With the start of the new year, we got together as a team to set new intentions for 2019. Thinking back on the projects of the previous year, we all recognized areas where we would like to continue to grow our UX practice, individually and as a team. The resolutions from each member of the EchoUser team set a direction for all of us in 2019 – how we would like to work together, refine our practice, and deliver the best outcomes for our clients.
Become a Champion for UX
Kintu Bhandari, Experience Designer
User experience as a field has been around for at least 25 years, yet most people don’t understand what it means. And the most troubling part: this is not surprising to any designers or researchers I know! Reflecting on 2018, I realized that explaining what I do is not restricted to only family events and social gatherings, but it is also a part of my job. This leaves little room to think about our users or have healthy arguments with the team. In our small design community, we know how invaluable our work is, but have we done a good job of informing others? Maybe not.
In 2019, my goal is to find easier ways to describe UX and its importance. If at least 50 people are able to grasp what I mean, then I’m sure 50 will soon lead to 50,000. A few years down the line, I’ll know 2019 was a successful year for me, and hopefully for our entire community.
Take Research Insights a Step Further
Kate Carey, Experience Researcher
As a researcher, one of my main goals is to help users inform product decisions. The research share out is our time to make that happen, but the traditional slide deck with insights, evidence, and recommendations stops short of the true potential research has to get stakeholders on the same page and affect change in a product. In order to truly move the product forward, it is also important to use research insights to generate new design ideas as a team. This is especially true in the case of our client work, which is often more generative and may not have a clear path forward.
For this reason, in 2019, I would like to incorporate more design workshop activities into research share out meetings. I want to go a step beyond simply delivering the insights, to help our clients think about how they will apply these insights to their product. Research insights often spark new ideas, so let’s channel that energy to move the product forward all in one meeting! Simple design activities that get the team brainstorming individually and together will give them more of a stake in carrying the insights forward into their product long after the research is completed.
Include and Educate Clients in My Practice
Leslie Garner Franklin, Experience Researcher
When I look back on my engagements as a consulting experience researcher, I often reflect on the impact I’ve had – both on the work and on my clients as professionals. Did they do something with the findings and what I shared? Are they employing some of the practices and research techniques we used in our work together? Do they have (more of) a design mindset? If the answer to the first question is “yes”, that feels good; I provided useful information in a compelling way. But I feel most successful when the answers to #2 and #3 are yes as well.
The teacher in me isn’t satisfied with short-term utility; it wants my work to make an enduring impact. By educating clients in the what, the why, and the how of research and bringing them into the journey not just on it in 2019, I want to help my clients become design thinkers in their own right. To get there, I’ll be explicit and inclusive about making my practice public.
Imagine Our Systemic Future
Vidhi Goel, Experience Researcher
In 2019, I want to be bold, mindful and holistic in how I practice research and design and how we position ourselves as a company. My hope and resolutions are best defined by the words ‘Systemic’ and ‘Future’.
Systemic in that I want EchoUser’s work to stay true to our “Any Experience” motto. My hope is to think holistically about the comprehensive user journey and the larger ecosystem – from the projects we pitch and scope for, and the mindset with which we approach and plan research, to how we strategize and communicate with clients. I hope we emphasize that screens and devices are a small part of the overall user experience. I want to see EchoUser positioned as a systemic experience design firm.
I am a believer that future is not something we predict but create. My goal is for us to think beyond the next few years and mindfully yet boldly take risks in the methods we use to research, ideate and design, for both our clients and ourselves.
Codify My Personal Research Methodology
Deirdre Hirschtritt, Experience Researcher
Around this time last year, Kathryn Brookshier wrote a piece on the difference between “methods” and “methodology” on the UX Collective blog. As she describes it, a method is simply a tool – say a survey or diary study. Methodology, on the other hand, is a lens through which you approach a research practice, from planning to presenting.
There are many documented methodologies I’ve employed in the past. At some points, I’ve felt drawn to the lens of participatory design and ethnography. I’ve also learned a great deal about habits, contexts, and motivations of research participants through grounded theory. In 2019, I want to devote energy toward developing my own personal methodology of design research. I want to explore how my values impact the lens through which I approach and conduct research and then codify my personal methodology. Wish me luck!
Never Stop Learning
Brandon King, Associate Experience Designer
Technology is changing rapidly which means the world of UX is not slowing down either. It is very important to stay up to date with new design trends that are arising and attempt to learn something new everyday. It may be a lot easier said than done, but I challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and take advantage of any opportunity to master a new skill. Whether it’s attending meetups and networking events, taking crash courses, or even simply reading books and articles, I need to take advantage of the numerous ways to improve my skill set in order to grow as a UX designer!
In 2019, my goal is to experiment with technology and continue to learn new skills in order to create the best user experience possible.
Share My Practice with the UX Research Community
Christine Lee, Experience Researcher
2018 was a year of osmosis. I had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, test different methods and build relationships with clients across a range of industries. However, I grew the most when working in teams and alongside my colleagues.
Thinking back on how much I have learned over the year, and how so much of that came from observing and conversing with those around me, my 2019 resolution is to give back and make knowledge sharing a deliberate and regular practice of my work. Whether it’s within the company or to the greater UX community, my goal is to seek opportunities to share my UX research practices.
Refine the Team’s UX Processes
Yi-Ying Lin, Senior Experience Designer
Establishing and maintaining a project process is an important part of any UX practice, and that is especially true for agency work. At EchoUser, we often need to wear many different hats when working on projects, including but not limited to: client handling, project management, research and design artifact creation, and communication.
