Transcript: Ask the UXperts: The Future of UX Work —with Dan Willis

Transcript: Ask the UXperts: The Future of UX Work —with Dan Willis

Dan Willis
Summary:

Hawk had the pleasure of hosting Dan Willis in our Ask the UXperts chatroom yesterday. They spent an hour talking through the ins and outs of The Future of UX Work.

Here is a full transcript for those of you that couldn’t make the session.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hosting Dan Willis of uxcrank.com in our Ask the UXperts chatroom. The subject of the session was a little more nebulous than usual. We were examining The Future of UX Work – which turned out to be pretty popular!

Dan is the co-author of Designing the Conversation and in his own words, he’s done just about everything just about everywhere! He did a masterful job of keeping everyone engaged during the chat.

 

If you didn’t make the session because you didn’t know about it, make sure you join our community to get updates of upcoming sessions. If you’re interested in seeing what we discussed, or you want to revisit your own questions, here is a full transcript of the chat.

 

HAWK
Dan Willis is the person behind http://www.uxcrank.com/
He is also co-author of Designing the Conversation – http://www.designingtheconversation.com/
Dan got my attention with a comment that he made in an email to me.
He said “We need to map cross-channel, multi-device experiences holistically even though we’re only going to be able to influence a tiny percentage of any solution.”
It took a while to get my head around that, but the concept is an interesting one, so here he is to tell us more…
Matthew M.
@dan I can’t wait to hear you elaborate on that :)
HAWK
Dan, can you please give us a quick intro to the topic
And then we’ll get some questions flowing
Dan W.
Yeh, well the topic is really a bit broader, I think …
VUX
gotta say I abhor the word holistic. Reminds me of alternative health charlatans.
Dan W.
but I do believe that we are moving out of the business where we could ignore the larger world we design in
VUX
his site looks good though
Dan W.
client pays for x
 
but we have to design for the entire ecosystem around x
Stephanie T.
keeping an eye on the bigger picture
Dan W.
the problem is that the mapping we’ve done up to this point isn’t up to the task
Joanna W.
Are we talking Customer Experience?
Dan W.
any user, customer or otherwise
 
they are stumbling across multiple channels with multiple devices to satisfy their goals
Joanna W.
Yes. One doesnt have to be a ‘customer’.
Dan W.
and we have to figure out how what we are doing is part of that and then explain it to others
Matthew M.
What kind of mapping are you referring to, Dan? What have done traditionally that isn’t up to the task?
Dan W.
The existing tools, journey maps, task lists, etc. are great, but fall short
 
we’ll still need them, but it turns out that they were the easy part
so for example
Joanna W.
I think we need to record living experiences on video?
Dan W.
if I want to buy a movie ticket, a list of tasks traditionally would start with movie selection through purchase, frequently on a single channel
but in reality, movies selection may be part of another task while they’re watching TV
 
and then they may socialize their decision on a mobile device …
reserve seating on a laptop …
organize their social circle and figure out transportation using a phone and with humans as tools as important as devices
then arrive and interact with a kiosk to get the tickets
 
traditional mapping would be linear, limited, missing connections that may make or break the experience. Does that make sense?
brian m.
where to go to get the tickets?
Matthew M.
It makes sense. But how to map such complex, multiple permutations? (a leading question?)
Dan W.
So part of that will still be traditional: many of the individual tasks
Brendan U.
Can ‘traditional’ mapping be what you want it to be to capture those complex connections?
Stephanie T.
yes I understand where you are going….sometimes helpful they are on different devices though
Dan W.
but to be successful on a group of tasks, the entire ecosystem of the movie ticket thing has to be taken into consideration
Joanna W.
tracing paper. multilayers. moving from 2d to 3d
Brendan U.
Too complicated.
Dan W.
yeh, definitely big advantages to multiple devices/platforms/channels
Stephanie T.
cool joanna
Brendan U.
Complex mapping leads to complex documentation which I’ve found has the client not understanding.
Dan W.
I like that, yeh, thinking in layers, good
 
though it will be in layers ACROSS TIME, which is even more interesting
 
and there’s more
Joanna W.
thats the 3d to 4d. I’ve been thaking about that. How to show time in UX
Dan W.
because of the complexity of that experience, we are going to need expertise well outside of UX pros
 
so a big reason for better mapping is to involve a much larger set of big brains
 
so they can help solve the problem
Stephanie T.
a Tardis?
Dan W.
Everybody is a cook, but we have to protect the expertise of all those involved
we’re heading towards this, sneaking up on it really
Lisa
Who are the “big brains”?
Dan W.
Lisa, anybody who can help us solve the problem
sorry, DEFINE and solve the problem
Joanna W.
The 14 year old girls in a huddle in my back room!
Dan W.
So to me, we’re looking at three areas of intense change to the UX industry
1. Designing to an ecosystem …
2. Inviting everybody into the kitchen to cook, while finding ways to protect expertise …
Joanna W.
I want to get them to show me how they do things. My 12 year old son is not interested in mobile phone. Only ipad
Dan W.
and 3. Expanding the tools we use, primarily how we map current and desired states\
pretty cool/scary/exciting/vomitous/dangerous
Matthew M.
That’s exactly what I was thinking Dan. It sounds … extremely ambitious.
Dan W.
I don’t think we have a choice
 
that’s where solutions are going to happen, whether or not we play along
 
now …
Joanna W.
We just need to remember we will always end up doing one thing at a time. But we will swap our tools. Until they become one.
Jen S.
Want to hear [read] more about mapping current and desired state tools
Dan W.
I cant imagine another industry better positioned to figure out how to do this stuff than UXers
Jen S.
Librarians :) They love this stuff, well- at least this one does.
Dan W.
I agree, librarians have a great skill set for this stuff
Who’s got a question?
Matthew M.
Well that’s a fairly mind-blowing opening to set the scene. Where do we start? I have about a zillion questions but I don’t want to hog Dan all to myself.
Dan W.
hah
Intent paths is one thing I’ve been playing with, Jen
Dustin N.
May as well get the ball rolling Matthew
Joanna W.
mmm. Scientists. I know a few. They have learnt to understand and visualize complex systems
Jacqueline
@ Jen S – librarian here, and I too find this intriguing ;)
Liz T.
Hi, Dan and UX members. I was wondering if you could rate the best app or software for A/B testing.
Kerrie B.
Variables + conditionals = branched scenarios. With input from subject matter experts.
Dan W.
Picture a first person shooter video game and picture the shooter surrounded by the things they may use to follow their intentions
 
then string together each of those questions and you deal with multiple channels over time in a pretty interesting way …/
Jen S.
UX is all so exciting to me, will investigate Intent paths, and any other recommendations
Matthew M.
A big question for me is, how does this change for small vs big projects? Smaller projects will have less budget for exploring this stuff, whereas enterprise-level experiences are in more need of this perspective but we’ll encounter more bureaucracy. Is there one skillset/tool/approach to move between these projects?
Dan W.
I’ve got some stuff up there, Jen and andrea resmini and dave gray have both worked with me on some stuff related to intent paths
Matthew – I think it’s the same skillsets and tools, but with less money it’ll be less time invested
HAWK
Liz Torres: Welcome. :) That’s probably a bit off topic today, but it’s something that we talk about a lot on our forums. Jump over to http://community.uxmastery.com/ and we can help you out with it :)
Joanna W.
Up where Dan?
Dan W.
Interwebs – google me/them, sorry I didn’t walk in with URLs, I should have Joanna
Matthew M.
I guess related to that is, where do we draw the line? Is it possible to capture every possible combination/permutation of how someone might interact with our product/service? How much is based on research data, and how much is guesswork. And do you have any examples of what that might look like?
Dan W.
Matthew, the idea of quick hacks to define to an ecosystem, might be worth experimenting with too
 
Excellent point, Matthew! I DONT think this is about capturing all possible scenarios, but it touches on an even larger subject …
 
I believe design is what it does and what it does is solve problems. UX design is a fantastic way to define and solve big honkin’ problems.
Jen S.
Great and thank you- researching Intent paths now. And Hi Jacqueline- good to be with a fellow librarian ^-^
Dan W.
So which intent paths (or whatever mapping tool we use) to track? The ones most likely to address the project’s primary, well-defined problem.
 
In other words
 
Jamie L.
well, isn’t designing subjective. What makes someone an expert at it since it’s so not tangible. Younger people will prefer to buy tickets online while older folks probably prefer kiosk with real people
Dan W.
Jamie, lets use that
If younger people are the organization’s most important users and those users’ most important goal is finding discount tickets
 
then that is the primary problem that the design must address to be successful. The paths most relevant to that, within an ecosystem, are the ones we’d focus on
Jamie L.
Well, let me give you a real example I’ve encountered, Disney came to us for some onscreen games for kids. Our targeted audience is young kids, but it’s the executives we are trying to sell to. If the old executives who’s play style is not the same as a kid not approve what we make, we can not sell our product.
Dan W.
and to Matthew’s earlier comment, if it was a small project, we’d only do the highly relevant paths – with more money, we’d open that circle up as much as we could afford
Jamie L.
so it’s quite difficult :(
Matthew M.
Dan what would you say to a client whose reaction to a conversation about this holistic mapping is “just get me the high fidelity screens by Friday” ie how do we convince narrow-minded clients/stakeholders/team members to invest in this stuff
Dan W.
Jamie, Matthew, you guys are right on point, the same point
 
