IA Summit 2018


Long time no blog!  This isn’t really going to be a blog either so that clock keeps running!

I haven’t been to any conferences other than the free SoCal UX camp in Irvine, CA.  They just haven’t really been accessible to me, to be honest.  Whether that is true or just an elaborate personal excuse, I don’t know ha.  The prices, the travel… okay, this is seeming more and more like personal excuses.

ANYWAY.  I was bummed to miss this years IA Summit for several reasons.  First, it would have been nice to get back to ‘Sweet Home Chicago’.  Second and most importantly, the lineup was awesome!  I am going to do everything in my power to make it out next year!

I am sure that there will be some sort of official record of the event put out by the event itself but I wanted to collect all publicly available slide shares/videos/etc and put them in one place.  I wanted to do that just for myself, to see and learn what I missed out on, but then I figured I might as well put it here and that way people could also utilize it.

For the record, this list is in no way associated with the event, I am just taking links that I can find on Twitter and compiling them all in one place.  I will have missed a lot so please bring it to my attention and I can add it to the list!

If you notice something I am missing, let me know!  If you don’t want your work on this list, definitely let me know!  Thank you to everyone involved for helping me learn and grow even though I did not attend.  Fingers crossed I will see you next year!



User Persona Tool Review

Project Introduction  (persona tool review below)

I have finally started working on a personal project that I have been kicking around for a couple of years now called Club Before Country.  It is, in it’s purest form, a quick and easy reference tool for soccer fans to locate the club that plays nearest to them.  The idea was triggered during the 2014 World Cup as I watched co-workers who had casually mocked me for my love of the sport, get very invested in the United States Mens National Team.

With this project I am running it through the full UX process but I am also going to be test driving new tools along the way.  These tools are either new to me or they are new to the marketplace, either way I will be posting quick reviews based off of the work I am putting in to this project.  So, first things first: User Research.

club before country - mls preseason match between seattle sounders and vancouver whitecaps


This concept is fairly straight forward.  I am looking to create a mobile / responsive website that can be quickly shared amongst fans and friends to help encourage further involvement with the game of soccer at the club level.  I had assumptions about the interactions of fans and non fans with the game and I wanted to survey the crowd to either confirm or rebuke those assumptions.  There are many survey tools on the market but I was not about to try and re-survey 3-5 times just to try them out.  I went with Google Forms for this stage of the process.  It is a straight forward tool that makes it easy to create a survey featuring a variety of question / answer options in a matter of minutes.  On the back end it visualizes the data and provides a spreadsheet you can sort through as well.Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 8.28.53 PM

User Persona Tool Review

Once the research had been done and analyzed, I moved on to creating personas for my key users.  Now, for those new to the field of UX I would highly recommend reading this article from the Nielsen Norman Group about what a user persona is and how they benefit UX / Product teams to get a better understanding of what we’re going to be looking at going forward.

In the past I have always created my personas in Keynote, Photoshop or Sketch.  They all give me the freedom to arrange content in a way that allows me to make generally interesting pieces of documentation for the team.  I truthfully hadn’t even heard of any User Persona creation tools and I found that not many other people had either.  I found two that looked like they would be worth trying out and so below are my reviews for Xtensio and UserForge.



Xtensio is from the people at Fake Crow in LA and actually features a wide array of products or in their words “An interactive toolbox for startups, consultancies and marketing agencies.”  Of the two tools this is easily my favorite but it took it’s time growing on me.


This tool allows for the most information to be displayed in a variety of interesting and engaging ways.  The scales adjust quickly with a click and the ability to add images for the user, brand identity or whatever else you need allow for maximum customization.  This tool is not the most intuitive.  I am going to be honest, the ability to change the color scheme did not reveal itself until I started writing this.  I kept thinking “How do I do it, I’ve seen the other colors!” so I went back in and clicked on everything that could be clicked until I found it.

My complaints lessened the more I used the tool but I still ran in to formatting issues.  When you open the blank document there is strong, bold, placeholder text at the top that reads ‘Full Name’.  When you click in to that field to add a name, all of that formatting is removed.  The text is now small and even after bumping the size back up, clicking the bold option doesn’t work.  Not the end of the world, just odd and frustrating.  The formatting options are also fairly far removed from the canvas and are not always visible.

Overall, this is a great product.  Obviously if you’re looking to put in a lot of personality or product/brand specific detailing then you’re going to want to go the old fashion route.  The only hiccup is the pricing and what you’re able to do with this persona when you’re done.  You’re able to create this persona and share the hosting link with your team for FREE but to export the file as a PNG / PDF you’re going to have to pay $14 a month ($10/mo when you buy a one year plan).

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 9.49.40 PM


UserForge comes to us thanks to Matt Farley and Alvin Engler.  It is a beautiful tool but it doesn’t allow me to include everything thing that I would like to include with my personas.  I have read that UserForge 2.0 is on the horizon and I am very curious to know what is included in the new version.


