Lately for a project I’m involved on (and about which I’ll talk in a later post) I’m studying and reading a lot about User Experience.
I’m not new to the concepts of good UX and I’ve read a lot of articles in the past ten years. What I’ve missed is a comprehensive overview of the subject. A couple of friends suggested me to give this book a try, and I was glad I did.
You can sense from the screenshots and the examples that this is an “old” book, but if it weren’t for these aging assets, it could have been written yesterday.
I’m often surprised when something is so well written and explained and yet during our days we keep reinventing it and trying to get the buy-in for processes that should be straightforward in web development. It’s like civil engineers had to always reinvent the way you build a skyscraper!
But enough of my ranting, here are my highlights from the book.
When a scientist runs an experiment, there are all sorts of results that could happen. Some results are positive and some are negative, but all of them are data points. Each result is a piece of data that can ultimately lead to an answer.
And that’s exactly how a scientist treats failure: as another data point.
A concert pianist practices many hours a day, learning music, practicing drills, and honing her skills. She practices the same piece of music over and over, learning every little detail to get it just right. Because when she performs, she wants to deliver a performance she is proud of for the people who spent their time and money to hear it.
A pro football player spends hours in the gym lifting, running, jumping, and doing drills over and over until he masters them. And then he practices the sport. He’ll study plays and watch old game videos. And, of course, he’ll play scrimmage and exhibition games to make sure he’s ready to perform during the real contest.
A practitioner of karate spends a lifetime doing kata, a series of movements that imitate a fight or battle sequence, learning how to breathe and flex the right muscles at the right time. She may do the same series of movements thousands of times, getting better and better with each repetition.
The best software developers I’ve ever met approach their craft the same way. They don’t go to work every day and practice on the employer’s dime. They invest personal time in learning new languages and perfecting techniques in others. Of course, they learn new things on the job, but because they’re getting paid, there’s an expectation that they are there to perform, not practice.
Brian P. Hogan
Pay me and teach me
Too often software developers complains that their employer should be held responsible for their formation.
That’s so far from the truth! Your employer is paying you to perform, not to learn.
Of course, a learning-friendly environment is something desirable, but that not a strict requirement to continue learning and improve on your craft.
So I’ve read less than half my goal but, jokes aside, I don’t consider it a failure. I’ve read more in 2017 than in the previous two years!
Tips to read more
Social media has taken a toll on everyone. I discovered myself more than I like to admit browsing endlessly streams of jokes, links, articles (I’ll just save it and read it later…yeah sure), tweets, photos and so on. But I also discovered that I could just stop. I trained myself to stop being a social media zombie and read instead.
Everyone imagines that to read you have to be sitting on your favorite couch, beside a fireplace, drinking hot chocolate while outside the snow falls covering the ground. How romantic. Yes, there are situations like this and they happen in the movies. We live in the harsh reality, we should be guerrilla readers.
The trick is: read everywhere, even if a single page or paragraph. In a queue? Read. Waiting for the doctor? Read. Stuck in traffic? Listen to an audiobook. To the dentist? Run! 😀
My friends know that I swear by Safari Books Online: the thing that I like the most is that it enables me to access and download all the books on my smartphone, so that I don’t need to bring with me yet another device (I’m looking at you, Kindle. It was nice, but you know that it never worked between us)
So have I stopped? Of course not. But only stupids don’t learn from their mistakes.
So for this year I’ve decided to start from January to December (so that I can track my results in Goodreads better). And since I don’t think that I’ll be able to read a book a week, I’ve decreased the target to 40 books. That’s a bit more than last year.
Even if I’m not a designer by trade, I’ve been always curious about the processes behind it. And this book helped me understand a lot about how things are designed and how the design is dependent on the interaction with people using an object.
I liked the first and the last chapters the most: the first because it showed common examples of good and bad design, the latter because it explained how to apply all the concepts from the book in a real context.
Anyway, if you’re involved in product making at any level, you should definitely read this book, even if you skip some paragraphs in the middle chapters.