Look at it Another Way

by Indi Young

22 Reader Comments

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  1. Writers (competent writers) never stop thinking about their “users’” perspectives.
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  2. Wow… pretty in depth I definitely will be picking up the book.
    I love everything i read in the article, but i often have to work on projects, and in an environment that is unorganized, and everything is due “yesterday”. I am trying to implement change, so that our user experience is better. Thank you for the article it will serve as a great resource. ~ Aaron I
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  3. Stepping back is always a good thing, but sometimes, for me, it helps to have a second opinion. Not a good one, but a negative one. If somebody shoots down your paradigm, it can help you to step out side of it, and look at things from a more critical perspective. Meditation, as silly as it sounds can help too. If you learn to relax, you naturally shut down all of your minds natural problem solving skills, and your subconscious takes over.
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  4. Even if everything is due yesterday (or due by “the holidays,” as is always the case), slip into the role of the person you’re trying to support for an hour.  Meditate, if you will—it *is* a centering state of mind.  During this hour, sketch what you know, what you do, and how you react as that person.  Then come out of that state and see if you can solve anything.  The book outlines the “in-depth approach,” and Appendix A outlines a few shortcuts, like this one.
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  5. I really like that the articles here on ALA is getting more in-depth, more distant from the “Top CSS Tricks” you see elsewhere. Topics like this needs some dwelling and afterthought — which is good. I’ll read this article once more to get a deeper understanding of the topic.
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  6. Wow, a very interesting article. I like it when I’m challenged to use other strategies and this article sparked a lot of ideas on that for me. This goes into my bookmarks. Great writing. Thanks.
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  7. I loved this article. It pretty much tells what I try to explain my clients all the time. And by “clients” I mean “even coworkers”... and by “all the time” I mean “even when they don’t want to get it”. It’s amazing how easy it is to solve problems and get to the bottom of projects by at least trying to understand people a bit more; let alone really spending time thinking about them and their needs.
    I have a design firm, and managing clients, designers or deadlines isn’t the hard part, what’s hard is getting what the project should be about, instead of what the client thinks it’s about, or what we want it to be without thinking about the needs it’ll solve. Creative briefs and old-fashioned meetings are sill my best friends at Bright Bright Great :)
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  8. Very interesting article.
    Thank you :) !
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  9. My company used to do consumer surveys, and the results were often amazing ... and quite a bit different from what was expected. Part of the “trick” of surveys, of course, is to ask questions and get answers *without* giving the surveyee any ideas. You just want the straight, unfiltered answer. That’s the data that will serve you well.
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  10. User experience design is a relatively new practice - as such I think we can learn from many other disciplines. Business: The first rule is knowing your audience to uncover and then fulfill their unmet needs and desires. Anthropology: Not only should we be listening to the audience, but closely observing them, in context. It’s not what they *say* they do, it’s what they do. Acting: It’s not all Hollywood and Botox. Actors may analyse the script, to create a world for their character, detailing their thoughts, feelings, desires and motivations. Putting the “end-user” at the forefront of the mind is of utmost importance.  We can do this by constantly reminding our clients of their perspective, and as you say, meditating or “acting” their experiences and then, document them to articulate their voice. Great article!  
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  11. Wow, thanks very much for such a thought-provoking and in-depth article. We offer a Web service that runs contrary to “solving the same old problem in the same old way,” and getting past the status quo has been an ongoing challenge. Your examples of how to look for root causes and define the real customer problem provides a great perspective. We recently started running more frequent usability tests with “UserTesting.com”:http://www.usertesting.com (no affiliation, just a fan since it’s so darn inexpensive.) You’ve given me a lot of ideas to think about in terms of what we’re _really_ trying to discover (more than “Can you find the order form?”), and how to ask different questions and then listen between the lines for behavior patterns and motivations we may not have considered yet. Thanks for a great contribution and I’ll look forward to digging into your book for more details.
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  12. I couldn’t disagree more with the bike catalog example Bill Buxton used. As a long-time mtn. biker and faithful Specialized customer, I can attest that Specialized, as a company is very attuned to the user-experience. They probably do more user research on their riders than any mtn. biking company out there. Hell the founder of Specialized, Mike Sinyard practically invented the sport in CA in the ‘70’s. Their mtn. bikes are all about performance and technology and giving people the tools to improve their riding experience. You ARE buying the bike and the picture of the guy shown careening through the water hints at all the technology behind the bike that enables a rider to do that. The photo captures it perfectly. I think this article would’ve been more effective had an example been chosen that better supported your argument.
