All posts by Louis Rosenfeld

Free e-book: Jack Moffett’s Eliminate UX Debt

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Enterprise UX, as we all know, is defined by a unique set challenges. Whether it’s lack of collaboration, legacy systems, or poor UX maturity, enterprise products can quickly accrue design debt and inconsistencies.

That’s why our partners at UXPin teamed up with EUX 2016 theme leader Jack Moffett on a new free e-book: Eliminate UX Debt.the-book-3-262x375

With nearly 20 years of enterprise UX experience, Jack Moffett is the UX Manager at Inmedius and author of Bridging UX and Web Development. He’s designed software for Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Shell, DaimlerChrysler, and many organizations within the U.S. military. Jack’s focused 45-page guide offers:

  • Practical tips for resolving product quality issues in enterprise teams
  • A framework for classifying, spotting, resolving, and avoiding UX debt
  • Advice on better design documentation, feasible usability testing, and component-based design

Jack’s book aligns perfectly with our conference’s Day 2 theme “Designing Design Systems” (which Jack moderated). Check out an exclusive excerpt below, or go ahead and grab your copy right now.

Excerpt (from chapter 3)

Once you’ve identified and prioritized your design debt, the next step is to work with product management to get it into your release schedule.

Agile is so popular these days that it seems like any process that isn’t Agile is labeled “waterfall.” I find that to be a bit dismissive. There are degrees of being Agile, and you can have an effective, iterative process that doesn’t involve stories, scrums, and sprints.

For our purposes, however, I’ll address all non-Agile processes at once. Then I’ll make suggestions for Agile teams.

Not Agile

Your work is likely planned based on a release cycle. Your organization decides what will go into the next release based on criteria such as how long the development effort will be; how badly a feature is needed by customers; what will sell; what bugs exist and how bad they are; and so forth.

I recommend handling UX debt issues as bugs. The real benefit of this approach is that debt items can be entered and tracked using the same tools and business processes as bugs. This will ensure that they get reviewed and treated equally. A representative from the UX team on the issue review board should prioritize items, ensuring that usability issues get the full weight they deserve.

Ideally, a representative from the UX team will also work closely with product management when releases are scheduled.

When a particular part of the application is being scheduled for work, check it for UX debt. Would it add much effort to address the debt at the same time? Often, there will be savings simply because the code is already being updated by developers. Even if it’s a low-priority item, take advantage of the opportunity to pay down some debt.


A company that employs a healthy Agile process shouldn’t have any problem prioritizing debt with other types of work, assigning it story points, and fitting it into sprints.

1. Find the rhythm

In my own experience, however, Agile has been embraced as a way to get more work done faster, rather than as a method of iterative improvement.

In such situations, you may have a harder time scheduling UX debt because (as management sees it) there’s not enough time to fit in everything they aim to wrap up, so there certainly isn’t time for all those trivial corrections you’re asking for.

Photo credit: Laura Kershaw ( Design process at Kaplan Test Prep (

Photo credit: Laura Kershaw. Design process at Kaplan Test Prep.

If you find yourself in such an environment, your goal should be to find a rhythm for addressing debt.

Propose a certain number of story points per sprint (or every other sprint). Or, perhaps a sprint could be devoted to addressing debt at some regular interval (payback sprint). This should be done at least until the backlog of historic debt—your debt inventory—has been handled. Then it should become easier to keep up with new debt that crops up without that regular schedule.

2. Try a “Cheese Day”

For even tighter schedules, consider holding a Cheese Day to knock out as much debt as possible. Management is almost always receptive to a one-day workshop every 60 days where you knock many items off the debt list.

The following procedure suggested by Roy Man is both realistic and effective:

1. About 2-4 weeks before Cheese Day, create the project in your app of choice (Asana, Trello, Basecamp, etc) and encourage everyone from customer support to developers and designers to briefly describe product annoyances.

2. Prioritize the cheese list based on the advice in the below chart. Separate the “Quick Wins” from the “Nice-to-Haves”.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 3.48.43 PM

Photo credit: Joe Natoli

3. Schedule 6-8 hours for the Cheese Day, inform everyone of the date, then dive right into the “Quick Wins”. Everyone will feel productive, and you’ll have progress to show management at the end. After prioritizing your debt, the next step is to work with product management to get it into your release schedule.

Agile is so popular these days that it seems like any process that isn’t Agile is labeled “waterfall.” I find that to be a bit dismissive. There are degrees of being Agile, and you can have an effective, iterative process that doesn’t involve stories, scrums, and sprints.

Get the e-book
Want more? Then go ahead and download your copy of Jack Moffett’s Eliminate UX Debt. You can also check out more enterprise UX e-books over at UXPin’s free online library.

Announcing the 2016 Enterprise UX Storytellers

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Though the Enterprise UX conference is only in its second year, we already have a tradition we’re proud of: our enterprise UX storytelling session. Dan Willis—who is really just amazing at choosing and preparing speakers—has lined up eight enterprise UX people to present their ideas, stories, and rants for five minutes apiece in rapid succession.

Last year’s enterprise UX stories truly electrified the crowd. Check out the videos, then behold our 2016 storytellers:

  • Emileigh Barnes, Lead Content Designer, 18F
    Story: From chaos to content strategy: Practical steps you can take away from the Federal Election Commission’s content redesign.
  • Matt DeSio, Senior UX Designer, QMerit
    Story: Haphazard accessibility improvements saved my job.
  • Lada Gorlenko, Principal, Everlime Consulting
    Story: Don’t be blindsided by the goodness your ideas bring; poke holes in it them now.
  • Rachel Hallock, Senior Designer, DesignMap
    Story: The story of how I messed up my first project, 6000 times.
  • Ramya Mahalingam, UX Architect, Cardinal Solutions
    Story: How a mistake led to an entire career change.
  • Elisa Miller, Principal, UX Design, CA Technologies
    Story: Defining the structure for a job classification such as user experience is a challenge in any organization; when you couple the evolutionary nature of UX over the last few years with the restrictive rules for structure in an enterprise HR organization, the journey can route through hell.
  • Teena Singh, UX Director, ADP
    Story: The unsung hero of the Enterprise UX team.
  • Jesse Zolna, Director, UX Research, ADP
    Story: A poetic expression of frustration with the Know-It-Alls that seem to be everywhere in large enterprise organizations.

You won’t want to miss these stories! They’re one of the many reasons to register for Enterprise UX 2016.

Introducing Challenge Sprints

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Are you facing a big, messy headache of an enterprise UX problem? Wish you could work on it with some peers who share the same challenge?

Good news! We’ll be trying out something new at Enterprise UX 2016: Challenge Sprints. They’ll be a great way for you to crack a tough enterprise UX challenge with small groups of about 20 peers. You might even return to work with a solution to apply right away!

XPLANE logoSound promising? It gets even better:
1. XPLANE, the consultancy that uses design to transform the way organizations solve challenges, is providing a crack three-person team to facilitate each challenge sprint.
2. If your challenge statement is one of the four accepted, your Enterprise UX 2016 registration is on us. And we’ll list you on the conference program.

Here’s how Challenge Sprints work

  • Submissions come from you. We’ll select four challenge statements (submission form below) and let you know when they’re live.
  • Anyone registered for the conference can attend. Space is limited to 20 people per sprint, first-come first-serve, at no additional cost. No more than one Sprint per person, please.
  • Two hour sprints. At the end, we’ll work with each team to create a short, shareable video of the outcome.
  • Ongoing collaboration. We’ll make Slack channels available to each team before, during, and after the conference.

Challenge Sprints are scheduled as a parallel track during the main conference program. So participating in a Sprint does mean missing one of the conference themes, but you can catch up: all conference presentation videos will be available for you to watch shortly after the conference.

What might make for a good Challenge Sprint?

That’s ultimately up to you, but here are some models:

For design systems to be successfully adopted by our enterprises, we have to give up control of them. If we’re no longer owners what role should UX people have after the design system is socialized?

There are many strands of user research happening independently throughout our enterprise. If we could align them, the sum would be greater than the parts. How might we bring them together to yield better insights?

To submit your challenge statement

Submissions are now closed. Winners will be announced April 29th.

To participate in a Challenge Sprint

  • Check back here, subscribe to our mailing list, and/or follow us on Twitter so you’ll know as soon as they’ve been announced.
  • We’ll provide a form to sign up for Challenge Sprints then.

See you in San Antonio!

challenge sprint image

Get your boss on board and come to Enterprise UX 2016

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Hoping to attend Enterprise UX 2016? Need a little help convincing the powers that be? Here’s our contribution to the growing genre of “convince your boss” lit. But if you have additional questions or need more help, just let us know.

Reason #1: You’ll get better at designing and researching in and for large organizations

  • Enterprise UX 2016 is built around four curated themes that magnify the conversation we’ve all been having in dribs and drabs: how to create better, more humane enterprise experiences
  • Our main conference program mixes a wide array of session types—two keynotes, twelve presentations, five workshops, four challenge sprints, and eight raucous short-storytelling sessions
  • Our advanced workshops are taught by acclaimed experts, and range far beyond design and research basics

Reason #2: You’ll be learning from true innovators

  • Our speakers are amazing, ranging from design leaders at Honeywell, GE, Salesforce, IBM, and Intuit—to authors of the field’s most influential books, like Rise of the DEO, Service Design, and The Connected Company
  • We’re driving our speakers crazy by making them work—together—on their presentations months in advance

Reason #3: You’ll make important connections

  • A healthy mix of industries send their people; in 2015, large groups from Apple, Capital Group, Dell, Frost Bank, Google, Intuit, Qualcomm, Rackspace, and Salesforce attended
  • About 60% of attendees hold mid- and senior-level positions—a uniquely high proportion for a UX conference
  • There will be no shortage of opportunities to mingle at the conference and reception

…and Reason #4: 15% off with this code!

