A few weeks ago, I joined Tellagence as the Director of User Experience. I am humbled by Matt’s willingness to hire me as one of 5 people charged with getting a product out to demo in four months.
I am totally psyched about the solution we will be offering people who are trying to make sense of relationships that are formed using social media. Link to Matt at SXSW talking about how we are “Moneyball for Social” — note to self: see that movie.
Jumping in — knowing we have about 6 sprints to deliver awesomeness — I’ve formed some tactics around my next steps regarding owning the User Experience for this new product. I am chunking my thinking in three areas — the most important things to keep up with in order to get awesomeness.
1. Context Scenarios / Pragmatic Personas: As a UX girl, when I join a project, I am hungry to get some core end-to-end context stories pulled together. Stories that describe what we think the initial release (and beyond) experience is from our various persona’s perspective. Luckily, Matt and Nitin and I worked together a year ago to create a set of working personas that we have socialized with the team. In my experience, having developers demo from the perspective of “Stella” brings a whole new dimension of use context to everyone’s design thinking. We did these pragmatically — without a ton of research. Matt and Nitin are intimately familiar with the users — having developed the initial product to serve their own needs. Some stakeholder interviews with them and their beta customers gave me enough information to get to core user goals.
2. Revolving Door Sessions: When the CEO of Tripwire took me out to dinner to thank me for the 8.1 release last year, he told me that he got “best feedback from the field ever” since he joined the company 6 years ago. And when I left, he asked me what I thought was the single most important thing I brought that they needed to keep doing to keep up the momentum. I did not have to think about my answer. Folding iterative validation into design and development is critical.
We need to get that going here. Generally, I like to get three tiers in place to handle constant UX validation.
- User surrogates who can test 15 minutes every week. 8 of them. Sometimes, customer service people. We will use these folks to test specific technical interaction design every week. They “show up” to a remote session and we test whatever we have — be it code or wireframe click throughs. This is our group to test the usability of controls and interaction flow.
- User surrogates who can test 30 minutes 2x a month. 5 of them. Sometimes, professional services types. We use these folks to test bigger end-to-end task flows in any kind of fidelity. These folks provide some usage context feedback to our design — as well as granular technical interaction and usability.
- Customers who can test 1 hour at a time. Who will let us record the session. Who will commit to meeting once a month. I’d like 6 to start. These are sessions where we will be either testing lo-fi concept click-thrus (*YES! You can do this in balsamiq) as well as code. These sessions are end-to-end scenario focused in nature — and are best conducted with me facilitating a repeatable protocol for about 45 minutes with the PM on the line observing — and then the PM can ask follow up questions for the last 15.
We’ve already been out to visit Tellagence beta customers last week. Their feedback on some data visualization spawned 15 backlog stories for us to prioritize.
3. Sprinting: Mostly questions and how we want to work here….. The main thing — how do we keep the machine fed with validated design hypothesis for the developers to estimate (ideally a 2 sprints out) , validation and desk-side work paired with the UI developer, and make sure we are responding to what we learn so that acceptance criteria is current. Here’s how we did it at the last place.
OK that’s all for now.