• 22 Apr 2009 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    This year marked the 10th anniversary of the annual IA Summit conference, and we were lucky enough to have six local colleagues (including myself) make it out to Memphis, TN for the event. In an effort to bring the Summit back to the community, we held a recap event last Thursday. We shared our favorite presentations, and some of the larger themes we noticed throughout the event.

    A huge thanks to everyone who came out, and, as promised, here are the presentations we talked about:
    Amanda McGuire (BCBSNC)

    • "ROI: Speaking the Language of Business," Eric Reiss
    • "Using Enterprise IA to Support Business Strategy," Gary Carlson & Samantha Starmer
    • "When Appeasement is Not Enough undefined Or, How to Work Within 'Government Time'," Naomi Norman
    • "Strategies for Enabling UX to Play a More Strategic Role," Richard Anderson & Craig Peters
    • "Turning HiPPOs into Allies: How to Connect With Powerful People in Your Organization," Samantha Starmer

    File Attachments
    Download file:



    Javier Velasco (UNC SILS)

    Anita Crescenzi (UNC Health Sciences Library)

    File Attachments
    Download file:



    Jonell Gades (Fidelity)

    File Attachments
    Download file:



    Jackson Fox (Viget Labs)

    File Attachments
    Download file:



    Other Resources
    In addition to our slides and the presentations linked above, you can see many more presentations on Slideshare, and listen to podcasts of the sessions on Boxes & Arrows.

  • 31 Mar 2009 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    The School of Information & Library Science at UNC has an interesting seminar happening this Friday undefined

    Talk: Interaction Design for Novel Media Technologies
    Speaker: Dr. Hyowon Lee, Dublin City University

    Manning Hall 208
    UNC Chapel Hill
    Friday April 3rd

    Current R&D in media technologies such as Multimedia, Semantic Web and Sensor Web technologies are advancing in a fierce rate and will sure to become part of our important regular items in a 'conventional' technology inventory in near future. While the R&D nature of these technologies means their accuracy, reliability and robustness are not sufficient enough to be used in real world yet, we want to envision now the near-future where these technologies will have matured and used in real applications in order to explore and start shaping many possible new ways these novel technologies could be utilised. In this talk, some of this effort in designing novel applications that incorporate various media technologies as their backend will be presented. Examples include novel scenarios of LifeLogging application that incorporate automatic structuring of millions of photos passively captured from a SenseCam (wearable digital camera that automatically takes photos triggered by environmental sensors) and an interactive TV application incorporating a number of multimedia tools yet extremely simple and easy to use with a remote control in a lean-back position. The talk will conclude with remarks on how the design of novel applications that have no precedence or existing user base should require somewhat different approach from those suggested and practiced in conventional usability engineering methodology.

  • 31 Mar 2009 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    The Carolinas Chapter of the American Society for Information Science and Technology is hosting this workshop on content management systems...

    Event details
    There are roughly a gazillion open-source CMS products using a variety of means (PHP, Ruby on Rails, Java, blogging software, etc.) to manage documents, graphics, text, and other digital creations. They can also be used to manage web content, and hold the promise that all you need to do is create the content and leave the HTML markup and publishing to the CMS.

    But just what exactly is a CMS? What does it look like? How does it work? Many CMS products are free or open-source--but does that mean they're cheap in terms of the time you spend setting them up?

    This event is intended for beginners or those new to the CMS idea. It's especially for anyone who's been asked to use a CMS to revamp their organization's web site, but doesn't know where to start or where to go for more information.

    There will be no hands-on activities at this event, but there will be plenty of opportunity to see a few choice CMS products in action and to ask lots of questions.

    Saturday, April 18

    9 a.m.-1 p.m. (approx)

    Manning Hall, UNC-CH campus


    Registration Fees
    Students (with ID or student email address): $15

    Members of STC or ASIS&T: $25

    General: $35

    You can pay via credit card at the cc:ASIS&T site.

    Register now:


    9:00-9:30 "What Is A CMS? Do I Need One?"

    9:40-10:10 Break-Out Groups (one presenter for each room, one CMS for each room)

    10:20-10:50 Break-Out Groups

    11:00-11:30 Break-Out Groups

    11:30-Noon Lunch and chat

    Noon-1p.m. Continue eating during informal Q&A with all three presenters

    Jeff VanDrimmelen: "What is a CMS? Do I Need One?"

    Dan Frey: WordPress

    Julia Kulla-Mader: Drupal

    Jonathan Pletzke: Joomla

    Q&A session will be with all four presenters listed above.

