People Interact

Blog about people-centered design by Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas.

Designing My Life: Good Time Journal

If you’ve been following along, I’ve decided to design my life following Burnett & Evans book.

After creating my Health/Work/Play/Love Dashboard  and Building My Compass, I next created my Good Time Journal.

 

Over a period of 3 weeks I kept a daily log of my activities. Admittedly I did the haggard-stay-at-home-mom-to-kids-under-4 version; whenever I can remember and/or have time.

Next came time for a reflection of my logs. I looked for trends in my log and attempted to get more specific about what does or does not engage me.

I used the suggested AEIOU method to help with the reflection part.

A: Activities – structured/unstructured, leader/participant, what was I actually doing?

E: Environment- inside/outside, what kind of place was it? how did it make me feel?

I: Interactions – with people/machines, informal/formal, new/familiar

U: Users- who else was I with? what role did  they play in my experience?

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Career Strategy Tip – Prepare for An Uncertain Future By Second-Skilling

We recently read an interesting article titled “Could Singapore hold the secret to preparing workers for an uncertain future?” on ideas.ted.com.

We talk about learning new skills and refreshing existing skills as part of one’s career strategy on our blog, in our presentations and workshops, etc.

skills-icons

This article talks about second-skilling. “In today’s economy, second-skilling — developing your skills in a sector other than the one you work in — is necessary for career resiliency; it gives you options and flexibility. That second skill can either complement the skills you’re already using in your current job, or offer a completely alternative path.”

Incorporate second-skilling as part of your career strategy. What would you second-skill in?

Designing My Life: Building My Compass

If you’ve been following along, I’ve decided to design my life following Burnett & Evans book.

After creating my Health/Work/Play/Love Dashboard I moved to the next step; Building My Compass.

The authors ask that you reflect on your workview and your lifeview. In 30 mins I typed up an essay (<250 words) defining my values, perspectives and ‘matters of ultimate concern’ around my workview and lifeview.

This exercise helps to build coherency and connects who I am, what I believe in and what I am doing. These go beyond the day to day wishes of what your ideal work and life would look like.

 

 

Monthly Method Spotlight: Story Share & Compare

Story Share & Compare

What & Why:  Story sharing is a way for team members to get up-to-date on what other team members saw and heard in the field. This method also allows those listening to draw out anything significant or meaningful from the experience that the person may have initially overlooked.

How: Air out all of the stories and observations that stuck out to you about what you saw and heard during fieldwork. Each member of the group should tell their story and share notes while other members write down quotes, surprises, and other interesting bits. Use post-it notes and limit it to one significant item per post-it note.

Tips: Combine with other methods discussed in our previous posts like Fly on the Wall and Foreign Correspondents.

Interested in using/applying these methods in your work? Contact us for information.

Wandering Librarian: The Book Trader

I was wandering around in Philly and came across a bookstore called The Book Trader. With books stacked from almost ceiling to floor, it was an overwhelming (so many books) yet interesting browsing experience. Also, you can’t go wrong with Mickey and Minnie in the kids’ section.

 

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May 14th Event Recap: Asian American Librarians and Library Services

As contributors to the newest and first book on this topic: Asian American Librarians and Library Services: Activism, Collaborations and Strategies, we (along with a couple of fellow Pratt alums and others) were a part of a panel at Pratt last week There were lots of interesting discussions as well as those I can totally relate nods, laughs, stories, and perspectives shared. Check out the write-up in American Libraries.

We talked a bit about our chapter titled Going Beyond the Bamboo Ceiling: Issues and Challenges for Asian Pacific American Patrons and Librarians.

chow_sajonas_people_interact_asian_americans_bamboo

Wandering Librarian: A Little Library in Philly

IMG_20180322_185845567

I was in Philly recently and came across A Little Library. It’s interesting to see the different little libraries (how they’re set up, what the library is made out of, and of course, what kind of books there are).

In this case, there are two separate little libraries: one is for children’s books and the other is for non-children’s books. A little house was made for the children’s books and a newspaper dispenser is being used for the other books.

