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Doors, Walls and Old Trees: Prioritizing to Get Simple

Presented at Webvisions 2013 (Portland, Barcelona and Chicago).

We live in a world of increasing complexity, time challenges and utter distractions. As designers, we're routinely called upon to create digital experiences that help reduce perceived complexity, remove unnecessary "noise" and potential frustration for our users. It's an attempt to create a bit less stress, ease decision making and perhaps even instill a bit of surprise and delight.

So what happens when you experience the same sort of chaos in your own personal life as a designer?

A perspective, or a framework, is born to tackle it.

And, of course, it's then applied to how you approach the things you create.

This presentation will share in the personal discovery that derived a framework for identifying the strategy, purpose and evaluation technique for simplifying the experiences we create.

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Doors, Walls and Old Trees: Prioritizing to Get Simple

  1. DOORS + WALLS + OLD TREES Prioritizing to Get Simple Jason Ulaszek @webbit Webvisions - Chicago September 27th, 2013 #WVCHI
  2. How I got here THE BACKSTORY 2
  3. @webbit THIS PAST YEAR... • Loft with 3/4 walls and no doors • Wife’s opposite work schedule • New baby & 1st time dad • Energetic chocolate labrador • Eat, sleep, work & relax in 1 room • New and growing clients & team • Teaching and speaking • Planning an international event (UX for Good) oh, boy.
  5. Take a deep breath. Focus.
  7. @webbit SO, I STARTED MODELING IT Importance Control Change wife’s work schedule Save the world Really budget Delegate at work Rent out our current place Find a new place and move Win the lottery Master new video game See new movie
  8. @webbit A FEW INSIGHTS EMERGED 1. We needed to revisit our game plan 2. Everything we were doing needed to be evaluated to ensure we were focused in the right way 3. We were going to need some support from friends and family
  12. @webbit MY DISCOVERY - THREE PARTS 1. Set strategy 2. Assess & evaluate 3. Enlist support
  13. Set and articulate the vision for where you want to be 1. SET STRATEGY 14
  14. @webbitSet Strategy1 2 3
  15. @webbit 10 LAWS OF SIMPLICITY Set Strategy1 2 3
  16. @webbit Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful. It’s about living life with more enjoyment and less pain. “ ” John Maeda The Laws of Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life Set Strategy1 2 3
  17. @webbit ONE DESIGNER’S VIEWPOINT Giles Colborne Simple and Usable - web, mobile and interaction design Set Strategy1 2 3
  18. Dan Saffer “The Complexity of Simple” Webvisions ‘12 (Chicago)
  19. @webbit WHAT IS “STRATEGY”? A planned, doable sequence of actions designed to achieve a distinct, measurable goal. “ ” Howell Malham I Have a Strategy (No You Don’t) Set Strategy1 2 3
  20. @webbit FOUR INGREDIENTS 1. purpose 2. plan 3. sequence of actions or tactics 4. distinct, measurable goal ... wrapped in a story that tells it. Set Strategy1 2 3
  22. @webbit THE BROCCOLI GAME (STRATEGY) Purpose: Help kid grow up strong and healthy. Plan: Prepare well-balanced dinners with vegetables that have minerals and iron. Sequence of actions: Plan menu. Boil broccoli. Set table. Play game. Distinct, measurable goal: Kid must ingest at least 6.2 pieces of broccoli. Set Strategy1 2 Assess & Evaluate 3 Enlist Support
  23. @webbit KIDS OR CLIENTS = SAME QUESTIONS • How do we disrupt the status quo? • How can we make the experience delightful? • What motivates people to do what they do (how and why)? • What are our strengths? Weaknesses? Set Strategy1 2 3
