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A month or so ago, I was driving into work listening to the Design Story Podcast, when I heard Mauro Porcini, Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo, talking about not just satisfying our users, but loving them.

This really resonated with me because I’ve been thinking of a way to explain the importance of going beyond just having empathy for users—especially because designers often talk about empathy but then proclaim that they are here to solve your (the user’s) problems.

Having just started a new role, I’m working on creating design principles with my team as a way to align and communicate our fundamental team beliefs. The idea of ‘loving’ users was one of the principles we instantly agreed upon.

When you think about the people you love, you want the very best for them. You want to make things delightful and keep them magical. There is great joy in spending time with those you love, the relationship involves an element of surprise, and sharing experiences to build understanding is key. Love has a far greater emotional connection than empathy; as designers, we can leverage this way of thinking to provide more immersive, engaging experiences for our users.

As we spend time with users, observing them with intent can help us identify their pain points, goals and desired outcomes. Taking time to know them and build relationships uncovers their unarticulated needs. Understanding the reasoning why, beyond just knowing the what, provides an opportunity to truly delight users—more than fulfilling a single need—and involving them throughout the process cultivates a...

As a designer, what gets you out of bed in the morning? What really motivates you to do meaningful work?

The Japanese have a great word: ikigai. It has no direct translation into English, but roughly means your level of happiness in life, or your ‘reason for being’.

As you can see in the chart below, you can achieve ikigai—meaning in life—if you can find the right balance of 4 things:

  • Passion
  • Mission
  • Vocation
  • Profession
Your design Ikigai

Your ikigai encompasses your career and your personal life. But it’s also a great lens to use when looking for the next step in your design career.

With Ikigai in mind, we can design our own careers, finding a balance between working on the things that we love doing, the things that we’re good at, and the things that add meaning to the world. And yes, we need to be paid for our work too.

Many people spend their lifetime working out their reason for being.

But understanding where you sit on the chart above might help you realise what areas you need to work on to get there. Here are the questions to ask yourself.

Are you in a role that you love?

Nothing makes us happier than working in a job, or at least a project that gets us into flow state.

Ask yourself, “am I truly happy with the work that I do?”. Are there changes that you could make in your current role that could make you truly love your work? Or would a new role get you closer to finding your...


Welcome back to UXmas for another year! In case you haven’t joined in the UXmas fun yet, here’s an update on your favourite UX-themed digital advent calendar.

But first, what’s UXmas all about?

Well, each year (since 2012), the teams from Thirst Studios and UX Mastery collaborate to create a Christmas-themed website called UXmas: a digital advent calendar where each day we open a door to reveal an insightful little UX nugget. We see it as our way of giving back to the UX community.

Once again, we’ve curated a captivating lineup of UX content. You can expect articles, videos, sketches… we’ve left it up to our amazing authors to get creative. Our contributors are an inspiring mix of our UX heroes and voices from the UX Mastery community.

Missed the start of UXmas? Catch up on every tasty UXmas treat from our first 10 days.

1 December: The Heartwarming Story of Nelly & Neil

By Paul Boag

In this video, Paul shares a heartwarming story about lonely Nelly, the power of understanding, and how good UX extends beyond the edge of the screen.

2 December: Overcoming That Dreaded Malady: User Research Fatigue

By Jim Ross

Are you at risk of developing user research fatigue? Whether you have a predisposition or your case is caused by environmental factors, learn the signs and symptoms with this humorous and authoritative guide by Jim.

3 December: King Content Joins the UX Team

By Chris Offutt

In this modern-day illuminated manuscript, King Content loses...


‘Star Trek’ actor Anton Yelchin died last year at the age of 27 when a Jeep pinned him against a gate and brick pillar outside his home. It turns out that his Jeep’s gearshift was poorly designed.

Poor Anton didn’t realise that the Jeep was in neutral when he got out, so it rolled backwards down the driveway, crushing him. This was one of over 100 accidents related to confusion over the gearshift.

Many people thought the Fiat Chrysler gearshift, which looked like most gearshifts, should move up and down to shift into reverse, drive and park. That was their mental model. In other words, their belief about how it should work.

The gearshift, in fact, worked differently than most. It used push-buttons and always returned to the centre position. The fact that the gearshift’s actual functionality – otherwise known as its  “conceptual model” – was different than users’ mental models caused issues. Major ones in this instance.

Jeep’s confusing gear shift.

In the field of user experience, we need to understand how users think so we can design with that in mind. When we understand people’s thinking, we can either design to match their current mental models, that is their beliefs about how things should work. Or, we can clearly...

Susan Weinschenk joined us in our Slack channel yesterday in what was one of the most popular sessions that I’ve run to date. She did a stellar job of keeping up with the quick-fire questions and the hour flew by.

The session marked the culmination of our theme for November – how psychology and neuroscience help us design for people. We used Susan’s book 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People as the inspiration for our discussions so it was a fitting way to end the month.

If you didn’t make the session today because you didn’t know about it, make sure you join our community to get updates of upcoming sessions.

If you’re interested in seeing what we discussed, or you want to revisit your own questions, here is a full transcript of the chat.

Transcript hawk 2017-11-28 23:00 Ok, let’s get this show on the road hawk 2017-11-28 23:01 First up, thanks to you all for joining us today. I’m super pumped about this session – I’m a huge fan of @susanweinschenk’s work and I’ve really enjoyed reading her book this month hawk 2017-11-28 23:01 (for those of you that aren’t aware, we used Susan’s book _100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People_ as the basis of our theme for November) hawk 2017-11-28 23:02 And a very big thanks for you @susanweinschenk for taking the time this evening to answer our questions

Picture it: We’re in a room with our colleagues, attempting to determine the relative importance of features for a product (because we can’t do everything) but it quickly turns into what I call a feature debate …

Ever been in a meeting like that?

It’s the kind of discussion where people try to justify the features they want. Sometimes it’s based on their opinion, sometimes on what they’ve heard through their own “research” (eg. asking friends and family or people in coffee shops), and sometimes it’s even based on a business goal.

Feature debates rarely end well—we feel like we ‘lose’ when a feature we want isn’t included in the team plan. We get upset, politics become aggravated, and it leads to conflict within our team. Not to mention that feature debates can be quite expensive to the business; after the meeting they often trigger a lot of back-and-forth communication that becomes a huge distraction from what we should be focussed on.

So, given such clear drawbacks, why do feature debates still happen?

I think they’re a clear  sign we’re not doing enough research. If our team has done the groundwork, we can easily integrate these research findings into the feature debates. For example, we could counter an opinion by saying something like “Well, in the research we found that people had problems with _____ therefore we really should prioritize feature ____.”

Sure, it’s easy to argue research. But good research should back up every insight with evidence; the stronger the evidence, the...


Looking for the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and secret codes for user experience professionals? From prototyping tools to online courses, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve partnered with our friends from the Interaction Design Foundation, UsabilityHub, Loop11, Protopie, Mockplus to bring you featured deals and exclusives.

Grab any UX Mastery ebook for just $5, and browse some of the best deals from across the web!

Show me these amazing bargains »


The post UX Mastery’s Guide to the Best Black Friday Deals for UX Professionals appeared first on UX Mastery.

We’ve spent November taking a close look at how psychology and neuroscience help us design for people. We used Susan Weinschenk’s amazing book 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People as the inspiration for our discussions so we’re pretty excited that she’ll be joining us in our Slack channel this month to share her knowledge and answer our questions.

Whether you’ve been following us as we’ve explored the book or not, you’re welcome to join us for this amazing opportunity to learn from Dr Weinschenk.

The Details Meet Susan Weinschenk

Susan Weinschenk has a Ph.D. in Psychology, and is the Chief Behavioral Scientist and CEO at The Team W, Inc, as well as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Susan consults on with Fortune 1000 companies, start-ups, governments and non-profits, and is the author of several books, including 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People, 100 MORE Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People and How To Get People To Do Stuff. Susan is co-host of the HumanTech podcast, and writes her own blog and a column for Psychology Today online.

How to Ask Your Questions

If you can’t make the live session...

