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Metric UX: Brief Insights about Design Work

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Technology
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"The user experience is a metric." Now brief high-level practical design thinking by Michael Schofield. Previously a bunch of fun episodes with Tim Broadwater and Amanda Goodman. metric.substack.com

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"The user experience is a metric." Now brief high-level practical design thinking by Michael Schofield. Previously a bunch of fun episodes with Tim Broadwater and Amanda Goodman. metric.substack.com

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Amazing work guys

By Donovan2324 - Sep 03 2019
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So entertaining and the way you both talk is so approachable. Very good podcast! Thanks so much for the work and information that you both put in

Spread the word

By Jake hazzrd - Oct 22 2017
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A lot of good stuff in here. Keep it up!

iTunes Ratings

16 Ratings
Average Ratings
14
2
0
0
0

Amazing work guys

By Donovan2324 - Sep 03 2019
Read more
So entertaining and the way you both talk is so approachable. Very good podcast! Thanks so much for the work and information that you both put in

Spread the word

By Jake hazzrd - Oct 22 2017
Read more
A lot of good stuff in here. Keep it up!
Cover image of Metric UX: Brief Insights about Design Work

Metric UX: Brief Insights about Design Work

Latest release on Feb 03, 2020

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"The user experience is a metric." Now brief high-level practical design thinking by Michael Schofield. Previously a bunch of fun episodes with Tim Broadwater and Amanda Goodman. metric.substack.com

Rank #1: Questions UXers should ask in Job Interviews

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In this episode of Metric, we talk about questions UXers should ask during job interviews, and what about that interview or organization are red flags.

In the gloss, look for chatter about the origins of our usernames, how to pronounce "schoeyfield" (and how that's not my last name!), and a game recommendation for Ninja Theory's Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice.


Follow Metric: the UX Podcast on Twitter @metricpodcast
Follow Michael on Twitter @schoeyfield
Follow Tim on Twitter @uxbear

Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Mar 04 2019

32mins

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Rank #2: 60: The Worth of UX Certification to Tim Broadwater

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In this episode of Metric: The User Experience Podcast, I chat with friend-of-the-show Tim Broadwater, a UX Master Certificate recipient, about the value of User Experience Certification, or even that of a more traditional route through college.

This covers everything across the diversification of UX roles, leadership and management, and -- of course -- Scream Queens.

A transcript of this show fully marked-up with links and the like can be found at www.metricpodcast.com

Follow Michael on Twitter: @schoeyfield

Support this podcast on Patreon: patreon.com/michaelschofield



Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Mar 05 2018

30mins

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Rank #3: 034: How "UX as a Measurement" Leads to "Service Design"

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You might remember that in our 2016 Design Predictions episode, my number one was that we are going to see an explosion of “Service Design” in writeups, job descriptions, and the like. I hadn’t really heard about Service Design until winter 2015, but as I was editing this episode — a recut of a talk from June prior — my spiel about conceptualizing the user experience as a measurement led into a totally unintended talk about service design. This makes sense, because when we think about UX as a measurement we are thinking about holistic experiences that transcend the screen which reflect back at us the quality of the services we provide.

As usual, you support us by helping us get the word out: share a link and take a moment to leave a nice review. Thanks!



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Feb 29 2016

20mins

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Rank #4: Spark Joy

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In this episode of Metric: the UX Podcast,we talk about how we deal with signal overload and notification fatigue in our design work (and in life), and our strategies for staying sane in a super neurotic discipline.


Follow Metric: the UX Podcast on Twitter @metricpodcast
Follow Michael on Twitter @schoeyfield
Follow Tim on Twitter @uxbear



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Mar 18 2019

33mins

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Rank #5: On design in user stories and user experience departments

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One more over coffee edition of Metric before a string of interviews to round-out the month of April. In this episode: 

  • What role does photoshop play in UX?
  • Should "design" be part of a user story?
  • What are the necessary technical abilities for doing UX?
  • What are your thoughts on UX Departments


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Apr 25 2017

20mins

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Rank #6: Thirsty UXers

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How do you get the experience you need -- or want -- to take that next step in your career? In this episode of Metric: the User Experience Podcast, Michael Schofield and Tim Broadwater try to define how they want to evolve their career - and how one goes about getting that experience if it's not an obvious step-up from the current job.

This episode has been transcribed (!). You can find the transcription at metricpodcast.com.


Follow Metric: the UX Podcast on Twitter @metricpodcast
Follow Michael on Twitter @schoeyfield
Follow Tim on Twitter @uxbear



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Feb 18 2019

29mins

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Rank #7: Writing for the User Experience with Rebecca Blakiston - A LibUX Webinar

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Join Rebecca Blakiston -- author of books on on usability testing and writing with clarity; Library Journal mover and shaker -- as she talks shop and makes the case for content strategy, using active and authentic voice, removing unnecessary words, writing meaningful titles/headings, using parallelism, and more.

Our volunteer expert

Rebecca Blakiston (@blakistonr) is the team lead for Web Design & User Experience at the University of Arizona Libraries. She is the author of two books: Usability Testing: a Practical Guide for Librarians, and Writing Effectively in Print and on the Web: a Practical Guide for Librarians. She's also the Chair of the University Libraries Section, Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL ULS). In 2016, she was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

She's super. We've had beers.

Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/writing-for-the-user-experience-with-rebecca-blakiston-a-libux-webinar-tickets-35945982401



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Jul 10 2017

1min

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Rank #8: The Nintendo Switch

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Even if you’re not much of a gamer, the modular design of the Nintendo Switch is super compelling. What you see in its reveal is an experience that moves not just between your living room screen and your backpack, but one that adapts to different social contexts.

Its controllers — joycons — peal off, can attach to a more conventional lean-back controller, or pop-on to the sides of the screen when you leave the house, or divvied-up between friends for — you know — some roof co-op (watch the video, really). What’s more, there’s a really good likelihood that joycons might be able to be switched out for alternate designs.

Nintendo’s really selling the experience here.

In this episode Chad Haefele, Tim Broadwater, and I totally conjecture about the user experience of the Switch and the nostalgia market.

Notes

Remediation is the process through which the characteristics and approaches of competing media are imitated, altered, and critiqued in a new medium… (or) the representation of one medium in another.Meredith Davis

Tim Broadwater’s Remediation Toolkit
Tim Broadwater’s Interaction Model Artifacts
Chad Haefele and Brandon Carper’s podcast about the intersection of video games, user experience, and instructional design: Gamification Unlocked



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Jan 09 2017

37mins

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Rank #9: 037 - [Terrifying] Voice User Interfaces with Jason Griffey

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What if we didn’t need to learn arcane commands? What if you could use the most effective and powerful communication tool ever invented? This tool evolved over millions of years and allows you to express complex ideas in very compact and data dense ways yet can be nuanced to the width of a hair [2]. What is this tool? It is our voice.Brian Roemmele

  • 8:46 – We talk about the benefits of the data-crunching power behind the Amazon Echo in Amazon web services compared to Apple’s Siri.
  • 10:10 – IBM Watson‘s API and developer community
  • 11:30 – HTML5 Web Speech API

She saw this as an entity, as a person – not as a thing, but as a conversational partner!Jason Griffey, on his daughter’s reaction to Alexa

  • 17:00 – It’s all about empathizing with the things we use! We tend to think voice interfaces are cool because it makes doing hard programm-y things easier, but the tangential thing they bring is company, community.
  • 18:45 – On interfaces responding to your tone of voice.
  • 21:19 – Have we seen any of this implemented in libraries or at the higher-ed level?
  • 24:00 – On gender

It is no accident that every single one we have named that is commercially available and sold to people — Cortana, Siri, Google Now, and Alexa — those are female gendered. These are all bots that are the result of someone building them, they are all gendered in a way that I think is problematic.Jason Griffey

  • 30:23 – Creating a personality that would anticipate the personality you need at at that time!


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May 10 2016

33mins

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Rank #10: Over Coffee: Ugh, UX Ph.D's

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This episode of Metric is a little special: no guests, no post, just loaded questions and loaded answers. In the actual recording I was thinking about calling it "coffee break," but I over-thought this and now feel like that suggests it's a super short episode. It's not. It's regular length. So, we're going with "over coffee" -- which it was! 

This episode, I tackle three questions about UX Certification, a UX Ph.D who sucks at visual design, and Guerrilla Usability Testing

Enjoy. 



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Apr 19 2017

25mins

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Rank #11: Your front end is doomed

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Metric alum Emily King swings by again to chat about conversational UIs and "interface aggregation" -- front ends other than yours using metadata and API to connect with your site, so that users don't actually have to visit your site directly. 

Please rate and share! These little gestures go a long way. 

You can reach out to Emily at @emilykingatcsn on Twitter, I am @schoeyfield, and Metric is @metricpodcast. 



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Feb 22 2017

33mins

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Rank #12: Personas, Jobs to be Done - oh, and LITA

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Recently, LITA embarked on a big persona-making project in order to better align their services to the needs of their members, the results of which they just revealed. This provides a solid talking point to introduce conceptual problems with personas and introduce a potentially better-suited approach: jobs to be done. 

  • 00:43 - LITA created a bunch of personas
  • 2:14 - What does LITA actually want?
  • 3:39 - Personas are more noise than signal
  • 5:37 - Personas are best as a demographic snapshot
  • 6:05 - The User Story
  • 7:35 - The Job Story
  • 8:04 - Jobs to be Done
  • 11:36 - So what jobs do LITA personas need done?
  • 14:04 - What should LITA do, then?
  • 15:44 - Support Metric: https://patreon.com/libux
  • 16:42 - How to enter for our giveaway: a copy of Practical Design Discovery by Dan Brown.

Twitter: @metricpodcast

Facebook: LibUX

Join us on Slack: https://libux.herokuapp.com



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Mar 21 2017

18mins

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Rank #13: The Accessibility Tree

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If you thought your grip on web accessibility couldn't get any looser, let's talk about the Accessibility Tree. This is a hostful episode Amanda and Michael. 



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Mar 15 2017

28mins

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Rank #14: Andy Priestner

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Andy Priestner is a global trainer and consultant on user experience, leadership, social media, and LEGO Serious Play. He's the originator and chair of UXLibs, among many things a best-in-show UX conference, as well as the title of the book he edited with Matt Borg.  

In this episode, we were able to wrangle our timezones and chat about the upcoming conference, as well as Futurelib -- an open innovation program exploring the future role of academic libraries within the University of Cambridge through ethnographic studies -- and, really, what prompted Andy to resign.

