Making UX Work with Joe Natoli

Episode 03, Esther Schinkel :: Gamification, Higher Education and Life as a UX Team of One.

January 08, 2018 Season 1 Episode 3
Making UX Work with Joe Natoli
Episode 03, Esther Schinkel :: Gamification, Higher Education and Life as a UX Team of One.
Chapters
Making UX Work with Joe Natoli
Episode 03, Esther Schinkel :: Gamification, Higher Education and Life as a UX Team of One.
Jan 08, 2018 Season 1 Episode 3
Joe Natoli / Esther Schinkel
I talk to Netherlands-based UX Designer Esther Schinkel about gamifying higher education tools, the challenges of being a UX team of one, and the joy of new music.
Show Notes Transcript

Today we head to the Netherlands to talk with Esther Schinkel, who, in her own words, is passionate about making the web usable. And as I think you’ll hear, she takes a great deal of pride and joy in that endeavor.

Esther began her creative life as a fine artist, and she believes that much of the power of the internet is lost because we are not fully utilizing our resources, particularly in the field of education – which happens to be the industry she’s focused on.

Introducing concepts like gamification and personalized learning experiences, Esther has been slowly and steadily working to improve the tools teachers use to engage and motivate students.

And by doing so, making the Internet a place that helps people learn and grow.

