Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Thinking Critically Without Killing Creativity

Photograph by Lex Augusteijn

Critical thinking is wonderful tool for progress. It helps guide us to make better decisions and avoid pitfalls. But it can also be a destructive force for ideation and creativity.

The trick is how to harness it.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Embracing TL;DR

If you spend any significant time consuming content on the web, you have probably come across the initialism tl;dr. It stands for "too long; didn't read." It means pretty much what it says. Whatever message you were trying to communicate was not received, because you demanded too much of the reader's time, attention, or focus.

Now, some may read that and think, "sheesh, people have such short attention spans today!" I would challenge you to flip that thought on its head. More often than not, tl;dr is a symptom of poor presentation of content, not the consumer of that content, i.e., the product/content is the  problem, not the user.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Don't Make Users Struggle

Steve Krug is a thought leader in the area of user experience, especially web usability and human-computer interaction. The title of his most famous and popular book, Don't Make Me Think, is a concise summary of what's in the book and it is a wonderfully elegant philosophy in itself.

While this is a great starting point, I have found that a slightly broader philosophy serves me well - don't make users struggle. I'd like to share a few key principles that have served me well with this.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Effective User Interviews and Product Development

Good user input may seem a bit like a magical, mythical beast at times, but it is a very real and realizable goal.  That said, the path to it passes through a minefield of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and unintended biases in thinking. But we can effectively navigate this with a human-centered approach and it is worth the trip, because the results can be nigh magical for your product and your users.

A powerful tool in our toolbox is the interview.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Use of "Customer", "User", and "Human" in Design & Development

Proof that I am not a professional cartoonist.

Customer. User. Human. These words get swapped around in product design and development in ways that can be confusing and seem equivocal.

Let's start easy.  Human. We know what that is. You, me, and that guy at the karaoke bar singing "I Will Survive". Human is an inclusive term. Your users and customers both fit under that umbrella.

So, if it is such an inclusive term, why do we have Human-Centered Design (HCD) and User-Centered Design (UCD)? Couldn't you just use HCD and be done? That depends.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Shaping Your Message Through Keyword Analytics and Data-Driven Content

As promised in the last post, the discussion of Google Analytics continues with discussion of how to acquire and apply data to make your product more successful. As with the previous post, we will look at the obvious bits and then dig a bit deeper to identify a not-so-obvious trick.

In the early days of web analytics, people seized on keywords for search engine optimization, to try and drive more traffic to their web site or application. The value of that is declining for various reasons, but there is a greater value you can obtain from keyword data - understanding your customers better and shaping your message to deliver what they want through data-driven content.

And it's from a place you might not think to look.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Google Analytics - Acquisition Channel Data for Better Targeting and Product Improvement

As promised in the last post, the discussion of Google Analytics continues with discussion of how to acquire and apply data to make your product more successful. This time, let's focus on acquisition data, the information that tells us how people are finding your site.

Combine this with analysis of your referrals, and you can artfully sculpt more successful customer engagements and conversions, but you can also find some great information to help improve your product, engage your customer, and produce data-driven content. Let's talk about how.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Google Analytics and Product Intelligence - Web Site Traffic & Page Views

About a month ago, I explained how to get started with Google Analytics. Now that a month has passed, there should be enough data to populate the various analytics pages (analytics pages without data are not very informative).

The sheer amount of information and options can be a bit overwhelming at first, so let's start with the thing people most commonly want to know about their site - traffic in the form of page views and how we might turn that information into useful, actionable product intelligence.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Design Thinking, the Elevator Pitch

Design Thinking is still a concept that suffers from 1) misunderstanding and 2) being dismissed as a new word for an old thing. Because of this, all design thinkers, at one point or another, are put into the position of evangelizing for design thinking.

So, let's think about how we might create an elevator pitch for design thinking and, along the way, we will probably give ourselves lots of great material for evangelizing the concept as well.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Setting Up Google Analytics For A Website

Google Analytics is just about everywhere, and it's a powerful tool for understanding your audience and the content they care about.  However, it may not be active for your site. When you create your own site, you need to do a few steps so insure its active on your pages.

The good news is that it's pretty easy.  Let's get started!