It’s hard for me to believe that Rosenfeld Media turns 12 today. To celebrate, I thought about ordering brownies from Zingerman’s (my favorite bakery in the world). But hey, it’s more fun to share your birthday with friends.
Here are two sweet ways to celebrate the day from wherever you are…
Enter to win a free library pack. Yup, that’s literally the complete set of Rosenfeld Media ebooks (over 30 books) for your personal or team library. Here’s how:
Tweet your answer to this question: What one book do you wish someone would write for you, right now?
Tag @RosenfeldMedia and add hashtag #Happy12thRM
Tweet it out before midnight PST today, October 31st
We’ll announce the results on hashtag #Happy12thRM
Get 12% off all books in our stores today. Use the Happy12thRM code to stock up on classic design and UX titles, learn how to select the right technologies for your team, or boost your business and leadership skills.
We’re so thankful for your support over the years. And hope our books, trainings, conferences continue to help you grow and succeed.
The upcoming DesignOps Summit isn’t just a conference—we’re looking at it as a way to help define what design operations means. Read all about it (Lou Rosenfeld in Medium). And learn more with this lovely resource list compiled by Melissa McGrath.
If you work in Enterprise UX, would you take our 3-minute user research survey below? We’re gathering an industry look into what pressing topics and trends impact your UX work in the enterprise.
Your Input Will Shape the Next EUX Conference. Literally.
If you check out the programs for past Enterprise UX conferences (here’s 2017’s, 2016’s, and 2015’s), you’ll see that we invest a hell of lot of effort in designing it. Dave Malouf, Uday Gajendar, Lada Gorlenko, and I will use the survey results to tailor the 2018 conference to the topics that you want most.
One out of every ten respondents will be randomly selected to receive a free Rosenfeld Media ebook. To enter, please respond below by September 29.
We’ll share the results in a later post so that you can see what top topics are trending right now. Thanks in advance for helping!
Fill out my online form.
I quit my career as a IA consultant because I got tired. It wore me out to hear clients gripe about their technology. How, say, SharePoint made it impossible for them to improve the customer experience. I felt bad for them. And even worse for their customers. Because once company picks its software, good bloody luck changing it.
That’s why I’m so happy to get our newest book—The Right Way To Select Technology—out into the world. Organizations must stop falling for marketing pitches and buying the wrong technology. And stop wasting time and money. And I can’t think of better authors to tackle this than Tony Byrne and Jarrod Gingras. Their firm, Real Story Group, has been evaluating software for 16 years. They’re renowned for being technology-agnostic and fiercely independent.
If you’re helping to choose technology for your organization, Tony and Jarrod’s book will help you make good choices. You’ll also negotiate better deals and make your users happy. It’s short, witty, and available today here at Rosenfeld Media or via Amazon. I hope you enjoy it!
When you think of project management what pops to mind? Overpacked gantt charts? 500 “urgent” emails flooding your inbox? Brett Harned knows another way to move you towards efficient processes and happy coworkers. He’s put his wisdom into a new book Project Management for Humans. I interviewed Brett to get to know the human behind the book.
Meet the Author
What did your childhood bedroom look like?
I kept it neat and organized. Even my “messes” were tidy. Like this huge stack of CDs I’d reorganize depending on my mood: alpha by artist, by genre, by favorite, or most played. I pinned things to a cork board rather than the walls.
When did you first catch the bug for project management?
Razorfish recruited me for a role as a PM. When they first reached out I didn’t know what that was! I’d been an account director with some project management responsibilities, but it wasn’t a formal role. As they explained what it was to me, I thought, “Oh yeah, that’s totally up my alley.”
What does everyone need to know about project management?
Everyone manages their own work in some way. Some people are good at it. Others? Not so much. If you want to be a good teammate, freelancer, business owner, you have to pick up some skills that will help you move things along and complete projects successfully.
Some folks have told you they’ve never worked with great project managers. Why do you think this is?
