Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Teebs, User Research & Thanks For Sharing

Weekly Update 2019-40: Beautiful streams of sound from Teebs, asking the right questions in user research and that feel when interfaces give gratitude to their users.

Tis the season for apple picking!

Music: Teebs
Another beautiful stream of sound off Flying Lotus's label Brainfeeder comes in the form of Mtendre Mandowa, aka Teebs. Multi-channel artist of music, production, painting and more, his experimental choices in instrumentation and timbre make for a journey of sound unlike so much other music that I hear lately. I imagine what makes it sound so different is his production style: sometimes referred to as "beat music", in which he records, layers, alters and organizes several sounds including harps, shakers, drum taps and even tape peeling. Check it out:

Adriana Portela has come and gone. Even through the language barrier, she was such a lovely guest to have. Best moments include

  • us speaking to each other through Google Translate on my phone (all our conversations are saved forever!)
  • she went out to get a beer, the liquor store was closed, and she came back with potato chips (my kind of person)
  • she asked me how to turn off the light in the kitchen, only to laugh and realize it was a skylight
Though we didn't have the opportunity to speak to each other in the same language, I had a great time hosting her and learning her drumming style. She taught us dance moves as well as rhythms, and took us through stretching exercises which I really appreciate. I always stretch but I can never get anyone else to do it with me.

See you in Brazil next year, Adriana!

Fall marks a fresh new year of Judaism but more importantly, hanging out with family and eating my aunt's superb honey cake. This year she put some black magic in there because it was simply the best I've tasted since my grandmother's last honey cake. I really appreciate that she and my mother carry on my grandmother's amazing recipes.

Rosh Hashanah also means we go apple picking - a Larissa and Chloe classic.

Lots to do this week, I'll be prepping to teach my first instance of the User Interface class at BrainStation, and hosting an estate sale with my family in North York on the weekend.

If that weren't enough, I'll be braving the night at this year's Nuit Blanche with the Toronto Cruisers crew. I am especially excited to see what's been cooking in the Bentway and Fort York area, with the brand new Garrison Crossing bridge having just opened. It may even feel more like a throwback to older years of the event when it was smaller and more soulful.

Random Thought: User Research
I'm trying to tackle a big project at work, starting with a lot of research. One of the great things I learned from UXRConf earlier this year was to identify all of the unknowns about the project, and things a designer would need to know in order to build a solution. Then, apply methods for obtaining that information in order to provide the correct user experience.

So in order to find answers, we have to start with the questions:

  • When in their cycle do users enjoy our product the most?
  • Does that correlate with when they need it the most?
  • How often do they use it in their daily work time?
  • Do they recommend it to their colleagues? 
  • Does the addition of our product cause them more work or give them more free time?
  • What changes would they like to see in the product to better suit their needs?

I can't say whether these questions fit every type of digital product, but they're a start. Let these be a jumping off point to more specific questions about use cases, and then apply methods for discovering the answers like interviews, user tests, observation, etc. Then the real fun begins!

Inspiration: Thanks For Sharing
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Spotify. What it does happen to lack in social media experience, it makes up for in small gestures that surprise and delight me to no end. It's not a bad thing that there is minimal social media within Spotify since the point is obviously to listen to music. But when I do share a song with a friend, I absolutely love that Spotify thanks me for doing so.

Spotify actually recognizes that its users are performing a labour that mostly benefits the product when they share music, drawing more users into its content with each click. I personally love sharing music with others for the sake of sharing music, but I appreciate seeing this little note every time I do so. It sparks a sort of relationship between the user and the product, by communicating with the user directly (and making them feel good, too).

Now, if only Facebook would thank me when I give it the final vestiges of my soul. It's only common courtesy!

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