Notes from UX Thailand 2019: Creating product-led organizations and the future of UX
UX Thailand is a two-day conference for people who build world-class product. The theme for this year is “Standing on the Shoulder of Giants” — taking attendees on a journey through stories from giant design leaders from around the world.
The conference itself was designed using an agile process and I’m impressed with the organizer’s attention to detail in facilitating the Thai-English language barrier. Translation headphones with live interpreters are available for those who needed assistance. Questions to speakers are asked anonymously using Slido, where staff provides translation if the questions were asked in Thai.
I had a great time meeting local professionals, expats, and international attendees from around the globe. It was exciting to see such a big UX event being held in my hometown.
Topics revolve around the theme of creating a product-led organization through design, understanding UX and its impact, the future of our role as designers, and lessons we can learn from user research.
Escaping the Build Trap
By Melissa Perri @lissijean
- Product management is how to build great product teams.
- When product specifications are too long, developers won’t read them and build something entirely different.
- The Build Trap occurs when we continuously work to push out new features without asking if we’re build the right thing. Keep in mind that what the users want might not be want they need.
- The common myth: More Feature + More Code = More Money
This belief creates extremely complex products, where you keep adding without taking out and start losing track of values.
Until problems, wants, and needs of the customer are met, the product is not providing value.
- When we solve user problems, we then get the business value.
- Organizations fall into the trap of focusing on the output instead of the outcome.
How do we escape the build trap?
To escape the Build Trap, drive high alignment through a good strategy framework that allows teams to make decisions.
Product strategy is NOT a plan.
- Strategy is a deployable decision making framework, enabling action to achieve desired outcomes, constrained by current capabilities, coherently aligned to the existing context. — Stephen Bungay
- Focus on the outcomes and values of the product. Figure out what you want to achieve, then make plans to achieve them.
- Product leaders provide vision, goals. and guardrails. They tell you what direction we want to go in to create an alignment within the team.
- Product strategy emerges from experimentation.
To escape the Build Trap, we need to use the right processes and tools at the right time.
- Process is how to figure out what we want to build.
- Don’t try to solve the problem without understanding it. Use data to help figure out what is going on.
- Discovery and delivery is a continuous cycle, not a 1 day budget planning done once a year.
- Design sprints are great but you need to break down into smaller, specific problems.
- The Product Kata can help us get in the habit of understanding the problem to build better products. It focuses on learning to reduce uncertainty.
To escape the Build Trap, create a product-led organization that has the policies and practices needed to navigate uncertainty.
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
- Organizations falsely believe that adopting agile would solve all problems.
- In Agile, all we care about is the output. It doesn’t matter what you are building. In order to do agile efficiently, we need to be able to figure out what our users want quickly.
- Organizations need to become product-led. Many are focused on being technology-led — making the coolest things with the latest technologies. Others are wall-street-led — focusing on sales growth and returns.
- On a smaller scale, product-led companies build according to customers’ requests.
- Chief Product Officer (CPO) is a critical role for changing the culture in an organization. It is difficult to find good ones because Product touches a little of everything.
It’s good to understand if you’re caught in the build trap, but it’s possible to help our organization get out of there and product value.
- To convince your organization, start the interest by getting your one team to be the best. Others will soon be interested to learn how you did it and want to learn.
- You don’t have to change everything at once. Try starting with one new tool, such as user research, and experiment with it. If you like it keep it. Eventually, we’ll keep adding tools to our processes.
Everyone is a Designer
By Liam Hutchinson @Liam Hutchinson
Design is the rendering of intent. A designer is someone who can impact the rendering.
1. You don’t have to have the job title of ‘designer’ to make decisions, but these decisions impact the customer experience.
- For example, performance depends on the hosting infrastructure, integration with 3rd parties, structure of the code itself, calling of APIs for data, and front-end animation. Only 1 out of 5 decisions is made by the designer, but they all impact the time the user needs to wait.
- We need to be aware of decisions made by others who may not have the designer title. “Design is MY job” is not the case. It’s not about job titles, it’s about how we treat people in our team.
3. The new role of the ‘designer’ is to lead great design and introduce process to help others become better designers.
- Start with exposure: Get the team involved in usability testing, let them define the simpler tasks. Let them see how participants actually do during the tests.
- Use storytelling to expose people through stories of delight to help motivate the team.
- Collaborate cross-functionally. Conversation shifts happen when you have an environment with different mindsets.
3. Organizations need to start removing the constraint of roles and responsibilities to allow this to happen.
- 2 Pizza Rule: Teams shouldn’t be bigger to be fed by 2 pizzas.
- There is no one person who handles all the design decisions.
- Measure productivity as a team or collective, not an individual. This helps build a shared sense of responsibility.
Stop being so precious. Embrace the notion that EVERYONE is a designer.
Continuous Design — How not to exchange waterfalls for whirlpools
By John Cutler @johncutlefish
Look where we want to go, not what we’re trying to avoid.