Portfolio: Designed by Esther

LinkedIn: esther-schinkel

Facebook: esther.schinkel

Speaker 1:
0:08
Hello and welcome to making us work to give good podcast. I'm your host Giuntoli and our focus here is on folks like you doing a real often unglamorous Eurex work in the real world. You'll hear about their struggles their successes and their journey to and through the trenches of product design development and of course user experience. Today my guest is Esther Shinkle who hails from the Netherlands in her own words. Esther is passionate about making the Web usable and as I think you'll hear she takes great deal of pride and joy in that endeavor. Esther began her creative life as a fine artist. She believes that much of the power of the Internet is lost because we're not fully utilizing our resources particularly in the field of education which just happens to be the industry that she's focused on introducing concepts like gamification and personalized learning experiences. Esther has been slowly and steadily working to improve the tools that university teachers use to engage and motivate students and by doing so. Making The Internet a place that helps people learn and grow. Here's my conversation with Esther Shinkle on making us work.
Speaker 2:
1:16
Well first and foremost sir how are you.
Speaker 3:
1:19
I'm very well thank you. Quite busy busy with nice stuff. It's so cool. Yeah what's on your plate right now. I'm currently working on a tool the company that works and creates tools for education. And one of them is a tool for interactive presentations which is usually used in lectures and the kind of stuff I'm working on now is making that into sort of a game of fight experience so that we can make even super boring lectures still fun to see who's the audience what's what's the age range of the audience. Usually mostly colleges and universities. So the students are usually between 18 and 28 sort of. And then there's also the teachers and they can range from 30 to 80. Interesting.
Speaker 4:
2:16
Yeah. Are there out of curiosity are there any specific hurdles that you're coming across in terms of serving the teachers and of this you know I mean making I'm comfortable with using something like this.
Speaker 3:
2:27
Yeah definitely. Lots of them are not really experienced with computers in general. Sure. And the Internet is super scary to a lot of them. And there is there is a wide range so some of them are super savvy with computers and others not at all. So we have to make sure that it's easy to use for the people who barely ever touch a computer. But also we don't explain to march and our usus can still use interesting features as well. That's basically the main challenge.
Speaker 4:
2:59
That's a pretty hard line to walk. So that's a pretty big range out of curiosity what are you what kinds of things are you doing to try and account for that. I mean how are you finding that middle ground.
Speaker 3:
3:10
Well what I usually try to do is find the features and the settings that pretty much everyone has to use. So far for creating such a presentation there's probably a date on which the presentation will be and some slides and some questions in there and all that stuff. And that's a set of features and settings that is visible right away. And then for the power users I hides a lot of stuff so they're easy to reach but the users that are very good at computers won't see them right away so they don't get distracted or scared from them. And that's usually how how I try to solve it. And I just test along with both ranges of teachers through testing prototypes prototypes conducting interviews as well observing teachers whenever I can. Lots of them are not really a fan of that book.
Speaker 5:
4:04
So let me see why. What is it to like.
Speaker 3:
4:10
Well they don't really like that. I'm then sitting there in their classroom and attending a class like for a big lecture. It's usually fine because that's the hundreds of people anyway. Yeah but for a small work room of about 20 students they think that it's too distracting to have me there or they get distracted by having me there. I guess I can understand that's the kind of fight that I get from them. No one's really explicit about why they don't want me to be there.
Speaker 6:
4:38
But that's that's my guess. They just say they just say no I don't want to do that pretty much or don't respond at all. So they ignore you completely. Yes some do.
Speaker 5:
4:50
Ok nice. Nice. Yeah right. Right. Not like a person.
Speaker 4:
4:58
So just to back up what was sort of the motivation for this product in the first place. How did this come about.
Speaker 3:
5:06
Well two guys that founded this company started about four years ago almost five and they obviously were in university as well. And they noticed that not a lot of technology was used to enhance classes. Usually schools an Elementz which is a learning management system and there are usually the schedules and the gratings and all that stuff like Blackboard or some. Yeah exactly. And during classes not Love was done using technology or when it was used often it wasn't really an improvement. So they decided to start a company that aims at improving education. So we have a whole range of tools and they're all integrated into one platform as well for people who want that. And we basically tried to find whatever teachers or students need now and try to build that. So it basically came from a bad experience like a lot of things.
Speaker 4:
6:08
Yeah like a lot of things you know they say necessity is the mother of invention. Definitely. I guess this fits the bill in terms of the students on the receiving end. Are you getting any reaction from them based on what you're doing. I mean how hungry are the for this how they feel about it. How are they reacting to it.
Speaker 3:
6:26
Usually very positive. It kind of depends on the tools some tools are more an improvement for teachers and some are more for students. For instance we have one tool there allows teachers to create assignments and then students need to end in their work and then very few each other's work. And usually the first time that students use that they don't really like it because it's more work for them and students like to spend as little time as possible on their studies. Usually of course. So in the beginning they don't really like it and you kind of get them saying Oh but isn't it the teacher's job to grade each other's work and all that stuff is just taking too much time. But after a while they start to see the failure in it. So that was really nice. And some things are more obvious like the value for students so than they like it straight away and usually they're already relieved that our interface is more intuitive than for instance blackboards. I would hope so. So already that is really refreshing to them.
Speaker 4:
7:35
Out of curiosity is you mentioned gamification. Is that where the game fixation thing is coming from where you feel like you want a higher level of engagement.
Speaker 3:
7:44
Yeah engagement and attendance is usually are usually the things that we try to improve. That basically drives a lot of our we do increasing engagement attendance. So even though a subject might be really boring to a student we are hoping to make the course as a whole interesting enough and fun enough to just do it anyway even though it might not like the subject so that either they get a better grade or they might start to like the subject as a whole which is even better. For instance when we've had some students who were doing the advanced math course it was a masters on the technical end of university here and it was super dry really dry stuff and really hard as well. But the teachers there made it so much fun. They came to fight the entire course partly using our system and partly using their own techniques and it was so nice that the whole course was really fun. Students say a lot of fun doing it even though the subject matter was really boring and super hard and they got so much positive reaction to that. The grades went up a lot and the teacher of course even got elected to Teacher of the year for two times. While yes every helps a lot and we tried to do it to gain like getting points for everything and leaderboards everywhere but more using a little more abstract game vacation techniques wherever possible.