  • 4:00 - About the "team challenge" at UXLibs, plus shout-outs to Ned Potter, Matt Borg, and Donna Lanclos.
  • 9:04 - The state of user experience design in these institutions
  • 11:55 - What happened with Futurelib
  • 18:02 - Andy on leaving his job and going freelance
  • 20:48 - The Tracker Project: eye-tracking people in libraries with glasses 


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Apr 09 2017

29mins

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Rank #15: 61: Personal Information in the name of "User Experience" with Donna Lanclos

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In this episode of Metric: The User Experience Podcast, Donna Lanclos - an unaplogetic anthropologist and folklorist - talks about the ethics of gathering personal data in the name of good UX, and how that's incredibly complicated to justify. We chat about learning analytics in universities, the concept of "UX Washing", and privacy as a social justice issue.

A transcript of this show fully marked-up with links and the like will be found at www.metricpodcast.com in the next couple of days.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @schoeyfield

Support this podcast on Patreon: patreon.com/michaelschofield



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Mar 26 2018

32mins

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Rank #16: What UX Can Learn from Ouija Boards

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In this episode of Metric: the UX Podcast, we investigate what ouija boards and World War 1 teach us about design solutions, that innovation lies in not immediately thinking that the problem can be solved by an app.

Follow Metric: the UX Podcast on Twitter @metricpodcast
Follow Michael on Twitter @schoeyfield
Follow Tim on Twitter @uxbear

Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Mar 11 2019

30mins

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Rank #17: 038 - Tim Spalding

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Tim Spalding (LibraryThing and TinyCat) is on this episode of the podcast in which we are critical of library software, libraries' relationships with vendors, designing and developing TinyCat, and much more.



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May 17 2016

28mins

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Rank #18: 039 - Jean Felisme

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Jean Felisme is an entrepreneur, speaker, WordCamp Miami organizer, and developer at the School of Computing and Information Sciences at Florida International University. 

I’ve known Jean Felisme for awhile through WordCamp Miami. We see each other quite a bit at meetups and he’s a ton of fun – he’s also been pretty hardcore about evangelizing freelance. Recently he made the switch from freelance into the very special niche that is the higher-ed web, so when he was just six weeks into his new position at the School of Computing and Information Sciences at Florida International University I took the opportunity to pick his brain.

Hope you enjoy.



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May 30 2016

33mins

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Rank #19: Measure the Future

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Jason Griffey on ethically designing a service to heatmap physical spaces that respects users' privacy - on open software, to boot.   Jason Griffey is a librarian, technologist, consultant, writer and speaker, an Affiliate Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University where he studies decentralization, access to information, intellectual property, and more.  

A transcript of this show fully marked-up with links and the like will be available at at www.metricpodcast.com.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @schoeyfield

Support Metric on Patreon to get this and other episodes (and a lot of other stuff) early: patreon.com/michaelschofield



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Oct 08 2018

37mins

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Rank #20: Promo for W3 Radio

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Do you need your web design news right now in ten minutes or less? Well it’s just your luck that soon I Michael Schofield am starting a new podcast W3 Radio - bite sized best-of the world wide web.   You’ll soon be able to tune in to W3 Radio on your pod catcher of choice and real soon at w3radio.com.

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May 29 2016

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Gutenberg doesn't disrupt WordPress

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Gutenberg isn’t a breakthrough innovation that made WordPress better. It’s a disruptive innovation making WordPress more affordable and accessible. — Mark Uraine, “Disrupting WordPress

A couple weeks ago I read Mark Uraine’s writeup about the disruptive role Gutenberg — the new block-based editor (and system of editor-extensibility) — performs for WordPress, the open-source juggernaut powering a third of the web. It nails why the WordPress community has been so hyped (and it’s in a language I speak):

Why would anyone want to change this? The short answer is expressed best in the quote, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” Software must evolve or it becomes archaic and dies. This bring us to the concept of disruptive innovation, originally conceived by Clayton Christensen. Disruptive innovation describes the process when a more simplified product or service begins to take root in an industry and advances up the market because of its ease of use and/or less expensive entry point. … The great companies plan for this. In fact they make efforts to self-disrupt, or innovate in ways that cause their own service or product to be disrupted. … WordPress has reached this intersection.

— and for many folks, Gutenberg represents that self-disruption. It is a shot of espresso. A spurt of vitality intended to make the sluggish, successful ol’ man spry. It’s a little bit of good magic that wards off the heebie jeebies.

I think Mark’s is the best argument for Gutenberg there is.

I’m also not convinced. I want to use “Disrupting WordPress” as an opportunity to demonstrate how to think about innovation, so I am going to start by putting the kibosh on the idea that Gutenberg is the saving grace the community around it thinks.

Is Gutenberg disruptive? No - at least not like that.

Product is a window

Clay Christensen’s disruptive innovation is key to the point I want to make, and that is that we should be skeptical about the consensus assumption that what has to change about WordPress is the way content is created.

I phrase it like this because Gutenberg really is more than a UI: it represents a fairly different content model beyond just how pieces of content are chunked together by end-users, but how that content is treated in the database, and how developers interface with all that new tissue. Moreover, the ad hoc governance that has organized around Gutenberg to help ensure its inclusivity and accessibility is functionally of greater importance than the Gutenberg codebase altogether.

