Archive for September, 2017

The 7 Ps for preparing a workshop

September 27, 2017
Think about …
Purpose: Why are you having this meeting? As the leader, you need to be able to state this clearly and succinctly. Consider the urgency of the meeting: what’s going
on, and what’s on fire? If this is difficult to articulate, ask yourself if a meeting is really necessary.
Product: What specific artifact will we produce out of the meeting? What will it do, and how will it support the purpose? If your meetings seem to be “all talk and no follow-through,” consider how a product might change things.
People: Who needs to be there, and what role will they play? One way to focus your list of attendees is to think in terms of questions and answers. What questions are
we answering with this meeting? Who are the right people to answer the questions?
Process: What agenda will these people use to create the product? Of all the 7Ps, the agenda is where you have the most opportunity to collaborate in advance with the
attendees. Co-design an agenda with them to ensure that they will show up and stay engaged.
Pitfalls: What are the risks in this meeting, and how will we address them? These could be as simple as ground rules, such as “no laptops,” or specific topics that are
designated as out of scope.
Prep: What would be useful to do in advance? This could be material to read in advance, research to conduct, or “homework” to assign to the attendees.
Practical Concerns: These are the logistics of the meeting—the where and when, and importantly, who’s bringing lunch.

Strategy
  • Each of the 7Ps can influence or change one of the others, and developing a good plan will take this into account. For instance, if you have certain participants for only part of a meeting, this will change your process.
  • Get others involved in the design of the meeting. Their participation in its design is the quickest route to its effectiveness.
  • Recurring meetings can take on a life of their own and stray from their original purpose. It’s a healthy activity to revisit “Why are we having this meeting?” regularly for such events.
  • Make the 7Ps visible during the meeting. These reference points can help focus and refocus a group as needed.
  • Have a plan and expect it to change. The 7Ps can give you a framework for designing a meeting, but they can’t run the meeting for you. The unexpected will happen, and as a leader you will need to adapt.

From Gamestorming

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MVP

September 26, 2017

The minimum viable product is the smallest product release that successfully achieves its desired outcomes.

From Jeff Patton, User Story Mapping, p. 33

Whose problem?

September 25, 2017

When I’m confronted with a problem, and I have the choice of making it the user’s problem or my problem, I’ll make it my problem every time. That’s my job.

Jeremy Keith, Resilient Web Design

Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context

September 25, 2017

“Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context”, said the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. “A chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.”

When designing for the web, it’s tempting to think in terms of interactions like swiping, tapping, clicking, scrolling, dragging and dropping. But very few people wake up in the morning looking forward to a day of scrolling and tapping. They’re more likely to think in terms of reading, writing, sharing, buying and selling. Web designers need to see past the surface‐level actions to find the more meaningful verbs beneath.

In their book Designing With Progressive Enhancement, the Filament Group describe a technique they call “the x‐ray perspective”:

Taking an x‐ray perspective means looking “through” the complex widgets and visual styles of a design, identifying the core content and functional pieces that make up the page, and finding a simple HTML equivalent for each that will work universally.

Jeremy Keith: Resilient Web Design

Shearing layers

September 25, 2017

In his classic book How Buildings Learn Stewart Brand highlights an idea by the British architect Frank Duffy:

A building properly conceived is several layers of longevity.

Duffy called these shearing layers. Each of the layers moves at a different timescale. Brand expanded on the idea, proposing six alliterative layers:

  1. Site—the physical location of a building only changes on a geological timescale.
  2. Structure—the building itself can last for centuries.
  3. Skin—the exterior surface gets a facelift or a new lick of paint every few decades.
  4. Services—the plumbing and wiring need to be updated every ten years or so.
  5. Space plan—the layout of walls and doors might change occasionally.
  6. Stuff—the arrangement of furniture in a room can change on a daily basis.

In a later book, The Clock Of The Long Now, Stewart Brand applied the idea of shearing layers—or pace layers—to civilisation itself. The slowest moving layer is nature, then there’s culture, followed by governance, then infrastructure, and finally commerce and fashion are the fastest layers. In a loosely‐coupled way, each layer depends on the layer below. In turn, the accumulation of each successive layer enables an “adjacent possible” filled with more opportunities.

From Jeremy Keith: Resilient Web Design

Mobile first

September 25, 2017

Losing 80% of your screen space forces you to focus. You need to make sure that what stays on the screen is the most important set of features for your customers and your business. There simply isn’t room for any interface debris or content of questionable value. You need to know what matters most.

Luke Wroblewski: Mobile First

Material honesty

September 25, 2017

Using TABLEs for layout is materially dishonest. The TABLE element is intended for marking up the structure of tabular data. The end result of using TABLEs, FONT elements, and spacer GIFs is a façade. At first glance everything looks fine, but it won’t stand up to scrutiny. As soon as such a website is stress‐tested by actual usage across a range of browsers, the façade crumbles.

Using CSS for presentation is materially honest—that’s the intended use of CSS. It also allows HTML to be materially honest. Instead of trying to fulfil two roles—structure and presentation—HTML can return to fulfilling its true purpose, marking up the meaning of content.

[About mobile first/responsive design:]

This content‐out way of thinking is fundamentally different to the canvas‐in approach that dates all the way back to the Book of Kells. It asks web designers to give up the illusion of control and create a materially‐honest discipline for the World Wide Web.

From Jeremy Keith: Resilient Web Design

Minimize outputs – maximise outcome

September 24, 2017

There’s always more to build than we have time or resources to build—always. [The art of the possible is to] minimize output and maximise outcome and output.

Jeff Patton: Mapping User Stories, p. xli

Shared understanding

September 21, 2017

Shared documents aren’t shared understanding.

Jeff Patton: User Story Mapping, p. xxxiii