setting up an interaction design position

24 Apr 2006 - 1:07am
8 years ago
6 replies
329 reads
Simon Asselbergs
2005

Hi everybody,

I am the first interaction designer of a company (300 employees) I work for. I have to setup my job description and a communication plan from-who-I-get-which-information-to-what-end.

Question: Has anyone else on this list experience with a similar case (you have to define your job yourself in an organisation)? What proved to be important lessons?

I also have all the assets and freedom to setup a usabillity lab.

Question: Secondly has anyone setup his own usability lab, lately? What is the most convenient equipment?

Yours faithfully,

Simon A. Asselbergs

--
_______________________________________________

Search for businesses by name, location, or phone number. -Lycos Yellow Pages

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Comments

24 Apr 2006 - 10:06am
vutpakdi
2003

> I am the first interaction designer of a company (300 employees) I
> work for. I have to setup my job description and a communication
> plan from-who-I-get-which-information-to-what-end.
>
> Question: Has anyone else on this list experience with a similar
> case (you have to define your job yourself in an organisation)?
> What proved to be important lessons?

Yes and no. My biggest suggestion would be to start small. Start on
one or two projects where the interest and willingness to act on your
advice from almost *everyone* involved is high. Make sure (as much as
possible) that you absolutely succeed big time. Build up a reputation,
but work on winning converts one at a time.

If you promise too much and then fail (for whatever reason including no
fault of your own), then it's much harder to come back and win converts.

> I also have all the assets and freedom to setup a usabillity lab.
>
> Question: Secondly has anyone setup his own usability lab, lately?
> What is the most convenient equipment?

I suggest going with a highly portable setup consisting of a (good)
laptop (or two), Morae (from TechSmith), a webcam, and possibly an audio
recorder (suggest Hi-MD minidisc recorder) and a video cam (when you
need one). A portable setup allows you to go where the users are, which
will really help when it comes to getting test subjects. Recording
straight to digital format also helps save steps.

Speaking from experience, it can be disastrous for your reptuation is to
spend a lot of money on a formal usability lab and then have it sit
unused most of the time.

Ron

24 Apr 2006 - 10:33am
bhekking
2006

I've had to do this twice, both times for companies that had not previously had
interaction design as a position or even as part of their process.

Some 'lessons learned':
Learn the culture by interviewing internal stakeholders from many different
departments - find out what they need help with. Your bests allies may come
from places you may not expect, like support or training.
Focus on results (not process or methods) in your job description - how you can
help the company succeed. Hoe you get results is less important than the
results themselves.
Show, don't tell - demonstrate how your skills and experience can save the
company money, improeve satisfaction & performance, save time, improve user
experience, etc.
Keep track of your projects - what was proposed? Did it succeed or fail? What
will you change next time? It's a learning process for you and the company.
Remember that it's better to ask forgivness than ask permission - if you see a
product that would benefit from a usability test, do one! If you hear about a
customer who's struggling with your product, schedule an interview and have
them show you how they use the product! Use this feedback to argue for
improvements your company needs.

Good luck,
Bret Hekking

--- vutpakdi at houston.rr.com wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>
> > I am the first interaction designer of a company (300 employees) I
> > work for. I have to setup my job description and a communication
> > plan from-who-I-get-which-information-to-what-end.
> >
> > Question: Has anyone else on this list experience with a similar
> > case (you have to define your job yourself in an organisation)?
> > What proved to be important lessons?
>
> Yes and no. My biggest suggestion would be to start small. Start on
> one or two projects where the interest and willingness to act on your
> advice from almost *everyone* involved is high. Make sure (as much as
> possible) that you absolutely succeed big time. Build up a reputation,
> but work on winning converts one at a time.
>
> If you promise too much and then fail (for whatever reason including no
> fault of your own), then it's much harder to come back and win converts.
>
>
> > I also have all the assets and freedom to setup a usabillity lab.
> >
> > Question: Secondly has anyone setup his own usability lab, lately?
> > What is the most convenient equipment?
>
> I suggest going with a highly portable setup consisting of a (good)
> laptop (or two), Morae (from TechSmith), a webcam, and possibly an audio
> recorder (suggest Hi-MD minidisc recorder) and a video cam (when you
> need one). A portable setup allows you to go where the users are, which
> will really help when it comes to getting test subjects. Recording
> straight to digital format also helps save steps.
>
> Speaking from experience, it can be disastrous for your reptuation is to
> spend a lot of money on a formal usability lab and then have it sit
> unused most of the time.
>
> Ron
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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>

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24 Apr 2006 - 9:59am
Jay Morgan
2006

Simon,

I will offer my experience so far, and we can talk offline if you wish. I
am a user experience architect, who had to make my job description (still
making it, remaking it, refining it), work products and process, and set up
a usability lab.

First, you should grab one or two books about usability testing that will
describe a lab and much more.
I'll recommend:
Rubin's *Handbook of Usability Testing*
Dumas & Redish's *A Practical Guide to Usability Testing*
If you can, let me know what kind of testing you'll be conducting. If
you're a designer charged with this, I take it you'll be testing at
developmental stages, rather than for administration & maintenance. What
kind of prototypes will you be testing - paper and clickable? What space
and hardware do you have available?