It’s good to see that books are made easily accessible in many communities and neighborhoods via the little libraries.

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Monthly Method Spotlight: MoSCoW Prioritization

MoSCoW Prioritization

What & Why:  There can be a lot of features/requirements when it comes to project ideas and projects, also many with short timelines and quick turnaround times. How do you prioritize them? One way to prioritize when managing projects is to use the MoSCow method.

M – MUST HAVE:
Features/Requirements that are non-negotiable for the success of the project.

S – SHOULD HAVE:
High-priority requirements/features that are not critical to launch but are considered important and of a high value.

C – COULD HAVE:
Features/requirements that are desirable but not necessary. May be removed or pushed to future stage of development if project completion timeline is at risk.

W – WOULD LIKE TO HAVE BUT WON’T HAVE (AT THIS TIME): Features/requirements that will not be implemented in a current release but may be included in a future stage of development. Such requirements usually do not affect the project success.

priority-scrabble

How: Request input from your project team and stakeholders using the method. Use a combination of other methods such as dot-voting. This method can also be used in your personal life; anything from making a major purchase like a house or a car (what features are a must have, etc.) to cooking a meal (what ingredients are a must have, what can be skipped, etc.)

We cover the MoSCoW method and other project management methods in our getting started in project management workshop for librarians

Interested in using/applying these methods in your work? Contact us for information.

Gathering Feedback: What is the Purpose of Your Visit Today?

I visited the Mutter Museum during my recent trip to Philly and I noticed the museum’s fun and simple way of gathering feedback via the use of the visitor tag.

Directions: drop your visitor tag into one of the four lab flasks below and let us know: Why did you come to the museum today?
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Flasks: Class trip/group trip, On a date, Visiting Philadelphia/bucket list, and None of the above.
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It’s a simple and easy way of getting feedback, especially in this increasingly survey-fatigued world. It’s also a way to collect and reuse/recycle the visitor tags.

One suggestion: empty the “Visiting Philadelphia” flask (in this case) since it seems pretty full and may affect/influence future responses (i.e. visitors may drop it in another flask because the one they would select is full).

Upcoming Event: May 14th Event on Asian Americans and Libraries

As we mentioned recently, Asian Americans and Libraries: Activism, Collaboration and Strategies for the 21st Century was recently published.

Join us for an upcoming event on May 14th – a round table of Pratt alums (including yours truly) who are contributors to the newest and first book on this topic on how librarians and libraries are engaging with diverse Asian Pacific American communities today.

Support the Asian Pacific American Community: Librarians on Diversity, Inclusivity and Civic Engagement

Date: Monday, May 14, 2018
Time: 5:30PM-7PM
Location: Pratt Manhattan located at 144 W 14th St (ROOM 213)

Free event, RSVP required

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, join us for this exciting round table to hear from Pratt alums who are contributors to the newest and first book on this topic: Asian American Librarians and Library Services: Activism, Collaborations and Strategies on how librarians and libraries are engaging with diverse Asian Pacific American communities today.

Through a series of collaborative and community engagements, speakers will share their experiences in creating inclusive environments in the profession, and how they are diversifying the resources and services to support the growing Asian Pacific American communities in NYC and beyond. Come learn more about the different career experiences of Pratt alums and their views of the field today.

Speakers:
Lisa Chow, People Interact Consultancy and Brooklyn Public Library (Pratt Alum)
Michelle Lee, New York Public Library (Pratt Alum)
Sandra Sajonas, People Interact Consultancy (Pratt Alum)
Miriam Tuliao, Penguin Random House (Pratt Alum)
Arlene Yu, New York Public Library (Pratt Alum)
Janet Clarke, Stony Brook University Libraries
Ray Pun, California State University, Fresno

RSVP for the event

Meanwhile, check out the book and our chapter – Going Beyond the Bamboo Ceiling: Issues and Challenges for Asian Pacific American Patrons and Librarians.

