Why UX Matters

I started my IT career in the early days of the World Wide Web. I built stuff that allowed users to do things they couldn’t do before. The focus was on the function and not so much on the form. Did it work? Yes? Great. Nobody really cared if it looked like something only a developer could love. And then people did start caring. With the increase in mobile and smart phone use and the “Rise of the App”, people started caring even more. They cared a lot, in fact.

And so user experience (UX) rose to prominence.

I know enough about UX to be dangerous (a nice card sort exercise, anyone?). For example, I know that UX is not the same thing as UI and it’s not the same thing as usability (thanks for the coaching, Norm Sun). There are some good resources out there about what UX is, including definitions of UX from various sources.

Beyond what UX is and isn’t, I also know that UX really matters. Anything that has an ISO spec has to be important, right? Just kidding. A lot of people have provided commentary on the importance of UX, like herehere, and here. Here’s my take on why UX matters, boiled down to three big reasons.
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Eliminating Fear with DevOps

I was at a DevOps workshop with Gene Kim last week. It was a great event (thanks for sponsoring, CollabNet) and I always learn so much from him every time I’m around him. No surprise that I’m a big fan of the DevOps movement because of all of the benefits I believe DevOps practices bring to an organization.

There was one point in Gene’s presentation where I had an “aha” moment. Continue reading

Creating Transparency with an Agile Project Dashboard

We do a lot of Agile software development work for clients. Small teams. Big teams. .NET. Python. Java. Ruby. Lots of tooling. Minimal tooling. Startups. Large enterprises. One consistent challenge we’ve faced, especially in larger projects with big teams, is making sure everyone involved has accurate context and awareness about the state of the project as a whole. Getting everybody “on the same page” helps people recognize issues, communicate better, and make better tactical and strategic decisions. When people aren’t on the same page, they get surprised — and not in a “hey, surprise, it’s a birthday party for you” kind of way. These surprises cause confusion, stress, more work, and loss of confidence. No fun.

To avoid those unwanted surprises, we need context and transparency into different aspects of a project. And for context and transparency, my “go to” solution is the dashboard.
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Using a New IT Provider: Are You Really Doing It Wrong?

A friend of mine in a professional group we’re in together asked me a question recently. He’s not in the IT field so he has a perspective I really appreciate. He gave voice to what a lot of companies out there might be thinking, “Why does every new IT provider I use tell me our old IT provider did it all wrong?” As someone leading a company that does various kinds of IT assessments, this was an eye-opener for me. Knowing my friend’s perspective, maybe we can be a little more sensitive to it in the future when we’re doing an assessment for a new client. Let me give some reasons why my friend might have this perspective.
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