Stickynotes episode 5, July 9 2020
Details from this session
There’s a new buzzword every few years, but how much really changes in the field of UX?
User experience professionals react to changes in project management and development practices by changing the way they work. But there’s a difference between changing how you work, and changing what you work on.
How much has really changed for researchers and designers over the years?
During this session, we noted that there are a group of things that do change, and a group that stay the same.
- Tools – these have generally improved over the years, making it much easier to do our jobs faster and more efficiently.
- Team expectations – overall, there’s more understanding of what user experience people can do for an organization
- As more UX people get hired, there’s also more specialization. We used to “do usability”, which could mean user research, design, even content creation and tech writing. Now, those roles are very much distinct and specialist.
- Timelines – with more modern project management techniques like agile and lean, we’ve had to adapt to faster turnaround. Luckily that’s meant throwing out some of the boring parts of the job, but it’s important to retain the rigor too.
What stays the same:
- Basic research/design skills – if you don’t know this stuff, you can’t respond well to changing situations
- Adaptability – stuff WILL change. being flexible enough to keep up with it is a requirement.
- People. Generally. Or more to the point, their needs generally change on a relatively slow cycle, unless some major disruptor (like a pandemic) suddenly upends their regular behaviors.
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Show the (pretty much unedited) transcript…
cool um so you know this exciting uh exciting topic for us talking about talking about change um and in fact i think i think that we are kind of all of the mind that yes some things change and a lot of things just just stay the same um but sometimes sometimes they change but we don’t know that they change or we know they we know that they stay the same everyone else thinks they’ve changed and this alignment and this change um buzzword or these buzzwords that kind of come and go and and hit you as something new and but it’s not something new it’s all confusing wow i’m confused yeah i know i’m already confused we just started so what about you what about you um for both of you what do you think you know what what changes what stays the same i’ll go for it um so what what changes is the names we give to things what stays the same is the fundamentals of the methods we use um even though sometimes we’ve actually improved those methods over time incrementally uh every now and again somebody will come up with some new term for them but we were probably doing kind of the same stuff before just now it has a new name to it um yeah i mean i feel like you know kind of thinking about our backgrounds um you know i i started 26 years ago uh you know or actually more than that when i was in college and um at 20 yeah i mean i i i it hit me first what 27 years ago um and uh yeah i feel like i’ve seen a lot um you know over those years so but yeah but what’s really changed in it and what stayed the same i mean it we one thing that has changed i think is um we’re not trying to prove ourselves as scientists anymore so we don’t do these massive lead-ups to our studies and we don’t take two weeks to run through like 50 participants to to try and find a result for something which actually makes me feel a whole ton better because those are really boring studies yeah i mean there was an era you know originally i remember that era of um of kind of we are researchers we are researchers like just like the psychologists in the lab we follow all these protocols and and and the protocols were very lengthy you know it just went on and on you will do this you will do this you will be it was like that voice of god where you if a researcher should walk in the room sometimes it would interfere with the with the validity of the study but you just have this voice you will now do this with the interface yes over the intercom system and i mean just think what it must have been like to be a participant in those days you must have found yeah but it didn’t have to be that way it and and we realized that later on you know that we did change we kind of said hey you know what we don’t have to justify our existence all the time it’s okay you know and we did change there we did we did kind of become a little more relaxed here when we’re not talking about at least medical devices and such where where we where there’s FDA approval involved certainly and it’s a little bit different but um but that’s still boring but it’s is it necessary i guess yeah yeah yeah i mean you still need those large numbers for that for you you get your approval but by and large for kind of at least in in my world for those screen based interfaces you know it’s okay to be a little more relaxed it’s okay to be um to kind of not be so scientific to be scientific but not scientific not not not in the not with the rigor that we thought we needed or the culture um kind of projected that we needed uh in the past well i was gonna say can we take a big giant step back and kind of put in context that um when i first started looking for a job i was not looking for a ux job right i think we probably ought to start with terminology because we’re talking about how methods haven’t changed and things haven’t changed but i i think that one of the ongoing things to contend with in user experience is that the definition of user experience roles and titles and activities while the fundamental work doesn’t change the interpretation of what those things are the language used to describe them etc seems quite different um at least in my tenure as a ux professional i’ve been called a usability project manager i’ve been called the ux designer i’ve become a user researcher i’ve been called um like any number of