Kategorie-Archiv: UX

Integriertes Vorgangsmanagement – oder wie ich die Suche abschaffte

Mit integriertem Vorgangsmanagement bietet man die richtigen Informationen zur richtigen Zeit proaktiv an. Weniger Suchen, mehr Zeit für die Kunden!

Der Beitrag Integriertes Vorgangsmanagement – oder wie ich die Suche abschaffte erschien zuerst auf lohmeyer | Business UX.

Embracing the Idle Mind

How being bored leads to higher creativity and better decision making

Last month I made a change to my commute: I started to leave my phone in my pocket withholding the temptation to check emails and read the news. Soon, subway windows started to substitute my apple screen. No doubt, it was boring; but this is what I wanted. I was embracing the feeling of boredom to help my mind wander.

Suddenly, commutes started to become rewarding thinking sessions helping me to process my day and prepare for upcoming ones. Also, my 30 minute ride, brought up long forgotten memories and new ideas started coming to me a lot easier.

My daydreaming experience made me question how I had been using my idle time so far. Like many others, I was armed to the teeth with e-books, podcasts and social media accounts, ready to kill even the shortest downtime.

Keeping busy at all costs actually costs more than we think though. And this might be especially true for fields in which creativity and problem solving are of the essence, such as product management and UX.

An idle mind will seek a toy

Already Friedrich Nietzsche saw boredom as the “unpleasant calm that precedes creative acts”.

He who fortifies himself completely against boredom fortifies himself against himself too. He will never drink the most powerful elixir from his own innermost spring. — Friedrich Nietzsche

Neuroscientists and psychologists, like Jerome Singer, back up Nietzsches claims helping to explain what exactly happens when the brain is bored: When we do not have anything to do, our brain tries to escape the feeling of boredom. We shift into a mode of internal stimulation, commonly referred to as mind-wandering, where we refrain from task-related, focused thought. When our mind wanders our brain switches from “focused mode” into “diffuse mode” which increases activity in many regions of the brain.

These areas have been linked to high levels of openness to experience and divergent thinking — two common traits of highly creative people. And of course, the higher our level of creativity, the better we become at thinking outside the box and at developing effective solutions to difficult situations.

The benefits of mind-wandering and positive constructive daydreaming

The increased creative output in “diffuse mode” explains why revelations sometimes do not come to us when we are pondering about a tough problem, but actually when we manage to forget about it for a brief moment. This is how such “Eureka!” moments under the shower can be explained, when it feels like a solution came to us out of nowhere.

Your smartphone might be killing more than just boredom

Humans have daydreamed for ages; commutes, waiting lines and everyday tasks gave us the perfect environment to do so. Today, our smartphones can keep us busy within an instant though, preventing us from experiencing even the slightest feeling of boredom. So instead of focusing inwards, on our own thoughts, we have a constant external focus on the device in our hand. As a result, our creative potential and problem solving abilities might be reduced — our brain is not getting the valuable time to escape boredom through mind-wandering as we are using our smartphone to not even feel bored in the first place.

I cannot picture my live without my smartphone and enjoy the many ways it has improved through it. Still, I try to be more aware of the high costs that come with heave smartphone usage and also treat my brain with the rewarding “off-time” that it needs to increase my output of fresh, creative ideas.

The urge to be productive and progress

What makes it so difficult for me to get into mind-wandering-state is not just that I can easily distract myself with my smartphone. It is also the feeling that I should be doing just that.

As many others, especially those motivated people in the product community, I want to learn, improve and advance with the countless ideas and pet-projects that I have. The need to get ever more done has created a whole industry around tools, books, and substances that are promising to make our life more productive. Consequently, I used to consider a ride in the metro without anything to do a waste of time; maybe even a failure to achieve progress.

Thus, proactively not doing anything wasn’t something that I could do easily. It seemed like waisting time without visible progress. Of course, these fears are short-sighted and inflated. Yet, I never consciously reflected upon them before learning about the benefits of mind-wandering.

