Taking the sting out of the worker bees

Recently I was asked to study users that process subscription orders and handle customer service requests for a publisher. They want their antiquated and clunky administrative tool updated and honed for their purposes – which they’d been promised for years would be fixed.

Considering that tensions may be high when the subject is broached, I’m proposing a lighter approach for the workshop – using a board game. This idea came from a children’s television show I saw in Australia, which also had the same format in the UK.

Do you think it may work?

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Content prototyping

As a UX designer, sometimes I am called upon to write copy. I quite like to do this, as a writing is a reflective and crafting exercise. I also love Axure and will find any excuse to use it. So was I able to combine the two?

I was recently asked to write new copy for a client-friend’s business website. Tackling this with my UX hat on, I thought how practical it would be to use Axure. This allowed me to validate their suggested site map and use this to create the skeleton of the prototype.

Where the prototype really came into its own, was to illustrate to the client-friend a user’s journey through their website – how to progressively reveal information at the right time to elicit the user’s expected call to action, ie. to pick up the phone and ask for more information.

It helped to identify content gaps and suggest alternate content ideas in a more ‘visual’ way then simply presenting paragraphs of text on a flat A4 page. The client-friend was able to quickly provide feedback on the copy and even come up with some brilliant ideas themselves.

I’ll definitely be employing this method again.

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A bird’s eye view

I’ve been given the sniff of a new project which requires a brand new site for an interesting organisation. The promise of a blank canvas is sometimes daunting but more so stimulating. Brainstorming and visualising a new product or service without constraint and restraint is at the heart of what designers do. So which tools would help me to begin?

Reminded me of the quintessential concept – or mind – map: a series of circles and interconnecting lines through which features and functions begin to form. What results is sometimes a scary looking document but fundamental to defining a potential user’s new world and explaining a concept to others.

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