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Top 10 Tips for Making Complicated Things Simple

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Are you trying to explain a technical concept to a non-technical team? Maybe you’re teaching design concepts to a demanding or distracted business unit. Or perhaps you’re pushing a picky executive to incorporate more user experience initiatives. This talk will give you ten takeaways you can use in meetings and presentations in order to be a more effective advocate and leader in your team, regardless of your role.

Published in: Design
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Top 10 Tips for Making Complicated Things Simple

  1. 1. 10 Tips for Making Complicated Things Simple Crispin Reedy Big Design Conference 2016 #BigD2016 #makeItSimple @crispinTX
  2. 2. Crispin Reedy! crispinreedy.com! @crispinTX! ! Voice Interaction Designer President of @avixd
  3. 3. “Simple” vs “Easy”
  4. 4. hammockyucatan.com “Easy” implies “Low Effort”
  5. 5. hammockyucatan.com “Simple” is not “Low Effort”
  6. 6. robrusher
  7. 7. wisdomtimes.com Tip 1: Recognize that the problem exists
  8. 8. • Writing really long detailed emails • Blaming users / coworkers / clients • Monologues in meetings received with silence • Predominant feeling that “more complicated is good” • “We need all this stuff!” • Feeling lost in a wilderness of choices Symptoms
  9. 9. What’s the source?
  10. 10. wisdomtimes.com Tip 1: Recognize that the problem exists and you may be causing it
  11. 11. I’ve Got The Power! Or Do I? • Changing a Complicated Thing • Add, change, remove functionality • Control over the way the thing is developed / built • Explaining a Complicated Thing • Talking about a complex technical topic to non-technical users • May not be able to add, change, remove functionality
  12. 12. wisdomtimes.com Tip 1: Recognize that the problem exists and you may NOT be causing it
  13. 13. cathub.tv
  14. 14. Recognizing the problem is the start of solving the problem
  15. 15. Digression So why make things simple? And why is it so hard to do?
  16. 16. Simplicity enables understanding chiasmuscommunications.com
  17. 17. Simplicity enables understanding understandinggroup.com
  18. 18. “There is no stronger persuasion than causing people to understand.” - Ioan Tenner
  19. 19. mindjofurby.wordpress.com Simplicity and Complexity are Tools
  20. 20. Goal: “Just Right”
  21. 21. So Why Is This Difficult? • Lots of reasons! Some may be: • Life tends towards complexity (Entropy?) • Familiarity with complexity / Cognitive load • Personal ego • Unclear goals
  22. 22. Get the Starting Point Correct Figure It Out For Yourself Teach Others Change What You Can
  23. 23. The Folding Chair Classical Theater Company Tip 2: Have a goal
  24. 24. Marcus Geldud, The Folding Chair Theater Company: “Most people don't pair down to a single goal. ! They have multiple goals all alive at once, some of which are in conflict with each other: ! “I want to direct a really simple production of 'Romeo and Juliet,' but I also don't want to bore people, and I want the show to make money, and I want it to get good reviews, and I want people to think I did a really good job…””
  25. 25. The Folding Chair Classical Theater Company Tip 2: Have a simple, single goal
  26. 26. It’s not just about having the goal… ! it’s about communicating the goal understandinggroup.com
  27. 27. Tip 2: Have a simple, single goal that can be readily shared and articulated berkley.edu
  28. 28. Shared, Articulated Goal • State the goal at the beginning of the meeting • State the goal at the beginning of the document • Include the goal in working notes • Or in emails
  29. 29. Jared Spool: Short Form Creative Brief • What are we working on today? • Project Objectives • Key Personas • Key Scenarios • Key Principles https://articles.uie.com/short_form_creative_brief/
  30. 30. Jared Spool: Short Form Creative Brief Read aloud at the beginning of every meeting!! • Make sure everyone is working on the same project • Goals are still relevant • Establish shared understanding as team members roll on / off the project • Allows team to focus on the important stuff • Reinforces the function of goals - as a tool for decision- making https://articles.uie.com/short_form_creative_brief/
  31. 31. Marcus Geldud, The Folding Chair Theater Company: “Most people don't pair down to a single goal. ! They have multiple goals all alive at once, some of which are in conflict with each other: ! “I want to direct a really simple production of 'Romeo and Juliet,' but I also don't want to bore people, and I want the show to make money, and I want it to get good reviews, and I want people to think I did a really good job…””
  32. 32. Tip 3: Watch out for the ego trap pestrevenge.com
  33. 33. Task goals vs. ego goals in athletics womenssportsmedicine.com
  34. 34. Ego Goals • I want to win • Beat the other guy • Be the best • Show I am great Sport Information Resource Center Task Goals • Improve my skills • Get better from day to day • Learn • Accomplish a goal • Work hard
  35. 35. High Ego Orientation Athletes • Are overly focused on end results • Fragility • Burnout risk • Report higher levels of anxiety and negative coping behaviors Schoolsites: Chris Harwood High Task Orientation Athletes • Show consistency • Greater long term participation • Perception of ability tied to improvement • Report enjoyment, satisfaction, intrinsic interest, and flow at higher rates than EO athletes
  36. 36. So How Does This Help? • Are your ego-oriented goals making things complicated? • Getting in the way of your task-oriented goals? • Getting in the way of your flow?
  37. 37. • fully immersed • energized focus • full involvement • enjoyment in the process
  38. 38. Theory: Simplicity arises from flow
  39. 39. Get the Starting Point Correct Figure It Out For Yourself Teach Others Change What You Can
  40. 40. Tip 4: Give yourself time to think about the topic pcwallart.com
  41. 41. Super Busy! ClaytonBrothers