  • 06 Mar 2009 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    Todd Wilkens (from Adaptive Path) presented a full-day workshop on design research for TriUPA on Friday 2/20/09.

    Todd introduced Adaptive Path's design research process, emphasizing the importance of qualitative, contextual research. He argued for focusing on people's behaviors, motivations, and meanings (as opposed to a more traditional user research focus on tasks, goals, and preferences).

    Here are some ideas I took home from the workshop…

    Approach and framing

    • One's attitude to the research process is important. Research shouldn’t be “scary”undefinedit’s just “going out and talking to people.”
    • UX practitioners should embrace the “messy complexity of human life,” and look for behaviors, motivations, and meanings. Todd argued that using this type of language/framingundefinedas opposed to traditional usability language of tasks, goals, and preferencesundefinedreinvigorates design practice.
    • Adaptive Path won’t do projects without time and access for stakeholder interviews. They rely on these interviews to unearth assumptions, benefit from good ideas, identify landmines, and find misalignment within the client organization. They deal with conflicting stakeholder views by presenting the alternative views objectively, and helping stakeholders reach a consensus or decision.

    Research methods

    • Be creative and open when brainstorming research methods. Todd told workshop participants to “consider illegal ideas”undefinedI found this approach helped to broaden my thinking, as our group considered unusual approaches such as wiretapping and disguising a researcher as a taxi driver. These off-the-wall ideas can lead, in turn, to divergent but practical (and legal!) approaches.
    • It’s important to think about the experience of research approaches and methods from the participant’s perspective. Is a survey going to be time-consuming and out of the context of use? Is an interview trying to address topics that are too personal?
    • People fundamentally want to tell their stories… they just need to be in the right context to do so.
    • Give team members--particularly clients--a clear role to play when conducting interviews. For example, if a client comes to a field interview with the research team, give him a camera and ask him to take photos.
    • Debrief after field interviews using a summary sheet of the key, high-priority research questions guiding the project. Have each interviewer review these questions individually, noting relevant insights from the fieldwork, then discuss as a team.

    Suggested resources

    Please add your thoughts, questions, and resources in the comments!

    VP, Professional Development Programs // TriUPA

  • 03 Mar 2009 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    TriUPA recently organized a viewing of the Rosenfeld Media webinar, "What Every Designer Should Know About Interface Engineering." Thanks to Brian Russell of Carrboro Creative Co-Working for hosting this event!

    TriUPA member Scott Boggs of RTI has kindly provided a recap of the webinar. Thanks, Scott!

    The talk was basically conveying a developer’s perspective to designers (e.g. visual designers). He generally did not consider designers as the folks doing the front-end (HTML/CSS) code; but rather, the ones creating the static visual design/layout and perhaps some interaction design.


    Code: DHTML, XML, JavaScript, PHP/JSP/ASP, HTML, CSS, Frameworks (i.e. STRUTS, JQuery), etc…
    Visual Designs, i.e. Photoshop, maybe Flash, Illustrator, Fireworks, etc… He generally thought of (and critiqued) static designs coming from designers.

    Implementation Focus
    Inspiration Focus

    Generally Logical
    Generally Creative

    1. The Site is Dynamic

    Photoshop is static and thus can limit thinking, web sites and applications are not. Prototype early and often. Consider the dynamic nature of the site as an opportunity and challenge, not as a problem.

    • Dynamic Content:
      • must “integrate content and make it functional”.
      • Suggests reading “Scalable Design” article by Luke W.
      • Must account for potentially long titles (dynamically generated).
      • Must design for potentially large data sets
    • Dynamic Layout:
      • Some designs allow user to affect layout
      • Fluid layoutundefinedwhat happens when you resize browser
      • The visual design must account for these
    • Dynamic Interaction:
      • Design for the interesting moments up front
      • Prototype, Prototype, Prototype!!!
      • Consider “micro-moments” within larger interactions, i.e. each state during a drag and drop interaction.
    • Scalable Design:
      • Ensure the design can scale if/when site content grows/changes
      • Suggests book “Designing Web Interfaces” which discusses 12 screen patterns

    2. Technology is Critical

    Designers must understand the “magic” that brings design to life, and difficulties such as:

    • 14 known IE6 layout bugs
    • 63 different rounded-corner techniques
    • 9 ways to layout columns
    • 3 browser rendering engines
    • 34 ways to improve performance
    • Etc…

    Thus, opt for markup based designs; move away from graphics-intensive design. Plan for “spriting”undefinedmore efficient use of images. [ Here’s an article on spriting. ]

    • Example: Netflix’s star rating display used to use an image file with 51 lines of stars that moved to display different ratings. Thus when they modified something, they had to update the 51 sub-images. Now they use 2 imagesundefined1 of 5 blank stars, 1 of 5 full stars. They position the full-star image over the blank stars and adjust the width of the full star image to display more or less of it. They can show more states with less images.

