UX Foundations Workshop

dot voting on designs

Back in September, my friend Karen Tang and I taught a UX Foundations workshop as part of the PGH-Tech meet-up group. In the workshop, students were grouped into teams and asked to create think about a design problem in one of four domains: Health, Education, Kids/Family, or Travel. Then they utilized a number of techniques and strategies to ultimately wireframe a solution. In particular, we covered…

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Interview with Greg Buzulencia, CEO and founder of ViaHero

Greg Buzelencia, founder and CEO of ViaHero

Meet Greg Buzulencia, the CEO and founder of ViaHero.

Greg has always had a passion for travel, and loves planning unique, off the beaten path experiences for his friends and family. In April 2016 Greg launched ViaHero so he could turn his passion for travel into a business. ViaHero enables every-day travelers to connect with trip “Heroes,” who provide itineraries full of insight, experiences, and tips that only a local would know. And while ViaHero currently specializes in planning unique trips to Cuba, they are quickly expanding to include other exotic destinations soon. (Iceland, anyone?)

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UX Mini-lesson: How to conduct user interviews

A picture of two coffee cups and hands holding them across the table.

User interviews are, by far, the research method I use the most. They are relatively inexpensive to conduct yet provide a wealth of information that can be used to guide design. Also, user interviews are a research method that is easy to “get right”. With just a little bit of guidance, even the most novice of researchers can conduct a worthwhile user interview.

So for today’s post I a present a “UX mini-lesson” on how to talk to users. We will cover what information you can (and can’t) get from a user interview and the two, absolute best questions to ask in every interview.

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What I learned about design through writing

What I learned about design through writing

After I finished my Ph.D, my brain was “done” with research and design. I wanted a new craft to pursue, and I decided to take up writing. After one round of NaNoWriMo I had written the most miserable, trite novel. And I loved it. I also had learned a lot of life lessons. First, I learned that all novels start off trite and miserable, but with discipline and hard work you can make them better. Then I realized writing and design are more similar than they are different (and that my brain wasn’t as done with research and design as I thought.) In this post I share three pieces of advice I learned on my brief foray into writing. These are mottos that all writers know, and designers could benefit from.

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User-centered startup = Design thinking + Lean

Design thinking + lean = user-centered startup

Two schools of thought that have risen to prominence in the startup world are Design Thinking and Lean. Both promise to help you find better product solutions, but they take you on different routes to get there. In this post I highlight both approaches and propose that if you want to run a user-centered startup you need to use both: a Design thinking + Lean combo.

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Faster horses: Everyone’s favorite excuse to skip user research

Faster Horses: Everyone's favorite excuse to skip user research

There is a story, or parable, that regularly pops up in the startup and tech communities. It goes something like this:

“User don’t know what they want. If Henry Ford asked users what they wanted, they would have just said ‘faster horses.’ They never would have arrived at the car.”

This story drives me nuts. It is also so prolific that people have stopped even bothering to tell the whole story.

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Resources for Startups in Pittsburgh

Resources for Startups in Pittsburgh

A little over a year ago I moved from San Francisco, CA to Pittsburgh, PA. It was a decision I was initially unsure about, but I couldn’t be happier in my new home.  Pittsburgh has gotten a number of accolades recently. Movoto named Pittsburgh the smartest city in the US due to the incredible number of universities, libraries, and museums we enjoy. And while Pittsburgh may have a “Rust Belt” locale, it wont stay rusty for long. Forbes magazine named it a “comeback city” due to its incredible recovery from the steel industry collapse. Overall, yinzers (the local slang for Pittsburgh natives) are a well-educated and industrious group. And for small business owners, Pittsburgh has a lot to offer. Here are some of the many resources available to Pittsburgh startups.

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3 UX tips for creating your MVP

3 UX Tips for creating your MVP

You’ve got a Big Idea and you’ve launched your start-up. You’ve read every book on Lean and you are committed to taking a experimental approach. You know the first step is to create your first Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and start honing in on your exact value-proposition. But when you start scoping out the MVP you realize it has quickly gotten out of hand. What is supposed to be a minimal, simple product has turned into a large software development project. It seems like your vision for the company is too big to fit into one prototype.

If that sounds like you, then you are facing one of the most common problems entrepreneurs must overcome. Here are three UX tips to help you create your MVP. These tips are guaranteed to help you to start thinking less like an entrepreneur, and more like a User Researcher.

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Book review: Validating Product Ideas by Tomer Sharon

my battered and worn copy of Validating Product Ideas

(this book review was originally published on The UX Bookclub)

I’ve been a freelance UX’er for over a year now, and somehow I’ve fallen in to the niche of working only with entrepreneurs. All of my clients are startups in one phase or another. And when I’m approached by a new client, they almost always request the same thing:

“I just need you to help me figure out my MVP.”

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