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UX Resolutions for 2014: Become a UX 'Champion'

conferences / market research / usability / user experience / blog

I attended UXCampDC on Jan 4, which was a new style of conference for me. There was no pre-planned schedule. I had no idea who I was going to hear speak (or if I would give a presentation) and what I was going to learn about. There was a board with time slots throughout the day, and people who were interested in speaking wrote their name and topic on a post-it note and posted it to a time slot. In the morning and after lunch, each speaker gave a 1-minute pitch about their talk so attendees had a little more information, and then we split up and went to the different talks. Some were planned – people had prepared slides and gave lecture-style talks – and others were more open discussions. For these, the "speaker" started by saying a few things about their topic of interest and then opened the floor for others to contribute. It was a great way to collaborate with other UXers and to hear many different ideas about a given topic.

My favorite talk was one of these discussions, and it was about UX resolutions for 2014. Jimmy Chandler led this discussion and started with some of his resolutions. Others chimed in and resolved to change various habits in 2014, such as not spending as many hours in daily meetings by scheduling shorter meetings and being concise with clear takeaways. I heard things like "Don't let it die on the vine," with resolutions to not start things that we know we cannot complete and to define "done." In another talk earlier in the day, I heard a resolution to "enforce a common language" among the UX team and client and to make sure the common language is maintainable. Sometimes it is as easy as saying, "Hey team, from now on, we are going to call banners, banners. We are no longer going to call them headers." I was inspired. I hadn't thought about "UX" Resolutions, but now I was determined to make some of my own.

People made resolutions to be "UX Radiators" and "UX Evangelists" in 2014. This is something that I have heard quite a bit of lately in the UX community – that people want to get out there an educate more about UX. This is certainly a personal goal of mine, and of ours at Fors Marsh Group. We often notice that organizations are not incorporating user experience assessments into their product development lifecycle because they are simply unaware. Many people and organizations do not know what usability testing is, or they do not know that we can conduct testing at any stage of development (see development cycle below – UX testing can occur at any stage!). They do not know that correcting issues on a launched product costs significantly more than correcting issues during development. They do not know that it does not have to be costly or take much time. They do not know that there is a significant return on investment (ROI) from creating usable products, and that getting feedback from just a few users can be extremely valuable.

Hi Megan

Therefore, in 2014, one of my goals is to not only educate, but empower fellow researchers, marketers, and designers to learn more about the value of UX, and to educate their own colleagues on the importance of testing on the bottom line. If we can reach one person within an organization that educates their team/leadership, the end result will be at least one more engaging product and a better experience for us all. As discussed in the UX Resolutions talk, people vowed to share more UX knowledge by giving talks at conferences and Meetups – but I’d suggest you start even more organically. For instance, I started a UX journal club at Fors Marsh Group and in my previous position at the US Census Bureau, and both have been very successful… more about starting a journal club in a blog post coming soon!

In addition to growing the FMG UX journal club this year, I made 5 resolutions to help me be a UX Champion in 2014.

5 UX Resolutions for 2014

1) Post UX findings outside my office. Share interesting, unexpected, note-worthy and/or interesting findings from our UX studies with others in the company. I will change the posting frequently (maybe monthly).

2) Host brown bag discussions to inspire (aside from the journal club). For example, use Chutes and Ladders, the game of rewards and consequences, to teach about the usability testing process and watch then discuss Ted talks. My goal is to get people to think outside the box and creatively think about solutions to everyday user experience problems.

3) Blog more. I will use blog posts to advocate for the end user – to share the user’s point of view and also to share solutions to issues that we repeatedly encounter in the FMG UX Lab.

4) Present UX topics to non-UXers using non-UX jargon. I plan on attending and presenting at non-UX events, in addition to my typical UX activities. I will be a UX spokesperson to people who have never even heard of UX and share UX anecdotes with them. Know of any good groups that could benefit from learning about UX? Let me know!

5) Publish my UX work that has been on the back-burner. I have started too many papers that are still incomplete. I do not want them to "die on the vine," so I resolve to publishing them this year. By sharing my research, I will help others learn more about the benefits of understanding the user experience.

What are your 2014 UX Resolutions? Do you have plans to be an Information Radiator? I would love to hear from you! Send me a message on @romanocog or email me at jbergstrom@forsmarshgroup.com.

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