    Designers should know how stuff gets used: he suggests using Firebug (FF add-on) to explore elements.

    Know what is challenging, i.e.:

    • Vertical alignment
    • Rounded corners and drop shadow
    • Columns aligned at bottom
    • Pixel perfect widths
    • Specifying max/min width
    • Taming IE6
    • Hard to layout against browser flow
    • Height is harder to control
    • Etc…


    • Know what technology can and can’t do.
    • Not all designs cost the same
    • Know what your engineers can and can’t do.

    Plan for quick, early iterations and test the prototypes.

    Ultimately, “the most important thing is to get things done”; i.e. don’t be a CSS (or other kind of) preacher.

    3. Components are Key

    Components and template mean reusable modules, templates, layouts, etc… Developers tend to think in terms of reuse; designers tend to want variety. Components generally refer to reusable chunks of code, templates to a reusable visual designs (and also the HTML/CSS code to display it).

    • Embrace Componentsundefineddesign for each component and its reuse throughout the site.
      • e.g. Netflix maps all pages into templates, and have named and defined the sections on each template.
      • e.g. the display of DVD covers with “Add/Play” buttons is a component reused throughout the site.
    • Embrace Grids
    • Component/Template resources
      • Blueprint CSS framework
      • Yahoo User Interface Library, i.e. Grid Builder
      • PLUM: “a new, free, all-in-one "magic bullet" for ColdFusion developers.”
      • 960 Grid Systemundefinedsimilar to Blueprint
      • jQueryundefined“jQuery is not hard for designers to pick up to add behaviors and interactions to pages”

    4. Partnership is Imperative

    “The magic happens with collaboration.” “Communicate and iterate.”


    • There is a power to naming things, i.e. a name contains a concept.
    • Explore or develop pattern libraries
      • e.g. Yahoo Developer Network Design Pattern Library
      • Be aware of “anti-patterns” like “hover & cover” (pop up content that hides important elements, like a link or button)
    • Suggests a book “The Non-Designer’s Design Book” [ probably more for developers ]
    • (Designers) “talk to your engineers.”
      • They hold weekly roundtable to throw around and explore new ideas and also to air frustrations and difficulties.
    • Practice transparencyundefinedget your design “into the wild”. i.e. make it visible, let it generate conversations, print it huge and post it in hallways or meeting rooms.
    • Make designs URL accessible, not trapped on a hard drive somewhere.

    Iterate (Prototype):

    • Can use Keynote, PowerPoint, Flash, Fireworks, jQuery, [ or paper, or other methods ] to make prototypes
    • e.g. Netflix created 150 variations on a button prototype (in 1 week) and then tested/accessed them before choosing one.

    5. Yes, We Can.

    Given ongoing advances in technology, interface engineers have the power to say “Yes” more than ever.

    • IE8
      • has accelerators and visual search
      • is fully CSS 2.1 compliant
        • CSS based table layouts more functional
        • Fixes margin collapsing
        • Fixes the “hasLayout” issues
    • Safari/Webkit
      • Has more CSS goodness
        • i.e. masks, reflection, canvass drawing, gradients, marquee
      • Safari 4 just released
      • Generally font-scaling is now being handled by newer browsers
    • Chrome
    • Firefox 3.1
      • Faster JavaScript engine
      • Support for HTML 5
      • PRISM
      • “Weave”undefinedpushing metadata into “Cloud”
    • Yahoo Browser Plus
      • Rich web app.s with desktop features
    • HTML 5
      • Canvass tag
      • Offline storage
      • Drag and drop
      • Etc…
    • Silverlight
      • Rich set of controls
      • Zooming
      • Rich media support
    • Flash 10
    • Flex for Flash Platform development
    • Adobe Air
      • Blurring lines between web and desktop app.

    Expect to see more rich media and video integrated into web sites/apps.

  • 25 Feb 2009 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    PDMA Carolinas is a community for North and South Carolina professionals and organizations that have a stake in the broad areas of product and service innovation, development, and management, from the very front end of innovation to manufacturing.

