Module 1 - GDD710

Development Practice - an introduction to a shared notion of ‘development practice’, anchoring existing conception and experience of creative technologies and development approaches.

Week 12: Assignment submission and Transcript - 9/12/2020

References Pressfield, S. (2012). The war of art. New York Black Irish Entertainment.

Week 12: Assignment submission process - 7/12/2020

I've spent the past four weeks trying to plan my Personal Case Study video. It's not been easy to do this as the brief focuses heavily on Rapid Ideation as its source material.

During the first ideation session, I realised the process I had developed in my professional career was a lot more user-focused than what was set for us. Having run Design Sprints professionally for the past four years, I didn't want to disrupt the methodology I had developed for the sake of completing a weekly task. It's not what I was looking for on this course.

I used week 5 to define why I was doing a Masters. After some internal thinking, I concluded three things:

  1. I wanted to be more efficient in my business operations

  2. I want to be seen as an authority in experience design

  3. I want to be an industry expert that people seek out to solve challenging business problems.

Primarily efficient in business operations as it is this what sets amateur and professional businesses apart.

Steven Pressfield writes in his book The war of art (Pressfield, 2012):

"The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits. We can never free ourselves from habit. But we can replace bad habits with good ones."

I need to develop a habit of using Critical reflective journaling, citation or used grey literature and create routines that will help me to stay at the top of my game. I've never had to provide academic or peer-reviewed evidence in any work I've done.

For to me to gain value out of this module (and course) I'd have to find a way to integrate this into my work and create a consistent delivery method so I could sell it to clients and colleagues.

A third of the way through the course things started to click, I received some feedback from the tutors that helped me rationalise things.

"...the main staple that makes a piece of academic writing valid is peer review. Your experience, while it might be useful in day to day business, cannot be considered academically valid until academically valid papers have supported it, or it has been demonstrated, submitted for publication and gone through a lengthy review process...."

An example they gave me was,

"....which one of these statements would you say is more valid?

'I'm right because these other people that know this kind of stuff and have gone through a rigorous review process say so as well.' or 'I'm right because I've said so previously.'"

This example resonated with me as I'm very data-led in my practice. I look for user data and user feedback to justify design decisions, but this example made me realise that I need to use academic examples to support discussions of relevant theory.

My aspirations for after graduation are to be more efficient in my business operations and be seen as a subject specialist'.

I already combine high-level strategic thinking, with creativity, product development and data insight to meet consumer and business goals. But now I need to reference academic papers to support my decisions. What I'll do to make sure I achieve this is to follow the approach as set out in my SMART Goals.

  • Specific: 'I want to be more efficient in my business operations' by formulating my offer into concise sellable packages that customers can understand and self-select without any ambiguity.

  • Measurable: I will track the qualified lead to conversion rate and survey customers pre-sales and post-sales.

  • Attainable: I will implement it as soon as the packages have been created.

  • Relevant: formulating my approach and increasing the number of will separate me from individuals who's offer is unclear or inconsistent.

  • Time-bound: packages will be created throughout my Master's course.

References Pressfield, S. (2012). The war of art. New York Black Irish Entertainment.

‌Week 11: Art of the Approach Personal brand - 30/11/2020

The topic of this week was the 'Art of the Approach', to define our 'personal brand' and align it to our aspirations for the future.

In a nutshell, I've done a lot of things for a lot of different people. So I've had to work on my brand a lot to gain work efficiently and offer a consistent delivery method.

When speaking with people, I tell them I'm a Creative 'doer' as well as a Creative 'thinker'. More than just a pure UX person, but someone that can look at projects holistically and do what's best for the audience, my team, our business and myself.

I've been expected to line manage between 7-15 direct reports at a time, focus on delivery and be nice to clients. Splitting my time to 25% Client relations, 15% team support and probably 60% hands-on delivery. Meaning I've also been involved in business development activities, supporting the creation of RFP, bids and tenders, etc., but am not directly responsible for sales.

If I had to describe my day-to-day, it is:

  • Estimating work

  • delivering to deadlines

  • escalating risks when they come up

  • Gathering and evaluating user requirements

  • Illustrating design ideas with low and high-fidelity methods

  • Creating interactive prototypes across various platforms

  • Organising and facilitating testing sessions and evaluating results

Personal Principles I actively pursue initiatives where I can stand up for the less advantaged and try to recruit people from different socio-economic backgrounds and ethnic minorities. I want to offer someone that looks like me, a positive conversation with somebody a little further ahead in the field.

I think this is what drives me as I never had any mentors to support me and always worked at the cusp of new technology, so there haven't been business and project plans to follow.

I have a few channels for getting my name out: My website: akanoodles.com Medium: https://medium.com/@nuralchoudhury

I created a logo for myself in 2006.

I'm not sure how the idea came to me but later in 2012 while reading Ray Kurzweil's 2012 (Kurzweil, 2013) Book, How to Create a Mind I came across an image that looked remarkably similar.

What is even more freaky is that it was a basic drawing of a Neural Net and my name is Nural!

(Minsky and Papert, 1988)

That branding has served me well, and I use it on business cards, CV's, invoices and created a design system around it too.

The most challenging part of brand creation and digital presence is your story and what you have to offer. But I think this entire module has allowed me to collate my thoughts and coherently present them.

References

Kurzweil, R. (2013). How to create a mind : the secret of human thought revealed. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books.

‌Minsky, M. and Papert, S. (1988). Perceptrons : an introduction to computational geometry. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Week 10: Personas - 25/11/2020

One of the topics for this week was the dreaded Persona. I've been strongly opposed to Personas for a while, mainly because they're fictional, derivative, misleading, subjective and tend to promote user needs in the absence of any data. However, for the basis of my post, I started to research the reasons Personas are still in use and what designers think of them.

Matthews, Judge and Whittaker (2012) assert that designers use personas mainly to communicate with others, to build support for a chosen design or more generally to advocate user needs.

Alan Cooper (Cooper 2004) is considered to be the founding father of personas and their use for the interaction design of digital products and mediums. Alan describes the use of personas to design very user-friendly digital products. He begins to point out that personas are "user personas and not buyer personas" when referencing the use of personas in the design of digital products.

Matthews, Judge and Whittaker (2012) found multiple reasons why designers do not use personas for their design work:

1. Personas are abstract – it is hard to understand the abstraction process from user data to Persona, so personas come across as lacking critical detail.

2. Personas are impersonal – the personifying details in personas fail to provide a sense of empathy.

3. Personifying details mislead – it is difficult to select personal details that do not create false constraints on the design problem.

4. Personifying details distract – personifying details make it hard to focus on the aspects of a persona that are critical for the design problem.

Similar beliefs to my own.

They also found that practitioners with formal design training had the most negative and sceptical opinions about personas. In contrast, those with specialised training in personas had more favourable opinions and experiences using personas. So why do we use them?

We can blame Marketing teams for that as marketing teams tend to sell stories and lifestyles.

Mehrotra and Wells give an example of "lifestyle patterns" in their 1977 book that mirrors to the Personas described in The inmates are running the asylum (Cooper 2004). Cooper explicitly takes goals as the starting point for his HCI design method, goal-directed Design. He distinguishes between user goals and non-user goals, the former dividing into life goals 'personal aspirations, deep drives and motivations'; experience goals 'how someone wants to feel' and the latter 'expectations of the outcome of using a product'.

In my work, I tend to call them 'Behavioural archetypes' instead of Personas as I think there's a negative connotation towards the word Persona. The change in languages aids everyone on the project: developers, designers, stakeholder and customers. But gathering from my research people seem to use the word Persons and Archetypes interchangeably (McGarity, 2018).

What a Behavioural archetype does is represent a mindset and an intent rather than a single 'Person(a)'.

According to Don Norman's book Emotional Design (Norman, 2004), behavioural processing is influenced directly by two levels of processing — visceral and reflective. This means that a behavioural archetype should encompass how a type of customer perceives the brand, what motivates them to engage with it, what they expect, and how they reflect on their experience. Behavioural archetypes look at motivations (intent) and are useful for determining what drives or harms loyalty in the long run.