combination of things so i think i would like to zoom back and kind of put the put the framing of fundamentally the work that we’ve done whether there’s new technologies new methods new you know whatever stuff that we have to adapt to um i think fundamentally the stuff hasn’t changed but i think the terminology and the way that we get looked at um from other people has changed and i think that that’s an ongoing thing that we have to contend with is like what do you do well depending on who i’m talking to i answer that very differently um yeah so i think terminology is one of those things that i wish it wouldn’t change so much actually i wish that we could have better defined terminology for all of the things that i and i think i know Cory agrees with me on this because we talked about it extensively Chris i’m curious about your perspective i think of ux as a big umbrella bucket of a whole lot of different kind of individual disciplines um and individual tasks and types of things that make up one larger thing um so let’s let’s start with what that is before we start figuring out like what fundamentally has changed or not well it yeah um so if we take a step back from that step back then yeah oh no we’re getting so recursive before the umbrella right there there was you know there were pieces of that umbrella and and we were still doing the same stuff i mean at least you know in the research vein and and and even the user experience as umbrella is so new in the you know in the in the grand scheme of things um that you know we it it’s a new it’s a new term it’s like to Amanda, to your point it was a new it’s a new term it’s a new umbrella to what we were doing kind of you know collectively you know can can you talk to the upa changing to being the uxpa i know you’re pretty seriously involved in that organization at the time i mean that was that’s a good thing right it used to be called the usability professionals association and then some years back now they changed it to being the user experience professionals association at the time everybody’s like yeah they’re just trying to jump on a new bandwagon well no everybody was i was um but there was a good reason for that and i mean it’s it’s stuck and it makes sense now because that’s what the term has become so what was the background to that um well so so you know interesting interesting uh to bring that you bring that up i mean basically we had a very long board meeting kind of discussion about this of course that’s what that boards do right um but basically you know the upa um usability professionals association was supposed to be kind of was set up in in uh the late 90s i believe as as kind of that umbrella concept you know and usability happened to be a term that was more or less used as an umbrella concept um and then you know i you know years ago on the years going years go on and the um then usability kind of shrunk as a term i mean it’s largely user research um you know you i do usability testing i’m assessing usability um you know is it usable for intended users it it kind of shrunk and the umbrella then became its user experience so what do you do when you’re upa and not only are upa the international organization but your upa a whole bunch of chapters all over the world and and you know what do you do and can you make that decision to rebrand um because you want to again make the statement we are the umbrella and and while the term has changed we remain the umbrella right we’re not we’re not all user researchers i mean yes there’s probably more user researchers in in upa uxpa than perhaps other design design groups um out there because it has attracted the the researchers um you know over time and i think i think there certainly have been however it is the umbrella and what do you do with that um and you know back and forth back and forth and finally we decided yeah you know we’re going to be um we’re going to be ux pa um ux being kind of that um you know that that big arm the new bigger umbrella um you know and and then and then you then after that make that decisions made have to go all the chapters and say okay we’ll help you with branding we’ll help you with a new logo we’ll help you with with this because you know it’s not just it wasn’t just our decision in international and i was also at that time also playing the part in my local chapter in dc um and yeah it was a big decision um and then people were like well you know you’re just changed for marketing it wasn’t just me then that is true you know you want to i mean it is about you know it does the name change really change anything not really except that you’re trying to say you know this is who we are this is our identity um and the identity isn’t in indelibly twined with you know your your you know who you want to present to the outside world that’s the same thing right that goes back to the same point it’s your identity we call ourselves different things these days because it helps us present ourselves to the outside world in a different way right but that doesn’t change what we do yep yeah i would argue that there’s a whole portion of the umbrella of people who are uh content strategists and working on content who would argue very strongly that uh labels matter a whole awful lot in certain contexts but um i think one of the other things that i’ve seen change at least um kind of in waves over at least in the united states i can’t speak for the rest of the world but um it used to seem like every organization wanted a ux person one single or a design person one single and i expected that person to do a whole wide range of things um and i’ve watched sort of an i think it’s evolved as um you know sort of with maturity um but having larger companies or at least more mature companies adopt um a whole team of ux people and then having people sort of start to specialize at least directionally um maybe not in sometimes at really big companies or certain locations there’s really specific narrow specialties like just quantitative