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.

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

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?

Continue reading

This is Your Work-Life Balance

JD Hancock

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.

Continue reading

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.

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

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.

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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.

owls

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.

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 🙂

Oh Christmas time!

It’s that time of the year again! High Blood Pressure and Innocence go hand in hand..No wonder Santa Claus is in red and white. We had a design challenge to decorate our work spaces, I still don’t know who won but I got to snap a photo with Santa. For the first time in my life, I’m trying to build a Christmas list, I may end up not using but it will still be a far cry from the days of Christmas Dresses and Shoes.

I also had my first official Office Christmas Party, oh my! did I fret! The Dress Code said ‘Dress to Impress’ the none-specificity almost made my brain explode, Impress who? what? why? Still, I managed to find something after running a hurricane through my room.

The party was really well done, fake smoke, snow, a cross-dresser, live band and a big club, great! However being in a place out of my comfort zone, was tasking. My first drink was a spritzer and then I went on to observe my colleagues in this environment. Had long chats that made me wonder why chatting is encouraged in clubs, I would need an amplifier for my mouth and a reciever for my ear next time.

What I really love is that although I left the party at about 12 am, ( this pained me as the best music just started playing but it was either the last train or £70 cab fare) I managed to leave with some useful nuggets.

Bosses are human too. 

I managed to see a number of my bosses even in the dim light, and even met the CEO at the door. It seemed, well surreal; how could anybody be intimidated by anyone here, I thought. So, do people really change depending on environments? I don’t think so. It now seems quite ridiculous that back at work, one would allow another person no matter the rank intimidate them. We are all made of the same flesh and bone, really.

Everyone loves a good time.

I am not kidding, everyone was knocking back drinks and digging it on the dance (in the limited way they could) It was amazing seeing everyone in a good mood. I immediately connected this to the worksphere. I think one of my tasks is to make sure that those that depend on me for one thing or the other, have a good time. Users, Business, Colleagues, Bosses…if I can do one thing everyday that makes them have a good time, I will be pleased (It’s also likely I’d get a raise :D)

Always take responsibility.

I only had three glasses of alcohol; a spritzer, a wonderful cocktail with syrup and rum, a glass of champagne. I could have had more, but I thought if I wanted to leave at 12am (my initial exit time was 10pm) and in one piece, taking more would be funny. There is always a point where you can either say Yes or No, where you can analyze the decisions you are taking and choosing whichever. People that say, ‘I had no choice’ make me wonder. I could decide to do my work better or just laze around all day, All I would need to ask myself is what I am trying to achieve and own up to what ever choice I take, even if it is tumbling into a £70 cab at 4am.

Fret Not.

Everyone was too busy having a nice time to really notice what I wore, though I had a number of compliments. One of my colleagues even wore a teeshirt and jeans just as he had gone to work. The aim of the party was to have a good time, and have fun as workmates, so why did I sweat the small stuff. I learnt that focusing on the important things will be more rewarding anytime, how do you know what is important? Look at the overall aim or goal of the task (Agile swears by this).

You can learn in any situation.

I had a long chat with two people, in that limited time, learnt quite a bit. There was a discussion on lots, from drugs to careers to countries. The party itself gave me something to take away with, and even though I wasn’t exactly ‘into’ it, I was happy.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS!