Gourmet Experiences on a Fast-Food Budget

by July 17, 2008

In his Cooking up Gourmet Experiences on a Fast-Food Budget keynote at the Higher Education Web Symposium in Philadelphia, PA Jared Spool discussed it takes to make great experiences without a big budget.

  • What is behind a gourmet experience: meticulous preparation, quality ingredients, and a creative approach.
  • How do the best teams create design? Jared researched teams that delivered great designs and teams that tried to deliver great designs but failed. All the usability issues they found could be traced to someone missing key pieces of information. As a result, these people were not able to make appropriate decisions.
  • Every usability problem comes from decisions made without the right information.
  • A process is a series of steps to get something done. Everyone has a process. A methodology is a formalization of process that is enforced when we need other people to the same thing, multiple times. Dogma is an unquestioned faith independent of any supporting evidence.
  • When Jared began his research on design teams, he suspected there was a good methodology or dogma that every organization worked with to achieve consistently great results. It turned out the opposite was true.
  • Very few teams had methodology or dogma. Instead, all successful teams had techniques and techniques.
  • Techniques are the building blocks of a process. They need to be practiced in order to be mastered and require trial and error. Tricks are quick and easy and perhaps not the best way of doing things but they “just get things done”.
  • Best teams did not have a methodology or dogma, but everyone had techniques and tricks that the whole team knew.
  • Three core User experience attributes: vision, feedback, and culture.
  • Vision: can everyone on the team describe your vision five years from now? Where will your product be?
  • Feedback: in the last six weeks, have you spent more than two hours watching someone use your or a competitor’s design?
  • Culture: In the last six weeks, have your rewarded a team member for creating a major design failure? Every time there is a design problem, we learn something about users, their needs, and what we should be doing for them.
  • Meticulous Preparation: identify if your pages quickly communicate their purpose.
  • Quality ingredients: make sure you have content that matters to people.
  • Creative approach: look for opportunities to get things to work.