researcher or just qualitative but sometimes at least at least the definition between more visual design centered or more research centered or somewhere in the middle um that’s an evolution that i’ve noticed because when i first started out um and yeah if i never have to have that do designers need to code debate again ever i would be happy oh no it’s still happening it’s happening i know i know i just blocked all those people on twitter it’s fine but i think one of the things that’s changed you and kind of to the point chris you were making was that depending on what you call yourself and where what organization you’re in there’s different expectations about what a ux person can and should and will be doing um and that i find sort of interesting to navigate i personally haven’t changed my my direction a whole lot in the past dozen years but i’ve been uh other people have tried to point me in other directions either wider or narrower depending on the context i was in so um i’ve noticed so i live in north carolina in the raleigh area which is a fairly small but tech centric city and i’ve noticed the wave of traveling a lot seeing a lot of other bigger cities that had bigger organizations have specialty roles first um kind of evolved that way and now i’m starting to see that in smaller areas like where i live and i’m seeing that sort of shift even though the tasks are still the same they’re getting um seemingly spread out a bit more which i’m a proponent of why why are you proponent of that oh for so many reasons so um well for one thing just to be quite frank because i really like research and i don’t want to be in a role where i’m asked to do other things i like working with somebody who really likes to push pixels and the two of us can collaborate um or you know the five of us or however many there are i like working with other people who um are really good at and really interested in the things that i’m not really good at or really interested in so that’s partially from like a personal perspective but i also think that the skills that it makes to be a really great researcher are different than the skills that it takes to be a really great designer and some people have both um it’s much harder and it usually takes a little more practice and a lot more experience and um a lot of people pretend likely they like to do both because they think that’s what they need to do um or pretend like they are good at both because that’s what they feel like they need to do um and i’m a proponent of letting people be honest about the things that they’re actually good at and like and uh creating spaces for that i think we’ve got more opportunity to do that these days haven’t we because there is more of an understanding that there are different roles and that you might need more than one UX person in your whole organization and that maybe one needs to be more of a researcher and one needs to be more of a designer well it’s also i think it changes by company type i mean so when you when you look at like google’s and facebook’s of the world where you’ve got um research the researcher is now divided um to i think to your point earlier amanda to the the qualitative researcher the quantitative researcher uh the research manager the mixed methods researcher who does a little bit both the the or a little any of the the the principal researcher the you know it it’s so divided you get everything kind of divided too you get the little company the startup where you still do have i’m the ux person who might also be um contributing content to the site and might be coding the front end they are still valid i mean there’s a wide range but that range itself is changed you know it you know when chris talked about originally there was one ux person in all cases and now there’s you know now you you still do find the cases where you when we budget for one you know and whatever we think about kind of the idea of how many how many skills can be encompassed in a single person it is the nature it is the state of the world you know in a smaller company with low budget and so on versus um these larger companies that take ux very seriously um kind of incorporate in everything they do have multiple teams and multiple streams of ux going on um you know of every flavor so um yeah but um i was i was just looking i don’t know are we able to uh to display a url uh yeah i can do that for you uh okay so let’s see it just occurred to me as we were talking um i need to construct the url here uh uh let’s see um okay so um back in 1999 how do i do this but do i if you if so you can if you want to put it on the on a banner make a new banner uh make a new banner i started doing this very spontaneously it just really occurred to me um how i saw usability in 1999 um oh man okay here wait well while you’re looking at that i think i want to i would love to kind of circle back and chris get your perspective on uh sort of the difference if any in in roles or like flexibility um of things that you’ve seen and like what’s what’s changed in terms of we already talked about opportunity to some degree but what’s changed in terms of opportunity of what a person in the ux can do oh so you way back when i was a youngster when i started you gather around you youngsters and i shall tell you how it was um no i think um so here’s some things that have changed there’s more tools to support us now so there’s more capacity for you to do your job properly um and and it’s it’s without having to run around and do all sorts of other things too so um there’s a bunch of stuff that we do there’s a bunch of stuff that we do now that we couldn’t have done before because we just didn’t have the time which has made the role of an individual person like a user researcher easier you’re i never did design work but there was always kind of an implication that people who did usability might be able to do that kind of stuff or might also be able to do um tech writing or those kind of things the roles have uh not fragmented they have