- Without a deep sense of impact we create boundaries and retreat into our craft silos. To get to the next level of satisfaction in our career, we need to talk about value and impact.
- Stop thinking about software development as a delivery process and start thinking of it as a problem-solving process, a creative process.
- Product is a point-in-time solution, a snapshot of meeting particular needs.
- At the end of the day… the product has always really been out deep understanding of our customers, their context, their environment, their needs. That was the only constant.
How we addressed those needs will always change. It is that deep understanding that stood the test of time.
- Design can lead the discussion of value and intent. We have to stop working in the shadows and integrate our processes into rituals, artifacts, and cadences of the team.
- Embrace frequent integration of ideas, codes, expectations, perspectives and research.
- Finding the Optimal Tempo: If we set the integration too long, there will be too much information to integrate. If we set it too short, it gets too frequent and annoying.
The Evolution of a New UX Design Resolution
By Jared Spool @jmspool
There are 2 ways to approach UX Forensics:
- The 5 Whys causes us to ignore other alternative explanations. — We dig deeper by asking “Why?” but in only one possible explanation.
- The Fishbone Analysis start with exploring all possibilities and allows us collect evidence to eliminate explanations. — “What was not the cause?”
- In the Hawaii Missile Incident, the problem can be with the design of how they were conducting the drills, not the actual user interface.
UX design can be broken down at different resolutions, each focusing on a specific problem. We need different tools to solve problems at each level :
Screen: UI Design
Application: UX Design & IA, Wireframes, Site map, Card sort, User research
Organization: Service & UX design, user journeys, design systems
The mechanics of how we do our job change, but what we do doesn’t change.
At each resolution, we have 3 different types of people:
- Pioneers: The explorers of the new resolution who creates the map of the landscape.
- Settlers: First builders in the new resolution who craft initial practices. Creates value at small scales.
- Planners: Bring new resolution to mass scale. They build the systems, processes, tools, and practices and creates value at larger scales.
When we solve the tough challenges at one resolution, the next higher resolution holds us back. The ecosystem-wide design issues are our next tough challenges.
Democracy is a design problem
By Dana Chisnell @danachis
- Election administrators saw the election in a chronological view, but voters are ballot-centric. They want to know whether it is worthwhile investing in the process.
- Voting in America is hard — Ballot designs can be very complicated and there are far more steps than most people realize. Voting feels like a test.
- Burden is cumulative: Frustration and time that each step takes adds up like compound interest.
- There is no voter apathy, the system exhausts people. They make it so complicated that people drop out even though they do care.
- When conducting user research, you start with one question and you get more questions as you dive deeper and deeper.
Insights from conducting user research:
- People want to know what’s coming and how it will change their lives.
- People who are new don’t know where to start.
- People drop out of a process because every obstacle is cumulative.
- 48% of US adults have trouble reading. (This is not equivalent to literacy level). Always include people with low literacy in your research!
- People want unbiased, trust-worthy sources of information and to separate the signal from all the noise.
- Information should be useful, accessible, clear, plain, and relatable.
Democracy is a problem bigger than design. But if designers are not involved, if no one else looks at the voting experience — how can we advocate our responsibilities as designers?
Back to Reality — The challenges and joys of conducting user research in Virtual Reality
By Yvonne Tse @1yvonnetse
Benefits of Virtual Reality (VR) for user testing
- VR is a highly adaptive medium. It allows you to try before you build, just like creating a prototype.
- Virtual Co-design: “If you have it your way, how would you design the space?” Great insights emerge from letting users test their own designs.
- Rapid Testing: Being able to switch between environments and changing things in those environments quickly.
Lessons learnt from conducting VR user testing
- Initial cognitive load: Since 50% of participants never used VR before, it is important to create a neutral play space for extra time to practice.
- Up close & personal: Because participants are “blind” wearing the VR headset, we need to provide maximum awareness through clear communication to avoid any surprises.
- Set clear expectations: Be clear what the participants are getting themselves into and emphasize voluntary participation.
- The facilitator should always keep an eye on the screen but also be aware of how the participant is moving.
- When physical spaces with virtual spaces, make sure the most critical VR spots have space in the physical room.
- Heat maps and path tracking helps track patterns in user’s physical movement around the room and what they are looking at.
Biases in VR Testing
- Novelty factor: Participants may comment that “VR is cool!”, which is not really a feedback on our design.
- Observer effect: Participants’ behavior may change because they are being watched. They are also very self-conscious because they are using a new technology.
- Sickness: Use your judgement to call it off when a participant does not feel well. Using the right frame rate can help reduce sickness (recommended at 90 frames/sec).
The immersive aspect brings into focus our responsibility to keep people psychologically, emotionally, and physically safe.
Thank you all speakers for sharing your expertise and thank you UX Thailand staff, volunteers, and attendees for making the event possible.
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Notes from UX Thailand 2019: Creating product-led organizations and the future of UX was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.