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 read more

Read More

Clicking around nothing in particular recently, I found a list of something like 11 things Baristas want you to know. Here was number 7:

ScreenHunter_232 Apr. 22 11.46

It says, “If you asked for decaf, I gave you decaf. You don’t need to ask me repeatedly. I am not out to get you.”

And I’m not out to piss you off when I ask you repeatedly.

I have a caffeine allergy. It’s one of those allergies where I can have a little of something, but if I go above a certain threshold, that allergy is 100% ON. I can have about as much caffeine as you’d find in a can of Coke, about 40mg, in a day. Or I can have a little dark chocolate. Or some decaf coffee or espresso.

One thing I definitely can’t have would be regular coffee. Certainly not regular espresso. That will be very bad. That would be like 4x what I can handle and I won’t even see it coming.

If I go over my threshold, I get a basilar migraine for about 12 hours. Nothing cures it or makes it go away other than time. I have to wait it out. So it’s best to stay under that threshold. And since I was diagnosed in 1984, I’ve gotten very good at knowing where that line is.

I love decaf coffee. Love the taste of it. Don’t want to give it up because baristas have made me sick three times in 15 years.

You’re not out to get me, but you’re human. You might make a mistake.

I evidently DO need to ask repeatedly because in the last 15 years, Starbucks baristas have:

  • Given me caffeine 3 times no matter how many times I checked if it was decaf and told them I have an allergy. They deserve a special rung of hell.
  • Remade my drink (various baristas in various locations) because when I double-checked, they suddenly weren’t sure if they had pulled a decaf shot or not. Grateful to them!

I’m going to ask repeatedly. Please learn to not take that personally.

I once asked a barista in an airport if she were sure she was giving me decaf. She snidely said, “I CAN read.” OK, I bet you can read. But anybody can make a mistake.

Please work WITH me. Please be understanding. If I ask that much, it must be important to me. I know you’re not out to get me. But I also know that it’s human to grab the wrong thing. We’re all capable of it.

Thank you.

Share This Page
Read More

I can’t believe this is still a thing. Based on the request to renew the license of my FTP software, it still is a thing.

ScreenHunter_214 Apr. 18 11.43

This email is coming from an unmonitored account or so says the copy. Yet when I hit reply, the email went to sales@.

That’s the right thing to do… though they do need to update their form email to say you can hit reply if you need help.

Every email you send should allow replies.

The reply doesn’t have to go to the same person, department, or mailing list that sent the email to the recipient. But if people naturally hit reply, let that email go SOMEWHERE where it gets attention.

Perhaps that reply generates a support ticket. Perhaps it goes to a real person or team. But it shouldn’t go nowhere.

And we shouldn’t even message people anything that sounds like they won’t be able to easily get service or support. Need help? Hit reply. Make it easy for them.

Share This Page
Read More

When I do public speaking, a question I get nearly every time goes something like this:

I’m an entry/mid-level UX practitioner at a small/large/famous company. It looks like nobody outside of the UX team is thinking about our users and personas. How do I get the developers/artists/product managers to be more user-centered?

My standard answer isn’t good news, sorry.

First, I’m so sorry that you are working somewhere where you are seeing one or more teams literally not care about the user. Maybe they care only or heavily-primarily about business needs or just shipping it no matter how easy it is or isn’t to use.

Second, if you are entry or mid-level in the company, it’s not your job to get entire teams or departments on board with anything. Step 1, release yourself from the expectation that you can or should be able to get that buy-in.

It’s normally top down.

Someone a few levels above you decided that it’s more important to release software quickly. Or make it pretty on the assumption that well-visually-designed is really all it needs.

This is the job of the Head or Director of UX. If your company doesn’t have one of those, that’s also a sign that the company doesn’t really buy into UX… at least not as its own specialized thing. If lower level UX people answer to an artist, creative director (without a UX background), product manager, or engineer, this is a potential sign that UX isn’t really respected at this organization.

If there is a Head or Director, that person needs to be working with other teams and departments to make sure people understand what UX does, why it’s not something you circumvent, and why focusing on the users should be the top priority.

Again, this isn’t your job. There is no magic thing I can say that will make all the non-UX product managers stop thinking that UX research is a waste of time and money. This has to come from someone with the right level of authority who can command respect as a subject matter expert.

Perhaps a workplace mismatch?

That’s a tough environment in which to be someone whose entire job is to think of the user first. I find many UX practitioners give us and quit that environment. And if you choose that too, all of us in the UX world would understand.

There are companies out there who get UX, prize it, take it seriously, and don’t need convincing that UX is something special, meaningful, and worth the time and money. You might be happier working there.

Share This Page
Read More

Sometimes you end up in an argument. Sometimes you know you are headed into an argument. I once got a great piece of advice that has helped me, so I’m sharing it.