It makes sense that because there are plenty of usability studies betraying WordPress’s ease-of-use as a myth, that we-the-community target these usability problems with our innova-sers. Ease-of-use is a killer differentiator when you choose one product over another - but usability is flavor, not sustenance.

Disruption requires identifying a misalignment between a person’s core job-to-be-done and the service they’re provided.

The secret to winning the innovation game lies in understanding what causes customers to make choices that help them achieve progress on something they are struggling with in their lives. To get to the right answers, Christensen says, executives should be asking: What job would consumers want to hire a product to do? — Interview by Dina Gerdeman with Clay Christensen

The product — and the features of the product — don’t fundamentally matter unless the user needs something that you can provide them.

Is the WordPress user’s core job to be done to have a usable content-creation experience? No. It’s not even to create content in the first place. Rather, the core job of the WordPress user is to — for example — provide candle-junkies like me with candles, and make a living from it. “WordPress” isn’t really part of that function. It just happens to be the means to an end. The interface, the content, even WordPress itself are ephemeral. While easing the work involved in creating content improves a holistic user experience, it’s not enough.

The reason Squarespace (et al.) has room to succeed in an internet dominated by WordPress is not because it has a better page-builder, it’s because for some users it is easier to envision their end goal met on the far-side of the Squarespace gauntlet. By looking at Squarespace, they can “see” their next candle-funded beach vacation.

Product is a window.

Broad applicability is a marketing challenge

Listen closely to the ubiquitous Squarespace ads on any podast. Right (!), they mention ease of page-building - but they underscore the reason why such ease is valuable: so you can be done with that page-building s**t and continue on with your remarkable life.

The job-to-be-done is “to have a successful business.” Squarespace provides the service of getting you there faster with an easy page-builder. The page-builder is the how, and the ease is the differentiator - the cherry on top. People don’t choose the cherry, though. The Squarespace business model depends on how well they can match the job people have to the service they provide.

WordPress has been successful precisely because its service aligns well with gajillions of jobs. This I think compounds the difficulty the WordPress community has in communicating meaningfully granular services that are afforded to alternatives. Specificity helps evangelism.

Rather than 1 job to address (“you need to become a dope ass participant in the blogosphere?”) there are 30 million — the difficulty of communicating that job/service alignment at scale is a real obstacle.

It is easy to imagine and vouch for WordPress’s wide servicability, but it’s hard to communicate to the individual who is choosing between it and Squarespace.

Product is a window, and users’ vision through the WordPress window is a little obscured.

This is, in part, why the ecosystem of professional WordPress development companies thrives: these companies, like Ninja Forms, identify a niche of jobs-to-be-done and serve them specifically.

Tangent: seeing Ninja Forms in terms of job/service alignment

To go on a brief tangent, the job Ninja Forms serves isn’t really the demonstrable need to manage web forms. They are facilitating people’s need to control how their users connect with them. Forms, and — specifically — forms through WordPress are choices about how and to what niche to provide that service.

Consider then how WordPress isn’t spiritually part of the job/service alignment between the job-to-be-done of the Ninja Form user and the service provided by that team. They’re not really married to that platform, they just have a good working relationship. WordPress is an important technical constraint, but it’s a means to an end. It’s ephemeral.

The WordPress community’s research problem

By increasing WordPress’s extensibility through new APIs, even by adding new hot-right-now features into Gutenberg, the WP core team are addressing the jobs-to-be-done of those professional WordPress developers more directly than any WordPress end user - who I’m arguing doesn’t really care about the ease of use of the editor (they care insofar that the editor doesn’t get in their way).

And why is that? Well, I think it’s because developers are WordPress’s strongest feedback loop.

Mark Uraine even made a comment about how usability studies revealed pain points in WordPress’s editor, but I haven’t been convinced otherwise that the WordPress core decision makers have anything other than usability studies about existing features.

Problem.

Usability studies reveal touchpoints in a user journey that need to be addressed. A tree needs to be moved off the sidewalk, or a pothole needs to be filled. But usability studies don’t question whether the user should be on this path in the first place.

Disruption, after all, is born from Insight. Insight is the byproduct of strong research, particularly around users’ jobs-to-be-done, and I just don’t think the WordPress community has any of that.

If they did, I frankly think folks would be less hyped about Gutenberg.

Gutenberg is fine. The work there is about addressing the need to reduce in WordPress the number of steps between the user and their published content. That’s the right move to support a status quo.

It’s not disruptive. It disrupts nothing. It improves existing.

This past year has seen remarkable and laudable collaboration around governance and accessibility in WordPress, which are the right foci that address real problems around the community, its users, and inclusivity. The next WordPress community movement should be around establishing a strong research program that can provide the research-derived Insight necessary for WordPress’s future.

Without sufficient qualitative research, don’t expect WordPress to self-disrupt any time soon.

Liking (❤) this issue of Metric helps signal to the great algorithms in the sky that this writeup is worth your time. Please take the time. If you haven’t already, please subscribe.

Metric is a podcast, too, which includes audio versions of these writeups and other chats. Subscribe to Metric on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, and all the usual places.

Remember that the user experience is a metric.

— Michael (@schoeyfield)

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Feb 03 2020

11mins

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UX Design is Morally Gray

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Folks tend to disagree with me whenever I say that user experience design is morally gray: there is no inherent requirement to making user experiences people like and prefer to competing experiences that leave users — morally or ethically — better off. Ethical design is a qualifier.

This is an important distinction and nuance to design work that is critical to accept if we intend to push best practice in a more deliberately ethical direction. It empowers individual designers, teams, companies, entire verticals, even disciplines to differentiate themselves by choosing to design ethically.

Assuming that good user experience design work has good intentions is dangerous — and naive.

This also means we must divorce the relationship by what we do (design to improve the user experience) from how we do it (ethically, or not). It means that to be ethical we must choose to be so at each step of the design process, at each touchpoint between conception and performance of a service.

To frame ethical user experience design like this make it easier to appreciate how difficult it is to create an ethical product or service. Perhaps not by intent — we all think we’re the heroes of our own story — but because the design of a thing is the culmination of a hundred decisions, hard ones. The CEO in the business of providing an ethical service might fail because of decisions made in engineering, or because they chose to design to optimize a conversion metric instead of some other made-up number.

It is for this reason we need to make time and resources available to design the design process, creating systems of checks and balances not just for quality assurance that a button can be pressed, but for ethical stresses.

Liking (❤) this issue of Metric helps signal to the great algorithms in the sky that this writeup is worth your time. Please take the time. If you haven’t already, please subscribe.

Metric is a podcast, too, which includes audio versions of these writeups and other chats. Look for Metric UX in your favorite podcatcher.

Remember that the user experience is a metric.

Michael

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Dec 13 2019

2mins

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Can jobs-to-be-done replace "Front End Developer"?

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The “front end” is pretty nebulous. What makes a good front end developer? Its definitions, and so its answers, are all over the place. It’s not just the introduction of new front end frameworks that have changed how we talk about it, but in terms of the discipline of designing websites we have begun to think differently: in components, in services. We can see front end in flux in Ernie Hsiung’s “A fictitious, somewhat farcical conversation between me and the JavaScript programming language,” where Ernie as a front end developer — a successful front ender, look at his resume — imagines having an existential crisis because the front end changed while he was busy being a boss (a good one).

Our understanding of the front end as a place no longer holds up to scrutiny. We cannot define it by a specific suite of tools, a kind of user expertise, or even that — if anything — front end development requires a browser.

If we talk about the front end in terms of distance from a user, the “front” specifically being the interface between the user and the service provided, then we ought to accept that voice user interfaces (among other examples) challenge the notion that the front end has any tangible component at all.

Even here, we are cherry-picking a particular kind of user, one that is at the tail-end of a complex service provision - presumably outside the “provision” circle of the Venn Diagram altogether. We’ll call this person “end user.” But again, using “front end” as a descriptor of that distance from a user — while accepting there are no constraints on technology or medium (like a browser) — should be applicable to the RESTful API that I design for consumption by a variety of user interfaces. The consumer is my end user. When I design the interface for that user, am I performing “front end development?”

What I am trying to illustrate is that when we are thinking about user experience and service design, paradigms like “front end” and “back end” no longer align with an understanding of service clusters, ecosystems, or - frankly - users. These kind of identifiers are ephemeral and, as such, pose a problem to companies who organize themselves around these concepts.

You long time Metric readers and listeners — “Metricians?” — might find this latter concern familiar. The practice of thinking in services reveals that same ephemeral nature around the product itself, given that the product is just a tool in a larger service provision, it is thus — like a tool — replaceable. Choosing to design organizations around products will shape the way in which said organizations develop, which is probably against the grain of good service design. Hot take, I know.

So, practically, as service providers who make products that require engineers, how do we hire after we thought-spiral ourselves away from terms like “front end developer?”

I think there is an implied solution. In 2017, Rob Schade at Strategyn suggested a new kind of role called the “Job Manager” in “Product Managers are Obsolete; focus on the Job-to-be-Done.” As an alternative to a Product Manager, the Job Manager focused on the design and development of solutions for a given job-to-be-done.

If you need a refresher, a job-to-be-done describes a task where the user has a demonstrable need for the solution you provide. That is, if I need talk shop and further develop my own thinking about service design, a company like Substack provides a solution for my shop-talking need. The product — the newsletter editor and mailer that Substack provides — is a means to an end, not the end, and not necessarily crucial to my job to be done.

In this example, rather than there being a Product Manager in charge of the newsletter editor, there would be a Job Manager overseeing the entire service Substack provides that connects me to you. These circles overlap, but the lens is very different.

I think there is room then for “Job Designers” and “Job Developers.” These are the design workers who, alongside the Job Manager, provide the company’s solution for a specific job to be done.

A huge benefit, you argue, for “front end” is that even if the definition is super loose it implies some kind of big umbrella of skills around which people can identify. Maybe that is, regardless of which framework compiles them, something to do with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. There is nothing about “Job Developer” that implies what that person does.

I agree. While I think it’s liberating to disassociate the technology from the service provided, it makes this s**t hard in a different way.

Rather, I think there’s room for specialization, in the way that “front end” and “back end” are technically specializations of just “developer.” This specialization is also implied by jobs to be done.

A job to be done is composed of jobs to be done. In the job that is “understand the civic role I have in my community,” there is a subsequent job that is “see the agenda for upcoming city council meetings in my email.” There are jobs that imply the interface, so there is a role in the service provision to provide that service to that interface. Make up a title that works. Surely “interface developer” — or, even, “civic interface developer” — has more semantic meaning that “front end.”

That’s sort of about the point where I stop caring and let you all figure it out. Titles. Some projects need only one developer, others need one hundred. Few job titles really hold up to the scrutiny — I’m looking at you, Business Analyst 1 — and “front end” or “back end” won’t solve that.

More importantly, a jobs-to-be-done approach to role-making is still fundamentally about spatial relationship to the user. These kinds of roles are user centric - all of them. Whereas “front end” and “back end” might describe distance from a user, all job-to-be-done style roles imply the user in their very description. Each job solution has a userbase, and so fundamental skills like empathy, data-driven decision making, and user advocacy (privacy, accessibility, usability) are part of each job - regardless of where they are in the stack.

Liking (❤) this issue of Metric is a super way to brighten my day. It helps signal to the great algorithms in the sky that this writeup is worth a few minutes of your time.

Metric is a podcast, too, which includes audio versions of these writeups and other chats. Look for “Metric UX” in your favorite podcatcher.

Remember that the user experience is a metric.

Michael Schofield

Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Nov 11 2019

6mins

Play

The Temporal Midpoint of the Sprint

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The two-week sprint is totally arbitrary. We adopt the convention without really questioning the wisdom, but by such dogma of what’s-good-for-the-gander bake someone else’s practice into our organizational infrastructure. The thinking is that two weeks is just about the right time to prototype, test, scrutinize, and deliver a feature. But, is it?

All it took was David Grant raising that question as part of the Facebook Journalism Accelerator about this time last year for those of us at WhereBy.Us to concede the point and, within a week or two, consolidate to one-week sprints. Basecamp, just being Basecamp, shrugs the sprint convention all together, and just published a book that largely makes it clear we’re all just navel-gazing guppies trying to emulate other startups.

Shape Up, that book ☝️, made me question what practical reason do we actually need backlogs, or sprints, which was a refreshing reality check. I admit I find doing away with the backlog compelling - but that’s another writeup. Sprints, though?

While reading about Basecamp’s six-week cycles, it dawned on me that the key feature of the sprint is its temporal midpoint. That is, given any deadline, your activity declines until you’re midway through a milestone before climbing. Why? You realize time is running out.

This is described by Daniel H. Pink as the “Uh-oh Effect” in When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing:

After the first meeting there is a period of prolonged inertia, then a sudden transition followed by a new, more productive direction.

Human culture is organized around temporal milestones — the beginnings, middles, and ends of things — and so, subsequently, are our moods, hopes, productivity, and the like.

The sprint is an arbitrary division of time we tend to conflate with the timeline of a deliverable, but after about a year of one-week sprints I argue the deliverable is the least important aspect. Rather, the sprint is a structure for sustainably pacing our team’s movement through a service provision by placing temporal milestones at advantageous points.

Beginning: the beginning of the sprint is a fresh start. It’s like New Year’s Day. We make good initial progress keeping our resolutions. We’re hopeful.

Midpoint: the midpoint of the sprint is the ticking clock. It is, no lie, a stressor. It’s designed to make you go oh, shoot, and be honest with yourself and your squad about your progress.

Ending: the ending of the sprint is the dropping of the curtain. Time’s up, we touch base, we fist bump, we move on.

Temporal milestones have different emotional tones and the midpoint tends to be the more anxious. Knowing this, however, allows you to design for those emotions, providing another project management tool for templating a mentally healthy sprint.

For instance, if the anxiety of the temporal midpoint is related to the build-up of to-do items you scramble get on top of, what if we just reduce the number of to-do items? Without reducing velocity, if you cut the sprint in half — from two weeks to one week — you move-up the temporal midpoint significantly, which not only reduces the number of to-do items that got away, but literally reduces the stress period between midpoint and temporal ending.

This is anecdotal but I’ll make a note to check the numbers, but I believe the temporal boon of the one-week sprint is a factor behind the increased “greenness” of the company’s team health. At a glance this feels counter intuitive, because surely one-week sprints equate to higher stress, but the reality is that in that same two-week period we have twice the emotional highs (beginning and ending milestones), and our milestone-related emotional lows are much briefer.

Liking (❤) this issue of Metric is a super way to brighten my day. It helps signal to the great algorithms in the sky that this writeup is worth a few minutes of your time.

Metric is a podcast, too, which includes audio versions of these writeups and other chats. Look for “Metric UX” in your favorite podcatcher.

Remember that the user experience is a metric.

Michael Schofield

Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Oct 21 2019

4mins

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The Service Reactor

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We pitch this idea of operational user research as a means to scale and democratize user experience design practice across an organization. For decision makers already familiar with our user-centric-business gospel — reminder: aggregation theory demonstrates how the user experience is the differentiator for services that have no cost of distribution (because the internet is free); or: good UX is good business — but are concerned about costs, then all they need to hear is how a few tweaks to the workflow and a Google spreadsheet can get the wheels turning with little to no overhead.

It’s easyish to imagine how making the tools to curate feedback you’re already intercepting (emails, reviews, comments on Facebook) easy to use will over time aggregate a robust catalog of that feedback, which decision makers can use to gut-check their ideas.

That hot return on a small investment is why no-frills ResearchOps is hard to argue against. We often stop our evangelizing there.

The long game is interesting, though. Spin something like this up then take a gander at your organization’s RPG skill tree, where a few experience points and a snowball-effect leads you to the service reactor.

