Intro to UX: Part 2

Miss Chicago is quite the cool lady. She always has been and as such it’s taken her some time to find someone cool enough to be her helpmeet. Enter her amazing girlfriend: they went to the same GIS LIS grad program and never met! They talk about data structures! They make amazing food and travel! Just two peas in a pod, these two.

Yesterday after finding out that the Schuba’s poster sale was actually last weekend, mom, sis and myself went down to the city anyway to catch up with my gals and see their new place in Logan Square. The last time I had seen either one of the was (shamefully) my birthday (which is in May)!

Their lovely home is just that; a lovely home, just enough room to sprawl out in but still completely cozy. We caught up on their month on the road going to out of town and international weddings and I also took the opportunity to pick The Programmer’s brain about UX.

Brain Food

She sent me packing with a stack of books and a TON of great ideas. We talked about entry points into the field, places I should be poking around, projects to give myself, online resources, tools of the trade and of course IDEO and Leah Buley.

Part two of my into to UX is Buley’s second point from the O’Reilly Media webcast last week: The importance of making things together.

Maybe it’s because I was a child with a particular disposition but whenever I was given a group project in school I hated it.  I think this is most easily attributed to the fact that I seemed to be the one who could doodle and write so all the heavy lifting got put on me. As such, I spend the majority of my college career and the first part of my professional one convinced I had to do everything on my own.


The day I figured out that life is easier, nay, better with a team of experts, the world got a little brighter. Now, every chance I get to pull people together from around the organization I just do it because good ideas come from all over.

Thursday, Buley stressed the importance of making things together both physically and tangibly. This requires some elbow grease, a lot of paper, post-it’s, pens, whatever you as a team can get your collective and collaborative hands on to sketch out multiple iterations of an idea before landing on The One.

Methodology varies by the person driving the bus, but this could take the form of storyboarding, task flows, process flows, and plain old sketchboards that are essentially an into-the-weeds autopsy of what kind of problems you’re trying to solve for the almighty User. Here are Buley’s tips for working through that process:

  1. Start with good equipment. Refined sketching implements. The paper doesn’t matter, the instruments you use to shape that paper DO.
  2. Block off time. Lots of it. (Think Agile or SCRUM)
  3. Start with your first ideas.
  4. Talk through them and EDIT.
  5. Digest.
  6. Revisit.
  7. Edit AGAIN.

Similar to writing the key component here is editing.

Revisions, revisions, revisions. Eventually the best idea will come to the front of the pack.

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