just distinguished themselves but it’s not it’s not there’s not that much change in the the work we do seriously i still run studies with participants um it’s got faster um there was definitely some some changes especially when things like agile came along um if you’re trying to keep up with agile sprints you definitely need to be using discount methods and things like that rather than the the old school approach to running some monumental studies and that’s all changes for the better it’s allowed us to do that there was a comment earlier on about we don’t have to justify ourselves as much anymore and we don’t have to justify running small studies with a small n participant size to teams when they see the the outcome from that um i think a lot of that is because we’ve got better at telling teams to show up to the damn studies rather than having to write reports afterwards as well maybe okay cory show us that scary web page Cory, is that you in a Tux? it was a wedding picture you know back in uh in 97 so this was in 99. and this is i i was doing usability but i couldn’t find enough people and i was freelancing at this point couldn’t find enough people to hire me for usability like it wasn’t so okay i could do web development by the way anyone reading today i can’t do web development um It was easier back then, there were two text files your html file in your css file if you managed to split your css out from your html file right data from database stuff some data analysis stuff and oh by the way bullet number four is web usability um and and that’s what i really enjoyed but i was like you know what it it’s few and far between those those usability projects you know 21 years ago and um uh you know and there’s some training too and so on but but i mean that’s how i saw i mean this defines you know usability was like you know second fiddle to all these other people would hire freelancers for all this other stuff um but but it’s but i mean it really kind of defined what you know what um uh you know what the world was like in you know 99 even though all these same things exist today um you know and and i finally bullet number four what was my became my exclusive swim lane you know shortly you know along the way but um yeah so so anyway you know i discovered this once on um oh what’s it called the uh the wayback machine um and you know and i i i saved the the the uh the image file but anyways let’s turn this off you don’t want to stare at that i want to yeah i don’t know uh that’s that’s pretty impressive but you’re right i mean that was i i never had to do that i never had i but i didn’t start in a job in usability there wasn’t a job in usability i think ibm might have started their usability lab in the uk about the same time as i started working doing something completely different in it for a financial institution in the uk and it was only after a couple of years working in the financial institution that that financial institution had used ibm’s usability labs and decided that it was going to be way cheaper to build their own than to carry on using ibm at however much it was per you know two-week monumental study that you had to do each time um and that’s when that’s when even then i think we called ourselves usability something rather than use user experience wasn’t even that was a term that i think don norman coined several years after that jacob nielsen’s book on usability engineering had come out the year previous to that oh good grief now i’m really dating myself aren’t i so it’s it’s yeah it it wasn’t a thing that you could say was your job until um mid 90s and and then it was one kind of catch-all phrase i think there was a difference between designers and usability people but to be honest when you’re working on green screens there wasn’t really visual design wasn’t even a thing back then we were talking about you know green screen terminals uh 3270 terminals that had no no visual design there was still some it was stopped to usability people to think about design of the screen how the screen was laid out in those days i remember a project i worked on for like nine months i was kind of dedicated this project for a while which was all turning a tn-30 tn 3270 3270 yeah a screen system into its first web-based interface and like they they wanted like the recreation of a tn3270 system you know in in um on the web well of course they did because the people who use those 3270 terminals were typing like 13 screens ahead of where it was because it wasn’t real time it was just an interface to a mainframe somewhere so of course they wanted it to look the same because these people had inbuilt muscle memory for this system yeah and then you gave them a mouse and slowed them down by fifty percent a hundred percent yeah yeah yeah they could you could do with the with the arrows you go you know you know whatever right now you got oh i gotta go yeah well and i think something that people pretty frequently ask me both in terms of of um research but also the design is you know like what tool should i learn next you know should i be doing you know user zoom or should i use user testing or should i use figma or should i use sketch and my answer to that always um both from the design end of things although that is not much as much my specialty and from the research end of things is that you can always learn a new tool you might be more efficient with one you might be comfortable with and there might be pros or cons but you can always learn whatever the tool is but you have to know the fundamental things that go into creating whatever you’re creating so whether that’s writing a good you know test plan for a usability test whether that’s writing um a good discussion guide or whether that’s you know deciding what the layout of a web page or an app screen looks like um you know i think that would kind of talk about new tools all the time and it is exciting to get new things it is nice when you can find things that make you more not less efficient um but people