Like every company, we had our share of experiences in 2010. Of course, no one at nForm made the headlines about eating a cookie, which is a disappointment; however, we did have many stories in 2010 that we would like to share. We didn’t want to share all of our stories, since we needed to move on from 2010 and start 2011, so here are a few chosen ones.
Being a designer is more than design skills
“One of our great long-term clients is a team within a larger organization. We have developed a lot of trust and an excellent working relationship over the years. In fact, it often feels as if I am an embedded part of their team. During the past year they asked me to help with a project that didn’t directly involve the normal team. Because of the long-term relationship, I started with a meeting to discuss the basic project description and went straight into wireframes. Essentially, I approached things as I would with a continuing client instead of a new one. This turned out to be an unfortunate mistake.
What I soon discovered was that the new team had very limited web experience, and that their understanding of my role was foggy at best. My first (intentionally) sketchy wireframe was poorly understood and I had a hard time directing the discussion away from colors and pictures (which, of course, were entirely absent at this stage). Thinking that the main problem was that my team was too inexperienced to understand a flat wireframe document, I decided to create a clickable prototype for iteration two. This, to my surprise, did not significantly improve the situation.
Eight iterations later I feel like I’ve been unable to help this team in the way I’d like. I suspect that part of the problem is that I didn’t clearly communicate what we were trying to achieve at each step of the way. A clearly defined process helps set expectations and creates a framework for knowing which user experience layers we should focus on at any given time.
This episode reminded me once again that being a good designer is about more than design skills. Designers need to be teachers, persuaders, synthesizers, translators, listeners and, above all, great communicators. May I bring the full toolkit to all my projects in 2011.” – Dennis
Beginning of a career as an nForm UX designer
” 2010 ended with a new beginning for me as a User Experience Designer at nForm. Upon starting, I dove straight into dissecting the online application processes of a major financial institution. The result was a set of visualizations that made both the strong and weak points of the processes instantly comprehensible. This activity identified the major landmarks that the institution could use to plot a course toward an improved experience. At the end of it, I was just glad that I could help steer them in the right direction.” – Andrew
“In some ways, surviving the recession of 2009-10 was an accomplishment in itself. In addition, I am happy that we not only survived but also thrived during a very difficult year. The other significant accomplishment of 2010 was our continued growth in Toronto. We worked with a number of new clients and partners in Toronto over the last year; I am excited to see what 2011 brings.” – Gene
Clever SharePoint tricks
“The project I’m most proud of from 2010 was our redesign of the Alberta Teachers’ Association website. Through some clever SharePoint tricks we were able to implement a new visual design, IA, layouts and content types at about one-third the cost of a total rebuild.” – Gene
Learning different cultures
“In 2010, we were asked to be part of a high profile project for a large organization. I was assigned to a research task where I had to look into different provinces in Canada as well as different countries around the world within the scope of the project. I had a chance to speak to many people from various countries.
We collected the data from research and helped the client through a workshop to focus on the next steps of the project.
The project’s tasks and requirements were very new to me. At many places, I felt I was pushing myself beyond what I have done before but I was very happy with the outcomes of the project, which were a combined effort of working with Gene, Yvonne, Dennis and our client contact person.
It was an honor to be part of the process of such a major change, and be able to speak to different people and learn different cultures and I am really looking forward to the follow-up work planned with this project in 2011.” – Ammneh
Move to the Whitehouse!
“In April 2010, we moved into our new space in the Birks building. Moving our office was a huge task and took numerous hours of planning, packing, and organizing. With all of our hard work came great reward; we now have a bright, more intimate space that helps foster creativity and better collaboration with our team.” – Sherri
UX as a process
“Towards the latter part of the year, we had a chance to work with a financial institution that wanted our help with an application for their internal customers. At the same time, our client wanted to bring in some UX methods into their processes. After some internal interviews, we helped their IT Department through a 2-day workshop. On Day 1 we introduced and practiced interviewing skills, personas development, and sketching. On Day 2, we asked the teams to work on straw flows of their current processes and to include the appropriate UX methods where they thought would make most sense. This worked out well and in this new year, we are well on our way to co-design their new application, building on the skills we practiced in 2010.” – Yvonne
“Throughout 2010, we helped one of our clients by coaching him as a ux team-of-one. This was a rewarding experience for both of us. It was an effective and efficient way to help one individual navigate his way through his environment, by having weekly calls and talking through daily and ongoing challenges.” – Yvonne
“Throughout the summer and fall of 2010, we had a chance to work with an agency in re-describing their own design and development processes. The new processes were built using the Scenario Description Swimlane model (although tweaked for their purpose). It was fun and exciting to see a new process emerge for this client.” – Yvonne