‘Tis the season for companies to write year-end retrospectives. It’s a fraught sub-genre these days, given the shitshow that 2020 has been. But retrospectives offer a great opportunity to look back, learn, and plan. Here goes for Rosenfeld Media: A quarterly review
Our 2020 started and ends on high notes, with a deep, dark, dank valley in between:
Q1: Who’s invention’s mom again?
We launched our third conference, Advancing Research, in late March/early April. Five weeks prior, we’d sold it out. Three weeks prior, we scrambled to convert it to a hybrid event — both in-person and virtual. Two weeks prior, we realized that we’d have to go fully remote. Rube Goldberg would have been proud of how we contorted ourselves to virtualize the conference (livestream goes here, Zoom there, Slack there), but what choice did we have?
Really, it was a huge success thanks to our team, our speakers, and our sponsors. And the conference received very positive attendee reviews, giving us the confidence that we were on the right track with our virtualization efforts.
But there was no time to catch our breaths, because…
We’ve launched a new series of “Rosenfeld Questions” – short videos with Lou and other guests that answer topical questions. Give them a watch and let us know what topics you’d like to see covered!
If you’re a UX leader or manager who’s facing one of these challenges, Enterprise Experience is the conference for you.
- Collaborating and partnering with your peers in product management, engineering and other parts of the enterprise that share responsibility for delivering great experiences
- Helping your team up-level their skillsets to survive and thrive in the enterprise
Read more about how we’ve evolved the 2019 edition of the conference to meet your changing needs. Hope to see you in San Francisco this June!
—Lou Rosenfeld and the Enterprise Experience team
Announcing Rosenfeld Media Communities!
We’re in the content business—but let’s face it, the best content is an artifact of the conversations we are already having in our professional communities. Conference programs, books, workshops—all are simply polished versions of the conversations we’re already having.
That’s why Rosenfeld Media began facilitating three communities—covering DesignOps and ResearchOps, Enterprise Experience, and Advancing Research—over a year ago. Through monthly videoconferences and other means, dozens of us have been sharing ideas, content, furthering practices, and learning together in a fun and informal setting.
We’re now bringing these communities to the web and adding even more functionality. The first community site, for Enterprise Experience, just went live a few minutes ago, and the others will launch in the coming weeks. Best of all, our communities are free to join. We hope you will!
We’re hiring a Sales Operations Specialist to help the company run more efficiently and position it for continued growth. This is a half-time position. Apply below or forward the job listing to someone who you think might be a good fit!
We are a small motivated team that values each member’s contribution to the company’s goals. We respect work/life balance and strive to create an humane environment where each employee can reach their full potential.
New book just signed! Getting Started in UX by Boon Sheridan
Whether I’m trying to distract myself with drink at a UX happy hour or malingering near the UX Bookmobile, people love to come up to me and tell me what books Rosenfeld Media should publish. A bona fide “intro to user experience” book is by far the most common suggestion of them all.
My normal reaction is to shake my head. “UX is huge. Who the hell would want to read a 600 page book? And who the hell would want to write it?”
- He’s enjoyed a fantastically well-rounded career in UX
- Oh my, the guy can write
- Not an insignificant supply of attitude
- THE BEARD
OK, that’s four things.
The first three make him the ideal guide for someone UX-newish or even UX-curious. The kind of person who just shelled out good money for, say, a General Assembly course. Boon’s book aims to fill in the gaps about how UX really works for those folks, taking them on a waggish tour that starts small (pixels) and stops at progressively broader and more complex systems along the way. The table of contents is subject to change, naturally:
- Chapter 1 Pixels: Communication and Visual Design
- Chapter 2 Words: Content Strategy
- Chapter 3 Screens: Interaction Design
- Chapter 4 Devices: Human Factors and Usability
- Chapter 5 Products: Product Management
- Chapter 6 Systems: Information Architecture
- Chapter 7 Services: Service Design
- Chapter 8 Metrics: Analytics
- Chapter 9 People: Research and Ethnography
More good news for you and, especially, for Boon: it won’t require 600 pages. When you sweat the design the structure of a book up front, well before the writing begins, it’s much clearer what to leave out and what to leave in. That gets you much closer to that magical 200 page range. (It also helps to have an information architect-turned-publisher harry you about this endlessly. Right, Boon?)