In digital, the role is new and undefined. We’ve always dealt with deadlines and budgets, but no one owned them. Now we’re see more PMs on teams, no standards of practice exist yet. This makes it tough for anyone to be truly good at the job. I want to change that! I wrote this book to help us take a step forward to design the role of PM for the digital industry.
Have you ever had a project management fail? What happened? What did you learn?
Where to start? I’ve failed a lot, and learned much each time. Once I managed a website redesign project where the UX team had designed some amazing forward-thinking functionality. It tied to the client’s strategy and took them in the right direction. The client loved it and all appeared well.
Until I showed the wireframes to my developers and they told me the functionality was completely out of scope.
I’d failed to double check with the developers before seeing the client. Now, it fell on me to fix it. I was nervous to deliver the bad news back to the client. So I engaged the help of my team and my I to prepare for the conversation. We walked through possible scenarios. If the client gets upset, what do I do? If he doesn’t like the options I’ll present, then what?
I got the client on the phone and broke the news. I apologized and suggested other options that might work. He was definitely disappointed, but the project ended up doing really well. Most experienced people understand that scope creep happens. The best way to address it is head on—and come with alternate solutions.
What gets in the way of successful project management?
Fear. If you’re too nervous or scared to have a needed conversation, or force an issueyou’ll fail. If you ignore minor issues, they’ll get worse. Be confident in your own problem solving skills and invite your team in to tackle issues as soon as you can.
What’s the biggest benefit of successful project management?
Good project management makes everything else easy. Work happens more smoothly when you you provide a level of organization and transparency. And communicate in a timely with the people on the project. If a PM runs interference on communications to let the team focus on the work, the team ends up feeling happier and being more productive.
If members of my team are hopelessly disorganized and resistant to changing their ways how can I help them?
Remember that not every solution will work for every team member. Be flexible with the way you manage and communicate people. If people are completely resistant, explain to them why organization is important. After they get that, work with them on a solution that makes them comfortable.
What do you recommend folks read from the book to motivate themselves to dig in?
The first chapter in the book covers what project management is, and how it applies to everyone. It’s not just about having a PM on a team; it’s about understanding how project management practices can help you get work done. I also think that the personal stories in the book help to relate very basic, non-work interactions to the principles and practices of PM.
What other profession would you like to try if you could?
Maybe I’d start a small business like a restaurant, or work outdoors. No matter what I did, I’d be able to use my experience as a PM and consultant to help me.
Knowing what you know now, what advice you’d give to your younger self?
Be you. Follow happiness. (Thankfully, I feel as though I’ve done this for the most part)
Lou Rosenfeld tackles the differences between producing books and conferences, and how to make conferences a little deeper—like books! Read on in Medium.
Those who know me well will laugh, but I actually started out as a project manager. It was the late 80’s. I was in grad school when group projects first became the rage. But professors didn’t bother to teach us how to manage the projects they assigned us. So my teammates and I would scramble around like ants without a trail to follow. We’d duplicate each other’s work, fall behind schedule, point fingers at each other. Eventually I’d volunteer for the dreaded responsibility of tracking our projects. Except I wasn’t equipped for the role so things turned from bad to worse. I could’ve used some guidance back then. Like Brett Harned’s project management book, Project Management for Humans–that just came out today!
Maybe like me, you fell by accident into project management. Or you work with project managers and yet, things feel close to coming unglued. Project Management for Humans teaches you how to recoup your time, resources and sanity. It’s a short, practical and enjoyable playbook you’ll want to read and keep handy to help you resolve problems before they mushroom into crises.
Even if you’re a professional project manager, Brett’s project management book can help you too. It goes beyond teaching traditional systems. You’ll learn how to tackle the interpersonal challenges that can often derail a project in unexpected ways.
The timing for our newest book Designing Agentive Technology couldn’t be better. AI has moved from being the “next big thing” to being the thing for designers to grapple with. I’ve even done some research that demonstrates how important AI and machine learning are to UX people.Technology has been getting smarter for years, and many of us have already been integrating AI into designed experiences. Think Siri, Alexa, wearables, automatic pet feeders, self-driving cars.