"Designing for the behavioural level means designing product behaviours that complement a user's own behaviours, implicit assumptions, and mental models." — Robert Reimann

I've worked with this method on a project I did with Mitsubishi Motors, which can be found here.

References

Cooper, A. (2004). The inmates are running the asylum. [online] Indianapolis, Ind.: Sams Publ. Available at: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=553473 [Accessed 28 Aug. 2019].

‌Matthews, T., Judge, T. and Whittaker, S. (2012). How Do Designers and User Experience Professionals Actually Perceive and Use Personas? [online] Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262404591_How_do_designers_and_user_experience_professionals_actually_perceive_and_use_personas [Accessed 22 Nov. 2020].

Mehrotra S. Wells W.D. Psychographics and consumer behaviour: theory and recent empirical findings Consumer and Industrial Buying Behavior et al. North Holland/Elsevier New York 1977 49 65 [Google Scholar]

McGarity, S. (2018). Shannon McGarity on Alan Cooper and the Marketing Persona | The One Thing by Seeking Wisdom. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://youtu.be/21nPTun7GGM [Accessed 24 Nov. 2020].

‌Week 9: Community - 22/11/2020

The subject of this week's topic for discussion was Conferences and our experience of them. There are a few Communities and Conferences in London, Typo circle (The Typographic Circle, n.d.), glug events (Glug, 2020), black book (Clement, n.d.), interaction design foundation (The Interaction Design Foundation, 2010) and hack for hacks (Hacks/Hackers, n.d.).

For anyone new to the design community, they're good to get face time with some of the designers behind the work you've seen and studied. However, for the veteran who's seen them evolve not so much.

As a BAME (Gill, 2013) designer and a first-generation immigrant, I've found them uninspiring and inaccessible for most. The talks cost between £15-35 a ticket (Eventbrite, 2020); there's usually one free beer and one free slice of pizza, and they're held at night.

There's usually one keynote speaker, and two smaller warm-up acts, by smaller studios. The keynote speaker is usually white, middle class and unrelatable (Ceros, 2020).

As scanned from previous talks (The Typographic Circle, n.d.), (Glug, 2020), (Hacks/Hackers, n.d.). They go on to talk about how they got into design through an apprenticeship with a family friend, or when they got their first computer in 1992. The design community is 73% White (Millier, 2017).

While the work and the people they have chosen is inspiring for some, it is less inspiring for people from broken homes and the generation of designers who feel that a career in design is unobtainable. The stories describe individuals from privileged backgrounds which, to be honest, widens the gap.

The design community may not even realise it has a diversity and inclusion problem, but to me, it seems there is.

I had a discussion about this with Tim Marlow Chief Executive and Director of the Design Museum in the summer of 2020. The Museum had started a Design Dispatches series on Instagram (Marlow, 2020), where they interviewed people about their careers and current works. Amongst the interviews were Sir David Adjaye and Charlie Casely-Hayford; one is the son of the most inspiring BAME fashion designers of our time and the other the son of a Ghanaian diplomat.

I approached Tim by saying that while these people are inspiring, they are unrelatable.

Editors note: The series has made drastic changes since our conversation, which shows how much representation is needed within the design community.

I left the conversation thinking the design industry needed to go through a renaissance to find opportunities and behaviours that would make it more inclusive. Currently, no design event exists that advocates demographic diversity, disability and cultural inclusion.

A census commissioned by the Design Council (Design Council, 2019), shows that 57.1% of the workforce held a degree as their highest level of qualification (in 2016), compared with the UK average of 34%. This indicates that not only are designers staying in formal education longer but also that there is a growing expectation amongst employers for designers to be educated to this level. Going to university is indeed a challenge for some, a study by Times Higher Education (Times Higher Education (THE), 2020), shows that a typical undergraduate degree in the UK (lasting three years), leaves the average student with between £35,000 and £40,000 in debt. With international students expected to pay between £30,000 and £78,000 for a three-year undergraduate degree. Proving the profession itself has become highly expensive to get into (Forsyth and Furlong, 2000).

While the design economy employs a slightly higher proportion of people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups (Design Council, 2019) than are employed in the broader UK economy (13% compared with 11%). These designers are the least likely to be in senior roles, accounting for only 12% of all design managers. Which sort of can explain the lack of Minority Ethnic keynote speakers to choose from to speak at the various community events.

Additionally, 78% of the UK's design workforce is male. Higher than the percentage of men in the wider UK workforce (53%). This is despite women making up 63% of all students studying creative arts and design courses at university. The overall ratio is skewed by the male-dominated sub-sectors of product and industrial design (95%), digital design (85%), and architecture & built environment courses (80%) (Design Council, 2019).

Part of the problem is that "diversity" and "inclusion" are so often lumped together, that they're assumed to be the same thing. But that's not the case.

In a study conducted by Harvard Business Review (Sherbin and Rashid, 2017), spoke with a Chile-based firm that promoted an indigenous Peruvian into the leadership team. Yet in a one-on-one interview, he confided that he saw no future for his ambitions at that firm. "I know they value me," he said, "but I am an indigenous person, and they are white, legacy, and Spanish. They will never make me a partner because of my colour and background."

In the context of the workplace, diversity equals representation.

In a survey conducted by R/GA, they showed that 'the best way to get someone to want to work at a company is for them to have a positive conversation with somebody like them who works at that company' (R/GA).

Leading to many companies producing Diversity, Equity, and inclusion plans where they commit to this percentage increases in recruitment and unconscious bias training. Anything presented as a series of finite targets can create the sense that this work has an end-point and will be 'complete' over a couple of quarters once targets are met, which is seriously naive.

So what can be done?

I started to survey BAME designers and industry leaders within my circle to see if they knew of any communities that advocate demographic diversity, disability and cultural inclusion.

I contacted 35 BAME designers and industry leaders. Out of the sample, only eight were able to offer any advice. Here are some of the quotes:

"I don't know of any at the moment, but it is a good idea. If you do decide to start one, do share the link and I will make sure I share with my connections also."

"To be honest, I'm not sure, Nural. I'm sure that the big groups like D&AD likely have that. Check out Creative Equals too. It's important!"

"I'd probably set up your own; you might be looking for something that doesn't exist yet. Start small, build a community on slack or discourse, get ideas from the community and put a small event on. Measure it and see what's working."

What I wasn't expecting fro my survey was the backlash from using the term BAME (Macaulay, 2020). Most of my friends weren't offended by my use but pointed out that the label is too often used to group individuals together, and if I looked into these groups, I would see that the issues they face are drastically different.

Another point, bought to my attention was the use of the term LGTBQ (Finamore, 2018), which face similar issues to the term BAME. Lesbian, Gay and Bi-sexual people have different issues compared to Transexual and Queer, which is perceived as a derogatory term for LGBT individuals (Stonewall, 2020).

The lack of diversity in design presents multiple challenges, and we haven't even touched on individuals with visible and hidden disabilities. Challenging as it is, I have decided to start something.

I came up with the idea to call the community 'Represent', a version of 'Representation' - the action of speaking or acting on behalf of someone or the state of being so represented.

This mission would be to:

'offer positive conversations with people that look like you, but a little further ahead in the field'.

A community that can provide honesty, mentorship, advice, and empathy to help people reach their career goals. This is not a specific mentorship/coaching network but an initiative to bring people together and help those lacking representation.

The priorities of the community will change as we become aware that a sector demands our attention.

One year we might promote better learning paths for Somali immigrants and another we might put on events that promote creatives with hidden disabilities. But our mission is still the same - 'offer positive conversations with people that look like you, but a little further ahead in the field.'

This will also prevent us from becoming stale, and as you can imagine, with the pool of creatives so sparse the community could become disinterested if the same voices are heard, and we end up seeing the same faces on stage and online.

The design industry has a responsibility to improve diversity and exploring how women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and those from less privileged backgrounds enter the field and pursue leadership positions. I don't think, however, diversity targets should be the way forward, as anything presented as a series of finite targets seems like the work has an end-point and can be completed over a couple of quarters. So hopefully 'Represent' will be the start of something, and we can get some traction by running a series of small events.

References

Ceros Inspire: Create, Share, Inspire. (2020). Inside the Diversity Problem in the Design Industry - Ceros Inspire. [online] Available at: https://www.ceros.com/inspire/blog/design-industry-diversity-problem/ [Accessed 27 Nov. 2020].

Clement, N. (n.d.). BLKBK. [online] blkbk.co. Available at: https://blkbk.co/ [Accessed 24 Nov. 2020].

Design Council. (2019). The Design Economy 2018. [online] Available at: https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/resources/report/design-economy-2018.

Eventbrite, E. (2020). London, United Kingdom Design Events. [online] Eventbrite. Available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/d/united-kingdom--london/design-events/ [Accessed 24 Nov. 2020].

Finamore, E. (2018). This is what LGBTQIA actually stands for. [online] PinkNews - Gay news, reviews and comment from the world’s most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service. Available at: https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/04/16/what-does-lgbtqia-stand-for-the-inclusive-term-which-includes-questioning-intersex-and-asexual-and-allied-people/ [Accessed 28 Nov. 2020].

Forsyth, A. and Furlong, A. (2000). Socioeconomic disadvantage and access to higher education. [online] Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Available at: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/socioeconomic-disadvantage-and-access-higher-education [Accessed 24 Nov. 2020].

Gill, R. (2013). Inequalities in Media Work. Behind the Screen, pp.189–205.

Glug (2020). Glug. [online] Glug. Available at: https://glugevents.com [Accessed 24 Nov. 2020].

Hacks/Hackers. (n.d.). Hacks/Hackers. [online] Available at: https://www.hackshackers.com/ [Accessed 24 Nov. 2020].

Macaulay, N.F. and C. (2020). “Don’t call me BAME.” BBC News. [online] 30 Jun. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53194376.

Marlow, T. (2020). #DesignDispatches. [online] Design Museum. Available at: https://designmuseum.org/digital-design-calendar/designdispatches [Accessed 24 Nov. 2020].

Sherbin, L. and Rashid, R. (2017). REPRINT H03FC8 PUBLISHED ON HBR.ORG Diversity Doesn’t Stick Without Inclusion. [online] Google Scholar. Available at: https://www.cof.org/sites/default/files/documents/files/HBR%20-%20Diversity%20Doesnt%20Stick%20Without%20Inclusion%20-%20Sherbin%20%26%20Rashid_2.1.17....pdf [Accessed 29 Nov. 2020].

Stonewall. (2020). Stonewall - Glossary of terms. [online] Available at: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice/faqs-and-glossary/glossary-terms#q [Accessed 28 Nov. 2020].

The Interaction Design Foundation. (2010). UX Design Courses & Global UX Community. [online] Available at: https://www.interaction-design.org/.

The Typographic Circle. (n.d.). Typocircle. [online] Available at: https://www.typocircle.com [Accessed 24 Nov. 2020].

Times Higher Education (THE). (2020). The cost of studying at a university in the UK. [online] Available at: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/cn/student/advice/cost-studying-university-uk [Accessed 28 Nov. 2020].‌

‌‌Week 9: Anthropology - 19/11/2020

Our design industry is still lagging in demographic diversity, disability and cultural inclusion (AIGA, 2020). Articles continue to be shared every week, and conferences regularly framed around the topic of low percentages in ethnic minorities and women designers in leadership positions.

While these underrepresented groups remain (Ideas, 2020), the gravest problems involve people with 'invisible' disabilities (Santuzzi, A.M., Waltz, P.R., Finkelstein, L.M. and Rupp, D.E., 2014). such as mental illnesses (depression), learning disabilities (dyslexia) and behavioural conditions (autism) (The Independent, 2020).

Regardless of what the UK Equality Act demands, employers fail to make 'reasonable adjustments' to suit the needs of disabled employees. A phrase which is open to too much interpretation and dismissed without any real consequence.

Being a designer has its peaks and troughs but generally sucks. 40% of your day is spent ensuring your work is world-class, on brief, strategic, culturally relevant and crafted well enough to increase conversion, brand awareness and is operationally efficient.

Your endorphins are boosted when you get paid well (Cogs Agency, 2019) for the work you do, get recognition for your efforts and laugh well, eat well and get-out while doing it.

You work long hours for little money (Quito, A., 2020), your 'client' doesn't get it, the team you're working with are unbearable, and you're stuck at your desk eating homemade lunches and drinking free office beer. It's depressing — what's more depressing is the way the system is set up.

Free work The free pitch, free proof of concept, free 'pre-sales' workshop. Somehow working for free is part of our industry's DNA (Creative Boost, 2020).

Hiring Process The three ways to get a job are through referrals, recruiters or direct. If you go direct, you have to deal with an applicant tracking system (ATS) (Laumer, S., Maier, C. & Eckhardt, A, 2015) (Garcia, Megan, 2016) and then (most likely) someone who doesn't understand fully what you do very well. If you go through a recruiter, they do know your field very well but are primarily focused on sending candidates that have a higher propensity of getting hired. It's their job and the way their industry works. The referral process is the most likely way of getting hired. You get through the ATS, the recruiter and then the hiring manager looks you up and is bound to know someone you worked with. That person might have been one of the arseholes you found unbearable, and they say you suck. If you got on well with them, then boom you're 20% there.

Interviewing Designers are generally bad at interviewing (Medium, 2020). They spend 40% of their lives meeting other people's objectives and have specific things they are looking for. The problem is, they only have your portfolio to go on, which rarely conveys the full capabilities of the designer. No two engagements are ever the same, so it isn't easy to showcase things that will be a carbon copy of precisely what they are looking for.

Interviewer arrogance sucks, you know, the interviewer that turns up 10 minutes late but holding a hot cup of coffee. Then proceeds to tell you that they don't have a particular role for you, but wanted to meet you to see if you can fit in. Hello! You have a frickin advert on Linkedin, why the fuck am I in this room?

Candidate arrogance sucks too; you know the ones. The people who only can do after-hours interviews and then proceed to tell you they weren't sure about the role but wanted to 'expand their network'. I have better things to do, then use my out of hours on someone I don't know so that you can 'build your network'.

Design tasks Because you don't have a carbon copy of what they are looking for, people set design tasks. Please refer to Free work (Medium, 2020), don't do it and value your profession and skills. Design tasks only work if you have the time, and they pay you for that time.

The multi-step interview Why so many interview rounds? A three-stage process should be enough: phone screener, Face-to-face or phone with the hiring manager and team chemistry meeting. The last step seems to take an age, and the higher you go up, the more people you have to meet.

But sometimes overanalysis can lose you great candidates, and great candidates crumble because of financial pressures, finding time to interview and maintaining their current job.

Negotiating your offer You're looking for a new job because of your current salary sucks (or see above for the other reasons). You have a figure in your mind, but you're forced to play cat and mouse. Employers need to tell people what budget they have, but this does have to be competitive and realistic. The UK design sector brings in 3.949bn (GOV.UK. 2020) a year and exports 461m (Design Council, 2020). Pay your designers more.

Vertical integration has caused businesses to try and drive down costs to meet market demand, but squeezing the pounds out of your designers is probably a bad idea.

Onboarding You got the job, but on day one, guess what? IT sucks, it isn't rocket science. Order the right machine, install the software they need, set-up access to emails, servers and other logins. This is simple stuff, but why does it suck every time?

Manager alignment Your manager hired you for a specific task. Please make sure you get them to write it down and ask for a 30-60-90-day plan. Many relationships break down because of communication, and you own 50% of that relationship.

Bad managers don't know how to communicate or explain the pressures they are under. If they are required to achieve sales targets of 18–20 million or 20% of your overall global revenue target, get them to tell you. Anyone who has ever worked for a boss who is disorganised (Council, Y, 2020), forgetful, or overworked knows how difficult it can be to figure out precisely what's expected of you.

