The Miscellany of Stewart McCoy

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“Recently, when working with a development team that didn’t have well-defined user stories that would allow them to define priorities or the scope of each iteration of the project, I volunteered to write the user stories myself. Having a clear vision and requirements are essential prerequisites to doing effective UX design, especially when working on a tight schedule. Whenever these are lacking on a project, I do whatever I can to bring clarity, even if it means that I need to take a greater role in requirements definition than a UX professional typically would.”

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

One thing I really like about working at Opower is that I work very closely with the Director of Product and the Product Manager for my scrum team. I get to take an early and active role in requirements definition, which means I gain clarity on the primary UX concerns and am better prepared to advocate for those concerns and make recommendations to my engineering team during the development cycle. It’s a much better position to be in than doing sprint-ahead design work.

However, I will admit that my design work is six months out on our roadmap, and that other designers on my team don’t have the luxury of time. That said, UX should still be included as early as possible during requirements definition, even on a condensed timeline.

“It used to be that designers were taught that designers were auteurs who were supposed to remake the world in their image…Instead…the designer’s role is more of a curator or conductor…it’s our business to know what decisions trigger what kind of reactions and to curate the myriad decisions to create the experience we desire for our customers and audiences. That’s a big change in design. It doesn’t mean that designers become mere engineers of these triggers. There’s still incredible craft and inspiration needed to identify them, choose between them, and pull them into a meaningful whole. But, the intent is different, as is the sophistication we need to address the world through.”

– Nathan Shedroff, in an interview about design education

“The psychologist Gregory Feist found that many of the most creative people in a range of fields are introverts who are comfortable working in solitary conditions in which they can focus attention inward. Steve Wozniak, the engineer who founded Apple with Steve Jobs, is a prime example: Mr. Wozniak describes his creative process as an exercise in solitude. “Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me,” he writes in “iWoz,” his autobiography. “They’re shy and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone … Not on a committee. Not on a team.””

“You are making UX design decisions as soon as you specify anything you expect another human to interact with, as soon as you specify anything that has implications for how a human might interact with it. Of course, you are are also making system design decisions, but we assume you are comfortable with that sort of thing.”

– Erika Hall, Tart Up Your Start up