During my nasty divorce in 2003, my lawyer and I went to meet with the other side in his lawyer’s office. The meeting was a lot of nonsensical yelling, which is what I was used to from my then-husband.

One instance of their crazy-pantsing was when they were yelling about much money I should be making as a “webmaster,” which was a server admin job I didn’t qualify for then or now. But they were still sure I should be making 6 figures as a webmaster, so they wanted alimony in line with what they thought I should be making. I asked them to define what a webmaster was and then explain how my skills fit that. They sputtered and couldn’t do either, which lead to more familiar nonsensical yelling.

On our way to the car, I said to my lawyer, “I think that went pretty well!”

He said calmly, “In my 35+ years of being a lawyer, that was THE worst meeting I’ve ever been in.” I asked how he could tell. He said the other side wasn’t interested in any facts or information we had. They just wanted to stick to their ideas and beliefs, even if we could prove those wrong. He said you really only want to bother with meetings and discussions when there is a chance of compromise… or the other side is at least open to learn something new.

And that’s true of any debate or argument.

I think about the crazy situations I sometimes end up on Facebook when some friend-of-a-friend decides I’m Hitler because of how I vote or what I eat. Is it really worth arguing with that person? Does he or she want to learn new things about politics or me?

Asking yourself these questions in times of confrontation can really help get you grounded again. Accusations and crazy talk can unhinge any of us and make us want to bark back. But especially in business situations, we have to be more mindful in our approach. It takes practice.

In personal situations, this advice is really helpful. A stranger online who just told me I need to respect and appreciate him for how long he’s been in the industry? Well, let’s step back before we reply and think about what is really going on here. I don’t think he’s looking for facts, info, or for me to re-clarify my opinion.

In fact, he’s not asking me about my opinion at all. I think he’s telling me incorrectly what my opinion was and how I have that opinion.


Is he asking questions?

That’s one way to know when you’re in one of these situations. Is the other person asking questions? If you are hearing questions like, “What do you think?” or “Can you please clarify this?” or “What information do you have about this?” then you might be lucky. You might have someone with a somewhat open mind who could be open to information other than what he or she was already believing.

But zero questions is often a good sign that the other person is sure about his or her beliefs or ideas. Not open to anything you might want to share or explain. Which means don’t go there.

Don’t bother. You will spend meaningless energy not-enlightening anybody. Don’t explain it again. They don’t care. And that’s OK. They are allowed to not care. But know that and move on.

There are UX questions we can ask in business situations.

When the argumentative person in the meeting who really wants it her way starts in again with how all the customers will want the feature she came up with the way she envisions it, it’s easy to want to go to battle. I remain calm and just ask her how she knows that. Does she have UX research that supports those hypotheses.

Either way, that ends the fight. Either she has good user research that supports what she’s saying. Or she doesn’t, at which point you can say something neutral like, “We should do some user research to validate your hypothesis before we design, build, and implement these features.” Who can disagree with that? 🙂

“That’s an interesting idea. We should investigate that more.” You’re being neutral-to-positive but also saying we’re not going to run and do that (without validation).

“I’ll make a note of that and run it by the team.” I won’t be the one to tell you the idea stinks. I will make sure you feel heard and listened to. Maybe when I tell the team your idea, they will have an improvement on it that will still help you feel like it was your idea. 🙂

In conclusion…

Watch for people who aren’t asking questions… and don’t answer the questions they’re not asking. You will have to find another way around. Lean on research and data as much as you can (in business) so that it’s not about any one person’s ideas or feelings.

Share This Page
Read More

We use live chat on our website. I man it (woman it?) personally. I’m happy to answer questions people have as they move around our site. Plus, if people are having trouble finding something, this helps me improve areas of the site people may find unclear.

I heard that Facebook wants you to get Messenger on your site so you can chat. But can Messenger do this?

ScreenHunter_199 Apr. 14 14.02

This is Olark, a chat system I like and use (and would recommend). When someone hits the site, I get the IP (not pictured here) and their best guess at the location.

“This is a new customer” would say something different if Olark thinks or knows this visitor has been here before.

I can see how they got to my site and what pages they’re on. Looks like someone might have questions!

I could wait to see if this person starts the live chat or emails me.

We have a chat offering in the bottom right but Olark lets me do a proactive chat. So I asked this person if I could answer any questions about our live public Axure training workshops. Yes. He/she wanted to know the pricing for the live San Francisco workshops as well as whether or not I thought someone who has been using Axure a while would get something out of it. Great questions!

We chatted a few minutes. I even managed to make this person LOL over chat, which is a fun customer service moment.

Can your live chat do that?

I don’t just need reactive chat. I want the chance to consider proactively reaching out to someone who perhaps is a return visitor, someone who perhaps looks like he is hitting a bunch of similar pages and perhaps having trouble finding the answers he wants.

Olark isn’t the only game in town but I am really liking their system. Go proactive!

Share This Page
Read More