Bad managers have no strategy and are only focused on tactical firefighting — latest pitch, team conflict or next internal meeting they've been pulled into.

You generally have two options. You could grit your teeth and try to endure the uncertainty, or you can try managing up.

Establishing communication lines your manager is comfortable with is the best place to start. Put together a summary of your last week and an immediate plan for the next week. It's impossible to overcommunicate, so highlight roadblocks early on so you can work.

Understand what makes your boss tick and discuss problems right away. If you have a problem with the way your boss manages the team, you don't want to start by insulting their managerial style. But you can't let problems fester out of control. Let your boss know politely and helpfully. Good managers like the initiative, it helps, and it generally creates a strong working relationship.

Bad managers, due to the uncertainties surrounding their role, feel threatened and may lash out. A toxic manager like this will push you away and may avoid communicating with you. If they're not going anywhere, you will need to work on the relationship and see what makes them tick, but if it gets personal move on. You are in charge of your career, and managing up is sometimes required for getting through the day and aid your progression into leadership.

Getting shit done I hate to break this to you, but Design is subjective. No matter which way you turn it, sometimes the concept isn't going to stick. Sometimes it doesn't meet the brief, and sometimes the work is just wrong. It takes humility to accept feedback and leadership to ensure that the quality of your output is in line with the strategy and delivered to a consistent level of excellence.

Effective leaders know when to work towards consensus and when to end the debate and make decisions. So suck it up, keep yourself in check and get shit done. Your work is still respected, but if it does get personal, move on.

Moving on 20% of why you're in the building is your actual work. The remaining 80% is your personality and what you're like to work with. Don't be a dick, keep your ego in check and aim to be pleasant to work with.

If you've been kind but found it difficult working with management, the team or the account you're working on, move on. Staying in an unhappy environment is terrible for your mental health and not worth it.

If you have been a dick and are asked to move on, leave the right way and know your employment rights (Citizens Advice, 2020). Make sure you're treated fairly and paid the proper notice.

Leaving a job, when it hasn't been your decision is the suckiest part of being a designer. It sucks, but ask for some exit interview as it is the only way you will improve.

Conclusion The life of a designer has its peaks and troughs, but no other industry is treated with the same level of contempt. Creative work goes unpaid and is undervalued. In comparison, we enjoy our work when we get paid well and when we gain recognition for our efforts. We hate the politics and the system that surrounds it.

Until that improves, the life of a designer will continue to suck.

References

Agency, C., 2020. The Global Talent Agency. [online] Cogs Agency. Available at: <https://cogsagency.com/salary-survey/the-2019-digital-salary-benchmark-london/> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

AIGA | the professional association for design. 2020. Diversity & Inclusion In Design: Why Do They Matter?. [online] Available at: <https://www.aiga.org/diversity-and-inclusion-in-design-why-do-they-matter> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

Citizensadvice.org.uk. 2020. Leaving A Job. [online] Available at: <https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/leaving-a-job/> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

Council, Y., 2020. Council Post: 12 Traits Bad Bosses Have In Common. [online] Forbes. Available at: <https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2018/09/25/12-traits-bad-bosses-have-in-common/?sh=568c63ce6266> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

Creative Boost. 2020. What To Consider Before Doing Free Design Work | Design Domination. [online] Available at: <https://creative-boost.com/free-design-work/> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

Design Council. 2020. New Government Figures Show UK Has Largest Design Sector In Europe. [online] Available at: <https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/news-opinion/new-government-figures-show-uk-has-largest-design-sector-europe> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

Garcia, Megan. "Racist in the Machine: The Disturbing Implications of Algorithmic Bias." World Policy Journal, vol. 33 no. 4, 2016, p. 111-117. Project MUSE muse.jhu.edu/article/645268.

GOV.UK. 2020. Creative Industries Economic Estimates - January 2016. [online] Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/creative-industries-economic-estimates-january-2016> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

Ideas. 2020. Fostering Diversity & Inclusion In Design Cultures | Adobe XD Ideas. [online] Available at: <https://xd.adobe.com/ideas/perspectives/social-impact/fostering-diversity-inclusion-design-cultures/> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

Laumer, S., Maier, C. & Eckhardt, A. The impact of business process management and applicant tracking systems on recruiting process performance: an empirical study. J Bus Econ 85, 421–453 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11573-014-0758-9

Medium. 2020. Designing The Interview Process: Up, Down & All Around. [online] Available at: <https://uxdesign.cc/designing-the-interview-process-up-down-all-around-a1461f7cfa19> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

Medium. 2020. Interviewing Designers? For God'S Sake, Don'T Give Them Homework. [online] Available at: <https://blog.prototypr.io/interviewing-designers-for-gods-sake-don-t-give-them-homework-8b0bd271de0b> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

Medium. 2020. The Surefire Way To NOT Hire Good Designers. [online] Available at: <https://blog.prototypr.io/the-surefire-way-to-not-hire-good-designers-3b48acac7b2f> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

Quito, A., 2020. Working Overtime Is A Fact Of Life For US Designers. [online] Quartz. Available at: <https://qz.com/879010/working-overtime-is-a-fact-of-life-for-us-designers/> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

The Independent. 2020. Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic Groups Still Grossly Underrepresented In UK Management, Study Finds. [online] Available at: <https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/black-asian-minority-ethnic-groups-bme-uk-management-diversity-study-a7846671.html> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

Santuzzi, A.M., Waltz, P.R., Finkelstein, L.M. and Rupp, D.E. (2014), Invisible Disabilities: Unique Challenges for Employees and Organizations. Ind Organ Psychol, 7: 204-219. <https://doi.org/10.1111/iops.12134> [Accessed 19 November 2020].

Week 9: Developing my practice - 18/11/2020

So I've been quite busy the past few weeks, instead of doing the rapid ideation, I decided to focus on my goal 'to be more efficient in my business operations.'

I created an initial process flow of what type of work I get and what I do to deliver it. Most of the requests are triggered by a business need: either Horizontal integration or Vertical integration. I then sell a Product Health Check, then a Service blueprint which creates a Backlog that the business can use to prioritise and work in an Agile way to deliver on these issues.

Depending on the project type, I then sell either a Brand Sprint for something new, Design Sprint for existing products and CRO plans for things that aren't broken but could do with some help.

I started to create client-facing documentation for each and will continue to expand as it seems to be working!

Alignment Workshop

Product Health Check

Project Plan Coming soon

Brand exercise Coming soon

I immediately converted four leads by sending this to a few cold leads I had.

Week 8: Ethics - 13/11/2020

Our industry has some of the best thinkers, leaders and dreamers around. We get paid to think, lead and dream. Yet our community considers faster internet, business tax changes (IR35) and next hour delivery more of a priority than flat wages, free speech and global warming. Now I'm not saying it is necessarily bad to focus on these, but my point is that Design has a huge influence on how people behave and live their lives.

It is then important to understand that what we design today is not neutral, and we have a moral obligation to incorporate ethics into our design work.

Alcwyn Parker, our course leader, referenced the internal review board at Falmouth University. The Research and Innovation Committee - responsible for implementing the University's approved research strategy and innovation strategy. The Research Integrity and Ethics Subcommittee - responsible for implementing the University's policies for research, integrity and ethics.

He went on to explain the importance and of these two boards and in essence, if the University wanted to be considered reputable, they must adhere to procedures that underpin academic standards and codes of practice.

This made me think about my own Integrity and Ethics Policy. About what I stand for and what I need to do if I want to be more efficient in my business operations.

Brands have seen positive customer sentiment for exposing their rationale and principles that surround the brands. So I think I will have to create my own moral code for research and business operations if I want to be seen as a professional and reputable outfit.

I came across Ethics for designers who created various toolkits for you to validate Design, but I realised I didn't want to create something from scratch, so I decided to look for existing codes of ethics from professional bodies (like Advertising Standards Association -ASA- and Press Complaints Committee – PCC).

