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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Teaching UCD in Barcelona

IED logoLast month I was in Barcelona for a week, teaching User Centered Design to a group of 15 students of the Insituto di Design's Design Management Master course.

On a Monday evening, having just finished Day 3 of the 4-day course in Interaction Design that I teach for the Dutch professional training institute Lectric, I got on a plane to Barcelona. After landing and a taxi ride to Plaça de Catalunya, the staff at Hotel Denit (which I highly recommend!) helped me settle in for an intense, week-long stay.

SilviaSilvia Calvet picked me up the next morning and escorted me to the IED building in the Gracia neighbourhood of Barcelona. I mentor Silvia via the IA Institute Mentoring Program and she arranged that I got invited by IED.

The students were an international bunch, coming from Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Columbia, Chili, Puerto Rico, USA, and Singapore. They had already started work on their final project (a line of accessories for the Volkswagen brand) and were able to apply the lessons to either that project or their previous projects: when my assignments allowed for it, they would use their projects as examples, briefly explaining them to me before sharing their solutions.

The walls of their classroom (it was theirs for the year) were full of the results of their user research and conceptual sketches, so I was a bit worried that I wasn't teaching them anything new. Fortunately, the responses I got indicated that I was indeed telling some known stuff, but that I presented the material in a (UCD) framework that was new to them, that it helped them put some earlier lessons in the right perspective, and that there was plenty of new material.

And the students were good! The day after I gave them their only homework assignment (with about half an hour left from the daily 10AM-2PM schedule, so they could consult me), I was impressed with the results. The well-delivered concept presentations all consisted of four or five related artefacts (e.g. a central concept sentence, a sketch, some scenarios, a screenflow and high-level wireframes) which was an amazing result give the amount of time available!

Every night I was able to tweak the slides for the next day, based on my findings of the day. I found out that using Facebook as an example website worked better than Twitter (all of them were on Facebook, none on Twitter) and that Hotmail was still popular enough that it could be used to perform a usability test on.

Each day, after a lunch somewhere in Gracia, I would walk to the offices of CVA Consulting to work remotely on the client portal is developing for the Dutch Yellow Pages and act as Silvia's mentor by preparing an in-house workshop focused on managing projects in a user-centered way. Here are the slides from that presentation:

On Friday, my (now ex-)girlfriend arrived and our weekend in Barcelona could start. We enjoyed the cities great food, wonderful shopping, sights & sounds, and got a chance to see what life is like if you live just outside Barcelona, in beautiful Vilassar de Mar.

If I get the chance to do this again next year, I won't hesitate!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Exploding Websites presentation delivered to Euro IA 2009

Euro IA logoLast weekend, I attended the Euro IA 2009 conference where, together with my colleague Iskander Smit, I delivered our presentation Designing for the Scattered Structures of the Exploding Website. Considering this was the first time I spoke about this subject, it went pretty well.

In the days before the conference, I had been up late to collect and create the materials and to determine the best way to present it. I wanted to find the right words to convey our ideas around designing for Exploding Websites. In the process I got a chance to tweak them and create a thinking framework for them.
During the actual presentation I realized I was still struggling to find the right words and therefore had to skip through some of the material around the 2 cases we wanted to present. It wasn't a perfect delivery.
But still, we got our ideas around Exploding Websites out into the community! The first responses are positive and indicative of a long-lasting influence on the way IAs think about designing structures for future websites.

The slides are available on Slidehare:Overall, the Euro IA conference was a great informal get-together of friendly, fellow professionals. I think Samuel Ericson described it best when he Twittered:
I suggest we call this conference a festival, cause that's what it felt like.
I hope to see even more friendly IAs next year in Paris. Meanwhile I will practice telling this developing story on clients and will hopefully be able to share more insights on designing for Exploding Websites with you all soon.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Help us present Exploding Websites at Euro IA 2009

Boom!Together with Iskander Smit, strategy director at, I am preparing a presentation called "Designing for the Scattered Structures of the Exploding Website", to be delivered at Euro IA 2009. In it, we explain why a new way of designing online systems is necessary. I'd like to know if you agree or not...

Below is our summary of the talk (very similar to the one on the Euro IA programme page):
Much information is limited to the structured boundaries of its own website. Bur more and more, the information is scattered over multiple online channels and websites. Because of the growing use of mobile devices, widgets and API’s, we have to change the way we look at information structures; new design methods for their delivery are necessary.