  24. @webbit OUR ACTIONS INFORM STRATEGY • Get to know your stakeholders Interview them to uncover the underlying problem and their perspective (e.g. your spouse, partner, client, end user). • Examine competing forces Know where you need to make a difference. Look at people, organizations and other forces that have influence. • Get to know your ‘user’ Gather data to inform an understanding of people’s needs. Set Strategy1 2 3
  25. @webbit STAKEHOLDERS INFORM STRATEGY Set Strategy1 2 3
  26. @webbit SELF-AWARENESS IS KEY Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats Set Strategy1 2 3
  27. @webbit RECOGNIZE WHERE YOU STAND Company 4 Company 1 Company 2 Company 3 Company 5 Company 6 Competing factors set expectations. Set Strategy1 2 3
  28. @webbit WHAT WAS MY STRATEGY? Purpose: Strike a better balance between our personal and professional lives. Plan: Rebalance my family’s personal and professional schedules and environment. Sequence of actions: Look at all responsibilities and activities. Assess with family what’s important. Remove or push out/away the distractors. Distinct, measurable goal: Move our family and rebalance our schedules before summer starts. Set Strategy1 2 Assess & Evaluate 3 Enlist Support
  29. Determine the fate of ‘stuff’ and align with your strategy 2. ASSESS & EVALUATE 30
  30. @webbit SO NOW WHAT? •Find patterns and themes Identify behavioral patterns, gaps in the experience and understand how you (or would) support it •Model what you’re finding Organize it into related “chunks”, determine evaluation criteria and prioritize and define potential measures of success Assess & Evaluate21 3
  32. @webbit ABSTRACT TO FIND THEMES Template 01 4 Column Asymmetrical Grid Template 02 3 Column Symmetrical Grid Template 03 3 Column Asymmetrical Grid Template 04 2 Column Asymmetrical Grid Template 05 2 Column Asymmetrical Grid with inset Grid Template 02 3 Column Symmetrical Grid Template 04 4 Column Asymmetrical Grid Template 02 3 Column Symmetrical Grid TO TO TO BACK TO BACK TO Assess & Evaluate21 3
  33. @webbit Asking ‘why’ is tricky. It gets to the core of how people think. “ ” Bill DeRouchey “The Power of Why” UX Week 2012 Assess & Evaluate21 3
  35. @webbit ‘WHY’ UNLOCKS CRITERIA Technical Feasibility ›  Difficulty of implementation ›  Does solution need front or back-end coding, or both? ›  Does the solution require integration with other systems or third-party solutions? Resource Feasibility ›  Do we have the data and tools to do this? ›  Do we have the people to do this? ›  Is the solution cost-effective? FEASIBILITY Importance to the Business ›  Increases investment/conversion ›  Promotes product and brand awareness ›  Increases credibility and trust ›  Provides additional advisor value/education Importance to the Consumer ›  Facilitates access to product information ›  Provides research and insights ›  Offers client-ready sales/education materials ›  Helps me with my business IMPORTANCE And everything is evaluated against it. Assess & Evaluate21 3
  36. @webbit THE SOCK LAW Socks perform a simple function. Whether conservative or wacky, matched or not, socks do what they need to. So with function inherently accounted for, its easier, more fun and often more memorable to leave form to chance. Patrick DiMichele “ ” @theParanoids Assess & Evaluate21 3
  37. @webbit SIMPLE TOOLS - THE MATRIX So 2002, but still effective. Assess & Evaluate21 3
  38. @webbit APPLYING THAT TOOL Assess & Evaluate21 3 Importance Control Change wife’s work schedule Save the world Really budget Delegate at work Rent out our current place Find a new place and move Win the lottery Master new video game See new movie
