Have you eaten?

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Facetimed my momma this morning and her words reminded me of this post I wrote in 2017. It is love in 3 words.

*****

Gring gring, Gring gring

Voice groggy as usual

“Hello mummy, good morning”

“How are you today”

“I’m fine”

“Have you eaten?”

Looks at the time, 10:30

“It’s almost 12”

“No, it’s just to 11, I’m going to the kitchen now”

“ok, yes, eat something o, don’t leave it too late, wanted to hear your voice, talk later, bye”

“thank you, bye”

Typical conversation with my mum these critical days. I admit that the me of a year ago would not have appreciated this as much as I do now, many Nigerians can relate.

Have you eaten?

There’s so much love packed into that question so when it hit me some months ago, I almost beat myself for not realising sooner. No, no I don’t expect this question from everyone, in fact it doesn’t occur to some people (like me) to ask this. I’m typically more concerned with someones non-physical state, and unfortunately over the years I expected everyone who loved me to be as concerned with this aspect. Thankfully I’ve been learning how to appreciate everyone’s unique gift.

That said, we were created as multidimensional beings, with a physical nature, a spiritual and moral (metaphysical) nature. It’s nice to know that while one person cannot meet all our needs in those dimensions, God who created us, can! The Bible is not just concerned with the spiritual, it mentions actual physical food over 300 times but it starts off with God providing food for all.

Genesis 1:29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

Some other interesting things to note is how God provided manna and quail for the Israelites, Angel’s food it says! straight from heaven, amazing.

Exodus 16:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day

The Israelites called the food manna. It was white like coriander seed, and it tasted like honey wafers.

 

Honey wafers! gimme!

Psalm 78:25 Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full.

 

Also, God asked an angel to cook food for Elijah when the man was on the verge of depression and wanted God to take his life, sometimes not therapy, sometimes food and sleep!

I Kings 19:1–9 Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.

 

And then Jesus, feeding thousands with bread and fish and also making breakfast for this disciples, one lovely morning after his resurrection, no he wasn’t just a spirit he had an actual body, I mean if spirit cook food for you, you go chop?

John 21 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them — fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

“Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said.

 

It’s not just to human beings, God provides food for all creatures. It’s such a lovely lovely thing, and I’m super glad for all those who provide food, from the farmers to the people who give. I have two friends I can name who give me food! I should have married you guys hehe.

****

I just realized in reflection on this in 2020 that God in infinite mercy gave me a man who gives me food…I just can’t even….

And yes, I’m going to eat right now! ^_^

Akwete in play

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Hi everyone, as you would know from my blog, I began a project years ago to bring Nigerian textile design patterns into the digital world. Recently I was contacted about the usage of one of the patterns, an akwete pattern, for Nigerian playing cards and was delighted! This is the intent, let’s make use of what is ours. I think the patterns are great and look forward to exploring and illustrating more.

For now, enjoy the playing cards and back the Kickstarter project here

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Being BROWN in tech

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Photo by DISRUPTIVO on Unsplash

Often times working in tech has seemed like I stumbled into a boarding school for white boys with the odd tyrannical headmaster. But it wasn’t always so.

Expectations

I left Nigeria in my early twenties to pursue a dream of becoming a holistic designer in the UK. All I wanted to do was apply my skills for the benefit of mankind. I did not think there would be other things to consider other than doing my work well. I also never planned to work in the UK, much less work in technology.

So when I finished with design school and began working, believing the system was at least 80% meritocratic, I threw myself into it.

Reality

I discovered systematic racism and sexism at the same time I discovered the realities of work in the UK and my struggle with anxiety disorders.

It started with simple statements, the admission of my boss that a man had applied for my role demanding double my salary, the audacity, I had thought. (In my next role I asked for double my previous salary and got it). To another boss telling me in very clear terms that he couldn’t give me more responsibility when I asked for it because it was not expected. They also seemed to think my work was great but thought I needed to be more social, which meant I had to show up at the pub at least 3 times every week. I got to learn that cultural fit generally meant you had to fit in the pub.

The reality was, I was a minority of minorities, a woman, black, Nigerian, expat “Your accent might make people think you are backward” someone told me recently. Still, I’ve managed to find work but I never understood I had to work 4-6 times as hard as a white man with the same qualifications and experience ( I never did this extra work though lol).

Now, I find that it’s easy for me to recognise sexism, because I’ve always been a woman, but I haven’t always been black.

In my last permanent role where I was chastised for wearing headphones and my white male colleagues weren’t amongst other nonsense, I experienced my first clear cut racist experience and sought legal advice advice afterwards. Once, I was sat in a room with a team of 8, working, and one of them makes a statement “Africans do this terrible XYZ thing”, being one who is unable to shut up when I see things that are wrong and the only African, I told him to be careful of his statements. He had asked the silly question of whether I spoke African some days before this, which I shrugged off. It certainly didn’t make me popular and I resigned shortly after.

Solutions

Having learned all this, I began to see how much of a distraction racism, sexism and most -isms are. I talked to some other black women and their stories made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this but also made me want to help others much more. These points below helped me navigate the workplace and I hope it helps too.

Faith – You need to believe in something greater than yourself. You cannot place your core identity in something that changes like a job or career, it will kill you. Your core identity which is where you will draw strength from especially in times of hardship must be in something that is unchangeable and unshakable and that’s only God. That I am loved no matter beyond measure is enough for me.

Do the Work – Keep your head down, hone your skills and do your work, please see Serena Williams as reference. I cannot stress the importance of this, please don’t get distracted, the technology industry changes very fast, keep your skills up to date and just keep moving.

Other things:

  • Find a mentor
  • Find a support system
  • Learn to speak up

It is important that we don’t set limits for ourselves, because only then can we rise and start to affect change from positions of influence. We need to love our enemies like Jesus said, seek allies and support from anyone genuinely willing to help.

2020

I wrote this piece in 2015 ( can’t remember why I didn’t post it) although I’m no longer ‘active’ in the tech space, I’m sad that we are still facing these issues but glad that some change has happened along the way. It’s good to see more brown folk in tech, diversity schemes all over the place, lots of conversations and people really pushing forward (Well done to all who do the work!)

I’ve taken my skills elsewhere and I am discovering more things I love to do along the way, like nannying!. I still do not tolerate hate/injustice and will continue to speak up about and delight in what is true.

The Hope

I’m thinking,

Why are we afraid?

What is it you fear, mother?

Why am I afraid?

Isn’t it eternity that matters?

Everyone destined to vacate this home

Why are we afraid?

If we have a forever with Father, what can be better?

If Father has always kept His promise, won’t He keep this?

Why are you afraid?

Soul, Hope in your Lord.

 

Psalm 42:11

2 Peter 1:1-11

 

Holding the MBTI loosely

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A popular topic on my blog is the MBTI, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which tries to explain certain aspects of our personality. I saw a conversation which mentioned it was ‘Old school’ funny.

When I learned about and took the MBTI in 2010 while at university, it was like wow, here was a description that fit me to the T. 90% of the time when I take the test, I report INFJ. It explained some of the inner workings of my mind, how I took in and processed information. It explained the discomfort I felt towing the line between your typical introvert and extraverted types – I wanted to be alone with my thoughts but still sought out people.  My interests and likes being very broad and seemingly never being able to fit in with a particular group, I was always looking for my ‘tribe’.

The MBTI instrument is good, but it is not the good. I would apply this is to any so called personality type tests. They do not have the final say on who we are, on who we shape ourselves to be everyday. This is because there are two important things that matter in our world that the MBTI cannot account for.

1. Our motivations, our will

2. Subsequent behavior and how we relate to the world around us ( esp the living things)

This was when I realized that we needed something truly transformative not merely descriptive. We can’t rely on the descriptions because we change, because they can be self fulfilling, this must be the way I am, so what? what does it mean for the next person?, does it mean you cannot change if there is a negative element?’

This is why I find the truth of God’s word important to hold strongly on to.

  1. We are all made equal, have the same worth and value regardless of what we do or not do. (Genesis 1:26-30)
  2. Our will and motivations are prone to corruption so we need a new source to fuel it (Psalm 51:5, Romans 3:23)
  3. Love is the only viable source for our will and motivations – Love for God and our neighbours. (Matthew 22:36-40)
  4. God has made a way so we can have a new spirit and a new heart through Jesus manifesting in the flesh (Ezekiel 36:26, John 3:5)
  5. These will lead us to act in ways that seek the good for people and give God the glory deserved. (Romans 12)

Beautiful!

I’ve recently done a refresher on what the MBTI type dynamics are and yes, INFJ still holds true in many ways but what is most important is that I can praise the Lord for making me who I am, and that I can love others through the unique way God has made me! Amen!

 

To the One who sits…

It’s a very tough time for me, my family and in praying for encouragement, I got a notification in Medium about a post I had written in 2016. It was a vision/dream – can’t remember, that I had at the time of how I was feeling. It was a very vivid picture and Since 2016, this is the first time I have felt like myself in that image. So the encouragement God led me to write about has come in handy for today! God’s word is always relevant.

This is the post, and I hope someone finds strength today in the timeless words of God.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

For the first time in my life, I can see the bottom of my heart. I feel the depth, hollowed out like a secret place inside a cave. Down there I see two seats, there’s only space for two seats.

I see myself sat, in the dark – the bottom of the heart is a very dark place.
Who is supposed to sit here with me?, I ask myself. I look around and summon, my mother, Mum? Mum?…my siblings, “we are sitting too”, they reply. My friends, “We don’t know how to get there” the lover, “I’m tired of looking”

Catastrophic waves of tears begin to flood the depths. Glad I learned to swim but those skills don’t apply here. Then I remember there’s someone I haven’t asked. My eyes close, my head bowed as the tears threaten to choke me.

A shining light and the presence of someone near, who sits. I open my eyes and realize as the light begins to dry the tears, only One can sit here, only One can shine light into the dark, only One knows the way to the bottom of my heart.

Sometimes the tears come and threaten to flood but because the One who walked on water sits with me, I sit, joyful, grateful, never alone.

Psalm 69…

“Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.
I am weary with my crying;
My throat is dry;
My eyes fail while I wait for my God.

Matt 28:20

I am with you always

Enjoy this wonderful song by Jars of Clay – Flood.

Be a neighbour.

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“It’s like Christmas!” My husband said, surprised at the box of groceries he had just collected from a lady at the door. Last year I wrote a piece on Medium for the publication called Koinonia. In it I expressed what I had learned about
the friendship that matters from my first experience going through cancer treatment. I learned that Jesus doesn’t call us to ask who our neighbours (friends) are instead we ought to live ready for and look for opportunities to be a neighbour (friend) to others.

There’s no better time to start than now, the entire world has been thrown into turmoil. A terrorist no one can see, smell or hear is dispatching members of our human family to the beyond. There’s fear, there is anxiety. We who know the greatest neighbour are uniquely placed to offer the same arm of love, of comfort to those who need it.

I am one of those classified as most vulnerable, which means no matter what, I have to avoid physical contact therefore I’m grateful for those who have truly been a neighbour to me. Dear husband, my Aunty who takes care of my mum, my family who pray, ladies from my church group who have gone to lengths to find grocery for us, people on my street where we live on standby to help when I need it, the health care workers who are doing whatever it takes to make sure I get my treatments on time as the growing cells will not wait for corona.

So, I leave my communication lines open for anyone needing a chat, needing words of encouragement, needing financial support for essentials like food and toiletries, do reach out.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ~ Num 6:24-26

Amen.

 

Love is a pot of beans.

Beans are a staple in the typical Nigerian household. It is a dependable meal packed full of nutrients, proteins and much more. We tend to use the variety called Ewa Oloyin “Honey beans” it’s tasty without you needing to do much. It’s great for winter days, eating it warm feels like a hug from the inside out but one thing I do not expect beans to do is – make me cry.

I was wrapped tightly under my sherpa taupe blanket, under a duvet in bed but I heard him call out to me. Slowly I opened my eyes and saw my Mr ready to go out for work. I had woken 4 hrs earlier and managed to go back to sleep but I was still feeling heavy-headed. “Don’t bring back any virus” I joked as if drunk, after prayer and a hug, he was off.

20 minutes later, I got out of bed to start my day proper. Wore my favorite housecoat and headed to the living room for sunlight and daily bread. Next, I got on my computer to help a friend figure something out in digital design. Soon hunger struck and I went to the kitchen, that’s when I saw it.

It’s the sort of thing I cannot explain, but tears flooded my eyes, my heart became large and full, humbled by the sight of a pot of beans – warm, brown, delicious, on the stove. Where did he find the time? I thought, wiping tears on the sleeve of the housecoat he bought me.

 

Global Talent Visa: A Lifeline

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5 years ago ^_^

When I first came to the UK, I had one thing in mind, learn how to become a great designer. I even started this blog to document those learnings. Soon after, it became home and where I developed as an adult, totally responsible for my own choices, paths and bills.

5 years ago I had to leave a toxic job which was sponsoring my visa (Tier 2) and it felt like falling into a black hole, anxieties and poor health followed, I needed a way out. Going back to Nigeria was an option but I didn’t want to give in easily after building 6 years of adult life here. So with nothing to lose I applied for the UK’s exceptional talent visa. Nothing could prepare me for what was ahead but this visa was a turning point of sorts.

Before applying one might have asked, what makes me exceptional? “Good thing they changed the name” one applicant said, “thought I might have had to cure cancer first” I had done a few things in my career and the tech community but I was passionate and ambitious, I looked forward to running businesses and doing work for women in technology and so forth.

When I got the visa in December 2015 it felt like freedom, (Snapshot from 2014 about life as an immigrant: Don’t talk about immigration on the tube ) I immediately registered a business and was on track to pursuing my ambitions, got a nice contract job and things could not be better. But I had my world crash when my father passed in 2016, I will forever be grateful that I could afford to get on a plane with short notice and finance to get to my dad a day before he would slip into a forever coma, I got to speak to him and he saw me. I was unable to work for many months after that, before getting a similar diagnosis to what killed him and my world kept tumbling.

Thanks be to God who pulls me through all of this and made the visa possible, because I can’t even imagine what it would have been like dealing with poor mental and physical health then struggling to get a job that would sponsor me or burdening my family with medical costs we won’t be able to afford. God continues to be my rock as my priorities change and I walk through these times slowly, doing life one day at a time but thankfully no longer needing visas.

So if you are thinking of applying, just do it, feel free to contact me if any question.

UK’s Global Talent Visa

No this is not propaganda for the UK, this is the reality of life as an immigrant, one they are not likely to show in their promotion. It’s not just about ambitions, financial or economic prosperity, sometimes it is real hard living, no health, no wealth. Life can be broken and rocked in minutes, so these visas can become a lifeline you never thought you needed.

 

Coping with Misophonia at Home

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Home. That place where the heart is, that place meant to be a safe haven from the world, oh how torturous it could be. Even with the loveliest people around, for those of us with misophonia, home can still be a battleground for our health.

One of the popular posts on my blog is Coping with Misophonia at work. Now that I no longer work full time and in an office, I thought to write about what is common to most people.

In the past year I moved 3 times, the plan was to move once, then marriage happened, but noise happened first and I ended up moving 2 additional times. It was such a difficult period.

The Challenge

We finally settled in a place we both like very much only to find we are directly under two flight paths to the busiest airports in London, ouch. I did check but the flights didnt appear regular or low enough for concern, I thought! Not only that, the street was busier than it seemed when we viewed. I am grateful that my husband hardly has any bodily noise that gets to me, but he has a tendency to sibilate, emphazing Cs, S, Zs,T s which threaten to burst my ear drum. The other major noise disturbance is handling crockery.

How have I coped so far?

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 (Bible)

So I’m faced with planes flying over my head at 4:30 am at about 5,000ft, children screaming their heads off from the nearby school (why do they have to scream to play?)

What do I do, how do I find rest?

Pray –

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Phil 4:6-7 (Bible)

The first and foremost thing I found was to cultivate a quiet spirit within. Prayer helps, it reminds me that I don’t live for myself, it reminds me that I am dependent on the Almighty for everything including the ear (grateful!) I have to hear all these sounds. I’m reminded to pray for others. The brilliant thing as well, it tempers my response to noises I don’t like, rather than having an anxiety induced response, I have a solution finding attitude.

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (Bible)

Play Music / Ambient sounds –

“Rejoice always!” 1 Thessalonians 5:16

This helps me block out noise in the day time, especially when the children are on lunch break. The best thing about it is I absolutely love music, and armed with loads and loads of good music from Spotify, it is a delight. Please don’t become the noisy neigbour by playing sounds so loud, lol.

Focus on the Positives / Gratitude-thinking –

What you focus on makes a big difference. I have to intentionally remind myself that I love my partner, I love my house, I love children and I love airplanes above all the noise. When I am occupied, especially with those I love being with/doing – writing, reading, designing a thing, all the noise in the backgound fades away.

Don’t bottle feelings, explain, suggest-

I’m so thankful that I’ve been gifted with an understanding life partner so I am frequently (if you ask him maybe he’d say once a week) talking about how the noise affects me and what we can do to reduce or minimize it.

If he is washing dishes, he tries to do it when I’m awake and active so it doesn’t throw me out of sleep. When eating he is careful but ofcourse makes mistakes which I need to be forgiving about. I’m looking at buying more wooden crockery so that there isn’t so much noise. His sibilation mostly occurs when he is explaining something on the phone so when he works from home, we do it in seperate rooms!

Support Others

As I mentioned earlier, it’s important we don’t then become the ones creating noise for others. When someone speaks up about something I’m doing that is noisy, I have to listen seriously and change, including my husband ( kakaka!).

When we first moved and I was stressing about the airplane noise, I found there was a body of people who are fighting against the expansion of the airports which means more planes at more hours. I joined to sign the petition and support in the work. I might be able to up and leave the area but many can’t. So we need not just focus on how noise affects us alone but also look to see how we can support the community at large.

 

All in all, I’m grateful for the opportunity to self-reflect, to be grateful for what I do have. These are a few things that have helped tremendously. I hardly hear the planes cruising by these days unless it is really quiet and I think about it! funny how that works.

I know we are all different but I’m keen on learning from others, feel free to share any tips in comments.

Much love!