I couldn't find any official codes of practice for Design as it's unnecessary to belong to an accredited body to practice graphic design.

Architects are required to fulfil RIBA qualifications in order to register with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) most then continue to become chartered with the RIBA.

The only equivalent body I could find was The Chartered Society of Designers, a professional body for designers available to those practising in the U.K. While being the largest body, you don't have to be accredited to practice design, there is no Gestapo to come and shut you down— the designers who are accredited (all 64 of them) are required to follow the CSD Code of conduct.

The code primarily concerns itself with the ethical conduct of business, and not the moral ethics associated with design, however, as it is the only option in the U.K.

What strikes me in this search is design isn't considered that dangerous enough to warrant regulation. It's just assumed that designers are probably acting correctly. Until they make it law, I think I'll follow the CSD Code of conduct.

References

AIGA | the professional association for design. 2020. AIGA Standards Of Professional Practice. [online] Available at: <https://www.aiga.org/standards-professional-practice/> [Accessed 18 November 2020].

Architecture.com. 2020. Pathways To Qualify As An Architect. [online] Available at: <https://www.architecture.com/education-cpd-and-careers/how-to-become-an-architect> [Accessed 18 November 2020].

Csd.org.uk. 2020. Code Of Conduct | Chartered Society Of Designers. [online] Available at: <https://www.csd.org.uk/about/code-of-conduct/> [Accessed 18 November 2020].

Ethics for Designers. 2020. Ethics For Designers. [online] Available at: <https://www.ethicsfordesigners.com/> [Accessed 18 November 2020].

Falmouth.ac.uk. 2020. Research Ethics & Integrity | Falmouth University. [online] Available at: <https://www.falmouth.ac.uk/research/support/research-ethics-integrity> [Accessed 18 November 2020].

Freelanceuk.com. 2020. What Is IR35? :: Freelance UK. [online] Available at: <https://www.freelanceuk.com/ir35_ir591/what-ir35.shtml> [Accessed 18 November 2020].

Vallance, D., Cuvalo, M., Sethi, N., Senderek, J., Glenn, B., Levine, D., Vashee, S., Sandberg, J. and Weiner, J., 2020. Do Product Designers Need A Code Of Ethics?. [online] Blog.dropbox.com. Available at: <https://blog.dropbox.com/topics/work-culture/do-designers-need-a-code-of-ethics-> [Accessed 18 November 2020].

Week 8: Research - 9/11/2020

This week we were asked to look at the integrity and ethics of research in design. I use a wide range of user research methods from ethnographic interviews to competitor reviews. (As mentioned in previous posts) I started to package this Research into a Product Health Check so that I can get my foot through the door with clients.

I've always thought of User-Research as either quantitative or qualitative.

Quantitative research methods are research methods dealing with numbers and anything measurable in a systematic way. Surveys and A/B tests are common/easy quantitative research methods. Quantitative research aims to measure user behaviour in a 'quantified' way and is used for statistical analysis. For example, if you created two versions of your webform and split your traffic so that 100 users in Europe got one version and another 100 within the same region got the other. You'd be able to measure which form lead to higher conversion rates. Ending with confirmation or contradiction of the hypothesis tested in the design. You must, however, only test against one or a few variables so that data collected can be attributed to that specific variable.

I've used this method in the following case studies; British Gas and Opus energy.

Qualitative research, on the other hand, is often used to gain an in-depth understanding of the experiences of individual users or user groups. Best used for exploring a question or scoping out a problem and generally used to answer pre-defined questions in the advanced stages of a research study or to get products off the ground. The only way to achieve an understanding of the people who are going to use your design is to interview them. I often place this type of research at the very beginning of a project to ensure that the overall direction for the project is relevant to potential customers and users.

I've used this method for a project I did for Tourism Ireland.

--- However, when researching for this post I came across, the 3-dimensional framework categorised by the Nielsen Norman Group.

The framework maps research methods across 'attitudinal - behavioural' and 'qualitative - quantitative', then pairs them to 'context of use'. I had never seen it done this way before and always known when to use what type of research from experimentation or coaching. I've always known the risks of introducing bias into user testing but having the method and context displayed like this highlights what to watch out for at a glance.

For instance, scripted data collection can be skewed if the researcher asks, leading, rather than open-ended questions.

De-contextualised data collection can push users towards a specific outcome. For instance, a 'low fidelity' prototype may only have a core set of features and load slower. Limiting paths that users can complete their goals, whereas a full product might have multiple options and ones designers may not have considered.

References

Nielsen Norman Group. 2020. Decision Frames: How Cognitive Biases Affect UX Practitioners. [online] Available at: <https://www.nngroup.com/articles/decision-framing-cognitive-bias-ux-pros/> [Accessed 12 November 2020].

Nielsen Norman Group. 2020. When To Use Which User-Experience Research Methods. [online] Available at: <https://www.nngroup.com/articles/which-ux-research-methods/> [Accessed 12 November 2020].

Week 7: GitHub - 7/11/2020

So Git was presented to us a solution for both UX design and Game development version control. It's relevance to UXD, is a bit of a stretch and I've been debating it with our tutors.

Git as a version solution for development teams? Yes. But the creative and UXDs on the course are all struggling to implement it and see it's relevance.

The tutors said it would be foolish not to talk about one of the most massive version control tools out there, but that's not my gripe. My gripe is the relevance to UX. Like, I've seen someone make a cup of tea in a microwave, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone just because it's possible.

Talk about, yes, but it's relevance to UXD, a bit of a stretch. Git is designed and created for development teams to store code. Storing a 300MB Sketch files, no. You could do it, but I wouldn't recommend it, there are better workflows to adopt and recommend.

Why would you use it save files when One drive, Dropbox, Box or in program versioning have better handling?

XD has some version control, and so does Axure, but both are limiting when sharing with clients and external teams.

Specialist teams should use the same program, and Figma is the best for UX and product design. Sketch is too bloated these days and with Creative Cloud, you never feel fully in control.

In the end, all these applications have logs/cards exported to Confluence/Asana or other Project management tools. There is no wrong or right way to do version control, but there are best practices and ways to encourage it without affecting workflow and becoming a hindrance.

If you want to have an awareness of how development teams work, learn how Git works. But for UXD, forget about it.

References

Adobe.com. 2020. Adobe Creative Cloud. [online] Available at: <https://www.adobe.com/uk/creativecloud.html> [Accessed 8 November 2020].

Adobe.com. 2020. UI/UX Design And Collaboration Tool | Adobe XD. [online] Available at: <https://www.adobe.com/uk/products/xd.html> [Accessed 8 November 2020].

Asana. 2020. Manage Your Team’S Work, Projects, & Tasks Online · Asana. [online] Available at: <https://asana.com/> [Accessed 8 November 2020].

Atlassian. 2020. Confluence | Your Remote-Friendly Team Workspace | Atlassian. [online] Available at: <https://www.atlassian.com/software/confluence> [Accessed 8 November 2020].

Axure. 2020. Axure RP 9 - Prototypes, Specifications, And Diagrams In One Tool. [online] Available at: <https://www.axure.com/> [Accessed 8 November 2020].

Box. 2020. Secure File Sharing, Storage And Collaboration. [online] Available at: <https://www.box.com/en-gb/home> [Accessed 8 November 2020].

Dropbox. 2020. Dropbox. [online] Available at: <https://www.dropbox.com> [Accessed 8 November 2020].

Figma. 2020. Figma: The Collaborative Interface Design Tool.. [online] Available at: <https://www.figma.com/> [Accessed 8 November 2020].

Git-scm.com. 2020. Git. [online] Available at: <https://git-scm.com/> [Accessed 8 November 2020].

Microsoft.com. 2020. Microsoft Onedrive | Free Cloud Storage | Share Files Online. [online] Available at: <https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/onedrive/online-cloud-storage> [Accessed 8 November 2020].

Week 7: Version control - 2/11/2020

When presented with the topic this week, Version control, I immediately thought of why I moved away from Sketch and took-up Figma. I fully moved away from Sketch at the start of 2020, mainly due to the bloatedness and complexity of creating Design Systems that could be shared and maintained (easily) outside of your current team.

Now I'm not an expert on any program, but I have created several design systems over the years using a range of programmes (InDesign, FreeHand, Fireworks). I can tell you from experience that it was a horrendous experience. Maintaining them was near impossible as you had to print them out, and one person in the studio had to become the brand guardian who maintained it. Which, in turn, meant if that person was sick, left the company or lost momentum, they became instantly out of date.

Designers for years have been calling out for digitisation, as have brands, who have seen positive customer sentiment for exposing their rationale and principles that surround the brands.

  • https://brand.uber.com/

  • https://creative.starbucks.com/

  • https://design.studio/work/airbnb

Even looking for source material for this post, I could see how out of date the digital sites they are themselves - they lack version control.

Software companies have taken notice and come up with solutions like Creative Cloud libraries, Sketch and Figma. My current tool of choice is Figma. The reason I use Figma is that it's cost-effective and easily manageable. There are tones of articles on the benefits of Figma, vs others programmes, but I don't want to get into that. For our purposes, Figma autosaves and you can tag versions and duplicate them. You can copy stuff from the older version without leaving the file. In terms of distributed teams and history keeping, it is a dream come true. I couldn't imagine using any other programme to create Design systems unless there is something better!

Example of Design systems I have created can be found here

References

Choudhury, N., 2020. [online] Available at: <https://docs.akanoodles.com/ux-playbook/design-systems> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Adobe.com. 2020. Sync Digital Assets In Adobe Apps | Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries. [online] Available at: <https://www.adobe.com/uk/creativecloud/libraries.html> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Brand.uber.com. 2020. Uber Brand. [online] Available at: <https://brand.uber.com/> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Creative.starbucks.com. 2020. Starbucks Creative Expression. [online] Available at: <https://creative.starbucks.com/> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

DesignStudio. 2020. Airbnb - Belong Anywhere. [online] Available at: <https://design.studio/work/airbnb> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Figma. 2020. Components, Styles, And Shared Library Best Practices. [online] Available at: <https://www.figma.com/best-practices/components-styles-and-shared-libraries/> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Sketch. 2020. Libraries. [online] Available at: <https://www.sketch.com/docs/libraries/> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Week 6: Reading Week

Week 5: SMART Goals - 28/10/2020

Following on from my SMART goals I started to refine my offer. Time and time again, I get asked the same question from most businesses and agencies I've worked with, 'How do we sell UX?'

The story is the same, they've hired the team, they get bits and pieces, but they haven't been able to sell the huge pieces or been able to grow accounts with optimisation programmes.

Most agencies sell 'Design thinking', 'Workshops', 'Hackathons', 'Design jams' and whatever else. But in all honesty, that's more digital strategy than pure UX.

'Design Sprints' are great, but for me, it's something you sell at Stage 2, after some of the problems have risen to the surface, and there is a need to kick something off and create something tangible to test.

UX is difficult to sell if you're not known for being a top tier UX focused agency like IDEO or CXPartners. So how do you get your foot in the door and prove your worth?

'Product Health Checks'.

Product Health Checks are an excellent cost-effective way to get a foot in the door; they take 5-10 days and cost around £3-5k depending on the length and your shop-rate. For most businesses, that's an affordable investment, and for an agency, it's an affordable piece of business development if doing for free.

A Product Health Check is essentially a report that takes a look at revenue generation, profitability, market fit, competitive positioning and end-user experiences. It provides actionable insights that can (potentially) reduce costs by improving operational efficiencies with digital tools or process improvements.

After you deliver the report, the customer can then discuss what they want to do after, such as wireframes, designs, further studies or 'Design Sprints'. But the initial delivery would be A Product health check.

It's easy for Client services to sell and package up. Unfortunately, I can't share any previous client examples as most of the content is commercially sensitive, but the strawman is detailed below and the Notion template I use can be found here.

'Product Health Check' Straw man - Problems and suggest fixes - Opportunities - Quantitative research study results - Qualitative interview results - Actionable insights summary

Conclusion

Depending on your situation, do the following:

  • Offer Product Health Checks to your existing client for free; it will show you're willing to do what's best for their business and that your care about the products you've already delivered.

  • Create a Product Health Check as a case study, and run through it with your client service team, talk them through this post and work out how to cost it and how they effectively sell it

  • If you work on your own, create a new business development strategy, and use this as a 'try before you buy' or a 'pilot test us out' project.

References

Choudhury, N., 2020. [online] App.gitbook.com. Available at: <https://docs.akanoodles.com/ux-playbook/interaction-design> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Choudhury, N., 2020. [online] App.gitbook.com. Available at: <https://docs.akanoodles.com/ux-playbook/research> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Choudhury, N., 2020. Akanoodles Design. [online] akanoodles - send noods!. Available at: <https://akanoodles.com/brand-sprint.html> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Choudhury, N., 2020. Akanoodles Design. [online] akanoodles - send noods!. Available at: <https://akanoodles.com/design-sprints.html> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Week 5: Reflection - 26/10/2020

So I started this week to reflect on why I wanted to do a Masters in Experience design in the first place.

For me, thinking about it, it came from a desire to refine my skills further and hone them into clear articulation. I want to be seen as an authority in experience design and an industry expert that people seek out to solve challenging business problems.

I need to be able to rationalise my thinking quicker than anyone else in the room and back that up with a coherent, rational argument.

Now how do I turn that into SMART goals? I think the best way to make this course relevant to my profession is to formulate my offer and a consistent delivery method.

  • Specific: 'I want to be more efficient in my business operations' by formulating my offer into concise sellable packages that customers can understand and self-select without any ambiguity.

  • Measurable: I will track the qualified lead to conversion rate and survey customers pre-sales and post-sales.

  • Attainable: I will implement it as soon as the packages have been created.

  • Relevant: formulating my approach and increasing the number of will separate me from individuals who's offer is unclear or inconsistent.

  • Time-bound: packages will be created throughout my Master's course.

Week 4: Design Jam - 19/10/2020

I had a tough time getting behind the task this week. I wasn't pleased with the structure, clarity of deliverables and the course quality in general. When the topic of Week 4 came up, I pinged the tutors an email to see if I could use a live project. One of them said I couldn't really, so I was like ok, let's see what comes up. I watched over the webinar, and I thought it was poorly structured and a waste of time (this is just me btw). So I decided to speak with the Course Lead. He said that the main focus of this module (Development practice) was the Critical Reflective Journal (CRJ) and where we are personally, to try and make the tasks work for us. I explained that I had developed my process and to unlearn that was not what I was looking for in this course. We had a good chat, and I explained that the module, doesn't talk about user focus/research or getting to the why. That's why I struggled to get behind it. He said to apply what I thought I was missing and more or less get on with it.

I decided to apply my tried and tested process and treat it like a 'Start-up client'.

--- So that we're on the same page, 'Startup' has defined as having a new product, unproven business model, unclear pricing and an evolving go to market offer.

The client we have here is 'Arithmetik', a Greek Drone shipping company. Greek as it's the Greek spelling of 'arithmetic'.

As part of my consultancy business, I offer something called a 'product health check'.

A health check is an excellent, cost-effective way to get a reading on a product. It consists of a complete audit of revenue generation history, profitability, end-user experiences, market fit, and competitive positioning — the vital signs of your product.

If one of these elements aren't performing well, the entire product's potential is stunted or worse, could fail.

I started looking at revenue generation and profitability. As this was an imaginary company, I didn't have any stakeholders to interview, so I needed to figure out what the business model could be and potential problems that would prevent them from making money.

I created a mind map to go over the initial thoughts. Asking questions along the way and trying to answer them.

Quite a few of the problems were day-to-day operational, logistic issues, but I immediately saw that one question needed to be solved before any other problem occurred.