After a brief hiatus our Ask the UXperts channel was brought back to life yesterday by my fellow kiwi, Kah Chan.

Kah first crossed my path at UXNZ last month and I was both entertained and educated by his talk on the careful use of language in our work. I’m pleased to say that my not-so-subtle solicitation was a success and Kah joined us yesterday to give us his tips and tricks on using language to craft better experiences for our users.

If you didn’t make the session today because you didn’t know about it, make sure you join our community to get updates of upcoming sessions.

If you’re interested in seeing what we discussed, or you want to revisit your own questions, here is a full transcript of the chat.

Transcript hawk 2017-11-15 22:02 OK… so I will admit to ambushing Kah to do this session after I heard him speak on the topic at UXNZ last month hawk 2017-11-15 22:02 His talk was my favourite and given the number of questions we get in our community about ‘UX writing’ I thought it would resonate well hawk 2017-11-15 22:02 So firstly, a huge thank you @kah.chan for your time today hawk 2017-11-15 22:03 It’s appreciated hawk 2017-11-15 22:03 For the formal intro: Kah Chan is the Head of Product Design at Flick Electric Co., which is really just a fancy title for the only designer in...

I’ve always known there was something different about me. Everyone is different in their own way, but I’ve always known there was more to it for me. Turns out I was right. At the age of 29, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. That means I’m autistic. I was born with a differently wired brain, which makes me neurodiverse.

There are lots of people out there with different brains. They cover a broad range of differences including: autism, ADHD, dyslexia, traumatic brain injury and many more. Different brains are beautiful because they think differently on a whole other level. I think we need that.

At UX Australia 2017 this year, I spoke about my experiences as an autistic UXer and I’d like to expand on some of what I shared at the conference.

Defining autism and how I see it

At a high level (and keeping in mind that I am not a medical professional), autism is characterised by a series of traits. Autistic traits fit into something called The Triad of Impairments. It’s a model that shows the three key areas that all autistic people have differences in: social communication, social interaction and social imagination.


While I appreciate the value it holds for diagnostic practices, to me the Triad of Impairments doesn’t do much else. It doesn’t communicate the experience of being autistic – what it actually means...

Happy World Usability Day!

Join us for a video panel hosted by our friends at Optimal Workshop and hear three industry experts share their stories and experiences about usability.

This year, they sat down with three UX experts: Anna Lee Anda, Greg Nudelman and Mark Wyner. Watch the panel now » Optimal Workshop’s take on this year’s theme is ‘How to bring the wider team closer to UX research’. They believe it’s important for companies the world over to recognise UX research and design to make more thoughtful, accessible and delightful experiences for everyone, everywhere. Head on over to Optimal Workshop to watch the panel discussion, read articles, and even win prizes!  

The post UX Experts Share Stories on World Usability Day appeared first on UX Mastery.

Have you ever been in a rut with your design process?

Maybe you’re churning out the same solutions to every problem.

Or you just can’t nail the way forward for your product.

To move ahead, you probably need to find a new perspective. At Standard Life, we realised we needed new ways of working to keep our competitive edge. This meant building a culture of innovation from the ground up.

One of the ways we keep the ideas flowing and the approaches fresh is through innovation sprints.

An innovation sprint is a 1-2 week workshop, where a cross-functional team explores a problem from new angles, comes up with new ideas, then iteratively prototypes and tests them.

The first part of our innovation sprint is ideation. We use immersive insights and assumption-busting to kick-start the design process. This helps the team challenge assumptions about the product, its users, and generate new ideas.  

Insights (right) and Ideas on left and centre.

If you’re lucky enough to be coming to Mobile UX London 2017, we’ll walk you through these techniques IRL in our workshop – we hope to see you there!

If you can’t make it, fear not. Here’s how to you...

In my last article, I talked about how you can “guerilla-ise” traditional UX research methods to fit into a short timeline, and when it makes the most sense to use them. Read the post here.

This time, I’ll walk you through some of the most popular guerilla UX research methods: live intercepts, remote and unmoderated studies, and using low fidelity prototypes.