This is a great Valentine gift

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It’s almost that day in February, great! perfect time to get yourself or your loved one a gift that really counts. It doesn’t come in red but it’s got real weight.

I was given this devotional in hardback by Glen Scrivener by my church home group as I moved away from the local area. It would take me another year to really get into it, it was intimidating, duh! when I finally did I felt so happy I had clung to it, I take gifts seriously.

I had heard Glen talk at my church once, but didn’t quite ‘trust’ the name yet but this devotional made me pay attention, no not to Glen, but to who he was writing about. It is very clear that this devotional is centered on the person of Jesus and it never lets you forget, thus changing the way you approach scripture for yourself. We need to be completely taken by Jesus.

A wonderful review on Goodreads says

“A fantastic daily devotional that helped me to appreciate the love of Christ afresh every morning. Glen gives some fantastic illustrations throughout while teaching through the message of the Bible. It is also very interesting to see just how many phrases have remained in everyday British language over time.”

Spot on.

Try it for yourself (I’ll recommend the Kindle version though ^_^ )

Enjoy.

 

10 things for 10 years

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Oh hey! it’s a new decade! As one looks forward we also look back, not to remain in the past but to appreciate and learn, hindsight is 2020 😀

I’m still writing

This blog is 10 years old, yes, my first posts documented something of my life on a Masters of design course and discovering the MBTI which I no longer hold on to as I did then.

I’ve read a few things I wrote over the years and I could pat myself on the back for some, others make me grateful for the opportunity to mature. I’m still very much about design but priorities have changed. Who I am is way more important than what I do, that’s what will reflect in my writing now.

Design is my thing but there’s more

I have been privileged to practice design in the digital sector for 10 years. I’ve been a Service Designer, UX consultant, Illustrator, UX designer, architect, researcher etc then I realized that titles aren’t it, I need to focus on my skill set and how it could be applied in many other areas. So I decided to take a break, focus on my health and apply my skills to an area of passion, caring for other people – person to person.

I’ve gone from wanting to save the world with design to focusing on my neighbourhood – one person at a time. This is where I am finding the greatest needs and fulfilment.

My permanent home is now UK

It feels like 2 years ago when I picked up my red suitcase and got on a British Airways flight straight to London. 10 years gone and there is a relief to no longer being subject to immigration control. I did not know at the time that this would be where I call home but God had plans.

My Family has changed

Papa died and it rocked my world. There is nothing to prepare you for such, that was my first heartbreak and it broke my body too and my mums. Things will never be the same again.

On the upside, I now have 6 nieces and 1 nephew, so awesome, I love them all. I got a new family! with 5 nephews and 2 nieces (in-law) and they all love me, hee hee.

My Body has changed

I used to think I had a masculine figure growing up, sometimes I was glad, sometimes I wasn’t, the main thing was, I didn’t want to be skinny. When the big C came along my weight plummeted to 43kg or so, shocking. When I got on the mend, I appreciated my womanly figure more which is strange for someone who has 1 and a half boob and for the first time in history I’m at a healthy 60.

Marriage actually happened

Can you imagine, I wrote the husband in his notebook at 17 –

“…you have a good heart and someday you will meet a wonderful woman and you would make a wonderful husband lol, sometimes I say it is a pity we are mates”

Such dolts! We found each other again 10 years after leaving university and my stomach just buzzes thinking of what we share. Still, every day I wake up and cannot believe it is my reality, such an awesome out-of-nowhere thang.

Relationships evolve, without me.

I’m grateful for the many who have come alongside me over the years but it continues to be a sore point for me after learning about myself and much prayer. I think my main struggle is with my expectations and learning to let go of them. 10 years later I still don’t feel closer to most people, how the heck did I get married, I didn’t even date, haha, he is special indeed. I look forward to breakthroughs in the next ten.

I’m not rich but I’ve never been broke

Learning how to manage money living in London is no small feat. After the year of grace as a student I was left to fend for myself so it was about survival. I’m grateful that God provided for me whenever I needed it.  But I did some outrageous things in trying to save money like, taking a bus for an hour then walking 20mins from the station home to avoid tube fares and leaving a man behind so I could jump on the train home before peak time. ah.

Now I’m able to provide for others and if I wanted to stop work for 2 years, I can actually do it and to be honest, I deserve that break.

Got to travel the world

While I saved money, travel was my biggest pleasure. I took my passport and went through all the stress of applying for visas. The US even rejected me twice but here I am, got to visit 10+ states and visited 10+ countries. I do love travelling in the USA, Turkey was a surprise, Italy is a fave. Learned I’m no good at solo trips and had the blast of my life in a small town in Florida.

My belief and trust in God is true

When I got on the plane to the UK with that red suitcase, I was super glad I was heading to what I thought was a secular country, I was looking forward to not going to church. But God, in infinite humour, decided to make sure that the family that would pick me up from the airport would invite me to a bible study that I couldn’t say no to.

10 years later, I’ve been through the mill, God has been gracious and patient with me, breaking down the hardness of my heart, gifting me with a Spirit that counsels, comforts and reminds me of God’s great love. I’ve seen it and can testify, Jesus is Saviour and King indeed. There’s really nowhere else to go. If this God isn’t the truth, nothing else is.

G   R  A  T  E  F  U  L  !

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♥♥ Welcome! 2020 ♥♥

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A Son for All.

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There was no way to tell how I would feel when the day to remember my father’s passing arrived. My heart was already torn from the fact that I wouldn’t be able to travel to Nigeria for the occasion. I found myself in my uncle’s house, after praying and reminiscing, I stumbled on a set of words, which captured my thoughts succinctly.

 Ibi gbogbo nii rọ àdàbà l’ọ́rùn

In English, it means, “Everywhere is comfortable for the dove” ah, Daddy. The epitome of a gentle, honest, selfless spirit. There was no restlessness about him and I found myself searching for this in many, in men. Even now as tears threaten to fall, unbelievable the years gone by, our last Christmas together — I remember his encouragement, his love, he had my name saved in his phone as ‘Writer’ I would come to know this only a few months after he died. How could I not, between him and God, the call is certain.

Most importantly, he knew the truth of the gospel; that humanity is saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ, in God not by works or following any rule book, what joy, what comfort. Rejoice, Rejoice.

For God soooo loved the world that He Gave His only Son that Whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have life, everlasting

Merry Christmas 🙂

Losing my hair was the fun part

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It was in October I first felt it, lying in bed leisurely, the promos and ads work I guess. No panic though because the last time I found one it was a cyst, phew almost scared me. October was exactly 6 months since I called my parents and before I’d speak to my father, tears were streaming down my face and I didn’t know why.

My father died in June and was buried in the front garden of our house in Uneme-Erhunu. I flew to London shortly after and I was restless, couldn’t bear to be alone so I got on an aeroplane to the US. After celebrating my thirtieth birthday and visiting a hair supply store (as they call it), I got on a plane to London in September armed with 8 different wigs and a mannequin head thrown in, I was ready for new beginnings as if it would be that simple. In December, I made my way back to Nigeria. Anxiety had dealt with me but there were bright spots, for example, I got to see my friend get married in Lagos. With the new year in sight, I knew it was time to cut my hair again, so when the doctors told me I’d need neoadjuvant chemotherapy two months later, I couldn’t believe I had prepared for this.

The marathon took off, I’d come to quickly learn that there was more to Chemo than a glistening scalp…..yet I was glad I didn’t have to wear the Aladdin style wig that the cancer wig shop gave me, they need to stock wigs for black women (another post, sigh)…..all my hair, my teeth, my mouth, the fatigue, the sick feeling…oh my days. I became neutropenic one time which marked my lowest point, I was in hospital for 5 days, most mornings I’d wake up with blood in my mouth, on my pillow, I could not eat. I thought if this can happen on earth, I don’t want to imagine hell because this feels like the thick of it. I was wrestling.

I wrestled with my faith. I wrestled with anxiety, life, dying, God, the realness of it all.

But God chose to use this period to heal me, from anxiety, bitterness and unforgiveness, I had nothing left to hold on to. God chose this period to teach me about trusting the only eternal one who created humans and the universe out of a love so deep that God became human to redeem all of creation.

The marathon continues and I’m glad I’ve had more time since then and I do pray for more time as frightening as the statistics are. I want to encourage anyone going through tough things and even those who might have everything going well, yet you feel an emptiness inside… don’t dwell on the temporary, use the time to build for eternal, think about love, how best to love your neighbour. You are certainly not alone, Jesus, King of Kings is alongside you every single moment.

Tough times don’t last, Loved people do.

Romans 8:31-39

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Letter to a Young Lady

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My birthday was celebrated last month with the most sumptuous chocolate cake and man, then a trip to one of the loveliest parts of the country, I’m grateful. In the midst of the mooing cows and calm of the biggest natural lake I began to think about 10 years ago when I moved to another country to start a life – one I didn’t have much plans for. But I’ve learned loads along the way and would like to say a few things to those just embarking on that journey.

A letter to myself 18-23

Hey girl!

How are you, did you know you are all that and more…you really are, you have wisdom beyond your years but don’t drink your own kool-aid :). These are a few things you will find useful for life now and ahead

  • Give yourself to prayer, about every single thing, your community, your family, your schooling, your future…everything
  • I know you are are still questioning what is means to be Christian, don’t stop…an answer will come
  • Pray for Godly women to come into your life who can guide you around what it means to be a woman today. I’m sorry you didn’t get such guidance growing up, it’s not too late and you sorely need it.
  • Pray for healing and forgive, don’t let bitterness thrive in your heart
  • Drop the arrogance of youth, you don’t have all the time in the world, do what needs doing today.
  • Ask God to teach you practically what it means to love, remove your eyes from yourself, seek community and practice love there.
  • Again, you are searching for an identity that makes sense, the tools are ok (MBTI etc) but don’t get lost in them, your identity should be grounded in Christ.
  • Learn about God’s great design for marriage and family. Savour it.
  • I know you aren’t sure about marriage and family right now, and your feelings haven’t even been turned on but pray for wisdom and discernment to choose right. ( Desire to be with a man that does God’s will, every other thing can be learned over time – Proverbs 24:1)
  • Learn about your female body, your hormones, your cycle, it’s fascinating
  • Read good Christian books like Hughes’ Disciplines of a Godly woman, Keller’s Meaning of Marriage. Listen to Podcasts.
  • Immerse yourself in God’s words, be cautious about what you consume in terms of advice, lots of toxic things on google
  • Take care of your health, eat right/exercise
  • Travel if you can, get some skill in cooking, decorating, diying etc
  • Let go, you can’t force someone to love you in the right way, also love is not “I’ll do for you what you’ve done for me”
  • Your curiosity is one of your strong points, but it must have boundaries
  • Giving in to someones/your sexual needs/demands will only leave you worse of, racked with guilt and they are still likely to find someone else. God really does want to save you and your future spouse the heartache of intimacy outside true commitment. Sexual expression outside of a real life commitment has no gain.
  • Learn contentment in Christ
  • Don’t take up any old job, pick up something where you can learn the ropes and get to try a wide number of things.

No matter what you will be fine because you have a Father who never sleeps nor slumbers, One who loves you fiercely and has gone to the depths of death to bring you home.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His and only Son, so that everyone who trusts in Him will not die but will have an eternal life”

John 3:16

I love you.

Joy comes in the Mourning

June is a significant month. Not only are my closest friends born in June, it is a month that says almost! not yet!. Mid year, the spring-summer transition…Almost the end of the school term! I love the anticipation.

June is a dark month. The pits of my stomach remind me that it will forever be a month of mourning. It threatens to be a full stop where it used to be a question mark, but not yet.

Below are some of what I’ve learned as I live with the experience of losing a father through the same disease that ravaged my body months after. I do sit here 2 years later with ‘healing’ so I’m grateful to be able to share these with you

Be True to your feelings

Like the psalmist in Psalm 42 & 43, we can admit what we currently feel when we are in the trenches, in the darkest valleys.

I’ve been overwhelmed, tired, began to understand the reason for suicide, I’ve felt abandoned, left to die. I’ve felt misunderstood and even targeted. We must be honest with ourselves and before our God.

Speak Truth to your feelings

I was reminded through some people that I need to abide in God’s words, to pray based on this. My mind needed to be fed and renewed by these truths. I remember that God has been there (Heb 4:15), has suffered and gone through the motions like I have.

“Do not be afraid” God says to us many times in the bible.

I also remember that God has done something about this at the Cross and Resurrection. We will not remain in this state for ever. Whatever difficulty we go through now is temporary.

This is the Gospel. We become part of God’s family forever because of what God has done.

If I can trust God for eternal life, I can trust God for today. God will see me through this present darkness.


June is a joyful month because I’m glad the story doesn’t end with just mourning. It is the month I completed cancer treatment, had my last shot of Herceptin to my thigh.

The anticipation of life beyond, the joy of the hope of a forever union. The joy of the hope of a forever healed body. All these are becoming tangible to me as I continue to dwell on the revealed words of God according to the bible.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit

Romans 14:17.

God gave me Lemons

It’s interesting that lemons are the same letters as melons…but I digress. Today is exactly 2yrs since the dreaded C diagnosis and one thing that made me adamant about checking the strange thing I felt on my chest was this picture I somehow stumbled upon. I’m not entirely sure when but it was between Nov 2016 and early Jan 2017. I had gone to my GP in Oct 2016 but they were flippant and said perhaps it’s just hormonal changes. I knew something was up but I wasn’t panicking.

After seeing this image (mine was like the growing vein) I went to A&E because I didn’t want to go through the GP process anymore. I had done the same in 2015 when I had cysts drained and was super scared. That was when everything kicked off and Feb 20 2017 I got a definite BC diagnosis.

Phew, I’m so grateful for seeing this picture. I could have ignored things and just gone my merry way but this helped, and so many other ‘miracles’ that happened along the way. So please do go to the website KnowYourLemons.com  there is a wealth of information about BC.

One of the better outcomes about this diagnosis was I had to face my fear of death which I’d been enveloped by since I was a kid. I would have preferred not to go through this but perhaps it was the only way, sometimes it’s only when you have no where left to run that you can make that choice and for me I made the choice to trust God, knowing that while this life is temporary, there were eternal things I needed to throw my being into. Lots to unpack in this and I’ll touch on it in other ‘stories’ but for now, help yourself, help someone else, get informed!

Toodles for now ^_^

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”

– Hebrews 10:23 (The Holy Bible) –

Chemo made my teeth fall out & other stories

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Photo by Matheus Natan on Pexels.com

The day started out rainy, London-style. The kind where having an umbrella would do more harm than good. I decided to step out for my blood test with a large hooded jacket instead. After the procedure I went to get my prescription, hives, it just keeps breaking out- the blood test will bring me closer to understanding why and provide some answers for my fatigue. Still, this is 2 years after the dreaded diagnosis.

As I walk home, I’m thinking about my medical exemption I just had to present for 4.99 worth of drugs. I don’t have to pay for drugs, yay (but why is dental not free for us??). The weight of everything came crashing on me and I began to cry like the sky. The dreaded C… and just how hard it is for anyone to come close to understanding…it’s such a lonely place.

By the time I got home, I had found solace, the reasons for my gratitude came rushing in and I said some prayers to God. I am truly thankful. It was then I settled at my computer and found out that today is…

WorldCancerDay

oh wow, no wonder…I wanted to keep this post until it was perfectly ready in my head…today reminded me that the story is not for keeping. It’s been 2 years of diagnosis, tests, treatments and MRI machines (I am so fond of them now) and I still do not feel 100% ready to share, still, knowing this could help someone else is more than enough reason.

I will post (series-style) about the things I’ve learned on this journey, the stark reality and how I find the strength to go on every day

For now, do pray for those who have been affected, pray that we all get wiser to all that harms us every day. Pray for compassion and empathy to fill hearts so we don’t have to pollute our earth anymore. We are all in this together.

Cheers xx

Hey there 2019, very pleased to meet you

The way my body feels betrays the way I truly feel about getting to see a new year. I spent NYE walking miles in London just to see the fireworks. I saw some. I am ecstatic, really! 2018 was another rollercoaster year and I was actually scared of logging into WordPress because I wasn’t sure how much had changed….I would like to say I’m back to blogging regularly but first, a few things that happened in 2018 I am super grateful to God for.

I got to travel to Nigeria twice, seeing family is always a treat, and the added bonus this time is that I wasn’t bedridden! One of my sister’s got married. I got through Radiotherapy. Thankful for friends who showed up for me. I met one of the kindest souls, and got to spend Easter with her family miles away from London. Thankful for a job that has remained a source of stability through the year. I got to move home twice! yes, but I didn’t get depressed or anxious! woohoo. Thankful for docs and a system (NHS) that looks after it’s own. I reconnected with a University classmate from 15years ago…and they say history begins! hehe. Grateful my mum is stronger than I could imagine and everyday gets better.

Looking back to 2018 and I can’t even believe how my year ended. It’s been awesome, painful, thrilling, delightful, ache-filled, tears-filled, Laughter-full.

Thank you baba God.

My prayer is that 2019 will be a year that whatever we get up to, we live with the purpose to love and love alone.

Cheers xx.

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How to become Responsible.

User Experience is about responsibility, I once wrote an article that UX is Responsible design.

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Here is one of my current favorite person’s take on responsibility. Jacques Ellul writes-

In a society such as ours, it is almost impossible for a person to be responsible. A simple example: a dam has been built somewhere, and it bursts. Who is responsible for that? Geologists worked out. They examined the terrain. Engineers drew up the construction plans. Workmen constructed it. And the politicians decided that the dam had to be in that spot. Who is responsible? No one. There is never anyone responsible. Anywhere. In the whole of our technological society the work is so fragmented and broken up into small pieces that no one is responsible. But no one is free either. Everyone has his own, specific task. And that’s all he has to do.

Just consider, for example, that atrocious excuse… It was one of the most horrible things I have ever heard. The director of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was asked at the Nuremburg trials, “But didn’t you find it horrible? All those corpses?” He replied, “What could I do? I couldn’t process all those corpses. The capacity of the ovens was too small. It caused me many problems. I had no time to think about these people. I was too busy with the technical problem of my ovens.” That is the classic example of an irresponsible person. He carries out his technical task and isn’t interested in anything else.

Become interested in people today.

Out of Touch

In view of Wanna Cry, which is a wake up call on the dangers of poor security systems and an over-reliance on Digital systems. I’m posting this dream I had last year and originally posted on Medium, Dec 11 2016. Humanity. We still have a real chance of designing around and for a future where such doesn’t cripple us. Let’s look at ourselves through human not digital lens and lead with love for the next person and nature.

———wannacry

It was one of those nights where I was finally home from the boringest party and no longer had functioning brain cells. Inane web browsing, what a gift. Suddenly, I tried to swipe the screen on my phone and nothing happened. I tried again, my thumb going frantic now, fingers tapping, nothing. Ok, this phone! I restarted it but I still could not get any action. The glowing light pissed me off the more, so I switched it off and went to bed, tomorrow is another day.

On my way to work the next day I decided to stop at the phone repair store, but to my surprise there was a large crowd. This is the weirdest thing, I thought, did I really have so much Pinot Noir. What’s happening?, I asked the nearest person. Phone repair, she said, screens not working, she continued. OK, wait a minute, this is crazy, I better get to work before I’m late. Went to grab myself a cappuccino, another surprise, the contactless isn’t working. Since when Starbucks, since when, as I tried to remember my pincode.

What a morning, I’m no longer going to Sallys parties, such weirdness. I got to work, and again, I see a huge crowd stood outside and in the lobby. It’s too cold to just be standing about, fire drill or what. I went for the friendliest looking face. Please what’s happening?We can’t get into the building right now, as all the touch screens are not working. My phone isn’t working either.

Bloody hell, I found a piece of concrete and sat nursing my coffee, silently praying the day would just come to an end.

Many hours later I am at home, my TV switched on for the first time in the year. News reports said a virus had been released which shut down all touch screens around the world, there were video clips of the chaos and destruction from Singapore to Sokoto.

I sighed and returned to my book, this is it, this is finally it

Sky Ladder

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“Fireworks?” I thought “What does that have to do with me” as my mind prepared to dismiss watching the recently recommended program. “Ah well, I’ll watch it because…”, I like to take people seriously.

From the start, I knew I would finish it, my heart was gripped. I’ve never been so inspired by anything this otherworldly. I have so much emotion thinking about it, this documentary has sparked something deep inside, I’ve recommended it to all those I believed would care and now to all of you, watch it on Netflix!

It has it all; passion, vision, bureaucracy, family, love, humanity. It touched me on a deep deep level, words cannot even express. Some of the works made me think of heaven. of Jesus coming on the clouds, the beauty of God’s work in the world and so many other themes.

Tears, it would be hard to watch it again without tears but I will, I have to. I know there will be something else to unwrap and marvel in. I would like to meet Cai Guo-Qiang one day. For now, I find comfort in viewing his works. “Fireworks?” “Yes!” hahaha “Oh yes”

Enjoy xx.

Designer, Design Thyself

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This was a completely different post when I started writing a week ago. I wanted to critique the Design and Exclusion conference that I attended. Talking about inclusion, exclusion, diversity etc is tough because the attempt to include every single point of view in every single space is futile. However a discussion was started which should be commended. Even though I felt excluded in some areas of the conversation, I trust that design doesn’t give up, (I discovered someone also!), so I look forward to a better conference next time.

As the ideas and words for the critique percolated in my head, I came across Ayse Birsel’s book, Design the Life You Love and it was exactly what I’d been thinking, but now on an individual level. We have with us a powerful tool, design, that can bring about positive change even in our own lives and that’s what this book seeks to help us to do.

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Basically, while we attempt to design the world around us, we should not neglect ourselves and our lives. Being able to stop and assess what is, ‘deconstruction’, as Ayse calls it, is the important first phase of the process. This also fits well with the Appraisal theory and to an extent, mindfulness, but it also provides the tools to help in the ‘reconstruction’ process.

“Deconstructing and breaking current reality is necessary to enable us to shift our perspective to see the same things differently in order to reconstruct a new reality that is more than the sum of it’s parts “

I got my copy a few days ago, and I’m excited about going over it. I need it so much in my life right now as I deal with so many moving parts, and I don’t want to lose the ability to see myself in relation with others (partly why I decided not to go ahead with the critique, I needed to take care of the plank in my own eyes).

This is not just for professional designers, it’s for anyone ready to take a step to becoming a better person and having a life where you love and love.

user you

Enjoy.

 

Going Offscreen

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Last year I was lucky enough to be contacted by Kai Brach the editor of Offscreen Magazine. He featured me in issue 16 but more importantly I got to know about the magazine, and the amazing work he had been doing with them.

From the website:

“Offscreen celebrates the human elements of technology and the web. Through intimate conversations and introspective essays we bring to light the creative struggles behind innovative ideas”

I just got my first copy in the post and highly recommend you go out and buy yourself copies. I don’t know how he does it all but he blogs about the process

As someone who doesn’t buy magazines, this doesn’t feel like one. It feels like an intimate collection of thoughts and ideas, carefully curated just for you.

In the mean time, join the newsletter to get a taster of what Offscreen has to offer

Tips for Clients seeking Designers

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Design. I know there are a number of articles focused on definitions and what not, that doesn’t really matter when there’s work to be done so I will just get down to the business.

Continue reading

Unexpected Gifts from Grief

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2016. When they told me S’s dad had been diagnosed with abdominal cancer, I wept. He was even younger than my dad, but the same thing will take them away from their loved ones this year. 2016. Continue reading

The UX of Teams

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It’s a great opportunity to be able to work with myriads of people, across oceans and cultures and  the quality of connections within a team makes or breaks the product or service they are creating together.

This made me start thinking about what we do within forming and bonding of our teams especially as someone who uses UX as a design approach. Last year in December I also gave a talk about how we need to think more inwardly about our colleagues and coworkers. How are they experiencing life? How are they experiencing the team?. I don’t have all the answers, but a few observations that might help


The one who does not have empathy for colleagues and coworkers they see, how can they empathise with ‘Users’, they have not seen.

Paraphrased, 1 John 4:20 (Bible)


I currently work with two main teams one in the UK and the other abroad as a design lead. Working with the team abroad offered a bit of a challenge because I am remote. One thing I decided to do was think about my motives for joining the team and staying in the team. I also considered making clear the following as we began the process of forming (Team of 8)

Genuine desire to see the team succeed – We tend to think this should be obvious, but even common sense is not common. We have to keep reevaluating our purpose in the team because this shapes our attitude to our colleagues. For example, if we want to see our team succeed we won’t always insist on our own way because that creates discord or we would find a better way to explain why certain things need to be done. Assertiveness is developed in the process.

Shared vision – We use basecamp as our project depot and communication base, and this has helped us in forming well. I asked everyone to write down what they thought about the team and put it up on basecamp; what they saw themselves bringing into team, the values that were important to them etc. We had this all written which was great, but it has been important that in our daily standups and informal meetings these shared vision and values are reiterated.

Openness – As the team was being introduced, this was a key value that was made evident in all the communication channels. Creating an environment where honesty is valued, where team mates can critique a piece of work without the other party feeling attacked. My teammates know they can challenge my design ideas because this frankness has been encouraged from the get go. In an environment where everyone feels free to be themselves, a better version of themselves, higher quality work is almost guaranteed.

When I traveled to meet with my team this month, the outpour of love was overwhelming, and they welcomed me ‘Home’ with music, cake and balloons. This boosted my confidence that we were on the right track and I intend to keep doing what I can to make sure we do not lose sight of ourselves and the vision ahead.

Emotional Sensitivity is a business asset

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Every business wants to achieve flow. A state of high quality productivity that is effective and efficient. However, every business is made up of people, who get things done, this is where emotional sensitivity comes in. Continue reading

Clients From Hell: Stop Creating Them

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It’s all in memories now, but the lessons linger. Luckily only 5% or less of my projects have been hellish. However, too many of us designers moan about clients we say were born and brought up in hell.The truth is, we create a number of these issues ourselves, or the enabling environment for Frankenstein-like situations to flourish. Continue reading

Gratitude-Thinking: A business approach?

Thanks-Thinking, that’s what I was going to call it, that’s how it was told to me in my dream and then I read the etymology of ‘Thanks’ On second thoughts, maybe that’s not too bad. Think-Thinking Continue reading

The Stuff of Designers: Resilience

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The Apprentice is one of my favourite things to watch. I was a latecomer to the series, so I binge watched the previous 7 and was hooked. Although I think the current season (12) has some of the poorest candidates, I am still fascinated by watching different types of people come together to create things.

The last episode (7) ‘Boat Show’ was especially great because while I watch these things for entertainment my mind constantly searches for something to learn from it. Resilience means 3 main things and I think this episode illustrated it well.

Grow and thrive in the face of challenges

The task was to sell some luxury and cheap items, both teams wanted to sell Jet-Skis not Speedboats. So when one team, Nebula, lost out on the opportunity to sell the Jet-Ski, it was a big challenge. They also had to battle the weather which is the worst I’ve seen on this show.

Bounce back from adversity

So Nebula weren’t given the opportunity to sell the Jet-skis, and it seemed like a big setback. One of the team members was sullen and took it personally. The project manager made sure to communicate to the team that this situation should not affect the way they sold the other items. Her positive attitude motivated the team.

Bounce forward when there’s opportunity

When they got to the boardroom, I was whooping like I’d never done before, this was an amazing show of resilience because the team that suffered the setback went on to win by an immense margin. They decided to look at the opportunity that lay in the speedboats, and sold it like it was always their number one choice.

Life will not always give us what we want, but with an attitude that says, “I will look for and appreciate the opportunity that’s right in front of me” you can be sure to get very far.

Designers especially need to have this attitude, because design itself is a challenge. The first iteration might fail, it’s resilience that allows one to step forward again for another iteration, which makes design what it is.

My favorite movie about Resilience remains Will Smith’s Pursuit of Happyness. The first time I watched it, I cried for maybe 30mins afterward. You have to love the human spirit, and it’s one each and everyone of us has.

Resilience is a skill that anyone can learn, so lets all remember to have a positive, grateful attitude towards life.

Empathy Building: Mental Health Cafe

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A thing I created while swapping feelings & stories on my first day. Guess what it is 😀

“These are the final 12” She said to me pointing at her phone. I was eating lunch and I couldn’t even imagine what she meant. “Final 12 of?” I continued “Xfactor!”, she exclaimed, “final 12 on Xfactor” Oh, I went, it was only my first day at the mental health cafe. She went on to describe the contestants in detail while I asked for pictures. In the cafe, she was just another person with a particular way of communicating and the added skill of describing things in great detail, straight from memory, in the outside world she would be labelled as “handicapped”

This year has been the toughest year of my life and with suffering, it’s easy for us to disappear into ourselves. Imagine how many other people are going through the same or much worse, we end up with a society where hearts are blocked off from each other.

When I got back to London, after many days of rolling in the dark, I resolved that one of the best ways to get myself out of darkness was to reach out to others. Luckily at the same time I had been introduced to a project by a man whom I’d met and helped earlier in the year.

This project is helping people cope with some mental health challenges. While I was researching around how to connect with more people with these difficulties, I met another man who introduced me to the Dragon Cafe, a pop up mental health cafe, that opens up every Monday in Borough. I was so happy.

“The whole point, is to be a complete antithesis to your average mental health service. People like it, because there’s no pressure to do anything at all. They can sing, if they want to. They can write. They can paint. But they can also just collapse on a bean bag and snore”.

The first day was amazing. Over the course of my volunteering I came to see how many were regulars, why they come to the cafe, how it relaxes them and the friends they make. Every single person in the cafe both volunteers and guests have/had mental health challenges so it makes it easier to talk to people. I work at the art table and I get to see how much being able to ‘play’ makes people happy, free and connected.

As a UX practitioner, it was a no brainer to be amongst those I would be designing for, even though I face mental health challenges myself. As a human, I knew it made sense to be able to connect with others, to come out of oneself. For me, going there helps to build my empathy for others, to understand other perspectives like the lady I had an interesting conversation with about Xfactor,  not to be too hard on myself, to accept orders from others, to co operate with people (we pack up the cafe at night)

A wonderful announcement was made yesterday, some people from PWC will be creating a similar pop up in the City. The cafe makes so much sense and my hope is many more such cafes are created, if you aren’t too busy why not pay a visit or donate to the cause.

Cheerios xo

Freebies! Avatars for your use

 

I’d been planning to post this since forever! please feel free to make use of these when and where you want. Huge points for whoever recognises the game characters.

Happy to take requests as well just hola.

Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Design and UX in your kitchen

I like food a lot, mostly from an academic view point. I see so many concepts in the act of feeding that apply to other parts of life. So, naturally when I’m about to explain or share my thoughts on Design, Design-Thinking and UX, this comes to mind, also because we can all relate.

Design is the conceptualisation and creation of something. It is the process of converting ideas into a thing and actively shaping it into desired reality.

The first point to remember about design is that it’s a method of solving problems, overcoming challenges. Continue reading

Out and About in London

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Getting into 2016, I realized how much pressure I was under last year and decided to cut down the number of events and meetups I was a part of. The effects of the stress carried on for a number of months, before I felt ready to become active in the community again. Big lessons.

Now, I’m happy to have met people who are willing to help and walk alongside me to plan, organise and sometimes I get to just sit there and listen. Continue reading

The Christian and Technology

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Picture from #WocinTechChat

I grew up in a world where co-existence made sense to me. My dad’s family are Muslims and my mum, Christian. I learned arabic as a kid and still like my given muslim name. My dad didn’t practice Islam, he thought truth was beyond both faiths and went into AMORC eventually finding his way to Christianity, in his late 40s.

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How to run remote User Interviews

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Every now and then, you might have to interview people where it is not physically possible because working on global projects require global input. If you cannot get on a train/bus/plane to your users the following tools might help you get going. Continue reading

Becoming the face of Tech Nation Visa UK

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I cut my hair on Christmas day 2015. Partly due to a dye job gone bad and mostly to trichotillomania an anxiety disorder, this means I had pulled out almost 1/4 of my hair. It had flared up due to much stress after the summer. I needed to get the entire hair off. Continue reading

Talk, but I’ll need pen and paper.

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We used chalkboards when I was in primary school and it was fun. Our teacher would ask someone to write his notes on the board so that the rest of the class could copy. Though it wasn’t the prettiest thing to do, chalk on my head, chalk on my school uniform, I would volunteer. I not only wanted to show off my handwriting but genuinely enjoyed the process of putting down and together, words.

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So You Want To Innovate

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“Only 1 in 500 patents makes its inventor money, and businesses are awash in great ideas of dubious market value (only about 4% make money)”

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Hello 2016

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Even numbers make me feel optimistic and 2016 comes with a lot of significant ones. I do know that while life always has ups and downs, 2016 will be better than the last. Continue reading

Goodbye 2015!

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Women in Tech Africa (London) End of Year Event Dec 2015 (I’m in the middle!)

 

Oh what a year it’s been. I have to say it’s one of the most challenging years I’ve had in recent times, I also lost all the weight I gained in 2014 and now trying to put it back 😦 . I learned much more about life, love, and business. I’ve been taught to count my blessings and I’m happily doing so. Too much to be grateful about.

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Q & A : How an INFJ survives the 9-5

Pro Tip

A big challenge for the INFJ in working 9 – 5 is the constant ON required to work this way, but this is unavoidable some times, so what can an INFJ do to keep themselves from imploding?

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This is Your Work-Life Balance

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JD Hancock

No, I’m not here to give you advice on how to achieve a work-life balance. What I’d like you to do is rethink the way you view work.

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Omnigraffle Vs Adobe Illustrator

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Spot the difference (click for bigger view)

When Veerle Duoh tweeted about her Cityscape tutorial done in Adobe Illustrator, I just knew I had to try it, in Omnigraffle.

I began using Omnigraffle in a UX role for wireframing. After getting comfortable with it, I started to see the potential and decided to give illustrating a go. I did try to learn Adobe illustrator every now and then, but I kept going back to ‘Graffle.

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Research, Axure, and Gender

Over the past couple of weeks, got the opportunity to attend a few UX-focused events.


Remote Research Tools

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This was organised by The Research thing . We got to learn about three ways to carry out remote research; What Users Do, Session Cam and Nativeye which is the much needed tool for testing via mobile. Continue reading

I Learned How to Swim Later

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Imani Wilcott

Some years ago, I learned how to surf. It is still one of the best experiences I’ve had on holiday. It won’t have been possible if I told people I couldn’t swim, I was more concerned of encountering a shark! Continue reading

Running UX Workshops for Beginners

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One of my goals this year was to run independent UX workshops for beginners. I’ve managed to run two successfully at the Royal Festival Hall which I’m happy about. Looking forward to more.

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A Design Conversation with John Maeda

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John Maeda is a design partner at KPCB, a VC firm in Silicon Valley with Google and Amazon in their portfolio. It was an honor to hear him speak live about design and hybrids. Big thanks to Poptech for organizing for free and Patrizia of Legoviews for sharing the event.

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Podcast Ep8: Interview with Hotels.ng founder

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Digital Drift had the opportunity to interview Mark Essien – founder of Hotels.ng – A hotel booking startup which just raised $1.2million. Mark is a software developer from Akwa-Ibom state in Nigeria.

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Events Roundup (May)

Digital Shoreditch Festival

Got the opportunity to attend Digital Shoreditch Festival an annual festival that brings together the Creative, Tech and Entrepreneur community to celebrate outstanding work, share ideas and look forward to the future.

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Games UX Research with Kids: A Primer

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Gaming means a lot to me, not only was it my introduction to the digital world, it gave me a sense of belonging as a teenager. So any opportunity I get to work with game creation, I tend to throw myself into it, and so with research as well.

This post is about some of the important tips, observations and experience I’ve had while running a research piece with kids. Continue reading

Podcast Ep7: Interview with Andela Co-founder

Digital Drift had the opportunity to interview Iyin Aboyeji – cofounder of Andela – A global talent accelerator that aims to produce 100,000 world class software developers across Africa in 10 years.

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Nigerian Design Patterns: Akwete

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An intro to Nigerian Design Patterns was written a couple of weeks back were I mentioned why I was doing this and the importance.

