Just Another UX Side Project

Early this year, I said yes when a friend asked me to join their UX side project team.  It took us around six months to wrap up the whole thing — from the discovery phase to testing our prototype, so we named our team Unom, which means “six” in our native dialect.

Why six months? All three of us were busy with our put-food-on-the-table jobs. Excuses, right?

For this side project, my responsibilities revolved around user research, creating the testing plan, and taking care of the microcopy.

If you’re curious ( I know you are!) how it went, take a ten-minute break and give the case study a quick read: A UX Case Study: Rose Pharmacy Customer Queue Management System. 

On Human-Centered Technology and Pragmatic Idealism

Yesterday, a friend asked me about UX and why do I care so much about it.

As I’ve described before in a contest entry about valuable design outcomes,  I would like to believe that advocating for UX is an exercise of pragmatic idealism. 

In recent years, I realized that I can’t be one of those people who can “change the world” by being an outspoken activist or by building a non-profit organization to promote a certain cause. We seek solutions to the world’s biggest problems, you see, only to find out that they’re merely band-aids.

After taking stock of what I can and can’t do, it dawned on me that in order for me to help change the world (so idealistic, yes?) using my strengths,  I would have to be more realistic. Employing pragmatic tools and methodologies is a good start.

This is where advocating for user-centered technology comes in.

Technology doesn’t have to make us “less human”. The supposedly cold, soulless AIs and bots are already here, but I’m still hopeful that we can create technologies that will not take  “humanity” out of us.

Man and Machine Working Together

There’s a lot of talk about the impending man vs. machine doom, but what if we aim for man and machine working together?

The more we advocate for user-centered tech through user research, the more it will help us understand each other. Understanding begets empathy. Empathy begets kindness.

When you put technology out there with empathy as one of its cornerstones,  the chances are high that people will treat their fellow humans the same way.

For instance, when you’re effortlessly booking a ride home from a tired day at work via a ride-hailing app, you’re less likely to get grumpy by the time you get home. This might mean that you’re less likely to snap back at your partner who didn’t even bother to cook dinner. In short, you’re going to be more patient and kinder.

Imagine if you were having issues using the ride hailing app. You’re probably going to project your anger and frustration to your clueless partner. And the cycle of hatred and indifference begins.

It sounds tad simplistic but I’m banking for now on the school of thought that before we seek solutions to the world’s biggest problems like terrorism, world hunger, corruption etc, why don’t we start with the idea of  treating each other with compassion, kindness, and openness?

Technology is a pragmatic tool that can help us accomplish this idealistic goal, don’t you think?

How to Find True Love by Running Your Own Design Research

The Problem:

There are a lot of assumptions about True Love. Does True Love exist? Is it even possible?

This design research aims to find out which assumptions are right or wrong, demystify True Love, and eventually build a prototype based on user needs.

User = could be you or someone you know

Let’s get into it!

The Process:

We are going to use Gooogle Ventures’ Design Sprint methodology.

You will need the following:

  • Paper and pen
  • Sticky notes
  • Whiteboard and whiteboard markers
  • An open mind and heart
  • Friends and family members who genuinely care about you as testing participants (at least five of them, you’re going to be the 6th tester)
  • People you don’t know (to avoid bias and encourage objectivity) who will go through the design sprint with you. They can also act as moderators and observers on testing day.

Day 1 – Understand

  • Reflect on what true love means to you.
  • What does success in finding true love looks like? How will it be measured?
  • Identify potential candidates that signify true love to you. Perhaps, we’re thinking about objects, pets, or even actions here. Who says true love= people?

At this point, the single most important question to reflect on is: What Does True Love Look Like to Me?

Day 2 – Diverge

Explore possible answers to What Does True Love Look Like to Me?

  • Sketch solutions.
  • Create mind maps. Make a storyboard. Don’t limit your ideas for now.

Day 3- Decide

  • Identify potential pitfalls/conflicts in your proposed solutions. Too introverted? Too loud? Too smart? Too perfect? Too stoic? Too idealistic?
  • Eliminate solutions that sound good in paper but not really doable in real life.
  • Narrow down your list of candidates/solutions to MVP (minimum viable product). Vote with team members and choose one solution for prototyping.

Day 4 – Prototype

  • Build your low-fi prototype. You can use Keynote instead of code. What’s more important for now is you write real content instead of placeholder text. This will help you communicate better with your research participants using your task scenarios.
  • Next, create your usability test plan. Pay special attention to your test script.
  • Finally, take note that a good usability test plan should outline who takes care of what on testing day.

Day 5 – Validate and Learn

Day 5 is your BIG DAY! You’re finally going out there, test your true love prototype with yourself and your participants, and identify what works/what doesn’t.

  • Assure participants that this testing activity is not about them. You are not gauging their specific skills or qualities. These lines are incredibly important:

“We are testing the prototype, not you. You can’t do anything wrong here. Do whatever feels right to you while tinkering with the prototype. Don’t be afraid of saying things that will offend us. We want your honest feedback as much as possible because we want to build a True Love product that will help address your needs and pain points.”

  • Apart from paying attention to your participants’ answers, observe for non-verbal cues. Encourage them to think out loud too. This applies to you as well when it’s your turn to test the prototype.
  • After testing, say thanks to your participants. You can also give them tokens of appreciation or incentives.
  • Debrief with your team at the end of the day. Depending on the results of your test, you can either continue building your True Love product based on the responses you’ve collected or pursue further testing. 

Or you can just forget it altogether. 🙂