What I read this week #23

There are few things that bring joy to my life more than racing and eating (and maybe a little bit of reading, writing and designing). My weekends are beginning to turn into just that. On Saturday, I ran my first 5K of my 9+1 journey, ate some incredible food that covered three continents and caught up on some reading. I’m the kind of person who derives joy from simple pleasures. I don’t need extravagant things like diamonds in my wine and a five-figure handbag. Sure, I carry my keys in a saffiano Prada case but give me a cup of tea, well-fitted running shoes and a plate of Malaysian curry noodles and I’m set. Here are things I read last week.

1. Typography Tips for a More Comfortable Read
By Luke Jones from InVision Blog
For people outside of design, the art of the type isn’t even something they realize exists. But for anyone remotely involved in design, typography is everywhere. It’s hard not to notice. Luke shares a few simple tips on how to improve the readability of any body of text and they’re quite useful. When comparing the before and after (towards the end of the article), you can really notice a difference that a few tweaks can make. And while we are on the topic, I thought I would also share this useful and amazing infographic on typography terms.

2. Designing for Growth
By Arijit Banerjee from UX Magazine
This article got me thinking about how important it is for designers to be business minded. I must’ve shared similar articles and said the same things but I really believe that understanding the way businesses work should be a requirement for UX designers. Yes, designers design for the user but what we create should be aligned with the business goals. Arijit breaks down the concept of designing for growth incredibly well and gives detailed examples. This helped me understand why it’s necessary for designers to work collaboratively with others. Design is everyone’s business.

3. The $300 Million Button
By Jared M. Spool from User Interface Engineering
This story has come up in conversations with designers on numerous occasions. To me, the power of user research is obvious but that’s not the case for the rest of the stakeholders. This is a great case study to use as reference to show people the profound value of research. It’s incredible how simply talking to users and doing testing could reveal an obstacle that kept a business from earning $300 million. If changing one button could generate an additional $300 million, just imagine what else research could uncover and how it could change businesses.

4. Explaining UX Design To Your Team
By Rosie Allabarton from UX Magazine
Explaining what user experience is to non-UX professionals is a skill of its own. This is something I personally struggle with because it requires me to understand the person. My answer of what UX is will be different to a lawyer from an artist. This article breaks down some of the challenges that come up from explaining UX to others and gives recommendations on how we can overcome them. My takeaway from reading this is that rather than explain what UX design is, it’s more effective to discuss the value of the role instead. I’ve never considered this so it’s something I’ll keep in mind.

5. The Anatomy Of A Great UX Design Leader
By Thomas Lockwood from Co.Design
I found this to be an inspirational article of what I can work on to become a great UX design leader. I especially like how the emphasis is on real leadership skills rather than UX design skills. Leaders’ design skills should obviously be top notch but what makes them great leaders is expressing compassion for others, making connections and creating relevance. My aspiration is to be a UX leader myself when I gain more experience. I’m personally on the hunt for a UX design and research mentor so these are things to definitely keep in mind.

6. Actual, Factual (Affordable) User Testing
Jess Hutton from UX Booth
Wow, these are great recommendations for user testing methods. A strong misconception is that UX research is expensive and time consuming, even among UX researcher teams. Jess attempts to break down that wall and shares her tips on performing different types of user tests that are quick and inexpensive. If teams can afford to perform all types of user testing, that would be the most ideal but in cases when there are a lot of constraints, these options are the way to go. Any testing is better than none. I stand firm to that belief.

If you’re interested, you have two more days to sign up as a TCS New York City Marathon volunteer. I’ll be there on Sunday, November 6th at mile 17 handing out water. Also, while I was drafting this article, I thought about signing up for the NYRR Ted Corbitt 15K 2016 race. Even though I’m passionate about running, I still question my abilities and whether I’m physically competent to do the seemingly-impossible. I have never ran more than five miles so I have no idea how I’ll finish this one. But now, it’s too late to think about how I’ll run this because I’ve already signed up. I guess the only solution is to just do it.




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