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IA Summit 2008: Leah Buley’s “How to be a UX Team of One”

Unfortunately my laptop battery died just before I went into Leah Buley‘s sermon titled “How to be a UX Team of One” at the IA Summit. I call it a sermon because at the end of Leah’s talk, she had a veritable congregation of worshippers.

Since I wasn’t able to Twitter, I had to reconstruct my notes from a pile of scribbles. I’ve done my very best, but couldn’t possibly have done justice to the talk. Even looking at the slides below won’t do you much good. Find out when Leah is presenting again, and GO!

  • Before coming to Adaptive Path, Leah had a dirty secret: when she created a design, she didn’t know if it was the right solution.
  • “Generative design” — in order to get to the end state, you have to go wide first, focus on volume and variety. Then once you’ve done enough, go narrow. Pick ideas that work and then refine them.


Get it done quickly:

    1. Brainstorm, a lot
    2. Assemble an ad hoc team
    3. Pick the best ideas

1. Brainstorm

  • Conceptual frameworks:
    • spectrums (e.g., first timer to expert)
    • 2x2s (e.g., first timer to expert against automatic to manual)
    • grids (matrix of options based on two scales)
  • Experiment with word associations — laundry list of terms gets the juices flowing
  • Keep an inspiration library — recommends Screengrab, an add-on for Firefox

2. Assemble an ad hoc team

  • Make sketchboards — allows for quality, substantive conversations
  • Host open design sessions — make it seem less rigorous to get playful involvement and better ideas
  • Template-based workshops (e.g., “Design the box” — Jess McMullen)
  • Decorate your space — creates opportunity to solicit feedback and openness in process
  • Abandon notion of yourself as “artiste” — “Lose the beret”

3. Choose the best ideas

“A star to sail your ship by”

  • Meeting user needs is just giving them the functionality they need, not creating an experience
  • Business needs + User needs = Design principles
  • Evaluate your ideas against design principles (product specific)

How to get started:

  • Start sketching
  • Schedule workshops (lunch with pizza)
  • Draft design principles

Why it matters:

  • Professional happiness, ideas to be proud of
  • We’re growing as a profession
  • We’re all UX teams of one

Check out the slides from Leah’s talk below:

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  • http://blog.andrewparker.net/ Andrew Parker

    I appreciate the tip on Screengrab extension. Very simple, does one thing well. I was previously using Jing ( which I <3 ), but it’s a little bloated — too many features — for my (generally simple) needs.