Second, important lessons in defining my role:
- ideas and graphics from peers are good suggestions for how you (as a UE,
IA, or IxD) might work, but
- proving your role with work products will give you a more practical and
empirical sense of what they need and like from you, how they use it, and
what your strengths are
- hands-on involvement in product planning and development, with respect to
other people's roles (define your role, don't take theirs)
- an ability to admit what you do and don't know, correct your behavior,
work, and role as you learn
Earn their respect, and they'll invite you back for more work. Show them
you're indispensable, and they'll hire more like you when they can. If
you're just one person, balance what you're good at with what they need. I
am still working alone, and it's a practice in self-discipline most days.

Good luck and we'll talk more,
Jay

On 4/24/06, Simon Asselbergs <interaction-designer at lycos.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hi everybody,
>
> I am the first interaction designer of a company (300 employees) I work
> for. I have to setup my job description and a communication plan
> from-who-I-get-which-information-to-what-end.
>
> Question: Has anyone else on this list experience with a similar case (you
> have to define your job yourself in an organisation)? What proved to be
> important lessons?
>
>
> I also have all the assets and freedom to setup a usabillity lab.
>
> Question: Secondly has anyone setup his own usability lab, lately? What is
> the most convenient equipment?
>
>
> Yours faithfully,
>
> Simon A. Asselbergs
>
> --
> _______________________________________________
>
> Search for businesses by name, location, or phone number. -Lycos Yellow
> Pages
>
>
> http://r.lycos.com/r/yp_emailfooter/http://yellowpages.lycos.com/default.asp?SRC=lycos10
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

--
_________________________________
Jay A. Morgan
jayamorgan at gmail.com

24 Apr 2006 - 11:21pm
Gabriel Bertot
2006

Few recommendations on setting up an interaction design position:

(It all depends on what type of company you work for, what are their products and/or services, how complex they are and how the company is organized)

1. Stay close to Business and not to IT. This is a very important point. You will have more visibility if your work starts at the origination of the project. If possible work side by side with the BA and the SMEs at the req. gathering phase. The BA will document the "what" you the "how". Besides at this point you, as an interaction designer, will be able to make recommendations and process optimization from the user point of view that the BAs usually miss. For business people is way easier to realize the added value of an interaction designer. IT is implementation oriented, they usually don't care about interaction design, users, etc. They think we are GUI designers and for them the GUI is just the skin to cover their robust database design and all java application framework. For custom developments interaction design has to fill the gap between requirements and development.

2. If possible try to utilize any development methodology that is in place. If RUP is used, you can use it as a framework too and customized it to support and document your work. Testing procedures and testing script development can be leveraged into user testing. Use cases can be helpful for user testing. Map all your tasks into the current process and try to make it reusable.

3. Show measurable results and document all your work.

4. After every project create a case study with before and after, the problem, the solution, etc. Send it across.

Take care

gabriel
gabriel at gabrielbertot.com

-----Original message-----

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> Hi everybody,
>
> I am the first interaction designer of a company (300 employees) I work for. I have to setup my job description and a communication plan from-who-I-get-which-information-to-what-end.
>
> Question: Has anyone else on this list experience with a similar case (you have to define your job yourself in an organisation)? What proved to be important lessons?
>
>
> I also have all the assets and freedom to setup a usabillity lab.
>
> Question: Secondly has anyone setup his own usability lab, lately? What is the most convenient equipment?
>
>
> Yours faithfully,
>
> Simon A. Asselbergs
>
> --
> _______________________________________________
>
> Search for businesses by name, location, or phone number. -Lycos Yellow Pages
>
> http://r.lycos.com/r/yp_emailfooter/http://yellowpages.lycos.com/default.asp?SRC=lycos10
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

25 Apr 2006 - 7:35pm
jbellis
2005

Simon,
I want to reinforce Gabriel's advice and add one comment. For me, his
statement
"stay close to" (business and not to IT) translates as "report to" business
and not to IT... if it's not too late already. If you report to IT, the
supply-and-demand of usability will be a constant challenge unless you are
extremely fortunate.

This is almost by definition. I thought that it was Peter Norton who said,
"There's always a tradeoff between the convenience of the user and the
convenience of the developer" but the only hit I see on Google is my own.
Perhaps someone can help me with the source. In other words almost
everything you ask for will be more lines of code that the developers must
write.

Thanks,
www.jackBellis.com, www.UsabilityInstitute.com
----- Original Message -----
From: "Gabriel Bertot" <gabriel at gabrielbertot.com>
> 1. Stay close to Business and not to IT. This is a very important point.

26 Apr 2006 - 4:30pm
John Vaughan - ...
2004

Ditto to Jack and Gabriel and Bret

> "stay close to" (business and not to IT) translates as "report to"
> business
> and not to IT... if it's not too late already. If you report to IT, the
> supply-and-demand of usability will be a constant challenge unless you are
> extremely fortunate.

As time goes by, IT becomes more savvy and supportive of IxD. But change is
glacial and - sadly - the generalization rings true. In any case, it's an
almost inescapable fact that, as Jack said, "almost everything you ask for
will be more lines of code that the developers must write."

Consider: Another arena in the corporate environment is Marketing. There's
something of a natural sympathy for IxD there, and if you've got slick
presentation skills (and can sell a concept), Marketing will love you.
Besides, they "make" money, and that swings some weight w/ upper management.

John Vaughan
The Communication Studio LLC
email: vaughan1 at optonline.net
website: http://www.jcvtcs.com
115 Minnehaha Blvd
Lake Hiawatha, NJ 07034
Voice: (973) 265-4684
Fax: (917) 591-8667
Cell: 973-886-1269

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