Was it worth taking the job, and could we do it?

Weight, size and distance determined the answer, so I decided to create a 'calculator' to aid the companies profitability.

As I never worked with drones before I had to do a bit of desk research to see how much they could carry and how far they could go on a single charge. I found an article on Drone life that highlighted a few breakthroughs in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Max weight seemed to suggest 500lbs (227kg), I used WolframAlpha to visualise how much this would be:2.6 × average weighting adult human male mass ( ≈ 88 kg )

I decided to set a rule that an item could not be wider than the drone itself so it could travel safely, and control flight. Assuming the company had the Boeing UAVs, the max size would be: 5 meters long x 6 meters wide.

A research paper I found on UAVs stated that a 'four or eight-rotor, battery-powered copters were capable of carrying up to 4.5 kg (10 lbs). It went on to say their quadcopter flew 2.6 to 3.7 km on a single charge during the high-speed measurements (5–12 m/s) and 0.6 km to 1.15 km during low-speed measurements (<5 m/s), without a package.

I couldn't find any information on the Boeing UAVs, but let us assume they can travel 5km at max load with a 70,000 Mah battery (large battery used in electric vehicles).

I'll use this data to design my app.

  • Distance to travel (start location - end location)

  • Fuel consumption (battery)

  • Weight

  • Size (length, weight, depth)

I have defined the product goal: Provide an accurate calculation of the profitability of delivery

The factors that affect profitability will need to be inputted into our tool:

Distance to travel (start location - end location) Max distance: 5 kilometres at max load

Fuel consumption (battery) Fuel: 70,000 Mah

Weight Max weight: 500lbs (227kg)

Size (length, weight, depth) Max Length: 5 meters Max Width: 6 meters Max Depth: 5 meters

Scoping

We were asked to scope the work as part of the project. I've done a lot of scoping and estimation in my regular day job, and it involves the creation of an Experience design document. This document is a narration of the product strategy and formalises the project vision. It details the research and theory of why we're building what we're building. Off-the-bat, a project of this scale will produce the following pieces of documentation.

  • User Flows

  • Wireframes

  • Pattern library

  • Basic functional prototype

Timescales We've been set a time scale of this project for two weeks, and it looks achievable to do in that time.

User Flows

The fictitious user journey from a customer would be:

  • User requests a delivery

  • Enters pick-up location

  • Enters Weight

  • Enters Size

  • Enters Drop-off location

  • The app returns a price and confirmation

On the business side, this would tell 'Arithmetik', how much money they would make from delivery from an 'Algorithm' (which is out of scope), but the UI and UX can still be designed. Telling, the business which drone should collect and deliver the parcel. I've drawn the user flows below.

During the creation of the user and business flow, I realised there was no need to create an additional application for the business or to build anything that required human interaction.

All operations could be run autonomously.

Conclusion

A product health check was the most efficient way to tackle a project with unclear goals and objectives. At the start of the project, I initially thought we had to build an app that business would need to select and assign drones. Then I realised that drones are autonomous, and the user inputs all the information.

As a business, all they would need to respond to was drone collisions, missed pick-up times and changing weather conditions.

This project didn't require any wireframes or pattern libraries.

References

Boeing.com. 2020. Boeing: Watch: Cargo Air Vehicle Completes First Outdoor Flight. [online] Available at: <https://www.boeing.com/features/2019/05/cav-first-flight-05-19.page> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Choudhury, N., 2020. Ways Of Working. [online] akanoodles. Available at: <https://docs.akanoodles.com/ux-playbook/ways-of-working> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Choudhury, N., 2020. Product Health Check. [online] akanoodles. Available at: <https://docs.akanoodles.com/ux-playbook/product-health-check> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

McNabb, M., 2020. Boeing’S Experimental Cargo Drone Can Carry 500 Pounds, Enters Next Phase Of Testing. [online] DRONELIFE. Available at: <https://dronelife.com/2019/05/13/boeings-experimental-cargo-drone-can-carry-500-pounds-enters-next-phase-of-testing/> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Wolframalpha.com. 2020. 227Kg - Wolfram|Alpha. [online] Available at: <https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=227kg> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Stolaroff, J.K., Samaras, C., O’Neill, E.R. et al. Energy use and life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of drones for commercial package delivery. Nat Commun 9, 409 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-02411-5

Week 4: Rapid Ideation - 12/10/2020

Rapid Ideation Finally getting my hands dirty - This week we had to share ideas on what we'd like to work on. I thought I'd use a real project I'm working on, which started with a personal need.

Background - Like most men of my age (late 30's), my close circle of friends has gotten smaller the older I've gotten. Studies have been done on it, and Jordan Peterson has made a ton of money on it and spoken on why many men tend to do nothing and isolate themselves.

The average 25-year-old man contacts about 19 people per month, however as the years go by that figure continues to decline. We begin to switch our focus to careers, relationships and starting families.

Today So I needed to find a new group of friends, with a shared interest and who wanted to get healthy too. The best way I thought about doing this was team sports. By focusing on team sports would mean there would be no awkward silences and a shared experience where we could just enjoy each others company.

I started to google a few websites and apps and came across the Find a Player app that I would like to use in my study.

Find a Player is a multi-platform app designed to take the pain out of organising and finding players for sports, games & events.

This app isn't that bad, but I think it could play a larger part in aiding mental health and include other features, beyond finding a player.

There's a lot of cognitive load and no clear channels people can follow. There are minimal visual triggers which help/aid you in confirming or informing you about what had happened and why it hasn't happened.

During this phase of work, I'll document a narration of the product strategy and formalises the project vision. Detailing the research and theory of why we’re building what we’re building. A project of this scale will produce the following pieces of documentation.

  • Project hypothesis

  • Usability review

  • Data Analysis

    • Web Analytics

    • Expert Interviews

    • Surveys

  • Behavioural analytics

  • Task Analysis (Jobs to be done)

  • Content Audits

  • Information Architecture

  • User Testing Plans

Timescales The time scale of this project looks around 12 weeks. The UI design will be 6 weeks on top of that inclusive of documentation that will support the development.

References

Findaplayer.com. 2020. Find A Player App | IOS & Android Find A Player App. [online] Available at: <https://www.findaplayer.com/> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Joe Rogan Experience #1208 - Jordan Peterson, 2020. Joe Rogan Experience #1208 - Jordan Peterson. [image] Available at: <https://youtu.be/vIeFt88Hm8s> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Senthilingam, M., 2020. This Is The Age When You Start Losing Friends. [online] CNN. Available at: <https://edition.cnn.com/2016/06/06/health/losing-friends-mid-twenties/index.html> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Week 3: Prototyping - 05/10/2020

Rapid Ideation The focus of this week was ‘rapid ideation’, a technique I generally use after a problem has been defined, but not necessarily to create solutions.

The course leant towards prototyping, developing and communicating the resultant ideas. But didn't actually specify user testing and the use of data.

UX should be data and user-led, so I was quite surprised data wasn't drummed into the cohorts minds from the start. --- I conduct 'design sprints' on a weekly basis, which is the product/UX terminology used for a hackathon. They are super stressful and if you need to run one, you need to plan, plan and plan.

Someone in this week's webinar mentioned 'learning from failure' and to persevere till you perfect it. I found this to be really bad advice to anyone thinking about running a design sprint or hackathon. I think we, in the MA course, should be at a level of commanding and leading rather than learning about participation in such events. I get that the first couple of weeks is about to bring people around to a new way of thinking, but this is setting someone up to be a follower, not a leader.

Prototyping Prototypes are one of the most critical steps in the design process and a means to test your ideas before sinking lots of time and money into the final product. Essential in resolving usability issues before launch and great at revealing areas that need improvement. Once a draft of the product is in the hands of real users, we're able to finally see how they want to use the product and then go back and adjust if needed.

I tend to prototype in a design program called Figma, where I either set-up a quantitative test via Usertesting.com or qualitative tests over Zoom. Going through the set of scenarios that lead to our Rapid ideation process in the first place.

