Class #2 Week #7 – Done!

Well, I made it! Another class is complete. This week we got to create a portfolio to capture all the cool work we’ve done in this class. I have not created an online portfolio before, but know this is something I can use again and again to showcase my work.  Take a look at what I have so far (still finessing it before it’s due Sunday) and let me know what you think.


Thanks for following my class 2 journey with me. Stay tuned for class #3 (User Research I starting after a week break). Only 7 more classes to go!



Class #2 Week#6 – Iterating Designs and Informing Stakeholders

This class is almost over.  I can’t believe it! This week we pulled together all of user research and then had peer reviews on our final designs.  My peers are so good. It was really neat to see how each of us had such different takes and designs on this app that none of us have ever even see (it’s make believe).  I got really good feedback and inspiration from my peers and what they did. Very cool to see it all.  Here is what I came up with for my final designs.

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You can see the evolution of the entire thing (this whole class) in this report. Which is also very cool. What do you think? Make sense? I’d love to hear from my blog readers too.

Next week we get to turn this all into a portfolio. Now that will be cool! Can’t wait.  Until next week…


Class #2 Week#5 – Conducting A Design Assessment and Iterating Your Design

This week we video-taped 4 users asking them to perform tasks that supported our low-fi paper prototypes (see last week’s post) and captured their reactions to our design and let us know if our designs were effective.  It was a very cool process using those paper prototypes. I had not done that before.  Normally, I just use mocked up screens in a presentation or actual online prototypes.  This seems like a method that could save a LOT of time and money for companies to do FIRST!  

(image only, not link to video)

My users gave great feedback on the prototypes I developed and could successfully do all the tasks. I got great insight into what was confusing and could use more work. I also got other new insight into other features and ideas.  I am glad I chose a few other people to interview as well–got more variety.

Here are the results to share with my stakeholders. Take a look and tell me what you think of the results and my presentation of them. I even pulled in previous week’s work on design tenets, personas, font typeface, colors, and design we previously learned. It’s all coming together pretty well. And looking pretty cool. Don’t you think?

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Until next week…


Class #2, Week #4 – Planning A Design Assessment

This week I got crafty and made some low-fi paper prototype materials for next week’s second round of user research interviews. I’ve done prototype research with electronic mock-ups but never hand sketched and cardboard cut outs. It was a fun craft project almost.

I made the mocked up screens with paper and pencil then printed several copies and mounted them on card board.  I’ll have the little screens that pop-up as secondary materials. What a fun, cool way to do it.  We’ll see how it goes next week during the sessions.

Here is what they look like.  Stay tuned for more about how the sessions go. And let me know if you want to be one of the users I interview.  Need to interview Monday or Tuesday next week though (first week of Aug).

main screens

main screens



Class #2, Week #3 – Imagining and Critiquing Design Solutions

This week we built on last week by building a workflow of using reminders and then added wire frames to illustrate our suggested feedback and features from our user research sessions.  Here is mine. Our peers will be critiquing it, we’ll see what feedback I get from that. What do you think? Leave me a comment below.


Getting and giving critiques can be challenging.  I actually appreciate it because I want to know if I have done something wrong, if there are better ways to do something, or if something doesn’t make sense.  And I hope others would want to know the same when I give them a critique.  That said, it is really all in the delivery.  Everyone likes to hear the positive stuff that they have done well too and that should also be part of any critique.  Then get into the suggestions for improvement after that.  And ALWAYS give a suggestion and use examples so the receiver understands the suggestions.  And be fair and concrete, avoid subjective statements like to “it’s unclear”. Instead explain what seems unclear and why (“the paragraph of text has run on sentences making the topic unclear”).

Worst criticism I received was on things that were not even in my control.  But I thanks for the feedback anyways and said I’d forward it on.  The best critique was on a website redesign which I got critique from user experience “experts”, of which at the time I was not.  They gave specifics I had done well and commented that I had a natural talent. That was GREAT to hear!

Stay tuned for next week’s post. Thanks for following along on my journey.


Class #2, Week #2 – Conduct User Research and Create Shared Vision

This week’s assignment was to start implementing the work in last week’s proposal.  Specifically to conduct user research on target users, understand their wants and needs, and creating design tenets to reflect findings.  There were several deliverables this week. What an action packed, hands-on, get right into real work assignment.

  1. Identify four people (thank you friends who helped)
  2. Create a research protocol that includes a product concept description, questions to interview to understand users wants and needs related to the product.
  3. Running the research sessions, taking notes, using consent forms and moderator’s scripts.
  4. Writing a report on the approach and findings that includes information about the users, the approach, analysis, findings and recommendations.  It also should include a common persona and design tenets to help guide design of the product.

