What I read this week #18

This weekend, I’ve escaped to Miami to celebrate my friend’s engagement. I’ve known her since 1996 and it’s insane that she’s getting married in six months. The bachelorette getaway is a Lumpy Space Princess themed weekend and we even bought these adorable tunics/nightgowns. Before leaving New York City for the weekend, I also attended two incredible events. One was on the challenges of UX at a traditional media and entertainment company hosted by XX+UX and the second was all about virtual reality hosted by IxDA. They were phenomenal. Onto this week’s hot batch of articles.

1. Understanding the Business
By Kim Goodwin from Boxes and Arrows
As UX designers and researchers, we are integral parts of the business. This article explains the ways in which we contribute to the business extremely well. While UX professionals design for usability and efficiency, the final product must also be aligned with the business goals. It seems like the big conversation in the design community is the return on investment on UX design and research and embracing business metrics as part of the process. Many companies are needing UX research more and it’s important to be able to fully convince stakeholders of the value. There’s even a detailed list of stakeholders and what they’re aware of in this article.

2. 8 Things to Know About Building a Design Portfolio
By Emelyn Baker from InVision Blog
Before getting into UX design and research, I thought that this career path was mostly about designing attractive interfaces. I was wrong. It is rooted in problem solving and this article stresses the importance of highlighting that in your portfolio. The pointers provided in this article are all incredibly helpful. They allow me to get into the right mindset as I begin thinking about my portfolio and what I need to do now (such as documenting my progress and taking pictures of literally everything I have) to be prepared. The biggest lesson for me was to show the work, even with the problems that it has, and focus on the results.

3. Ethics of emotional intelligence in UX research
By Jennifer Winter from User Testing Blog
This blog is my jam right now. The more I understand what UX research is, the more I love it. I can’t wait to be able to say that my job is to be humble, not judge others, be genuinely curious and be mind-blown. This article discusses the various things to be aware of when performing UX research and making sure that it is as unbiased and ethical as possible. I went to an event a few weeks ago and a panelist mentioned how designers need to anticipate all the ways that their work could hurt others. Designers create things to add value to the world but the work could also be harmful if ethical safeguards aren’t put into place. This was an excellent read.

4. What has the biggest impact on designers’ happiness?
By Kayleigh Karutis from InVision Blog
The profound answer to this question is the users’ happiness. But let’s step back and go for some real talk. This article addresses the types of compensation that truly make working UX professionals happy. If my job is to be a UX designer, then I expect the UX of being a UX designer should be spot on. The takeaway from this article was the understanding that designers crave professional growth more than anything else. User experience is a field that people get into not because it’s a promising career path or the safe route to success. Designers go for the world of UX because they’re passionate about solving problems and their desire for profession growth reflects that.

5. Five (More) Great Ways to Open a Presentation
By Brad Phillips from Mr. Media Training
As stated in a previous entry, I’m a huge fan of this blog. Communication skills are things that everyone needs and should actively be improving. When I went to this event on communication skills a few months ago, my entire perception on the way I communicate changed, for the better. Brad provides five fantastic and somewhat unconventional ways of opening up a presentation. I love that he shares concrete examples of those pointers in action so that readers can see and appreciate the value of them. Although I’m not a public speaker by profession, Brad’s tips are helpful when I’m at events and meeting new people. Because that in itself is a presentation of your brand, right?

6. Conversational Interfaces: Where Are We Today? Where Are We Heading?
By Cosima Mielke from Smashing Magazine
Whenever I begin a discussion with anyone about conversational interfaces, I immediately think of Siri and then when I think of Siri, I think of that hilarious episode of Boondocks called “I Dream of Siri.” Granddad buys an iPhone for the purpose of interacting with Siri and the relationship between the two move in a frightening direction. If you have a spare 30 minutes, go watch it. I definitely envision conversational interfaces to become common and more mainstream. It got me thinking about how far this new experience can go. Will it be used simply for functional purposes? Or will there come a time when we can have profoundly intellectual discussions with our machines?

Before you go, you need to be checking my calendar because I just updated it and my event game is stronger than ever. Next month, I’ve got three races coming up as well as some exciting Meetups in the realm of technology, food, design, research and health. I also want to share with you that I especially enjoyed the event on virtual reality and am putting together a piece on something that I can’t even wrap my brain around. Please stay tuned for that soon!




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