If you’re venturing into the world of AI this year (or just thinking about it), there are two reasons you should consider picking up a copy:
You can read a free excerpt from Designing Agentive Technology from Designing Agentive Technology in today’s A List Apart. The book—like all of our titles—is available in just about every format you might need: a lovely color paperback, and PDF, MOBI, EPUB, and DAISY digital formats. You can purchase your copy from us directly, or make Jeff Bezos even richer. Let us know what you think of Designing Agentive Technology.
- It’s practical. When it comes to AI, there simply aren’t a lot of books—yet—that provide such practical guidance to designers. Kudos to Chris for making designing agents clear and concrete.
- It’s necessary. Technology always races ahead, forcing us slow-moving humans to catch up with its impacts. Those impacts can be troubling and even destructive. We need to work harder to humanize the technologies we create, and no single group will be more important to those efforts than designers. See this book as preparation for rehumanizing AI.
We’ve cued up our next virtual conference for Tuesday, April 25 and it’s called To Be Designed. If you’ve been wondering how to keep pace with new trends in design, don’t miss this one.
To Be Designed will give you a taste of the “near future” of design—the stuff that’s far out enough to be fascinating, but not so far out that you can’t imagine ever working on it in your career.
What kinds of topics will we cover? Well, like always, we asked YOU. 331 of you responded, and here’s what you suggested:
By popular demand, the presenters will cover aspects of how AI intersects with design, wearables, conversational UI, smart objects, and—perhaps most importantly—the ethics required to navigate the near future.
And you’ll hear from six speakers we know you’re going to love—because you suggested them! We’ll announce them soon! In the meantime, you can register today at the early bird rate and take it on faith that like our previous conferences, we’ll deliver a well curated program for you.
Or wait until March 24, when the speaker lineup goes public––and when the regular ticket rate will apply).
Looking forward to having you join us on April 25!
Those familiar with Steve Portigal‘s work know him as a widely-regarded expert in user research. Steve has spent over 15 years interviewing hundreds of people, from families eating breakfast, to rock musicians and radiologists. His latest book Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries gathers 65 stories about research gone wrong. Because when you research real people, life is often unpredictable (and enlightening).
We felt it fitting to turn the interview tables around and ask Steve a series of 15 questions to learn more about what makes his brain tick. Enjoy.
1. Where were you born?
Winnipeg, Manitoba. Best bagels in Canada. So suck it, Montreal! Well, I probably prefer Montreal now.
2. Where did you grow up?
Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Although it was a small town back then (I remember when we got our first McDonald’s), now it’s basically a suburb of Toronto.
3. Three words that describe your childhood?
Kenobi. Simmons. Cheech.
4. Three things you never leave home without?
Wallet, keys, and an appetite (for destruction, of course).
5. What’s the best designed product you’ve ever used?
Timbits®—Bite-sized morsels of traditional donuts.
6. What’s the story behind how you got into user research?
I was working at a design agency that was tentatively experimenting with a new service offering—insights that were “left of the idea” (yes, that was actually how they tried to market generative research work). My putative boss literally stopped speaking to me, and wasn’t putting me on projects (the sort of thing that generally requires talking), so the team doing this research work took me in. In the beginning, they had me watch videos and make notes. Then they let me go into the field and hold the video camera. Eventually I got to ask one or two questions, and as time wore on, I began to lead interviews and then plan and manage research. During that time period Don Norman (or was it Don Knotts?) appeared before me in a dream, clad in diaphanous robes. He marked me with the Sigil of Lamneth and bid me sternly to pursue this holiest of professions. That sealed the deal for me.
7. What other profession would you like to try if you could?
I’m fascinated by the television writer’s room. I haven’t come across any depictions of it that make it sound pleasant, but the collaborative creativity is fairly seductive. Otherwise, something about tending to the emotional needs of bugs.
8. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you in the field?
