What I look for in a Design Process

Bill Buxton writes in Sketching User Experiences:

"Innovation in process trumps innovation in product. In order to create successful products, it is as important (if not more) to invest in the design of the design process, as in the design of the product itself."

Damn straight.

Process gets a bad reputation for constricting creative flow. But, I believe a good process helps us focus our work on the creative challenges as opposed to the "figuring out how to work/communicate/document" challenges. It shouldn't get in our way, it should help us get our of own way. I am believe that every UX entity - wether an agency, an internal group or a freelancer should have a clear visual manifestation of their design process.
It should be put in place with the explicit understanding that it is made to be adjusted, compromised, broken and refined…it's flexible to each project and client. Instead of a set of immutable laws, it's a set of working guidelines. It provides a starting point during the pitch process and project planning, a gut check throughout the project and a framework for retrospectives. 

So what should the qualities of a great process be?

How I take Notes: UX WEEK 2013 Mindmap


Praise the heavens! I finally sat down with my 50+ pages of anti-sketchnotes and transferred over my favorite  takeaways into a consolidated Mindmeister mindmap. Just how I like it. 

First, some quick notes on these particular UX week notes:

  • Friday afternoon's notes are spotty. This was when I was speaking, so I was a bit - preoccupied.
  • Videos are not yet posted, so this mindmap will grow a bit after that happens. 
  • Red italics are my thoughts.
  • Workshops are spotty on notes as well because they were both so hands-on.


In case you are curious, or feel overwhelmed by trying to sketchnote or write everything down and then do something with it, here is an alternative process...

3 Reasons Why I Have No Choice but to Blog

Here's the thing. I am speaking at Adaptive Path's UX Week this Friday, and BOY OH BOY am I out of my league.  I will be standing on the same stage as Steve Johnson, who has written like a billion books and given about a gazillion TED talks, and basically discovered the wellspring of all great ideas. I will speak literally less than an hour before the closing keynote, Ze Frank, who IS the internet. No, he doesn't claim to have invented the internet, like you-know-who. He claims to BE the internet.  And I believe him. Other people on the stage? Jesse James Garrett, who wrote the book on user experience design. I will probably ask him to sign my copy. Jeremy Keith is is running a workshop on Responsive Design.  Jeremy is in the exclusive club of UX dudes with six-figure Twitter followings and an spaceman avatar. Do you know what I am talking about? Check out this guythis guy and of course, Keith himself. I want to be spacesuit on the internet! Maybe if my talk on Friday goes well? 

So that is Reason One. I need to start playing with the big boys. I need to step up from Instagram posts of my cats/whiteboarding and the occasionally empty tweet.  I need my web presence to have a bit more gravitas.

Original whiteboarding of this talk AND one of my cats. BOOM.

Original whiteboarding of this talk AND one of my cats. BOOM.

Reason Two

There is no reason two. I just read that listy blog titles are 35 times more likely to be read. God, people are stupidly simple! Oh, wait...did you read this because it was a list? Whoops! Ok, ok, I think I can come up with two more reasons so that you don't feel so duped. I don't want to get off on the wrong foot with this blogging thing. 

How about this for a reason: I have over 100 entries in Evernote that COULD be blog posts. Musings on UX process, good design that does good in the world, the user experience of health (a favorite topic) and the subject neuroplasticity.  I have even thought through how all of these subjects overlap to create the a "unified model of interest." So, I have a good deal to write about, I have already started writing it, and I have even organized it. Go me! Here it is:

Pretty much sums it up. The unified model of my interest.

Pretty much sums it up. The unified model of my interest.

Reason Three

So, the first reason is basically that I feel professional pressure to write a blog, on top of everything else in my incredibly busy and exciting schedule (hair flip).  Reason two, is that I do actually have stuff I want to share.

Reason Three would have to be that I keep hearing/reading over and over that putting your ideas "OUT THERE" will encourage you to follow through on them. Something about accountability? And the cool thing about this expose-yourself brand of motivation, is that it works even if NO ONE actually sees you exposing yourself. :) Not only will writing about my ideas help solidify them, but it will create a magical magnetism toward follow-through.  An example that is a bit meta: simply writing this first post - transparently writing that I am going to start writing - will encourage me to write.

Even if my blogging doesn't bring down the house with hits, that's okay. I can still SAY I blog. I can still tweet "NEW POST! <insert tiny url>".  I can work through and "share" ideas that have been collecting digital dust in a "someday/maybe" stack in Evernote. And finally, I can capitalize on that exhibitionist phenomenon that helps make ideas happen.

And my the wrath of the internet come down on me if in 3 months this is still my only post.