Out of the Office

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OOTO Rwanda

My OOTO for my upcoming trip….

I’m OOTO in Rwanda with some of my fellow mentors from the TechWomen program. We are on a trip organized by IIE to visit Rwanda to promote girls and women in STEM. We will learn about education, industry and government activities related to women and STEM as well as contribute through talks and workshops.

I’ll be running a design thinking workshop at the Gashora Girls Academy.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

Something big? Small? Change something at Citrix that you are passionate about?

Lets start a dialog. I’m back Feb 10th so find me that week at Citrix Santa Clara Connect in person or send me a note!


P.S. If you want to read an amazing story about an inspirational person, read Land of a Thousand Hills




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Accessible for One and All

What does a prescription medication and a spatula have in common?  Well, if one is from Target and the other from Oxo Good Grips then the answer is universal design.

Last week our Birds-of-a-Feather for Design Research hosted Whitney Quesenbery who spoke on design and research for accessibility.

Her main thesis is that by designing for people first, and not technology, and then the systems and tools end up simple, usable and often delightful. Two great examples are the Target pharmacy pill bottles (read the story) and Oxo Good Grips kitchen tools (their story). In both cases, they designed for what might be called extreme users – people who had been challenged by the existing solutions (small type, hard to open bottles or slippery handles) – and came up with solutions that not only met those users needs, but a broader audience as well.

A while ago, my colleague Brian Moose hopped in a wheel chair at SFO, went through security and onto a Jet Blue flight. He was participating in a thinking session with Jet Blue on disabled passengers. (Jet Blue’s design thinking story)

If you’re looking for a shortcut, Whitney’s new book A Web for Everyone provides a set of guidelines (nicely detailed so that you could use them for heuristic reviews, plus a ton of technical advice on coding practices for the web) and a terrific set of sharable design personas. These can be combined with your existing personas (for example: the same person with same goals, just happens to be blind).

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Breaking into User Research

A friend of mine who works for a startup – Hot5 – hired a PhD in Social Psychology to run some usability studies for their app. As a contractor, she was really enjoying the field of user research and wondering how to take the next step.  She had experience in other industries doing surveys and focus groups but little else.

Here’s the advice I gave her to get hired:

  1. Get Variety. Work to build a diverse portfolio. Build personas for the startup. Run a card sort study. Do some field research. Do a competitive analysis.
  2. Synthesize. Package up the usability work to show what recommendations came from it and how it improved the product.
  3. Learn. Get a book on user research methods to see how they fit with product design (Understanding Your Users or Kim Goodwin’s Designing for the Digital Age are good surveys of research methods).
  4. Network. Sign up for the BAYCHI jobs mailing list, attend some meetups with UX professionals.
  5. Talk. Good researchers need to be great communicators. Most companies will have you present your portfolio as part of the interview process.  It’s a test of how well you can explain what you did, why and what the benefit was.

What other advice would you give?