Here is a sample of the gathered data, with names hidden to protect identities. data

Here is a sample of the what the user data told me:

  • Everyone
    • uses a combination of tools and system to track reminders
    • have both personal and work-related reminders
      • some like to mix them together
      • some like to keep they separate
      • all of them have a need to access them both simultaneously, even if still separate, and have a hard time doing so
  • Most everyone uses Google Calendar and Outlook as well as a generic paper-based system too (e.g., Post Its, lists on paper, physical journals)
  • Everyone had a challenge that was not related to technology or systems — to just remember to track reminders at all
  • It varied among users as far as the amount of detail or how they want to and keep reminders
    • some wanted only titles
    • others wanted more metadata
    • some wanted just a to-do list
    • others wanted just a calendar (date driven to-do tasks)
    • others wanted both
  • Only one user had a Macintosh/iOS computer but several had iPhones (iOS). Though everyone had access to a PC computer.
  • A few users had Android phones (not iPhone/iOS)
  • While everyone had a hard time remembering tasks thus their need to track and be reminded about them, it was mixed as to if users wanted to manually review to be reminded versus having an automated pop-up reminder.   They felt it could be distracting or annoying to get lots of reminders, especially when a task wasn’t ready to be worked and had to keep “snoozing” reminders.  However, it was equally frustrating to have to keep looking at the entire list to see what wasn’t done – often things at the top of the list got more attention and some lower down might even be ignored.
  • Only one person mentioned using voice (AI e.g., Siri, Alexa, Cortana) to manage reminders, though they  were aware of it–just hadn’t tried it themselves.
  • Only a few other “apps” were mention outside of Outlook and Google Calendar and they were: Fitness Pal, Things, and an un-named grocery list app.
  • The biggest take away was that everyone preferred simpler over added fancy features.  They all said that it has to be quick and easy otherwise, features won’t be used and if they are it’s harder to use the data in the lists (what’s being reminded in the first place).  So usability should be high with less focus on fancy and numerous features (a few main design tenets).

Stay tuned for more next week. Upcoming activities include: Hand-sketched workflows and screen wire frames, test plan, design materials, recorded research sessions, and a final written report for stakeholders.  Class #2 is entirely devoted to this project.


Week #1, Class #2 – The Project Proposal

This week’s post comes to you from San Francisco. The kids and I are on vacation visiting my dad.  What a great time–hard to focus on class.  This week’s reading and assignments was on project proposals and deliverable items related to UXD.  Many of the things in the reading, I already do at work e.g., outline roles, hold stakeholder meetings, choosing the right deliverable items etc.

There were two very helpful sections in the reading though.  One was on comparisons of research methods (i.e., quantitative measurement of detailed tasks, surveys, focus groups, usability testing, individual interviews, direct observation, and interview plus observation) and then outlined what they were good for and then contrasted what they were NOT good for.

Another helpful read was a “cheat sheet” of sorts, that outlined summary of various stakeholder questions you could ask.  For example, you could ask sales stakeholders, “Why do customers buy a product like this one and what this one over a competitors?” This might help you understand what differentiates their product from another’s.  Or you could ask a support team member, “What problems do you see most often?” That might give you insight into current features that don’t work well for users and what to improve on. (Questions from Designing for the Digital Age by Goodwin).

Homework this week is to creating a project proposal for the work that we’ll be doing for the next six weeks of this class. We will be imagining we working with a fictitious software company to redesign a Reminder/To-do app.  The company wants to hire us for user research and design to help them figure out what users to focus on, what problems they need to solve, and how to solve them. Should be a fun six weeks. Stay tuned….


san franHere I am on the waterfront headed towards Pier 39.

Week #7 – Aesthetics

Wow! Last week of first class already. That went fast.  One down, 11 classes to go.

This week we learned about color and aesthetics presentation (color modes, basic color theory and the remaining fundamental design principles) and their affect on usability. We learned a bunch like:

  • print (CMYK) vs screen (RGB) color
  • color hue and intensity characteristics of color
  • the color wheel (primary, secondary, tertiary [learned how to spell that], complementary, and analogous colors)
  • layers, texture, and contrast for visual interest

I was a bit overwhelmed watching a class on color on all of the above. The instructor illustrates art for children’s books and taught color in an art class. Talk about intimidating.  There was SO much content to learn and while I’m crafty, I’m not sure I’m artsy.  However, the more I got to playing with color in this week’s assignment (a persona), the more I realized this can be fun. And the principals do help you make choices that work well together.