I’ll cover pros, cons and tips to make sure you make the most of your guerilla research sessions.

Conducting research in public

Often the go-to guerilla technique is to skip the formal participant recruitment process and ask members of the public to take part in your research sessions. Live intercepts are often used as shortened versions of usability tests or interviews.

Getting started

Setting up is easy—all you need is a public space where you can start asking people for a few minutes to give you feedback. A cafe or shopping centre usually works well. 

This is a great way to get lots of feedback quickly, but approaching people takes a little courage and getting used to. 

I find it helps to put up a sign that publicises the incentive you’re offering, and if possible, identifying information like a company logo. This small bit of credibility makes people feel more comfortable.

Make sure you have a script prepared for approaching people. You don’t need to stick to it every time, but make sure you mention where...

In November, we’re taking a close look at how psychology and neuroscience help us design for people.

Getting close to our users is essential in our line of work. The experience they have with a designed product or service is profoundly impacted by what we know—or don’t know—about them.

Research is an important piece of the puzzle. But so is understanding underlying behaviours, so we can analyse our findings and suggest solutions in light of how people think.

You might have guessed from the title that we’ve taken inspiration from Susan Weinschenk’s excellent book 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People. This is an incredibly useful resource that we recommend every UX designer have in their library.

Read reviews and buy 100 Things »

How psychology and neuroscience fill the gaps

We’re all told that researching with our users is paramount to being a good UX designer. We conduct the research, and even manage to undertake some analysis and find patterns.

But then we hit a wall.  

There’s a big gap between knowing an issue or a set of unwanted behaviours and being able to design your way out of it. This is where understanding how to apply design principles based on psychology and neuroscience help suggest a starting point for...

Our Slack channel was running hot yesterday when I hosted our good friend Joe Natoli to chat about portfolios.

Joe shared some valuable tips for creating powerful UX portfolios that stand above the competition. If this sounds like something you need in your life, make sure you check out Joe’s newest course Build a Powerful UX Portfolio That Gets Your Hired

If you didn’t make the session today because you didn’t know about it, make sure you join our community to get updates of upcoming sessions.

If you’re interested in seeing what we discussed, or you want to revisit your own questions, here is a full transcript of the chat.

Transcript hawk 2017-09-27 22:01 Ok – I’m rapt to be hosting Joe Natoli in our Slack channel today. Joe has become a great friend to us over the years and he’s so willing to share his knowledge. hawk 2017-09-27 22:01 This session is off the back of Joe’s recent workshops hawk 2017-09-27 22:02 And he has just launched a new course cindybigyu 2017-09-27 22:02 @jeankaplansky thanks. I think so too Being a researcher gives me a whole new perspective hawk 2017-09-27 22:02 But today he’s here to answer your questions! hawk 2017-09-27 22:02 The formal intro: hawk 2017-09-27 22:02 Joe Natoli has been preaching and practicing the gospel of User and Customer Experience to Fortune 100,...

We know that content is important, but we’re just not sure what to do with it.

As UX professionals, the tools we know – wireframes, customer journeys and site maps – are fine for a high-level vision.

But what happens when you have to get stuck into the guts of the content. When you’re wrangling a website with hundreds of pages, each one with text that runs down your monitor, across the table and onto the floor?

When you’re wrangling reams of page-level content, it can be tempting leave it in the too-hard basket. To design the website and leave it for the client to write the actual content.

What we’re doing here, though, is only designing part of the experience. We leave a vacuum that’s filled by ad hoc, inconsistent content, lorem ipsum, or worse.

Enter content modelling. It’s a discipline that began in the heady days of database design, but has been picked up and championed by content strategists around the world, including Rachel Lovinger.

In 2012, she published an article in A List Apart which set the stage. Here’s Rachel Lovinger’s definition:

A content model documents all the different types of content you will have for a given project. It contains detailed definitions of each content type’s elements and their relationships to each other.

We can break this up into...

UX New Zealand is on the horizon, and we’re pretty excited about 3 days of epic workshops, talks and inspiration.

So excited, in fact, that we thought a giveaway was in order.

