Agile UX – Sketching and Scrum

Last Import - 09“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” That was the advice of Arthur BrisbaneEditor The Syracuse Post Standard March 28, 1911. Despite originally referring to newsprint, the adage still holds true in the digital age.

Sketching for understanding” is an efficient and effective way to gather tons of ideas in a short period of time while cultivating shared understanding across agile teams.With the right structure and active participation, sketching with Scrum teams can really pay dividends throughout the release life cycle.

Use the following guide to help plan and facilitate your next agile sketching session. Continue reading

Agile UX – Collaborative Chartering

080508_EyeAlthough many businesses follow agile practices, they don’t realize the true benefits of an agile culture and unwittingly fall into routine at the expense of collaboration.

A good UX Designer can help get a team back on track by establishing a shared vision or “Collaborative Charter”. Created with any agile team, the charter can do the following:

  • Identify direction and purpose
  • Build loyalty through involvement
  • Inspire enthusiasm and encourage commitment
  • Set standards of excellence that reflects high ideals and a sense of integrity
  • Bring meaning to the work
  • Mobilize the team to action

Use the following guide to plan and run effective Collaborative Charter workshops…
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The Agile Product Owner

cropped-superpo2 2The role of product owner was born of the scaled agile framework. Product owner is a role, not a title, and the responsibilities for the role vary.

In “The Scrum Papers: Nut, Bolts, and Origins of an Agile Framework“, author Jeff Sutherland emphasizes the product owners’ main responsibility of ensuring Return on Investment (ROI) for a given product feature:

“The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing return on investment (ROI) by identifying product features, translating these into a prioritized list, deciding which should be at the top of the list for the next Sprint, and continually re-prioritizing and refining the list.”

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Listen Up! (and have better interviews)

listening-earDo you ever find yourself drifting off while conducting interviews? Are you having trouble remembering what an interviewee said during a conversation? Are you busy thinking of your response or opinion before the other person has finished speaking?

If this describes you, your hearing may be fine but your listening needs work. To get more out of  interviews and conversations, you’ll need to work on becoming an “active listener”.


To be an active listener, you’ll need to clear your mind, focus, ask questions, reflect, and paraphrase throughout the conversation. Here are 12 helpful tips to follow the next time Continue reading

Design for value and connect with customers

value With the increasing importance of the product experience as a competitive differentiation, designers need to think about making value connections with their customers. Designing for value requires discipline. Using successful measures of value opportunity will help designers get there.


Originally introduced in 2001 by Craig M. Vogel, Jonathan Cagan, and recently cited in the International Encyclopedia of Ergonomics and Human Factors, Value Opportunities provide th

e best opportunity to connect with customers in a deeper more meaningful way. Continue reading

User Interface Design – The Key to Consistently Providing Superior Customer Experience

pdma-bresslerOn April 3, 2013, I sat on a panel for a special program, sponsored by the PDMA and the Bresslergroup. The program included students from Philadelphia University Masters in Industrial Design program as well as software engineers and product design leaders from around the Philadelphia region.

The program focussed on emerging trends shaping user interface design process with the industrial design process. The panel was moderated by Rob Tannen, Ph.D, Director of Research and Interface Design at the Bresslergroup.

I included a brief summary of the topics we covered below…

Rob: How do you determine which features and content to deliver on various devices?  Should the goal be to provide full functionality across all platforms? Continue reading

Design the box

33942900_1Have you ever been so close to your product that you couldn’t see the forest for the trees? Have you ever wanted input from others to discover the true value proposition for your product? I have a suggestion – design the box!

Design the Box is an exercise where participants’ imagine and design product packaging that represents the value proposition for a given product. Participants are askedto Continue reading

The Thing About Personas

headIf you look up the definition of persona you will learn there are various types of persona, each different depending on their context of use. There are persona for literature, music, video games, communication studies, psychology, marketing and user experience design. Although their use varies, personas typically include people, actions,  behaviors, a back story, and specific context or scenario.

If you plan to develop and  use persona in your experience design work, make sureyour persona include Continue reading

Name That Thing Exercise

thing1_2-150x150Finding the right terminology for a product’s features and content can be challenging. This can be especially challenging if the original taxonomy evolved within a highly specialized group or culture. Terminology born under these circumstances can easily be considered jargon and completely foreign to others outside the group.So how do we avoid terms that can be considered jargon?
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Jargon guidelines in product design

blahWhen designing a product, terminology can be as important as a product feature or content. Using unrecognizable terms for navigation can make features and content impossible to find. After all, if you can’t find it, it doesn’t exist. To that end, it is generally good UX practice to avoid jargon. But what happens when your users are steeped in jargon?. What should UX practitioners do?
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Spitwad Brainstorm – Facilitator Guide

Paper-Toss-Wallpaper-1920x1200-150x150Spitwads is a general-purpose brainstorming workshop designed to elicit ideas, achieve group consensus and identify follow-up action items.

- from – The guys from the 56 Geeks Project

Start with a question

Pose a question to the group, like “How can we improve performance of X?” or “What is the most important thing we are missing in our process?” The question should be thought provoking and open ended.

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Presenter Guidelines for Webinars

The following guidelines are recommended for folks who demo product features for company wide webinars.

Consider the objectives

There are three general objectives for presenting product updates to PointRoll employees companywide through webinars…

  • Generate enthusiasm for the product updates
  • Promote the value of features being released
  • Gather high-level feedback that may be added to an enhancement list and prioritized at a later time.

To that end, webinar demos should be… Continue reading

Meeting Guidelines for Organizers and Participants

Use this guide to help make your meetings more effective.  Whether you are the facilitator or a participant, follow these best practices to make the most of your time.

Ask yourself the following questions after your next meeting…

  • Did I understand the goals of the meeting
  • Were all the attendees engaged and focused on the goals of the meeting
  • Were there any actions items as a result of the meeting
  • Was this the best use of my time – everyone’s time?

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Presenter Guidelines for Development Demos

The following guidelines are recommended for folks who demo sprint deliverables.

Consider the objectives

There are two general objectives for hosting demos with product stakeholders:

  1. Provide validation for the team’s work
  2. Gather high-level feedback and insight from stakeholders that may be added to an enhancement list and prioritized at a later time.

To that end, demos should be positive, well organized and predictable. Continue reading

Cyclones vs Quakertown November 2012

Here are some highlights from our ICSL Youth Soccer Championship game in Quakertown, PA. The video was shot by one of our parents and captures some of the most dramatic moments in the game. Set to Asturias, the video captures the spirit of the team.