are constantly asking me like what should i learn so that i could be a good uxer and i’m like um i don’t care what tool like at all and when i was in a position to hire people they’d be like well what like design tool stack should i use and i was like i don’t care i don’t care doesn’t matter um so i i i think that um you know it’s nice to have opportunity to do things earlier today i was working with a remote tool that is allowing me to recruit people within about 24 hours and i wrote the screening questions myself and it was kind of a good reminder of as much of the tool changes around it i still had to know how to write the screener i still had to know how to put the discussion guide together i’m still going to moderate the session so i still need to know how to to do all that basic fundamental stuff um but now i can talk to people in hong kong and have them show me their mobile mobile phone screen um whereas previously i would have had to go to hong kong in order to to do something like that and you know now there’s watches with screens that are this big and phones with a thousand different sizes and all kinds of different stuff but all the fundamental stuff it’s pretty much the same yeah we were having the same discussions about screen sizes back in when i mean when when we first got GUIs it was like well do we design for 640 by 480 or do we design for 1024 by 726 or whatever it was whatever that multiple of two power of two um and i mean it was still a big issue then now we’ve we’ve decided that was all a waste of time and we’ll just design uh responsive stuff that works across different screen sizes or we’ll design specific interfaces for our tiny tiny screens and our big screens um yeah but it’s still the same design principles that go into those things that are their basics it’s still the same psychological principles um people don’t change that fast in their behaviors we forced them to mobile was a big change and i think as a usability person i had to i had to struggle to find the tools that would let me do the things i’d normally do research-wise with mobile so that’s one thing that changes whether tools don’t keep up with the technology we’re always kind of like a little step behind until somebody some awesome person comes out with a tool that lets you share a mobile screen in in a usability session or whatever which is still remarkably clunky i mean oh yeah but it’s that it’s less clunky than what we used to do which was have the phone have a big stalk coming off of it and having a camera pointing down at the screen yeah yeah done that being there that wasn’t even that long ago we had to do that but um now it’s it’s easier but like you say there there isn’t but what are we oh there isn’t the perfect tool to do it yet but it’s so much easier than it was uh and that’s possible yeah it’s possible you’re right but what does it make possible it makes the same thing possible that we’ve always done which is observing uh representative users doing representative tasks hopefully in a representative context of use so we can then learn about what their behaviors are and make changes based on that i mean so so maybe we could bucket it perhaps by saying what changes what stays the same what stays the same is us as ux people right we might be rebranded we might be renamed we might be whatever but people who care but we’re but but what changes is our size because we’re getting bigger and bigger and bigger um numbers of people out there who are doing this by the changes but but the size is also smaller and smaller and smaller amount of that stuff that we do potentially the narrower focus but as the as the number of people who do this expands the number of tools expand why because there’s a bigger market i mean when you have a bigger market you have more tools so that changes you will get more tools and simultaneous in a separate stream the technology changes and the technology changes and we have we have ar we have vr we have um like bio based technology technologies kind of that are probably starting to interface soon um and and those just keep changing changing changing but but we’re still the same and we have our new tools but we are still the same um and we have our new terms and we’re still the same yeah i think the other thing that is never going to change is that there’s always going to be something to adapt to even in the same amount of time if i’m working on multiple projects at once which is most of the time there’s always something particular about the prototype i’m working with or the product i’m working with or the technology we use you always have to adapt to something that pretty much doesn’t seem to change but the all the core fundamentals of you know like how you listen to people and how you observe people and how you you know kind of put together uh whether the interface is via voice or via a mobile screen the way that things get put together in a way that makes sense to other people we just like humans don’t adapt that fast we adapt to big things like we have mobile phones now but fundamentally our brain chemistry is not that different than it was 25 years ago which is why we deal so badly with mobile phones but yes yeah i mean but then so i think kind of to maybe some of our earlier episodes you know one of the biggest one of the best skills a ux person can have um is that adaptability and the desire to to grow to keep learning um you know if you want to survive as a ux professional you’ve got to just want to keep learning keep growing keep adapting um and it’s not necessarily a fundamental change but it is growth um you know growth you know with technology and methods and tools um everything you just need to keep growing and being willing to do that no i just want to fossilize please i just want to i want to stay where i am and never make a change again kidding it’s true i mean and most of the time i see that and rather than thinking oh god something else to learn i’m like oh great something’s gonna make my life easier