Ptype

UX Agency and Axure Training


People who want to learn Axure often message us and ask what is the fastest and easiest way to book our live, remote training by the hour? This training is done webinar-style (screen sharing and dial-in) but is completely private. It’s one-on-one if there’s one of you… or we can train your team.

Use our online appointment scheduling system

Our online calendar is a super-smart system that knows when our free time is and what types of appointments you can drop into that time.

You can also buy a block of time by clicking on View Products/Packages at the top left of the calendar page. That will let you pre-pay for a certain number of hours. Pay once, then just use your package code to schedule each time.

If you just want to book a single block of time for any reason, just choose it. The system will charge you accordingly during checkout.

Step 1: Choose the type of appointment you want

Listed right there on the page are different types of appointments, their duration, and the cost.

Book phone consultation time (free), individual Axure training (for one person), or team Axure training. The list is longer than the above screen shot.

As soon as you make that choice, our system checks for dates and times when we can handle that appointment. Be sure to adjust things for your time zone so that there are no appointment surprises later!

Step 2: Book lots of times at once

Want one appointment? Choose “continue” after selecting your time.

Want to book lots of appointment times? Choose “recurring.” You’ll then get to pick a recurring time (like every Monday at 6:30pm) or you can pick any other time to add to your basket.

Step 3: Pay for your time

Did you previously buy a package? Redeem the time you pre-paid by entering the code you were given when you bought the package.

Or pay as you go. We take credit cards.

It’s easy!

It’s probably easier than we made it look here but why not walk through it so you know your options. 🙂

Our system will remind you 2 hours before the appointment. Both your confirmation and reminder emails will have links to change your appointment if you need to pick another time.

With our appointment system, you can handle the booking without us going back and forth with “when are you free” “oh I can’t make it then” “how about this time” “well how about this time.” Pick any time you see open.

Thanks and train ya soon!

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2016’s Weirdest Email


Posted By on Jan 3, 2017

I haven’t had time to blog as much as I’d hoped. So here’s one for now. The weirdest email I received in 2016.

Please enjoy.

Let me sum this one up for you.

Elizabeth (full name and email address obviously not mentioned here) emails me to say that I (Debbie Levitt) am an instructor at General Assembly.

Elizabeth found one of my blog posts where I mentioned that I was NOT an instructor at General Assembly but that I recommended them and heard good things. My point in that post was to recommend them without people thinking I’m biased in any way.

Elizabeth then says that, “Full disclosure and trust is very important to” her. Yes, me too! That’s why I’ve always said I have never worked for General Assembly.

Elizabeth writes, “Was disappointed to find out that your company would rather manipulate potential customers, rather than be honest. I will no longer be frequenting the site.”

I’m not an instructor at General Assembly. Never was.

Interviewed for it twice but they had previous instructors return and said they didn’t need me… but they keep looking at my LinkedIn profile. 🙂

GA is not on my LinkedIn as past or present work experience. They’ve never hired me to do anything.

I’m recommending GA based on hearing good things about them but wanted to know people I wasn’t recommending them because I work there (and recommending them lines my pockets). Elizabeth would like that!

According to Elizabeth, I am manipulating potential customers (Ptype’s or GA’s? not sure) because in my blog I am (I guess) not telling you the truth when I say I wasn’t a GA instructor.

So let me say this again.

I have never taught at General Assembly.

I have spoken at non-GA events held at GA. I have spoken at Meetup.com meetings that used GA space. I have mentored at startup competitions that used GA as meeting space.

I have never been a GA instructor. Even if Elizabeth is sure she was aware that I was.

I just Googled this.

I just Googled this and found something very strange. GA lists me as an instructor… of an Axure class I was going to hold in Los Angeles but cancelled. It never happened but the old page is still up.

I was going to be your “Axure instructor” at a workshop I scheduled at GA but had to cancel.

Oy.

I’m still not a GA instructor. I don’t teach anything there and never have. I’ve emailed GA to see if they can take that weird reference down. No reason to list me as an instructor for an Axure workshop that was scheduled years ago but never happened. They took the page down without question.

And how sad that someone believed that over me saying I’ve never taught there! Still true: I’m not and never have been a GA instructor. I would have been your Axure workshop instructor had the class happened! But it didn’t.

Strange.

Strange to watch someone not believe me for telling the truth, but that feels kinda 2016. 🙁

So enjoy the weirdest email I received in 2016. Bests to you too, Elizabeth.

Sorry me telling the truth made you lose trust for me. But hey, it’s the truth. I’ve never worked for GA and if I recommend them, it’s unbiased because I’m not now and have never been an instructor there.