Finding the sweet spot for maximum progress and learning — Graph is purely for illustrating my argument and not based on any primary research or studies (even though I would like to know if there are any about this topic)

Overloading my brain with information and tasks will leave me tired and exhausted with no additional mental capacity to learn more down the road. In other words, after a certain level of utilization, my task-related learning curve is hitting a point of diminishing returns.

Moreover, the creative insights and revelations from mind-wandering are very different to my “regular”, task-related learning — it’s the kind of material you will simply not get out of a Coursera class.

Mind-wandering gave me fresh angles at solving problems, helped me come up with new topics for my writing, and made me discover new ideas by reflecting on what happened to me throughout the day. Therefore, even from a productivity perspective the occasional daydream makes total sense as otherwise all these creative discoveries would never see the light of day. Or in other words: Giving your brain time to wander can help maximize your “total learning function”.

And knowing this also helps me to not feel bad about starring out of subway windows anymore.

Das Buch: UX für Führungskräfte – Besser führen, entspannter leben

In Kürze Bernd Lohmeyer hat sein erstes Buch veröffentlicht: UX für Führungskräfte – Besser führen, entspannter leben. Das Buch stellt UX in einem übergreifenden Zusammenhang dar. Es richtet sich insbesondere an Führungskräfte, die einen neuen Denkansatz kennen lernen wollen. Dabei erleben sie nicht nur die Bedeutung von UX und deren zugrunde liegende Denkweise in Bezug […]

Der Beitrag Das Buch: UX für Führungskräfte – Besser führen, entspannter leben erschien zuerst auf lohmeyer | Business UX.

One for the forgotten pixels

All the products we create might soon be gone. It’s up to us to make them last.

All the products that I helped create might soon be gone. Disassembled in their look and feel, iterated into different products, or worst shut down all together. Picturing my efforts of the last years disappear feels like losing a bit of myself while burying parts of my professional credibility right with it.

I started to enjoy the thought of how the situation would be different if digital products were made out of stone, not pixels. The stone’s concrete surface would be strong enough to resist seasonal design changes. Their robust structure would be hard to tear down by other product builders. And thousands of years of experience would shrink the uncertainty around why, what and how to build.

Yet, digital products are still made out of pixels — lightweight, easy to rearrange and prone to change their layout every other release cycle.

As product people of the pixel generation we must understand that nothing we create is set in stone. At some point it will all be gone. And while we won’t be able to change this inconvenient truth, it is worth preparing for it in the best way.

How it feels to lose a product

The first step towards making sense of my product loss anxiety was understanding what I was so afraid of losing in the first place. For once, reliving my first product shutdown came in handy:

A couple of years ago, when Quiz Apps were all the rage, the company I was with wanted to participate in the hype. We partnered with a gaming startup to bring a successful northern European game to Germany. I was the product manager responsible for making this happen. The game was one of my first big projects, making it hard to forget the excitement when we launched. The week after the release, I witnessed the app shoot to the top of the app store charts when I was out on a city trip to Amsterdam. I vaguely remember the blossoming trees around the sun filled canals. I do recall, though, sitting near the water playing the game, eager to challenge every new player. One play at a time — I was determined to engage every user myself if I had to.

Fast forward two years and little was left of the engagement of the early days. I had to witness from the outside how the game was taken off the app store.

In-game screenshot showing one of the many game boards. The goal was to have more points from answering questions than your opponent. Reaching the star in the middle ends the game.

Looking back makes me realize that I connected to the product on many levels causing varied, yet always unpleasant, feelings about its shutdown.

User focused product development taught us to obsess about our customers and their well being. Even without this ever-present mantra, I wanted to build something beautiful that people would like. Thus, it felt like losing a part of myself when I had to witness the product go away, which I helped create with so much passion. Like the canvas to the painter, the product becomes our tool to communicate with the people in front of the screen. And for the pixel artists we often aspire to be, it sucks when your digital canvas is taken off display.

Next to my lifeblood, a significant share of my lifetime went into the app as well. It frustrated me to see all my efforts vanish and not paying off in the end. I started to wonder if I should have been doing other things with my time instead, which further amplified my doubt-filled dissatisfaction.

