UX’s main success comes from focusing on user research and on a cycle, user-centric approach to solving solutions. But what if we applied this process to our daily lives?
Before we get started on how this process would work for your day-to-day life, let’s recap on what user-centric design consists of:
We can all come to an agreement that the Internet has tons of advice on how to have the ‘perfect’ lifestyle. And it’s really easy to confuse a lot of the ‘inspirational’ messages to a path of self-growth & improvement and a life that you’re satisfied with. But I’d disagree that these messages are effective, perhaps for short-term encouragement yes, that’s about it. You know why?
We need practical features and tools that we can learn from and apply to our own lives and experiences. None of us want to finally find our passion, and end up doing them on weekday nights and weekends forever, right? We all want a life we’re in control of that offers: happiness, a full-time job and still make rent. So let’s start by taking back the control to our lives using the same tools, processes we create for the products we design.
Start to think about and take note of what your past has been like, and how you’ve been living. It’ll probably be the biggest, most eye-opening acts of self-analysis of content audit you will do.
So you’ve taken a step back and looked at your past, now it’s time to see how you’re using your time in ‘the now’. A lot of us find it difficult to figure out what the most important things to do at that very moment and every day. We’re always aware of what others expect from us, what we’ve held ourselves accountable for, and what we think needs tackling ASAP. After all of that, we accommodate our schedules around those needs.
Start by listing everything you do — and everything you wish you were doing — on Post-Its and be real with how urgent and important those action items are to you right now. Then take a step back and observe.
I bet it’ll probably be the first time you look closely on all the useless action items that keep you on your feet, which leaves the things you really should be tackling undone.
Start asking yourself the following questions (I’m using my answers as an example).
What’s urgent & important?
What’s urgent but not important?
- Phone calls
- Texts & slack
- Most emails
- Unscheduled favors
Neither important or urgent
- Social media
- Video games
Figuring out what your priorities are is extremely important to getting them into your schedule. What if you want to travel with your friends, take a mental day for yourself or work on a passion project on the side? Yes, you got it right, no one is going to put those needs first — you have to. It’s all on you to make time for what’s important to you and schedule time for it.
Affinity maps are a quick way to organize data. User-centric creatives and marketers often use them to understand data and user research (interviews and surveys), to find patterns that inform a bigger picture to solve.
Using an affinity map is a powerful way to determine what is wanted and needed by teams/individual, to create that information into actionable and measurable requirements, and idolize a north star of what their business goals are like in the future.
Affinity mapping your life, how?
Yes, it’s possible! Start writing important goals on Post-its (each goal separately). Categorize them under “I” statements to keep the analysis from the user’s (your) point of view. Organize that data by the insights it suggests. For example, “I want to spend more time drawing” and “I don’t want to commute for an hour each way” might fall under the heading “I want to work close to home.”
This is the most efficient and fastest way to drill down to your needs and by using “I” statements in your results, the research you’re providing begins speaking back to you — as a pseudo persona of yourself or with others. Observations like, “I want to work close to home” or “I want to create products that help people” become your life’s requirements and the success metrics (KPIs). They’ll become the baseline for testing and future iterations.
You’ve now went through the process of auditing, testing, validating and creating an idea for the life you want to live, what’s next? Start designing a solution.
You might just need to change one thing or you might want to change everything. You might need to save up some side $$$ if the change impacts your financials or need to dramatically cut your expenses. No change is without consequence, and your life’s needs are unique in their own ways.
When I sat down and did these activities, I determined what I wanted:
- Start work day early
- Not check email or slack after hours or on weekends
- Make time for priorities and passion projects
- Make time for a social life
“If we want users to like our software, we should design it to behave like a likable person: respectful, generous and helpful.”
— Alan Cooper, Software Designer and Programmer
Hopefully you’ll see how Auditing: The ‘past’ can help you learn from your old ways, and how a simple affinity mapping exercise for your wants and needs can help you see beyond financial-based decisions and know if you’re making the right decisions regarding family, clients, and project.
Life isn’t perfect, it’s always a give and a take. I’m always going back to my affinity map results to make sure I’m still on track and have the tools I need to be successful.
Guess what? It’s time to schedule a kickoff and set some deadlines.
[Your creative brief is now waiting for you.]
Let me know your thoughts on Medium or via email. Originally published at gigimostafa.com on February 1, 2019.