Approaching this in steps, vs. all-at-once, can help you reach deeper insights, in the end, because by focusing on one step at a time, and then going back and looking at the information in another step, we can begin to shift our lens or perspective. Yes, this is all information you already know, but accessing your own semi- or un-conscious thoughts doesn't "just happen" and it takes more effort than asking one straight-forward question. Try this process for yourself!
Step 1: Timeline - start at the beginning of adulthood!
What was I doing : Job, role/title, school, training, side hustle, challenges, accomplishments
Note - these are more or less neutral. You aren’t assigning judgement here. Even what we perceive to be a negative event, including illness, death… the event itself happened, how you felt or feel about may be positive or negative but we aren’t there yet. But do try to remember anything that had an impact on you, to include here.
Step 2: Research
What did I learn? Hard & soft skills, self awareness
Step 3: Patterns
You might want to switch the color of your pen for this step, to help you as you look for patterns.
Go back to the beginning, and, looking through what you've written, circle all the the things that jump out as recurring patterns. Maybe you tend to get jobs through referrals from people you've worked with before. Maybe many places you go, you connect people, or maybe you build communities. Maybe you have created new processes in many of the places you've been. Maybe you've mentored many others.
Once you've gone through looking for patterns, look at them each and name the pattern. "Relationship building," "Community," "Designing processes," "mentoring/coaching," etc. Start looking specifically for things that point to strengths and values, or what is important to you. You may also see patterns of things out of alignment, like "too tactical, not strategic," "underpaid," "difficulty communicating with my boss." Those are also important to note.
Step 4: Opportunities
Now it's time to fill out the Opportunities page. Fill out these three columns based on what you've discovered through mapping your journey. As you fill these out, what ideas are emerging? Maybe you've found that you have a strength for developing relationships, and you value community. Could you put those two things together to create a new opportunity for yourself? Perhaps volunteering in an organization in a field you're interested in but don't have much experience, to get to know and learn from others working in that field. Maybe you have a lot of strength in developing brands and you also value autonomy... perhaps you could explore building your own brand? Maybe you have developed skills in mentoring, and you value helping others. Could you explore management roles, or try signing up to be a mentor in a mentor program, either for students or professionals, or let your network know you're open to mentoring others. You may see where you have opportunities to develop - maybe something has often been difficult but it is important, like communicating with your boss. How could you develop better communication skills? Possibly through online courses, or books.
This step is also where it can be really helpful to meet with a mentor, or a coach, to get another set of eyes on your journey, to look for more patterns and connect more dots, and maybe even brainstorm ideas with you. If you'd like a coaching partner in this part of your journey, set up a free discovery call with me to find out how coaching might help you.
Having worked with dozens of companies in my design career I've gotten to see as many different approaches to project management as there are projects. Some work better than others. (Waterile, anyone? That's some hybrid of agile and waterfall methods, but I digress.) Across the board what I often see is a lack of a structured approach to planning the UX part of the project specifically.
Originally posted February 2013
I recently put together a few ‘best practices’ for a client. They needed a very short list of things they could do with minimal effort to improve the SEO of their site.
Make global nav items text, not graphics
Establish target keywords
- use google analytics to find top keywords
Include keywords in text & in page attributes
Make sure URLs are friendly
Name images with friendly filenames
Create a sitemap for the search engines: there does not need to be a link to it – it can be virtually invisible to users
Improve page load times
I put together this list of industry ‘best practices’ which I culled from various sources (listed below). Although this was for a recent client, I realized it could be helpful for many teams to use this list when they’re thinking about how to improve their product design increase conversion.
While the articles listed below are helpful to read, I know most of my clients just don’t have the time, so I put together the top items to make a ‘checklist’ when the question ‘What could we do better?’ gets put to the design team.
Improve the clarity of your main homepage message.
A clear headline is key.- Why and How will this site benefit the user?
- To sell effectively, you have to sell solutions, not products. You also have to sell benefits, not features.
Clear action text wins over vagueness
Look at target keywords in Google analytics
Improve the placement and clarity of the call to action
Is it really obvious on each screen what you want the user to do?
Reduce the number of options on the homepage
‘Analysis Paralysis’ – multiple choices lead to confusion
Improve user flow
Help users find what they’re looking for
Design & implement your site to be accessed from anywhere
Mobile experience has to be part of any strategy to improve conversion or traffic. Users expect websites to work wherever they access them from.
Design for context
Improve understanding of where users are coming from, and what they’re looking for based on where they’re coming from. Researching Google analytics can help
Test with users
While google analytics is invaluable to know ‘what’ users are doing, that quantitative data does not answer ‘why’ users are doing what they are doing. Surveys & user testing can fill in the picture