The service reactor is this work-in-progress model to demonstrate how a virtuous user research cycle and a commitment to discovery-validated delivery will generate enough proven insights to power a small city.

That’s a lot of made-up vocabulary designed to just consolidate this s**t to a single sentence, so let’s break this down.

A “virtuous user research cycle” describes a system where your effort to make sense of some data results in the design of the next test to perform, the results of which return to the system.

“Discovery-validated delivery” is a requirement that end-user facing features of a product or service won’t be pursued until their demonstrable need and solution can be proven by existing user research.

A chain reaction beginning by cataloging raw data — survey answers, interview transcripts, a/b results, and so on — creates tactical and strategic insights, some aspects of which require more validation thus foreshadowing the next round of tests. Like a nuclear reactor, discovery-validated delivery creates pressure to perform those tests, which continues the chain reaction.

The chief product of the service reactor are insights that we use to validate our business decisions. At small scales, examples of these insights are:

evidence we need to rethink our menu structure because it’s confusing users,

indication that users need a way to opt-in to plain-text emails,

validation that this call-to-action works better than that one.

But as the catalog grows over time, new patterns emerge among unrelated sets of data, and that compounding value directly correlates to the scale of new insights. These are demonstrable proof that there is need among the userbase for entirely new services, let alone features. What’s more, because the service reactor creates insights as the byproduct of a process rather than insights that are specifically sought-out, the resulting service ideas may be orthogonal to your existing service provisions.

This is the drill maker getting into the business of designing entertainment units*. A service reactor powers the “innovation mill.”

The most important ethic I’m trying to convey with the service reactor is that while it is a vision to motivate an organization’s investment in ResearchOps, it is fundamentally user centric. Over time, there is no part of a service or product that is not derived from user research. The reactor ionizes the air with user centricity. You can’t help but breathe.

Note: The drill metaphor is one of the core fables to the jobs-to-be-done approach to design thinking. It basically explains how the drill-maker that is most successful when their drill is an aisle filled with other drills is the one who realizes that people aren’t buying a drill but the mounted television on the wall. The drill is a means to the end. What I’m saying is that an orthogonal business for the drill-maker is in entertainment units: both drill and furniture are means to an end when the job-to-be-done is to relax in a finished living room.

Liking (❤) this issue of Metric is a super way to brighten my day. It helps signal to the great algorithms in the sky that this writeup is worth a few minutes of your day.

Metric is a podcast, too, which includes audio versions of these writeups and other chats. You’ll find it in your favorite podcatcher.

Remember that the user experience is a metric.

Michael Schofield

Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Sep 09 2019

4mins

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Spark Joy

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In this episode of Metric: the UX Podcast,we talk about how we deal with signal overload and notification fatigue in our design work (and in life), and our strategies for staying sane in a super neurotic discipline.


Follow Metric: the UX Podcast on Twitter @metricpodcast
Follow Michael on Twitter @schoeyfield
Follow Tim on Twitter @uxbear



Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Mar 18 2019

33mins

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What UX Can Learn from Ouija Boards

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In this episode of Metric: the UX Podcast, we investigate what ouija boards and World War 1 teach us about design solutions, that innovation lies in not immediately thinking that the problem can be solved by an app.

Follow Metric: the UX Podcast on Twitter @metricpodcast
Follow Michael on Twitter @schoeyfield
Follow Tim on Twitter @uxbear

Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Mar 11 2019

30mins

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Questions UXers should ask in Job Interviews

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In this episode of Metric, we talk about questions UXers should ask during job interviews, and what about that interview or organization are red flags.

In the gloss, look for chatter about the origins of our usernames, how to pronounce "schoeyfield" (and how that's not my last name!), and a game recommendation for Ninja Theory's Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice.


Follow Metric: the UX Podcast on Twitter @metricpodcast
Follow Michael on Twitter @schoeyfield
Follow Tim on Twitter @uxbear

Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Mar 04 2019

32mins

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Thirsty UXers

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How do you get the experience you need -- or want -- to take that next step in your career? In this episode of Metric: the User Experience Podcast, Michael Schofield and Tim Broadwater try to define how they want to evolve their career - and how one goes about getting that experience if it's not an obvious step-up from the current job.

This episode has been transcribed (!). You can find the transcription at metricpodcast.com.


Follow Metric: the UX Podcast on Twitter @metricpodcast
Follow Michael on Twitter @schoeyfield
Follow Tim on Twitter @uxbear



Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Feb 18 2019

29mins

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French Creek Freddie

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What can regional ground hogs teach us about UX design? In this episode of Metric, we talk about designing services and products that have a demonstrable need. Hear everything you ever wanted to know about about projects that never get off, the shelf of domain-name good intentions, that there are alternatives to Punxsutawney Phil.

Tim Broadwater is @uxbear on Twitter

Michael Schofield is @schoeyfield on Twitter

Metric is @metricpodcast on Twitter.



Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Feb 11 2019

31mins

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The Persona Zoo

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In this episode of Metric, we pick up where we left off in 65: Mazes and Monsters and hit the user archetypes known as whales, fish, and barnacles - the persona zoo! We start with a travelogue about visiting creepy Facebook in Menlo Park. Eventually we delve into jobs to be done and critique of personas.

