Overcoming Impostor Syndrome: The Workshop

Have you ever felt like you’re not as capable as people think you are? Or felt like a fraud about to be uncovered? You may be experiencing Impostor Syndrome.

Impostor Syndrome is the sense that you are less accomplished or qualified than your peers. It’s common in many professions where ambition is high, and it’s definitely prevalent in UX, where we have limited visibility into each other’s work. We end up thinking that everyone else knows something we don’t, that everyone is doing better work than we are.

As professionals and as people who have experienced Impostor Syndrome, we have explored its causes and potential solutions in depth. When we’ve presented on the subject, we’ve received feedback about how our presentations have encouraged people to “come out” with their own Impostor Syndrome, and we know that the syndrome is pervasive but seldom discussed openly.

In our interactive workshop, we will share techniques for recognizing and combating Impostor Syndrome. We’ll help participants figure out what they need to do to assist in dealing with it and ultimately work towards the goal of lessening the impact Impostor Syndrome has on their lives and work. Participants will create a personal “toolbox” that they can use whenever Impostor Syndrome rears its ugly head.

Session Takeaways
  • An understanding of the causes of Impostor Syndrome and its effects
  • The ability to recognize Impostor Syndrome in themselves and others
  • A toolbox of artifacts and techniques for coping with and combating Impostor Syndrome in order to feel more successful and fulfilled at work and in life
  • An improved sense of their own value as they discover that nearly everyone else feels like an impostor too
  • An opportunity for ongoing conversation and support through a post-workshop forum

Applied Behavioral Economics for IA & UX

As information architects and user experience designers we work hard to understand our users and their needs so we can design compelling and usable content for them. Often this involves audience segmentation, psychographics, and personas. Unfortunately that’s not enough to accurately model potential behaviors in certain scenarios.

Behavioral economics is a field of cognitive science and psychology research that helps us understand how and why humans behave in unpredictable ways in particular scenarios. In this talk you’ll learn four principles that will help you identify when your audience might behave in unexpected ways and how to account for these cases by applying a few easy to understand principles of cognitive science.

Through IA and UX examples you’ll walk away knowing how to apply solid scientific concepts to your design and architecture process.

Learn why people turn their air conditioning down to 65 when they want it to be 72 and how IA and UX might solve that.

Learn how changing the ordering of pricing on your website can significantly affect conversions as well as average ticket price and why.

Learn these and other interesting insights that mere content inventories, psychographics and personas would never reveal.

Session Takeaways
  1. Recognize certain types of unexpected user & consumer behavior
  2. Understand why it happens
  3. Design or architect for these behaviors
  4. Understand how these behaviors fit in a theoretical framework (dual system theory)

What We Mean by Meaning: New Structural Properties of IA

We know we can’t design meaning directly, but as IAs we can certainly facilitate it. This session delves into theory to uncover the nature of meaning so that we may recognize new structural properties of information that not just facilitate the emergence of meaning, but maintain its evolving thread in networks, cross-channel ecosystems, the Internet of Things, and other complex contexts.

Embodied cognition – the notion that meaning is not a clean, logical process inside the brain, but emerges as we act with information (physical and digital) in the environment – is offered by many IA thinkers to inform our work. But, we haven’t yet fully characterized the nature of meaning. We’ll do that in this session. We’ll visualize the way meaning emerges and evolves as an information-behavior coupling, and how this implies that meaning is not a static recognition, but a flow. Flows have properties like texture, viscosity, permeability. As IA practitioners, we may use structure to modify these properties. We’ll see that the phase-space of IA affects viscosity, facets of linguistic and perceptual information affect texture, and understanding factors affect permeability.

Recognizing these properties of meaning, and the IA structures that stand to modify them, we may make deliberate design choices in our projects.
Session Takeaways
* Visual breakdown of the nature of meaning as a flow.
* How to recognize new structural properties of IA that help us facilitate the flow of meaning: the phase-space of IA to modify viscosity, facets of linguistic and perceptual information to modify texture, and understanding factors to modify permeability.
* How to use these new structural properties as design tools in our projects.

From Paths to Sandboxes

Designers are trained to guide users toward predetermined outcomes, but is there a better use of this persuasive psychology? What happens if we focus less on influencing desired behaviors and focus more on designing ‘sandboxes’: open-ended, generative systems? And how might we go about designing these spaces? It’s still “psychology applied to design”, but in a much more challenging and rewarding way!

In this talk, I’ll share the journey I’ve been on, from trying to shape and influence a user’s path, to creating these sandbox environments. You’ll learn why systems such as Twitter, Pinterest, and Minecraft are so maddeningly addictive, and what principles we can use to create similar experiences. We’ll look at education and the work of Maria Montessori, who wrote extensively about how to create learning environments that encourage exploration and discovery. And we’ll look at game design, considering all the varieties of games, especially those carefully designed to encourage play — a marked contrast with progression games designed to move you through a series of ever-increasing challenges, each converging upon the same solution. Finally, we’ll look at web applications, and I’ll share how this thinking might influence your work, from how you respond to new feature requests to how you design for behavior change in a more mature way.

