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The Empathy Belly at Ford Motor Company

Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” Despite the lack of hard evidence that Ford actually uttered those words, the phrase is wielded by lots of designers and business owners who want to justify basing decisions on their instincts rather than engage [Keep Reading...]

How “When I…” Reasoning Poisons a Team

Earlier this year I had a client who hired me to redesign the first step in their 3-step process. The page was getting loads of customer complaints and the last three iterations on the design hadn’t helped. As always, I started the project by interviewing key stakeholders: the product manager, the product owner, the head [Keep Reading...]

Why Guess? A Familiar Screenplay

CUT TO: INT. SCREEN SHARING MEETING – DAY A client shows their consultant the progress they’ve made on a redesign. They want the consultant’s feedback before it’s too late. CLIENT Currently the user does A, then B, then C. Now the user will be able to do C, then A, then B. We don’t think [Keep Reading...]

Knowing Why Beats Knowing How

Last year around this time, I started following an eating plan called The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. At the same time, I was feverishly traveling the globe presenting my talk Design Principles: The Philosophy of UX. Midway through the book, Tim begins a chapter with a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson that draws a [Keep Reading...]

User Research War Stories: “Taking empathy to a whole new level”

My friend Steve Portigal, an esteemed customer research consultant in the Bay Area, has a series on his blog titled “War Stories” — anecdotes from ethnographic researchers about the craziest things that have happened to them in the field. One entry from Priya Sohoni is particularly striking. Titled “Taking empathy to a whole new level,” [Keep Reading...]

We Don’t Know Anything

We don’t know. We believe we know. Our experiences, education, instincts and values all add up to our beliefs. They also include assumptions and misperceptions and past truths. We believe something once and then we “know” it forever, because that’s easier than always having to ask. Asking isn’t easy. It takes time. It introduces risk. [Keep Reading...]

Don Draper is the Antithesis of User Experience

Earlier this month, Fast Company began publishing a series on user experience written by industry analyst Brian Solis. As soon as I read the first article, I reached out to Brian on Twitter to say that I thought it was crucial that he incorporate the perspectives of practicing user experience designers in order for his [Keep Reading...]