At, we have translated this development into our model of the Exploding Website. The model describes how services are now revealed in several contexts, and what steps you need to take to define the right part of the service in the right context. We also redefined our methodology for user experience design based on the vision of the Exploding Website. Dynamic personas, scenes and rule-based structures are key elements.

In the presentation we will use client cases to demonstrate the model and describe the new design approach to structure information around new contexts. At the end of the presentation we will discuss a list of do's and don'ts for everyone working on online media for the future.
Does that sound interesting? Have you done something similar already? What is your design approach for these scattered structures? Tell us (mail to <peter @ this domain> and maybe we'll praise your thinking at Euro IA!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"UX Deliverables in Practice" presentation published

Update (June 22, 2009): An audio file is now available for public download on the IA Konferenz website.
(Combining the audio with the slides on Slideshare turns out to be impossible due to a combination of my high tempo and Slideshare's limitations for transitions, sorry)

On May 17 2009, I delivered my invited presentation "UX Deliverables in Practice" at the IA Konferenz 2009 in Hamburg, Germany. A first (slightly modified) version is now available.

Given that my session was scheduled right after the lunch break on the last day, I had told the organizers that I would try to make it a bit of a show. Of course the real content -- a brief overview of theories of UX plus a wider look at some of the deliverables outside of the standard research-design-evaluation triad (which I summarized using a quiz) -- was there too. I think the format worked pretty well: despite my crazy 155-slides-in-45-minutes schedule, I finished ahead of time and had room for a brief Q&A session.

The presentation is structured as follows:
  • intro: Peters in IA
  • intro: UX Theory =/= UX Practice
  • UX Theory: models
  • UX Theory: defintions
  • UX Practice: more than research-design-evaluation
  • UX Practice: Business & Strategy
  • UX Practice: Quiz "What Deliverable Is This?"
  • UX Practice: Business & Manage
  • UX Practice =/= UX Theory
  • closing: I Want You To...
  • closing: More Elements of User Experience

I have made some small modifications (mostly removing animations) to allow for a more static review of the slides. I have also included some notes (I didn't prepare speaker notes in advance, but these reflect what I said or, in hindsight, think I wanted to say). In time, I hope to be able to add audio and synchronize it with the slides.
For now, this version of the presentation is available on Slideshare: UX Deliverables in Practice. I'd love to hear what you think of it and will try answer any questions.

Oh, and yes, I had a lot of fun at the IA Konferenz and encourage you to also have a look at the other presentations, gathered by the organizers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Presenting (more than) UX deliverables at German IA Konferenz

IA Konferenz 209 logoI am proud to be part of the third German IA conference as an invited speaker. In line with the conference's theme ("IA in Business and Practice") I will be talking about User Experience deliverables in practice.

The presentation will build partly on my talk at the Adobe User Group meeting last year (see the video in Dutch or slides in English). But instead of focusing on the core UX design deliverables as I did there, I plan to also talk the audience through project management-related artifacts as well as evaluation activities. Because only in theory is the UX practice all about design deliverables...

Other international presenters include Peter van Dijck (author of Information Architecture for Designers) and the keynote speaker Lou Rosenfeld (author of the IA bible Information Architecture for the World Wide Web)!

To stay up to date on the IA Konferenz, which will take place on May 16 and 17 in Hamburg, follow the news. I hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

UX Matters breaks record for mentioning 'T-shaped people'

UX, one of the better online magazines on user experience (UX), just published the article Specialists Versus Generalists: A False Dichotomy? In it, the author (Pabini Gabriel-Petit) mentions the idea of T-shaped people. Quite often. Really often. But it's good!

T-model for IAThis article was interesting to me since I often have to refer to my own T-model for user experience professionals T-model: Big IA is now UX (and the addition of business IA). This is another article that explains the idea behind it.

Some quotes from the article:
Organizations should not require designers who have the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience to legitimately call themselves UX designers to specialize so narrowly. The best designers are unique individuals who bring diverse talents to their work—they’re T-shaped people
In my view, deep domain knowledge, while essential in a product manager, is not the primary criterion that should form the basis of a UX hiring decision. It’s usually a valuable asset, but there are also some positives that come from hiring T-shaped people who have experience outside your domain.
My dream team would consist of both specialists and T-shaped individuals with knowledge and skills that are both broad and deep.
and my favourite:
T-shaped people enjoy sharing their knowledge—with their peers in UX, with UX team members in other specialties, with people in other disciplines on multidisciplinary product teams, and with business leaders. They’re effective mentors and evangelists of user experience.

Now go and read the article!