As Chris and Carla didn’t prepare properly for this episode we are going to go through and answer some of your questions from the uxmentor.me Slack channel and call it a special. It’s also a day late – enjoy!
The Design Untangled Podcast
Episode: DU021 – Slack Questions Special
Host: Chris Mears and Carla Lindarte
(00:17) Chris: Hello and welcome to Design Untangled with me, Chris Mears and Carla Lindarte. How is it going?
(00:23) Carla: I am good. How are you?
(00:24) Chris: Very hot in this room. I cannot open the windows, because then the mic will pick up all the traffic outside and it is about 30 degrees, probably about 40 degrees in this room. So hot and sweaty, ready to podcast hard.
(00:39) Carla: Yeah, I am the same. And then I am in a small room as well. And it is boiling here. It actually looks like a sauna because it is all made of wood. So I am just trying to pretend I am in a sauna.
(00:52) Chris: You are not in a towel, are you? (00:52) Carla: No.
(00:54) Chris: I do not think I could talk about UX with you, if you sat there in a towel. That would be weird.
(00:59) Carla: Do not be inappropriate Chris.
(01:02) Chris: Right. So I have been on holiday for a few weeks so I forgotten what UX is mainly. So what we are going to do instead, is take a couple of questions from our Slack channel, which if you have not heard all our awesome plugs at the end of the other podcast is at uxmentor.me. So we have handpicked a couple of different questions. We can talk about, chat about, mainly say we did not have to record a proper episide, because we are very unprepared today. But we will edit that out, maybe. So do you want to read out the first question or give a general gist of what the first question is?
(01:44) Carla: Yeah, sure. So, well this is a question that I actually answered, part of it. But I am going to pick it it anyway. So says hi, has any one ever, sorry. Has anyone here ever conducted usability testing for XP users? If yes, what are your reasons? So I was just trying to understand what the question was, and I think I asked a follow-up question. And I think what this person was trying to convey is, where do I find users who are experts, or whether or not, how do you conduct user testing, with users that are
expert in a particular product or solution that you are designing or redesigning? I think that is the question. So I think she was looking for people with particular skills, I think it was in 3D design or something? I mean, the answer to this question is that, it does not matter what is the level of expertise of your users, whether they are very expert in whatever product you are designing or redesigning or not. You still need to do user testing and the difference, I mean it all depends on what you are trying to achieve with the test. You still learn a lot of things from these users. So you just need to find them, and obviously try to get your client or your company to give you access to these users, if not, there other ways where you can start finding these users as well online. So I suggest Reddit, which was is a good place to go and find people who do all kinds of stuff. You can find people there, ask them questions and run a survey, whenever you want to do.
(03:38) Chris: Yeah. I guess one thing to watch out for, if you are doing usability testing in particular, with these users that are very familiar with your product, it can be that, they have almost learned how to use the non-usable things in your product, if you see what I mean? If there is a product they are using day to day, they will have had to have found workarounds and even though the design is potentially not that great, they can still get by, just because they have to, it is part of their job or something they use on a day to day basis. So that is something you should keep on your radar that, just because they are completing your task successfully, does not necessarily mean there is no usability problems with the design. Which is why I think it is important to try and get a range of different user types into your user testing. So do not only test with expert users, if you are specifically trying to test out usability.
(04:34) Carla: That is exactly right. Also, you need to bear in mind that if you making any changes to the systems, I remember I worked once in an insurance company, and we were redesigning an internal system to do quotes for car insurance. And I remember at that time, users were using about three or four systems to perform their tasks, and it was quite complicated. If you observed them as a UX person, you would say, oh my God, such a terrible experience, but as you said, they actually learned how to do it in a very efficient way. So when you are changing systems like that radically, you also need to make sure you do it slowly, if that makes sense. So you cannot just completely change the experience, even though you are trying to make it better and potentially it will be better. You need to find a way to that transition. Obviously, every time you do a redesign, you are going to have a drop in usability or user feedback, because humans normally do not like change. When you are changing something like that, when users are so familiar to a process, you really need to think about how you are going to launch that, and how you can slowly introduce your users into the new experience.