We’re giving UX Mastery readers the chance to win free entry, plus flights to Wellington to attend UX New Zealand from 11-13 October 2017.

Before we get into the competition details, here’s a little more on UX New Zealand:

UX New Zealand is Aotearoa’s biggest dedicated user experience conference, and promises an insightful event for newbie and seasoned UX professionals alike. It’s a heavy-hitting lineup, with speakers from Google, Zendesk, Microsoft, Twitter, Atlassian. Plus, plenty of local talent and UX Mastery regulars Amanda Stockwell and Dan Szuc.

Wellington is one of our favourite cities – the creative hub of NZ, and known for its dining culture, coffee and craft beer.

Sounds amazing, right?

Here’s how to enter

We want you to answer this question:

What does a ‘valuable’ design outcome mean, and how do you, personally, pursue this in the ways you work?

It’s a deceptively complex question, but a worthy one. Or is it? We’d like to know what you think. Entries close 5pm 29 September 2017 AEST.

See full competition details and enter »

Hope to see you in the land of the long white cloud!

The post WIN a Trip to UX New Zealand! appeared first on UX Mastery.

Voice user interface (VUI) design is booming. Computerised personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana, are racing each other for the title of best voice assistant on the market.

Since Amazon released its voice assistant device Echo in December 2014, it has sold approximately 8.2 million devices, and uptake of voice search continues to climb. According to MindMeld, 60% of people who use voice search started using it in the last year, and 41% of people started in the last 6 months.

BCC research predicts that the global market for voice recognition technologies will increase from $104.4 billion in 2016 to $184.9 billion in 2021, at an annual growth rate of 12.1%.  

This surge is being driven by technological improvements and deep learning, which enables developers to create systems that have exceptional accuracy for tasks such as image analysis, speech recognition, and language analysis.

Last year, Microsoft announced that its latest speech-recognition system had achieved equivalence with human transcribers in recognising human speech

Voice technology is advancing quickly, and it’s changing the way we interact with our devices.

What does this mean for UX professionals? With companies already struggling to find VUI experts, now is a great time to start developing new skills as this game-changing technology evolves.

If you’re...

If there’s anyone that knows how to build a good portfolio it’s Joe Natoli and that’s not just because he’s been in this game for a while.

Joe’s recent series of workshops called Give Good Portfolio were focused on teaching aspiring UXers to build the kind of competitive, effective, impactful UX portfolio that recruiters, employers and prospective clients want to see.

We love Joe because he is full of practical takeaways and actionable advice. If you’re struggling to convert your job interviews or you have questions about the best way to present your work, this is the session for you.

Breaking news! Joe has just launched his inaugural Build a Powerful UX Portfolio Than Gets You Hired. Enrolment is open until October 4th.

The Details Meet Joe Natoli

Joe Natoli has been preaching and practicing the gospel of User and Customer Experience to Fortune 100, 500 and Government organizations for nearly three decades.

Joe devotes half of his practice to writingcoaching, and speaking. From guiding students at the beginning of their careers to integrating UX into the work of seasoned veteran developers and designers, he is immensely...

There’s a famous quote from poet and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that captures how we humans approach life and legacy: “Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.” 

James Brown, that funky Godfather of soul music, held an important contrast: “Thank God for the journey”. 

Between the depressing scepticism of Nietzsche and the enduring passion of Brown, there lies some wisdom for how we can approach our vocations.

There isn’t a clear-cut, authoritative approach anywhere that can guarantee a successful career, whether that be in user experience design or any other field.

This is both daunting and exciting; daunting because achieving our dreams is a unique and slippery struggle, but exciting because identifying, planning and thriving in a career can be one of the most meaningful and satisfying things we ever do. 

We might begin surmounting the daunting pathway by simply taking pause to mindfully assess our position and set some goals; once we’ve set our goals we can start taking the steps to make them happen. 

For example, we might be strategic and deliberate about our next career move, whether it’s that promotion to product manager, moving into a coveted in-house role, or striking out on our own as a freelancer.

There are troves of career advice all over the internet, but sometimes we must wrestle and go a little deeper to find wise and honest help. And...