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It has been nearly a year since my blog post about my awful experience in Kent State’s “MS of UX Design” program. I wanted to update you on what’s happened since then, in no particular order.

People have come out of the woodwork to thank me. Many people told me they had similar experiences, which is sad but validating, not that I needed validation.

One guy tried to belittle and minimize me while telling me he was empathetic and also wasn’t so sure about the program. OK, weirdo.

I get emails like this.

Just saw your post on Kent State – I had a similar horrible experience. I wish I had seen this post before taking the introductory courses – what a waste of my and my employer’s money!

I just started that program myself, and am definitely experiencing some of the things you had mentioned. I was curious on your advice for someone looking to completely switch careers into UX. I’m currently in the [non-UX] field and was excited about this program, but definitely am feeling like the fundamentals are lacking thus far and feel a little lost with some of the assignments because of it. I want to make sure that at the end of the program I am prepared for and capable of obtaining a job in UX.

Heartbreaking. People expect a certain level of quality not only from a known, accredited university but also from a Masters degree.

I was told that there were some staffing changes there and they are changing the program, but based on the full set of updates I received, I would continue to have no faith in this program or department at all. That’s my opinion. Yours may vary.

How can I tell if a degree will get me what I want?

Many of the people writing to me are transitioning into UX. They want to learn all the fundamentals, core concepts, approaches, and certainly everything they’d need to get that entry level job. They want to graduate with a strong and impressive portfolio.

1. How many classes are spent on actual design that will end up in your portfolio? Last I checked, the Kent State Masters degree was going to spend a few weeks on design out of a 2-year degree. That is NOT ENOUGH to learn about design or build a strong portfolio.

Remember that (good) UX job interviews will ask you to explain the thinking, approach, and methods behind portfolio pieces. You don’t just show them. You explain if not defend them. I have even been in interviews where someone looked at an old portfolio piece and asked if I would do that project differently now and what I would do differently.

2. What core fundamentals are you being taught? Will you be taught User-Centered Design (UCD)? Gestalt Theories of Perception? Read job listings in UX. See what they are asking for. Does your program cover those well and deep enough that you can tell a potential employer you get it and do it?

3. Ask for detailed information about courses, especially intro courses. When I took the Kent State classes, the intro class was week 1, what are some jobs in UX. Week 2, let’s write up a proposal and plan to do research on a fake project. Wait, what? That’s not even step one of UCD. If it looks like an intro class is dumping you right into pseudo real life deliverables without fundamentals, concepts, and approaches, get out of there.

4. Who are the faculty and who designed the courses? At Kent, nearly everybody there was/is a UX researcher. So a bunch of researchers created a Masters in UX Design that has nearly no design and, guess what, LOTS of classes on research.

Also check if faculty are full time or not. At Kent State, I had trouble getting the attention of people in the department because they were also UX research consultants/practitioners and were sometimes unavailable to do that work. Sure, I want teachers who do (and don’t just teach), but I’d want them to be available and have teaching as a priority.

5. Mentoring and networking. I found that Kent State not only offered me no mentoring but when I offered to mentor my classmates, I was told that was inappropriate. I was told the department would consider administrative action against me if I tried to mentor my classmates. Beware of petty power struggles passed off as administrative rules. Look for schools with strong alum networks, good personal attention, and if you’re new to UX, a school that sets you up for mentoring right away.

Don’t be fooled by claims like, “Lots of our grads got good jobs after taking our degree,” or anything like that. Anybody can say that. That doesn’t tell us enough. Were those people already in UX? How much help did the school give in finding or securing that job?

Off the top of my head, those are just a few things I would suggest you dig deeply into.

Who do I recommend?

I continue to recommend General Assembly. It’s a sort of trade school in various cities plus some online programs. Their UX certificate takes just a few months. It’s not cheap. But I have seen many people get entry level jobs after taking that.

You end up with portfolio pieces and good foundational understanding of certain aspects of UX. While I like the idea of teaching at General Assembly, I don’t work there and gain nothing from suggesting them.

You do not need a 4 yr or grad degree unless you are looking to be a researcher. Most research managers I know like to see candidates have a Masters related to UX research or even an MBA. But if you are looking at other areas of UX including IA and interaction design, you may not need a university degree for that.

When I am interviewing candidates, I am looking more at their natural talent, approach, thinking, decisions, shifts, and ideas more than where they went to school.

Good luck to all of you no matter what path you choose or which certificate or degree you attempt to get!

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Imagine we are all in elementary school.

The teacher says that for recess, we will either play kickball or tag. Let’s all vote! The sport with the most votes wins and everybody will play that sport.

You don’t like kickball or tag. You’re having trouble deciding which you hate more. So you decide that you will write down the sport you really want to play: tennis. You bring your “tennis” vote up to the teacher.