Boon is looking forward to you harrying him as well. Please do — the more “encouragement” our authors get, the better. If we nag him properly, Boon’s book should come out in late 2019.
In a nutshell: The 2019 edition of the Enterprise UX conference will focus on two new use cases: 1) helping UX leaders and managers more effectively partner with their peers in product management, CX and other parts of the enterprise that share responsibility for delivering great experiences; and 2) helping enterprise UX practitioners up-level their skillsets to become “enterprise-ready”. To keep up with our program’s progress, join our Enterprise UX community mailing list.
What’s the use case for a conference?
That may seem like an odd question, but conferences are like any other product—they need a reason to exist. Given their annual nature, you really need to be asking this question every year, especially in a field evolving as quickly as user experience design. That’s hard to do, especially when the wheels of conference production must begin turning well in advance, sometimes more than a year before the event takes place.
That’s why we’re making some significant enhancements to the 2019 program to stay relevant.
Enterprise UX 2018 was the fourth edition of the conference and, in many respects, we really hit our stride: a user research-driven program, exciting and diverse speakers making polished presentations, and a well-choreographed production.
But the 2018 program repeated many of the same themes as our inaugural program back in 2015. While those themes remained relevant, the industry has changed in important ways over those four years. So we’ve begun planning a new program to match the community’s evolving needs.
From one use case to two
Like the good UX folks that we are, we started with the conference’s use case. The inaugural use case looked something like this:
The Enterprise UX conference provides content and community to UX leaders and managers who are trying to build—and sustain—UX teams within large enterprises.
The future is famously here but unevenly distributed: since 2015, many of those leaders and managers have succeeded in getting their UX teams established, staffed, and funded. They no longer have to constantly look over their shoulders and worry about regime change, activist investors, and other threats that have decapitated design orgs in the past. UX is now irrevocably a part of the DNA of many—if not most—enterprises.
Rather than managing up to get a seat at the table, UX leaders and managers now need to shift their focus: managing down (building the right teams) and managing laterally (collaborating with peers from other parts of the enterprise). Ergo, two new use cases for Enterprise UX 2019:
The Enterprise UX conference provides content and community to UX leaders and managers who need to:
1) Help their teams acquire the skills they need to succeed in the face of enterprise challenges; and
2) Understand, align, coordinate, and collaborate with peers in other parts of the organization that impact the user’s experience.
Use case #1: Managing down
It’s no secret that the supply of UX talent simply can’t keep up with demand. And perhaps the biggest driver of that demand is the growth of teams at large enterprises.
This results in placing fairly inexperienced practitioners—many fresh out of short-term programs like General Assembly’s—into settings rife with complex political, cultural, and historical challenges. These practitioners maybe be strong craftspeople, but don’t have the business acumen and soft skills to succeed in an enterprise setting.
To become “enterprise-ready,” these practitioners desperately need to expand their toolkits, and it’ll take more than a single conference to get them there. But acknowledging the need in a public setting is an important first step. Enterprise UX 2019 will offer a variety of workshops to help practitioners become better at the listening, collaborating, negotiating, empathizing, understanding, and partnering skills they need to create and sustain great experiences at enterprise scale.
Use case #2: Managing laterally
In enterprises—large, distributed, and deeply complex—the user experience can’t be owned by UX teams; at best, we’re its shepherds. UX leaders and managers realize that they need to understand, serve, and partner with peers in all the other parts of the enterprise that impact the users’ experience, whether employees or customers. That means learning the goals, motivations, challenges, perspectives, and—perhaps most importantly—the language of people in HR, sales, CX, engineering, innovation labs, analytics, and the C-suite.