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Storymaking For a Better User Experience

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Stories are great, we all love a good one. Storytelling is useful in helping us connect with others, companies and brands. We can enhance this by co-creating stories using StoryMaking methods.

“StoryMaking is the engagement in creation of a story with one or more people”

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Support a Woman in Tech platform today.

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Platforms for Women

I know too well the challenges that arise in being a minority in a minority in a minority, and I only started to experience this a couple of years ago. It is one of the reasons I try to support organizations that cater to marginalized groups.

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When you say UX, What do you mean?

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It’s quite nice that almost everyday I get to explain what UX is. It helps me think about it, and refine my understanding. My idea of UX has evolved over the years based on what I read in books, what I have and seen practiced.

In this post I’ll tell you what I’m thinking when I mention User Experience, UX. If you have other ideas/ perspective, let me know.

1. UX is a Mindset

It is a way of thinking, with empathy. When a UX professional gets into a company this is what they will try to infuse through out the company. This mindset will enhance the way people think about other people (users, colleagues, customers, gamers and any other subset ) and how their products or services affect them.

UX professionals are there to remind us, because we all forget, that people satisfaction and delight should be at the heart of all we do. They are also advocates of the (users/customers etc) within the company or organisation. UX says to people, genuinely ‘We are here to help’

2. UX is a Goal

What’s the point of it all?, why are we waking up everyday and doing this. No we can’t actually design the experience, how everyone perceives something differs but we can facilitate a good or bad experience. We anticipate expectations and try to exceed them. How do we know when we get there? Set the goal ( Increased Sales?), set the metric (lower time to task completion?), method (site clarity?) research and validate (RR)

3. UX is a combination of skills and tools

These skills, tools and factors help one achieve 2. Goal but must be in combination with 1. Mindset. One should have a discernible skill along with the right mindset, whether it lies in strategy,  research and/or design execution through interaction design, code or a visual interface.

There’s no one skill that is a UX skill, sketching, wire-framing, prototyping any one can do that. What sets a UX professional apart is the constant awareness of who they are designing for, the implications of the design and taking the right steps to ensure a proper, responsible solution.

Some important skills include 1. Being able to communicate effectively via any medium, 2. Requirements gathering 3. Understanding people via research 4. High willingness to learn and adapt. 5. Ability to balance ( e.g business and customer needs), order, prioritise

Podcasting The Nigerian Tech Scene

It’s interesting to me that I left Nigeria in a year that digital companies started to make themselves known. I haven’t completely been out of touch but most of the Startups people talk about now were not existing then.

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The Functional Development of an INFJ

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What or Who is INFJ?

According to Myers-Briggs, the INFJ has a high preference for introverted intuition (Ni), it is the preferred way they perceive information. The inner world of the INFJ is much richer than the outer to them. They trust their intuition. Insights are sought from being able to process and connect ideas, feelings, thoughts in their mind.

The INFJ has a preference for making decisions based on Extraverted Feeling (Fe), the ‘feel’ of the situation, a value system based on the people involved. High on empathy, there’s a need to connect and harmonize surroundings, it’s more ‘we are the world’ rather than ‘I am the world’.

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Nigerians! You win!

I’ve got tears in my eyes, real ones. I didn’t back any party because I was quite certain about how the elections would play out. Now my expectations have been shattered and I’m glad. Votes do count! and the people have voted for who they want.

They win!, the people win! and this signifies a new day for Nigeria. Exciting and brilliant things to look and work towards! I’m proud, so proud!

Congratulations President Buhari, may you right your wrongs and do better for the Nigerian people.

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Summary of Votes in the 2015 Nigerian Presidential Elections (28-29 March 2015)

Before Design can lead..

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Before we start thinking of how Designers are going to lead, we must learn to care, communicate and collaborate, properly, with ourselves (I’ve seen a project almost destroyed due to a misunderstanding of design terms and artifacts) and others (developers, change managers, sales, technical architects etc). This includes speaking their language not ours if not, it defeats the main idea of UX.


The one who does not have empathy for colleagues and coworkers they see, how can they empathise with ‘Users’, they have not seen.

Paraphrased, 1 John 4:20 (Bible)


It’s sad that a lot of us get into companies and silo ourselves. One time at a previous job, a man asked me what we, the ‘Digital’ team did, I told him about UX and asked what he did. I got to know that he was an associate partner for Change Management in the company. I ‘face-palmed’ myself and told him it will make no sense if we don’t collaborate with his team as there are so many overlapping touchpoints and skills we need.

Thing is, companies have always designed, problem is, they have designed irresponsibly i.e without much thought to people they design for, wasting lots of money in the process. This is where Designers with UX competency can help but we have much to do.

Some challenges Designers face and what we can do

1. Education

We aren’t educating properly in schools and in the workplace hence the influx of designer salespeople. What this means is companies will panic hire these salespeople and when things don’t work, the idea of ‘design leadership’ will be discarded and we are back to square one. Let’s not flood the market while the foundations are still shaky, it might destroy the entire edifice altogether but there’s always hope, Please read Death of a UX Salesman

Like I wrote 3yrs ago in UX Matters, We must take on the role of educator, regardless of our position. Let’s make sure that everyone knows for example, that UX is not about post-its, prototypes or wireframes (communication tools) but about people. Find a way to educate the next generations of Designers. One good thing about the graduate school I went to was that, we were a multidisciplinary group (Business Dev, I.T, Engineering, Product designers etc) doing design and we had to learn to communicate with each other. I hope we encourage more of this.

2. Skills

We aren’t linking up with other parts of business and/or expanding skillsets, which will make us again, highly discardable, when those people start to gain competency in UX. We need to call in the experts, engage and learn from them. There’s no thinking we can do it all by ourselves.

Be proactive at work, get these people involved in the design process from the start. Get mentors who are in QA, Technical Delivery, Sales, Marketing etc, (speaking from experience this has really helped me). Attend courses/talks/workshops which are not design-focused.

3. Language

We love our language a bit too much. Businesses are finding it very difficult to drop £50k for a 6 week project for design exploration and concept development because we have been doing a very bad job of telling them in their own language how Design will be of value i.e Increase sales or reduce costs.

Let’s make sure we understand their context and vision first. This also guards against commoditisation. One way to do this is to involve them in the design process, carry them along, it’s not magic, we can help each other.  Please read How Communication Drives Innovation.


None of what I’ve written is new but it’s so important as we endeavour to transform, positively, products and services in businesses. If we are truly on the user’s side, we must consider the users within our business and those in other businesses.

Being a Designer is not an elite thing like one HR manager told me, let’s not allow our egos get in control. Design is great, it’s wonderful but it is service to life, first, and I believe we can really change our world for the better. It is a daily struggle but one I’m happy to have signed up for.


Currently exploring the intersections of personality, design and the workplace (work, teams, environment). Interested or have anything I can learn from, please contact me!

How to increase empathy for users

In User Experience we are fond of talking about empathy, but what does it really mean?

“Empathy is an important aspect of user-centered design (UCD) as it allows people being seen and understood from where they stand, not as test subjects but as persons with feelings” 

Vanhuysse, S & Hall, L. (2004) 

No one asks you to have empathy for your son or lover, we seem to do it anyway. Empathy doesn’t just come out of no where, it is founded on love and requires action, here are some that may help you increase your empathy.

Participate in User research as a User

While I was in University I took part in User research as a user (still do). The most memorable one was a Diary Study for a Scottish University. I had to sign into my specially created online diary and log my sleep habits daily. This ran for a couple of weeks, the incentive was £50 and a copy of the research findings. After the initial week, I got weary and bored. There wasn’t any update from the researchers (until the end ) and I frequently felt neglected, but still got to complete it because I like to finish what someone asks me to do.

As I began to conduct the interviews, research and studies on the job this experience became very useful. Knowing how I felt when I was a user helped me take better care with the people I meet for research, making sure they are comfortable if running an interview or usability study. I have made mistakes, made someone cry once but hopefully never again.

“We must remember that people live beyond our research and approach them with that in mind” 

Antonia A.

With this experience you’d know what it’s like to be interviewed, recorded, prodded, you know where it hurts and where it makes you sing. This is standing in the user’s shoes.

Put up Personas on your wall

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I’ve seen a number of articles which question the need for personas. I have questioned it myself because no one seemed to really ever use it, except as a deliverable. But it struck me one day how necessary it was to have them, empathy. I’m writing this as a reminder to myself as well because I don’t do enough of it.

We invest time in our relationships, we do things daily that affirm to the people we love that we love them, why do we think it will be any different to the one’s we design for?. What if you never had a note, a picture, the reality, of the person you are starting a relationship with, what kind of relationship will that be?

Personas help us connect to those we are designing for. Personas tell us the user’s story and stories engender empathy. Personas should be present when we have our daily or weekly catch up project meetings because like we do in Nigerian weddings sometimes, if the persons getting married cannot be present, they will be there in picture and spirit because the party must go on.

“Absence blots people out. We really have no absent friends ” 

Ambrose Bierce

Some Useful Links on Personas

The Use of Comic Strips to Encourage Empathy in Design

Five approaches to creating lightweight personas

Persona Empathy Mapping

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I’m keen to know what actions you take to help increase and strengthen empathy.
Stay Bright.

8 Things to do after celebrating International Woman’s Day

I celebrate International Women’s Day, (official day was yesterday) When I think of the day, I think of my mum, motherhood, the uniqueness of being woman. Anyone can be a scientist, designer, football player, but that unique ability to be bearer of the world, life, should be most celebrated!

With that in mind, I’ll share some things that have made my celebration much more significant. Things I’ve learned from women who have inspired me like my mother. Things I share with friends, things that any woman should try to incorporate in her daily life, things that take you from merely existing to living a life that’s truly yours.

8 ways to spruce up your life!

Learn from smarter peopleGo after people who are in the place you want to get to, find a way, send them a mail, or read more about them. Find mentors who will not only guide you, but also sponsor you and blow your trumpet.

Practice kindness everyday – It’s a daily struggle, I get, but the more you do something the more it starts to become who you are. Practice kindness by forgiving yourself first for not being  the epitome of perfection. Look to others with eyes of grace, the more you do it, the better you become. I have failed so many times, but today and tomorrow hold opportunities to try again. Make a conscious effort, plan to be kind to everyone you meet.

“Funny thing about change, though. It works a lot better if it comes from a place of kindness than from judgement”

Read smart and Read wide – I just received 14 books at a go from a friend, it made me really happy because the books were some of what I wouldn’t have picked up myself. Try to go beyond what you’d pick up by default, there’s something to be learned in most things. Now if you aren’t connecting with a book, best to drop it and find something else, life is too short to stay reading a book without joy.

Cultivate strong friendships – Think of those you have around you, can you really call them friends? how do you affect their lives, how do they affect yours? make a decision to care a bit more, ask a bit more, share a bit more and grow this garden of love.

Stay curious and Take risks – Wonder, Wander, ask questions, talk to yourself, think by yourself, let your brain work, try to really see things and don’t loose the ability to get excited by life. That business you always wanted to run? That crowd you’ve always wanted to speak to, that job you want to leave? That house you want to build? That career? Do it.

Keep an Idea Bank – I have so many books because I have to grab the nearest thing to write down what I’m thinking but I do have some challenge with it as I described in wearable tech for introverted intuitives Having the bank shows me where my passions lie and also helps keep my brain fresh as I put down ideas, more come to the fore.

Share Your Knowledge – It’s never enough to just keep learning, you must process and give back, thats how any healthy ecosystem works. In teaching or sharing, you will gain even more, just imagine the cogs of your brain turning, care enough to share.

Write! – The reason I write is myriad but one thing it helps me do at the same time is think, organize my thoughts, share knowledge and teach myself. You can do it too.

Mobile Payments: The opportunity to do better

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I remember the first time I used the debit card to buy something in a shop. This was 6 years ago. It was a whole new world for me, and I got quickly weaned off carrying cash around. However, going back to Nigeria with that mentality even in 2013 turns out to be very harmful. Running about in the blazing sun looking for an ATM is not funny.

Now, one could argue that this makes the case for ‘Mobile payments’ I did have my phone with me, but it wasn’t charged (thank you NEPA), again you begin to see the benefits of having cash, which is quite mobile as well as the bank cards. The important thing is we understand all these methods have limitations and contexts they apply in.

When it comes to our monies we need 3 main things; Control, Security and Ease of transaction (paying, receiving, transferring, saving, investing) The perception that any of these is lacking or absent can be very frustrating.

I came across this article yesterday Why I’m Worried About the Future of Mobile Payments and it really expanded some of the thoughts I’d been having earlier this year.

From the User perspective

It’s good to have options but without the disjointed feeling that comes with having lots of options from different companies with differing variables.

From the user’s point of view the obstacles are equally severe, from different (and often confusing procedures) to the need for different brands of smartphones. Ideally for the user a single method would be the optimum. Perhaps one payment vehicle (linked to his/her bank account) and one wallet application (stored value on the mobile).

If there are too many payment apps, their use is going to lead to frustration. Frustration will lead to abandonment and abandonment will lead to failure. And that would be a pity.

We need to take a step back and consider these questions again, who are we solving this need for? What do people want to do with their money?

A Way Forward

For some fifty years now the credit card has reigned supreme as a payment mechanism simply because of a standardized numbering convention which has allowed the bulk of cards to be processed via a single merchant/ end user input point. The banks and clearing houses have taken care of all the other financial “plumbing” in the background, far beyond the sight (or the care) of either the retailer or the consumer. To both the credit card has become a seamless payment mechanism. That is what needs to happen to mobile payments.

If mobile payments are to succeed, a single, simple, uniform and universal method (read app) has to be the solution.

Having to manage more than one bank account sometimes is an uphill task, having one single, simple uniform method to control and make payments will be great. The implication is that corporations need to stop seeing each other as ‘the other’ and form partnerships which enable this to happen. I wonder if it will also disrupt currencies as we know it? Not too sure as they hold some cultural value but will be interesting to see.


The next post on mobile payments will describe my thinking on how this single, uniform payments app will work.

UX is Responsible Design

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“In this age of mass production when everything must be planned and designed, design has become the most powerful tool with which man shapes his tools and environments (and, by extension, society and himself). This demands high social and moral responsibility from the designer.”

Victor Papanek (p. ix, Papanek, 1985)

Responsible Design

The idea around responsible design was ignited when I was in a Bible study about love and it’s responsibilities. At the same time, I had been working on a responsive design piece for the web and I thought to myself, to design responsively well, we need to be responsible designers first. And just like love, design should not merely be responsive (firefighting approach), it should be pro-active, given to ‘take care of’ concerned about others, finding out real problems and trying to solve them.

I read Victor Papanek’s book, Design for the Real World (highly recommended) a few weeks later and the ideas began to really gell.

Responsible design takes into account a number of things; Culture, Accessibility, Sustainability, Empathy, Ethics. Responsible design is holistic, accountable, creative, caring, visionary, quality conscious and forward thinking.

The relationship with User Experience

I read an article recently that attempted to split UX and design, it drew me back to Papanek’s words that we are all designers, but how we design is another story, UX is how I design, for example. We are all teachers in the same vein, whether we teach professionally or teach using a particular method, is something different.

A friend of mine had a stint teaching maths to children at a secondary school in Lagos. Many of the children appeared to be dull and didn’t seem able to grasp what he was teaching. My friend had been using the prescribed textbooks and examples, to describe percentages, additions, distance etc. and he got frustrated. The children were frustrated as well and they turned to buying and selling of items in class.

One day, it hit him, he describes it as an epiphany. He quickly changed all the textbook examples into things the children could relate to and see in their neighbourhood and the class began to liven. The children were happy and learning, he was happy and wondered how blind he had been.

I told him it was the same with design, any attempt to leave behind the people we are designing for will end up in frustration, for one party at least.

Can you design without UX?, sure! But UX is a better, responsible way to design, whether in visual, technical or development.

UX is a combination of skills that derive from the responsibilities we have as designers.

If we care, have empathy for people, we will involve them in our design process through co-creation, user research, usability studies etc. These skills must be applied to take an idea from pure fiction safely into the hands of users.

If you are in the business of design, you need to decide which way you fall, take up the responsibility and consider the above, build the necessary skills, it’s a daily struggle! Don’t think you will be able to master all skills, so better to ‘know thy self’.


Next Post: The Responsible Designer & Culture

I gave a little speech about Responsible Design and Culture at work, which went down quite well. Culture falls into 3 categories, Culture Within, Culture Without, Culture Transpositions (from/to)

Culture Within is about the character, values and experiences that are allowed to flourish or wither within a design team/org. It is foundational to how one designs.

The next post on Responsible design will explore ‘The Responsible Designer’, how the designer contributes to culture within, and it’s effects on the designer/designer’s work in turn.

For now, stay bright.


Essays on Responsible Design

Nigerian Design Patterns: Intro

Design according to Victor Papanek (Whom I’m currently enamoured by) is a conscious effort to impose meaningful order. It is broad enough to cover a lot of areas but succinct. The place called Nigeria, my country is one which captures over 200 cultures and languages, the vastness in relation to design is amazing. Because of this, I will be focusing on artifacts in a specific area at a time, right now, it’s all about clothing and textile.

I have been researching and I will be writing an in-depth post of textile design; why and how clothing was/is designed in different cultures, the meaning, implications, effects and how they matter for us in the present and future.

Another piece of the work is in digitizing some of these patterns for preservation, and communication in ways beyond clothing and textile.

These are some Adire textile patterns with their meanings, courtesy: Chief Nike Davies

“Adire are indigo resist dyed cotton cloths that were made by women throughout Yorubaland in south-western Nigeria. Resist-dyeing involves creating a pattern by treating certain parts of the fabric in some way to prevent them absorbing dye. Some of the clothing used to be handpainted with patterns that very important meanings”

PattansPost

All illustrations are done in Omnigraffle. Cheers.

User Experience and Design in 2015

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As a designer my daily life is never complete without looking ahead, thinking of what could be and as we embark on this new year, even more so. But for one to look ahead we must think about what has been and what we can learn.

In looking ahead for 2015, I am writing about things that have been on my mind, things I’ve observed, things I haven’t read anywhere for the year, things that are important for the future of user experience and design.

Back to Basics

I was in a meetup earlier this month talking about mobile payments, and It struck me how much technology happened to be the drivers of what we are creating these days. It seems that though we talk about ‘Users’ all the time we have forgotten who they are. There’s new exciting technology, lots of trends to follow but they just seem backwards when we don’t engage people first and always.

I think it’s important for us, this community of designers to take a step back and ask ourselves who we are designing for and why. In the work we do this is a daily struggle, and one that we should never think is ever done. So do take a step back, think, be thankful that you can design and that there are people to design for.

Accessibility

My sister is a ‘digital lawyer’ currently with the UN. She told me that one of the key tasks for the year in her group was to raise awareness about Accessibility in developing countries. I told her there was still a lot to be done even in the so-called developed world.

Although Accessibility is a part of the Equality Act 2010 (UK),Discrimination against people with disabilities is prohibited by law, Designers and developers in digital often don’t realise how the law affects the work they do. Even if companies with a digital presence are not deliberately excluding disabled users, they could find themselves violating the law and the fines are unlimited.

2015 should see us learning more on accessibility not just because you can be fined, but because you have empathy, because you want to help your fellowhuman, it could be you tomorrow. We should be educating others, those we work with and with out.

Let’s talk and design more around this, like Be My Eyes app, I’d like to see A11yLDN revved again. The following videos give a glimpse of what it’s like having impairments, I hope you take the time to watch them

How Blind People access the web

Film by Sea of Change

 

Fight Commoditisation

“Everything that can be reduced to a commodity ends up in the hands of fools”

UX and design consulting seems to be one thing that will keep growing in 2015, as big companies and consulting firms buy digital agencies and UX capabilities en masse.

We practitioners need to stay on guard and make sure we are not acting like commodities ourselves; selling design solutions that are merely cheaper than our competitors which devalues what design is about, offering tools instead of thoughts. All companies might have the same problem, but the design solution cannot be the same. Design is heavily influenced by context and as long as two companies are different they need to have different solutions.

If we are willing to be true partners, putting profits at risk, receiving pay based on the results, seeking to rethink the entire lifecycle of a business not just the app or website which are merely touchpoints for the most part, we can fight commoditisation. Standing on quality and honesty, twingods for this age with guts, the resolve and capability, I’m certain it can be done.

What You Read in 2014

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A big shout out to the readers of this blog, the lurkers, thanks for deigning to read my blog. Your comments and emails make me want to do much better.

Here are the top 10 popular posts, it seems a lot of people are interested in people, I’m glad.

1. Coping with Misophonia at Work: When I finally recognised I had massive auditory issues, I could do something about it. I no longer work at the company I spoke of here so it’s gotten a bit easier but having a better mindset towards it certainly helps.

2. An INFJ Designer:  Boy o boy, I cannot get over figuring out personalities, and it seems you guys can’t either, so I will be doing more work in this area. You will appreciate this comic if you are INFJ too >> INFJ The Rarest type

3. The Future of Web Design 2014: Glad I could volunteer here and get to listen to some amazing people.

4. You are INFJ so what: Yes, you all do like this personality thing 🙂

5. How to Create an Owl in Omnigraffle: Can you imagine that the CEO of Omni actually retweeted my tweet on twitter when I posted this. I look forward to doing more with omnigraffle, can’t wait!

6. Forming Voltron: Here I talk about type of projects you will encounter and how to deal with the voltron type.

7. Wearable Tech for Introverted Intuitives: I will be looking into more of this for sure!

8. UX for Rookies: My attempt to do a basics on UX, thanks for reading, really.

9. Make Useful Annotations Good practice for documentation and communication

10. Developing Your Competencies Prioritising your development path

Happy New Year: 7 Favorite Things in 2014

Another year past, despite the ups and down of the year, I’m really glad to have reached the end of it, thank you God!.

So much happened personally, and worldwide, it is certainly one of the most dramatic years ever. I quit my job midway through the year, read 55 books, down from 101 in 2013, travelled to 15+ cities, travelled long distances on very very short notices, went back to UK North, connected with long lost friends, saved friendships, close friends lost people dear to them, weddings of wonderful people I know and so on.

These are some things I’m grateful for.

Nieces

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I got two new nieces this year and one is my month mate, ooh hooo!! more beautiful girls in the house. I’m very happy about the safe deliveries especially because one was getting complicated. Now I’m the proud Aunty to 5 precious little girls, what a blessing 🙂

The Philosophers

I read a lot of philosophy in 2014 and Soren Kierkegaard is my man of the year, he stands out by miles and miles.  His mind was so clear, sharp and precise. I can’t get enough of his words. He is one of those I will surely love to have a conversation with in the next life. Notable mentions include Blaise Pascal, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

iMac 

Finally got myself an iMac, can’t imagine why I’d been putting it off for so long, and yup I used it to type this post. I’ve become more productive and it looks good in my room.

Hot Water Bottle

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When I first landed in the UK, 2009, a friend back then gave me a care package, a hot water bottle, chocolates etc. I never appreciated just how amazing the thing is, but this year it’s proven to have been one of the best things someone’s ever given me.

Wireless Headphones

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This is the most exciting piece of technology of 2014 for me, I’m so happy to have it. There was a guy at a restaurant who had to ask me where I got it. It makes me ecstatic, the freedom…being able to dance around my house without hindrance, everything should be wirefree!. It is easily my favorite purchase of the year.

UCD14 – UX Conference

“UCD2014 is a unique User-Centred Design conference in London. “It’s the Goldilocks of conferences; not too big, not too small” Jonty Sharples. UCD2014 explores how User Centred Design is applied in a variety of disciplines”

” It was my first time here and was really looking forward to this, aside the posh venue, I had spied some really interesting talks in the line up.

The Best things – The variety of speakers, it didn’t have your regular UX speakers who manage to be everywhere at the same time and the food by caterers to HRH, was yummy. The goodie bag also did not disappoint.

Big Themes and take away – it got me thinking again about Design Ethics, Closure experiences, accessibility and internal company collaboration.

Looking forward to 2015’s version.

New Job

I feel very lucky to be doing the things I love on a day to day basis and getting paid for it. It is hard work, especially having to work with people, but I’m very grateful for the opportunity.

I quit my job not knowing where I was going to end up, but it is exactly what I’ve been looking for in paid employment, and I couldn’t be happier, I look forward to doing more in the new year.

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With these few words of mine, I welcome you to 2015, may the year be filled with joy and laughter, and when the going is tough, remember you are surrounded by love, give it and it will come back to you.

Cheers X!!X!!

Design Management Lessons from Carlo’s Bakery

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Cakes and Design, a winning combo? Yes! I found out recently that my favorite TV shows are reality shows where there’s some form of creation and/or competition like Cake Boss and Next Great Baker. At first it was all about passing time, entertainment and cakes, then I noticed the design process was similar to what we do on projects in the digital space.

There were a few points I picked up in the process which will be helpful on any design project. Enjoy.

Have Client Conversations

You will get all kinds of clients, aim to have a relaxed friendly conversation no matter how ‘corporate’ they seem. Very often this turns into some sort of battle where you have to get on the defensive but clients go to you because they trust your abilities or want to trust you, show them they are before the right person.

Meet in a comfortable place, ask about their vision, feedback on the spot with ideas. Your expertise should be what takes the conversation forward.

Share the Vision

For leaders, be honest. If it’s going to be a gigantic cake, if it’s something you have never handled before, tell them. Let your people buy into it and push themselves to achieve it.

For those who are led, if you still don’t get it, ask questions.

Sketch or Prototype the Ideas

When I saw the lo-fi sketches and 3D animations, I smiled because this is a no brainer. A good designer thinks visually and a part of that is being able to communicate the ideas in mind. It also enhances collaboration and helps one figure out what could or isn’t working. Paper and pen is all you need.

Building the Idea starts with Building the right team

After the high level vision and ideas have been shared, it is important to break up the goal in chunks that can be handled by every member of team, depending on the scale of the project. In the Bakery, everyone is known to be excellent in particular areas, and they are called to handle that area especially where there’s a large piece of work to be done.

Again, it is very important that everyone sticks to their strengths – a live client project with constraints is not the place to start learning, let the tasks be assigned according to what the individuals are good at.

Call in the Experts

“Sometimes you have to go outside your field of study to find the right people.” – Temple Grandin

You might be a design or baking expert, but it’s important to acknowledge you don’t know all things. The bakery has a number of relationships with experts in other fields outside bakery that help them achieve their goals. One time they even had to bake the cake in the FX expert’s workshop! Designers must form such relationships with others. Collaboration outside of the team is very important for excellent work.

Have Some Fun

“No matter what the recipe, any baker can do wonders in the kitchen with some good ingredients and an upbeat attitude!” – Buddy Valastro

Yes it’s work, but like Temple Grandin said, “my work is fun”. Remember to remember that design is fun, you are creating things into the world that never existed before, c’mon, have a laugh! 😀

Panic be Gone!

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Ewww. Every now and then, there’s a disaster at the bakery. Someone might have done some shoddy work or the cake melts faster than they can deliver. The number one thing they do is curb panic. The leader, Buddy makes them understand it’s not about ‘you’ Think of the work, think of what can be done to rectify the situation. No time for blame games or hysterics.

It’s a bad thing to do work that is below par, it becomes disastrous when you can’t see what is wrong. Leave ego at home.

Details & Delivery

Details in design cannot be overemphasised, it is what separates brands, products and services, though they might be offering the same things. Everyone on the team needs to know how important this is. Sloppy fondant work for example, can destroy a well baked cake.

Delivery is very important, what happens if attention is not paid to this and the beautiful cake is damaged right before the client’s eyes? Let the details in your work be end to end. Have no rest until the cake is firmly lodged in your client’s stomach.

Leaders Lead by Example

Buddy is the clear leader of Carlo’s Bakery, but he is the type of leader who is hands-on which I like. Because design is a practical thing, It’s great to know you have a leader who can fold up their sleeve and get to work.

Stay Challenged

Carlo’s Bakery constantly tries to push the boundaries, baking bigger and more complex cakes. They take on these challenges from clients because it is important for imagination, to build skill and the team. It also exposes the cracks and helps you make provision for training etc.

Eat Cake.

Everyone I know likes cake, so why not get some to celebrate the end of project. Your team will like you, I promise.

“Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It’s all about the memories”

– Buddy Valastro

The Value in Diversity of Minds

“Different Not Less”

Temple Grandin is an Inventor, Innovator, all round amazing person who is on the Autistic spectrum. Probably the best person in the world to tell you about Autism. You just have to read more, and listen to her talk. Claire Danes acted in a movie called Temple Grandin which you have to see.

As someone who knows autistic children, this really drives me to tears, the way we treat others without trying to understand them.. Listen to her.



 

“Boys who cry can work for Google. Boys who trash computers cannot. I once was at a science conference, and I saw a NASA scientist who had just found out that his project was canceled—a project he’d worked on for years. He was maybe sixty-five years old, and you know what? He was crying. And I thought, Good for him. That’s why he was able to reach retirement age working in a job he loved.”
Temple Grandin, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum

On Design

Every design problem I’ve ever solved started with my ability to visualize and see the world in pictures. I started designing things as a child, when I was always experimenting with new kinds of kites and model airplanes. In elementary school I made a helicopter out of a broken balsa-wood airplane. When I wound up the propeller, the helicopter flew straight up about a hundred feet. I also made bird-shaped paper kites, which I flew behind my bike. The kites were cut out from a single sheet of heavy drawing paper and flown with thread. I experimented with different ways of bending the wings to increase flying performance. Bending the tips of the wings up made the kite fly higher. Thirty years later, this same design started appearing on commercial aircraft

“Now, in my work, before I attempt any construction, I test-run the equipment in my imagination. I visualize my designs being used in every possible situation”

“My first step in designing a better system was collecting all the published information on existing ‘wheels’. Before doing anything else, I always check out what is considered state-of-the-art so I don’t waste time reinventing the wheel.”

“That idea, like many of my best designs, came to me very clearly just before I drifted off to sleep at night.”

Don’t talk about Immigration on the tube

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Once upon a train

Generally, I don’t talk on the tube. It’s one of those unwritten London rules so I read. However, when you haven’t seen a friend, an ex-colleague in months it’s easy to throw conventions out the window. Due to our busy schedule this was the only time we could catch-up during the week, after work. So there we were on one of the fastest trains, hurtling north and we were talking much.

We talked about the past few months, our present and the future. We talked about the changes we had been subjected to. Being both ‘Expatriates’ or Immigrants as those of us from developing countries are usually called, we talked about our immigration status, and being away from family. Perhaps we were talking too loud, enough for someone to get angry and they did.

I had only heard of such things in the news or read them on blogs, So when this man, standing close to me, said “You are not even British” I could not believe it was happening. Looking at me, his face already turning a certain shade of red, he addressed the both of us. My friend was shocked speechless, (she’s white, so I wasn’t sure this was racism).

“You have better jobs than me” he continued, my heart started to beat so fast, my legs began to fade away, scared of where this might escalate to. “How do you know that” I asked, (my extroverted feeling at work). “We are in this country because we’ve got useful skill” I tried.  “You are not even British” he continued. “You come here and you take the better jobs”. I looked at this man, and knew that a rational conversation was not possible. Luckily the train stopped at the next station shortly so we scrambled to get a seat while others got out. “I’m sorry I couldn’t say anything”, my friend said, “I was shocked”. I told her it was ok, but I was so shocked I had to say something, we deal with things differently.

Please, be kind

The life of immigrants is not an easy one by any measure, especially those of us who have left family behind. We constantly have to weigh our current status and all we had to give up to be here. I’ve been in the UK for 5 years and non-EU migrants like me for the most part depend on companies to sponsor our visas, we cannot collect government benefits. So it can be difficult especially when out of work.

We also get discriminated against when it comes to employment. I’ve been rejected immediately I brought up the fact that I’m Nigerian and would need a visa. It is understandable in some cases, but when it takes at the least, 2 days to get a visa you wonder why recruitment doesn’t take the chance. Is it even legal to discriminate this way?

I feel lucky to be in London, which is currently the most desired place to work in the world, and grateful that companies have agreed to sponsor me, and though I’ve never been denied a UK visa, I know people who have and it is one of the worst feelings in the world. Rejection is one thing, but to have a whole country reject you, horrendous.

Please be kind when you encounter an ‘immigrant’, you don’t know their story, give us a chance. The UK visa is actually very straightforward, don’t be afraid of sponsoring and employing one of us.

Thank You.

How to Create an Owl in Omnigraffle

How to draw

Omnigraffle is a tool used by designers and UX professionals primarily for wireframing. The tool also allows one to make the wireframes interactive. Now, Omnigraffle can be utilized for much more than that. I was inspired to explore this when a conversation on tools came up in Spring UX Camp People wanted to know if tools made the designer.

My argument continues to be that tools should be employed depending on what’s available, necessary for the time, audience and purpose. If all you have at a point is Microsoft Word, you should be able to create a useful wireframe in it. That’s a major attribute of a real designer.


A good article on Omnigraffle by UX Matters


Why I like Omnigraffle

Omnigraffle has been a steady tool of mine for the past 3 years. I started using it because it was the main tool at work and I found it comfortable. I like the stencil system which makes one create things faster. Most of what I do begins on paper, while Omnigraffle helps me bring it to life in a myriad of ways.

How You can Illustrate in Omnigraffle

The Basics

It is important to know shapes, and most people who know how to draw naturally know this.

Every object is based on these; The Circle, Triangle and Square.

shapes

Any tool that gives you the ability to create these or by way of stencils can be stretched to far much more, it just depends on your time, level of comfort and imagination.

Understanding the Simple-Complex relationship

When I look at an object I almost instantaneously break it down into pieces, I’m sure it holds true for a lot of designers. This translates into other areas, where you look at a complex problem or argument and you’re able to quickly see the pieces. The most interesting part is that these pieces can be put together in many more ways. This is one reason I like voltron projects.

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Limitations

Omnigraffle is not Adobe Illustrator, so don’t expect advanced work here but you will be able to draw objects, add color to them, modify objects (subtract, union, intersect etc). I haven’t been able to warm to Illustrator, so I can’t tell you what the main differences are, only that there is certainly an advantage to using Illustrator (professionals use it!). But if you are ok with the simple things, Omnigraffle (if you already own it) will work out just fine.

So, I decided to try my hand at a bit of illustration and I’ve enjoyed the whole process immensely. A few things below I’ve created recently, used them in my portfolio, created logos for people, and basically just had fun!

Above all…

It really does start in the mind, don’t ever neglect your pen and paper.

If you cannot see, you cannot do.

Stay Bright.

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Connected Brains: The Internet of Thoughts

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Recap

After writing about wearable technology for introverted intuitives, a lot of interesting discussions came out of that, so in a way this is a part two of that post. The initial idea stems from the experiences and the challenges of the INFJ. This is what it feels like for INFJs I discussed with.

“It happens so many times having valuable insights in my thoughts, and as they usually appear in the middle of a daily task, I don’t always have the time or mood to take notes, and because of this, in the moment I finally write down on paper, those insights will not be the same anymore, it happens the same when verbally communicating those insights to other people”


“I have often thought there should be a device that can capture my thoughts in real time, so I don’t have to write down the jumble of thoughts that go around in my head. I often have creative ideas I would like to store, but when I try to write them down even a few minutes after I have thought them, I cannot seem to recreate the exact same thought. The ‘magic’ is gone”

So that’s what it is about, Braintext will capture thoughts in real time and send them to your designated device, converting it to readable modifiable text.


This is a good post to read when thinking of wearables

Wearable Technology Design Principles


Going further, the discussions morphed into actually connecting brains to each other, of course there is the danger of brain hacking but I’ll focus on the benefits of this.

Connect Our Brains, really?

When I told a friend about this (He is ISTJ) he said that the internet as we know it could be seen as an internet of thoughts, because it is the products of our brains and thoughts that are connected. Fair enough I thought, with a smile, if I didn’t know personality types I may have gone into an argument with him. It is a valid thought, however IOT is specific to situations where the thoughts are connected ‘raw’. Thoughts will connect with thoughts directly.

What I imagine is being able to limit your thought transmission to certain people i.e the device you have (Braintext 2.o) will have to pair with mine, like how Bluetooth technology works. Will it still be hackable? as with all technology there is that possibility, but the mind is more powerful than we give it credit for. I think this might enhance our natural ways of communicating.

Possible Applications: Ability Bridge and Empathy Transfer

This is one of the thoughts that came from the original idea.

“When I initially saw the two persons facing each other wearing the devices, I imagined that the device could be both emitter and receiver, it would be like mind reading, which could be so useful for example in a situation where a person is unable to talk, imagine the benefits for disabled people. Second idea is related with empathy and mirror neurons, imagine if your device could “capture” or “process” somehow the information from those neurons and transmit them to someone who lacks them, for example, autistics.”

The Future

I do think the brain is the final frontier, once we get to understand the workings of it, this world will be something else entirely. For now, as my friend said, “IOT is a nice slogan, I’m waiting for a product that deserves it” We will wait with hope.

Learn by Prototyping 2 : My Portfolio

When I set out to create a portfolio, I was aware of the fact that a portfolio for user experience is a bit of a weird thing because at least 70% of the work done cannot be shown, and 100% of the work cannot be attributed to just one person. All this in the midst of NDAs and ‘company secrets’.

So I decided to create my portfolio as a project. I was going to use one of my favorite tools, Axure to create it. The portfolio was going to be a fluid, present continuous work. I was going to do user research by observing how people (recruiters, friends, peers, prospective employers) interacted with it. I wrote about the first iteration here;

Learn By Prototyping

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So what did I learn from the first iteration?

1. It is easier on a mobile device to go UP-DOWN than side ways (hold your phone and move your thumb)

2. Carousels don’t work for interviews, because people like to know upfront what options are available to them. Clicking next, next, next can deaden the mood.

3. It is better to stick to a small number of projects which point to certain aspects of work e.g  A mobile project, a desktop project, service design, a project you led, a project you had the most challenge e.t.c

4. Got to talk with really helpful UX leads who advised to add bits like My process and other relevant things which they would want to know about.

5. I left the adaptive framework behind because, most of the viewing was done on desktop and 1024 x 768 tablet screen, (the portfolio was irrelevant on a smartphone)

6. Created illustrations in Omnigraffle (which I will blog about soon) just to show that these tools can be useful for a large number of things.


Here’s the recent iteration, a bit of a change eh, I do prefer a lighter theme, so that might come in the next version.

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Again, can’t wait for next lessons!

In the mean time, I’ve recorded a course with Digital Tutors on Creating Responsive + Adaptive Layout in Axure, check it out!

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You are INFJ, So what?

One of the most popular posts on this site is An INFJ Designer and I’ve had people tell me they are INFJ just from reading it, I haven’t been convinced. Getting that kind of feedback and the increasing tweets and posts about wanting to ‘debunk MBTI’ I thought it is important to get back to basics.

What is MBTI and all these letters?

The MBTI assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions

I got introduced to MBTI 5 yrs ago and I’m still learning a lot. MBTI stands for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It was developed by Isabel Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs based on Carl Jung’s work  A mini-research on the foundations of the MBTI led me to the Yoruba’s divination system Ifá! but that’s a topic for another day though this might make an interesting read.

The MBTI is not astrology, it won’t predict your future or character neither does it tell you everything about your personality. The main focus areas are the absorption of information and the communication of it especially in decision making.

Robert Kaplan and Dennis Saccuzzo state that “the underlying assumption of the MBTI is that we all have specific preferences in the way we construe our experiences, and these preferences underlie our interests, needs, values, and motivation.”

MBTI Letters

The letters that make up the types stand for various things, belong to four scales and form 16 personality types. We all have bits of everything, but the MBTI instrument identifies what your favorite, preferred functions are.

  1. First scale  I – Introversion ——— E – Extroversion deals with where you love to focus and gain energy from. As someone on the introversion side, I gain energy from being by myself, thinking inwardly and doing work alone, but I have friends who are energized by speaking or being around other people. Learn More

  2. Second scale  S – Sensing ———- N – Intuition focuses on the kind of information you prefer to gather. For INFJs like me, our dominant function is Introverted Intuition which means I love to see more in everything, reading between the lines. Small talk is usually a bit of an annoyance because I want to get to the root of the matter as fast as possible. Learn More

  3. Third scale F- Feeling ———– T – Thinking deals with what one prefers to make judgements or decisions on, do you go for hard facts or does the way people feel move you more? Learn More

  4. Fourth scale J – Judging ———— P- Perception This pair describes whether you extravert (act in the outer world) when you are making decisions or when you are taking in information. Learn More

The Different Types

Click on the graphic to find out what the 16 combinations are and maybe, your type.

What is the benefit of knowing Type?

The goal of knowing about personality type is to understand and appreciate differences between people. As all types are equal, there is no best type.

For me, the first thing is self-awareness which starts with being honest with your own self. You gain a clearer perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, motivation, and emotions. It will help you understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.

Going beyond Types

Above all this, we are to love our neighbour i.e people who are not us. It doesn’t matter if you know types or not, remember to always act in love and grace towards everyone.


Do more 

Find Your Type

Take the MBTI assessment instrument

For the Skeptics

For all still skeptical, this might be helpful MBTI for Skeptics

INFJs

I connect highly with this tumblr by Arissa Scott, INFJ Doodles

Websites

Center for Applications of Pyschological type

The Myers-Briggs Foundation

God-Type

Recommended Books

Building Blocks of Personality Type

Was That Really me?


“I dream that long after I’m gone, my work will go on helping people.” -Isabel Myers, 1979

Stay Awesome.

The Big Matter of User Research

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Research is a thing that ought to be done with joy. Ask any PhD student. Joy gives you the strength required for rigour and analysis that comes with research. Now, what can be more joyful than the thought that what you are doing will make someone’s life, even if a smidgen, better.

Why does this seem to be missing in many, many places that profess a UX practice? Why are people afraid of User research? As a freelancer when people approach me with projects like the re-design of a web space or an app, and I start to go, ‘why’ they disappear into the ether.

The best of times I’ve had doing User research has been on my Masters course in Design Innovation and independent research on many different things. One could say we had the luxury of time, (we didn’t) or money, (I paid my way through it). So why do companies abandon this very crucial element. As an independent researcher (I’ll research whether you ask me or not) it really grates when UX practices omit the very thing that puts the U in UX.

Michelleux

 

What is User Research?

User Research is the proper way of doing research. Why? services, systems, do not have desires, goals or aspirations. Living beings do. People-focused, not product or tech focused, because products and tech do not have desires or goals.

It doesn’t matter if you are doing market research or usability testing, they must have these basic principles. I was prompted to write this post because of the recent conversations I’ve had on twitter. User research should not just be a step, It is should be a constant.  

The Importance of User Research

No Research, no UX.

This is from Karl Smith

Paying for UX means paying for research, insights, testing and customer requirements. It’s survival of the fittest, some companies should fail in any case it’s normal. If you pay peanuts… and some client companies think you can get platinum by paying for cement. That’s not what the market is for, it’s to offer wider choice, not cheaper brilliance.

 

Also read from GDS a team I respect when it comes to UX, it’s User Research, not User testing

User research: a mixture of usability testing and more, generally trying to better understand our end users so we can make better services for them.

 

The Nielsen Norman Group published this recently, UX without User Research is not UX

User experience cannot exist without users. Creating user interfaces involves intricate and complex decisions. User research is a tool that can help you achieve your goals.

Even the most well thought out designs are assumptions until they are tested by real users. Different types of research can answer different types of questions. Know the tools and apply them accordingly. Leaving the user out is not an option.

They also show you how to choose the right research methods

 

UX is about people, people!

More, Karl Smith.

The real job of UX, find out about the users.

The real job of ux is to align the business with the users, from the user perspective. Users ask “what’s in it for me”, “what do I personally gain”. This means that user research is required by the clients customers, in order to work out what they want for from the business in order to take up their services or buy their products, how they will want to interact and what they will give the business for a relationship.

 

In short, We need to be like Pandas. If you are struggling to see how research fits into other stages of your work, just go and do your research first

 

Stay Bright.

Weekly Roundup has Moved

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Hi guys,

I’ve moved my weekly roundup to Medium I thought that it might live better there, so this space can continue to be what it was prior.

The first post there is the 4th Weekly, God made us vegan. If you missed the first three, here they are.

1. Last Week’s Thoughts (1)

2. Last Week’s Thoughts (2)

3. Autotune, Sharks, Breaking Feminism and More – Weekly (3)

 

Cheers 🙂

Autotune, Sharks, Breaking Feminism and More – Weekly (3)

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SharkWeek

It’s Shark Week on Discovery TV this week. As someone fascinated by the creatures, this video I watched last week was pretty amazing. The real thing is far more terrifying than Jaws.

Ebola

Ebola is still a major issue in Western Africa, and one thing that had been neglected was actually informing people in the rural areas about what it really was. This lack of information or misinformation leads to panic which is more likely to kill people than Ebola. In fact misinformation was so rife that it led to a number of people dying from false preventive methods.

A friend and I got to make some posters in Pidgin to be distributed. You can find Ebola posters in english or pidgin, black and white or colored here Also got to engage with local radio personalities to send the message across. And it is always heart-warming when you see many people have actually survived

Check out this model of the Ebola Virus from Visual Science

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Human-Human Interfaces

I finally got to post my thoughts on Wearable Technology for Introverted Intuitives. One of the conversations that came out of it was the importance of having more human-human interfaces. We should be thinking of enhancing the natural human to human interaction instead of having to always face a machine interface. I can’t wait to post part 2 of it, there will also be a connection to the internet of things.

Technology Life Cycle – Autotune

On my entrepreneurship course, I was introduced to this amazing video of the autotune effect. How autotune went from being an oil finding tool to the music industry’s darling.

The Effects of Poverty 

A discussion on the effects of poverty came up sometime ago, we talked about how being poor affected people, their DNA and even in the long term. The piece below shows that it’s not just a poverty of physical needs but a poverty of mental needs.

Some Useful Tools

Accessibility is  UX and this tool could help make your site better 

You might want to check if your job ad is woman-friendly 

On Feminism

Being open-minded should be one where you can entertain a thought and try to see it objectively. I thought this article on feminism was worth reading. By James Kalb, an American writer and Lawyer, Breaking the shackles of feminism

Interesting Links

Obligation and Doubt are poor motivators

The Nigerian ‘Development’ scene is growing up and I’m very happy about it

Why we should believe the dreamers—not the experts – Vivek Wadhwa

The best Coconut Oil in the UK

Working Monogamy

Event to go to

September 6th and 7th – Attend the world’s first Afrobeats musical, Oliver Tweest. If you are in London, it will be lots of fun, I promise you 

My Language – Uneme

I’m from a very small ethnic group, Uneme, our numbers are not up to 100,000 peoples existing. I spent some time years ago doing research and opened a blog to document our origins, culture etc.

This is the only recording I could find of my language on Youtube

Quotes of The Week

“Intelligence with wisdom is reason. Intelligence without wisdom is rationalization”. – Mark Yuray
“We find rest in those we love, and we provide a resting place for those who love us”. –Bernard of Clairvaux
“Most want success at a discount, look for shortcuts. Greatness costs what it costs. Get excited about paying full price, worth it” – 
“The smell of fried eggs is called Good Morning” – Antonia Anni
“You want me to help you improve my account experience? But I’ve never experienced an account!” – Uzo Agu
“You don’t fall into love. You commit to it. Love is saying I will be there no matter what.” – Tim Keller
“When you keep oil away from your cloth, you should also endeavour to take your cloth away from the oil” – Edoid Proverb

Till next week – Stay Curious.

Wearable Technology For Introverted Intuitives

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“Sitting in a pool as all the words float by, perfectly, but it’s time to get up and I do. The words, they immediately disperse. I hastily grasp some, hoping they make sense while the others, they float away, never to be seen again. On my feet, I close my eyes and mourn the loss of words”

The statement above will be familiar to people termed as ‘intuitives’ everyone has a degree of intuition but for introverted intuitives (see MBTI), this is their preferred way of perceiving, gathering information from/about the world, and for many, the only way. MBTI identifies it as Ni, ‘Introverted Intuition’ which shows up in the following types INFJ, INTJ, ENTJ and ENFJ but is the dominant function of the INTJ and INFJ. Even if you haven’t been professionally typed, the following description would be familiar to anyone high on the introverted intuitive spectrum.

What does Introverted Intuition feel like?

Introverted iNtuiting  focuses on the contents of the unconscious, it involves a psychic awareness of the intangible. Ni searches for grand patterns, themes, systems in order to understand the meaning and significance of everything. It operates unpredictably, often through flashes of insight. It seeks to understand an abstract sense of the essential nature of all things and their complex interrelationships. It attaches meaning and symbolism to the concrete world of the senses. This process is independent of the conscious mind, and doesn’t need external stimuli however, INTJ and INFJ can intentionally access the process by creating certain conditions and letting it happen.

“It views everything on the broadest level and asks, what else is going on here?”

Ni quickly grasps the meaning behind words. Unconscious images are as real as anything tangible. It seeks to understand complexity through the simple underlying essence of everything. Visions and insights are trusted and valued. This process can involve working out complex concepts or systems of thinking or conceiving of symbolic or novel ways to understand things that are universal. It can lead to creating transcendent experiences or solutions. Ultimately Ni tries to understand life [Reference: Building Blocks of Personality by Leona Haas and Mark Hunziker]

The Challenge

One big challenge for the Ni is having to communicate outwardly, How can I communicate my well formed thoughts without distortion. It’s almost as if you put pen to paper or open your mouth to talk and the carefully arranged words, systems and patterns you see in your mind just start to tumble haphazardly out. There is a high tendency to ramble because as you talk you find new connections that beg to be communicated.

 So how do we minimize distortion as our thoughts pass the barrier between the mind and the ‘seen’ world.

A Solution

The Device: BrainText

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Given that this process of thought occurs at any time, from waking up to falling asleep, we need this device to be highly flexible. We want to wear it to sleep, while showering, running etc. it would be Lightweight, Sensitive, Waterproof, Durable (last 3 years min), Flexible, Powered by motion, solar.

The device will be sensitive enough to notify you via device beep and phone notifications when it is a certain distance from your head, you will be able to control via the mobile phone etc

How will it work?

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BrainText will come with a software/app that can be installed on a suitable device. When Braintext is set up, simply place it near your head (you can even wear it as a hair clip) and press the start button on your app or BrainText, and transmission will begin. BrainText picks up the signals from your brain and transmits it to your mobile phone for example, where the software is installed. The software does the hard work of converting brain signals into text, which you can later edit yourself.

I really think something like this will be useful for a lot of people and perhaps not just introverted intuitives. This is the kind of device I will gladly buy, not a wristwatch, until then, I will have to make do with my paper and pen.

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Last Week’s Thoughts (2)

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Hello, I’m enjoying writing this because I never know what the week will bring. It gives me one more thing to look forward to. Happy New Month! I am biased but August really is the best of all 🙂

Ebola

It seems otherworldly, like Sci-fi, the speed at which it kills and the fact Ebola has no cure is frightening. Ebola finally got to my country. Knowing that all my family is there, makes it realer than real. I have friends in the North of Nigeria who said they heard Ebola was killing people in Lagos. This drove home the importance of knowing and sharing accurate information, Social Media doesn’t reach everywhere so be responsible as you become ‘Personal Media’ 

But what is Ebola? Forbes tries to sum it up here, What You Need to Know about Ebola. A couple of Nigerian devs put this up EbolaFacts. However there is hope, some people have survived the viral infection, I caught Ebola in Guinea and Survived and I think those who work as doctors, nurses in theses places are heroes, Saving lives on the Ebola frontline in Guinea

Hopefully a cure will come soon in the mean time share the word

 Crazy Love

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Sites I like

There are a few sites that struck me this week, I have to highlight some.

>> Wahanda, For all your spa and relaxation needs. I think it’s well ‘engineered’ things work as expected, do I have negatives?, sure, but the positive experience outweighs the negative that it beomes negligible.

>> FirstThings, When I first opened this site, the first thing that hit me was how readable it was. For those wondering, the font is Sorts Mill Goudy. It’s not just the font though, it’s everything working together for good.

>> ManServant, We are still not sure if this is a joke, but it’s hard to fault the execution of this site.

Christmas & Music

I never really thought about it before, who my favorite European ‘Classic’ composers are. It came upon my thoughts via a book and the sound of a traditional Christmas hymn composed by Vivaldi. Suddenly, I wanted it to be December.

At the moment my favorites would be Mozart, Chopin and Strauss. Their life stories are equally fascinating. Chopin is reported to have said “Play Mozart in memory of me…”

Being Mum

It was my mother’s birthday, one of my closest friend and my niece’s birthday last week but I’ll talk of my mum. She was pregnant with me at my current age, I was going to be her 4th child then she had 3 more. I was about 10 when she got her MBA, she already had a degree in Maths.

I grew up in an environment where my mum stood for father and mother, in fact I didn’t realise ‘inequalities’ existed and for that I’m grateful.  It gladdens me that she has seen half of us get married with grandkids to boot, I know that makes her very happy.

Nigerian Weddings

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It’s hard to beat the grandeur of an above average Nigerian wedding. The outfits alone are intimidating. Check these sites for more

Barbie & Ken’s Big Nigerian Wedding

Love Nigerian Weddings

Classism

I love airplanes but I’m not really fond of spending 6+ hours in them, so when Etihad introduced it’s new A380 Residence suites, it made me balk. Though I feel flying first class is now worth the money, leather seats and ensuite shower in the air, I couldn’t help think about the widened gap between the Moneyed and the Non.

Why are people not railing against the blatant classism?  I ask myself. Money happens to be the biggest discriminator yet the most tolerated, why is this? I asked my Uncle who is a philosopher and he said it was because the Nons are greedy and want to get to the Moneyed’s position, they surely don’t want to get there and find everyone on the same level, figures.

Sharing’  is not Caring

When Airbnb introduced their new brand and stories, I was taken aback. I didn’t expect to dislike it so much, so much that I can’t book anything on the site. It says something about belonging anywhere, a reality I do not share amongst other things.

It made me think a bit more about this whole ‘Sharing’ business. It’s not really sharing, if I have to pay you for something, that’s a business transaction. Sharing is a gift. A HuffPo blogger wrote this recently, Sharing is Caring. But not in the Sharing Economy

Our Callings

It was fascinating to hear someone talk with so much passion and excitement about working in hospital, delivering babies, A&E runs. You certainly want that person attending to you when you have to be in hospital.

Curiosity drives passion and passion gives you energy to fulfil your duties in the best way possible. I can’t imagine being excited about being anywhere near a hospital, but talk about design and watch me go. You see, that’s the interesting thing about life! We all have our callings, and we need each other. There’s no ‘na my own better pass’ find your calling and work it.

Quotes of the Week

“Boredom is like pain, a signal to attend to something in you, crucial” Antonia A.

“Evil people make alliances, not friendships, and then they break them when they are of no more use.” Anthony Esolen

“I’m not creative” is a self-fulfilling prophecy – Author Unknown

“There is no art in the possible, there is art in making the impossible possible” Karl Smith

“One of the things I found beautiful when I got introduced to computing was the key combination ALT-F4. You can ALWAYS start again” Victor Asemota

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Health Advice

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Till next week, Be wonderful.

3 Signs You Have a Great Leader

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We all need to stop and ask ourselves every now and then; Who am I following? is it worth following them? how do they treat me, and/or other people?

I hardly expect my church to teach about management and leadership in the workplace but this is so important I have to summarize what I learned there. It really is about looking to the best known human that ever lived, Jesus. Forbes explores the question in this article, Jesus, as the greatest leader of all Fast Company also has a go, The skill that made Jesus a great leader

Back to the workplace, it does seem like there is an abundance of bad bosses than there are good bosses. Someone says it’s more a case of people who are bad at their job than anything. Some of us have even felt the pressure of ‘bad bosses’ the memories quite painful however, we still aspire to be in those positions one day. Why and how do we think we will do any different? If we don’t embody or aspire to embody the following, we may one day end up in the ‘bad boss’ box.

Great Leaders are Trustworthy

“let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’’ – Jesus

A leader who is able to establish trust by setting a vision and carrying it through by themselves or with the help others is gold. Nobody wants to follow someone who is always wavering, says A today and B tomorrow, if they double-cross someone today, it could be your turn tomorrow.

A leader who is able to admit when mistakes have been made and accepts responsibility for the outcomes is given respect.  When workers trust their leaders, they demonstrate loyalty. A leader worth fighting for is the one who has fought for you. The trust built holds businesses together and creates an environment for success, helping in the intense battle against competitors.

Great Leaders Serve

“He did not come to be served, but to serve.”

Leadership is about service and great leaders know this. Jesus had no qualms about washing the feet of his disciples which in that culture was a huge WHAT!?, but I can’t even imagine my Boss ‘oga at the top’ doing this today. Great service draws on humility and respect, you really do not want someone that lords their service over you. Power should be used for flourishing not diminishing.

A great leader not only serves their followers but also their peers. How does your boss treat their mates? do they talk down or make snide comments behind their back? Great leaders always want to bring out the best in others and do not seek self-promotion.

These leaders are committed to the needs of others before their own, courageous to lead with service at the risk of ridicule in the organisation, always looking to develop others, invites feedback and when they don’t know something they can say ‘I don’t know this but I am eager to learn’

Great Leaders Make Sacrifices

“The good shepherd lays his life down on behalf of the sheep”

Leaders must be willing to make sacrifices for those they serve, those who trust them. Sacrifices reinforce commitments to people in the form of  e.g time and money, two of the most important things in the business world. Being willing to spend time to teach someone something or to help someone out of a financial bind without expecting anything in return is the mark of a great leader. They will always put people over the ‘organization’

In conclusion, authority is not something to be grasped it should be received with the full weight of responsibility that it deserves. The humble servant’s heart that is trustworthy, serves and makes sacrifices is hard to develop but we must start somewhere and we can start today.

Stay Bright.

Last Week’s Thoughts (1)

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I want to start a series where I do a summary of my main thoughts in the past week. I realize that twitter is fast becoming my sounding board and idea bank (drafted tweets), so I want to bring it all the way back here, mostly because there is space to expand without the distraction. M.  Gelb in his  book on Leonardo Da Vinci writes that randomness feeds intuition, so enjoy a bit of randomness here.

To start, a few things;

“Expected outcomes are not the bane of creativity, rigidity is.”Antonia Anni

Research: The impact of award-giving

I’m interested in the impact of awards on a community/ industry/individual. Check out LinkedIn, a large number of people are ‘award-winning’ I have won a few myself, so how does getting an award affect the individual?, their area of their work, their community. What’s the follow up like? How are past award winners? where are they? what are they up to? Do the awards really inspire? do they pressurize? Why do we keep giving them?

Life – Balance

I remembered telling an interviewer that one reason I left my job was the routine. It wasn’t that it was routine, it was that, it was 90% routine, which I found out stresses me out terribly.

However, everybody needs a good balance of routine and the novel. How do you know where your balance is? listen to yourself, take time to reflect on your past experiences, use tools like the MBTI. I’ve found out that the balance for me is 40% Routine, 60% Novel.

Without routine our lives fall apart, Without the novel, we get burnt out. Routine is a marriage, Novel is another day.

Jesus and The Gospel

Jesus is certainly out of this world, he basically turned things upside down.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” How hard is this but necessary.

“The gospel frees us from the relentless pressure of having to prove ourselves, for we are already proven and secure.” I don’t know anything more amazing and freeing than the Gospel. Grace is everything!

What do successful start-ups have in common?

Currently taking an Entrepreneurship course and this is one thing we are exploring. I put the question on twitter here are a few responses;

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I really liked that it all revolves around people, The Founder, The Team and The Tribe.

Mobile is not going anywhere

Since the beginning of time, man has been mobile and each new age has found new ways to move, why should the future be different.

First, man found he had legs, then animals to ride about on, the compass, ships, wheels, airplanes, mobile phones. The question to be asked is simply, what’s next?

 Career and Recruitment

Ever since I  stumbled upon Penelope Trunk, it’s hard to resist going back all the time. I appreciate honesty on any given day, 100%. I prefer a negative answer to limbolysis.  She writes,  3 Career paths and 1 will fit you

My tweets on the brokenness of recruitment led to a conversation of solutions so, someone gave me a link to what he is working on. This is Globeshifts which seeks to change recruitment in the Oil & Gas sector

Immigration

As an Expat in the UK, this is always on my mind. A lot of changes are being made with immigration policies and it can make one very uncomfortable. A startup that is trying to bring some simplicity and clarity to this is Migreat. Some links to read;

UK Immigration and Tech Industry

Is Britain closing it’s doors to talent?

New Quotes

Words- “I find myself reaching for the dictionary more than ever, ‘leverage’ ‘construct’ ‘ecosystem’ ‘pivot’ ‘revert’ in casual chats…necessary.”

Blessings- “Disappointments are not blessings because they magically morph into a blessing instead they clear the way for the blessing”

Work- “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” why are we so afraid of work though? I do what I love but it’s still work and work is good.”

Passwords- “My favorite new button on the web is ‘lost your password?’

TED Videos to Watch

3 ways to speak English – Jamila Lyiscott 

Are you human? – Ze Frank

Design For all 5 Senses – Jinsop Lee

 

Till next week 🙂

UX For Rookies

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Picture by Steven Lewis

A number of questions about how to get into UX and what it is, have come to me over the years. The things detailed here are fundamental, I try to remind myself constantly and keep them close to my heart. I am a UX Rookie in many ways, there’s just so much to learn! Some are words of wisdom learned from those who have gone before me. These things form the basic foundation of a person who will make good in user experience.

About UX

” User Experience is involved in; defining who the audience is, what they can do, how they can do it and matching the aspiration of the content provider with the desires of the audience” – Karl Smith

User Experience is complex. It has such a weight of responsibility that you constantly have to assess the why of it. ‘Why am I doing this? when it would have been more straightforward to be a doctor’. User Experience is about systems and the interactions within and without. User Experience loves and looks to the future while, at the same time considers strongly what the past has been, what the present is and how to get there. If this does not appeal to you, might be best to consider something else.

About You

“Curiosity undergirds Passion, so stay Curious ” – Antonia

There must be an in-depth desire to understand and love your fellow humans. How do they interact with each other?, work together?, make use of objects? etc. This role requires Initiative, Objectivity and Humility. One must be able to practice emergent leadership, taking ownership and responsibility for a number of things. The ability to say ‘I don’t know, but I am willing to learn’ Where you can be confident in what you do without arrogance. Humility enables you to work in a team which UX thrives on. It’s not about not stepping on toes, it’s about being able to say, ‘I’m sorry, Pardon me’ when you do so.  Objectivity helps you in the constant negotiation UX is involved in, balancing constraints, contexts and solutions.

Do you delight in creativity? a spot of original idea? The need to validate intuition with data? An intense desire to understand and communicate the essence of things? This could be for you. While the top personalities in this area of work, have the N, T and J component (MBTI – See recent survey by Jonathan Shariat) Any ‘type’ is valuable to the process ( I am INFJ )

Ways To Learn

“Experience is the source of Wisdom” – Leonardo Da Vinci

The best way to learn is by practice and experience. Theories are great, I love theories but they are much better when validated through work in the real world.  There are a few good schools which instill the principles of design and design thinking around the world.

Experience by proxy is also important which entails listening to/ reading about what others who have been there have to say. In the mean time and after, start by visiting Karl Smith’s blog. Karl Smith is a renowned User Experience consultant and has been honoured by the British Computer Society for his eminence and significant contribution to the fields of UCD and User Experience with a Fellowship. What I love most about reading his writing is the honesty on UX without any fluff.

Some posts I particularly enjoyed and are good to start with

Getting into User Experience 1 and Part 2

The difference between UX and Design

Never Bring a UX portfolio to an interview

In the next 5 years the term ‘UX’ as a role might be out of fashion but if you have these as your foundation, I don’t think you can go wrong in whatever creative endeavor you partake in. It is also very important to pass knowledge on.

“…Give as freely as you have received” – Jesus

Amen.

2 Lessons From TWOWS

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It was on an airplane ride I eventually got to watch the movie. I thought it was overhyped and wasn’t going to go out of my way to watch it but here I was, 40,000ft above the ground, with no where to go.

I found myself laughing, crying, being hysterical, I loved every minute of it. After the movie, I wrote in my notebook for about 10mins because I had realised there was so much to glean from it aside entertainment value. A few things;

“If you give people a good enough ‘why’, they will always figure out the ‘how’”

I watched in awe as Jordan told story after story, connecting with others. To me this highlighted the importance of storytelling even in Design. When Jordan asked people to sell a pencil and they went on about the features on the pencil I thought then I had made the connection.

There are a set of pairs that are very important in the proper functioning of the world; Intuition and Logic, Faith and Reason, Imagination and Analysis, Stories and Features, The Big Picture and Details.

These pairs have to work together, anybody that argues otherwise is a fraud. They also have a specific order in which they work, the first of the pair as written must come first. One needs to understand the ‘Why’ before they can appreciate the ‘How’. The big picture/story should sell and help one appreciate the details/features and in turn, the details/features reinforce and make you love the big picture/story more, a blessed circle.

People connect better with stories (See) work on that. They also make it easier for stakeholders to understand and to gain the support for your projects. However it is not a one time thing, it may need refining and you might get to iteration 4, but never forget the pattern. Share the ‘whys’, the big picture and then detail it.

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“When you live your life by poor standards, you inflict damage on everyone who crosses your path, especially those you love”

Not everybody is concerned about standards in the work they do or how it ties to their personal values but because UX is ultimately about people this is very important. Our mindset should be one that always strives for the best way of doing a thing, not just in the artefacts we create but in the way we live, relate and communicate.

Things in your life outside work seep into work and vice versa, there’s really no separation. We should strive for excellence mostly because other people are at stake. Do you love? then show it, be dependable, pay your bills on time, add a little more honesty, appreciate time with your family. There’s so much we can do better everyday. If you don’t know where to start, try laying your bed every morning, I promise that you will be designing a little better very soon.

Stay Bright.

 

Research: Mere Users or Real People?

This post is partly inspired by a tweet and by a profound moment that happened over 2yrs ago. In many ways it’s about the ethics of user research. It also ties in with my recent thoughts on empathy and stories. First of all, I am a big advocate for getting rid of the term ‘User’ but that will be addressed in another post.

The big questions are, Who are these ‘Users’ Do we think of them beyond the task at hand?. Do we see them as having lives interconnected with other products and services or just as the sole user of ours?

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It was a lovely cloudless Monday so I decided to go to the garden near my office on Piccadilly street to have lunch and sit in the sun. There was also a project on my mind. I had done a round of guerilla interviewing during the weekend and didn’t mind continuing if I got the chance. A few minutes after I had settled on a bench and my food, a lady sits by me and opens a book. I thought this was an amazing opportunity to have a chat to her. My project was on redesigning the reading experience, how lucky I felt. So I asked if she had a moment to chat and she burst into tears.

I was taken aback and genuinely sorry, I didn’t know what to say. She quickly got herself together and apologized for the outburst. She mentioned rough times at work and how she tried to escape for a few moments in the garden. I was doubly sorry, here I was in the name of User research encroaching on what little time she had for solace.

I had never really thought about the lives of people beyond the projects I had been working, this was a real eye opener. We still had the chat about reading and what it meant to her but this only came after I just sat and listened. As we talked, I found myself empathizing with her.

I remember walking back to the office and thinking, wow we need a Book Spa/Book Lounge, where people can read in public without being disturbed.  Most importantly, I thought about how we interview. People do not use products in isolation, some times they use your products/service in combination or in comparison with others. We must remember that people live beyond our research and approach them with that in mind. As a researcher its also important to just sit and listen. People’s stories engender empathy and that’s what you need to design better.

 

Empathy Needs Stories

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“The shortest distance between two people is a story.”

 In April more than 200 girls were kidnapped from their school in the North East of Nigeria. When the media began to carry the news I knew something was wrong. They kept talking about the numbers and even though I am Nigerian, I could not relate. The reports were so sketchy I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. It bothered me for a while and suddenly I was able to put my thoughts together one Saturday in April. I sent messages to my friends one of who’s father grew up in Chibok and hails from Borno state. “Thinking about the kidnapped girls, the story feels unreal, there’s no human face, we don’t have pictures, names, of the girls, of parents, family”.  We then took to twitter and joined the #BringBackOurGirls campaign

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Psychologists Deborah Small and George Loewenstein have shown that our empathy wilts in the face of statistical reasoning. Their research suggests that people can empathize deeply with identified individuals, but wanes when confronted with statistics of mass suffering.

 “In one study, people were more likely to give to charity when told the personal story of a single hungry girl than when confronted with statistics of millions like her. The hungry girl’s story by itself even induced more generosity than when it was combined with those statistics.”

This is important in fields like User Experience, because what makes the difference is empathy. Stories are told using many forms; Personas, Comics, User Journeys, all these things engender empathy and must not be dismissed instead we should seek to do better with these tools. We need to relate with and remember the people whose stories we tell, they aren’t just mere users but actual living and breathing people.

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Related Paper

Sympathy and Callousness: The Impact of Deliberative Thought on Donations to Identifiable and Statistical Victims,” Deborah A. Small, George Loewenstein, Paul Slovic; Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, March 2007.

Thanks For Listening

It’s been exactly 3 weeks since I blogged about our girls that were kidnapped from Chibok. At the time, only a few media organizations were carrying the story and we still hadn’t heard a word from our president amongst other things. I intended to update the story everyday and began curating on storify but things grew so fast I couldn’t keep up.

Now, that I write, a lot has happened, many have since joined hands with us to speak about our girls and our president has shown his commitment to saving these girls. The #BringBackOurGirls campaign started by a Nigerian on twitter went worldwide and the protests held in Nigeria were now held in San Francisco, London and many other cities.

Some tried to use this campaign to further their career and scam people out of their monies, but they were quickly apprehended. Many have also thrown a spin on the campaign which this article ‘The Real Story’ by Atane Ofiaja addresses.

It gladdens my heart that the concern for these girls hasn’t been swept under the rug. I am happy that we know they are actively been sought for now, by Nigerian and foreign military. It is still heartbreaking to see and listen to the stories of their families as they wait in anticipation.

Thank you for listening and empathizing with us, it’s not yet over, but we know that a positive movement has begun and that gives us hope.

Help Us Rescue Our Girls

Many days ago, more than 200 girls were abducted from their school in Chibok, Nigeria. They had been called to school to sit for a Physics examination and next thing anybody knew, they were gone.

“The world must wake up to the escalating tragedy now engulfing Nigeria. Today the lives of 230 teenage schoolgirls hang in the balance.”

Gordon Brown, Channel 4 News

I am writing this because not enough platforms are carrying the story. It is painful as a woman, sister, daughter  (they were abducted on the 15th, one of my sister’s birthday).  Heartbreaking as a Nigerian, completely disheartening as a Human being.

On Education

“People in Chibok farm throughout the year to get their girls to school ” – Chibok Resident to Will Ross @willintune

On Escaping the Kidnappers

“I thought it was the end of my life,” – Deborah Sanya

On the current situation

“Boko Haram members have relocated and forcefully married the Chibok girls” – Senator Zana

 

Things have gone from bad to worse as the day goes by. Even though about 40 girls escaped, the others left are experiencing untold anguish which we can’t begin to imagine.

Protest marches began yesterday in Nigeria, some of my friends have been involved. They will continue for the rest of the week.

Here are some links that would enlighten you on the history of and current situation.

I will be updating this post everyday. Thank you.

 

It all started before the Chibok girls >> http://www.hobbingpost.com/news/hob-view/item/60-where-are-our-girls-the-unspeakable-truth

http://dikechukwumerije.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-girls-of-chibok.html

http://www.krank.ie/category/opinions/chiboks-missing-schoolgirls-ignored-reported/

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/29/kidnapped-nigerian-schoolgirls-marriage-claims

http://testimonialarchiveproject.wordpress.com/

http://space.io9.com/harsh-reality-break-234-girls-kidnapped-from-physics-t-1568087455

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/28/nigeria-why-are-we-sleeping-easy-when-terrorists-have-kidnapped-our-children

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-27157018 My family is crying and grieving

http://miabaga.com/poem-for-the-dead-and-dying/

http://www.stylist.co.uk/people/malala-yousafzai-pleas-for-abducted-nigerian-school-girls#image-rotator-1

http://www.ebony.com/news-views/kidnapped-nigerian-girls-still-missing-after-two-weeks-304#ixzz30HJnXRHi

The Future of Web Design 2014

 

 

The Future of Web Design FOWD is an annual conference which seeks to inspire and educate everyone who is interested or/and works with the web. It also is an amazing opportunity to network with many brilliantly talented people.

I found out in February that a Nigerian-American designer I follow on Twitter was going to be speaking, my interest in going increased a hundred-fold. Last month I stumbled on the call for volunteers needed for the 8th and 9th, I jumped right in. Big thanks to Michelle of Future Insights for giving me the opportunity.

Day 2

Tuesday started out very early, I was at the Brewery by 7:30am, the volunteers got briefed on what they were going to do, there was a schedule and I was expecting to be busy. I think my favorite part at conferences is welcoming people at the front desk, finding their name tags, directing them and generally smiling, it’s fun.

The following sessions made an impact on me ( …and the ones I could attend!)

 

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The Keynote speech by Paul Adams @Padday, the head of product design at Intercom, it was titled ‘Our New Creative Canvas’. It echoed the thoughts I’ve been having about the web recently; it’s fluid, web pages do not do it justice. This is how I see the web in my mind.

According to him, the future of web design comprise 3 things; 1.We will all be designing systems 2. Personalised experiences 3. Designing for change. Now, I’m no fan of personalized content because I didn’t get on the web to be put back into a silo, however, I am on board with the other two.

 

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“UX Comics: How to Share Ideas Through Pictures” by Bonny Colville-Hyde @almostexact of Sift Digital. This was really important because it is something I’ve done (will blog about it) but never thought of putting before clients. She mentioned that comics allow you to generate and explore ideas, I can testify. The 5 Cs of comics she says are: Calligraphy, Composition, Clarity, Consistency and Communication. Her slides are here. In advancing her talk, I thought that one thing to consider is how body language differs from culture to culture, we shouldn’t have a one size fits all approach.

 

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Senongo Akpan, @senongo on Non-Linear Storytelling. This was a must-go for me and I wasn’t disappointed. It was really interesting seeing how one could essentially connect the dots even if they looked different. I saw how rich the web could be if we employed some of the things recommended in this talk. The slides from Senongo’s talk are here

 

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The last keynote of the day was by Stephanie Rieger  “The Emerging Global Web”. Jumia from Nigeria was name checked here, excited to see that. She spoke about the rise of ‘Instagram businesses’ in developing countries. Creativity certainly develops where there are constraints and a goal.

Day 3

Unfortunately I took ill, but managed to get to the Brewery by 12pm. I pretty much didn’t do any volunteer work so I had the chance to listen to a few talks.

 

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Razvan Caliman’s talk was amazing, I saw things I didn’t know were possible yet. The future has arrived. Browser-free web, anyone? You have to experience it because what I write cannot do it justice. Get it all here (controlled environment required)

 

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Belinda Parmar the CEO of Lady Geek talked about how not to alienate half the population in design. She spoke strongly about de-masculinizing  design.

And it was a wrap.

I was happy with what I got to experience, wish I had gone to Rachel Nabors talk, but I’m not twice. Particularly loved that it ended with the CEO of Lady Geek’s talk reminding us that the domain of web, design and development is for all of us.

I feel very lucky to be a part of this community.

“Those who design for the web, internet are extremely lucky to be in the space right now, being able to shape the world” – Paul Adams

The conference was well organised and as a volunteer I’ve had the least to do here. It was true to it’s aim, educating and inspiring those of us privileged to attend. I also got to talk with a few people I will be keeping in contact with. The emerging story for me from this event is redesigning the web through non-linear storytelling with various mediums and the eCommerce applications. I will be writing a post on that soon. For now, cheerios and don’t stop looking to the future.

You can view slides from other speakers here

 IMG_3692

 

 

User Experience in Space

10EC2268_Diamond_aerial_view
 

I got the opportunity last month to speak with two talented designers/engineer/design-thinkers who are heading up the design team at SAC in Harwell, Oxfordshire. I was very curious as to what User Experience looks like in this ‘industry’, so I took a trip to Harwell.

First of all, I was impressed by the Diamond Light Source on the campus.

Diamond is UK’s synchrotron. It works like a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to produce beams of light 10,000 times brighter than the sun that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines to viruses and vaccines.

You can visit the Diamond on an open day

Now, when it comes to space technology there are three main areas of application; Navigation, Communication and Earth Observation. The designers at SAC were very keen on showing how space technology can be applied commercially. The facility will be handling a variety of projects from different industries. They would be pro-active in problem solving and they will be providing specific solutions for particular companies.

I have no doubt that this is one of the most important areas of development. We have years upon years of data that can be pulled into useful products. It is no wonder that it is one of Innovate UK‘s priority areas, find out more here

As a User Experience designer, it would certainly be an amazing opportunity to work in this industry, there’s so much to learn here and it opens one’s mind to the different possibilities and areas of application in everyday living. Innovation is certainly not far off, given that it usually occurs at the point where various fields meet, in this case, <Space science, User Experience/Design, Business, Engineering, Art >

nasa_logoSpace_apps

I’m also very happy that the Space Apps challenge by NASA made Lagos and Calabar, Nigeria, a part of this. I love that people from my side of the world are involved in global challenges for products that would benefit all of Earth’s citizens.

UXCampLondon, Spring 2014

UXCampLondon is the first UX (un)conference I’ve been to in a very long time. I was really looking forward to the talks, there’s always something different, unique, compared to the usual conferences with set speakers. I also decided to talk about something I had written about some time ago, UX in big ships: How To Stay The Course.

In UX or even life, I am way more concerned about people than tools or processes, so I seek to understand people and their interaction with work, and other people. In my talks, I hope to appeal to people to think more about the way they communicate and how they might do it better.

The Camp

Basically what happens is that at the start of the day, there’s a board with time and room slots and anyone interested in speaking, starting/facilitating a discussion, running a workshop for 35mins can fill in when they want to do it.

First, started off by attending a talk given by some designers from Ustwo, it was about Making Money Valuable I thought this was a very ambitious talk because anything that tries to cover morals and ethics ends up on a slippery slope. They asked some valuable questions though. Things like, “Do my beliefs match my behavior?” ‘What is your core value?’ because that affects the things you design. One ought to design in human language and with cognitive limits in mind.

Second stop, I went to see a presentation on the Burj Khalifa by Hammad Khan of Entropii. It really wasn’t what I was expecting but it was interesting to see that they were going to get a better online experience. I was expecting something like this, Gas Machine from Statoil.

Third talk was Mine!

Oh boy, I didn’t expect the large turn out. I was nervous.

[Read] UX in Big Ships: How To Stay The Course

Sketchnotes "UX of Big Ships: How To Stay On Course" talk by @tonianni - UX Camp London, 22 March 2014 (Drawn by Makayla Lewis)                                                                                                                                                                    Sketchnote by @maccymacx

I had all round good discussions afterwards. One guy said, the only option he’s had in a big ship was to jump off the ship when things got too hard to handle. We also talked about ways to communicate better, sharepoint, wikis etc. Another guy talked about considering the captain of the ship, which is a very good point. If you have the opportunity to get to know more about your CEO before joining up, you definitely should. There’s also the subject of on-boarding new staff, ways of doing this better.

It wasn’t until after my presentation that I realized I hadn’t even introduced myself! yikes, I’ll do better next time.

After the talk, we had a break and then I had long conversations with two ladies, one a product manager and then a developer transitioning into user experience. We talked more about our experiences in ‘big ships’ and also in startups, the differences, pros and cons. There was an idea of exploring how environment affects the way we work, suburbs vs inner city for example.

I also went to a talk on Introversion and Extraversion, by Kim McGuire. Anything about personality always interests me, however I don’t think the introversion and extraversion scale is sufficient enough to qualify a person. I find the MBTI a better way to absorb this. I am an INFJ via the MBTI. I particularly liked the angle about the implications for user research and the way we user test.

Next, went to discussion about B2B vs B2Cs by Red Gate’s Marine Barbaroux (love her name). She asked what our preferences for projects were.

I strongly hold that curiosity is what drives passion and that’s what any and every kind of project whether B2B, B2C, B2E needs.

I personally like having a variety of things to work on. It could be airport kiosks today, trading software tomorrow or fashion applications next.

The remaining sessions covered Agile. My favorite quote was ‘Silos are for farmers’ talking about how we need to shed the us vs them mentality. I thought there is still a dire need for a proper online collaboration tool.

I’m really glad I went, can’t wait to do it again.

Learn by Prototyping

Untitled

For the past few months, I have had the opportunity to work on a number of prototypes. Each time has introduced something new to my knowledge bank. I also did up a portfolio recently which is live. I decided to create it in Axure, a protoyping tool so there will be no question if I can use the application amongst other things. It was something that was quite quick, after sketching out what I wanted to do, i went straight into prototyping. I also went responsive with it, which was quite the challenge. I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did while doing this.

It is important to test assumptions. I thought I understood responsive layouts, but this showed me how much was lacking in my knowledge, and I’m going back to the drawing board now.

It’s in the details. Again and again, you’ll find your mind straying. The ability to bring it all back together, whether by talking to people, meditating or reading something is a necessary skill to have in design. This comes easy to me but we all forget things.

Skills depreciate or appreciate, work on them. As much as we have talent to do something, it is skill that makes it productive and takes it to the next level. Always find the time to work on your skills.

A world of opportunity. While working on this, I realized there was hardly a thing I couldn’t prototype in Axure, and as for content, it challenged me to start working on new things, which I will be uploading as I go along.

Is this perfect? no, but  I am committed to lifelong learning.

A successful prototype is not one that works flawlessly; it is one that teaches us something

– Tim Brown

Stay positive. Have hope.

Ladies That UX

UX Ladies

The Beginning

It’s hard to remember when I first got to know about Ladies That UX but I remember being really happy about the idea. When an opportunity to meet up in London came, I got a ticket immediately.

Ladies That UX aims to help grow a community of like minded women who support each other. It was started by Lizzie Dyson and Georgie Bottomley in Manchester. You can read about their story Here and Here. It is women-focused not women-only, yes, men are invited.

The Meetup

The event was at a nice bar in Holborn for 7pm, organised by Sophie Mitchell, Lizzie & Georgie. I didn’t know what to expect other than a room full of ladies that are in UX. Given it was the inaugural meetup, I was going to be in observation mode. Before and after getting a drink, I got to speak with Lizzie and Georgie, both interesting, enthusiastic and committed ladies. They came down to London just for this.

Aside talking to each other, we got to write down our ideas for Ladies That UX London. A number of people did not want recruiters to be involved, which I found hilarious. Some ladies wrote about themed events, mentor/mentee programs, organised workshops, advice on tackling workplace issues e.t.c. Things I’m really behind as well. I’m not very good at hanging about, small talking so there has to be a challenge, activities that we get involved in.

I thought it was a good start, there were about 30 ladies in total that made it there, maybe more…Looking forward to the next event and would be wonderful to see if any of our ideas went into making it happen.

Why Ladies That UX is Important

As long as women still have less than 30% representation in the UX community, this is necessary. It  gives women the opportunity to meet and be around more women in UX than they would at a standard UX event.  It can become a good source for conference speakers. As we build each other up, we get to offer mentorship to a wider community communicating the fact that women make great designers as well.

Next Event

Ladies that UX  will hold on March 26 2014. Get your Tickets Here

We’ll be meeting in at the centrally located Square Pig Pub in Holborn from 6.30pm until 9.30pm.

The pub does food and has plenty of drinks to choose from.

Coping with Misophonia at Work

Barbie girls walkman

What is Misophonia?

Ever since I was a child, I found certain sounds absolutely life-threatening. Hearing them made me very angry (up to murderous rage) and anxious. I recently realized that there is a name for it, misophonia and it was such a relief knowing I wasn’t alone.

It is described by American Neuroscientists Pawel Jastreboff and Margaret Jastreboff as

A neurological disorder, in which a person feels anxiety, and even rage in response to certain sounds, which may be loud or soft

It  puts you in a fight or flight mode instantaneously. One of such times was the day my sister asked me to go shopping with her. She had come to London for the first time and we were on the tube heading to Oxford street. Along the way, a man chewing gum loudly and noisily came into our carriage. I was immediately angered and also at myself for leaving my headphones at home. I looked around the carriage and no one seemed bothered, this even enraged me more. I really wanted to hit the guy but as the train came to a stop at the next station I jumped out, thinking my sister was going to follow me, but she didn’t…

The Work Place

Open Plan offices might be straight from the devil. As someone who is largely introverted and with misophonia, it can be hellish. The continuous stimulation for over 7 hours is a massive drain on all my faculty.

Daily triggers at work include; loud voices and sibilation, furious keyboard typing (surprised the keyboard hasn’t broken), slurping and chewing noises.

One particular day I was in a rage and thinking seriously of quitting my job. Thankfully, it was a Friday, so after work, I got some comfort food and watched a movie. As I lay on my bed, coping ideas began to materialize in my brain. I told my friend I was so glad that depression hasn’t been added to my anxiety and misophonia!

Coping Strategies

Noise Cancelling Headphones – These work a treat, I use them all the time and because I love music, it’s an amazing solution. Now, I need to rest my ears every now and then so to fill the gaps the next solutions come in.

Ear Plugs – I am currently testing a few I got from Amazon, 3M makes some called earfit, which I am using right now. It is ok, but the level of comfort could be better. It tones down all the sounds, which is good enough. Only issue is having to take them out often because you have to talk to people.

Regular Breaks –  I try to take a 5 min break in a quiet place every hour, or 10 mins every 2 hours. This not only helps my misophonia but all the other stimulation which gets overwhelming fast like movements, lights, sounds etc. Definitely helps to stretch your leg so you can avoid deep vein thrombosis.

These are the things that help me cope at the moment. It’s hard talking to people about this because for the most part they can’t change ( voice for example ) and they can’t understand.

If you have some other ways which you use to cope, please let me know! all the best.

oh..I did not lose my sister forever, thankfully, she was at the next station.

Support for People With Misophonia

Misophonia UK

Misophonia.Com

Misophonia Treatment

To learn more about Misophonia, here are some related articles

Enraged by Everyday Sounds – Psychology Today

When a Chomp or Slurp is a Trigger For Outrage – NY Times

The Chewing Sound and The Fury – New Republic

Boyfriend Chewing Makes Me Want to Strangle Him – Daily Mail

How Sounds Trigger Rage and Anxiety – Daily Record

Living With Misophonia – Tribune

Developing Your Core Competencies

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It’s that time of the year again, you have to set performance goals. There’s a tendency to go along with what is popular at the time but it’s way more beneficial to question and listen to your self and sometimes, people who work with you. You should be thinking about your core competencies.

Core competency is defined by Search CIO as

 Fundamental knowledge, ability, or expertise in a specific subject area or skill set. The core part of the term indicates that the individual has a strong basis from which to gain the additional competence to do a specific job

Ever since I’ve known myself, I’ve known how to draw and tell stories. I remember vividly when I found out not everyone could draw like I could. This opened my eyes in seeing the unique aspects of people. While working in the UK, the 5 UX managers I’ve worked with have had 5 different core competencies (From my first at 1. to current manager at 5.)

1. User Research

2. Visual Design

3. Information Architecture

4. Strategy

5. Technical (Code development)

I thought this was quite interesting, because they seem to cover all the important aspects of UX design, I am one lucky person. They have all been good at what they do, but these were the competencies they built their practice upon.

A Unicorn is still a horse at it’s core.

While we strive to acquire many skills, these core competencies are what differentiate us. In addition to the personal stamp we put on them, they give strength to the other skills.

Some Steps to Development

1. Take on personal projects – Especially if you aren’t able to use these skills at work

2. Teach people This is a tried and tested method of solidifying and expanding a skillset, do more of this.

3. Find people with similar core –  Look at what they have done to excel, they should give you a good example of what you can do as well.

4. Find a way to work it at work You should bring yourself to work, it’s that simple.

If you feel like you don’t have a core competency, even after heavy soul searching, find one. Find something that interests you and that you will be committed to. Build on that. Like that tree in the picture, that’s how you want to flourish. You want a strong trunk and root that will support all that you branch into. If that root is shallow or trunk thin, the whole edifice will come down soon enough. Those who have excelled do not have seven heads, you can too.

Best x.

UX in Big Ships: How To Stay The Course

Ship ahoy!

When most people think of UX, it’s shiny surfaces and snazzy interactions that come to mind.  You think, start ups and the Airbnbs of the world, but it isn’t always so.

Some of us have the opportunity of doing things much different but with the same principle, yet no one seems to talk about this. Sometimes you work on internal software that will never be shown to the internet, yet you have made your customer service agents or your developers work a lot better. Sometimes your work consists mainly of making incremental changes to existing software. The little things that matter.

There was a bit of culture shock when I had to move from a big start-up company (300+ people) to a real big one (13,00o+). From one were I could clearly see the chain of command and I was  number 5 from the CEO to one where I’m number 30, 50? A place where a color change to a single button can take days to get signed off, yet we have to work, and we work under such circumstances without pulling our hairs out. How? I think these are some of the important things to know when working in such places.

These principles are from the Shipping industry.

1. Big ships cannot stop on a dime. 

Ships may require as much as 5 miles to stop (with gears in full reverse). The solution is simple: stay out of their way.

In big companies, User Experience would ideally cover Platform, Content Tools, Fraud + Risk Mgmt, CRM/Loyalty Tools, Payment Processing, Marketing Content, Back Office operations where if one of these goes down, UX is compromised. There is a lot at stake, and big ships which have been operating on legacy systems cannot simply stop one day and migrate all systems. You need to have patience, understand the background of the system and focus on creating something worthwhile in the area you find yourself or just stay out of the way, you could be crushed by the politics.

2. Big ships do not turn very well. 

A 500 foot, 8000-ton ship needs over a third of a mile to turn around.

Most organizations will claim that they work in an Agile way but the reality is the best you get is a hybrid of systems. Even when a particular team has migrated to a certain technol