With regards to food, living in Taiwan, and now China, for the past 17 – 18 years I’ve just about seen it all. Living and traveling throughout the region has opened my eyes to all kinds oddities, but I still get surprised now and again. This past weekend when visiting for what passes as a high end grocery store here, I noticed tucked amongst the neatly packaged pork, a pair of hooves. It would be interesting to know what kind of recipe calls for sheep’s feet.
“Rigor is the key to overcoming obstacles and completing tasks—and good mood doesn’t improve problem-solving, which involves judgments that almost by necessity won’t feel good: critique and evaluation, experimentation and failure. The stress that arises from problems may be unpleasant but it also motivates us to complete tasks, Davis says. In other words, negative emotions are actually beneficial to the creative process.”
Scientists explain how happiness makes us less creative
Great! In this lecture at the Delft University of Technology, Bill Buxton (Principal researcher at Microsoft Research) talks about the importance of “sketching”, in all of its different forms, within a design process.
I was about to launch into my normal rant about how 30-page research presentations and enormous PowerPoint decks full of qualitative data are horrible wastes of time and how they must be avoided at all costs, but I’m tired of giving that speech. Instead, I sat down with the person and started asking questions. What I came up with was this framework.
At the start of any project, or when entering a new project, I always spend a considerable amount of time on some kind of research. Whether that is combing the internet for related research (mining data from documents), reading blogs, articles, case studies, becoming familiar with the full range of competitors products or more formal methods like interviewing users. I attempt as quickly as possible to become as much of an expert as I can be within this new realm — this way I feel I can give a greater contribution and perhaps use this data to inform design. But most companies I have worked with don’t have a robust system for sharing this knowledge and it seems selfish to keep it all to myself (and rather selfishly I also want to give teammates some indication that I did this work in the first place), so I end up writing long briefs with all the accumulated knowledge. I’m received some push back to this habit, as many people don’t have the time to read pages of briefs.
I feel that combining illustration with hyper-summaries would help but my poor illustration ability would only make the results less clear. I’m still working on an ideal solution that works for me and the people I work with.
Laura Klein has some ideas on how to organize your ideas on the topic in her article Creating effective UX research deliverables.
I forget where I got this, perhaps from the Experience Economy.
A goods business charges for distinctive, tangible things.
A service business charges for the activities you perform.
An experience business charges for the feeling customers get by engaging it.
I die sitting at a desk all the time, and despite most of my favorite ideas coming at times I’m not even at work, I must sit there for at least 8 hours a day. Many don’t truly understand the following, and prefer a factory model of employee productivity and value.
… let’s remember that research shows human productivity does not follow a linear continuum with time. Specifically, according to Pareto’s principle, people produce 80 percent of what really matters in approximately 20 percent of the time they spend at work. So when I hear clients complain about summer hours, coffee breaks, or employees’ short days, I always remind them of the result of the study. Timesheets for employees are a relic of the past. They made sense in the industrial era when the scientific management of labor was implemented to organize work in assembly lines. But in today’s global economy more and more companies rely on their employees’ creativity for their success. Because creativity does not follow a linear relationship with time, time management for creative employees shouldn’t either. For instance, great advertising copy can take weeks or even months to be worked and reworked to final edit, whereas, conversely, a brilliant slogan may come to mind in just a few seconds. Time spent on copywriting is not a guarantee of success. So when Google provides employees with space and resources for a break, relaxation, or a massage they actually are managing the 80/20 rule of human productivity very well. They know that at some point in the day it inevitably becomes useless to require employees to sit at their desk. From this article which is excerpted from Francis Cholle’s The Intuitive Compass, Jossey-Bass
From Close door buttons on elevators are designed to be utterly useless, which reveals how elevator close door buttons and pedestrian crosswalk buttons don’t actually map to any function. Pushing buttons, even when they don’t really do anything, makes us feel better. Psychologists believe the perception of control is beneficial in helping to reduce stress.
Dr. Albert Bandura, an influential social psychologist, coined the term “self-efficacy” to describe people’s internal beliefs about their ability to have an impact on events that affect their lives. Your self-efficacy is your belief in your own effectiveness as a person, both generally in terms of managing your life, and specifically with regard to competently dealing with individual tasks. In the context of stress, self-efficacy describes your beliefs about your ability to handle stressful situations. A large amount of research has demonstrated quite convincingly that possessing high levels of self-efficacy acts to decrease people’s potential for experiencing negative stress feelings by increasing their sense of being in control of the situations they encounter. The perception of being in control (rather than the reality of being in or out of control) is an important buffer of negative stress. When people feel that they are not in control, they start feeling stressed, even if they actually are in control and simply don’t know it. Another reason that people feel stressed is when they feel out of control because they do not possess the appropriate coping skills, resources, etc. to adequately cope with the situation.
When a given demand (e.g., passing an exam, winning a race) is perceived as something you can handle because you expect you will do well based on preparation or past experience (e.g., because you have studied for the exam or trained for the race), you are likely to perceive the demand as a challenge and as an exhilarating experience. After the event is over, you may even have a resulting boost in self-esteem because you worked hard to meet the demand and succeeded. If, however, the demand seems beyond your abilities, you will likely experience distress. Across time, feeling unable to respond effectively to stressful situations can further decrease your sense of self-efficacy, making you even more prone to experience distress in the future.
Self-Efficacy And The Perception Of Control In Stress Reduction
Think of this the next time you are designing a UI or task flow, especially when the UI or task may involve a certain amount of stress in your users (I don’t mean give them useless buttons to push). Giving users the feeling of control, proper feedback, and a feeling of accomplishment will increase the positive feelings they have when using the product.