Jack Holmes

A lesson in how to serve tea (at The Press Room)

A lesson in how to serve tea (at The Press Room)

Gamification of the coffee round (at Bunnyfoot)

Gamification of the coffee round (at Bunnyfoot)

Favorite Saturday afternoon activity

Favorite Saturday afternoon activity

How complicated can Office 2013 make pasting some text in Excel? 14 options. 14! (at Bunnyfoot)

How complicated can Office 2013 make pasting some text in Excel? 14 options. 14! (at Bunnyfoot)

Not much work will be happening this afternoon. (at Bunnyfoot)

Not much work will be happening this afternoon. (at Bunnyfoot)

404 Spring not found! (at Bunnyfoot)

404 Spring not found! (at Bunnyfoot)

Drew Angry Birds on a blackboard then instagramed it.

Drew Angry Birds on a blackboard then instagramed it.

Log on (at Parents house)

Log on (at Parents house)

Hey Jack, I loved your breakdown of mobile input types and how they're used. I was wondering what they look like on Android, Windows 8 mobile devices, and blackberry. I assume they're not all supported as cleanly as they are on safari, but do you know how each input would look? Thanks! -Chris

Answer:

Hi Chris, sorry for the late reply I was on holiday. I’ve been meaning add this information to the site for a while. Had a quick look around the internet and couldn’t really find any up-to-date images for you :( There seem to be a lot of sites saying things like date picker aren’t available on Android, but it is - I’ve seen it! Will try and get more information and images on that site in the New Year. Cheers Jack

UX lessons from ice-cream

In response to a tweet from @jansru, commenting on the ludicrously of some of these ‘What we can learn about UX from <some random thing>’ posts that are flying around the internet. (Here’s a sample if you’ve been living under a rock and not noticed them. UX lessons from:  a carJay-ZchildrenJames Bond, fencing.) What will they come up with next? UX lessons from ice-cream? Challenge accepted.

What can we learn about UX from ice-cream?

Adaptive design - you’ll notice the ice-creams you can buy from a petrol station vary to the ice-creams you can buy at the beach. Service station ice-creams are designed to be eaten with little concentration, just one hand and have wrapping designed to avoid mess. Therefore allowing customers to easily eat them whilst driving. For instance Calippos and Cornettos At the beach however you’ll find ice-creams designed for enjoyment. For instance 99s. They’re difficult to eat without making a mess and require concentration but eating one feels like much more of an occasion  Thinking about the type of ice-cream you buy in supermarkets, this has been designed for use in the home. Customers can scoop portions and distribute in bowls, making sharing as convent as possible. What does this teach us? Design products based on where the user is, when they’re using it and what they really need at that time. You’d never find a 99 machine in a service station.

Understand how customers use your products - supermarkets sell cartons of ice-cream with three flavours in. This product likely came about because some research was done that found customers were buying multiple cartons of different flavoured ice-cream and serving a scoop of each flavour as a dessert. The three flavoured ice-cream completely suits this customer requirement and customers are happy to pay a premium. Hence teaching us to use analytics and user research to understand how people actually use products and adapt the design to better support them.

Set expectation - thinking about those ice-cream chests, the selection of ice-creams is shown on sign with pictures and prices. Customers can see the range and price of each product before opening the cold chest and finding the ice-cream they want to buy. This teaches us, that before we ask users to make a commitment, signup, purchase we should set their expectations of what they can expect on the other side.

Location - let’s have a think about ice-cream vans. You’ll always find them by beaches, outside schools, driving around housing estates. Basically they park themselves wherever the people are and where people expect to find them. What does this teach us? Put stuff where people expect it to be so they can easily find it. Signin buttons on the top right corner of the website, reviews below product details.

There are probably more, feel free to tweet me and I’ll add them.

That’s what we can learn about UX from ice-cream.

I&#8217;m not a fan of online surveys. When this participant was asked why he couldn&#8217;t find what he was looking for he sums up why.

I’m not a fan of online surveys. When this participant was asked why he couldn’t find what he was looking for he sums up why.

Only a mention by Jack Dorsey.

