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Tips for Young Designers: Diversify Your Skills or Die

There is no denying it, in recent years the trend has been towards specialization. While specialist can command a higher price from a select audience for the short-term, this is not a great way to build a long-term career. Let’s look at what some of the challenges are of specialization and just how much should you diversify your skills.

While specialist can command a higher price from a select audience for the short-term, this is not a great way to build a long-term career. Let’s look at what some of the challenges are of specialization and just how much should you diversify your skills.

Continue reading “Tips for Young Designers: Diversify Your Skills or Die”

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Beware, the Technology Sales Death Spiral

Learning people’s needs is how I earn my bread and butter, it is how I build products they want and creating brands they can connect with. But in my travels, I’ve worked with a lot of sales people. Heck, I’ve done sales, having to sell what I, and my agency, can do for customers.

There is one pattern I’ve witnessed that all technology sales people should be aware of and beware. Let me explain by telling a little tale.

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Designer walking down a hallway carrying a back pack to go and see for themselves.

You’re Doing it Wrong if You Don’t Go and See For Yourself

There is nothing truer than Genchi Genbutsu (the Lean concept of “go and see” or “go and see for yourself”) and GOOB (Steve Blank’s wisdom to “Get Out of the Building,” and echoed in Lean Startup methodology).

Taiichi Ohno, one of the creators of the Toyota Production System, is credited as the originator of the concept of Genchi Genbutsu. According to Eric Ries in Lean Startup, when Lean practitioners in Japan were asked what was the most important principle of Lean, Genchi Genbutsu was cited over and over. Genchi Genbutsu is sometimes Westernized to “Get your boots on.”

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People working in an open floor plan office

The Cost of Context Switching

During a recent workshop with the awesome Rich Mironov (author of The Art of Product Management), Rich had everyone at the workshop do a simple and quick exercise that clearly shows the cost of context switching.

It is amazing, but there are still people who believe they can do it all by multitasking, even though multiple studies show this is not the case. Humans simply do not multitask well.

I knew a designer that complained about a developer who focused on tasks in a linear order. The designer wanted the developer to multitask. The problem is that constantly context switching as the designer wanted would have slowed the developer down, but seeing smaller bits of progress across a portfolio of tasks gave the designer a sense that more work was being accomplished.

Unfortunately, the designer had it wrong. Psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell even goes so far as to describe multitasking as a “mythical activity in which people believe they can perform two or more tasks simultaneously as effectively as one.” Worse, our work days are now a constant stream of interruption, and it takes the brain about 10 to 15 minutes to recover from interruptions. That is a lot of lost productivity. This one reason why some believe open floor plans are detrimental to productivity.

Don’t believe it? Think you can truly multitask? Take the challenge and find out.

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Large cement cubes

Why UX Needs the Debate Experience

If you haven’t heard, there is now a UX Debate Club in New York. This freshly minted Meetup group has already had its first meeting and planning is underway for more. But you may be wondering do we really need a UX debate club? What is there to debate about User Experience? Is there even anything debatable about UX? And those are all fair questions that I will address. Continue reading “Why UX Needs the Debate Experience”

Image with the text, Hello from Humanist

Announcing Humanist

I am very excited to announce that I  launched a new digital product and brand strategy/design practice called Humanist.

Humanist is a strategy and design practice born in Brooklyn with a focus on building awesome digital products and branding. Humanist is passionate about building products people want and brands they connect with. Continue reading “Announcing Humanist”

Making Magic: Aligning Design and Engineering

When engineers and designers team up, magic can happen. Everyone on the team is more engaged. User research findings and usability testing results are shared with everyone. Engineers are invited to walk-throughs of early designs and asked for feedback and input. Designers become aware of technology constraints and the structure of data that can be surfaced from the system to users. And a whole lot more—meaning good ideas and thinking are spreading throughout the team to help build an awesome product for users.

Unfortunately, in some companies, the engineering and design teams are siloed from each other. Whether the separation was planned or occurred organically, the consequences are the same. Morale, efficiency, and in the end, the product will suffer. How do you align design and engineering teams into a unified product team?

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