Workshop Agile + UX

November 12, 2011    Category: Events   No Comments »


Big Design Week starts Monday, and we’re thrilled to announce that our own Caleb Jenkins has been asked to help present on Wednesday’s workshop! He’ll be digging in to the dicey topic of UX and Agile with Brian Sullivan and Jim Carlsen-Landy. We’re looking forward to hearing how these three present together. They all come at Agile and UX teams from slightly different angles. Jim has managed UX teams for a couple of years at a company that was an early adopter of agile practices, and Brian will be walking through hands on techniques to get scrappy with your UX research, design and deliverables.

Caleb will be focusing in on some of the misconceptions that exists between the agile and UX worlds and specifically how teams can scale Scrum with UX teams. It’s going to be awesome! Check out the full week’s schedule, and if you haven’t done so yet, there is still time to register.

See you there!

UX + Agile

May 13, 2011    Category: Thoughts   No Comments »


Jared Spool published a great article yesterday titled “Essential UX Layers for Agile and Lean Design Teams”.

Jared talks briefly about proliferation of agile approaches in software design and user experience (UX) design and contrasts that to the Big Design Up Front approaches of the past, he then goes further in describing, not only User Stories, but several other layers of UX design and how each layer differs in scope and purpose from the other layers.

we frequently saw the successful teams talking about these other layers all through development. When a team member would produce a deliverable or design sketch that wasn’t quite matching the direction that the other team members imagined, the team would step back and talk about the other layers, trying to figure out where the disconnect came from. Because the team established the layers together, based on research they jointly conducted, they found it easy to collaborate on creating coherent experiences that regularly delighted their users.

It’s a great read, and I highly recommend heading over to the UIE site and reading the full article. You might also consider subscribing to the UIE podcast BrainSparks.


If you’ve never heard Jared Spool speak live, he’s a great presenter and is always thought provoking and memorable, our chief mentor will be presenting at the same conference as Jared in July, The Big (D)esign Conference is July 14th – 16th – Hope to see you there!

Thinking about games…

February 25, 2010    Category: Blog, Thoughts   1 Comment »

Stephen was the first person that really got me to think about game theory as it relates to general application design. Then my friends at Improving Enterprises introduced me to Luke Hohmann and his Innovation Games approach to product management and games like “buy a feature”. I’m certain that their is much more work that needs to be done in this field. Think about it. Game theory flips “traditional” usability on it heels. Every application that I’ve ever worked on “easy to use” was one of the requirements. In games, “too easy” is a negative. Challenging, engaging, rewarding and FUN are the goals the rule the day. This talk by Jesse Schell really drove this point home for me.

Carnegie Mellon University Professor, Jesse Schell, dives into a world of game development which will emerge from the popular “Facebook Games” era.

– Enjoy!

Recently I noticed something interesting on google searches and especially on bing. If you search for “Silverlight Expert” I show up near the top! Well… when google thinks that you are a Silverlight expert, then it’s time to start blogging more I guess. So here are my top 5 steps to becoming a Silverlight Expert. These are some of the most valuable steps that I’ve used as an Expert Silverlight Consultant and Trainer. We try to introduce as many of these resources in our Training and Consulting.

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5. UX Skillzes

Sorry for the haxx0r lingo… but I’ve been liking it a lot lately. So, what are UX Skills? In short, this has nothing to do with Silverlight. Silverlight (or Flash, or WPF) are technologies that make it easier to create a better User Experience. At the end of the day though, it is the developer / designer that has the responsibility of creating the experience. the platform just makes it easier to realize that designers vision. No tool can completely make up for a lack of skill.

User Experience (UX) is made up of multiple areas and disciplines. Including concepts like Information Architecture (IA), Interaction Design (ID), Visual Design, Human-Computer Interaction studies, Human Interaction Psychology, etc…


Read the rest of this entry »


I’ll be speaking at the Big Design Conference in Dallas. From the website:

The Big Design Conference is an intense day of learning within the scope of Strategy, Social Media, User Experience, and Code Development. Experts from across the country will gather to present theories, research, experiences, and best practices to students, professionals, and executives looking to stay on the bleeding edge.

My 1pm topic is “Bring Back the Sexy: What’s New in Silverlight 3 and Why Everyone Should Care”. Basically I’m going to be walking through some of the awesome goodness that’s been added to Silverlight 3 like 3D Support, hardware acceleration, custom shaders and behaviors, offline/out of browser integration, Blend 3, plus the new line of business features like data forms and WCF integrations. You know, all the awesome Silverlight sexy that I can get in to my allotted hour. it’s gonna be awesome.

Be sure to register today (tickets are selling fast!) – See you there!