I also felt that closing down the game made me lose some of my professional credibility. We are judged by what we build and achieve. Now, one of my main achievements in the last years was buried in the app graveyard. I felt naked with nothing to show for except some app store pictures of the good ol’ days.

As personal as my product loss story might be, I think I am not the only one with these feelings. When after work drinks with fellow product makers slide on to memory lane, you hear tales of long forgotten products and features — loved by users, success stories for the business, and an epic battle to get released. It’s as if we want to keep our creations alive with our stories. as otherwise they might be lost for good.

Accepting product change

Understanding what I felt was important. To my own surprise, what helped me progress the most, was accepting that there was nothing I can do about my situation. And that this was a good thing.

Product development is driven by two stakeholders with ever-changing needs — our users and our company. It could be a redesign that keeps users experience up-to-date or a new feature aimed at a change in user behavior. If a company is off to enter a new market or fight off competitors, major product changes will come as well. In some cases, a switch in corporate strategy might even lead to switching off the product right with it.

Even though different in its magnitude, products need to change to meet the requirements of users and businesses. And given the increasing speed at which digital businesses evolve, change will come even more frequent in the future.

A third and major driver for change is neither to be found with a product’s audience, nor in the higher ranks of a company’s org chart. It’s us — product people with their agile, lean, and minimum viable way of thinking. Thanks to the likes of Eric Ries, Jeff Gothelf and Jake Knapp, we have been taught to iterate our way to success. State-of the-art product management embraces change to serve users well while keeping risk and initial investment low. In return, this means that either myself or those following after me will and should tinker and evolve what I created. If they didn’t do so they’d be doing something wrong.

A collection of reading material that helps to make products self destruct

With these forces at work, even the best products will need to change constantly to stay successful. While this sounds obvious, I never properly reflected on what it means for the foreseeable mortality of my work. Knowing that change is a prerequisite for product success, helps me to accept this unpleasant truth. Even if it means seeing my own work vanish, I know that it is (hopefully) for the best of the user, the business and the product itself.

Already ancient stoic philosophy put a focus on understanding and accepting what is outside of one’s control. Until today, stoic principles are known for helping leaders and entrepreneurs live a more fulfilling life.

“If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgement of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgement now .” — Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome

Embracing the inevitable helps the stoic to foster strength and happiness without worrying about what cannot be changed. Accepting the mortality of digital products fits right into the stoic mindset.

The courage to reflect

Even though we need to accept that our products will change, there is still a lot we can do to benefit from this situation. For the Stoic, accepting what is outside of one’s control is only half the deal . Identifying what is within one’s control to then improve one’s situation is of equal importance.

So how can we apply this way of thinking to product development? We have full control over our past experiences and memories from developing products. To leverage this work we need to constantly reflect and then extract what can be valuable for us in the future.

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule (…) that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.” — Epictetus

Continuous reflection helps to identify what worked and what didn’t, thus uncovering areas of improvements. Further, the emotional and timely distance to the observed topic aids the discovery of new insights by looking at a situation in a new angle. You might even uncover that you have learned and achieved more than you originally thought. I was surprised by how much I had learned about navigational hierarchies and user flows when I reflected on a recently released feature.

Lastly, reflection aids to develop more abstract ideas, making what you have learned applicable to a wider range of situations. For instance, reflecting on the Quiz App started my thoughts on how to apply ‎the theory of Flow from psychology to product design.

The Experiential Learning Cycle from David Kolb

And this is really what reflection is all about — uncovering what you have learned to later apply it to other products and become better at what you do. Even if the product that provided the learning is all gone, you will start to notice its long lasting benefits.

Over the last year, I have discovered writing to be a helpful reflection tool for me. Education researcher Ulrich Boser also mentions this in his latest book Learn Better when talking about the benefits of explaining a topic to other people. What I write needs to be understandable to the outside world, so I am forced to think and make sense of what confuses me. Also, I need to develop a coherent story for the reader which helps me to connect the dots about the topic myself. Publishing my reflections also makes my progress visible to the outside world, keeping it alive in a new medium.

