User experience design, prototyping and product management – everything you need to read this month in one handy round-up
January. The perfect month for staying warm indoors and reading up on new developments in product design, prototyping, wireframing and UX. That’s what we’ve been doing at Justinmind HQ at any rate, and we’ve scoured the internet for the best blog posts of the month for UX designers, Product Managers and prototyping junkies.
In our curated list you’ll find posts on everything from the Zen approach to product design, to scaling Agile in tricky situations and how UX sketching can improve the design process. Enjoy!
5 Essential Attitudes for Design Thinkers
Erwin de Beuckelaer confesses to being terrible at sketching. And bad at color combinations. And not so great at traditional ‘design’ overall. But in his role as Director of Innovative Capabilities at Janssen, Erwin is a master of Design Thinking, “the methodology one can use to solve the most complex problems in business and society.” In his accessible Medium post ‘5 Essential Attitudes for Design Thinkers‘ Erwin explores the idea of ‘design attitude’ and its origins, as well as 5 attitudes that he has found indispensible for teams trying out a Design Thinking approach. We won’t reveal the 5 necessary attitudes here, but suffice to say that there’s sterling advice on achieving user-centricity, focus and objectivity. The section on the power of iterative prototyping is particularly interesting, as it provides concrete tips on how wireframes and prototypes are be built into the foundations of Design Thinking.
Time to read: 6 minutes
Takeaway thought: “By practicing Design Thinking, you will discover what the right attitude is to be successful and solve wicked problems in business and society.”
Scaling Agile is Hard: Here’s Why
Jeff Gothelf‘s posts are always good value, mainly because he packs a wealth of real-world software experience into a few pithy paragraphs. In his latest instalment, the Lean UX author discusses some of the challenges he’s encountered in large agile transformations, and some of the ways he’s found to overcome the tough times. Giving the lie to the assumption that an Agile transformation is solely about shipping more product faster, Jeff outlines the areas Agile can help us improve and the right questions to gauge that improvement, starting from the Team level and moving up to Portfolio level. His post is a great jumping off point for anyone wondering why their Agile project isn’t scaling like it should.
Time to read: 4 minutes
Takeaway thought: “Agile is hard to implement. Even more difficult is implementing it at scale.”
Designing for the Human Side of Banking
Banking and design are not too words that sit together easily, admits Capital One’s Human Experience Designer Jesse James Garrett. But with mobile banking users worldwide set to grow to 1.8 billion by 2019, the financial services industry is racing to improve its user experience and design reputation. In ‘Designing for the Human Side of Banking‘ Jesse spoke to the 300-odd designers in Capital One to find out what motivates them to make digital banking a more user-friendly experience, and what it’s really like for creatives to work on FinTech projects. UX Designers, Design Leads and Customer Experience professionals all agree on one thing – that money is emotional and banks have a responsibility to provide a digital service that lives up to that. An interesting take on why Fintech UX needs improving, and what the future of user-centric banking might look like.
Time to read: 16 minutes
Takeaway thought: “Banking is ripe for change. The industry needs it, we know we need it, and I think it’s going to take a special type of person to help make it happen”
A Dao of Product Design
Sustainable product design is not an oft-discussed concept. But Faruk Ateş argues that it should be. In ‘A Dao of Product Design‘, Faruk moves the camera away from the micro concerns of interface design and functionality, and refocuses on the wider societal impact created by products used by millions worldwide. He’s not just interested in the sustainability of tangible materials used in making products, but also in the intangible – “the social, economic, and cognitive world the user inhabits while considering and using the product.” Faruk argues for products that promote gender and racial inclusion, that foster civility and reject harassment, and that promote dialogue across the spectrum of users. He gives concrete UI design tips on how these goals might be achieved, backed up by his own design experience.
Time to read: 25 minutes
Takeaway thought: “Good products improve how people accomplish tasks; great products improve how society operates.”
How to Design a Large Scale Responsive Site
Responsive design may have been around since 2010, but as Elaine McVicar points out on UX Booth this month, there’s still plenty we need to figure out before achieving the perfect responsive site. In ‘How to Design a Large Scale Responsive Site‘, Elaine takes a pragmatic approach, explaining exactly why sites should be responsive (mobile stats for the coming years are pretty persuasive!) and explaining how her team at Quidco took their site from partially to fully responsive. She details the steps the team took to achieve responsivity – including requirements gathering, wireframing and interactive prototyping – and explains the rationale behind each design, right down to icon selection.
Time to read: 17 minutes
Takeaway thought: “Creating a responsive site is the first step in an ongoing process.”
The Sketch Test: How to Test and Improve your UX Deliverables & Other Documents
How are your UX deliverables? Page Laubheimer argues that they might just be “dense, complex and inscrutable”, like those of many UX professionals. In her NN Group post, Page introduces The Sketch Test as a way to measure the understandability of the UX documentation you’re producing: give your deliverable to a colleague and ask them to make a summary sketch of the information within; identify where they struggle and refine those sections. Page breaks down this deceptively simple process, explaining how to organize the exercise, task delegation and understanding feedback. She also considers how best to improve the deliverable based on the Sketch Test, whether it’s an infographic, report or visualization.
Time to read: 12 minutes