International Baccalaureate

A week ago we launched the new International Baccalaureate site. This has been a project at Nansen since summer 2013, and I´ve been working with it since last december. A whole year. It´s a bit weird to have it out there after such much work. I will put together a real case of this later on.

The International Baccalaureate is a non-profit educational foundation offering four highly respected programmes of international education that develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalising world. They work with schools, governments and international organisations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

I got into the process where some of the client workshops already had been done and it was time to sort out all different content to make a sitemap. The IB has lots of content, and we forced ourselves to clean up. They still have lots of content and that's fine, I believe they need it.

We started off with hand-made sketches. In that way we could easily copy and paste different areas on the pages. 

This was then transformed into html in the Nansen Blueprint Tool, which we have developed in house. This was an easy tool for the client, they could use the same url to see the latest changes. We used this for all sprint demos and meetings. We also added annotations to the Blueprint to make it easy for us to make changes.

When the Blueprint was approved, our designer Alexandra started adding some design. It had to have an international feeling to it since the IB is a worldwide organisation.

The client added all content in the CMS while we took care of all technical stuff. You can see the result at www.ibo.org. We will keep working with the site since there are a few things we would like to add and complete.

Designing with lean UX

At the UXLX conference Kate gave us tools to use Lean Startup principles with fun methods. The workshop contained a few steps to make a low-fi product concept by envision, experiment and then share it with the rest of the group. By using lean rapid methods, it was quite easy to understand if the product concept would make it or not.

What are these methods then? Lean UX methods are often used in startups. A startup is an institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty. You need to experiment, validate learnings and reduce waste. And that is basically what the methods help you do. Validate and reduce.

Lean UX
Build
Measure
Learn!
…and do this again.

First, define your users. Who are they? What do they like? What do they don't like? Throw that away. How do their lives look like? When you know your target group you need to define their needs. 

What can a user DO with your product? What will they not do? Throw that away. How will they do that? Are there any features to add that might help our users? 

We had five minutes to come up with an idea to test. Sketched it out on papers, used post-its on the wall, sketched something new, threw some ideas away. We sketched out personas with needs, how they live and what they like, why and when they need our product, and what features that they will need.

Finally we had a concept in three hours. What to do next? How do you actually know this is working? You need to measure what matters. A good metric measures the usage of your product by a person. But a great metric makes you look at all the other metrics and say “None of those matter if we don’t get this right first”.

Metrics:
Signups (unhelpful)
Total number of registered users (vanity)
% of new users per week (good)
% of users who sign in 3 times a day, per week (better)
% of users who share a task 3+ times a day, per week (awesome)

At Nansen Stockholm we usually work with agile development, and that works very well in most of our projects. I think this method definitely is something to try out, especially when designing a new product or service.

UXLX in Lisbon

The capital of Portugal and one of the oldest cities in the world. From June 4–6 my colleagues and I were there to attend a user experience conference, filled with workshops and talks from a variety of perspectives. The first two days consisted of two workshops each day. The last day was filled with inspiring talks by Mike Monteiro, Kate Rutter and Jared Spool amongst others.

To sum it up, it was a great hands-on conference, without that artistic feel of it. Just the kind of conference I expected and hoped for. Real tools and real cases. Nothing like this-is-good-looking-but-nothing-more kind of conference. There were times when anxiety visited me during some of the lightening talks, especially when Mike Monteiro talked about how designers destroyed the world. Today, a few days after, I feel a bit more rich on knowledge and hope to have this feeling for a long time. Here's a summary of the workshops I attended.

“The Workshop Workshop” with Ross Unger

Besides winning a book for the best group name; The Team Team, we used tools to facilitate a super-slim workshop. From the importance of planning and agendas, to the qualities of a facilitator and how to help a group keep track and move forward in a process.

“Designing with lean UX” with Kate Rutter

Kate gave us tools to use Lean Startup principles with fun methods. The workshop contained a few steps to make a low-fi product concept by envision, experiment and then share it with the rest of the group. By using this methods, it was quite easy to understand if the product concept would make it or not. This is something we usually do at my work place, but it's always nice to repeat knowledge.

“From UX Designer to Product Leader” with Bill DeRouchey

“Don't think of it like a UX career. It changes over time, think more of it like a skill, approach or philosophy.”

Bill showed in his workshop the importance of universal skills rather than having specific UX skills. The key is to practice owning that product before you actually get that big promotion. I think this one was the best and gave me the most out of the whole conference.

“Brand-Driven Content Strategy” with Margot Bloomstein

The importance of defining why a client needs a blog and how your using your blog is very important in terms of content strategy. Megan introduced us to a process where the client invest a lot in time and work in themselves, defines the content strategy, that is later used to define a message architecture. Loads of inspiring examples throughout the presentation in combination with hands-on exercises. We also got a chance to see our colleague Giovanni as a CEO for a multinational bank. Let’s just say we’re all hoping Gio will stay at Nansen.

Looking forward to UX Lx in Lisbon

Me and my colleagues are going to the User Experience conference in 4-6 june in Lisbon. (www.ux-lx.com) Already signed up for the most interesting talks, in my opinion.

Designing with lean UX by Kate Rutter. Using Lean Startup principles and these fun and rapid methods, you'll create a coherent, lo-fi product concept and get peer feedback on it.

The workshop workshop by Russ Unger. Always good to hear about how others create their workshops.

From designer to product leader by Bill Derouchey. The key is to practice owning the product before you actually get that big promotion. 

Brand-driven content strategy by Margot Bloomstein. You need to get a grip on content, the people who make it—and the brand they want to establish.

Except from the actual conference I'm looking forward to the street life and food. When we get back we will hopefully have learned something new to share with our colleagues.

Mapping the Experience with Chris Risdon

I attended a full-day workshop with Chris Risdon, Design Director at Adaptive Path. The course was basically for all attendees to learn how to examine the full view of your users’ journey and draw a blueprint of those interactions. Learn the characteristics of touchpoints so you can define them for your organisation.

It was a fun day full of UX, coffee and wonderful cakes. I will later hold a lecture for all of my colleagues at Nansen and hopefully we can add this method to our pre-studys.

xmapping

Side project - Learning to code

I have an on-going side project where I want to learn to code. Already made some basic courses in html, but I will probably need some js knowledge to make something proper. I really like the way you can learn to code at Codecademy the rewarding copy they use. I feel like a rockstar when I learn to use ordered and unordered lists...!

My colleague Andreas and I started a side project the other day where we are making a microsite for a service, and I will make my first coded site! I´m eager to get started. And hopefully it will turn out nice.