Wandering Librarian: Revisiting the Little Island Library

5 years ago while on a trip to Culebra, PR I stopped in to see their tiny library housed in 2 shipping containers. I stopped in again while on vacation  recently to see how the library is after 2 hurricanes passed through the Caribbean last fall.

I’m told by volunteer staff that the library was one of the first places opened after the hurricane. 6 months post hurricanes the library is in full swing. Patrons were inside on the computers or outside making use of the free wifi. My family went to the main shipping container to the children’s area to play with the toys & games, pick out books & enjoy the air conditioner. The other container houses the movie theater. I was impressed that their movie line contains all recent movies. Considering the space constraints, I was also impressed by the breadth of the collection. Though a little out of date on the nonfiction titles, the fiction titles are surprisingly recent titles. The volunteer informed me that they have another shipping container that houses books that they rotate through the collection.

All, in all, 5 years later I am still amazed by this little island library. Even more so once I saw how quickly they were up and running after a natural disaster.

Wandering Librarian: Book Nook at Reading Terminal Market

I was in Philly recently and made my usual stop at the Reading Terminal Market. In addition to a  few new restaurants & shops since the last time I was there, I noticed that there is a children’s reading corner called Book Nook, a partnership between Reading Terminal Market and the Free Library of Philadelphia.

There are a few Book Nook rules (such as take a book, leave a book) and a Book Nook storytime schedule (1st and 3rd Wednesday morning of each month). It’s good to see that libraries are finding ways of going beyond their buildings’ walls to provide library resources and services. Reminds me of Darien’s Library stash of books at the nearby MetroNorth train station; why not take a book to read on the train.

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Monthly Method Spotlight: Value Proposition

Value Proposition 

What & Why: A value proposition is a short, concise description of a service and why it’s valuable. It helps a team to narrow down and come to a consensus of what you are aiming for with a design.

How: Early in the process, reducing the process to answer what it is, who it’s for, where/when it will be used etc. can help to simplify designs.

Interested in using/applying these methods in your work? Contact us for information.

Wandering Librarian: HPL @ the Children’s Museum of Houston

While on a trip to Houston I was pleasantly surprised to find a library at the Children’s Museum of Houston. The Parent Resource Library is a satellite of the Houston Public Library system that serves America’s 4th most populous city.

Stepping inside to get a moment of quiet from the madhouse of a children’s museum on a rainy Saturday, the library was small but contained essentials such as computers, a small collection & thematic bags of books for loan. While my look into the HPL system was brief and tiny, I am impressed by their outreach efforts & services to the diverse city of Houston.

Just some examples:

  • laptops & tablets available for loan
  • mobile wifi hotspots available for loan
  • 4 express libraries
  • mobile express libraries
  • 31 neighborhood libraries
  • 4 regional libraries
  • 3 special collection libraries

 

Save the Date: May 14th Event on Asian Americans and Libraries

As we mentioned a couple of months ago, Asian Americans and Libraries: Activism, Collaboration and Strategies for the 21st Century was recently published.

Save the date for an upcoming event on May 14th – a round table of Pratt alums (including yours truly) who are contributors to the newest and first book on this topic on how librarians and libraries are engaging with diverse Asian Pacific American communities today.

SAVE THE DATE

Support the Asian Pacific American Community: Librarians on Diversity, Inclusivity and Civic Engagement

Date: Monday, May 14, 2018
Time: 5:30PM-7PM
Location: Pratt Manhattan located at 144 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011
6th Floor, School of Information

RSVP for the event

May 14th APA Event

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, join us for this exciting round table to hear from Pratt alums who are contributors to the newest and first book on this topic: Asian American Librarians and Library Services: Activism, Collaborations and Strategies on how librarians and libraries are engaging with diverse Asian Pacific American communities today.

Through a series of collaborative and community engagements, speakers will share their experiences in creating inclusive environments in the profession, and how they are diversifying the resources and services to support the growing Asian Pacific American communities in NYC and beyond. Come learn more about the different career experiences of Pratt alums and their views of the field today.