There are plenty of other tools that can help to reflect and learn, such as regular feedback sessions with coworkers or retrospectives of a project. Even just taking half an hour each month to write down lessons learned from the past weeks is a valuable exercise. Pick the format that best fits you and work your way from there. Essentially the most important thing is to start. Otherwise, you might find yourself with nothing to show for in a couple of years.

To make a product last

I came to accept that short term product perfection is not what I will be remembered for. Nor will it help me improve throughout my career. What will make an impact, is constant reflection on my ephemeral pixel experiences. By using what I’ve learned in past projects, I have control over making my work live on.

While this surely is more work, it helps me to not rely on keeping my products alive by telling stories to others during happy hour. Instead, I can take my time to listen to tales of their fallen products, which tend to be very worth learning from as well.

If you liked reading this, please click the below to help share with others. This small and kind gesture keeps me going and motivated to write more articles like this one.

One for the forgotten pixels was originally published in The Startup on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

HAWK Interview 2016 mit @mprove

Ich sag’ mal so_

Mit bestem Dank an Stefan Wölwer und die Crew an der HAWK Hildesheim.

Das Interview wurde nach meinem Vortrag Gesellschaft und Informatik– Vom Verstand zum Algorithmus (und zurück) am 8.6.16 aufgezeichnet.

// Original: HAWK Interview 2016 mit @mprove CC-BY-NC-4.0 Matthias | mprove.net | @mprove | Musings & Ponderings

Back to the 60ties: Flussdiagramme

In den Zeiten von Lochkarten hat man den Algorithmus eines Programms meist mit einem Flussdiagrammen visualisiert. Erst danach hat man darauf aufbauend das eigentliche Programm „codiert“. Die Darstellungsmethodik wurde sogar in einer DIN-Norm 66001 spezifiziert und hat dann Eingang in viele Berufsausbildungen genommen. Auch heute noch sind Flussdiagramme in vielen Fachbüchern zu finden.

Einfaches Flussdiagramm aus einen Lehrbuch für Handwerker

Beispiel eines Flussdiagramms aus einem Buch für Handwerker.

Ironischerweise sind diese Diagramme in der Informatik seid dem Aufkommen des strukturierten Programmierens praktisch bedeutungslos.

Dennoch: In der Kommunikation mit fachlichen Anwendern oder Entscheidern können wir meist auf ein Grundverständnis von Flussdiagrammen aufbauen. Fachliche Projektbeteiligte kommen oft von selbst darauf, Abläufe mit Flussdiagrammen zu visualisieren.

Leider haben dann Nicht-Informatiker dann doch oft Probleme, ihre Gedanken in eine solche abstrakte Darstellung zu überführen.

Seltsamt verschachteltes Flussdiagramm

Mit welchem Programmkonstrukt kann man diese Ablauflogik ausdrücken? Es geht nur mit einem GO-TO. Aus modernen Programmiersprachen ist das GO-TO verschwunden: Es führt nämlich zu schwer zu verstehenden Ablaufstrukturen. Man kann die Abläufe praktisch immer deutlich eleganter ausdrücken.

Meine Erfahrung sagt mir, das auch hier der Anwender etwas anderes im Sinn hatte. Manche Anwender sollte man mit der Diagrammerstellung also lieber nicht alleine lassen.

Aber auch erfahrene Entwickler verlieren sich oft im Dickicht der Komplexität von Diagrammen.

Schauen wir uns ein Beispiel eines ehemaligen Kollegen an:

Ein Ablaufdiagramm das etwas unübersichtlich geraten ist.

Es wirkt sehr komplex. Wie kann man mehr Übersichtlichkeit herstellen?

Tipp 1: Die Hauptrichtung sollte immer von links nach rechts, oben nach unten sein. Nur die Nebenpfade sollten davon abweichen.