We envision an Enterprise UX 2019 program that takes the bull by the horns, teaching UX leaders and managers how their peers think, feel, and act, and modeling ways—through panels, storytelling, group exercises, and other means—to combine forces to create better experiences for enterprise users.
Diversity of the multidimensional variety
At Enterprise UX 2018, we made huge strides in diversifying our speaker roster. The key to reaching underrepresented communities was acknowledging that we, the program curators (Uday Gajendar, Lada Gorlenko, Dave Malouf, and me) lived and worked in a detached, self-reinforcing network made up of people just like ourselves. The only way to reach beyond it was to let go: to delegate a share of our programming to people who inhabited very different networks. It’s never easy to give up control, but the outcome was well worth the risk.
For 2019, we face a similar task. In addition to reaching underrepresented communities, we also need to reach beyond UX to our “sister” enterprise silos that impact the experience. We’ll start with these siblings:
- Customer experience (CX)
- Product management
- Data analytics
Cross-disciplinary diversity in our program will require a similar approach: adding well-connected members of those communities to our curation team and empowering them to take substantial roles in programming. These ambassadors will help us understand the landscapes of their respective communities in terms of potential speakers but, more importantly, the goals and challenges they face when it comes to crafting successful enterprise experiences.
Is it still Enterprise UX?
Most definitely. But the past five years have made it clear that enterprise UX is not owned by the UX team—it’s owned by the enterprise. To make the conference a home for anyone involved with the enterprise experience, we’re considering changing the conference’s name to something more inclusive—perhaps simply “Enterprise Experience”.
While the name is important, the program and the people it serves are what matter most. If you’d like to keep up on our progress and let us know what kind of program you would like to see, please subscribe to our Enterprise UX community mailing list. That’s where we’ve already been sharing resources, ideas, and discussions about Enterprise UX for many months now, mostly in the form of free monthly videoconference calls. I hope you’ll join us and be part of the discussion!
We recently posted the preliminary program for DesignOps Summit 2018!
We say “preliminary” because our sessions’ titles and descriptions will get tuned between now and November. As with all Rosenfeld Media conferences, we spend months torturing, er, working closely with our speakers to tune their content and presentation style. We also have some “TBD” spaces in the program where we plan to try some different types of content out; more on that soon.
You’ll be pleased to know that all Rosenfeld Media paperbacks and Two Waves paperbacks are 15% to 50% off this week (through 11:59pm EDT Saturday, August 11) when you purchase directly from us. Don’t miss out!
Summer is one of the four best seasons for stocking up your UX library. (And, if you’re Down Under, so is winter.)
Justifying design and research is the top challenge that comes up in our user research at Rosenfeld Media. We want to help you get over that hump, so we’ve put together The Business Case for Design, a one-day virtual conference that takes place Tuesday, July 31 (10am-5pm EDT).
Six industry leaders will share a rich set of perspectives on how to effectively make the case for design:
- Nutanix founder Dheeraj Pandey will share a CEO’s perspective on what business leaders need to know about the value of design
- Customer Experience guru Kerry Bodine will share case studies of how service design creates business value by focusing on your customers’ ecosystems
- Jeff Sauro, author of Quantifying User Experience, will show you scientific methods for using data to drive and justify design decisions
- Innovator JD Buckley will model how to demonstrate the ROI of your design work based on a case study from ADP
- Author and design educator Nathan Shedroff will help you tap hidden opportunities to create and grow relationships with your customers with a set of new design-centric tools
- Jared Spool, founder of User Interface Engineering, will arm you with strategies to use design to set you apart from your competitors
At the end of each session, you will have an opportunity to ask questions. Bring your whole team for a shared learning experience, or attend solo in your PJs—after all, it’s a virtual conference! And you can listen to the session recordings at your own convenience—they’re included in the price of your ticket.