Once I was in the home of people who were relatives of Mayim Bialik, the girl who’d played “Blossom” on the TV show “Blossom.” I learned this because I saw her photo on the fridge. During the interview, I referred to her as “Blossom” and one of the family members pointedly corrected me, saying that her name is Mayim, and that Blossom was a character she played. The woman was right and I was being a bit insensitive. I think I was trying to be clever. Although this was after the show was off the air (Mayim was a college student at the time), that name and the essence of that character were strong cultural ideas. I mean, check out the show’s opening credits.
Okay, I’ve got one more. I was interviewing an African-American woman about music. She was really into artists and genres that are heavily African-American. As she told me about what she listens to, I kept looking over at this cool poster of Mick Jagger above her cabinet. When the interview was wrapping up, I tried too hard to find some common ground, musically, so I asked her, “Tell me about that poster of Mick Jagger?” She looked confused. It was Bob Marley. I DO know the difference between the two, but from where I was sitting, I swear he looked like Mick Jagger. I was embarrassed that my need to connect with her about “my” stuff looked like an inept and even-needier attempt to connect with her.
Takeway: Don’t mention pop culture figures by name?
9. What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened to you in the field?
Surprises are mostly internal moments, where I uncover a stub of my own judgment. As an example, I interviewed a man who was the head of an agency that shared his name. He was in his mid-60s with a head of white hair. I was steering the interview towards his past accomplishments, but he was so much more focused on his current goals. I realized I’d created my own narrative for this guy based on his age and that was completely inaccurate. So the surprise wasn’t about the fact that he was engaged and forward-looking. It was about the gap between my unspoken assumptions and the truth that unspooled before me. Honestly, the revealing of and subsequent dismantling of my assumptions is the most pleasurable part of doing fieldwork.
10. What’s the most heartwarming thing that’s happened to you in the field?
I tell this story in detail in my previous book, Interviewing Users. It involves a home interview where the participants were two young men still living at home, who hadn’t told their parents we were showing up for breakfast. But they wouldn’t speak in words and unwilling to talk with us. The parents were unsurprisingly hostile about our presence. Sitting in their kitchen, the mother (who we eventually pivoted to for the interview) told us that few people are welcomed into their house and that food is a carrier of meaning for their family and is not for strangers. We managed to have an incredible interview with her and her husband, after navigating extreme awkwardness and ambiguous permissions. When wrapping up, she told us, “No one comes here and doesn’t get food,” and made us some fried bread, fresh and hot. Given the horrible start, success was likely going to be not failing, at best. But instead, we ended up receiving her kindness and appreciation.
11. Tell us something people don’t know about the making of this book.
“Steve Portigal” is the pseudonym for an anonymous collective of heartists, Burning Man exonerees, and professional home stagers.
12. Which stories in the book did you personally learn the most from?
Oh, come on. I love all my children equally! The value of any story is most revealed when it’s considered in the aggregate. I learned from the process of analyzing and synthesizing the stories in order to create the book.
13. If someone is feeling burnt out on research, what story would you recommend they read from your book as a pick-me-up?
If you’re really burnt out on research, maybe go read about someone hiking the Pacific Crest Trail? If you aren’t quite at that stage, then maybe Susan Simon Daniels’ story “A Sigh Is Just a Sigh” which is touching as hell, or Jenn Downs’ hilarious (and slightly Bombeckian) “Burns, Bandages, and BBQ.”
14. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your younger researcher self?
Don’t worry…someday there will be more researchers than you can imagine…and the demand for researchers will be more than that community can provide.
15. When you’re 90 and look back on your life, what would you like to be able to say to yourself?
“I still remember eating the last panda. Gosh, that was tasty!”
Steve Portigal is the founder of Portigal Consulting. He’s written two books on user research: Interviewing Users and Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries. His work has informed the development of music gear, wine packaging, medical information systems, corporate intranets, videoconferencing systems, and iPod accessories. Follow Steve on Twitter or listen to his podcast Dollars to Donuts.