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Live: InfoCamp 2008 - Plenary: Tamara Adlin

Nick Finck

September 28, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Day two kicks off with Aaron giving thanks to sponsors. Aaron then asks the audience about the sessions that occurred yesterday and what they found interesting and if there could be sessions today to expand on that. Audience is talking about things they learned from yesterday. Topics include Dutch libraries, Creative Commons, privacy on the web, EULAs, Denim, financial banking, etc.

Rachel comes up to introduce Tamara Adlin. Tamara takes the stage. She starts off by talking about what may happen during the course of this presentation, namely her possibly dropping the f-bomb. She goes into a story about how she dropped the f-bomb in her interview at Amazon.

She went on to explain what we are as user experience professionals, which basically means we are stuck into a world of creating reports and no one is listening and if they are its all dirty laundry to them.

“If we are really user experience professionals, then we got to start thinking about the people who use us.” “When is the last time you thought about your boss as a user of yourself?”

Write things down. What are your business goals? They can’t say “well we don’t have business goals, we don’t care about the user experience” Its not helpful to say your all about the users, you gotta suck it up and act dumb. At some point you gotta write down the business goals, user goals, etc. Business goals usually have numbers associated with them, brand goals are about how your business is perceived, user goals are often stated as quotes you’d like to hear from users. get them approved by someone at least one level up than who you are working with.

Be brave enough to look really really stupid. Be the dumbest person in the room. Apologize a lot. Congratulate other people for your own ideas. Remember everyone in the room is walking on thin political ice. When your totally stuck, remember no one knows that and will think whatever you do next is the thing your plan since the dawn of time. This does take major balls and you gotta grow some.

Now she’s talking about ad-hoc personas. When you have a bunch of sticky notes all over the place it makes you look like your doing something important. Maybe its just because we’re dealing with electrons all day that people go “ohhh paper!” Shes now explaining how ad-hoc personas work. She’s using MS Word as the epitome of designing for edge cases… most people only use 30% of MS Word’s features… “because at some point, some user is going to want to have a pivot table on their birthday card, and that’s going to happen in Word!” You can’t just create personas based on data and just give them to people and expect them to understand.

Create personas and then show them something that looks like Excel. This is how executives speak, they speak Excel. Showing example on screen. Let them weight the personas.. who is more important to please and how much. Let the executives rate them, then let marketing “dude, what the fuck” becomes “ahh interesting, you seem to be on to something, tell us more.” You have to figure out a way to get from business, brand and user goals to actual user features.

She’s talking about how to get executives on the same page and everyone working together. Hippos will never go away, but if they are all singing in the same key its all golden. Executives don’t know what they want until they see it. Executives are facing not making choices that could be potentially right. Now she has opened the floor for questions and discussion. She went into the concept of solutioneering, putting the solution before they really understand the problem. More questions from the audience. Now she is wrapping up.

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