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TRUTH AND DARE
OUT OF THE ECHO-CHAMBER - INTO THE FIRE
Jason Mesut - Head of User Experience, RMA




twitter: @jasonmesut
presentations: slideshare.net/jasonmesut
A little story...
2005
6 years ago
First Euro IA
    6 years ago
First Euro IA
    6 years ago
“We are european, not
North American, we see
the world a little
differently”
I’d just joined Oyster
Partners
Spent ages
researching, and
designing the poster
Was going through a
house purchase at the
time - very stressful
Then... as I was
tweaking the file of
the final print
Girlfriend
fractured
her hip
I rushed to the hospital
(after printing my poster).
The consultant told her:

- might need regular surgery
- may have birth complications
- could get arthritis quicker
I flew to
Brussels
anyway
The most selfish thing I
thought I had ever done
Gave me
my voice
Gave me
confidence
2006
5 years ago
I wrote 5 winning
submissions that year
1
                2

                3

4 out of the
                4



10 posters,
including one
I worked on
And one
session:
‘Wicked
Workshops’
Sorry!
There were quite a
few of us from LBi.

It was my fault.
“What does LBi stand for?”

Me in 5 minute madness



“Leave Berlin Immediately”

             Response from attendee
Ego can be a
dangerous thing
I stepped away and let
others have the limelight
Senior Associate      Leader             Director
  Practitioner     Leading others     Managing others




                             Mentoring others.




Euro IA helped
my career at LBi
Worked with around 200 UX
                                                                       10 - Present
                                                            08 - 10


                                                                         49
                                           05 - 08


                                                              9
                            04 - 05


                                           85
              01 - 04


                            30
98 - 00


15            11                            Oyster/
                                                            The Team
                                                                           RMA
                              Flow
  Yell
                 PA                        Framfab/
                                              LBI
                                                                         Applications
                                                              Comms
                                           Digital agenc
                                                        y                consultancy
                            User-Centred                      agency
              Management       Design
   Online
              consultancy    consultancy
  business
  directory
I’ve done a lot of recruiting

              Past 12 months


700+ 100+                      40
  CVs and       Interviews     Hires
 portfolios
past 12 months
  Whole day / multi-
   day conferences                       Evening events

             6
   MEX, UX People, UX London,
                                              15+
                                       London IA (3), UPA (4) Writing
Interactions, UX Lisbon, dConstruct   workshops, UX Bookclub, IxDA
                                            London, + more




I’ve been to a lot of UX
conferences and events
I’m really
worried
I need to worry
you too with some
bitter truths
Different truths


- Personal
- Social
- Human
- Universal
But we’re going to
get through this
I’ve got some
things we can do
to make it better
Some dares
Truth No. 1
Personal truth




There is no
Universal truth in UX
Truth No. 2
Personal truth


I am here to:
- help because I care
- learn from practitioners
- recruit real talent
Dare no. 1



I dare you...
Don’t tweet soundbites
from my talk
Truth No. 3
Social + human truth




Sometimes the
quietest people have
the best things to say
No Q&A, just Os


Opinions at the end,
and nothing else - just
try not to make it
personal
Dare no. 2a


I dare you to...
Critique my talk, and
share your opinions at
the end
Positive                       Negative
What you liked            What you didn’t like
What you agree with   What you disagreed with




Ideas, different        What should have said
perspectives             What you would say

Interesting                     Missing
Dare no. 2b

I dare you to...
Critique other talks you
have heard today, and will
hear tomorrow - share with
people you meet
Celebrity UX rockstars are
setting us up for failure
2005 - 1st Euro IA
No gurus or
superstars to
look up to
2011
 Today
Now we have loads of
Celebrity UX Rockstars
“The majority of UX work is
being done (and done well) by
people you and I have never
heard of.”

Louise Hewitt
Commenting on Andy Budd’s
“The X-factorisation of the web”
http://www.andybudd.com/
Celebrity UX Rockstars

Usually...
Written a book
Speak at conferences
Tweet/blog a lot
Why do we listen to them?