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  13. Christopher, I think you’ve fallen into the very same trap that Indi was explaining how to avoid… Maybe if the example had been labeled “Bike Shop A” and “Bike Shop B” it would have been fairer, but nevertheless ... in the first example, the emphasis is on selling the bike: “This is a great bike, it’s got all these fantastic features, top mountain biking experts recommend it”, but in the second example, the emphasis is on meeting people’s needs: “This bike will get you to work quicker than waiting for the bus, it’s cheap, it’s easy to ride and it makes big hills a doddle”. For the serious mountain biker, they want the detailed specs, and they will be prepared to push a little harder through the website to get to them. But to the novice cyclist, who still isn’t sure whether cycling is right for them at all ... they don’t want that detail yet, they want to know how cycling will fit into their lives, and that’s where the “user experience” comes in.
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  14. Good! website! wecomle to http://www.it4j.com
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  15. Indi, it was this statement of yours which I totally relate to: “You realize that even your reps have been dumbed-down to replicate the digital system, reading possible topics from a branching list without putting any effort into a human conversation. The root of the problem is that customers are looking for answers they couldn’t find online or through the digital voice recognition system. When they reach a rep, they expect an intelligent being who is able to provide more complex answers.” I know this from personal experience as I’m sure the majority of people do. You call and get either a robot recording or a robot-like person. It’s like they have this on their job applications, “No thinking required; just answer phones and read from a cue card.” I wrote about this on my blog, referring to it as the death of conversation. Seems nowadays no one puts any mental effort into what they say or to go beyond what is required. You may have a job where you only need to recite what’s on a cue card, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop there. To go the extra mile takes a willingness born out of a genuine concern to help. If you don’t posses this trait then you should find another job - at a mortuary, perhaps.
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  16. Gosh.. That was a great read. I have the habit of putting forward unique perspectives in meetings and conferences. Thanks to you I not only got a boost but also gained fresh perspectives of looking at things! Thanks!
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  17. definitely got my creative juices flowing
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  18. An excellent, well written article.  All seems so easy, although letting go of the ‘inner(problem solving)self’ is always difficult - especially when designing for and managing tough clients.  If you want a project to succeed, this is the only way to look at it.  Get this part right and you’re well on your way.  Don’t bother with it and you chance its success.  The biggest challenge is making sure the client sees the value and is able to lower their guard so as to embrace the openness of its approach.
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  19. I work for a mfg. that can’t get beyond the product mentality. When I see sites like VW.com, or Nike.com, etc that connect with people’s emotions (while pushing their corp identity to the rear), I can’t help but want this company to see the light! They’re working on a new site for themselves, but sadly going down the wrong path. Hopefully they’ll listen.
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  20. As web sites become web applications they’ve become central to the ways we get things done and find information. That said, as someone knee deep in this work everyday, it’s just recently dawning on me how critical it is to approach what we’re asked to build not solely from a ‘website’ perspective but from the perspective (and processes) of the way other well-designed products and services are made. Thank you for putting together another piece to aid us all in keeping user considerations (at there various levels) as a firm part of our process now and hopefully forever.
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  21. I thought the part of the article about interacting with customer service reps was interesting. Why in the world would a competent customer service manager force reps to say all the gibberish at the beginning of an inquiry?  I know, I know…they do, but why? (And by the way, whenever I hear “how may I assist you?” as opposed to “How may I help you?” I already figure I’m in for a bad customer service experience.) Here’s why:  because the manager of that department has decided to hire people who have no business doing customer service.  They either don’t have the personality or the training to do it, and they’ll never be good at it. As a result, you have to take away all discretion in what they do when they interact with customers, and no matter how you design the experience, it’s going to fail more often than not. Instead, user experience starts with good practices in hiring, training, guideline development, and tools.  If you don’t have that as a foundation, there’s nothing you can do to make the user experience successful in that area.
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  22. I really enjoyed this article and am looking forward to reading Indi Young’s book. In designing UIs for various Internet apps and online experiences I am learning to forget (for as long as possible) my own perspectives and training—usually for all of about 3 or 4 seconds at a time. Only when I forget everything proper about web design do I see it simplistically like average Joe would. It blows my mind how many assumptions I really do take when designing something. It helps to find an average web user and learn how they do things by just watching them interact with your sites. They can be your best teachers.
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