to investigating subjective experiences. Through comparing epistemic perspectives and reviewing the histories of introspection in several disciplines, we liberate the research field of experience-driven design from a long-lasting doubt about and the disguised and unsystematic use of this method. To establish a foundation for the further development of introspective methods, we focus on its most controversial type (i.e. researcher introspection) and discuss its strengths and weaknesses, preconditions of use, diverse ways to practise for different suitable experience-driven design research purposes, and useful techniques and tools.”

Haian Xue and Pieter M.A.Desmet ~ Design Studies Volume 63

A novel technique for A/B testing using static prototypes

Fortunately, life is not as binary as you think.

“A/B testing is a powerful technique for evaluating the success of a specific design element, but it is not yet widely adopted among library user experience professionals. Many libraries cannot or choose not to do A/B testing on a live website for a variety of practical reasons. Appalachian State University Libraries recently piloted a variety of A/B testing that has the potential to address some of these shortcomings: a Qualtrics survey of tasks carried out on static prototype websites embedded into the survey as inline frames. The technique allowed us to capture qualitative data in the form of survey questions and link it to quantitative server data typical in live A/B tests. Prototype A/B testing allowed us to reap the benefits of A/B testing without needing to modify a production server environment. Based on our findings from a large sample of undergraduate and graduate students, we were able to justify a post-migration design choice.”

Scott Goldstein ~ Journal of Library User Experience 2.1

The vandalisation of UX

How the semantics of UX change all the time.

“If anything, the T in T-shape isn’t a deep dive into a specific UX sub discipline, and its not to stay within the confines of either research or design. The skill you most want to T shape is the ability transfer the principles of good design across these factors. This is why the broad UX lens is perfectly positioned to engage the ambiguity that comes with design. After all, why put a cap on your abilities? We all have a ceiling but don’t put one there yourself.”

Max Taylor ~ Medium courtesy of @thebrainlady

Time Change: How the UX of time begins below the UI

From UI to UX to (…)

“The user experience of most web-based applications begins well below the interface, all the way down to fields in a database. Examining how systems and users experience time prove this point dramatically. Think about how messy time can be—time zones, leap years, recurring events. As the creators of educational technology, our team learned the hard way about failing to consider the UX implications of time—not just about how time works in technology, but also how our users experienced it in our UI. What follows are some of the technical issues that UX designers should consider about time, along with takeaways and specific methods that can be used to keep the user experience of time at the top-of-mind during product development.”

Michael McLeod a.k.a. @mcleodm3 ~ UXPA magazine

AUX3: Making UX research track with Agile

Putting a square in a circle?

“Agile and user experience have been partnered successfully since the Agile Manifesto was first authored in 2001 and have had a history of working well together in many situations. However, user experience research (UXR) has been largely unaccounted for in this work. The Agile Manifesto encourages us to revisit our processes and to iterate on ways to better describe how we work together with our teams. That is the goal of this article: to share our progress toward improving how we work by documenting an iteration of a model for you to try.”

Carol J. Smith a.k.a. @carologic, Thyra Rauch, and Hannah Moyers a.k.a. @h_moyers ~ UXPA magazine

Forge a Guild: Elevate your UX team to superhero status

Design remains team work. Even in guilds, tribes, and other social labels.

“In our busy Agile development environment, our UX team was under-resourced and frequently a bottleneck. We had won the fight for buy-in: People wanted us, but there were not enough of us to go around. So, we were seen as more of an “injustice league” than the band of heroes we wanted to be. Facing the challenge head-on, we successfully leveraged the guild model to scale UX within our mid-sized development organization. We deputized UI developers and QA resources to lighten our design load and to spread good design throughout the land.”

Jennifer Bullard @jbullard and Carol Bergantino @cbergantino20 ~ UXPA magazine

Do you know your users? Persona-based design for the enterprise

Employee and/or buyer personas.

“You think you’re just like everyone else. You think your thoughts, opinions, values, and habits are just the same as other people. Psychology calls this the false consensus bias1 because we assume much more commonality than reality warrants. False consensus bias contributes to making bad decisions when we design software.”

Kayla Block a.k.a. /kaylablock ~ Boxes and Arrows

Taxonomy (the secret ingredient of great content) and how it is linked to business strategy

Taxos for business as well.

“While I haven’t shared all the strategic reasoning behind the website taxonomy, I hope this post explains the approach well enough to solicit feedback. Is it perfect? I don’t know! We will come to know only after the website is launched, feedback is collected from the target audience, and website traffic is tracked over a period of time. That’s when I am going to update this post.”

The Verditer