Speakers:
Lisa Chow, People Interact Consultancy and Brooklyn Public Library (Pratt Alum)
Michelle Lee, New York Public Library (Pratt Alum)
Sandra Sajonas, People Interact Consultancy (Pratt Alum)
Miriam Tuliao, Penguin Random House (Pratt Alum)
Arlene Yu, New York Public Library (Pratt Alum)
Janet Clarke, Stony Brook University Libraries
Ray Pun, California State University, Fresno

RSVP for the event

Meanwhile, check out the book and our chapter – Going Beyond the Bamboo Ceiling: Issues and Challenges for Asian Pacific American Patrons and Librarians.

Standing Status Meetings

Standing-MeetingPart of our work is helping organizations improve organizational effectiveness and performance. We were recently asked how to improve team communication. We’ve shared tips on how to run effective meetings (we’re big on walk & talk meetings).

We recommended trying 10-15 minute standing check-in meetings with your team. During these standing status meetings, team members would check in with each other (i.e. what are you working on, what issues are you running into, what resources do you need, etc.).

Have you tried standing meetings? How did they work out?

Read more on Wikipedia about stand-up meetings.

Monthly Method Spotlight: Foreign Correspondents

woman-correspondent-news-world-graphic-drawingForeign Correspondents

What & Why:  Garnering input from users from other countries to gather information about the varied cultural contexts in which products and services are used.

How: Request input from coworkers and users to conduct a cross-cultural study. Use a combination of other methods such as surveys, unfocus groups, etc.

Interested in using/applying these methods in your work? Contact us for information.

Designing My Life: Health/Work/Play/Love Dashboard

As mentioned in previous posts, I’m designing my life with the help of Burnett & Evans’ book Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.

For my first activity I completed my dashboard to gauge where I currently am in my life.

After completing my dashboard I could definitely see some areas I can work on. It’s also important to point out “gravity problems”. These are areas that cannot be changed, i.e. weather, the fact that I have 2 young kids. These are issues that won’t change but that I can be creative with working around.

Design Thinking: How Librarians Are Incorporating It Into Their Practice


Design Thinking: How Librarians Are Incorporating It Into Their Practice

DATE AND TIME:

Thu, March 8, 2018

12:00 PM – 3:00 PM PST

I just registered for this free and online event & hope to learn about some interesting ways libraries around the USA are using design thinking. I will be posting a summary of the presentation for those who are not able to attend.

Happy 2018: Monthly Method Spotlight

Happy 2018!

Since 2013, we have shared one people-centered method each month. We will be continuing our Monthly Method Spotlight.

We’ll go over What, When/Why and How.

Stay tuned for our first method of the year in February.

A Year in Review and Looking Ahead

Another year is coming to an end. Here’s our look back and look ahead.

year-review

A Year in Review:

Looking Ahead:

  • We’re gonna continue with our Monthly Method Spotlight and Wandering Librarian series, so keep an eye out and let us know if you have suggestions of libraries, bookstores, and archives to explore.
  • We are reading Designing Your Life and look forward to continue learning how design thinking can be used not only for our careers, but also for our lives, in general.

How was your year? What are you looking ahead to?

Wandering Librarian: Valladolid, Yucatan

On a recent family vacation to Mexico, I of course had to visit a library in the town of Valladolid where we were staying. Unfortunately, the Dia de la Revolucion meant the public library was closed. Downtrodden, I stumbled upon an English library next to Casa Hamaca where we were staying.  I spoke with the German volunteer about the library. Turns out it was a library for the English classes taught for free by volunteers. Speaking more with the owner of the Casa Hamaca, I was told that the library was cataloged by a volunteer librarian. (I had wondered how and why the collection was ordered under the Dewey System).

The conversation went further into the need for more English materials and also the problem of getting updated materials to the outlying Mayan villages. Hmmmm, future project for us?

 

Asian Americans and Libraries

Asian American Librarians and Library Services - Activism, Collaborations, and Strategies

Just came in the mail and hot off the press! Asian Americans and Libraries: Activism, Collaboration and Strategies for the 21st Century was just published last month.

