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If you live in Ottawa and you're on Twitter you probably know that in a couple of weeks from now, on November 5th to be precise, the second edition of UXcamp Ottawa will take place at Ottawa U's Lamoureux Auditorium.(Twitter: @uxcampottawa)
Similar to last year, the conference will contain pre-planned sessions (ranging from 10 minute Ignite-style talks to hour long presentations) as well as unconference-style participant-driven conversations in the afternoon. If you're interested to see the full schedule, read about the speakers, look at photos or watch video highlights of last year's sessions head out to ottawa.uxcamp.ca and get all details there. Registration is also now open, and for the second year in a row, we're heading towards a sellout. But if you're still not conviced, and you need hard-hitting (:O) reasons why I think UXcamp Ottawa 2011 is a must-see event for UX professionals and designers, you're in luck: here's the roundup of my top 10:
Much has been written about the right (or wrong) ways of choosing and changing Twitter handles. The fact of the matter is, if you live on the web and you consider Twitter one of your main lifestreams, changing what amounts to your virtual footprint is significantly more complex than it may appear. In my case, I did not entirely switch my twitter ID, I simply added a second one to differentiate between my corporate and individual personas.
My only previous twitter handle, @ampli2de, reflects the name of my boutique UX consultancy. And while it still serves its purpose very well (ex. it was recently listed in the PeerIndex UX 500 list of most influential UX professionals active in social media), I have always struggled to separate UX/business tweets than those of a more of a personal opinion (following up with individual conversations, random UX thoughts, engaging UX big brains etc).
The truth of the matter is, I've been thinking about creating a somewhat more intimate personal brand for a little bit over a year now, but I didn't want to settle for second rate domain name or a non-matching Twitter ID. And after stalking Twitter for over a year, and hoping that they would do as they say on their fine print and release unused handles, a couple of weeks ago, it finally happened. My attempt to register it actually went through cleanly.
My personal (and most likely still very UX oriented tweets) will now be originally broadcasted using the Twitter handle @corneliux. In many cases @ampli2de will pick up those that are of general interest and vice-versa, but I am hoping @corneliux will be a more intimate avenue to engage with me on the web.
Over the past couple of years, the concept of triangulation related to end-user research has gained a lot of traction on the interwebs (here's Patrick Kennedy's excellent Johnny Holland article on this exact theme). As it turns out, most of the end-user research I've done on enterprise scale projects over the past 7+ years does fall quite elegantly under this definition, even though I never thought of labeling it that way until recently. My goal for approaching user research in this manner has always been to eliminate bias as much as possible, and use different datasets to justify research findings.
While this post covers my own approach, I won't waste any virtual ink on the theory of user research triangulation, Patrick Kennedy's article referenced above does it more justice than I ever would. Also, my approach is in no way prescriptive, it is simply a three-step research methodology that I personally find particularly useful when it comes to working with samples of large user populations, more often than not scattered across multiple geographical locations. I've settled on this pattern based on a number of trial-and-error attempts to combine various user research methods, in some of the larger projects I've been involved with. In most cases, I was either working in tandem with another UX professional or I was leading an entire UX team.
There is a lot of love out there for the symbiosis between Agile and UX these days. More often than not, companies that are using the likes of Scrum or XP (eXtreme Programming) as their software development methodologies are including user experience professionals as part of their delivery teams. So why am I writing yet another blog post about this very topic? Well, from my experience, this marriage doesn't work quite as smoothly as advertised...
The acceptance of user experience in agile organizations is a relatively new concept. Being able to quickly research, perform IA work (typically task flows, wireframes and sitemaps), create high-fidelity prototypes, perform UT (usability testing) for a story and then be able to serve it up to software developers is enticing to every development manager out there. And while this concept may work from a theoretical perspective, when it comes to execution and deadlines, it quickly becomes very clear that if the team falls behind, there are typically two areas that suffer: user experience and scope (and ultimately quality). Development managers are delivery driven (rather than quality driven), and for them delivery means one thing: code. As a user experience professional working in an agile environment, how many times did you hear a development manager telling you that you no longer have time to spend with the end users for user research, and that those deliverables (be it wireframes or high-fidelity prototypes that are required by developers for a particular story) are now due in less than 24 hrs or even worse, not needed altogether because the functionality is fairly simple and the developers will be able to go straight to code without them?
In my career, navigating the extent of my involvement within agile teams has sometimes been rocky. Yet at this point, looking back at projects ranging from the success stories to those that were quite simply narrowly avoided disasters, two distinct themes have emerged, and are going to be the focus of this article.
This particular blog post has been on my mind for a while now. Nowadays, a popular topic of conversation in the UX world encourages UX leaders everywhere to become more involved in business leadership and business strategy, as opposed to staying in their traditional sphere of influence related to UX strategy. There have also been a number of discussions/comments on a variety of UX blogs lately, about whether the term 'User' in our discipline name is accurate enough, or whether it should be replaced with a different term, such as 'customer' (as in 'customer experience' as opposed to 'user experience'). Others are proposing for the word 'User' to be dropped altogether, so 'user experience design' would end up known simply as 'experience design'.
In my opinion, the fact that these discussions are taking place around the same time speaks volumes about the lack of maturity in many of our practitioners' strategic thinking. Don't get me wrong, I think User Experience as a profession has come a long way in the last 10 years or so in terms of methods, process and industry standardization. We have successfully aligned or integrated our process within various software development methodologies, and we have even been promoted to participate in discussions at the big boys table with the business, technology and marketing folks. There are no doubt a few UX professionals acting or in line to act as CEOs, CXOs, CIOs or CTOs, who, through practice and years of experience, have aquired that business acumen needed to become a true leader in the boardroom. But before we even begin talking about user experience professionals setting the tone and creating the overarching strategy for all those non-UX areas, I would venture a guess that there is still a lot we need to learn about what constitutes a successful business, the parameters within which it operates, and last but not least, its terminology. This guerilla movement within the UX community who are trying to replace 'user experience' with 'customer experience' are obviously not aware that the term 'customer experience' has already been coined and it is used frequently in the corporate world to describe a completely differently business concept.
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