Have you seen their work?
Do they give unique insight?
Do they help you do your job?
Why do we listen to them?

Great performers
Sometimes relevant topics
Aspirational topics
Convincing arguments
Because others do
3 concerns:



Too many silver bullets
Land grabbing
Motives are not clear
I think they are setting us up
for failure


Preach more than practice
Not enough techniques
We are not them
Worst of all




People are just regurgitating
the same old crap
The human centipede
of UX dogma
“A dogma is something that
should not to be disputed or
doubted. Most often, this means
the basic beliefs and doctrines
of a religion. What a majority of
followers of an ideology or any
kind of organization believe in
can also be a dogma.”

Wikipedia
Here’s a few things
that are worrying me
I need some music to
help make my point
Mobile first
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
Open web
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
Service Design
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
Gamification
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
Content strategy
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
We should be like Apple
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
Responsive design
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
Gestures are the future of
       interfaces
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
Touch screens
are the future
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
Break down silos
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
DON’T
BELIEVE
THE HYPE
Let’s go deeper on a
few of these
Mobile First is confused as
an always use strategy
Mobile First is confused as
an always use strategy


Quotes without investigation
Web message
Sometimes may be useful
Most Service Design
and Design Thinking is a
lot of talk and corporate
entertainment
“All fart and no shit”
“Design thinking? Do you mean
common sense? I don’t need
someone to teach me how to
brainstorm - every process is
designed - it’s just pretentious”


Luke Johnson
From recent Design Business Association event Author of ‘Start It

Up’, and business brains behind Pizza Express, Strada, Giraffe
Breaking down
silos is naive
Breaking down silos is naive



Organisations are complex
People better in small groups
Change takes too long
Open source and Open web
is not the only way
Open source and Open web is
not the only way

Dev friends influencing us
Proprietary wins most of time
Business doesn’t care
We shouldn’t care that much
There is more to Agile UX
than Sprint 0s and Sprints
ahead
There is more to Agile UX
than Sprint 0s and Sprints
ahead

This is only one aspect
Doesn’t always work
Need to work in dev sprint
Responsive design is an old
argument in new clothes
Responsive design is an old
argument in new clothes

Fixed vs. fluid/liquid
Separate accessible sites
Technology changes rapidly
Sometimes appropriate
Silver bullets are
dangerous


We need multiple
weapons, and to know
when and how to use them
Truth No. 4
Social




There are no silver
bullets in UX. Repeating
them can weakens us.
Dare no. 3

I dare you to...
Call bullshit on Celebrity
UX Rockstars who are
preaching their dogma or
shallow messaging
UX is eating itself
The UX Bubble is growing
and growing
UX developer
  UX designer

                              UX architect
        UX consultant




More and more people are
saying they are doing UX
UX designer is the
new ‘web designer’
But most are confused
about what UX actually is
User interface?


Wireframes?                     Visual design?
               ?!*&%!?

                Usability?




The people we work with
are even more confused
I ask a tricky question in
interviews




Are you more UX or UI?
I also get people to map
themselves




What shape are you?
ExS              IxD
    Experience      Interaction
     Strategy         Design



        UR               IA
       User         Information
     Research       Architecture



4 key disciplines of User Experience
Industrial design
                               Design    Device
                              strategy   interface
                                         design


                        ExS                          IxD

             Business                                      Software
Marketing,   strategy                                        design
                                                                      HCI
consulting   Market                                           Web
             research                                       design



                        UR                           IA
                                Design   Library
                              research   science



                              Psychology
ExS              IxD
Experience      Interaction
 Strategy         Design



   UR               IA
  User         Information
Research       Architecture



  Insight and big picture
ExS             IxD
Experience     Interaction
 Strategy        Design



   UR               IA
  User         Information
Research       Architecture



   User Interface Craft
ExS             IxD
Experience     Interaction
 Strategy        Design



   UR               IA
  User         Information
Research       Architecture



 Conceptual, design, feel
ExS              IxD
Experience      Interaction
 Strategy         Design