Follow Tim Broadwater on Twitter: @uxbear

Follow Michael Schofield on Twitter: @schoeyfield

Heck, follow Metric on Twitter: @metricpodcast



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Feb 04 2019

33mins

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Mazes and Monsters

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This episode of Metric is about tabletop game design and play testing. Enter the awkward ass world of Michael explaining to Tim his slack-based Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Hear Tim's crazy interesting foray into play testing and its cross-overs with user onboarding.

In addition to the banter, we touch on:
  • NUIs: natural user interfaces
  • lessons learned by other industries about how games onboard users
  • Tom Hanks in Mazes and Monsters

Follow Michael Schofield on Twitter: @schoeyfield

Follow Tim Broadwater on Twitter: @uxbear

Support Metric on Patreon to get this and other episodes (and a lot of other stuff) early: patreon.com/michaelschofield



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Feb 04 2019

41mins

Play

Fitness and Gamification (?) - and Goth LARPing

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How do you title this episode? Tim Broadwater and Michael Schofield expertly tangent between fitness, gamification of health, tabletop games,

Follow Michael on Twitter: @schoeyfield

Follow Tim on Twitter: @uxbear

Support Metric on Patreon to get this and other episodes (and a lot of other stuff) early: patreon.com/michaelschofield



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Jan 23 2019

30mins

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Measure the Future

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Jason Griffey on ethically designing a service to heatmap physical spaces that respects users' privacy - on open software, to boot.   Jason Griffey is a librarian, technologist, consultant, writer and speaker, an Affiliate Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University where he studies decentralization, access to information, intellectual property, and more.  

A transcript of this show fully marked-up with links and the like will be available at at www.metricpodcast.com.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @schoeyfield

Support Metric on Patreon to get this and other episodes (and a lot of other stuff) early: patreon.com/michaelschofield



Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Oct 08 2018

37mins

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62: Service Design and User Experience Design

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This episode of Metric: The User Experience Design Podcast is a no-guester: a shorty, but a goodie. It's about how to talk about service design and user experience design in the same sentence - which nobody can seem to figure out how to do coherently without writing a whole article!

Also, I wrote a whole article.

A transcript of this show fully marked-up with links and the like is at www.metricpodcast.com.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @schoeyfield

Support Metric on Patreon: patreon.com/michaelschofield



Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Apr 30 2018

8mins

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61: Personal Information in the name of "User Experience" with Donna Lanclos

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In this episode of Metric: The User Experience Podcast, Donna Lanclos - an unaplogetic anthropologist and folklorist - talks about the ethics of gathering personal data in the name of good UX, and how that's incredibly complicated to justify. We chat about learning analytics in universities, the concept of "UX Washing", and privacy as a social justice issue.

A transcript of this show fully marked-up with links and the like will be found at www.metricpodcast.com in the next couple of days.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @schoeyfield

Support this podcast on Patreon: patreon.com/michaelschofield



Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Mar 26 2018

32mins

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60: The Worth of UX Certification to Tim Broadwater

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In this episode of Metric: The User Experience Podcast, I chat with friend-of-the-show Tim Broadwater, a UX Master Certificate recipient, about the value of User Experience Certification, or even that of a more traditional route through college.

This covers everything across the diversification of UX roles, leadership and management, and -- of course -- Scream Queens.

A transcript of this show fully marked-up with links and the like can be found at www.metricpodcast.com

Follow Michael on Twitter: @schoeyfield

Support this podcast on Patreon: patreon.com/michaelschofield



Get on the email list at metric.substack.com

Mar 05 2018

30mins

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Writing for the User Experience with Rebecca Blakiston - A LibUX Webinar

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Join Rebecca Blakiston -- author of books on on usability testing and writing with clarity; Library Journal mover and shaker -- as she talks shop and makes the case for content strategy, using active and authentic voice, removing unnecessary words, writing meaningful titles/headings, using parallelism, and more.

Our volunteer expert

Rebecca Blakiston (@blakistonr) is the team lead for Web Design & User Experience at the University of Arizona Libraries. She is the author of two books: Usability Testing: a Practical Guide for Librarians, and Writing Effectively in Print and on the Web: a Practical Guide for Librarians. She's also the Chair of the University Libraries Section, Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL ULS). In 2016, she was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

She's super. We've had beers.

Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/writing-for-the-user-experience-with-rebecca-blakiston-a-libux-webinar-tickets-35945982401



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Jul 10 2017

1min

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On design in user stories and user experience departments

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One more over coffee edition of Metric before a string of interviews to round-out the month of April. In this episode: 

  • What role does photoshop play in UX?
  • Should "design" be part of a user story?
  • What are the necessary technical abilities for doing UX?
  • What are your thoughts on UX Departments


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Apr 25 2017

20mins

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Over Coffee: Ugh, UX Ph.D's

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This episode of Metric is a little special: no guests, no post, just loaded questions and loaded answers. In the actual recording I was thinking about calling it "coffee break," but I over-thought this and now feel like that suggests it's a super short episode. It's not. It's regular length. So, we're going with "over coffee" -- which it was! 

This episode, I tackle three questions about UX Certification, a UX Ph.D who sucks at visual design, and Guerrilla Usability Testing

Enjoy. 



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Apr 19 2017

25mins

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iTunes Ratings

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Amazing work guys

By Donovan2324 - Sep 03 2019
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So entertaining and the way you both talk is so approachable. Very good podcast! Thanks so much for the work and information that you both put in

Spread the word

By Jake hazzrd - Oct 22 2017
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A lot of good stuff in here. Keep it up!