Your teacher tallies up the votes. Kickball wins! We’re all going outside now to play kickball. Nobody will be playing tag. Nobody will be playing tennis. Or handball. Or basketball.

It’s kickball for everybody. You’re not excluded because you didn’t want kickball. You’re picked and you’re playing. If you don’t like how the kids in your class play kickball then maybe you should have voted for tag.

If kickball ends up not fun, telling people you voted for tennis won’t matter. You didn’t vote for tag so tag didn’t win. Kickball won partially because you voted for tennis. And maybe Susie voted for pickleball and Jimmy voted for Mickey Mouse. Oh, Jimmy.

Your vote ended up not counting. Your only REAL choices were kickball or tag. Any vote for anything else pretty much went to waste. Even if a few of you had voted for tennis, it wouldn’t have been enough to beat the kickball majority. After all, most of the class weren’t writing in random votes. They were voting for the one of the two choices they’re given.

You may not have taught the teacher anything. Next recess, the choices may still not include tennis. Voting for tennis may not have “sent a message” to the teacher that we should be playing tennis. The next vote will probably be kickball (today’s winner) vs dodgeball (a new challenger).

You will live in the country under the winner.

Your best chance at having your vote be a meaningful addition to the final count is to place it for one of the two viable candidates… or against the other candidate.

The easy part this election cycle is that each candidate stands for completely different things. Nearly direct opposites. While each is flawed, chances are that in the Venn Diagramme of policies, ideas, needs, and preferences, one candidate is more of an overlap to yours than the other candidate. Your stances on immigration, LGBT issues, abortion, minimum wage, taxes, and the economy might help clue you into which candidate better matches you.

Another helpful clue is: would you rather see a liberal-leaning judge added to the Supreme Court or a conservative-leaning judge? Your answer there tells you which President you want to vote for.

Vote for that person that best matches you, whoever it is, among the two key candidates who have a shot at winning. We’re not playing tennis. We’re playing kickball or tag, so you might as well pick one.

Your “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Ted Cruz/Bernie Sanders” bumper sticker won’t win you any friends and might even lose you friends. Judging by what my friends tell me, it’s already ending friendships and the election is 2 months away. The people who wanted Trump will know your Ted write-in helped Hillary get elected. The people who wanted Hillary will know your Bernie write-in helped Trump get elected.

President Hillary Clinton. President Donald Trump. One of those probably made you naturally react bigger than the other. You have your clues. Act on them!

Learn from the Nader votes years ago. What did we learn from them? Did we suddenly turn into an equal three party system? Nope. Was the Nader voice so loud that it changed how elections went? Nope. Bush narrowly beat Gore. Or did he.

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I just want to book some spa time. How hard should that be?

What are the services and what do they cost? Well, they’re both PDFs. Seriously? Nobody considered that someone might want to look at this on a phone?

And yes, that the word, “both,” was on purpose. The service descriptions and the price list were two separate documents. I’d have to review services, say OOOOO sounds good, then look at the separate pricing doc, and see if it’s in the budget.

Or you could write the pricing contextually with the services. Does this spa believe that people will book without knowing the pricing? Why make this harder for me? Uncool dark pattern. Get rid of PDFs. Have a responsive site with prices after you describe the service.

In an age of online calendars and endless appointment systems, I would imagine that most spas have some sort of online booking. This spa does not have online booking, making it look like it’s not keeping up with the times. Heck, even I offer online booking and I’m not even a spa. (And I recommend Acuity for scheduling/online appointment systems.)

They had an email address. I emailed them asking if they can fit me in on this day for these 2 services. Ten minutes later, I got a final bounce message. Email can’t be delivered.

It’s 2016. Nearly 2017.

And you have no online booking. PDFs for separate service description and pricing. An email that’s a dead end.

The harder you make it for me to do business with you, the more likely I am to choose a competitor. I have before chosen spas based on who could do online booking. Saves me a phone call and tells me right away if I can get what I want when I want it.

I would choose a competitor but I was at this spa before and it was nice. I liked it. It has decent Yelp reviews as of when I’m writing this (62 reviews giving it an average of 4 stars). I would like to go back.

It was nearly empty when I was there. And this may explain why. Businesses, make it easy for me to give you my money.

Bonus tip: make it easy to read

I’m looking at a competitor’s PDF spa menu. It’s white text on a light cyan background. Ouch ouch freaking ouch not easy to read. Please, people!

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Empathy has become a bit of a buzzword in UX lately. Many trusted experts are saying that various aspects of UX strategy and design require empathy.

What empathy isn’t.