Check out the book, related podcasts, and our chapter – Going Beyond the Bamboo Ceiling: Issues and Challenges for Asian Pacific American Patrons and Librarians.

Monthly Method Spotlight: Informance

Informance

What:  A “informative performance” of behaviors that you have witnessed or researched. Informance uses acting as a way to tell, explain and share an idea.

When/why: Informance is a good way to build a shared understanding of a concept.

How: Designers showcase an idea by role-playing and putting on a performance.

Interested in using/applying these methods in your work? Contact us for information.

Designing Your Life with Design Thinking

A recent article in the Technician online has got me thinking about the yet unlabeled life crisis sandwiched between quarter and mid-life that me and many of my peers are be going though. The article discussing design thinking as applied to life/career counseling.

The Designing Your Life Workshop will teach students how to design a life and career they will love using design-centered thinking. In the beginning, the workshop was inspired by a visit by three deans from NC State to Stanford University’s design school where they explored the concept of design thinking. The workshop is also based on the book “Designing Your Life,” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

Using design thinking principles and methods, students are being equipped with tools necessary to put together an action plan to apply to their life/career.

Unfortunately the workshop was only available to students. But this has article has lit a fire and I hope to apply design thinking to my career action plan. Meanwhile, I can at least start by reading Burnett & Evans’ book.

 

Using Design Thinking on My Career

In a recent article for Fast Company, a former lawyer applies design thinking to reinvent her career.

  1. First she observed and defined the problem. – Mainly, what does she love doing at work?
  2. Next she moved to the ideation stage.  – She generated as many ideas as possible. For her that meant a list of all the activities that excited her.
  3. Then she used rapid prototying to test her list from the ideation stage. Conducting information interview was the easiest way to rapid prototype.
  4. Getting feedback and iterating was next.
  5. Finally she implemented and acted on her solution which was to apply to a psychology program.

I enjoyed this article and it has inspired me to apply design thinking in my own career and life.

Monthly Method Spotlight: Extreme User Interviews

Extreme User Interviews

What: Extreme user interviews are evaluations by individuals who are completely familiar or unfamiliar with a product or service.

When/why: Extremely familiar users can highlight key issues or problems. Extremely unfamiliar users may inspire insight for improvements.

How: Traditional question and response interview techniques can be used or a number of other UX methods mentioned in previous Monthly Method Spotlight posts.

Tips: Extreme user interviews are best done one-on-one to insure interviewees are not influencing each other in their responses.

Interested in using/applying these methods in your work? Contact us for information.

Bathroom Blogfest 2017 Wrap Up

Toilet Paper CartoonFrom eco-restrooms and composting toilets to bathrooms fit for the president, we hope you enjoyed reading Bathroom Blogfest 2017 as much as we enjoyed writing it.

As we wrap up this year’s bathroom blogfest, it’s time for NYC to step up re: public restrooms. Check out a recent Time Out New York article on public restroom availability in cities (from retractable toilets in Amsterdam to self-cleaning toilets in Paris to high-tech toilets in Tokyo).

View all Bathroom Blogfest posts.

Bathroom Blogfest 2017: Bathroom Use Instructions

Saw this sign in a bathroom recently. A picture is a worth a thousand words. How to use the bathroom.

bathroom-sign

Bathroom Blogfest 2017: Bathrooms Fit for the President

Visited the Fraunces Tavern Museum recently and came across bathrooms fit for the President – George Washington and Martha Washington.

Bathroom Blogfest 2017: Large Bathroom Stall and Flush By Foot

Walked into this bathroom stall and was surprised at the size of the stall, it was very long. Noticed the metal foot pedal but didn’t think much of it until I had to flush. I looked around and quickly realized that the foot pedal is for flushing. I find flushing by foot to be more accessible.

Bathroom Blogfest 2017: Eco-Restrooms and Composting Toilets

Spent the day at the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden recently and came across these eco-restrooms/composting toilets.

