I Promise To Stop Rambling…

In four days this URL is scheduled to expire. This is not an accident. It is not an “ohh crap I forgot to renew the URL!” This is a decision I’ve made because I need to start something new. This blog started off after many conversations with many smart and talented people. I gave it a title of “Brad’s Ramblings” because at the time, that’s all I felt I ever did. Since then I’ve evolved past just ramblings on and on about a particular subject. Because of this shift, the original purpose of this site and it’s title no longer fits “me”.

This site also came about because of the influence of my dear friend Whitney Hess, who was one of the first to help encourage me to get my voice out there. Since then, there have been countless others who’ve encouraged my “behavior” of interjecting my thoughts and voice in the overall conversation that is User Experience. Their encouragement and support is another reason why I need a new platform. The days of “this is my blog” are over. Rather I need a platform to continue to grow and do the crazy things I involve myself with, as well as have a more permanent presence that better captures my voice and thoughts.

For those that have found value in what I’ve written, worry not. I am archiving all the posts and they will have a home with my new site as an archive. Yes, I do have a new URL in mind and no I’m not ready to share it just yet. I’m currently going through a phase of my life where I need to redefine my overall focus (personally and professionally) and the creation of a new site with a new identify is part of that phase.

It is my goal to get my new site up and running by IA Summit, but as always there is a wonderful woman and a lively two year old boy that gets first priority when it comes to my attention. I’d like to thank everyone who’s read my material here. You’ve helped me become the writer I am today, and helped me grow confident enough to say that my voice matters and should be heard. I hope you will find your way to my new site when it gest launched, and you continue to enjoy the stuff I create in the future.

SxSW Interactive 2012 Submission

Last year I had the honor to present at SxSW with Chris Risdon and Nick Disabato. Speaking at SxSW was such a great experience that I’m aiming to do it again next year. My submission for next years conference is a version of the talk “From Cancer to Bankruptcy” I gave at MidwestUX and STC Summit earlier this year. For me this is a fun talk to give as it allows me to relive some fun stories. For the audience it is a great resource to learn about ways to deal with unexpected events that come up during the course of field study.

Performing field studies are a great source of information and design inspiration, and it’s an activity that can be a challenge to pull off. Given that over my career so far, I’ve had the chance to complete over fifty field studies for various projects, I feel it’s my duty share the lessons I’ve learned with other designers and user experience practitioners.
If you’ve had the chance to see this talk, or if it sounds of interest to you, please be so kind as to visit my submission on the SxSWi PanelPicker and vote for it. If you have any comments, please leave them there and I’ll do my best to respond to any questions or critiques that you may have.

Thanks and I hope to see you in Austin.

Getting Up Close And Personal With Users

At MidwestUX, I gave a shorten version of my upcoming STC Summit presentation. For those of you that came to my talk, thank you for your time and attention. For those that were not able to make it, below you will find a recap of the material I provided to the crowd. Really quickly, I’d like to thank the MidwestUX team for putting on a great conference, and for allowing me the chance to be a part of the event.

One of the best ways user experience professionals can build an empathic link with people, is to interview them in their homes, or their personal environments. Doing this comes at a risk though. Not a physical risk per se, but an emotional and mental risk. You learn about extremely sensitive information and you hear such emotional stories that it can eventually take a lot out of you, not only as a designer but also as a person.  Continue reading

Do Designer Need To Know How To Code? – Part 2

In Part 1, I argued that the need for a designer to know how to code what they create is based on the designer’s chosen professional path and the overall size of the project they are working on. This has resulted in a variety of great comments, both here on the blog and on the twitterverse. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, please check it out.

Having dealt with that side of the argument, I want to provide some thoughts on why it’s important for designers to know about code, understand what a development lifecycle looks like, and why knowing these two aspects of digital creation is vital to being a well rounded designer. As I mentioned in the previous post, my educational background is in Computer Science. There are very few aspects of the coursework that I use in my everyday work, but what I do use is the concepts and domain knowledge that came along with it. Because of the curriculum I have a fundamental understanding of Object Oriented Programming, System Architecture, and the theory behind programming languages and their structure. Continue reading

Do Designers Need To Know How To Code? – Part 1

At SxSW this year I attended a panel that meant to tell designers that there isn’t any excuses not to know how to code anymore. Putting aside some general complaints I had about the structure of the panel, I had a problem with the overall message the panel delivered. The claim: that to be considered a true designer, you must know how to code what you design, is misguided and in the end harmful to the profession of user experience. Continue reading

Ethical Frameworks for Behavioral Design

I recently returned from SxSW where I was given the honor and privilege to co-present with Chris Risdon and Nick Disabato. Together we presented a 2.5 hour workshop on Behavioral Design and Persuasion. The workshop was split into three parts, with Chris covering the general theory behind Behavioral Design and Persuasion, Nick going into details behind specific concepts around Persuasion and showcase many great design patterns, and I was tasked to cover the ethical side of doing Behavioral Design. Overall, our talk was a huge success in my book and I want to thank both Chris and Nick for including me on this amazing journey.

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Do People Use (Insert FeatureFunction)?

This question gets asked in a variety of online forums and Q&A communities all the time. We also hear it offline coming from stakeholders and clients when projects are getting kicked off, or when designs are being reviewed. Fortunately, this question has a simple answer – YES! Now, the rationale behind the answer is where it gets tricky, and for all you out there that are a fans of User Research it’s where the fun happens.  Continue reading

Prototyping is Like An Onion – It Has Layers

Recently, I’ve had to create several in-depth interactive prototypes, and keeping all the various designs and interactions straight was a bit of a daunting task. Especially when the level of interactive fidelity was high. To ensure that I hooked up every piece of interaction and wrote every logic case needed, I took the development of the prototypes step by step, or layer by interactive layer. This post is  a brief description of the process I followed. I’d be interested to know how this relates to your own process and any other comments you might have. Continue reading