A few months ago, I ended up in a Facebook battle with a stranger whose profile said he was a Senior UX Researcher at a company I won’t name. The topic was the poor experience I had with Kent State University’s online grad program (and let’s not go into that one again). He seemed determine to invalidate my opinion. He accused me of “sour grapes,” which made no sense since I am not jealous of a school experience I gleefully quit.

Late in the battle, he started a sentence with, “I empathize with you, but…” and proceeded to try to make it sound like my opinion and experience weren’t really what I was claiming they were.

First, you don’t empathize with me. If you truly felt empathy, you would understand why the experience I had produced the beliefs and reactions I had surrounding it.

Second, nobody has empathy but then disagrees or invalidates what the other person is saying, feeling, or experiencing. That’s not empathy.

What is empathy?

I have read a lot of definitions and have come up with my own. Very often, people say that empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes… and perhaps walking a mile. But that’s not really empathy. Weirdo Sr UX Researcher put himself in my shoes and decided my reactions to my own experience made no sense perhaps because it’s not how he would have reacted to the same situation. That’s also not sympathy.

Empathy is you putting yourself as me into my shoes.

If you put yourself into my shoes, you will think like you. React like you. Parse information like you.

If you imagine me in my shoes, you should then be thinking like I think. Reacting like I think. Assessing situations like I do. Which means you always validate that person. Whatever he or she thinks, believes, decides, opines… it makes sense… to him or her. You might do something different! Doesn’t matter. You are seeing the world through someone else’s eyes as him or her.

No outside judgment.

As soon as you are saying that someone’s reaction makes no sense, her feelings don’t match her situation, he’s making a mountain out of a molehill, her conclusions and assessments of her own situation are weird, those are your judgments. And they are not empathy.

Empathy requires that you remove your own judgments, ideas, preferences, and “what you would have done” in order to try to really imagine things through the eyes of the user.

I recently saw an example of what not to do when I saw a user story written by a product manager. Normally, user stories go something like, “As the user, I want to be able to [do something] because [user’s reason].” The product manager had written, “As the product manager, I want the user to be able to [do something] for [product manager’s reason].”

User centered design needs you to BE the user

You may not be your own company’s target audience. But to do your best UX work, you have to step out of your own shoes. You have to get away from the mirror and BE the personas or target audience. Don’t just “put yourself in their shoes;” that’s still you being you, just in some other scenario or bizarro world.

To truly know how a user would potentially react to something, to understand how a user might use something, and to know if you have designed the right solution, you have to be the user. Since we haven’t invented technology to put us in other people’s heads, we have to do this through empathy.

If you are not naturally very empathetic, start by thinking of it as acting. You ARE the persona. Get into character. Improv. What does that person’s life look like? How is he motivated and what influences him? What are her needs and goals? What improvisation can you do around what this persona would be like brought to life?

One of my fave UX researchers (not the above guy) would say the same thing often to people during user testing. “That makes sense,” he would say with comfort in his voice, no matter what the user just did or said. Because to the user, they were doing it right and he was validating that… and them. Good stuff.

And that other “Senior UX Researcher”? He wasn’t empathetic or sympathetic. He was just pathetic.

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Low Battery Warning


Posted By on Aug 23, 2016

How far in advance should a product warn you that the battery is low and in danger of dying? On many mobile phones, you will get “power saving mode” with around 20% battery life left. Depending on your phone, that might give it another hour of power.

My motorcycle Bluetooth helmet system gives an auditory low battery warning. It interrupts whatever I’m hearing to say, “Low battery.” Thanks! That helps.

Except it gives it one minute before the unit shuts down from being out of power. This makes me think the low battery warning happen with around 2-5% left.

Not helpful. Remember that warnings should help users fix the problems. Giving me one more minute of power while I’m listening to Google direct me is… not delightful. Give me a half hour or hour so that I know to charge up the unit.

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Axure Self-Assessment Tool


Posted By on Jul 25, 2016

Wondering how advanced you, your team, or worker is with Axure? People have asked us to assess Axure skills. To really do that, we’d need to manually review someone’s prototyping work. We can do that! We can pour through someone’s file(s) and see what’s being done well, poorly, or not at all. But we might have to charge for that time as it could take an hour or two to get a good picture of what someone is doing.

We now have a self-assessment tool. It asks people about their skills. In the end, we score it and take a shot at how much training someone might need to develop strong core skills and high Axure confidence.

If you’re considering our private training and you’re not sure if you need all of our lessons, this tool is also for you.

http://pty.pe/axure-skills-self-assessment

Takes about 10 minutes but it will certainly give you a good picture of where training might be most helpful.

If you want your results emailed to someone else, our tool does that as well.

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