I think the answer is that we will fail alot … BUT
Dave M.
Brands and user stories are intended paths, correct?
Matthew M.
For sure
Dan W.
success will come where we’re already making progress
Digital product development
 
is involving key stakeholders from definition, through solution, through launch
Matthew M.
That’s a good point. Small wins in one project will allow us to ask for more rope to hang ourselves on the next one. So to speak.
Dan W.
and that gets their skins in the game
Jen S.
Strange, I would hope the Disney Ex would want to see a profit win- if one could show that this is what is trending now, with this kind of ROI. vs. old school…
Dan W.
and that gets them terrified by the same ecosystem challenge that scares us
Dusty C.
If in the case of a complex website, there is multiple paths, are they best mapped on the same diagram – maybe using different colours. This could then highlight common cross over points. Or is it best to start on separate diagrams?
Dan W.
and we that puts us in the position of the people who are in the same lifeboat, but we have a paddle
Matthew M.
It would be awesome if you had any examples that you could share Dan, either now or after the chat!
Dan W.
Dusty – I like where you’re going. I suspect that in most cases it will be the same set of maps, but whatever best drives the team to solution is the best answer to that question
Matthew, I don’t know what the environment is like outside of the states (sorry to be an Ugly American), but product development is creating case studies for us.
Dave M.
Yes remember your audience
Dan W.
The attention to PM + Designer + Developer core teams = inviting everybody into the kitchen
Matthew M.
We’d love to share those case studies on the UX Mastery blog. It’s one thing we are constantly asked for by our readers but have a hard time finding :)
Dave M.
Client
Jamie L.
then the kitchen become very messy
lol
Dan W.
Im not saying they’re always doing it well, but they are doing it driven by their own needs and that’s REALLY helpful to this version of the future of UX
Jamie L.
especially when clients are involved
Dan W.
It takes some squinting to see these evolutionary paths converge, so I hope folks aren’t expecting clean, simple examples
the fact is, just when we kind of figured out how to pitch and run a good UX project, this stuff turns everything upside down
Jamie L.
clients are more self interested rather than client interested because they feel like they need to have a large presence in the project
Matthew M.
The constantly moving goalposts is what keeps everything interesting, right? LOL
Dan W.
which is really really exciting, but doesn’t lend itself to a graphic novel description of the road to successful UX dsesign
 
Jamie, this is going to be one messy kitchen, for sure
Jersey M.
Too many cooks in the kitchen
Matthew M.
So here’s a question: what are the right kind of skills/attributes of a UX designer who is well equipped to tackle this future work?
Jamie L.
Then these need to be design some kind of easier experiences for designing UX lol
Pasq
I see three skills: Research, Design & Evalution/Testing …just keep doing these!
Dan W.
A successful UX design project is one that takes advantage of the expertise of stakeholders and the needs of users to clearly define a problem and then iteratively solve that problem in ways that satisfy the organization paying for the work.
Dave M.
Metaphor association – skill
Matthew M.
Pasq: They’re more stages of a project than skills, though. I’m curious what Dan thinks are the skills to do those steps well
Dan W.
Pasq, it’s handy when that’s the same person, but does it have to be?
Pasq
I agree Dan W: not enough envisioning and research in the ‘problem space’ before a project is initiated!
Pasq
I agree Dan W…most often it isn’t the same person!
Dan W.
Matthew, I think first we have to say that doing brilliant design isn’t enough even today
 
You have to be able to move brilliant design through an organization
it really pisses me off when a UXer is comfortable with somebody else moving their solutions forward
Matthew M.
Why is that?
Pasq
Hi Matt…nope UX research, UX Design and UX Evalaution/ Testing (Usability) are distinct skill sets!
Dan W.
… and if you want to move brilliant work through an organization, you don’t actually do it by convincing people
Janine G.
I think every ux designer needs great ability to communicate
Dan W.
… but rather by co-opting the shit out of them
Pasq
I agree Janine..soft skills are often overlooked!
Dan W.
You open up both the problem definition and potential solutions to whoever you need to move the work forward.. That is a hell of a skill
 