(05:56) Chris: Yes, big bangs rarely go down, well, at least at first. And what was that site a few years ago, was it Dick? They did a sort of a big bang redesign, and they had lots of very loyal power or expert users. And after they did the redesign, I do not know if they have gone bust now, but certainly, those users flocked to other similar products after the redesign, because it was just thrust upon them. So these expert users will have ways that they like to do things, and you need, how do you say, to be a bit gradual in how you introduce those changes to them.
(06:38) Carla: That is exactly right. So should we go with anothequestion?
(06:41) Chris: Yes, question two. I do not have the exact question here, but it was basically at its core, how do you avoid imposter syndrome as a junior UX designer? And I do not think that one is specific to just junior UX designers, to be honest. Even if you are very experienced, you can get that feeling from time to time when you are maybe just joining a project or a new company, and you have not quite got yourself up to speed yet, and you kind of feel like, what am I doing here? Am I adding any value? What do people think about me? And the best way around that I think really, is to just start delivering stuff. You know what you are doing basically, is the thing you need to get into your head. The only person you are trying to prove it to, is yourself. Usually they have hired you because they think you are a good fit for their company and have the right skills. So bear that in mind as well. If you are joining as a pun, all that stuff will help raise your profile a little bit, and help you feel a bit more comfortable with what you are doing, and the people you are working with. And that feeling should hopefully subside after awhile.
(07:54) Carla: Yes, absolutely. I have got a lot of years of experience in all random stuff and I still feel, I do not know enough or that people know more than me or often nervous sometimes as well, when I am presenting something, I think that is something that, it all depends on personalities, but in my personal experience, that is kind of been chasing me for my whole life. So what you need to do, well at least that is what I tried to do is to first of all be really honest, and what I mean is like being honest with your team and the people who hired you, about your experience. I know people say fake until you make it and sometimes you kind of fake it a little bit, but try always to do it in a way that you feel comfortable with. Do not try to put yourself into a situation where you say, I have done like lots of consulting in the past, and then you get faced into that situation. And then you are the one who is not going to look very experienced around that. So I think being honest is important. As you said, being nice to people. I think most of the time people hire you, yes because you have skills but also because you got the good feet to the team, so being nice to people, talking to people, telling them what you actually want to learn from your experience. And get lots of feedback as well, the more that you get used to receiving feedback, the less you are going to struggle, with
imposter syndrome because you get used to knowing that you never going to be perfect, typically, no one can actually be perfect. And then you start feeling more comfortable in your own skin. So that is what I tried to do, at least.
(09:51) Chris: I think it is important to separate the work from yourself as well. When you are getting that feedback they are not criticizing you. If they are criticizing it, they are criticizing maybe a particular design solution or there is some constraint that you were not aware of. Like Carla says, just ask questions, understand where that feedback’s coming from. Do not take it personally and just use it to improve the design. Essentially, every time you take your design to use a feedback, it is being criticized in some sort of weird way. And you just need to understand that it is the same process going on within your team as well. You are putting things in front of users or your team in this scenario, they are giving feedback on it, they are trying to pick holes in it and it is our job to try and fill in those holes pretty much.
(10:43) Carla: Definitely. I would also add that reading and just keeping yourself up to date is also really important. There are lots of blogs and people who talk about UX all the time, and new books, new frameworks. I keep buying books all the time. Do not read them all the time, but I do buy them. So it is good to have resources around you, that help you sound more confident about what you are saying. Help you introduce a new way of working. I think it is important that you always keep yourself up to date into methodologies and, ways of doing things.
(11:26) Chris: Yeah. And remember if you are a UX designer with a pile of 30 UX specs on your desk, no one is going to mess with you. So definitely do what Carla does and spend lots of money at Amazon and do not read any of them.