and let me do more of this stuff faster like amanda’s point being able to recruit people online rather than spending oh if you’ve ever had to recruit your own participants i will pay not anything but pretty much whatever it takes to have somebody else do that for me and still if it’s not as long as i get good participants at the end of it so yeah that’s made things a lot easier any of those tools that make my life easier i am so for them yeah yeah some sometimes though i feel like we rely on tools or not we you know we kind of in the big picture rely on these tools to do things and then and then trust starts trusting tools and start moving away from the manual processes and then things aren’t good so you know i’m thinking about um accessibility right it used to be with web accessibility um with mobile accessibility you know you would you would say okay we’re going to manually review the content we’ll figure out what’s wrong then there are these automated systems okay system will tell you um you know if uh if if there is no alt uh there’s no alt text on alternative text however the system won’t tell you if it makes sense you know right so um you know there’s a caution about the tools um and i i always feel or not always but i often feel that caution of like okay is relying on the tool okay um what we’ll do what you know what what i could what what i could do manually in a different way or kind of more thoughtful way well that goes to the point you need to know the fundamentals behind it so if you’re working on accessibility and you don’t actually know what the rules are and you just let a tool go for you you’re not even going to know to check whether the alt text makes sense um you know but you so you still have to know the fundamentals even if you’re using some tools that make things faster even if you’re same same goes for recruiting same goes for website layout same goes for pretty much everything like you still have to know the fundamental stuff and you have to double check things um and rely on your fundamental knowledge um to to get you through there i think that’s that’s not so much to anyway uh um the blame of any one specific tool that’s people who don’t really know what they’re doing trying to use tools to to get by there’s plenty of people out there who still do use those tools without understanding how they work and you get predictable responses, well, predictable outcomes from that; you end up with a bunch of poop yeah if you it’s like having something that generates okay okay dating myself again when we used to use um certain tools from a certain large vendor for creating websites and then you’d have to go through and actually hack the code that the tool created in order to make it do what you wanted it to do because it was just creating piles of bluuurgh and so yeah if unless you know what’s actually going on underneath the covers it’s not really necessarily going to help you that much but that’s the beauty of of of having that core set of skills and the adaptability to then it allows you to evaluate which of those tools is going to work for you um if you if you don’t have that core set of skills you might end up trusting a tool because its marketing speak says it’s wonderful but you don’t know for sure whether it actually is or not yeah and maybe there’s different layers i mean there’s the the fundamental layer which is understanding the umbrella right you understand you know user experience but you understand people like you understand it’s about the people it’s about the people it’s about the users it’s about the the customers okay so you understand the people layer then you know one step down you understand kind of the the general method layer right so in research um you understand you do this thing to find this other thing um but then you understand the tool to do the method to get to the people right so you know each step of the way you’ve got to kind of keep your eye on keep your eye on it and don’t forget any of those layers um and if you change the tool that’s okay because there’s still the method and then there’s still the the fundamentals yeah it’s something which especially now that lots of people are trying to do stuff remotely um design thinking is something where okay so first first thing about design thinking design thinking is almost like a name that somebody came up with so they could almost trademark a concept which existed beforehand which was user-centered design but within this thing which has now become design thinking capital d capital t there’s a whole bunch of techniques we use which typically were paper-based a lot of them with sticky notes on walls and now that we can’t do that necessarily because we can’t get together as a group i get a lot of questions about which tools should i use and to be honest the last time i got that question i actually gave up and just answered it with a list of tools but normally my response is it’s not about the tools it’s about you guiding people through an exercise that helps them to come to just insights about the people that they’re creating software for or a product for or service for um but it has worn me down and i realize there are people out there who just want a list of tools and maybe they’re quite capable of doing the insights part themselves they just want a list of tools so now i give them a list of tools but the thing is i feel bad for doing that because i can’t vouch for any of those tools i don’t think that any of those tools on their own is particularly amazing um it’s how you use those tools again and oh god that’s that rant isn’t it about it’s not about the tools it’s about what you know! maybe that’s another example of something that doesn’t change that no matter what fancy tool you have no matter what thing you have at your disposal you can’t rely on that alone to get you where you need to be you still have to know the underlying process or method or technique that kind of lays on it so whatever new shiny tool comes out um and some of them really