Ever since I was little, I’ve avoided uncomfortable moments in movies. I would always fast forward through the parts where the characters I liked put themselves in uncomfortable or embarrassing positions. I still do that today. In general, most people avoid uncomfortable situations in real life, but we all have our strategies for dealing with them.
Just this morning, I had an uncomfortable encounter with a shoeshine guy at the airport. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, he proceeded to talk to me about his religious beliefs in excruciating detail. At this juncture, I had several options. I could have asked him to stop. However, that would have immediately changed the interaction between the two of us from a friendly service encounter to one of frosty silence. I could have faked interest and engaged with him on this topic—something I’d have a hard time doing in my personal life. I could have chosen to let this annoy me. However, getting my shoes shined is one of my personal pleasures, and the context was all wrong for going down this path. Read More
Agile development has recently captured the imagination of many software development teams—and with good reason: its focus on producing working software quickly is well suited to today’s fast-paced markets. But how do you go about combining agile with user-centered design (UCD) so you can enjoy the benefits of both approaches? On the face of it, they should work well together because both philosophies are iterative, incorporating testing with users and refinement. But in practice, they often conflict with one another.
An agile approach such as Scrum tries to minimize up-front planning in favor of producing working code quickly. Plus, agile generally prefers in-situ workshops for gathering requirements, while UCD largely favors up-front user research. Agile also uses working software as its primary measure of progress, while UCD focuses on whether users can easily achieve their goals—with or without software. To add to these discrepancies, because agile is typically led by developers, while UX professionals usually drive UCD, the differences between these two approaches can result in political conflicts in many companies. Read More
Not long after I went independent, a friend who works at a well-known global advertising agency asked if I would be interested in helping out on a high-profile Web site redesign project. I was pretty stoked. He suggested I come in to meet his team. After meeting with the lead developer and project manager, I was told they wanted to bring me on. All I had to do was to meet the creative director.
When he finally got a chance to sit down with me, the first thing he asked was something I wasn’t prepared for: “Can I see your portfolio?”
I hadn’t brought one. “I can give you the URL,” I said. We weren’t near a computer.
His glassy response: “I’m not sure what we have to discuss if I can’t see your work.” And with that he asked that we reschedule for a time when I could come back with my book. Then he left. Read More