  • Big (D)esign Conference
  • Big (D)esign After Party
  • (Free) Style & Travelocity Design Challenge

imageFor the last 2 months I’ve working on one of the @improving macs almost exclusively.  While that’s definitely had it’s annoyances, it’s also been very eye opening in a couple of areas.

Last month Microsoft released the Release Canidate1 of Windows 7. For what it’s worth I will say that I like it, more importantly, my wife likes it too. Just like Vista has nicer features than XP (no seriously, I actually like Vista!), there are features in Win7 that I really like over Vista. That being said, after spending two months on a Mac, here are the things that I wish Microsoft would “barrow” from Apple before Windows 7 RTMs.

Apple’s “Show Desktop” Implementation

 I like Win7’s Desktop Peak. But let’s be real. When I want to look at my desktop, it’s probably because I want to do something on my desktop. If I click on the “Show Desktop” button, then everything get minimized and I loose my place when I’m done with the desktop (I have to go restore all of my Windows manually). Macs have this great feature that let’s me, in a single motion, push everything to the side, lets me see and work with my desktop, then with a single click anywhere on the edge of the screen and I’m back to where I was before. Awesome. Dear Microsoft, I know what they’ll say, you stole it. Mac had it first. it doesn’t matter. Go ahead, take it. It’s a better implementation. thx.

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Apples “Widget” View

I like Widgets, I like Gadgets. I’m not talking about Apple’s widget “zoom in” and “zoom out” views (although those are nice!), nor am I talking about how Windows 7’s Gadgets can go anywhere on the desktop and are always on your desktop (although I like that too!) I am specifically talking about the scenarios when you have a bunch of windows open and your in the middle of working and you need to take a quick look at your widgets/gadgets. On a mac you set your Expose’s hot spots to bring up your “dashboard”, in Windows 7 you either “peak” at your desktop, or you press the Win+G keys.Here’s the thing, on a mac when you do that, they do a dark overlay on the rest of your desktop. It makes it really easy to to focus in on your widgets and see them quickly. it sounds like a small thing, but you already know how busy your screen can get when you’re working on various projects and then you try to see your gadgets and they just don’t stand out very well.Dear Microsoft, please fade out the background when I push Win+G. kthx.

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Apple’s Colors.

Not all of their colors. I like some of the rich look of Vista and Windows 7, but here’s something that I noticed while working on the mac. The “system tray” (or whatever you call it) is boring. Everything is the same color. Compare that to the spectrum of color that the average Windows user is used to. It’s not that color is bad… but I’m starting to think that business is. Business and clutter compete for your attention, and let’s face it… the reason that it’s in the system tray is because it’s important.. it’s just not that important. I know that I’m focusing on the system tray, but really I’m talking an over all effort to make the things that I want to focus on, visually focusable (is that a word?). Reduce noise, increase signal.

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So what does Windows 7 have going for it?

A lot. But here’s the thing that it soooo much better on Win7. The Taskbar – so much better than the dock or expose for moving between applications – especially tabbed windows. On one hand, I really like the pop and slide of exposes, and I really like the fish eye affect in the mac dock… but here’s the deal, the dock is great for launching applications, but it’s lousy for moving between open applications. The new Win 7 dock does an amazing job of organizing all of your open tabs regardless of which window their in. It really creates a nice, unified way to move between the things that you are working on and to close the things that you don’t care about. I know that it sounds trivial, but think about where you spend your time – it makes a difference.

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What about you? What are you love / hates with Windows 7 or teh mac?

BTW – Travis promised to teach me some mac foo… I’ll have to post again after that!


Microsoft has put on several of these events all over the US. If you missed the Microsoft PDC Conference then the Dallas event on Monday is the best local place to get a lot of the same information on what’s new with .NET and the future roadmap of the Microsoft Platform. (Rich UX, RIA’s, Cloud Computing , Visual Studio 2010, etc…)

From the official site:

Missed the PDC? Catch the content LIVE at the MSDN Developer Conference. Register Today!

We’re bringing the PDC to you!

I’ll be there speaking about Developing Data-Centric Applications Using the WPF DataGrid and the new WPF Ribbon Controls with Visual Studio 2010. (I know… that’s a mouthful!) 

I’m looking forward to it and hope to see you there!


xTrain is a super high quality, web based, training company focused on designers that I have created a “Developer Designer Zen” series with. Yesterday they launched a ton of content featured on Adobe’s new Adobe TV. Here’s a clip from the release:

“Adobe just announced Adobe TV and Adobe Media player today. Adobe TV is your on-line source for expert insight and inspiration. Feed your passion for Adobe products with insider tips, innovative techniques, and behind-the-scenes tours. Get to know Adobe personalities by tuning in to Russell Brown Photoshop Laboratory.”

I’m very excited to be a part of this launch and to be featured along side some of the best UX presenters and trainers in the industry! Here’s the “official” digg link

adobeTV | digg story



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