  39. @webbit ORGANIZE KEY THEMES Look for affinities across features. Foundational Updates ›  Site structure, navigation and labeling, branding and multi-device capability ›  Content refresh and optimization ›  Analytics program Features/Functions ›  Document accessibility ›  Advisor site (registration required) ›  Comments/discussion and event calendar ›  Context-specific feedback ›  Targeted content and content syndication Content ›  Thought leadership, practice management, and client-facing content ›  Multimedia/interactive content ›  Social/community and third-party content ›  Content processes: editorial calendar, controlled vocabulary Tools ›  Fund finder and comparison tool, portfolio map ›  Benchmark performance and exposure analysis ›  Price performance and premium/discount charts ›  Correlation tracker and stock screener ›  Portfolio constructor/analyzer Assess & Evaluate21 3
  40. @webbit ILLUSTRATE THE PLAN Blend short and long term focus. CAPABILITIES:! ›  Advisor comments and discussion ›  Advisor site (registration required) ›  Content syndication ›  Additional third-party content ›  Targeted content delivery CAPABILITIES:! ›  Tools for advisor analysis ›  Multimedia content ›  Client-facing content ›  Social media and community content development ›  Feedback and surveys ›  Event calendar CAPABILITIES:! ›  Thought leadership, research and insights content ›  Credibility-enhancing content (case studies, etc.) ›  Tools and processes for content maintenance ›  Additional Contact Us/ About Us content ›  Document accessibility ›  Controlled vocabulary CAPABILITIES:! ›  Updated site structure, navigation and labeling ›  Refreshed design/branding ›  Mobile-friendly platform ›  Content refresh/ optimization ›  Web analytics Assess & Evaluate21 3
  41. @webbit TIPS TO REMEMBER • Don’t do this on your own Involve key decision makers in the prioritization exercise to ensure buy-in and alignment with your goals (e.g., family, wife, kids, clients). • Set communication expectations EARLY Ensure an open dialogue exists to tackle the tough decisions that you’ll have to negotiate or compromise (e.g., work schedules, planning dinner, business budgets, tech framework, etc.). • Framing matters Problems can be opportunities in disguise. It all depends on how you frame it. Assess & Evaluate21 3
  42. Build support and advocacy within your team/company 3. ENLIST SUPPORT 44
  43. @webbit SO NOW WHAT? • Seek out advocates and enlist others Who are your supporters? Those on the fence? Move them. • Align incentives with desired outcome What does success look like (e.g., for you, your family, team members, clients)? • Communicate & share the direction How do we socialize it with others? Enlist Support31 2
  45. @webbit STRATEGY + RIGHT INCENTIVES Aligned to desired... Cultural Values Customer Goals Business Goals WIN Enlist Support31 2
  46. @webbit I ask the employees to do it [set their goals] once a year, to publish it and make it transparent for all the other employees. To take those five questions and constantly think about where we are positionally. Marc Benioff CEO, “ ” Enlist Support31 2
  47. @webbit CREATE A SHARED UNDERSTANDING Enlist Support31 2
  49. @webbit NOT GONNA LIE, THE REALLY HARD PART •Know what you value (and why) •Be prepared and willing to move aside less valuable things •Understand the risk of not doing what you’ve pushed aside •Tell a great story to get buy-in
  50. @webbit Out of clutter, FIND SIMPLICITY. From discord, FIND HARMONY. In the middle of difficulty LIES OPPORTUNITY. “ ” Albert Einstein
  51. @webbit CONTINUING MY JOURNEY... ✓ Adjusted my wife’s work schedule ✓ Taught a new class ✓ Gave 3 new talks ✓ Built walls and doors in the loft ✓ Planned an international UX for Good event ✓ Found renters for the loft ✓ Moved into a new house ... and enjoying a renewed focus and balance!
  52. @webbit AND HERE WE GO AGAIN... Coming December 2013
  53. @webbit AM I BEING FOLLOWED?
  54. Thank you FIN. 57
  55. @webbit PHOTO ATTRIBUTIONS • Doors: • Walls: • Eye doctor: • Laws of Simplicity: option=com_content&view=article&id=84:turnlight-recommends-the-laws-of- simplicity&catid=40:pj • Broccoli and a kid: • Air ForkOne: • Honey-do-list: • Marc Benioff: to-write-age-of-context-foreword/