Category Archives: General

Research Together with Erika Hall of Mule Design — Melbourne on 9 September.

Earlier this year we were pleased to work together with our friends at Mule Design to bring Mike Monteiro’s “Presenting Design Like Your Life Depends On It” to Melbourne’s design and UX community.

Erika Hall speaking at An Event Apart. Image by Jeffrey Zeldman https://www.flickr.com/photos/zeldman/15661153745/

Next up, Erika Hall, author of the shortest (and in my opinion, best) book on research “Just Enough Research” is going to be showing us all how to Research Together in Melbourne on 9 September.

The workshop will cover the most practical approaches for anyone busy doing other things. And show you how to fit research into virtually any timeline, type of organization, or process.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Use research in any organization, budget, team, or timeframe
  • Identify and formulate your key questions (Hint: they’re not the ones you think they are.)
  • Choose research methods and activities
  • Master the art of the interview
  • Think as a team to get the best insights from your data
  • Digest, report, and share insights so that none get lost or go to waste
  • Convince skeptics of the value of being a skeptic
  • Cultivate practical curiosity throughout your company

Who is this workshop for?

Anyone who participates in the design and development of any type of product or service will benefit. Designer, developer, writer, product manager, researcher — whatever your role you’ll learn how to work with your team to make better decisions faster. If you’re an independent consultant or freelancer, you’ll learn how to get your clients to understand the value of research.

The workshop is being held at Melbourne’s Kelvin Club on 9 September and tickets are available now. Come along and learn why knowledge is best when shared.

Presenting design like your life depends on it: The Melbourne Edition featuring Mike Monteiro.

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Can’t fly to San Francisco for one of Mule Design’s highly sought-after workshops? Well we’re bringing one to you, Melbourne.

Our dear friends at Mule Design Studio in San Francisco have been doing some brilliant and engaging work in the past few years — above and beyond the excellent work they do for their clients.

Starting with Mike Monteiro’s “Fuck You, Pay Me” talk at Creative Mornings, through stirring and career-shifting books and talks by both Erika Hall and Mike Monteiro, they’ve been sounding a clarion that says “we can do this much better”. And people have been listening.

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Mike Monteiro of Mule Design, who will be facilitating a workshop on presentation skills at Floate on 28 January 2016.

But nobody from Mule had ever come to Melbourne, despite our constant encouragement. But we at Floate kept persisting (hassling, really)and now we are extremely pleased be hosting a Mule workshop by Mike Monteiro “Presenting design like your life depends on it” on January 28.

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Dear Design Student, we’re here to help.

Design can be a difficult job to get a hang of. There are no apprenticeships, hardly any mentors, and people guard their experience jealously because it’s a competitive advantage.

Now there’s Dear Design Student, a new publication featuring working designers (including yours truly) who take the time to answer the questions that have been on your mind. The writing team includes Erika Hall, Jennifer Daniel, Dan Mall, Mike Monteiro, and Liam Campbell — all very talented people with a wealth of experience to share.

If you’ve got questions about the business and practice of design, head on over and ask a question.

 

Your next project needs a white-hat jerk.

A couple of years ago, a startup called Stamped created an app and service that let you rate anything and everything. Your local doughnut shop? Rate it and tell your friends. Your favourite beach? Rate it and tell your friends. In fact, rate anything you want!

But Stamped never anticipated the prankster, or what I think of as the benignly destructive user. It seems nobody ever asked “what would someone do here if they were just here to screw around?”

To borrow some words from Mike Monteiro, it had never been DickProofed.

If it had, perhaps people wouldn’t have been able to rate “Getting a hand-job during the Muppets Movie” or any of the other things that people who totally weren’t me rated on there.

Maybe it would still be around.

Yesterday, I ambled up to a colleague’s shiny new iPhone 6. I saw that it was charging, and I said “Hey Siri, from now on call me Penis-Face”. Guess what? Siri duly changed his nickname in his contacts and said “Ok, from now on, I’ll call you Penis-Face.” I exploited a ‘feature’ of iOS 8—when an iPhone is connected to power, it constantly listens for the term “Hey Siri”, followed by a command. Then it executes that command.

What I did wasn’t really malicious, but it was a dick move and a childish prank. However the point is that I shouldn’t have been able to do it. Someone on the development team for iOS 8 should have seen that a prank so obvious is something jerks are going to want to do.

This matters. Users like that—the jerks—are out there in their tens of thousands. Millions, even. They’re not exactly attempting to hurt your business or product; they just want to have a good time. That’s your problem when that good time comes at the expense of your new service or product.

As we move toward a model of the world where nearly every business is just a website with some people out the back, we’ve got to keep these jerks in mind and anticipate where they might fool around with your product to have what (to them) are a few childish laughs.

When we at Floate build things for people, I always ask “how could someone screw this up for shits and giggles?” People tend to think I’m joking but I’m deadly serious because if your site, network, or product becomes a playground for a bunch of jerks, it turns off the people whose time and attention you’re really trying to obtain. Almost nobody ever got a promotion doing that.[1]

The internet security world has for years had white-hat hackers—people whose job it is to test code for security flaws. It’s time for designers to adopt the idea. Next time you’re working on a long-term project, appoint a designated white-hat jerk; someone whose job it is to keep thinking about how a person or group with a bit of time on their hands might try to bend and twist your system for a few laughs. This isn’t simply asking someone to be a tedious Devil’s Advocate—it’s ensuring that someone is always thinking “How could someone fool around with this, and what would that mean for our end product?”

If you want to make it next-level, create a Jerk as a user persona, create some stories for them, and work out if your system is ready for them.

You’ll get push-back, but it’s worth it. Nobody wants to be the next Stamped.


  1. Well, Stamped did get acquired by Yahoo for $10 Million. ↩

Breaking our own rules, and self-doubt.

When we started The Nudge, our vision was to do something here in Melbourne that was as good or better than what we’re all so keen to consume from abroad. It’s the idea that started us on the road to creating Hookturn.

Over time our thoughts have matured, and we’ve spoken with people from around the world – most notably when Josh went to the United States and interviewed Debbie Millman, Jeffrey Zeldman, and Ethan Marcotte. But up until now, our rule has always been that we needed to speak to people face-to face. It’s a large part of why we created the Hookturn studios.

This week we broke that rule. We’ve just released a special episode of The Nudge where Josh Kinal and I talked with the incomparable Merlin Mann about self doubt.

We think it was as worth it to break the rule as it was to make it. We hope you enjoy the episode.