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Describing the elephant 
Moving beyond professional silos 
Eric Reiss 
@elreiss 
UX Cambridge 
September 10, 2014 
Churchi...
Caveat 
I am not out to convince you to agree with me. 
I want you to reevaluate what you do. 
If you believe something, 
...
My goals, your take-aways 
I hope to dispell some myths: 
 UX is only something that happens on a screen 
 UX was invented...
We 
are 
here 
Science Humanities 
Business
The Promise 
“User experience will make you rich.”
My question to you 
“Have we delivered on our promise?”
Excuses on both sides....
The current business mentality
Survival is more important than success
“This is not the time to take risks”
“There is safety in charismatic leaders”
“There is safety in charismatic leaders”
The current UX environment
Which tool would you NOT want to have if you were building a house?
Pick me! Pick me!
Clients know what they want 
But we know what they need
Clients know what they want 
But we know what they need 
This is the fatal disconnect
Accessibility 
Mental models 
Personas 
SSSSeeeeaaaarrrrcccchhhhaaaabbbbiiiilllliiiittttyyyy 
Usability 
Knowledge managem...
“Creativity varies inversely with 
the number of cooks involved 
in the broth.” 
Bernice Fitz-Gibbon 
1967
1995 1998 2000 2014 
Webmaster Webmaster 
Visual designer 
Copywriter 
Developer 
Visual designer 
Information architect 
...
It’s all Greek to me....
„Es hört jeder doch nur, 
was er versteht.“ 
Goethe
“He hears only that 
which he understands” 
Goethe
“He hears CMS only that 
UX 
which he XMLunderstands” CS 
CM UxD 
G 
oethe 
UCD
User Experience 
IA SD CS IxD GD PM DEV KM SEO SM MKT IT
What does this mean for us as 
UX professionals? 
No single person can truly be a 
“UX Designer” 
No single discipline can...
Can we define UX in simple, 
understandable terms? 
Can we embrace all 
these disciplines without 
taking ownership?
Eric’s 1st Law of UX: 
If a solution does not solve your 
user’s problems, it will not 
solve your company’s either.
So, let’s start by looking at a “user”
us·er 
noun 
1: a person who makes use of a thing; 
someone who uses or employs something 
2: a person who uses something ...
When would you use (simultaneously): 
 An ergonomic seat designed for one person 
 Optical lenses invented by Benjamin Fra...
When would you use (in simpler terms): 
 Armchair 
 Bifocal eyeglasses 
 Manhattan Cocktail 
 Lightbulb 
 Wool jumper 
 Ta...
Eyeglasses 
Wool pullover 
Lightbulb 
Marble tabletop 
Armchair 
Book 
Gus the Cat 
Manhattan Cocktail
Sensory assistance 
Warmth/comfort 
Sensory assistance 
Convenience/aethetics 
Convenience/comfort 
Education/information ...
The experience of a touchpoint 
is always situational
What do your users need? 
What are the scenarios? 
How many touchpoints are touched?
How can anyone truly be a “UX Designer” 
without controlling all the touchpoints? 
UX design certainly exists... 
...but a...
Perhaps we need 
a more useful definition of UX!
ex·per·i·ence 
noun 
1: having been affected by or learned 
through observation or participation 
2: the length of such pa...
Eric’s 2nd Law of UX: 
User experience is the sum of 
a series of interactions between 
people, devices, and events.
Eric’s 3rd Law of UX: 
UX design represents the conscious 
act of : 
• coordinating interactions 
we can control 
• acknow...
Three types of interaction: 
 Active (things we control) 
 Passive (things we don’t control) 
 Secondary (things that have...
Active interaction
Active interaction
Active interaction
Passive interaction (partly)
Passive interaction
Secondary interaction
Secondary interaction
UX involves all three interaction types 
 Coordinating interactions that we can control 
 Acknowledging interactions beyon...
Coordinating interactions
Coordinating interactions
Coordinating interactions
Reducing negative interactions
Reducing negative interactions
Reducing negative interactions
Reducing negative interactions
Can influence 
Cannot influence 
Business 
critical 
Screw 
it
So, where does that leave us? 
How do we get business to 
understand the value we can provide? 
Five things to consider if...
Don’t speak geek 
Don’t speak geek!
Don’t attack other disciplines 
Don’t attack other disciplines!
Solve problems, don’t create them 
Solve problems. Don’t create them.
Think beyond your own self-interest 
Think beyond your own self-interest.
And finally, my personal mantra...
Sell crackers, not crumbs!
Thank you!
Eric Reiss can (usually) be found at: 
The FatDUX Group ApS 
Strandøre 15 
2100 Copenhagen 
Denmark 
Office: (+45) 39 29 6...
Describing the Elephant: UX Cambridge 2014
Describing the Elephant: UX Cambridge 2014
Describing the Elephant: UX Cambridge 2014
Describing the Elephant: UX Cambridge 2014
Describing the Elephant: UX Cambridge 2014
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Describing the Elephant: UX Cambridge 2014

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My keynote from UX Cambridge 2014. My personal review of some of the problems we face communicating the value of user experience community today, a couple of practical, actionable tools, and suggestions as to how we can strengthen our community.