   UR               IA
  User         Information
Research       Architecture



  Analysis, rigour, logic
Truth No. 5
Social



Most UX people don’t
articulate what they do
and how they are
different from others
Dare no. 4

I dare you to...
Map your shape using
the framework, and
show where YOU want
to grow and develop
Industrial design
                               Design    Device
                              strategy   interface
                                         design


                        ExS                          IxD

             Business                                      Software
Marketing,   strategy                                        design
                                                                      HCI
consulting   Market                                           Web
             research                                       design



                        UR                           IA
                                Design   Library
                              research   science



                              Psychology
Industrial design
                                Design    Device
                               strategy   interface
                                          design


                         ExS                          IxD

 Business     Business                                      Software
              strategy                                        design
consulting,                                                            HCI
              Market                                           Web
Marketing     research                                       design



                         UR                           IA
                                 Design   Library
                               research   science



                               Psychology
We need to focus,
because the term
UX dilutes us
Or other disciplines and
industries will claim it too
Marketing strategists
Market researchers
Planners
Brand consultants
Management consultants
Front-end developers
Graphic designers
Business Analysts
Industrial Designers
Service Designers
Is that a bad thing
or a good thing?
We need to reclaim
disciplines in
User Experience
Interaction Design &
Information Architecture
are different.


We can do both or only
one.
We need to get closer to
other disciplines and
understand them better
Stop trying to reinvent
what they do without
understanding it
The Internet of Ubiquitous
Computing Information
Appliance Things is coming
We need to work together -
especially with Industrial
Designers
Dare no. 5a


I dare you to...
Go to non-UX events
Engage with other disciplines
Work together
Digital
Design
                 Harder
Marketing        Better for you

Business
Sector-specific
Science
Product
Dare no. 5b


I dare you to...
Read non-UX media -
blogs, books,
magazines
Not just these,
but these...
...and these
Dare no. 5c



I dare you to...
Speak at a non-UX
event
We’re also under
threat from within
Salaries and day rates
getting ridiculous
Plenty of money
& demand
http://tinyurl.com/6g42end
People with 1-2 years
experience and poor
quality work can
command rates as high as
senior folk got 4 years ago
Charlatans




http://www.clashmusic.com/news/charlatans-drummer-eyes-return
They can use Axure!

They list personas and
wireframes in their cvs
They use the design
patterns that are easy in
Axure, rather than thinking
through what is best
Design patterns are
an echo-chamber
in themselves
Accordions, carousels
and multiple
dropdowns are the
clip-art, and Axure is
our PowerPoint
Rates are getting higher,
quality getting lower
Too many people are
going freelance
They choose projects
that they think sound
exciting or are good
for their portfolios
As a freelancer
they can’t bond
with a team
They can’t be
mentored, and
be developed
by others
But they can have long
holidays and a lot of
money in their pocket
Truth No. 6
Social




Our bubble will burst
unless we stamp out
the greedy pretenders
Dare no. 6

I dare you to...
Call bullshit on pretenders.
Not pay unfair rates.
Give the best work to
permanent staff.
UCD and UX is not
the only way
UX is like a set of
religions
UX is like a set of religions


- Evangelise beliefs + dogma
- Criticise non-believers
- Promote godly practice
- Conferences, our churches
- Sell on faith, not proof
UCD is our hammer, and
every project is a thumb
Don Norman
“In 1965 when we were
starting Pizza Express,
customers wanted chips with
pizza. We had the vision and
we guided the customer”

Luke Johnson
From recent Design Business Association event Author of ‘Start It

Up’, and business brains behind Pizza Express, Strada, Giraffe
“Best source of innovation
are ideas from staff and from
branch managers, not
customers”

Luke Johnson
From recent Design Business Association event Author of ‘Start It

Up’, and business brains behind Pizza Express, Strada, Giraffe
UCD is a way of
mitigating risk and
increasing chance of
success
We try to invest so
much time in research,
that we don’t spend
enough time designing
And we don’t always
respect the leaps that
can be made from
creative thought
Or genius designers
Not enough      Lots in selling
  Too much
               investment in   it and glossing
 investment
                crafting the       over the
    here
                  solution          cracks