    PDMA has kindly extended a membership discount to TriUPAians--just register with discount code 'TriUPAVIP'.

    Upcoming events

    March 3, 2009, Charlotte, North Carolina
    Discovering Your Next Great Innovation:
    How Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI) is driving organic growth at Ingersoll-Rand

    With The Innovator's Dilemma and The Innovator's Solution, Clayton Christensen grounded the nation's innovation initiatives around the key question, "What job does this product or service actually do?" Strategyn has taken this philosophy and created a repeatable process that a company can actually execute.
    Join Rick Norman of Strategyn and Jeff Hynds of Ingersoll Rand as they lead an interactive discussion of how Outcome-Driven Innovation® has actually been put into practice at IR.

    Discounts for early registration are available until February 25th.

    Registration and details.
    March 24, 2009, Greenville, South Carolina
    PDMA at InnoVenture SouthEast 2009 Conference

    Robin Karol, Executive Director, PDMA, to speak during lunch keynote (conference attendees only)

    Afternoon session on Collaborative Product Development: Best Practices, Pitfalls, and Tools (free session, open to the public)
    This session will feature a panel of product research and development experts from leading manufacturing and education institutions in South Carolina including Milliken, Michelin, Clemson, and Selah Technologies.

    Registration and details.

    March 26, 2009, RTP, North Carolina
    The Future is Now: iRobot's Journey of Commercializing Autonomous Solutions

    Founded in 1990 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, iRobot (Nasdaq: IRBT) is at the forefront of the growing robot industry, delivering home and government robots that make a difference in people's lives.
    Join Edison Hudson, Director Strategic Alliances, iRobot, and Rick Vosburgh, Executive Director, iRobot, for an informative presentation of iRobot's journey - from its initial struggles to the overwhelming success of Roomba, PackBot and other robots thanks to innovation, persistence, and flexibility.
    Network with our speakers, and with your peers from the PDMA and our event partners ASME and TriUPA.

    Discounts for early registration are available until March 1st.

    Registration and details.

  • 17 Jan 2009 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    Deadline to register

    TriUPA's upcoming workshop on design research methods ("Adaptive Path's Approach to Design Research" --, will be held on Friday, February 20th at CED from 9am - 5:00pm (lunch is included in the cost of the workshop).

    » You must register online by 5:00pm Wed 2/18/09 to attend the workshop.

    Don't let money be an object to your attending the workshop! Contact Abe Crystal if you can't afford the workshop fee, particularly if you're between jobs or you can't get expense approval from your employer.
    About the workshop
    This workshop is for intermediate to advanced UX professionals working to develop a more complete understanding of their customers. Todd (from Adaptive Path) will guide attendees beyond usability tests and focus groups to gain a deeper and more complete picture of their customers' lives. This workshop covers everything from basic models of human behavior to interviewing and data analysis to strategies for making research work effective in your organization.

    The majority of discussions about user research focus on the details of various methodologies such as interviews, lab studies, surveys, etc. But the bulk of the hard work and value in research comes from what happens before and after data collection. This day is structured to provide you with a framework for conducting effective user research with a focus on research planning and analysis. Effective research is about generating ideas as much as it is about evaluating design concepts; activities and concepts will focus on developing a deep understanding of your customers through qualitative and contextual research. Nearly every section involves hands-on research activities to help you learn to put the concepts we discuss into practice.

    And here's a nice review of a design research workshop Todd presented in Minneapolis, by TriUPA member Geoff Mackey.

  • 16 Jan 2009 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    In the HFI webinar "The Science of Persuasive Design," presenters Kath Straub and Spencer Gerrol highlighted social psychology studies behind persuasive design and many examples of its application. Here's a recap of the talk from TriUPA member Scott Boggs, Web Designer at RTI International.

    The webinar was hosted by:, who also kindly provided drinks and donuts.

    “Ugly Options”
    A study asked people to choose who they’d like to date from 3 photos: Tom, Jerry, and a photo of Jerry modified to make him less attractive (users did not know this was a modified picture). Most picked Jerry.

    Same study, but when photos were: Tom, an “ugly” version of Tom, and Jerryundefinedpeople mostly picked Tom

    Take Away: People unconsciously respond to the relation of options presented; the regular Tom or Jerry appeared more appealing when juxtaposed to a similar, but less attractive, choice.

    Example: Magazine subscription:

    When offered 2 choices:

    Web subscription: $58
    Print subscription: $125

    Most chose the Web subscription.

    But when offered 3 choices:

    Web subscription: $58
    Print and Web subscription: $125
    Print subscription: $125

    Most chose the Print + Web subscription.

    Example: Restaurant Wine sales

    People tend to choose the middle option. So with 3 bottles of wine--$8, $27, and $33undefinedmost choose the $27 bottle.
    But when higher priced option is added--$8, $27, $33, $51undefinedpeople then tend to choose the $33 bottle.

    Take Away: Higher priced option sets an “anchor” of reference. It “reframes” the comparison.

    "Social Proof/Social Pressure"
    “If others are doing it, it must be good.”

    Example: People in shoe store who want to try on what other customers are trying.

    Example: Acting troops in urban setting who en masse look at the sky or duck at the same time; regular people all around will also look up or duck.

    Example: Towels in Hotel. To encourage customers to re-use towels, hotels first used signs saying “Help Save the Earth”undefinedbut it was not effective (persuasive). Changing it to something like “Other customers are re-using their towels” greatly increased re-use. Further modifying message to something like “previous customers in this room re-used their towels” had an even greater effectundefinedit became even more personal, and thus more persuasive.

    Example: Airline website had better purchase ratios when they added a graphic “Top 10 Destination” to certain flights. Even greater success occurred when they added a pop up testimonials from an average customer to the flight listing.

    Scarcity has the benefit of Social Proof (others are doing it), plus added pressure.

    The same airline website, above, had a further increase in view/purchase ratios when they added the number of seats left to the flight listings. “2 seats left” implies that others are doing it and also creates pressure about availability.

    Example: Beef in Argentina
    Predictions that bad weather in Argentina would limit beef production led to 2X the usual amount of orders. Announcing that these beef sales would be handled by an exclusive supplier, led to 6X the regular orders.

    Example: When shoe salesman person says “I’m not sure if we have that in stock”, customers wanted the items more.

    Take Away: the implication of scarcity increasing customers’ anxiety and their likelihood to purchase.

    How you present information can make one change their attitude or perception.

    Example: 2 presentations of Tooth Flossing scale (desired outcome = call your dentist)

    • How often do you floss each week? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    • How often do you floss each month? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7+

    Someone who flosses 2x/week ends up on the low end of the 1st scale (framed as weekly), they are more likely to call dentist. But on the 2nd scale (framed as monthly) they are at the topundefinedand thus less likely to call dentist.

    Take Away: how you lay out the scale options creates the anchors and thus changes perceptions.


    Example: Car wash punch card requiring 8 car washes to get a free oneundefined2 different designs

    • User gets card with 8 empty squares, after getting 8 washes (and the card punched) then they get a free car wash. This had 19% completion rate.
    • User gets card with 10 empty squares, but employee punches 2 to when they give them the card. This had 34% completion rate, almost double the other design.

    "Processing Fluency – Rhyme"

    Rhyming statements are judged to be more accurate and trustworthy

    Example: “Caution and measure will win you treasure.” was perceived as more trusted than “Caution and measure will win you riches.” And likewise for other phrases.

    Example: Readsmart typography
    Studies showed that in printed text, increasing the white space between clauses, phrases, and sentences and also making phrases end on the same line of text (i.e. not wrap) led to increased ease of reading, better comprehension, and faster reading.

    Studies of this type treatment in non-profit donation appeal forms show increased rates of response and also increased amounts of donation.

    Take Away: designed the visual display of type to mimic our spoken language makes it more effective. This could help web content to be faster and easier to read. (get your $amp; or <span style=”white-space: nowrap”></span> code ready!)

    "Opt In or Opt Out?"

    Example: Organ Donation

    • Countries who use an Opt In form, i.e. “Check the box if want to donate your organs” have a low rate of organ donors. (i.e. 20%)
    • Countries who use an Opt Out form, i.e. “Check the box if you do not want to donate your organs” have a much higher rate of organ donors. (i.e. 95+%)
    • In another test, “neutral” yes/no check boxes led to an 80% donation rate, while Opt In had 40% rate, and Opt Out had a 90% rate.

    "The Number of Choices Influences Outcomes"

    Too many choices leads to increase likelihood of opting out, not buying, not choosing, etc…

    Example: Jam sample displays in super market showing 6 jams or 24 jams. The stands with 6 jams had fewer people approach but far more ended up buying the jam. The stands with 24 jams had more people test the jams (bigger display = more noticed?) but significantly fewer people bought any jam.

    Example: offers filters in the left column to narrow parameters and reduce listings. People are far more likely to purchase from a list of 4 results than from a list of 500.