are great you know like some of them really are super but whatever any new tool comes out don’t rely on just the tool um to Cory’s point remember the fundamentals and the foundation of what got you there right yeah so and what’s what’s um kind of interesting also is that people the shininess is the tools that that imitate imitate the real the offline world so what’s a cool whiteboard it’s a whiteboard it’s a virtual whiteboard you can move stuff around and share it’s awesome in fact you know you could take a google sheet and you can have a group copy and paste little little cells back and forth and you can you can just as well you know simulate a kind of a a sticky note session you know where you’re moving stuff around i mean and you could say well it’s not the shiny or it’s kind of you know it’s kind of unattractive as a whiteboard but you could do it if you want to you don’t need any any um you know dedicated tools for kind of this this whiteboarding session if you don’t want it um as long as you know what to do and i think that’s what distinguishes the best tools from the mediocre tools is let’s use design thinking as a example here at the moment there are very few tools which actually rethought the process to make it work in an online environment there’s a lot of tools that do this kind of skeuomorphic thing of oh here’s a whiteboard but it’s digital oh here’s some sticky notes but they’re digital and basically you’re just saying you’re just adding the the digital part to something that already existed and was much better and easier to do in person there’s a couple of tools which is starting to take the essence of what a design thinking exercise is reverse engineer that say well what are we trying to do and then create online tools that do that for you in an asynchronous way where it normally would be synchronous or whatever it takes to create that thing and maybe we were using sticky notes on the wall because it was a good way of sharing a group of ideas amongst a group of people and making sure that each of those ideas was a very small and concise idea or concept and so that we could then sort those and put them into groups well there we go there’s what we need to do it’s not that we need sticky notes we need a thing that lets us do that stuff oh well let’s develop a tool that lets us do that it doesn’t necessarily involve putting colored squares digital on a page and we’re only just getting there with with uh the design thinking thing there’s a couple of companies out there beginning to do that i think there’s some other areas like recruiting for instance where maybe the problem wasn’t so hard to start with but at this point they’ve now the online tools have now worked out they don’t have to replicate what happens in real life they can be better than that by using the by leveraging the power of digital to for instance recruit from a larger group of people to have a pre-existing panel of individuals you can pull from to um let you specify different uh categories of of qualities that you wanted in your participant group so so definitely it’s not just oh which tool should i use it’s let’s think about what the tools are that actually help us improve our jobs in a digital space yeah i’ll all of that talk about like making tools that actually serve a goal versus you know just digitizing a an analog version of something also sort of reminded me that i would be remiss to i think to have a conversation about change and not also recognize that um sometimes user needs do change really rapidly over time if you had asked pretty much anybody about 12 months ago whether most people would have been be working from home or unemployed right now um i doubt that they would have said yes um and you know it’s not we’re in a particularly interesting point of time right now but even if you just think about it like thinking of of mobile phones um how many of you still have like a a phone in your house how many of you still have a rotary probably not that many how many people actually use their phone for phone calling i i don’t like to if i can help it um and so i think that one of the other things to kind of remember is that user needs change with the context of the technology that’s available in the time that they’re living in you know the things that are doing really well and are really popular right now in the midst of a pandemic are sometimes really the same and sometimes really different than the things that were really popular and working really well beforehand um and i think that it’s also important to remember that especially when we talk about user research things are not static with your users something that worked for them five years ago when you did an initial round of exploratory research it is likely to have shifted maybe a lot maybe a little um maybe not at all but you won’t know unless you do so i guess that’s my shameless plug for you don’t get to do research once and then you’re done you should be doing it not constantly constantly but like pretty much all the time because things change all the time and something that you designed that worked well three years ago um is not necessarily likely to fit needs as well anymore because needs shift over time and um that’s you know potentially a whole different conversation too that’s my shameless plug for you should keep researching even if you’ve done a lot of research before you don’t get to stop those darn users and their changing needs i know i can’t believe people change their minds a blog post um i forgot it’s in one of my one of my feeds about a deep dive into the online shopping experience um before it was you know from the before time and then like in march and you know what what when you want when you want to get groceries you know what what’s it like and you know it’s such a that was obviously very dramatic change very you know there was a there was certainly a social aspect to it that kind of changed it dramatically which is way too much volume and supply chain issues and whatever but