Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Adding YouTube Videos To Your Axure Prototype

Many software products, mobiles apps and websites now-a-days have video embedded in them. So it is necessary to prototype features that show the experience of playing a video. Your prototypes will be far more realistic, if you can show video playing inside your prototype. You can do this in AxureRP.

Here is a video showing how to do it.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Concept Behind The Cover Design by @EnricGili

The cover of our book "Look and Flow" was designed by my friend, co-author and colleague @EnricGili. The photo is a sparkler in motion. Enric said that this evokes both the spark of creativity, the allure of its flow, and the ability to draw in the air. We hope you enjoy it more, now that you know the story behind the cover.

We encourage you to draw, to make and use that to trigger your thinking.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Colleagues Believe In Look And Flow

A few months back my employer acquired another company called SuccessFactors. I shared the philosophy of look and flow with the product team there and suggested that they build prototypes to convey their ideas to customers and development colleagues. After a few weeks of watching me do it my colleagues there have started prototyping. They even bought a copy of my book, look and flow. A very satisfying day for me.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why we like to make things rather than talk about them

“If you need to explain something, try getting real with it. Instead of describing what something looks like, draw it. Instead of explaining what something sounds like, hum it. Do everything you can to remove layers of abstraction. The problem with abstractions (like reports and documents) is that they create illusions of agreement. A hundred people can read the same words, but in their heads, they’re imagining a hundred different things.”

- Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson – Authors of the book Rework

Conversation is the most powerful learning technology

Conversation is the most powerful learning technology ever invented. Conversations carry news, create meaning, foster cooperation, and spark innovation. Encouraging open, honest conversation through work space design, setting ground rules for conversing productively, and baking conversation into the corporate culture spread intellectual capital, improve cooperation, and strengthen personal relationships.

- Jay Cross

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Keep track of the topics discussed and the people who brought them up

Once you engage with a customer, you need to make sure that every single conversation session is documented. It is important to track what has been discussed and who said what.

Such documentation will be very useful for the product manager who plans and manages conversation with customers. It is important to keep track of the people who attended and what specific ideas and thoughts they shared during work sessions. Document the questions customers pose and make it a point to cover them in subsequent sessions.

Keep track of the person who asked a question or shared a thought. It is not enough if you just associate the thought with a customer. It is important that you associate a thought with a person. A technique you can follow to keep track of this is to always write down the name of the person who shares a thought and then write down the thought. This way, you can always associate that thought with a person rather than a company.  It is much better to say  “Jane from ABC Corp, who manages their warehouse operations said this” than to say “Someone in ABC Corp said this”.

Guidelines for conducting a product conversation session

There are some basic principles that you can follow while telling your story to your customer.

1. Show up at the customer's office, if you can. It shows respect. It tells them that you care for their thought. It is money well spent. As a product manager or product designer you are the voice of the customer and that is your only advantage over every other function. So customer visits should be your number one priority. Nothing else is more important than that.

2. Always show a prototype or draw a picture on the white board. Don't show a set of slides. This forces participants to think differently, look at the prototype and imagine rather than go into a passive finger-pointing mode. The prototype must include a list of concepts that you want to confront them with for feedback. Organize those concepts in the form of a story you can tell by going through the different screens in the prototype. Pause for a few seconds after each concept is outlined and let the interviewees share their thoughts. Acknowledge any interesting thoughts that come up and move on to the next concept in the story.

2a. After introductions, ask them what they plan to get out of the session and write that down on the flip chart. If the crowd is large, ask everyone they plan to participate or if they are merely there to observe. Differentiate between the participants and observers and direct the conversation to the participants.

3. Listen more. Speak less. You should be talking for about ten percent of the time and listening for the reminder of the time. If you have a hard time keeping quiet, take on the role of the writer on the flip chart. This will help  you talk less and listen more. It will force you to keep quiet and will nudge customers to think aloud and direct you writing.

4. Write or draw on a flip chart. Don't sit down in a chair and write in a notebook where no one can see what  you are writing. Writing on a flip chart, conveys to customers that you are listening, synthesizing and are open for comments. They can see your thought process, point out gaps in your thinking and, if necessary, correct what you write. So take notes publicly. Not privately.
Tip: Avoid total silence when in a conference
If you are running a workshop via conference, while taking notes, please avoid silence. Tell the customer your taking notes so they know your are listening.

4a. Display all the flips charts all the time.
Do not flip the chart over and go to a new page. Tear the paper you wrote on and tape it to a wall. Do not worry. Customers do not mind you posting 4-5 flip charts on the walls of their conference rooms. Pausing to tape the flip chart paper on the wall will give you a logical break after about 15-20 minutes of conversation. If your colleagues are present, it will give them an opportunity to chime in. It will also give  you a minute to collect your thoughts.

4b. After your paste the flip chart on the wall, underline the key words in the notes, recap the conversation, point out who said what, and ask participants if you missed anything. It gives participants an opportunity to point of simple errors that are bothering them.

5. Document while at the session. Not after you come back to the office. Use a (phone) camera to take a picture of all the flip board charts. That is you documentation. You don’t have to write elaborate notes after you come back from the session. Post the pictures to a collaboration site, such as Streamwork, SuccessFactors JAM, Yammer or SharePoint, along with the notes and share it with customers.

6. Capture customer quotes and share them with colleagues rather than write elaborate reports. Your colleagues will appreciate the quotes from customers and users.