Category Archives: UX Profession

It makes me want to weep!

This headline from the WSJ is utterly depressing:

Groups Leading Insurance Sign-Ups Haven’t Tested Program’s Web Tool

Even better is the sub-head:

Some Say They Expect Computer Glitches (ya think?!)

(see the story here)

On the plus side, this article at least acknowledges the importance of testing, which perhaps would not have even registered as worthy of an article a decade ago.

Upcoming Events

  • Midwest UX is now accepting registrations. It looks like it’s shaping up to be a great event. There will be 3 keynote speakers: Christina Wodtke, Abby Covert & Karl Fast. Looking forward to this event in Grand Rapids!
  • The next Akron UX Meetup event will be on Weds, Sept 11 at the Tannery in downtown Kent. Paul Sherman will be giving a talk on “Building a UX-Focused Company Culture.” Check the meetup notice for more details. 

UX gets the attention of Business (again)

The Rise of UX Leadership  is a recent post on the Harvard Business Review blog.

 Fortunately, there is a great training ground for new UX leadership: the startup market. MBAs and other aspiring professionals are seizing the opportunity to create something new, emulating start-up heroes like Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Dennis Crowley. Not all of these startups will succeed, but leaders who join their ranks will learn valuable lessons seeing products and ideas rejected by end-users firsthand. These new UX-minded executives will take top jobs elsewhere, seeding a new UX culture in corporate America. And they’ll certainly be looking to join companies that “get” UX.

Cliff Anderson, who I had the good fortune to work with several years ago, commented that he was disappointed that the article doesn’t mention testing–I think that’s an excellent criticism. While only a few rare geniuses have designs spring from their heads like Athena emerging from Zeus’ skull, the rest of us can make tremendous progress through gathering empirical data and iterating our designs.

I was also just alerted to this article, The Strategic & Tactical Aspects of UX Leadership  recently published in UX Magazine.

Which also reminds me–Jared Spool is working on opening a school to effectively teach & train this new wave: The Unicorn Institute. It will be exciting to see how they evolve, particularly since the state of current UX education is primarily catch as catch can.

InfoGraphic: The Disciplines of User Experience Design

Interesting infographic as much for the way it can be criticized as for what it captures effectively. Needless to say, you will never be able to make everyone happy when we’re all so busy with our silos and empire building (aiming this criticism at myself as much as anyone).

Trying to figure out how to incorporate this into my Advanced IA course.

Midwest UX

Just a plug for Midwest UX, a regional conference that started a couple years ago and has been a roaring success. Strong speaker line up, reasonable registration costs.Karl has attended the last two years as a speaker, I’ll be attending for the first time this year. Looking forward to spending a few days in lovely Grand Rapids, MI.

Registration will open later this month.

UX Designer Memes

This should probably be a TGIF post, but it’s too delicious not to post today: Siliconrepublic’s “Career Meme of the Week is the UX Designer.”

My personal favorites:

“I don’t always user test 3 prototypes but when I do, the users like the one that was included as an afterthought.” (superimposed over the Dos Equis shill)


“I actually like pixel perfecting the wireframes.”

IA Summit Review (part 1 of N)

I’m home from the IA Summit in Baltimore and am still processing what a great event it was! (And I’m already chomping at the bit to book a flight for next year’s event–Sea World here we come!)

This conference tends to be a highlight for me on an annual basis but like all events that you attend over and over, the energy and impact varies with some years being more about the brain food and others more about the socializing (or the politics). And of course my perspective from year to year has as much to do with where I am in my life and career as the nature of the conference itself–although as the event has matured the degree of competence and professionalism of its (completely unpaid!) conference planners has risen dramatically. (I like to think that we IA’s learn from our mistakes along with having boatloads of good ideas.) This year’s planners, Crystal Kubitsky, Giles Colborne & Kevin M. Hoffman outdid themselves and deserve a standing ovation.

The thing I loved best about this year’s event was how rich the IA content within the program proved to be. Over the past several years there has been a broadening of scope that I think has been positive in terms of making a larger tent and attracting people who were on the periphery but who should be in the thick of it, but the past few years sometimes left me (and others) feeling like “where is the IA at the IA summit?!” (And this is not to point fingers–I think in many ways this issue got its foothold in the summit I co-chaired*.)

Having been born there, I’m technically a Baltimore native, but we moved to Wisconsin when I was 6 or 7 and I lived in the land of dairy and progressives (well, they were famous for that before I was born), through college–so I’m inclined to say I’m “from” Wisconsin. That said, I have many lovely relatives in Maryland and the conference location afforded Niles and I the opportunity to spend nearly a week cavorting with a cadre of aunties and cousins and friends we see far too rarely. Subsequently I went into the conference in a sunny frame of mind (despite unseasonably cool weather).

It’s going to take more than one post to summarize the wonderfulness that was the conference–and I’m going to need to listen to a bunch of podcasts since there were many sessions I wasn’t able to attend. I will be sure to post the link to the podcasts here as soon as it is available. In future posts I’ll definitely comment on some of the interesting and insightful sessions I attended but my first shoutout goes to Karen McGrane’s closing keynote, which was truly masterful. (Slides here.)

I’ve seen Karen speak several times before and have found her an engaging and intelligent speaker drawing on rich experience but this talk had a different flavor to it–it just felt like she’s kicked it up a notch and has moved into a new plane. There were certainly points I might disagree with or not see from exactly the same perspective, but it feels nit-picky to quibble when the end product was the perfect balance of the kind of critique/constructive criticism of the profession/discipline we’ve come to expect from our closing speakers coupled with an uplifting, energizing quality that left me inspired to go back to my office and Be/Do BETTER.

In my next post  I’ll talk about the 3 points in her talk I found the most compelling.


*I knew that chairing the event would be a lot of work, but much like parenthood you really don’t know just how hard it will be until you do it. Subsequently I have made a rule for myself of refusing to complain about “the small stuff” at the summit, not because it doesn’t matter but because being the chair is just so thankless. (And due to the happy accident of an early baby, I didn’t have to take the heat in Memphis, so I was spared more than probably any other chair in summit history.) This year’s chairs, however, raised the bar on attention to detail to a level where I suspect next year’s great lineup of chairs are probably already sweating a bit! 

Introducing Sift

I’m delighted to announce that I am formally changing the name of my consulting firm from BaileySorts to SiftUX effective today with the launch of my new website: SiftUX.

While I will continue to provide solo consulting, the new name reflects a shift in focus toward more partnership and team-based work efforts that will enable my colleagues and I to take on larger and more complex projects. I’m excited about moving forward with a new name and an enlarged vision.