but it was kind of a deep dive into all the interface things that went wrong after the chain that were working perfectly well before um because the the user base the needs change and the supply chain changed or became less um so yeah yeah yeah those darn users and their darn supply chains then so okay Cory you were you were trying to segment us into what changed and what stayed the same um my biggest peeve i guess is when the names change but the stuff actually stayed the same and it’s basically somebody just trying to jump on a bandwagon and sell their new thing as new so they can get some eyeballs on it get some money from it when it’s something that the rest of us are saying but that’s what we’ve always been doing um but then when you think about it some of those people have actually been very successful at doing that and that that has kind of floated us all up a little bit more i i think i’ve taken on using the term design thinking rather than user-centered design because it seems to have struck a chord with a whole bunch of executives and it’s it gives me a way into a lot of conversations that i wouldn’t been had been able to have before because when people say what you do if it’s a certain group of people i’ll say well design thinking um and they go oh and i’m not sure they understand the same thing as i do but all of a sudden it’s a shorthand for a thing um so it which which is a thing that i do so sometimes there is a benefit in having these terms change as well so as much as i like to whine about how things haven’t really changed that much i’m quite happy sometimes for the change to have happened because it means that it gives me more opportunity to bring people into the fold and and help them understand there is something that they can do around this to help their companies out and i would say you know where you said the change has happened um i think that the that the passive voice approach there is the right one it’s not that a person has said i will change this and therefore everyone will follow me it’s that a change has happened we can appropriately and in a rare instance um go with passive voice here and say you know the things change and we don’t know why we don’t and i mean that’s true probably with anything in society but but you don’t know you don’t know why things change you don’t know why um you know different you know different approaches are taken sometimes um but it’s just the nature of there’s a there’s a nature to the non or the non-static nature to technology um to work to um society and it’s just gonna keep changing and we’re not gonna we we’ve gotta go with that flow um we’re not we can’t we we need to adapt to it not not push to be i’m the same i’m the same i’m the same go with the flow i i agree i um i hate going with the flow sometimes because it’s not against my rebellious nature it goes against my rebellious nature but but you’re right and and if i could predict which one of those um amazing new terminology things somebody’s taken will actually take hold and become the new words for something then i’d do that myself and i’d be I’d be rich but i’m happy to go with it um because there’s no point trying to fight those those things which have made it into the common consciousness if it’s a way of actually promoting what we do and helping make the world a better place for users then i’m okay doing that yeah i would i would say that maybe one of the other things that hasn’t changed is that maybe the targets are different but user experience people need to be able to sell we need to be able to persuade and we need to be able to explain and whether that’s you know by utilizing the popularity of a term that is just a rephrasing of something that’s already existed or whatever um i think that’s another thing that hasn’t changed so we we started by talking about a little bit how we don’t have to you know sort of stand up for ourselves as much or prove our expertise but i think we still always kind of have to sell and have to be able to persuade so i would put that in the bucket of um smartly taking advantage of current norms jumping that’s that’s a different term for jumping on the bandwagon right smartly taking advantage of current norms yeah no that is that is actually what that is i’m gonna give you some credit chris is that is understanding your user base and using terminology that resonates with them and that is why i’m a consultant because you can make those fancy words that’s right so with that i think we’re we’re at the end of time um so yeah so we uh we we’ve you know gone through the the change and the and the sameness and and it just it’s always it it’s gonna that’s the way it’s gonna be yeah so i can’t fossilize yet oh damn so good well um it was great to uh talk with both of you uh today and we’ll be doing it again next week yeah actually Cory will you be here next week? i won’t be here i’ve got this old usability testing thing to to do work gets in the way so but but you guys will so yeah um so we’re talking next week about distance how ux people can do their jobs when they can’t get close to users which actually is kind of ironic considering that Cory’s going to be getting closer to users. maybe yeah we’re not sure we’ll get an update for you after next week yeah but reach out to us anytime you can uh follow sticky notes chat hashtag you can email us you can tweet at us you can follow us each individually um but we’ll we’ll keep these up week by week and we’ve got the next couple of weeks sorted out but if you have other topics you’d like us to cover uh please let us know and check out our past um chats because we’ve already covered i think i saw there was like a question earlier about getting into ux and we’ve already covered some of that stuff so feel free to check those out definitely reach out to us if you’ve got any other feedback or requests for if you want the three of us to noodle on something let us know yeah we’re great at pontificating we can do that all day long sure can! thanks everyone bye