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(November 2008) Agility and User Experience: The Final Frontier

Posted: October 17th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , | 6 Comments »

Thursday November 20, 2008
5:30 to 7:00 pm
Accelerator Centre
Meeting Room #2
295 Hagey Blvd., Waterloo

Last year, at our 7-Minute Soapbox event, Declan Whelan gave one of the night’s most popular presentations, titled “Tips for integrating user experience and agile development” (if you missed the event, check out the video here). We’re happy to announce that in November, Declan will be exploring this topic far beyond a 7-minute time limit. So if you enjoyed his earlier teaser, be sure to join us next month!

Event description

These are the voyages of star-struck UX’ers. Our mission: To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new ways to meld UX practices and agile development. To boldly go where no UX’er has gone before.

Well, perhaps a tad over-stated. But as agile development crosses the chasm and becomes mainstream in many organizations, there are significant challenges to putting in place effective user experience practices.

Declan Whelan will provide an overview of agile principles and practices, highlighting the potential dissonance that can arise when they’re combined with traditional UX methods. He will then draw on practices used by UX professionals on agile teams to show how these challenges can be overcome. Be prepared to rethink what you currently do to provide a leaner, more iterative approach that will deliver incremental value to stakeholders and users.

We’ll have plenty of time for discussions. So whether you are currently doing UX on an agile team, just testing the waters, or trembling in the face of working with agile teams, come on out. It is indeed a bold new frontier!

About the speaker

Declan Whelan is an active software developer and agile coach. He is also a professional engineer with twenty-five years of experience in a wide range of software industries including the financial, medical, educational, and manufacturing sectors. He has started three technology companies and has consulted with many other technology organizations in Canada.

Declan is a certified Scrum Master and a member of the IEEE Computer Society, Agile Alliance, and Scrum Alliance. His focus is on working in the trenches with teams to deliver better software value, quality, and time-to-market through agile principles and practices.

Feeling a bit timid about your sketching skills?

Posted: October 17th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Resources | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

At last night’s event, “What can we learn about design from Pixar?“, sketching figured prominently as a discussion topic. A number of people expressed concern about their lack of drawing skills, a sentiment that seemed widely shared, given the nodding heads around the room. Henry Chen, one our presenters last night, just forwarded this message from Adaptive Path’s alumni mailing list, which touches on this issue and suggests some resources to hone your skills.

Leah Buley writes:

Part of the challenge for me is just putting pen on paper and having faith that something interesting will result, so I’ve found these kiddie coloring/instruction books give me enough structure to get me moving:

  • Taro Gomi’s line of doodle books
  • Usborne Books series. I like this one.
  • You might also take a look at Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin. He gives me confidence that the sketch itself isn’t really the most important thing, it’s the thinking behind it. Kind of encouraging for those among us who still feel a little daunted by the artistic aspect of sketching.
  • Finally, I have to give a little plug for Betty Edwards’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain — an oldie but a goodie.

You’ll find lots of talk about sketching on the IxDA discussion list, too, such as this thread about sketch-style wireframes.

(October 2008) What can we learn about design from Pixar?

Posted: October 14th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Thursday October 16, 2008
5:30 to 7:00 pm
Accelerator Centre
Meeting Room #2
295 Hagey Blvd., Waterloo

Event description

The product design community has long considered dramatic arts as a related discipline, albeit perhaps more of a distant cousin than a direct sibling. Brenda Laurel first explored this relationship in some depth back in the early 1990s, in her highly-regarded book Computers as Theatre. More recently, the arrival of NUIs (natural user interfaces) such as the iPhone has marked a renewed interest in dramatic concepts such as character and narrative — which can help any software interface come alive, regardless of its application or underlying technology.

Join us on October 16 as we take a close look at what might be the world’s most successful product design firm: the movie studio Pixar. Every film released by Pixar has been a commercial and critical success, something that no other studio can claim. Is it luck? Doubtful. In last month’s Harvard Business Review, Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar, credited their success to “our adherence to a set of principles and practices for managing creative talent and risk”. Interaction designers can learn a lot from these principles and practices, despite designing different types of products.

Henry Chen (RIM) and Mark Connolly (Primal Fusion) will lead this group discussion about lessons to learn from Pixar. They’ll draw upon the recent HBR article and on Michael Johnson’s engaging keynote at UX Week in San Francisco. Michael leads the Moving Pictures Group at Pixar, where he’s responsible for the pre-production pipeline — a pipeline that feels eerily familiar to those of us designing software user experiences.

RSVPs not required

No RSVPs required this month. Hope to see you there! Feel free to spread the word, as everyone’s welcome.