                                   Launch


  Research       Design &       Marketing &
  & strategy   development      advertising


How my Industrial
Designer friend sees it
Heavy
                      Less devotion
      investment in
                      to the solution
      research and
                          crafting
         strategy
                                        Little to no
                                        marketing /
                                        advertising


                                  Launch
      Research          Design              Marketing &
      & strategy        & dev               advertising



How purist UX people
might want it
Little to no  Rapid               Lots of
research &   design &          marketing and
 strategy development           advertising




Research
& strategy
             Design     Marketing & Launch
             & dev      advertising



How marketing and
business people want it
Rapid, low    Lots of design by making    Slightly less
  friction                                 marketing
 research                                 because the
    and                                   product is so
 strategy                                     good




                               Launch
 Research             Design              Mkting &
 & strategy           & dev              advertising




How I prefer it
Maybe why we use so
much UI clipart
Truth No. 7
Social



There are more non-
UCD success stories
than UCD success
stories
Dare no. 7


I dare you to...
Spend more time
designing and less
time researching
We’re not built
for strategy
Back at the first Euro IA,
there was a lot of talk
about strategy
Getting further upstream.
Getting a seat at the table.
More and more people
are talking about it,
but are we really
making progress?
I don’t think so
“Strategy. It’s not big and
it’s not clever.”


Jon Hughes
VP at Cognizant Technology Solutions. Inspiration for me when I worked at PA
Consulting, a management consultancy. He was a partner there at the time.
“But, it’s fucking hard to
do well”

Jon Hughes
VP at Cognizant Technology Solutions. Inspiration for me when I worked at PA
Consulting, a management consultancy. He was a partner there at the time.
Most organisations
don’t have good or
clear strategies.
“ 4 types of strategy:
- No strategy
- Unclear strategy
- Bad strategy
- Good strategy”

Someone in UX Lisbon
In Leisa Reichelt’s UX Strategy workshop
UX people are not
built for strategy
We can’t handle the
stench upstream
A lot of politics,
power-games
Visionaries and senior
people can be
ruthless assholes
Steve Jobs
Donald Trump
Alan Sugar
It takes a long time to
engage with stakeholders
and have a strategic
influence
Some of us can’t commit
to more than 3 months
for a project, let alone 3
years+ to conceive and
deliver on strategy
Truth No. 8
Social




Most UX people are not
built for strategy
Dare no. 8


I dare you to...
Commit to developing
strategies, or focus on
what you do best
We’re nearly there now
I have only skimmed the
surface of our echo-
chamber and why we
need to get out more
If you want fame, be
prepared to sacrifice your
personal life and put
yourself up for criticism
We must expose
ourselves to more
thinking outside of
our space
“A lot of people in our industry haven’t
had very diverse experiences. So they
don’t have enough dots to connect, and
they end up with very linear solutions
without a broad perspective on the
problem. The broader one’s
understanding of the human experience,
the better design we will have.”

Steve Jobs
In an interview for Wired, February 1996
We need to focus
ourselves to save our
bubble from bursting
“It is not the strongest of the
species that survive, nor the
most intelligent, but the one
most adaptable to change”

Clarence Darrow (often attributed to Darwin)
Amercian Defense lawyer, defending the education of Darwin’s drawings
We need to have more
opinions and share them
with the world
“The great thing about
having an opinion is that
you can change it”

Simon Manchipp
Creative Director & co-founder at progressive brand consultancy SomeOne
Dare no. 9

I dare you to...
Share your opinions
on UX and this talk
with the rest of the
conference
Dares

Don’t tweet soundbites
Critique conference talks
Call bullshit on celebrity UX rockstars
Map your UX shape and focus your future
Get into the heads of others
Try more designing, less researching
Commit to strategy, or focus on UX
Share opinions & be prepared to change
Thank you

RMA Consulting
Master Your Every Day
twitter: @jasonmesut
presentations: slideshare.net/jasonmesut

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