Author:

Jeff Gothelf is a user experience designer based in metro NYC. He has spent his career designing engaging experiences for clients big and small. He is currently the Director of User Experience at TheLadders.com where he helps executive jobseekers and recruiters make meaningful connections with each other. Previously Jeff helped shape the designs of AOL, Webtrends and Fidelity. Jeff publishes his thoughts on his blog and on Twitter. Jeff is presenting Lean UX: Getting Out of The Deliverables Business at this year's SXSW 2011 conference and the IA Summit.

Twitter: Follow Jeff Gothelf on Twitter

Clear Indications That It’s Time To Redesign

Redesign. The word itself can send shudders down the spines of any Web designer and developer. For many designers and website owners, the imminent onslaught of endless review cycles, coupled with an infinite number of “stakeholders” and their inevitable “opinions,” would drive them to shave their heads with a cheese grater if given a choice between the two. Despite these realities, redesigns are a fact of any online property’s life cycle. Here are five key indications that it’s time to redesign your website and of how extensive that redesign needs to be.

Redesign

The first and most important indicator that your website is in need of a rethink is metrics that are beginning to tank. There certainly could be other reasons for this symptom (such as your product not fitting the market), but once those are eliminated or mitigated, a constant downward trend in conversions, sales, engagement activities and general user participation indicates that the efficacy of your current design has worn off.

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How To Build An Agile UX Team: Integration

This is the final part in a three-part series on how to build and grow successful user experience teams in agile environments. It covers challenges related to organization, hiring and integration that plague UX teams in these situations. The perspective is that of a team leader, but the tactics described can be applied to multiple levels in an organization.

Agile team working together

For many designers, coming into an agile environment feels like settling in a new country. There are different dialects and new rituals. Furthermore, design is treated very differently than they are used to. It is, in fact, through ritual that a UX designer is able to integrate in their agile team. In addition, it is incumbent on the designer to open up the design process for collaboration and critique from other members of the team. Together, these tactics have the potential to yield a successful agile team.

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How To Build An Agile UX Team: Hiring

This is the second in a three-part series on how to build and grow successful user experience teams in agile environments. It covers challenges related to organization, hiring and integration that plague UX teams in these situations. The perspective is that of a team leader, but the tactics described can be applied to multiple levels in an organization.

A cross-functional scrum team sketching together

As you build and grow an agile UX team, hiring becomes a central point of impact for the team. Understanding what to look for in designers and how to assess their potential success (or failure) in your agile environment can be tricky. In addition, not all (and potentially none) of your legacy designers will integrate with the agile methodology. Here are a few ways to go about it.

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How To Build An Agile UX Team: The Culture

This is the first in a three-part series on how to build and grow successful user experience teams in agile environments. It covers challenges related to organization, hiring and integration that plague UX teams in these situations. The perspective is that of a team leader, but the tactics described can be applied to multiple levels in an organization.

Agile Culture

Building any kind of agile team is a lengthy and challenging process. Building a user experience team within an agile organization challenges not only traditional design practices but typical design team dynamics. In this first part, we’ll look at the type of culture that would support a strong UX component in the agile process and how to structure the organization so that designers are most effective and are able to thrive.

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Lean UX: Getting Out Of The Deliverables Business

User experience design for the Web (and its siblings, interaction design, UI design, et al) has traditionally been a deliverables-based practice. Wireframes, site maps, flow diagrams, content inventories, taxonomies, mockups and the ever-sacred specifications document (aka “The Spec”) helped define the practice in its infancy. These deliverables crystallized the value that the UX discipline brought to an organization.

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Over time, though, this deliverables-heavy process has put UX designers in the deliverables business — measured and compensated for the depth and breadth of their deliverables instead of the quality and success of the experiences they design. Designers have become documentation subject matter experts, known for the quality of the documents they create instead of the end-state experiences being designed and developed.

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How to Maintain Your Personal Brand as a Corporate Employee

A strong personal brand is beneficial on many levels. At the core it differentiates the designer, developer, marketer, etc, from the rest of the pack within crowded disciplines. It functions as a self-promotion agent that works for the practitioner 24/7/365 ultimately ensuring this person becomes a magnet for new and interesting work opportunities.

Fronteers Conference

The foundation of a personal brand is initially created by consistently doing good work. From there, commenting, interacting and reacting in public discussion forums, blogging, Twitter, Facebook and the publication of articles and even books further solidify an individual as a thought leader.

However, “the idea of personal brand is often associated with independent practitioners”, as David Armano puts it. And for independents there are typically no conflicts as they are in the business of promoting themselves, their skills and knowledge. However, for practitioners working within corporations and interactive agencies, the challenge becomes balancing their personal brands with the corporate brand.

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