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  • A standard flushing toilet uses 99% more water than a toilet that uses foam.
  • Waste gets flushed to the composting tank.
  • Fungi, bacteria, and small invertebrates eat poop–what’s left is good to use on soil.

Bathroom Blogfest 2017

It’s Bathroom Blogfest 2017!

What is Bathroom Blogfest?

bathroom toiletThroughout the week, we’ll talk about the user experience of bathrooms. That’s right, bathrooms. We all use ’em. Some are your usual bathrooms, some are cool, and some are just downright confusing. This is our 7th year participating in Bathroom Blogfest. Please share your bathroom stories with us.

“During the annual Bathroom Blogfest, bloggers from around the globe write about the importance of bathrooms in the customer experience. Their posts come from a wide range of perspectives that include sociology, marketing, research, psychology, environmental, customer experience, and user-experience design.”

Read all Bathroom Blogfest posts.

It’s October, Halloween, Fall, and Back to School/Career Development

Hello OctoberSkeletons, witches, pumpkins, haystacks, apple cider, pumpkin spice, and everything nice. It’s October (and almost Halloween) and Fall is here (sorta, it doesn’t quite feel like it yet here in the NYC metro area). Either way, it’s back to school.

Here are some ideas to get you started on your career development this Fall:

  • Search and add: Now that the summer lull is over, look for meetups, conferences, workshops, and networking events of interest and add them to your calendar.
  • Chat and catch up over [insert beverage of choice]: Reconnect with your colleagues after the summer months. Schedule coffee (or hot chocolate or apple cider or tea – the options are limitless) meetings.
  • Brush off the cobwebs: Update your LinkedIn profile and your master resume.
  • Career plan strategically: Check out our career & professional development blog posts and our leadership & career development presentations.
  • Check in: Make a list of upcoming projects and work, so you have a better idea of what’s on your plate for the next few months or year and know what continuing education and professional development opportunities you can do energy- and time-wise.

 

Wandering Librarian: NYPL Roosevelt Island

I enjoy riding the Tram every so often, so a few weeks ago, I was wandering around Roosevelt Island and ended up in the New York Public Library (NYPL) Roosevelt Island branch. It was a fairly warm day outside and the library was no exception. There were a few fans and a portable AC on.

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A few highlights:

  • It’s got a small town feel.
  • There’s a little bit of everything.
  • Noticed that NYPL has a welcome guide.
  • Found out that it’s going to be renovated, which is great, but I hope the friendly small town feel is kept post-renovation.

Fall METRO UX Meetup Recap

We had a great Fall METRO UX meetup a few weeks ago in an awesome space where we learned about how Andrew Chepaitis (founder of ELIA Life Technology) and his team have used industrial design, organizational psychology, design thinking, and user testing to develop and tweak their tactile based system for the visually impaired.

Our meetup members were excited to hear and learn about ELIA and there were conversations about the potential for future collaborative work together among different groups/organizations/individuals, which is exactly one of the main things we hope our meetup does — connecting people and groups in improving UX.

Check out the photo slideshow below.

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Till our next meetup.

Monthly Method Spotlight: Desirability Testing

Desirability Testing

What: Desirability testing studies users’ emotional response to a design.

When/why: This method is most useful when you are trying to make a good first impression with your target audience. Desirability testing can be used to inform the team as to why different designs evoke certain responses.

How: Using limited, chosen vocabulary, ask users’ to picks words that most relevantly describe the design. Use a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods like triading, questionnaires, and card sort.

Tips: See Microsoft’s reaction cards for a list of 118 pre-selected descriptor words.

Interested in using/applying these methods in your work? Contact us for information.

Digital Universities

Recently, I read an article in The Guardian discussing university libraries providing more accessible services and collections for the growing “digital native” student body. While I agree that university libraries need to shift their emphasis from physical library space to the digital realm, I do think they should keep UX in mind. Not just usability of the platforms but consider UX from the beginning; do “digital natives” even want everything online? Are there content and services they would prefer in analog?