Register with code 4REASONS by June 1 and you’ll get 15% off your pass. If you do, here’s an estimate of what the Enterprise UX 2016 will cost in US Dollars:

  • $1,356: Two-day main program at 15% off (June 8-9)
  • $591: Optional one-day workshop at 15% off (June 10)
  • $697: Three nights at Westin Riverwalk (at $199 for a city view + 16.75% tax); reserve by May 17 for discounted rate)
  • $100: Estimated meals and incidentals (we’re providing most meals)
  • $400: Estimated RT airfare from San Francisco or New York
  • $50: Estimated taxi to and from airport (we’re providing shuttles between the Westin and the conference center)
  • $3,194: Estimated total for attending Enterprise UX 2016, including one workshop

The first Enterprise UX conference was a fantastic success—and we’re looking to top it in 2016. We hope you’ll be a part of it!

Want to share this with your boss in print? Here’s a PDF.

If you or your boss never needed these reasons, why not register now?

A Call for Enterprise UX Storytellers

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If you have a compelling story about your adventures designing solutions for people within complex organizations, we want everybody at the Enterprise UX 2016 Conference to hear it.

The storytellers who rose to a similar challenge last year enchanted us with tales of bravery, fear, ingenuity, and failure. (Watch the video of the 2015 storytellers.) For this year’s conference, we are looking for three kinds of stories:

  1. Great Ideas: 
Instead of just bitching about a recurring problem, you came up with a solution that will make it go away forever. Or maybe you’ve got part of a great idea and want some of the other big brains visiting San Antonio to help you figure it out.
  2. Tales of Horror: 
You took on the unique challenges of enterprise UX… and failed! Tales of Horror should be about a specific project or effort, and there must be a clear moral to the story.
  3. Rants: We want to hear your frothing, emotional tirade. To get a slot on the program you’ll have to clearly describe what caused your outburst, and skillfully connect your experiences to experiences common to your audience.

The details

  • Each story must be told in five minutes or less.
  • Slides are optional. (Most of last year’s storytellers didn’t need them.)
  • If you get on the program, your conference registration fees are on us.

Submissions: Convince us that you are the storyteller we’re looking for by submitting:

  1. A detailed outline of the five-minute story
  2. Video of yourself telling at least a rough draft of your story. (Recommended. The quality of the video doesn’t matter; something shot with your phone will be fine. And don’t worry too much about being polished for the submission. Polish will come later.)
  3. Submit the (brief!) form below to enter.

Deadline: End of day April 1. We’ll announce the winners on April 15.

Questions? Contact The Enterprise UX Storytelling Session’s organizer Dan Willis (dan [at] dswillis dot com).

The submission period is now closed. Thanks to those of you who applied!

Sneak Peek rate ends soon

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Planning to attend Enterprise UX 2016 in San Antonio this June? You’ve got just a few days left to register at the Sneak Peek rate.

At 12:00am EST on Tuesday, January 12, the rate will increase by $200 for the two-day main program, and by $300 for the main program plus a one-day workshop.

Not sure about attending? The program might sway you—as might the speaker lineup. You could also take a minute to watch the 2015 conference’s highlight reel—or spend some more time checking out the videos of the presentations.

Hope you’ll join us this June in San Antonio!

Take a minute to get to know Enterprise UX

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Thinking about attending Enterprise UX 2016 next June in San Antonio? Take a minute to view our highlight video of 2015’s conference—it’ll give you a taste who spoke, what they covered, and how it was received.

Enterprise UX 2016: speaker line-up and new themes

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We’re back!

First things first: write “Enterprise UX 2016” on your calendar for June 8-10, 2016. Thanks to Rackspace’s generosity, we’ll be returning to San Antonio, Texas. Our main program (June 8-9) will be hosted at Rackspace’s unique headquarters; our day of workshops will be at the Westin on the Riverwalk (June 10).

The main program sandwiches two keynotes—by John Maeda of Kleiner Perkins and GE’s Greg Petroff—around four “mini-conferences” that address these themes:

    1. How to Succeed when Everyone is Your User (with Ted Booth, Sam Ladner, Fredrik Matheson, and Russ Unger)
    2. Growing UX Talent and Teams (with Susan Worthman, Adam Cutler, Karen Pascoe, and Ian Swinson)
    3. Designing Design Systems (with Jack Moffett, Nathan Curtis, Dawn Nidy, and Leisa Reichelt)
    4. The Politics of Innovation (with Richard Dalton, Steve Baty, Maria Giudice, and Harry Max)

We’ll reprise our wildly successful Enterprise UX Storytellers’ session, curated by Dan Willis, which might feature your five-minute story (or rant). And we’ll be experimenting with some other ways to get you involved with the program—more on that soon.

Our full-day workshops will be taught by Andy Polaine, Dave Gray, Lisa Welchman, Nathan Curtis, and Samantha Soma. All in all, an all-star lineup all around!

Want to keep posted as we flesh out our program? Sign up for our occasional announcements via email—or follow @enterpriseux on Twitter.

And interested in sponsoring? Read on to learn why this is a good idea.

See you this June in San Antonio!