The color lessons was then combined with the typeset, grid, and other things we’ve learned in this class in our assignment to make a persona.  This is something I have done before, however not using all these elements.  I put last week’s typeset to work, applying the fonts I chose to the end product as well as some of the color and grid layout principals to get it looking nice.  Here is what I came up with. What do you think? I’m pretty proud.


Well, this is the last post for this first class. See ya next class!


Week #6 Typography

Wow! Week 6 already? I can’t believe it. Only one more week to go in my first class of this program. Amazing!

This week we studied typography.  As defined in the Merriam Webster Dictionary.

  1. letterpress printing

  2. the style, arrangement, or appearance of typeset matter

We learned that a typeface is like the album of a font family and the font is the song on the album with a typeface style (i.e., weight, slant, width, height, orientation). There are several styles such as serif, sans-serif, decorative, etc.  We learned about how they sit on a line (X height, ascender, descender) and take up space (tracking/kerning) etc.

Our assignment this week was to make a Type System which is a set of fonts paired together to make a visually appealing, easy to read, stylish end product.  Here is what I came up with.


my font family


Styles of each font

I used a new tool called Google Fonts. What a cool, free tool. There are hundreds of fonts and you can filter to find just the right one and even preview it before downloading and installing it to your own computer. Here is a screenshot. Pretty cool tool!


Well that’s all for this week. Stay tuned for the last week of this first class.



Week #5 – Organization, Layout, and Composition

This week we were asked to take a productivity style assessment. Here is mine:

You are an ARRANGER.

Arrangers prefer supportive, expressive, and emotional thinking. They encourage teamwork to maximize output, and they make decisions intuitively as events unfold. They block off time to complete work but excel at partnering with others to get it done. They communicate effectively, which helps them build and lead project teams. They tend to maintain visual lists, often using color.

Productivity tools that appeal to Arrangers include:

  • dictation apps like Dragon Naturally Speaking and Dragon Dictation or the web-based program Copytalk
  • collaboration tools like GoToMeeting, WebEx, SharePlus Office Mobile Client, and
  • aesthetically pleasing office supplies—for example, notebooks with unlined pages and pens in a variety of ink colors

What do you think? Sound like me? I think so. I did an EQ assessment and that did say my number one working style was collaborative and that I most enjoy working with others. I also really really like purple pens that and cool notebooks but also tend to trust my intuition. So, ya, I think its right.

This week we had an assignment to critique 4 sites/objects for effective design and layout–2 of each.  Here is an example of some of that.

HTML Cleaner (bottom half of home page)

html cleaner2

This site is another bad example of both design and layout.  The first screen shot is the top of the page and is worse than the bottom half of the page.  Perhaps they started making incremental improvements.  This site doesn’t take advantage of the Golden Ratio but does show some use of grids.  There is little point, line and plane composition to make the page more interesting. It too is very text heavy.  The second screenshot does have some boxes that use white and vary that from the gray page background (also in grids), but they it is not very asymmetrical or interesting. There is little scale variation or typography to make the site’s content or feature hierarchy stand out.  Leaving a lot of learning and reading required by the user. Not intuitive or a good user interface. 


This site is perhaps the best example of design and layout of all these.  It uses many of the good elements to make the site simple, intuitive, and elegantly pleasing to both the eye and purpose of the user.  There is ample white space, giving the eye a break as well as making content stand out.  The use of color and motion do that as well. Pages that advertise their new products all have beautiful imagery and some media that really showcase the experience of that product.  And scale of the larger images, the sections of other content (visual hierarchy), and use of asymmetrical layout all make the most important areas stand out to be read first then the other sections.  The company uses hierarchy to make it look nice but also focus us on what they want us to see first — new iPad Pro, in this case.  This page has some good figure/ground going on.  They even use a lot of black and white on this particular page, which gives a good visually impactful “punch”.  Some of the other pages on the site have more grid use, especially more columns where there is more content to deliver. Apple is very good at designing for the user’s experience and this website is a good example of how they do that well. 

Still having fun. Next week is typography. I’m not sure I like all this artsy design stuff. It takes a lot of attention to detail that I just don’t care for. I would rather have an overall vision and let an artist do the design part.  However, now I know more principals and terminology to help better articulate the designs in my visions.  And I got a good feel for asymmetrical and how to use these principals for a better vision. So, I guess overall I am getting it and it is helping. Yay! Until next week.