Which brings me to another recent article bringing up Google’s project to digitize millions of university library books. This was an incredibly ambitious project that started in 2002 that even the Google gods couldn’t achieve. But why should they? Again I ask, do users even need or want digital access to all the university holdings?

Since library resources are finite, perhaps we should first start with some UX studies (surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc) of the current and incoming university students to see what they want and expect from their university library.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Monthly Method Spotlight: Experience Prototype

Experience Prototype

What: Experience prototype is a simulation of the service experience.

When/why: By asking participants to simulate the experience, designers can look for any unanticipated issues or needs that arise during the simulation.

How: Quickly prototype a concept using available materials & ask participants to try it out.

Tips: Create your prototype quickly & don’t worry about it being perfect. The idea is that you will improve and build upon your prototype. See our other posts on prototyping.

Interested in using/applying these methods in your work? Contact us for information.

Wandering Librarian: Portsmouth Public Library

Wandering up the coast to America’s 3rd oldest city for July 4th, I stopped into the Portsmouth Public Library. Expecting a venerable building, I instead found a newish building. My disappointment was quickly assuaged upon entering the building. I was immediately met with an open and airy room with cozy seating areas, fantastic book displays and beautiful floral arrangements.

The 1st floor teen space is adequate as are the teen programs. The children’s section on the 1st floor is large. The children’s programs are also large in number & make up for most of the programs (which I’m discovering is common outside of NYC).

Some fun summer program highlights: Reading therapy dog, reading buddies (pair a new reader with an experienced reader) and a how-to festival to learn new skills.

My main takeaway from my visit: Portsmouth Public Library does a fantastic job of covering all the technology needs of its patrons from “old” technology like typewriters and microfilm machines to new technology like its 3D printers. The library also offers classes & 1-on-1 services to assist patrons with their digital & tech needs.

All in all, a fantastic library that’s worth a visit. I only wish I had more time for a more in-depth visit.

 

 

Wandering Librarian: National Archives at NYC

On a hot summer day, I wandered into the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House which houses the National Archives at NYC and the National Museum of the American Indian among other things.

The National Archives at NYC maintains “the historically significant records of Federal agencies and courts in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands dating from 1685 to the present.”

 

I mainly looked at the exhibit display cases to the left of the welcome center where I learned more about the National Archives and the history of NYC. There is the research center to the right of the door pictured. While I did not do research during my visit, I found the staff and volunteers to be friendly and welcoming.

Admission is free, so if you’re in the NYC area, stop in and check it out.

 

Monthly Method Spotlight: Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s LawParkinson's_Law_Book

What: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” is Parkinson’s Law. It is the title of a book which made it well-known.

When/why: Remember when you were in school and you worked on an assignment the last minute when you had weeks to work on it, yet somehow you aced it anyway. Yes, it might have been luck or Parkinson’s Law might have been at play. This is not to say that procrastination is good, but when you have too much time to complete a task, many of us are bound to procrastinate. Sometimes it doesn’t take as long as you think to complete a project or task successfully.

Keeping Parkinson’s Law in mind when working on project tasks, milestones, and timelines is useful. When you are working on a project, keep in mind that if you drag the project out too long, you not only lose momentum but the work somehow expands to fill the time available. This is not to say that one should rush a project, but one should keep this law in mind when assigning, working on, or delegating project tasks.

How: Underestimate the time it will take to complete the project among your internal team. This is not about over promising and under delivering. It’s about setting challenging but realistic deadlines for your projects and for each project task. A mild sense of urgency is a good thing. Say, for example, you’re working on a book chapter or presentation. The deadline is in 3 months. Set a deadline of having a first draft in two weeks and asking a colleague to look it over, followed by a revised second draft by the third week, etc.

Tips: Decide what needs to be done and by when. Schedule the time you’re allotting for the task. Focus on the task at hand. Avoid distractions. Perfection is the enemy of progress, the task needs to be completed successfully, not necessarily perfectly.

Interested in using/applying these methods in your work? Contact us for information.