Only a mention by Jack Dorsey.

Introducing Smart App Banners. A little thing I made to try and promote their use and demonstratie how easy they are to impediment. Also show the cool things you can do with them and how they&#8217;re making users&#8217; transitions from mobile web into apps a little more elegant. 

Introducing Smart App Banners. A little thing I made to try and promote their use and demonstratie how easy they are to impediment. Also show the cool things you can do with them and how they’re making users’ transitions from mobile web into apps a little more elegant. 

Topics I’d like barred from UX events

I’ve been in this industry a very short while, but after The Great UX Debate this evening I’ve come to a bit of a realisation. All the UX events at the moment seem to have the same topics, being talked about by the same people over and over. Sometimes there’s a bit of disagreement but it’s usually around understanding of the question rather than the topic. I doubt I’m alone in thinking it would be nice to have a bit of variety.

So here’s a list of topics I’d like to see barred from UX events:

- What is UX
- What do / should UX people do
- Should UX people code
- Are wireframes dead
- Moaning about cowboys
- Moaning about recruiters
- Responsive design
- Portfolios
- Will UX be around in 10 years

I’m sure there are more, please send them my way and I’ll add them.

Don’t get me wrong I have masses of respect for the organisers of these events and the big name speakers who talk at them. A bit of variety wouldn’t go amiss though.

UX research on tour

I was watching an episode of Grand Designs this evening and a pretty revolutionary method of building a house was adopted. You’ve all seen houses where parts of the house are built in a factory and then shipped to site where they’re all put together. These guys took a different approach to this. They built a factory into a shipping container, sent it to site and then built all the house parts on site. No doubt saving thousands on transport costs.

The developers took a traditional manufacturing process of building the product in a factory and then shipping to customer and spun it on its head. If you have an easy to package factory it’s a “how did I not think of that” moment.

How can we apply this to UX?

This week I worked on my first design project that benefited from on-site stakeholder interviews. I knew this would be a powerful asset in the research and it allowed for some seriously brilliant product development - as I predicted. I was however surprised by the reaction from real users when we tested the site. I’d clearly underestimated how much value these interviews could add and how much users appreciated the features developed souley due to stake holder interviews.

The Grand Designs episode got me thinking though. Stakeholder interviews are great, but they happen and then we go off work out what they mean and start work on the design. Wouldn’t it be awesome though if we could get stake holder input much more easily and much more regularly. Logistically at the moment that couldn’t happen, it would be far too time consuming and cost far too much. 

But what if we could?

What if instead of sitting in our office we took the entire UX process on tour? What if there was a way we could take the entire process and do it on the move, traveling around talking to users constantly. Seems very impractical. But is it?

Here’s how we could make that happen.

First off, buy a coach or bus and we’re going to need to do a bit of modification. Essentially what we want is a fully-fledged UX studio on wheels. We could have a couple of testing labs on the lower deck and maybe a meeting room.. The top floor would have all the desks, whiteboards, sticky notes and all the other bits we’d need to our job.

Then we can take the bus and start our tour. Maybe starting in the client office car park, run interviews and workshops to gather requirements. Maybe spend a few days here. Then we’d get on the move, working as we drive. Arriving at various locations around the country or continent. Coming into contact with users all the time, so we can pop downstairs, quick bit of on street recruitment and we can quickly run through ideas, concepts and prototypes with real users. Then move on to a different location in search of a different customer groups or to help understand user requirement variations through geography. 

Lets apply this concept to a real project.

Imagine you’re commissioned to develop a new site for a cinema. It needs to show all the films, allow bookings and all that normal stuff. We jump on the UX bus and ride over to the clients’ office. We run some research there and then move on. As we drive we do some work, and then park up outside a cinema. We’re talking to cinema goers getting some seriously valuable research work done. We’ll then go in search of more potential customers, maybe parking up at a school, office block, town center to talk with more people. As we travel we’ll get on with some work developing ideas, putting together quick prototypes.

Anyway you get the idea.

Clearly it’s not going to work for all projects and wont fit all budgets, but could be a unique method to gather valuable research.