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UX Coaching - helping developers become better generalists

A solution for user experience (UX) practitioners struggling in an Agile environment. Coach the whole team in UX methods so that the basic skills become part of their repertoire. Includes reference to Empathizing/Systemizing theory to help ground coaching with techniques that will appeal to developers.
Presented at Balanced Team conference 2011, San Francisco.

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UX Coaching - helping developers become better generalists

  1. 1. UX Coaching<br />Helping developers become better generalists<br />Chris Nodder<br />
  2. 2. The concept of the UX person as a specialist is hurting their interaction with developers because it encourages ivory tower thinking (and whining)<br />Solutions:<br />Hire a UX person who can also do testing, coding and/or bottle washing<br />Embrace specialism: consider UX people as coaches to help whole team be empathetic to user needs<br />Flickr/bbaunach<br />
  3. 3. © Chris Nodder<br />© Chris Nodder<br />
  4. 4. Team’s UX skills<br />Coach’s UX skills<br />T-shaped teams…<br />
  5. 5. Empathizing-systemizing theory<br />ScientistsEngineers<br />Autism<br />Male<br />Female<br />Systemizing Quotient (SQ)<br />Empathizing Quotient (EQ)<br />Simon Baron-Cohen et al, Autism Research Center<br />William Hudson “Reduced empathizing skills increase challenges for user-centered design” (CHI '09)<br />
  6. 6. Men in IT<br />Women in IT<br />Dev team members systemize more and empathize less than users<br />
  7. 7. It’s a preference, not a handicap<br />“Seeing is believing” – increase empathy by having lower empathy team members watch users interact with product <br />Increase investment: team proposes product goals, UX helps them find ways to measure<br />Pairing across disciplines can help balance systemizing and empathizing in the product<br />Needs patience from both parties<br />Personas, scenarios, storyboards, screenshots all appeal to systemizers<br />Personas and scenarios help with empathy<br />Storyboards and screenshots show relation to underlying system<br />Ensure systemizers are involved in creation, not just consumption <br />
  8. 8. Message to the UX coach<br />Best way to share data with the team is to have them experience it<br />Get the team to suggest research agenda<br />Show them how to make the research agenda valid (reduce bias, increase effect)<br />Teach them how to do the research<br />Once they see user behavior first hand, the need for communicating results is reduced/incorporated into the current process<br />Formalizing/incorporating UX is a red herring. Instead it's a mindset-change thing<br />You have to CREATE the mindset through constant coaching<br />If you don't do that, developers will (continue to) route around UX<br />Satisfaction comes from sharing skills, not from being an expert that nobody listens to<br />
  9. 9. Message to the team<br />You are not your users, and your product suffers as a result<br />UX skills are very valuable on a resume. Spending time with UX people will make you smarter and a better generalist<br />Even if you are back-end rather than UI focused you still need to be able to predict how users will work with your system<br />Time with users is time well spent<br />Reduces rework <br />Prevents arguments<br />Produces more focused product that people will like better<br />
  10. 10. UX Coaching in action<br />1-week engagement with team developing a social media platform<br />Whole team involved (incl. biz sponsor & devs)<br />I facilitated, they directed<br />Field visits<br />Intensive design sessions (incl. user specification, scenarios, charrettes)<br />Paper prototypes<br />User testing<br />NO CODE written during this time – devs were focused on understanding user needs<br />Generated large list of issues/research topics to track<br />Subsequent coaching support during development and user testing (run by team)<br />Refer back to personas, storyboards, wireframes, shared visit experiences, user test sessions<br />More empathetic team members “got it” faster, and started coaching systemizing team members to help them understand. I began to step back.<br />Whole team more cohesive and focused because understood product goals in terms of user need<br />Easy to see how well goals were being met via user testing/metrics<br />Product has been well received by pilot audience (goes live in Oct.)<br />
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