Tipp 2: Gerade die Fehlerbehandlung eines Prozesses neigt dazu, den Hauptpfad zu verschleiern. Hier sollte man gnadenlos abstrahieren und die Details der Fehlerbehandlung, wenn überhaupt, in einem gesonderten Diagramm erfassen. Es hilft meist niemanden, alle mögliche Pfade durch ein System wie in einem Labyrinth in einziges Diagramm zu pressen zu wollen.

Tipp 3: Hier werden Entscheidungsrauten benutzt, um Flüsse wieder zusammenzuführen. Das ist im Grunde falsch. Es wäre hier auch gar nicht nötig. In Prozessablaufdiagrammen kann man meiner Erfahrung nach oft auf die Darstellung von expliziten Entscheidungen verzichten. Das Diagramm wird übersichtlicher.
Die Stärke von Diagrammen sind die Darstellung von Beziehungen oder auch Abläufen. Details, unter genau welchen Bedingungen welche Entscheidung getroffen wird, lassen sich in Text meist besser ausdrücken.

Ein so vereinfachtes Diagramm kann man dann leichter verstehen:

Vereinfachtes Ablaufdiagramm

Umgestaltetes Ablaufdiagramm.

World Usability Day 2016 in Hamburg – Sustainable (Green) UX


Der World Usability Day (WUD) 2016 findet am 10. November statt und wird wieder von eparo in Kooperation mit der HAW organisiert. Das diesjährige Schwerpunktthema Sustainable User Experience finden wir großartig, da es deutlich macht, dass unsere Arbeit auch ökologische und soziale Aspekte berücksichtigen muss: Wie können wir Usability so gestalten, dass weniger Energie und Rohstoffe verbraucht werden? Wie tragen wir dazu bei, dass durch User Experience im Kontext der Vernetzung nachhaltige Formen des Zusammenlebens entwickelt werden?

Diese und andere Fragen zur Nachhaltigkeit können auf dem WUD gemeinsam diskutiert werden. Da in vielen Unternehmen Nachhaltigkeit immer mehr in den Fokus rückt, erwarten wir auch viele Teilnehmer aus anderen Bereichen, wie z.B. aus der Informatik, dem Ingenieurwesen oder dem Produktmanagement. In Vorträgen und Workshops wollen wir gemeinsam erarbeiten, wie Produkte effektiv, effizient und wiederverwendbar entwickelt werden können und wie nachhaltige Prozesse der Produktentwicklung Ziele wie Recycling, Wiederverwendung und schrittweise Verbesserung berücksichtigen können.

Die Teilnahme am Hamburger World Usability Day ist übrigens kostenlos!

Alle Infos zum WUD in Hamburg gibt es auf der Website: wudhh.de
Folge dem WUD auf twitter: @wud_hh

Inspire – Inform – Consult /reloaded

UXCampHH Circus

Für UX-Designer kann jede Unterstützung, die sie aus anderen Firmenbereichen bekommen, nur herzlich willkommen sein. Entwickler, die um ihre eigenen Stärken wissen – hoffentlich das Entwickeln – und die ihre Schwächen kennen – wahrscheinlich den benutzerzentrierten Ansatz – und die deshalb proaktiv auf die UX-Designer zugehen sind unschätzbar. Customer Experience-Experten, die nicht nur Käufer, sondern auch die Anwender dahinter bedenken, stehen einer Zusammenarbeit mit den UX-Designern aufgeschlossen gegenüber. Damit solche Kollegen nicht die Ausnahme darstellen, sollte es sich der UX-Designer zur Gewohnheit machen, durch stetiges Aufklären seine in software-ergonomischen Belangen unerfahrenen Arbeitskollegen für Usability und User Centered-Design zu sensibilisieren und interessieren.