(11:40) Carla: I do read them though. I read them. I read them, but I also keep them as a reference. I do read them. So I remember in the future, when I can actually reference them back. I just have terrible memories. I have to read even like multiple times. Anyways that is just my age and my brain.
(11:59) Chris: All right. Let us move on to number three. Think it is yours.
(12:04) Carla: So it is says, “Hi mentors. I am trying to decide if it is wise for me to complete my Bachelor’s or to enroll in a UX trade school program in order to transition into the UX field? Another option is to go the self study route. Hoping to get gained some insight on what is recommended”.
(12:27) Chris: That is a loaded question.
(12:28) Carla: So Bachelor’s or UX trade school program?
(12:35) Chris: I think we should probably caveat that with, it is up to you, basically. Everyone has got different opinions on UX trade schools. I am guessing you are talking about your general assembly type stuff. Some people find them good and they do find jobs from them, other people have found the experience you get on those courses can sometimes not be particularly applicable in the real world. Just saying that you cannot do your ideal UX process, you are floundering a little bit. We cannot really advise whether one is better than the other. It is down to probably how you learn best, how much you have got to spend. Some of these UX courses are very expensive but obviously university is as well. Or the other route which was not really listed there, is to move into a related field and then kind of go sideways into UX. So, I suppose that is a bit more of the self study route because you need to upskill yourself, and it does not necessarily involve investing loads of money in particular, education around UX.
(13:41) Carla: It is a hard question as you said, because it all depends on, where you are at the moment and where you want to get. There are courses, that give you a lot of quick, technical knowledge that it could be applicable if you wanted to get some initial knowledge, then get a junior UX role somewhere else. A Bachelor’s degree? More and more I have seen people who never complete their Bachelor’s and are still very successful, but at the same time, I know of companies who would not hire anyone unless you have a Bachelor’s degree. So that is just a completely different story. What kind of Bachelor’s you are going to do? If then, you are going to focus yourself in UX, as I just said, you have to have a related field in UX. Although I have met a lot of UXers who have done completely social studies, or something completely unrelated and they still worked in UX. So I guess more if you were going for a UX research role, I think it would help you kind of have some kind of psychology background or something like that. So it is different. It all depends on the type of specialist that you want to do in the UX field. But they are all valid, if that makes sense. And I think the self study one is something that you should keep doing anyway. And even if you had a Bachelor’s degree or went to trade school, you still need to make sure you always training yourself in UX as well, as I mentioned before. So it is a bit of a hard one to answer, is it not?
(15:34) Chris: Hopefully there is a few bits of food for thought there.
(15:37) Carla: And the other one I found interesting was someone was asking about the differences between a competitive analysis and a competitive usability evaluation. To be honest, I have never heard about the competitive usability evaluation. Have you heard about that?
(15:55) Chris: No, I have never heard that term before either. It is kind of like someone just shoved a load of UX terms in a blender and then made this movie.
(16:07) Carla: Exactly. I mean you either do a heuristic evaluation, which you have got a number of heuristics that you can use the [inaudible 00:16:18] heuristics for example, to assess your platform or your solution against the competitors, and then you can do a comparison across that. I have done a piece of work similar to that. Competitor analysis in my experience is more useful when you are trying to communicate certain principles and usability. Usability principles of features and then you need some kind of translator of your ideas. So I have used competitors in a way of giving an example of the kind of experience you want to achieve with the design that you are going to present or are about to present. And most of the time I try to go outside of that industry, if that makes sense. So it is not necessarily competitors but they just people who are doing that particular thing really well. So if you thinking about creative copywriting for example, then you can use Verge as a way of, showing how you can do very creative copywriting and you do not necessarily need to go and only look at your competitors. There are clients and companies who would like to still see their direct competitors, but I would just tried to innovate and try to find best practices rather than competitors themselves.
(17:45) Chris: Okay. I think that is enough questions. I cannot handle it anymore in this sweat box. So we will be back in two weeks time with a properly prepared episodes. But in the meantime, enjoy these plugs and see you later.
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