Over the years, we’ve established numerous practices to facilitate those tasks and we continuously improve them. However, those great resources aren’t being communicated in a way that is easy to find and understand for our rapidly growing team. For our tried and tested processes to be truly useful, we need to make them accessible and digestible in the first place.
My resolution: in 2019, I hope to help establish a process that encompasses our work at EchoUser so that we can better engage our clients, do our work, and collaborate.
Design with the Full Service in Mind
Yifei Liu, Experience Designer
When I have a great experience watching a show, visiting a museum, or eating at a restaurant, I am often amazed by the holistic approach and complex details that normally go beyond a single touchpoint or a sole channel. What the customer experiences is only the tip of the iceberg of the service ecosystem. Applying systems-thinking methods to address complex problems that have implications across an ecosystem can benefit not just the users but also employees and organizations as a whole.
In 2019, I’d like to apply the basic principles of service design to tackle business challenges for our clients. I will strive to understand the ecosystem of the customer experience across all touchpoints in order to meet needs and deliver end-to-end service transformation for our clients.
Push Our Design Boundaries
Yan Liu, Experience Designer
One of my biggest goals for 2019 is to push the boundaries of design and challenge myself as much as possible. I will challenge myself and the clients I work with to think out of the box and go beyond our comfort zone to try new design methods and approaches. By pushing the boundaries, we can better understand the needs and pain-points of our clients and again a higher-level understanding of the design goals.
I am excited to learn about more methodologies, skills, and softwares this year and take advantage of the variety of projects we get to work on at EchoUser. My colleagues come from many different backgrounds, so it will be exciting to mix and match our expertise to create new ideas. Overall, I look forward to embracing changes and challenges, and enjoying uncertainties together in 2019!
Find More Opportunities to Code
Mick McGee, CEO and Co-Founder
My day-to-day work life is sales, meetings, and otherwise nonstop extroverted outwardness. I’ve often coded side projects for fun, or sometimes more (but always far from production quality). Some highlights include: a choose your own adventure game; statistical classification of NHL hockey players; and optimization of voice application prompts. Coding allows me to: 1) bring balance to my day-to-day by offering up the opportunity to focus inward and allow my mind to “figure things out” over an extended period of time; and, 2) have a better appreciation for a good portion of our client stakeholders, who are often software developers and other product development leaders.
It’s a bit of a selfish work resolution, but coding helps ground me, and exploring programming languages and platforms helps me better connect to the always expanding tech world. In 2019, I want to code more.
Bring More Strategic Product Thinking into My Work
Lilian Qian, Senior Experience Designer
Being a designer in a research-focused UX firm, I am heavily influenced by my research coworkers. I am eager to adopt more research methods into my design practice in the new year to make my decision-making more strategic. I’ve been practicing quick product thinking in whiteboarding challenges with my coworker, Yi-Ying. One of us acts as the host who gives a design prompt and one is the designer who maps out the process on the spot. These exercises have improved how I think about a design project holistically in a short amount of time. In 2019, I will continue to plan and manage my own projects and think holistically about how we can structure UX activities to fit specific projects.
Understand Business Goals as UX Opportunities
Aaron Rich, COO and Co-Founder
UX has gotten attention within organizations at the highest levels over the last 5 years. With this success in the boardrooms, the UX industry now needs to be more fully aware of business strategy and play its part to support it. My UX resolution for 2019 is to bridge the divide for business and UX for the clients we work with and EchoUser.
I am resolving to spend more time to understand the core business goals and challenges and better connect these to UX work and strategy. I hear UX professionals at all levels of experience express frustration with their organization in similar ways: “If only they would listen to these recommendations from the research,” or “They rejected my designs that solve the challenge in a better way than they went with.” This well-meaning idealism stems from a desire to create the best experience possible for the people who use the product, but in reality there are almost always business drivers that must be accounted for in any experience. The challenge is to understand the business strategy and use that effectively as a design constraint to solve around. In 2019, I’ll be doing my part to focus on the business while championing UX.
Incorporate Business Principles into Design
Jie Tang, Experience Designer
What I believe in deeply is human-centered design. As a group of UX consultants, we use methods to define users’ pain points and level up their experience based on their existing behaviors. Often our job is to identify and understand user needs and design the right solution to meet the needs, and we do this well. Like Aaron however, I believe we can provide even more value to our clients by understanding the business side of experiences.
In 2019, I want to learn more about business and marketing strategy to build the strengths of these disciplines into my design work. Marketing focuses on “meeting needs profitably” and should result in a customer who is ready to buy, while on the business side, you need to understand how to bring a product to market and make it available to customers. The overlap between UX and marketing is the key zone I would like to focus on to broaden my strategic thinking. Ultimately, I hope to embrace knowledge from these disciplines to make decisions that benefit users and drive business.
Build on the Experience of the EchoUser Team
Mary Yeh, Experience Researcher
My resolution for 2019 is to think strategically about our collective power, and infuse greater collaboration into our practice as a team.
The team at EchoUser has a wide variety of professional experience and education, giving us a vast array of tools at our fingertips. Working here, we are able to leverage each other’s strengths to push for the greatest impact. This year I want to push us to create more space for collaboration and reflection throughout our projects, so that we can increase our effectiveness and build a shared depth of knowledge. At the beginning of a project, our collective knowledge can create novel, tailored approaches to our research goals; during the project we can redirect and refine; and, at the end of the project we can reflect and learn lessons together.
It is our collective experience that makes our work so effective, and I look forward to increasing collaboration and knowledge sharing within the EchoUser team and around the broader UX community in 2019!