In den frühen siebziger Jahren trafen sich die Forscher am Xerox PARC wöchentlich zu den so genannten Bean-Bag-Konferenzen. Auf Sitzsäcken verteilt lauschten sie den Ausführungen von Fachkollegen und ersannen die technischen und interaktiven Konzepte des Personal-Computings für die folgenden Dekaden. Heute veranstalten die größeren Firmen interne Vortragsreihen und Innovation Summits. Diese Seminare bieten den Mitarbeitern in regelmäßigen Abständen Einblick in Fragestellungen der Unternehmensstrategie, sowie aktueller Trends der Hard- und Softwareentwicklung. Die Vortragenden können dabei aus der Firma selbst kommen; das dient dem Zusammenhalt und dem besseren Verständnis für Herangehensweisen in anderen Abteilungen. Durch eingeladene Vorträge werden dem Team neue Impulse gegeben. Sie können zusätzlich den schönen Effekt haben, dass die Position des UX-Designers gestärkt wird.

// Dieser Text erschien 2003 im Hanser Verlag. Es wurden lediglich ein paar Begriffe ausgetauscht um ihn an den heutigen Sprachgebrauch anzupassen. cf. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About UX – But Were Afraid to Ask – UXCampHH 2016

// Original: Inspire – Inform – Consult /reloaded by Matthias | mprove.net | @mprove | Musings & Ponderings

UX vs UX Design

Don Norma[n/l] – who introduced the term user experience into our digital design world – says what UX actually used to mean – and what the term UX still should be used for_

From my point of view, in order to keep things straight, UX is psychology. It is the perception, the cognition, the emotions, the reactions and actions of a human being before, while and after she is using a product, service or system.

On the other hand, Usability is a property of a product in a specific context for specific users. It consists of the independent dimensions effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction. These factors can be measured and improved.

UX Design is a holistic design approach to improve the people’s UX while interacting with products, services and systems – before the purchase or sign up, during the use, and after the usage to consider if they want to sign up for an extended subscription or buy another product of the brand. People’s UX can be improved by means of improving the usability of the product, and by improving the way people interact with the service or system. This should be the job of UX designers or interaction designers or service designers. Congratulations if you have someone like that in your team.

I doubt that we will ever have robust computer-2-brain systems. Until then, UX stays subjective. Therefore, I am glad that I’ve found this picture to illustrate exactly this_

gopro_happyhorror_800 UX is subjective. (frame from a GoPro commercial

Do you realize the difference? UX designers do not design the user experience. They design products, systems and services in order to create a better UX on the user’s end.

So war’s: Vizthink Hamburg Meetup #18 Mensch-Maschine-Schnittstelle

meetupno18-18Mit ca. 25 Teilnehmern haben wir uns am vergangenen Monatag mit der Frage beschäftigt wie der Entstehungsweg digitaler Interfaces aussehen kann und welche Rolle Visualisierung dabei spielen kann.
Gestartet haben wir mit einer Aufwärmübung, bei der in Zweierteams Wirefames für ein alternatives Layout dieser Seite gescribbelt werden sollte.
Im Anschluss wurden einige der Ergebnisse päsentiert.

Als Impuls hat Britta aus Ihrer Erfahrung als UX-Researcher berichtet und wie Visualisierung dort genutzt werden kann. In diesem Zusammenhang haben wir eine Übung mit zwei verschiedenen Templates gemacht. Einmal ging es um das Thema Jobsuche und einmal um das Thema Messenger.
Die Frage ob, wann und wie man dem Auftraggeber handgescribbelte Entwürfe präsentieren kann/soll wurde innerhalb der Gruppe sehr unterschiedlich beantortet.
Wer gerne einen Handmade-Look haben, aber nicht selbst zeichnen möchte, der ist vielleicht mit der Software Balsamiq gut beraten. Weitere Verweise während des Vortrags gingen an das Experiments Handbook und die SAP Scenes.
Zum Ende haben wir noch etwas Networking betrieben und das Catering von Mindmatters genossen.
Beim nächsten Mal (26.9. schon mal in den Kalender eintragen!) gibt es dann auch ganz bestimmt wieder eine Vorstellungsrunde und wenn wir es vergessen sollten, fordert sie einfach ein 😉

Weitere Bilder vom Meetup.
Ania und Katharina haben direkt Sketchnotes vom Meetup angefertigt. Die wollen wir euch natürlich nicht vorenthalten: