MITX User Experience series, first event

Earlier this morning (too early: why, oh why, 8am??) I went to an MITX event on User Experience. It’s the first one in a new series on UX stuff, and I’m excited to have it.

I actually had fairly low expectations for the event, given the “UX 101” label. But my expectations were surpassed, and I got some good nuggets of information / practice / or just for thought. These include:
– Everyone thinks they’re a designer. They’re not. Ignore the noise. Avoid the politics as much as you can. (YS: easier said than done.)
– People don’t like being surprised. Put out a message in the UI when you change the UI. (YS: don’t let myself think this is clutter).
– The small things matter. Make your error messages / error screens more usable. (YS: often overlooked. I’m guilty of this one, for sure).
– One participant has been improving the same page for years, and still finds something “not quite right” with it each time he sees it. (YS: don’t aim for perfection, but for continuous improvement. Still release early and often.)
– Ratio of designer to developer: average 1:5, often much worse. (YS: one per Scrum team seems about right.)
– Contextual design is important. Great example about how a “follow the user home” session resulted in unique findings not obtainable a different way, where the user had two browsers open at the same time.
– Look for the “5-tool players.” Those who can design and develop / produce much of their designs. Avoid “Photoshop astronauts” (my own term) who have no idea how to make their design actually render in a browser, or how hard it would be.
– It’s far more common for developers who care about the UI to become these “devigners” than it is for the astronauts to become 5-tool players who can produce and develop. (“Devigner” is a Dan A term, I think.)
I’ll probably remember more take-aways later. It was a good session, well worth attending.
By the way, HubSpot is looking for such a devigner. Think you can design a good UI and maybe hack it together? Or know someone like that? Let me know via comment here or an email: