The Getting Things Done workshop at TCUK15

At the TCUK15 conference this year, John Kearney and I gave a workshop covering some techniques for “Getting Things Done” as well as general productivity tips. All of this was aimed at helping our technical communicator peers get all the things done.

Prior to the conference, we sent out some optional homework.

  1. You can start by looking at Karen’s TCUK14 slides. Note the link on the last slide that goes to a bigger reference list on her website.
  2. That brings us to the second homework item: Reading about the science behind GTD.
  3. Think about a project (or the pile of stuff you need to do) that you can bring to the workshop. Having a real-life example to work with is ideal. You can bring it on an electronic device or in a notebook or just a few sheets of paper.
  4. Consider bringing a “GTD tool” with you to the workshop. A notebook and a pen is just fine. If you are bringing an electronic device, try downloading Evernote or OneNote. Both are free and very popular to use for organising tasks. We’ll use them to demonstrate GTD principles, but it’ll be up to you to find what tool or method works best for you. After all, you are the one getting things done! By the way, if you are already using a tool that you rather like, bring it along for a show-and-tell during the workshop.

The workshop slides are on SlideShare, which will please those of you who have asked for them. The rest of this blog post is the raw (and very long) script that we put together for structuring the workshop. It grew from our discussions and planning sessions on Skype, Google Docs, and Twitter DMs! Thank goodness for technology when two speakers live in two different countries! By the way, the script is not verbatim.

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Getting at the core of UX – UX Camp CPH 2015

I was quite eager to hear the opening keynote for Day 2 of UX Camp CPH. Ida Aalen had flown down from Netlife Research in Norway to talk about the Core Model and share experiences in using it at the Norwegian Cancer Society, Telenor, and the Norwegian Blind Society.

Ida Aalen standing at the front of the auditorium presenting at UX Camp CPH 2015

I really loved Thomas’ talk the previous evening, but I think this talk topped it with its case studies, storytelling, and examples. UX in action. I do think Ida and her team grasped the idea of believing that Thomas had preached. The quality of the presentation and of the content was proof of that. If you hear about a conference where Ida is speaking, just go! And follow her on Twitter: @IdaAa. I’m a fan!

(This blog post covers only the opening keynote on Day 2. I felt it was important enough to give it its own blog post, and breaking my Day 2 notes in two might help me publish this post sooner rather than later! A later blog post will cover the sessions I attended.)

Here are my slightly cleaned up, but scribbled notes from Ida’s talk. They make most sense when you have reviewed her slides because I comment on the basis of the slides. There are also links to read at the end of my notes. This topic of the core model is definitely worth your while.

She started out her talk by saying that your website projects are about designing the home page of that website. But… surprise, surprise. By the end of her talk, she proved that you do not design for the home page at all. She showed how you look for the overlap between business objectives and user needs and design for this “Venn overlap” – the cores. If you don’t have an overlap between these objectives and needs, you’re doin’ it wrong! It also made me think of “EPPO” – the concept that every page is page one.

The core model came to the attention of the world in 2007 when her colleague, @AreGH, presented it at the IA Summit and EuroIA.

While she was talking, I quickly googled and found the A List Apart articles she mentioned:

“Who screams the loudest gets to decide.” Yup. Sigh.

Do user research and establish business objectives. AMEN!

It’s harder to protest when you have taken part in the design discussion phase.

(I made a note to connect Ida with Whitney Quesenbery because they have both done lots of work on cancer society sites in their respective countries. They did not know each other, so I feel pleased at introducing them.)

The inward path is the journey the user takes. Studying this is what makes you think more about the user and their perspective.

Interesting point about having to state something about prevention for a form of cancer even where there is no prevention. People WILL ask so if there is no information, the users will be dissatisfied and search elsewhere – and maybe get wrong info. Sometimes stating what is obvious TO YOU is important because it is not obvious to THEM.

Forward paths – where you send the user after they solve primary task.

Business objectives should be in context of the user tasks!

Keep facts and opinions clearly separate. And do this respectfully.

I like her story about changing the templates for the core model. They had one that was messy when they came out of meetings. They redesigned for mobile, but then redesigned once more. Goal: Core is same on all devices!

Content, not device, tells you about people’s situation

You google cancer because you care! 3.48 minutes spent on computer, 3.57 minutes spent on mobile. People read.

Getting more calls after redesign, but that is OK. Good point!! Some nurse said the callers are now more informed when they call in.

They didn’t care about journalists as a target audience, and now Journalists are referring to their site all the time!

So, does all this work for big business for profit? She turns to Telenor.

They had 2299 pages!!!!!!! And all thought their pages were important. Ugh.

Change is hard in big corporations!

They deleted 80% of pages on mobile broadband; sales went up 80% and support emails went down 35%!

Survey is about what’s on top of the list, but ALSO what’s on the bottom of the list. You might want to fix things if you have a business objective at bottom of user tasks.

Really fascinating to hear about her use of Statamic. You cannot publish if you don’t know the targets.

“Learn a lot about presenting design when presenting design to the blind.” @idaaa on designing for Norwegian Blind Society. There was a great photo of her presenting to some people, and one of the attendees had his head turned away. He was blind, so where he was looking was irrelevant. She said it took some getting used to.

Accessibility first! [Writing this a month after the Camp, I cannot remember where this came from. I believe Ida has a colleague who talks about this in depth in one of his talks. Ida mentioned it, but it is not in a slide. I just know I go all weak in the knees when someone acknowledges this, so I only noted the phrase and not the context.]

Ida gave us a handy link to her slides and more follow-up information to the talk.

I recently learned that Gerry McGovern’s book “The Stranger’s Long Neck” is an excellent book to read in connection with the core model that Ida presented. It’s already added to my reading list.

Ida Aalen presenting at UX Camp CPH 2015 with a slide displayed on the large screen behind her

The language of inclusion on a form

While surfing Twitter, I was drawn to this article because of its title: “Disability-smart customer service: handling difficult situations“. I clicked the link to get to the article, but I didn’t read it. I happened to scroll at the same time and ended up at the registration form section of the page. The form really caught my attention.

After the usual name and email fields on the form, I saw a text box labelled “Adjustments”. Inside the box, placeholder text stated:

Please tell us if you require any adjustments for this event e.g. dietary, access, assistance, alternative formats, interpreters or disabled parking

Screenshot of the registration form showing the Adjustments text box in the middle of the form.

I think using the term adjustments and the language of the placeholder text is neutral. This could be far less stigmatising than the label of “Disabilities”, “Accessibility”, or “Special Needs”, and much more inclusive.

The article is on the Business Disability Forum website. The event for this registration is aimed at “Customer service managers and supervisors responsible for resolving complaints and handling complex situations that may be related to a customer’s disability.” The event will discuss “some of the more challenging situations faced by customer service professionals when interacting with members of the public particularly when they have non-visible disabilities such as mental health problems, learning difficulties, dementia, autism or Asperger’s or sensory impairments that aren’t immediately apparent.”

I have no affiliation with this event or website. I just wanted to share an example of more inclusive language – simple microcopy that can make a positive difference. Nice to see that they aim to “walk the talk”.