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Category: Design

User Testing: Unlocking Feedback with Post-Test Surveys

For the first time in a while, I’m designing and running my own usability studies. Carnegie Mellon cross-trains its HCI students in both research and design, so it’s a bit like riding a bike – it comes back eventually. Post-university, I used to run studies and focus groups when I was a producer in the video game industry, because we rarely employed dedicated UX folks – but that didn’t diminish the importance of getting feedback about work in progress. At Microsoft, however, the field of user experience is split into two specialties – Design and Research – so I usually…

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Half the Blank Page

In September 2014, I left Microsoft to join a new product team at Amazon. The project itself is still classified, but it’s a v1 technology product, which means we’re starting from scratch. An exciting opportunity, but it changes the way one has to approach the role of user experience. Instead of researching existing products and wireframing, the conversations really need to focus on context of use, user habits, and information architecture. Early on, it became clear that I’d be spending a lot of time sketching – too early for digital work, especially since digital work ends up being critiqued for…

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My Africa Diaries: The Final Sprint

Kenyans are renowned for their sprinting abilities… in stark contrast to my own physical proclivities. But I did my own form of sprinting today, with a back to back day on the heels of a successful Thursday. The first half of the day was brainstorming a plan for the iHub UX lab to become self-sustaining in a reliable way. Their opportunities are many and their point of view is strong, but it’s still a challenge to keep the doors open at times. It’s really exciting to imagine the potential impact they could have – after all, how many other chances…

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My Africa Diaries: Working at iHub

The primary reason I’m in Africa is as a volunteer for the Microsoft4Afrika program. One part of their outreach is to match professionals from Microsoft with identified technology needs in African countries. Many of the assignments are either teaching advanced skills or helping with infrastructure and IT needs. For my own part, I was matched with a request from the iHub in Nairobi for user experience training on developing products for Microsoft platforms. I’ve spent the better part of the last month preparing my curriculum from scratch – though I do teach an intro to interaction design workshop back in…

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My Africa Diaries: Prologue

Back in December, I was browsing the internal Microsoft forums (Yammer) and stumbled across an announcement for a new volunteer outreach program – MySkills4Afrika, part of the larger Microsoft for Afrika program. They were accepting applications from full-time employees to share their skills and expertise to energize the tech industry and entrepreneurship in Africa. Instantly, the posting spoke to me in that way you can’t quite ignore, even though travel or outreach to Africa never seemed like a realistic possibility for me up until that moment. Out of curiosity, I searched the available opportunities and discovered there were in fact…

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