Technology and tools have made this ideation and testing process so much easier and than it was 5 years ago. I definitely don't miss the days of running into a pub and asking people to check this thing out on my laptop!

References

Figma. 2020. Figma: The Collaborative Interface Design Tool.. [online] Available at: <https://www.figma.com> [Accessed 5 October 2020].

UserTesting. 2020. Usertesting: The Human Insight Platform. [online] Available at: <https://www.usertesting.com/> [Accessed 5 October 2020].

Zoom Video. 2020. Video Conferencing, Web Conferencing, Webinars, Screen Sharing. [online] Available at: <https://zoom.us/> [Accessed 5 October 2020].

Week 2: Creative Techniques

Our discussion topic of the week was 'How to Foster for Creativity'. The course detailed the various design thinking approaches to creative solutions and idea generation such as Brainstorming, Mind Maps, Round Robin, Opposite Thinking, Collage/Cut-Up, Mash-up, Crazy Eights and SCAMPER.

Out of the eight techniques I'd never used Round Robin. In the course material, Round Robin is described as a group brainstorming exercise. I was keen to test this technique out, but I couldn't find any reputable studies that support using it over the well-established techniques listed. It was also quite difficult to do during 'lockdown' as it is a technique that is more well suited to do in a room with a group of people.

My weapons of choice for Design thinking workshops have usually been Mind Maps, Opposite Thinking, Crazy Eights and SCAMPER.

Mind mapping has been my go-to method for a while. I use it to map out my thoughts whenever I approach a project or when I need to confirm the logic or steps of something. Tony Buzan popularised the mind mapping technique back in 1974 and introduced his readers to mind maps. You place a central idea on a page and then branch out from it with keywords.

A 2005 study by Glennis Edge Cunningham, asserts that 80 per cent of students in the study reported better learning through the use of mind maps. So I must be doing something right.

References

Buzan, T. 2006. Mind Mapping. Harlow: BBC Active. Available at: Google Scholar [Accessed 21 November 2020].

Cunningham, Glennis Edge. 2005. Mindmapping: its effects on student achievement in high school biology. University of Texas Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Available at: https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/2410 [Accessed 21 November 2020].

Week 2: Creativity - 28/09/2020

What does it mean to be creative? Working in the field of design for over 18 years, I often ask myself that most days. The definitions I jump between are: creativity: the ability to see things that are not obvious' and 'creativity: the ability to translate other peoples ideas into the things people want'.

So going about this in babbling fashion as I have, I have to define creativity as the ability to recall and translate information faster than the person next to you.

When we think about 'creativity (as) the application of imagination', we have to allow imagination to be defined as 'thought'. So just because everyone can think, it doesn't make everyone's idea good. I'm not sure creativity can be taught either. You know, just because you've taught someone to paint, doesn't make that person Michelangelo.

The kicker here is 'design', is subjective. Sometimes no matter which way you turn it, sometimes the concept isn't going to stick. Sometimes it doesn't meet the brief and sometimes the work is just bad. It takes humility to accept feedback and leadership to ensure the quality of your output is in line with the strategy and delivered to a consistent level of excellence.

The true value of your creativity is measured by the price someone is willing to pay for it. -- When running design sprints with clients, I ask them to look at out of sector examples of where the barrier they are facing has been solved by someone else.

Whether it be a check-out flow, image gallery or sharing an article, we ask them to be inspired by the ideas of others and then adapt it to work the problem in front of us.

Artist call this 'influenced by', so I think most of the times I have had to overcome creative block is to look through all the things I have done, saved, seen or liked and think about how I can translate that for the problem in front of me. I'm a firm believer that no idea is new, but just one that's been forgotten.

References Kleon, A., 2012. Steal Like An Artist. Workman Publishing Company.

Week 1: Time Management and Agile Development

Our course kicked off with the discussion topic of Time management and industry-standard project management methodologies. They went on to discuss the various approaches to project management, such as Lean, Scrum, Waterfall, PRINCE2, XP and Kanban.

In the early days of my career, there used to be a debate on which project management methodology to follow, but these days there's little debate. From my experience, smaller teams tend to use Waterfall, (first described by Winston W. Royce, 1970) and larger teams use a combination of Agile, (Agile Manifesto, 2001) and Scrum (Scrum.org. 2016).

I say a combination of Agile and Scrum because they are so similar but varied enough to work for cross-functional teams. Development teams I've worked with prefer Scrum as it has a more rigid structure, making it easy to maintain code consistency.

The Creative, UX and client service teams I've worked in prefer Agile as it works well with Scrum and the changing requirements of clients, stakeholders and other elements out of our control. It's also teachable.

Waterfall, as Winston Royce describes, is a two-step process and works well for programs that are already in use and stable. He asserts that implementation in larger projects are doomed to collapse as additional steps are required.

It took me a while to get into Agile methodologies in my early days, but like any adoption of a new approach, I had to give it time to bed-in.

Agile, in my first set of projects disillusioned me, I was not too fond of the uncertainty and couldn't get 'into the flow' as I would do in Waterfall projects. I had to stay involved in the project and work more collaboratively. I ended up gaining empathy for development teams and understood why my previous Waterfall method of 'throwing designs over the wall' created so much friction between the teams.

I've fully embraced Agile now, and there is no other way I can envisage running a project. The only thing I do say about Agile/Scrum is the difficulty to cost. I've experienced similar problems to Miller's 2013. I found that the profit margin disappears if the team lacks the experience to estimate the work correctly and neglects to communicate problems early enough to fix.

Of course, these issues aren't unique to Agile, but I think it's the main one that hinders buy-in from peers and stakeholders.

References

Agile Manifesto. 2001. Principles Behind The Agile Manifesto. [online] Available at: <http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html> [Accessed 11 November 2020].

Chan, K., 2016. Scrum Methodology Vs. Agile Methodology. [image] Available at: <http://www.onedesk.com/scrum-methodology-vs-agile-methodology/> [Accessed 12 November 2020].

Davies, R., 2012. Introducing Agile Techniques To Teams Outside Software Development. [online] Agile Coaching. Available at: <http://agilecoach.typepad.com/agile-coaching/2012/09/introducing-agile-techniques-to-teams-outside-software-development-.html> [Accessed 12 November 2020].

Miller, G. J. 2013. Agile problems, challenges, & failures. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2013—North America, New Orleans, LA. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute. Available at: <https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/agile-problems-challenges-failures-5869> [Accessed 21 November 2020].

Scrum.org. 2016. What Is Scrum? | Scrum.Org - The Home Of Scrum. [online] Available at: <https://www.scrum.org/Resources/What-is-Scrum> [Accessed 13 November 2020].

Royce, W. 1970. Managing the Development of Large Software Systems, pages 1-9. In: Proceedings of IEEE WESCON 1970 (1970) Available at: Google Scholar [Accessed 11 November 2020].

Week 1: Orientation - 21/09/2020

Aspiring to become a reflective practitioner Our first assignment: 'aspire to become a reflective practitioner'.

Like probably everyone on my course I hit google, browsing through the various links, the gist of most of them, mirrored that of the brief.

'an opportunity for self-exploration, and an opportunity for you to attain self-understanding through the analysis of your personal characteristics and experiences'.

So here goes, what I've learnt about myself is that I'm an incredibly private person, I hate talking about myself, and I'm probably going to struggle to reflect on my practice.

I can write about my process on a given project, my approach and our learnings. But it's quite tricky when you haven't done any design yet (on the course) or have any transparency on when that will start - I guess I'll have to suck it up for a week.

References Tracey M.W., Baaki J. (2014) Design, Designers, and Reflection-in-Action. In: Hokanson B., Gibbons A. (eds) Design in Educational Technology. Educational Communications and Technology: Issues and Innovations. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-00927-8_1

Welsh MA, Dehler GE. (2013) Combining Critical Reflection and Design Thinking to Develop Integrative Learners. Journal of Management Education. 2013;37(6):771-802. doi:10.1177/1052562912470107