nested skill #2
Matthew M.
You’re talking leadership and ownership there, yeah?
Dan W.
Identifying which parts of that you can’t negotiate and which ones can be owned by the rest of the organization
Dusty C.
and,since they often come to you with a solution , rather than the problem, if your eventual solution is different to their original one, you have to prove that also
Dan W.
personal leadership, certainly … ownership only in that UXers should volunteer their own accountability if they want to do hard things within the organization
Pasq
Hi Dan re: somebody else moving design forward…in film & TV there are lots of people moving the design forward!
Matthew M.
That can be a big leap for people who haven’t take that role before!
Dan W.
Dusty, they DO come with a solution, but if you are able to co-opt them, they can quickly learn the shortcomings of their own ideas.
Pasq
Hey Dusty C. yeah if someone give you a solution, it’s often a problem in disguise!
Dusty C.
its always a problem, we find we start by unravelling their solution back to the initial probelm
Dan W.
Matthew, I agree. I don’t think UX is an appropriate industry for the faint of heart
Pasq
Back at ya SHANE *Pasq waves* … *and bows!*
Janine G.
Questions help to define shortcomings of a solution
Dan W.
Pasq – I like the film and TV reference. Not necessarily a model to follow, but a great source of data from 65 years …
Matthew M.
I think it can be confronting for designers who love detail to have the realisation that they need to step into the role of negotiator and facilitator and project sponsor. Many will just want to run back to Photoshop and make things pretty!
Pasq
Hey Dan W…UX is the best thing you can do in IT…the best!
Dusty C.
But these are partners in a law firm. – They don’t like to be questioned or have a better solution presented. Its kind of fun though ;)
They appreciate a well presented solution
…eventually
Pasq
Hey Dan W. the problem with IT is it started from a technocentric perspective and has taken a long time to come around to UX!
Dan W.
Dusty – The answer we’re always trying to get back to with stakeholders like your lawyers is that by designing for the specific goals of specific users, we can exceed all expectations of success. That has been, and always will be a tough sell in some organizations
 
Pasq: Word!
If we steer all we do back to problem definition and potential solutions, we can wrap lawyers and IT and ourselves all up in the same tortilla.
Janine G.
Noone likes to be questioned, but shiny alone diesn’t make a good product which customerlove to use AND recommend
Pasq
Hey Dusty, Law ppl are some of the hardest groups to work with…generally: very textual, very precise, not very immaginative!
Matthew M.
I’d love to hear Dan expand a little on the final line of his topic: “even though we’re only going to be able to influence a tiny percentage of any solution” Do you think we will we ever reach a point where you won’t need to add that clause?
Dustin N.
Hey Dan, sorry to deviate a little from the current train of thought. Aside from the issue of trying to map these environments I think we would also need to find a solution to effectively test these pathways, and also track success post rollout. You can’t lock someone in a room for 3 days while they arrange a movie night with their friends.
Dan W.
Guys – find the pain. Everybody has it and responds to the easing of it and UX design can ease pain
 
Dustin, I agree
Dustin N.
Off the top of my head the only solutions I could think of would be pretty intrusive to privacy
what do you think about that aspect of it?
Pasq
The future of UX is great!…keep doing what you’re doing…the world needs it!
Dusty C.
Pasq: I work in a design / comms team and we have a very good relationship with our IT team. That really helps unravel what we can produce technology wise and design wise.
Pasq
Hey Dusty, I work IN an IT Team…it’s OK, some wins, some losses…eh!
Dan W.
I’ve been working with the guys who wrote Pervasive IA and what’s shaping up so far is that you start with available data, sketch a theoretical ecosystem and run theoretical pathways through that ecosystem. Then take that data and devise testing solutions – only some of which would be traditional user research methodology. Again, product teams are experimenting with this already, making mistakes we can learn from.
 
Matthew: No.
 
Hah!
Matthew M.
A bit depressing but realistic!
Hehe
HAWK
And on that slightly depressing note, it’s time to wrap up the session
Dan W.
I think that’s the game we are in. Ask REI (a US retailert) how they do cross-channel design and they will give you an answer none of the rest of us can follow.
Matthew M.
This is the book Dan referred to just now: http://pervasiveia.com/book
HAWK
Thanks so much for your time today Dan. It has been an awesome session.
Matthew M.
If you guys still have questions, feel free to post them to our forums (http://community.uxmastery.com) and we’ll ask Dan to chime in and answer them there
Dustin N.
Dan if you have any reading that follows this subject please post on the forum. Cheers!
Dan W.
Dustin, I’ll pull something together. Thanks
Matthew M.
Great to see such a big turnout! Thanks everyone for your questions (and putting up with me asking so many!) :)
Have a great morning/afternoon/evening everyone!
Be sure to check out Dan’s blog: http://uxcrank.com. Some great food for thought there!
(and lovely illustrations!)

 

Sarah Hawk
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Sarah Hawk
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