    Example: When consulting with patients who had tried multiple treatments for hip problems to no avail, doctors who understood the remaining choices to be, 1., ibuprofen, or, 2., Hip replacement surgery were more likely to recommend ibuprofen. However, doctors who understood the remaining choices to be 1. ibuprofen, 2., another medication which demanded some understanding, or ,3., hip replacement surgery were more likely to recommend surgery.

    Take Away: too many choices confused customers/users/doctors. They are more likely to act/purchase/etc… when presented fewer choices.

    Example of Number of Choices combined with Framing Concept:
    People were asked to either:

    • 3 reasons why you love your significant other, or
    • 10 reasons why you love your significant other

    And then asked “How much do you love your significant other?” People who were asked to give only 3 reasons felt that they love their sig. other more than people who had to give 10 reasons. Probably, it was harder to give 10 reasons so they perceived that they didn’t love their sig. other as much. It’s similar to the flossing scale above.

    "Reciprocity vs. Reward"

    Customers develop greater trust for companies/sites who offer them something before they complete some task (i.e. register on the site, give personal information, make a purchase) than for companies/sites who offer them the same thing as a reward after completing the task.

    Example: Website had more success in getting users personal information when they offered the related white paper free to any user and then asked for info. They were less successful when they offered the white paper as a reward for giving the personal information. The later strategy resulted in more people giving information (i.e. to get the reward) but half the amount of information was given.

    Persuasion techniques can amplify motivations and/or remove blocks and barriers.

    For more information, you can visit the presenters’ website:

  • 13 Jan 2009 5:00 PM | Deleted user


    Matthew Cornell (see his site,, for lots of ideas and tips on personal productivity) presented "Reboot Your Work: Modern Methods for Productivity, Sanity, and Control" on Monday, January 12th.

    This was the first full-day workshop in TriUPA’s 2009 professional training series. Nearly 30 TriUPAians from around the Triangle attended. Special thanks to TriUPA’s generous sponsors, who made this workshop (and all of TriUPA’s events!) possible:

    • GSK
    • BlueCross BlueShield
    • Insight
    • Lenovo
    • Capstrat
    • User-View
    • SAS
    • MoreBetterLabs

    You can help support our workshops, virtual seminars, World Usability Day celebration, and other events: join TriUPA today!

    Key take-aways

    Here are some of the key points that I took away from the workshop. Please add your own comments, notes, and questions!

    Matt emphasized the importance of systematically processing all new inputs (whether email, voicemail, paper, a conversation, etc.) using a consistent workflow [see Matt's flowchart.pdf]. Regular, thorough processing prevents inputs from piling up, which can cause anxiety and stress. Ideally, it's best to set up minimum number of collection points, then train yourself and others (colleagues, family, etc.) to use them consistently.

    Calendars are often overloaded with many types of information. Matt argued it's better to keep calendars as clean as possible, containing only appointments/meetings, as well as reminders of upcoming deadlines, and date-specific actions (such as, "Pick up a cake for Fred's birthday party sometime on Friday"). By keeping our calendars clean and current, we can work with confidence: checking our calendars for "must do today" meetings and actions, then reviewing and working from a defined list of actions.

    Strong parallels between personal productivity and user-centered design emerged during the workshop. We can treat the challenge of personal productivity as a design problem at the personal level. Consider thinking of yourself as the end user, and imagine how to design a workflow system to support your needs, tasks, and information flows. Matt provided a set of heuristics and guidelines that can inform this personal design process. A related problem is that we've never been taught how to manage ourselves, so need training in "Workflow 101." By combining better design of our personal systems with education and training, we can achieve huge gains in effectiveness, efficiency, and reduced stress. (And as we learned in the workshop, the CDC estimates that 80% of health problems in the US are stress-related!)

    Matt recommends people consider planning each day the night before, so as to have a structure in place before diving into a work environment that's often filled with distractions and interruptions. Since multitasking and constant interruptions dramatically reduce our ability to concentrate and do complex intellectual work, it's essential to build defenses that can protect our focus and attention.

    Overall, the workshop helped me "reboot my work" by reflecting on how I manage my inputs, calendar, projects, actions, and review processes. I know from experience that personal systems become stale over time, and it's critical to regularly re-assess and improve them. Thanks to Matt for helping me, and others, begin that crucial work.

    Resources mentioned:

    Upcoming workshop: Design Research!

    Todd Wilkens (design researcher at Adaptive Path) will visit TriUPA on February 20th! Register for his workshop now at:

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