Designing for Shades of Grey

Humans are non-binary beings—our thoughts, behaviour and decision-making are complex. Computers are binary, and as designers and strategists we need to understand how a black-and-white approach to data doesn’t reflect the many shades of grey that make us human. We also need to be alert to the unintended consequences of our work.

In recent years, the growth of cheap, networked sensors collecting large volumes of data, combined with a philosophy that “measurement is good,” has started to polarise the way we view ourselves—focusing on measurable self-improvement over societal well-being. Shades of grey are a social lubricant, giving us plausible deniability and the ability to create suspense and surprise.

This talk will use real-world examples to highlight some of the ways in which designers and strategists can adapt the way they present the collection, measurement and display of data to help individuals maintain control over the way their data is interpreted and visualised. As designers, we need to learn how to create diverse, rich information spaces that balance business and technical needs with those of the individual and society generally.

Why We Share: Communicating Social Engagement

We are increasingly asked to design for social engagement with features like following, commenting, and the critical piece of the viral web, sharing. Tweets, status updates, and content forwards are woven into many of the products and services we use every day, but do we really understand what makes people want to share in the first place? And how do you communicate to stakeholders about what is actually share-worthy? This is where our unique blend of behavioral understanding and design context can translate into magic. Getting people to share can help you spread a particular message, create a community around a topic, and even drive conversion, but first you have to help clients understand the importance of share-worthy content and design a situation that truly encourages sharing. This session examines the main psychological motivations that drive people to share and provides guidelines for creating inspired sharing frameworks.

I Can’t Work with You, But I Need To

As user experience designers we work with a variety of different people, everyone from engineers to executives­­—not to mention the end users themselves. Successful team collaboration and empathy for the users are key to designing a superior user experience, but how do you do this when you are working with a myriad of different personality types? Can you keep personality conflicts from negatively impacting your work? This session will focus on identifying different personality types and learning how to communicate and work better with them. You will walk away with tips on collaborating more effectively with team members, selling UX to executives more successfully, and connecting more easily with end users when conducting research.

Some of the most well-known people in our industry have agreed to take a personality test just for this session. Come find out who they [really] are by putting your new skills to the test!

Getting More Out of Social with Focus on Social Comfort

By putting the focus on social comfort and its three elements: people, tools, and content you will have greater ease at what the hinderances are for users of social platforms and features. This focus also provides an easier means to see how to resolve the issues through as they map to how people are social. This focus helps not only see the limitations of how people interact socially, but how to bring social comfort into the mix to help resolve the issues and meet your goals.

Comfort made understanding the problems easier and the use of it with social issues around people (a large hurdle in social for mainstream use), tools (few people understand social interaction elements), and content (people may want to share but are far from confident in the subject matter).

Having comfort as a focus for projects helps seeing problems and their solutions in a different light.

Deconstructing Delight: Pleasure, Flow and Meaning

There’s a vast difference between designing an experience that doesn’t suck and one that drives engagement. We’re good at eliminating frustration. It’s easy to observe whether your customers are unhappy, and then just not do that. But users’ expectations are higher.

Some companies are creating great experiences. From the outside, it looks effortless. But you know it’s not. The user part of you says, Wow, now this is really nice, I get it, in fact, I don’t want to live without it. The designer part of you says, Holy crap, how’d they do that — it’s really hard!

In this session, we’ll look at a nifty framework for thinking about and talking about what I call three levels of happy design. Based on research from behavioral economics, hedonics, positive psychology, the importance of adult play, emotion in design, and a whole bunch of other stuff better saved for the talk.

Why We Should NOT Focus on UX

It’s striking how “Nobel prize winning research” seems to indicate how UX design is kind of missing the point. It turns out, we (UX designers) are focusing on the wrong element. It turns out, we shouldnʼt focus on the “experience” part at all.

Particularly interesting, is how it illustrates the profound distinction between experience and memory. It turns out, we all have two selves. One focused on experiences, the other on memory. And they act almost as complete opposites.

So why is this important? Because itʼs our memory-focused self that makes all decisions! Actually, our other self has no vote whatsoever, it turns out.

Implications on UX design are obvious. UX design merely for the sake of creating “great experiences” is pointless. Itʼs stopping prematurely. UX design is important, but not for the X. Like f(x) = y, UX design should be entirely in function of the memories it creates. Because only memories matter.

Not only does this insight add an interesting philosophical layer of reflection to UX design as a whole, it can have a practical impact as well; right down to the color of a button. It’s about designing to create “great memories”.

And there are techniques to do that…