  42. 42. Just think: The challenges of the disengaged mind “People seem to find any excuse they can to keep busy,” Professor Timothy Wilson, University of Virginia • Majority of participants “found it unpleasant to be alone in a room with their thoughts” • For just 6 to 15 minutes! • When left alone to think 64% of men and 15% of women began self-administering electric shocks
  43. 43. Time To Think • Don’t be afraid to think! • Faster doesn’t always equal better! • Block out a window in your calendar for “Work” • Recognize if you’re trapped in the Speed Trap • Do you need to do less?
  44. 44. Time To Think “When I am slow and reflective, thinking about myself, who I am and where I am, I see that I need more than one speed. It’s a whole different way of thinking about success. I need slow in order to think, in order to protect my judgement.” - ‘Michael’
  45. 45. Tip 5: Think about the material on more than one level blog.daycos.com
  46. 46. Levels • 10,000 foot view • High level overview, “Big Picture” • Strategy, high-concepts • “Stuff in the middle” • Detailed view • Absolutely everything you need to know • Possibly so much detail it becomes difficult to find your way around
  47. 47. Levels • Micro • Person, Citizen, Couple, Family, Household • Meso • Clan, Tribe, Community, City, Organization, State • Macro • Nation, Society, Civilization, International
  48. 48. The Maligned Middle
  49. 49. Stuck in the Meso with You ! • Sits between the high level view and the detailed view • Connects them • Possibly explains them both in a meaningful way • Or shows the relationship between them • Producing this level of artifact forces you to look at the material differently • Patterns will emerge
  50. 50. Stuck in the Meso with You • Medium-Level Flow charts • Table of Contents • Or any kinds of tables, really • Summaries • Outlines • Visualizations • Architecture Diagrams? • Annotated Pictures
  51. 51. cea-ace.ca Tip 5: Think about the material on more than one level and the “meso” stuff might be the most important
  52. 52. theunboundedspirit.com The Middle Path
  53. 53. Tip 6: Get it out of your mind
  54. 54. You have to SEE it • Write it • Draw it • Diagram it • Use colors • Make it • Map it
  55. 55. Tip 6: Get it out of your mind in a different way I usually…! • Write it • Draw it • Diagram it • Use colors • Make it • Map it So switch to…! • Draw it • Write it • Make it • Use black and white • Diagram it • Talk about it
  56. 56. • Change the part of the brain you’re using • Get yourself out of old habits • See the problem more clearly • Different relationships may become apparent • Shake it up: Change the focus to different aspects of the problem Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
  57. 57. Tip 7: Avoid jargon / Be precise
  58. 58. Obfuscates Reveals
  59. 59. Reveals:! Acronyms! Technical Terms! Specialized Words! Industry-Specific! ! SCSI! Webservice! Interface! ! The word has a precise meaning that is useful in certain contexts Obfuscates:! Weasel Words! Trendy! Imprecise! Abstract! ! Optimization! Paradigm! Onboarding! Recontexualize! ! The word has different meanings to different people
  60. 60. Define and TeachStop Using
  61. 61. Get the Starting Point Correct Figure It Out For Yourself Teach Others Change What You Can
  62. 62. Tip 8: Take things out!
  63. 63. The Power of Delete
  64. 64. Complex vs. Complicated
  65. 65. Feature Creep
  66. 66. Feature Creep • User research! • Is the feature used? If not, why? • Consider the cost to maintain it • Does the feature hurt the UX? • Does the feature fit with the product strategy?
  67. 67. Feature Creep • How to remove? • Inform your users • Provide alternate methods • Avoid adding it in the first place
  68. 68. Courage? bgr.com
  69. 69. Tip 8: Take things out and reorganize
  70. 70. khua.dvrlists.com
  71. 71. Take Things Out And Reorganize • Focus on your goals • User research! • A/B testing • IAs or Card Sorts • Create a new model for a subset of users • Migrate your user base gradually
  72. 72. “You can’t have everything… Where would you put it?” - Steven Wright
  73. 73. Get the Starting Point Correct Figure It Out For Yourself Teach Others Change What You Can
  74. 74. Tip 9: Teach someone else seeklearning.com.au
  75. 75. The Role of Explanation in Discovery and Generalization: Evidence From Category Learning Joseph J. Williams, Tania Lombrozo Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
  76. 76. The Role of Explanation in Discovery and Generalization: Evidence From Category Learning Joseph J. Williams, Tania Lombrozo Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley • Satisfactory explanations involve generalizations and/or underlying principles • Explaining something to someone causes us to find those “satisfying patterns.” • Describing something is more beneficial for learning item details • Explaining anomalous observations helps us revise our beliefs
  77. 77. Tip 10: She Who Plans The Meeting Wins The Meeting
  78. 78. “Winging It” Is For The Birds • Things distributed ahead of time! • Agenda • Materials • Think about what you will say • Establish a basic meeting etiquette • Minimize interruptions and “talk-over” • Take notes: distribute them afterwards
  79. 79. quickbase.intuit.com
  80. 80. But It’s Not My Meeting! So?
  81. 81. Rick and Morty
  82. 82. Get the Starting Point Correct Figure It Out For Yourself Teach Others Change What You Can
  83. 83. Get the Starting Point Correct Have clear goals Avoid ego orientation Figure It Out For Yourself Give yourself time Work at different levels Don’t forget the middle Get it out of your head Change modalities Watch your words Teach Others Teach someone else first Plan your meeting Execute! Change What You Can Delete Modularize Organize
  84. 84. “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” -Thoreau
  85. 85. “The devil’s in the details.”
  86. 86. Bonus Tip
  87. 87. cathub.tv
  88. 88. Be Kind
  89. 89. ! Thanks!! ! ! ! crispinreedy.com! @crispinTX

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