Published in: Design

Describing the Elephant: UX Cambridge 2014

  1. 1. Describing the elephant Moving beyond professional silos Eric Reiss @elreiss UX Cambridge September 10, 2014 Churchill College, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2. Caveat I am not out to convince you to agree with me. I want you to reevaluate what you do. If you believe something, know why you believe it.
  3. 3. My goals, your take-aways I hope to dispell some myths: UX is only something that happens on a screen UX was invented in the ‘80s UX can be accomplished by a team of one I also want to: Give you an actionable definition of UX Provide tips that can help promote our talents to the business community
  4. 4. We are here Science Humanities Business
  5. 5. The Promise “User experience will make you rich.”
  6. 6. My question to you “Have we delivered on our promise?”
  7. 7. Excuses on both sides....
  8. 8. The current business mentality
  9. 9. Survival is more important than success
  10. 10. “This is not the time to take risks”
  11. 11. “There is safety in charismatic leaders”
  12. 12. “There is safety in charismatic leaders”
  13. 13. The current UX environment
  14. 14. Which tool would you NOT want to have if you were building a house?
  15. 15. Pick me! Pick me!
  16. 16. Clients know what they want But we know what they need
  17. 17. Clients know what they want But we know what they need This is the fatal disconnect
  18. 18. Accessibility Mental models Personas SSSSeeeeaaaarrrrcccchhhhaaaabbbbiiiilllliiiittttyyyy Usability Knowledge management Sensemaking Experience design Scenaria Findability Storytelling Information architecture Content management Content strategy User-centered design
  19. 19. “Creativity varies inversely with the number of cooks involved in the broth.” Bernice Fitz-Gibbon 1967
  20. 20. 1995 1998 2000 2014 Webmaster Webmaster Visual designer Copywriter Developer Visual designer Information architect Copywriter Front-end engineer Full-stack developer Visual designer UI designer Interaction designer Content strategist Information architect Content providers SEO consultant Social media guru Product manager Project manager Token baby boomer
  21. 21. It’s all Greek to me....
  22. 22. „Es hört jeder doch nur, was er versteht.“ Goethe
  23. 23. “He hears only that which he understands” Goethe
  24. 24. “He hears CMS only that UX which he XMLunderstands” CS CM UxD G oethe UCD
  25. 25. User Experience IA SD CS IxD GD PM DEV KM SEO SM MKT IT
  26. 26. What does this mean for us as UX professionals? No single person can truly be a “UX Designer” No single discipline can truly take ownership of UX
  27. 27. Can we define UX in simple, understandable terms? Can we embrace all these disciplines without taking ownership?
  28. 28. Eric’s 1st Law of UX: If a solution does not solve your user’s problems, it will not solve your company’s either.
  29. 29. So, let’s start by looking at a “user”
  30. 30. us·er noun 1: a person who makes use of a thing; someone who uses or employs something 2: a person who uses something or someone selfishly or unethically 3: a person who takes drugs
  31. 31. When would you use (simultaneously): An ergonomic seat designed for one person Optical lenses invented by Benjamin Franklin Alcoholic mixture invented by Dr. Iain Marshall Incandescent device invented by Thomas Edison Fabric made on a loom invented by JM Jacquard Rouge Royale (marble) Baskerville Light (typography) Domesticated mammal (This is often how our clients look at their content)
  32. 32. When would you use (in simpler terms): Armchair Bifocal eyeglasses Manhattan Cocktail Lightbulb Wool jumper Tabletop Book Cat (This is an easier way to look at content)
  33. 33. Eyeglasses Wool pullover Lightbulb Marble tabletop Armchair Book Gus the Cat Manhattan Cocktail
  34. 34. Sensory assistance Warmth/comfort Sensory assistance Convenience/aethetics Convenience/comfort Education/information Companionship Chemical stimuli
  35. 35. The experience of a touchpoint is always situational
  36. 36. What do your users need? What are the scenarios? How many touchpoints are touched?
  37. 37. How can anyone truly be a “UX Designer” without controlling all the touchpoints? UX design certainly exists... ...but are there truly UX designers?
  38. 38. Perhaps we need a more useful definition of UX!
  39. 39. ex·per·i·ence noun 1: having been affected by or learned through observation or participation 2: the length of such participation
  40. 40. Eric’s 2nd Law of UX: User experience is the sum of a series of interactions between people, devices, and events.
  41. 41. Eric’s 3rd Law of UX: UX design represents the conscious act of : • coordinating interactions we can control • acknowledging interactions we cannot control • reducing negative interactions
  42. 42. Three types of interaction: Active (things we control) Passive (things we don’t control) Secondary (things that have indirect influence)
  43. 43. Active interaction
  44. 44. Active interaction
  45. 45. Active interaction
  46. 46. Passive interaction (partly)
  47. 47. Passive interaction
  48. 48. Secondary interaction
  49. 49. Secondary interaction
  50. 50. UX involves all three interaction types Coordinating interactions that we can control Acknowledging interactions beyond our control Reducing negative interactions
  51. 51. Coordinating interactions
  52. 52. Coordinating interactions
  53. 53. Coordinating interactions
  54. 54. Reducing negative interactions
  55. 55. Reducing negative interactions
  56. 56. Reducing negative interactions
  57. 57. Reducing negative interactions
  58. 58. Can influence Cannot influence Business critical Screw it
  59. 59. So, where does that leave us? How do we get business to understand the value we can provide? Five things to consider if you want to succeed in UX
  60. 60. Don’t speak geek Don’t speak geek!
  61. 61. Don’t attack other disciplines Don’t attack other disciplines!
  62. 62. Solve problems, don’t create them Solve problems. Don’t create them.
  63. 63. Think beyond your own self-interest Think beyond your own self-interest.
  64. 64. And finally, my personal mantra...
  65. 65. Sell crackers, not crumbs!
  66. 66. Thank you!
  67. 67. Eric Reiss can (usually) be found at: The FatDUX Group ApS Strandøre 15 2100 Copenhagen Denmark Office: (+45) 39 29 67 77 Mobil: (+45) 20 12 88 44 Twitter: @elreiss info@fatdux.com www.fatdux.com

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