METRO UX Summer Meetup: Amazon Books Self-Guided Tour

Amazon just opened its first NYC brick and mortar store at Columbus Circle. Join us for our informal summer METRO UX meetup where we’ll do a self-guided tour of Amazon Books. Afterwards, we’ll head to Central Park for a picnic or Whole Foods (if bad weather) and discuss our observations and thoughts over lunch. Feel free to bring a brown bag lunch.

Thursday, July 27 at 10am-12pm
The Shops at Columbus Circle located at 10 Columbus Circle
Meet at 10am in front of Amazon Books located on the 3rd floor of the Shops at Columbus Circle.

RSVP at meetup.com

Subway Library – Free Downloadable Books from NYC Libraries

A library on the subway? Yep, the Subway Library is offering free downloadable books from the city’s three public library systems. Be on the lookout for the subway library train. I spotted it across the tracks the other day but I was going in the opposite direction.

Wandering Librarian: Amazon Bookstore at Columbus Circle

This was completely unplanned yet feels coordinated, I guess that’s what partners in crime do 🙂 While my partner in crime, Sandra, came across the yet to be opened 34th st location for the Amazon bookstore last week, I made my way to the already opened Amazon bookstore in the Shops at Columbus Circle while on my hunt for the NYC Wave Walk (sea-inspired sculptures on display in NYC through the end of June); I’ve seen 14 so far.

Here’s a photo slideshow of my visit to Amazon Books at Columbus Circle:

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My initial impressions and observations:

  • The bookstore is pretty well-staffed and the staff were all very friendly, saying hello and/or asking if I need any help.
  • There’s a big push with Amazon Prime as that was a commonly asked question: Do you have Amazon Prime?
  • I overhead one staff member who was trying to track down a book. Not sure if there is initial inventory things to be ironed out.
  • There are limited seating areas with a sprinkling of a few comfy chairs throughout.
  • It was a very visual and browser friendly experience with all the book covers displayed.
  • It was a fairly busy Monday evening, perhaps because it was raining. There were a few people reading, lots of people browsing.

And as for what brought me to Columbus Circle – the hunt for the wave sculptures, I saw 6 of them there, but my favorite NYC Wave Walk sculpture so far is the Sea Glass near the Intrepid.

nyc-wave-walk-intrepid

Wandering Librarian: Amazon Bookstore

This post is based on the yet to be opened 34th street location. 

Recently in midtown Manhattan I discovered that Amazon would be opening a brick-&-mortar book store this spring.

From what I’ve read, these stores (soon to be 6 more in the USA) will be data-driven; meaning they will be holding only the most popular books based on Amazon ratings. The stores will also honor its website prices.

At the time, I was not aware that Amazon would be opening in the old Borders in Columbus Circle the next day. If any of our faithful readers have visited the Columbus Circle location please share your thoughts on your visit.

As for me, this wandering librarian is looking forward to the next time she wanders into NYC for a first-hand visit to the store.

 

One Month Later and Yarn Bombing at METRO Relaunch

We visited METRO’s headquarters last week (a month later since our METRO UX Meetup) and it was great to see the implementation of some ideas and suggestions from the hands-on UX study (including the addition of plants and METRO signage on door).

We were there to capture the Fiber Arts Group‘s yarn bombing project (plus origami cranes made from colorful origami paper and discarded library books, inspired by METRO’s post-it note bird and cranes on glass surface), which was timed to coincide with METRO’s relaunch party that evening. Check out the photos below.

metro-yarn-bombing

metro-cranes

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The Fiber Arts Group meets weekly at the Central Library in Brooklyn on Wednesday evenings.

 

Monthly Method Spotlight: Contextual Inquiry

Contextual Inquiry

When/why: Contextual inquiries are more natural and sometimes more realistic as a result. They are also usually less formal and don’t use tasks or scripts.

How: Researchers watch & listen as users work in the user’s own environment instead of a lab.

Tips: Contextual inquiry can be combined with any number of other UX methods.

Interested in using/applying these methods in your work? Contact us for more info.