+ Special this week: Mobile UX London & free prototyping webinar.

ISSUE: 139
Happy Friday!

This week’s photo is from an urban farm on an island in Stockholm called Rosendals GardenI read about it on a blog and had to visit. It’s a full farm with flowers and vegetables. There’s also a really delicious cafe inside greenhouses. The food is amazing and I highly recommend the carrot cake — it was the best carrot cake I’ve ever had in my life!

I can’t believe it’s already September. At this time every year I feel like it’s a good time to hit reset. I think it’s because in childhood, September was always associated with a fresh start thanks to so many years of schooling. There was always an influx of new friends, new grade, new places, new goals.
In business, I always feel that same fresh start in September. Everyone is back from summer travels. Many companies are trying to meet goals for the last quarter of the year. And depending on the nature of the company, some are trying to get their product ready for the holiday shopping season, while others are trying to be ready for the masses who in January will want to get on the personal development and New Years resolution train.

It’s easy to let the fall speed by as you get pulled in many directions. But don’t forget the value of focus. Often times we just do what people need us to do. We do what colleagues ask. We do what users ask for. We get into a very reactionary mode. Although we might be great at getting things done, it’s important to pause and ask “am I doing the right things” and “why am I doing _______”.

This week in The UX Notebook, there’s a great article you should read about why you shouldn’t give users what they want. The premise is that, if you give people what they want, you’re only addressing a symptom, not the underlying problem.

As with so many things related to UX, I think this applies so much to everyday life. It’s not enough to just do. It’s important to identify the “why” behind what you are doing.

Ok that’s all for now, on with this week’s UX Notebook …

UX Tip of the Day

"Designing for people’s “wants” only addresses a symptom. Solve for the underlying “why”"
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Event: Mobile UX London, November 25

Mobile UX London will bring together 200+ professionals from around the world covering UX, Product, Design & Research.  Listen to and engage with experts from Google, the Telegraph, IBM, the Guardian and other industry leaders in our second Mobile UX conference held on November 25 in London. A must attend conference for any individual or organization who wants to be ready to design for users who are living in an always connected world, thanks to mobile.

Sign up here and use the code SarahD to get 15% off.

Free Webinar: How Prototyping Helps You Build A Better Product

I’m excited to announce that I’ve partnered with User Zoom to offer you a free webinar all about prototyping. Prototyping is critical to the product design process. It helps you get early feedback and buy in from stakeholders and gets your product in the hands of customers faster. Don’t design blind. Learn how to create a prototype and start seeing your ideas come to life, and test them sooner.

The webinar is on Tuesday, September 13 at 1pm EST / 10am PST.

Sign up to save your spot for the free prototyping webinar.

Smart Reads

Don’t Give People What They Want
Too many teams are in the habit of building what users say they want. The problem is that this habit is reactionary. If you build what people want, you might not actually be solving the problem. Building what people want only addresses a symptom and may not actually solve the underlying problem. If you’ve ever found yourself or your team building something that people wanted, only to realize that once you launched no one used it, then you should definitely check out this article. It has a great case study about how one company approaches this problem and specific strategies they’ve used to dig below the user’s “wants” and uncover the “why”.  If you want to understand the “whys” behind what your users say they want, then I can help in two ways. First, I have a few slots open for new clients this fall; if you’d like to learn how we can work together, please reply back to this email. Second, you should get on the waitlist for my research course.

How BMW Helped USA Swimming Train Smarter With Technology
I love the Olympics and I was completely glued to coverage of key sports, like swimming and track and field. One thing I learned was how much technology plays a role in training, especially swimming. BMW created a motion tracking system that lets coaches and swimmers better understand and measure how efficiently a swimmer moves through the water. By placing tiny little LED lights on the swimmers body, their path through the water is illuminated and helps coaches see where a swimmer can improve. The trackers also allow key measurements to be taken that help the coach and swimmer understand performance and potential.

32 Of The Best Productivity Tools You’ll Ever Need
Each year, in January and September I feel like I need to do a reset in my life – both personally and in my business. In September, it’s probably tied to the childhood memories of going back to school – a fresh start, a new phase, a different chapter. As the fall approaches and we enter the mad dash to the holidays and end of year, take time to evaluate what’s working, and what’s not. This article is packed with great resources for websites and apps to help you in various aspects of your life including habits, goal setting, organization, writing, and more. Two of my favorites mentioned are Zapier and Asana.

3 Reasons Behind The Rise of Design Partners
Many venture capital firms are hiring Design Partners. Google’s venture arm, Google Ventures, has a team of 6 dedicated designers who help companies that Google’s invested in. In the past, many companies said that proprietary technology would be their competitive advantage. But in a recent report by Irene Au, Design Partner at Khosla Ventures, it was noted that in a Gartner study, 89 percent of companies surveyed believe that their competitive advantage will be their customer experience. Why is this? Well, it’s because technology has been developing very quickly. Great technology is becoming smarter, faster, cheaper, and more accessible. So, companies are competing less and less on technology and more and more on who can create the best experience around the technology. This is why venture capital firms want to align themselves with designers – to ensure that the companies they invest in are creating amazing customer experiences.

A Guide To Simple & Painless Mobile User Testing
There are plenty of resources available to record usability tests on a desktop computer or laptop. But how do you do it on a mobile device? That used to be tricky and expensive. But now, there is a lot of great software and tools that let you record what’s happening on a mobile device and view it on a laptop or desktop. This is perfect for teams who want to get better quality screen recordings so they can re-watch it and share it with other stakeholders. In this article, you’ll learn how you can set up screen recording on mobile for about $200 (USD). Well worth a read if your product has any type of mobile component!

Product I'm Loving

Canopy (by Amazon)

I love Amazon, but sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming. To me, Amazon is a giant store of essentials. I would never, ever, ever think of going window-shopping on Amazon. It’s too huge. It would be like going window-shopping at Costco. Sounds terrible to me! Well, turns out that there are a lot of really great products on Amazon, buried in their massive product catalogue. Luckily, a company called Canopy has been curating the most unique products on Amazon.

To me, Canopy is a great place for product inspiration. I especially like the gifts page where there are collections of products based on gift type such as for the minimalist, for the girlfriend and for the technical

Curation is essential. There’s so much available to us these days, any company that curates well is going to have happy customers. I’m always on the lookout for companies that help curate shopping and travel.

Check out Canopy, it’s free!

Trigger Questions

These questions and activities are designed to help you think like a designer and have conversation starters for your team and colleagues.

1. Here’s a quick activity: “Sell the idea” … Take out your phone. Go to the home screen and open the app that’s on the very right of the fourth row. Now set a timer for 5 minutes and pretend you are writing an article for Fast Company explaining what this app is and why people should use it. Your “article” can only be 150 words. This would be great to do with your team – have everyone do the same app, and then compare everyone’s versions of the article.

2. Go to Twitter and do a search for “I want an app for” … trust me, you’ll be amazed at what comes up. Many of the tweets are sarcastic and silly. But there are definitely great ideas that pop up. This will definitely be great conversation for your team. Bonus: if one idea stands out to you, take a few minutes and storyboard how the app might work.

That's all for this week friends! Hope you have a great weekend! 

Talk soon,

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