Pictured above is really the extent of what you’re able to create which leaves a bit to be desired.  As far as a photo is concerned you’re only able to select, randomly, from a list of provided photos.  The same is true for the background photo (which I just found out changes arbitrarily when you go back in to the persona some time later).  As far as additional information, you’re only given 3 options for new sections below the main header: Quote, Paragraph and List.

The quote is great, all personas are going to need that quote or tagline.  The list allows you to display user goals / needs as well as their pain points / frustrations.  The paragraph is going to let you write out a short biography or possibly include a user scenario.  Beyond that, you’re kind of out of luck when trying to showcase the other aspects of what makes your user unique and relevant to your project.

UserForge allows you to collaborate with team members just as Xtensio does but again, there really isn’t that much to collaborate on.  I am very curious to see what UserForge 2.0 looks like because right now I think there is a ton of potential for a easy to use user persona creation tool, I just wish there was more.  UserForge is FREE and according to them it always will be.

Give these tools a try if you haven’t already and let me know what you think.  Have you already used these tools and have something to add?  Comment below and let me know!


Twitter: An Essential UX Resource

Access to information continues to alter the ways that we live, learn, share and connect with the world around us. The cost of higher education continues to rise but so does the speed with which the courses are becoming outdated. You can take a 2-4 year course in Human Computer Interactions (HCI), you can join an increasingly popular short-term immersive UX program or you can take a series of online courses at the pace that works best for you.  Whatever path you choose, you’ll need to supplement your own education outside of course parameters.

Which brings me to Twitter. For me, nothing has been able to embrace speed and content quite like the little blue bird.  I’ve been on Twitter for many years, ranting, raving, etc. but when I began dabbling in UX I created a new account related just to the field and it has been insanely helpful in my growth. I don’t have a sea of followers (119 at the time of posting) and I don’t spend all day on it interacting with others but I would like to highlight 3 reasons why I think Twitter is essential for those getting started in the field of User Experience.



As I make this career shift I continue to tell people I meet that the great thing about the tech industry right now is that it is moving so fast, you just have to learn the new new and jump in.  Now you don’t need to know the very second that an idea was conceived (you might) but you DO need to know about it before the 3rd edition of the ‘For Dummies’ is pressed.  Books are great but can become outdated quickly and some of us don’t have time to sit and devour these tomes the way that we’d like. Blogs (hello!) are great for getting you all of the details on the newest trends or technological advancement, but what if you could know faster??

With Twitter you have access to a never-ending stream of insights, complaints, ideas and general every day thoughts from industry leaders!  Today’s off-the-cuff tweet is next month’s blog which is next year’s book.  It might sound crazy but in an industry built on progress, the faster you can solve the next problem the better.


Continuing this line of thinking extends directly to my second point, connection. Let’s say you did have time to sit down and read that new UX book and you loved it, now what? Well you can take to Google and start looking for the most recent think pieces. Or you can hop on Twitter and connect to the author directly.  You can ask the author questions you had about the book or you can read conversations about the material that other readers have initiated with them.

On the flip side, you can find other people from all over the world that are also new to the field and build a support network of information sharing and encouraging messages.  It’s great to be able to observe other people as they progress and learn.  All along the way you can ask questions and take notes about what has and hasn’t worked for them.  I have also crossed paths with more established professionals that have reached out with support or answered general questions that I had pushed out in to the universe.  These interactions can be one time things are extended professional relationships but they all help you move forward.


Everyone processes information differently and there is definitely an endless supply of information out in the world related to User Experience.  It can be overwhelming at times with all of the sources of information that becomes classified as required reading.  Twitter not only allows you to access this information quickly, but it allows you to determine its relevance too!  It’s a real “if a blog gets posted in the woods, does anyone actually read it” type of thing.  I think.

There are many great articles, blogs and keynotes out there and there are even more in the queue right now waiting to be published.  Once they’re out there though, how do you know which ones are worth your valuable time.  By following people who inspire you, that drive and inform you – you have access to the people who inspire, drive and inform them!  Your network of intellectual resources increases and now you have a curated list of things deemed important to the people you deem important.


When it comes to how Twitter and User Experience relate, it’s about education not fame.  Sure, you’re able to connect professionally but the true end game is to stay informed in the face of constant change.  The great thing about this medium is that taking an active or passive stance on Twitter can still be beneficial to a career.  Whether you sit back and read articles that people recommend or you engage with the local or global community, you’re more informed than before.


Hey, I’m Dan.  I am a UX Designer from Los Angeles, CA.  I don’t think that anything works as well as it could or should, and I’d really like to help fix that.

This is a blog that I am creating to help facilitate my own continued education in the field of User Experience but I would also love if it helped you and I start a conversation.  Please feel free to leave a comment, send an email, a tweet, whatever!

Let’s see where this goes.