Speaker 4:
9:23
And that's that's what I'm curious about. Can you give me an example of why you in this particular you know this math course you're talking about. Can you give me an example of how that would work how you took something it was dry and turned it into something that's a lot more engaging.
Speaker 3:
9:37
Yeah I wanted to explore this correctly. They did. They had lectures. And during those lectures they had a lot of questions that the students needed to answer sometimes even in groups and depending on how well they did that the top so many students top 20 or something they could sort of unlock another class. So there was an extra class for the people who really did their best and during that other class they could ask them anything they got more information more in-depth really personalized to do what they actually needed to know. So that was really valuable for the students because then the teachers could really cover what knowledge you didn't have yet instead of just covering some general knowledge which is usually what they do in a lecture of hundreds of people.
Speaker 4:
10:33
Sure. So the accumulation of points is sort of unlocking a more personalized experience for them where they feel like they're not being preached to from on high anymore it's more of a more of a one to one kind of thing.
Speaker 3:
10:45
Yeah exactly. And also gave the students some more control because if you didn't want all that you could just not participate. Well it was kind of up to them. But if you did participate well probably a better grade. So they could actually get stuff that was of value to them. And that was also fun and that made it more intrinsically motivating to them.
Speaker 4:
11:11
Yeah I think that's an important point because a lot of the stuff that I see is sort of mandated use. Right. We're an organization comes out with a set way of doing things even if they're doing things like came to for occasion where the goal is to make it more immersive more interactive more fun. It still becomes this mandate that you must do these things and I think the minute it feels to me I'd like to know what you think that the minute you introduce those rules you have to do this. People just automatically even if it's interesting to them just sort of turn it off like you know I've got nothing in my life that told me I have to do this.
Speaker 3:
11:45
Yeah exactly. And there has been research done about that as well. And they found into if people like to do something. I think the specific experiment was to have people who liked to draw stuff and they had some people who'd like to draw stuff. Then they started paying all of those people to draw stuff. So then the people who were normally drawing started drawing. And then after a while they just stopped paying them to draw stuff and then everybody stopped because even the people who did like to draw the money thing got connected to it and in-game information is usually points or virtual money or whatever that are connected to it and that was taking away their intrinsic motive motivation was gone as well. Right. For what. Yeah. So that is really tricky as well. That is something we need to really be careful about as well because if a student does like a subject we don't want to ruin that by having gamification.
Speaker 4:
12:47
Well yeah because when the motivation becomes I'm looking for the right word but sort of corrupted in a way yeah.
Speaker 3:
12:54
Even even if we start motivating students still needs to be a long lasting motivation. Intrinsic instead of only extrinsic.
Speaker 4:
13:03
I agree totally. So to break out of this one thing I'm curious about is your journey up to now. OK. How did you wind up here. What's your journey been to to use your experience.
Speaker 3:
13:17
Well it was kind of accidental really. Yeah I've been drawing and painting all of my life so far. And to do that a lot while growing up. So by the end of high school you to make up my mind what I was going to study or if I was going to study something and I wanted to go to art school for visual art painting and drawing and that kind of stuff. And so I went there for an interview to get interviewed and approved. And while I was there having an interview with a guy I was thinking oh my god this is enough for me because usually people who study that become independent artists I would just basically have to make art all day and find people to buy it which is not my thing.
Speaker 6:
14:11
So you immediately felt like wait a minute and at some point we were like OK well never mind I just got to go. This is not for me. Wow. I mean did you like that took some joy out of out of drawing or making art.
Speaker 3:
14:27
No not at all. I was afraid that making it my job would take out the joy and having to do it. And the older sales staff now. Yeah I heard. So then I needed to find something else. And I didn't want to do something creative. And while looking at other schools and what kind of programs there were I came across what I ended up studying which was called Interactive Media at the time. So I went there to an open day and I really liked it. It was still creative but with computers obviously but also more focused on actual people. So instead of making art and then trying to find someone to go with it you would have people with a problem and then using art to solve their problem. So I would be sure that whatever I was making was actually useful to someone and science was going to use it and be happy with it.
Speaker 3:
15:27
And that's just sort of clicked with you. Yes definitely. And even then in the beginning I didn't know that there was such a thing as user experience or interaction design. But the first year was very mixed. So we had a lot of everything so some programming some marketing some visual design some Intrexon design kind of courses some research. And it was basically during that year or the second year that I kind of got interested in the whole information architecture interaction design line of courses. So I started using the electives that fit with that and in the end internship and my thesis. So I kind of I'm kind of glad that I found that that study to do because otherwise I would never have ended up in this field maybe. What kind of place did you intern at my current job actually. Yeah yeah. So I started off here as an intern and then I did my thesis here and never left.
Speaker 4:
16:31
Interesting so how many years have you been there now. Over four years. OK. Which honestly in today's climate for a lot of people is a very long time. You know surrealism seems like on the surface but that kind of longevity in all honesty is getting harder to come by.
Speaker 3:
16:48
Yeah and I see that in articles and on the internet but I don't really understand why that is. To be honest with you. Maybe it's a difference in culture or something. I'm from the internet could be and here as far as I can so it's not really a thing to switch jobs every year.
Speaker 4:
17:09
So if that difference is cultural I'm curious. I wonder how much of that has to do with the culture of the organization not knowing what you know and being exposed to to other other things or other places via the Internet. Do you sense any difference between the organizational culture that you're used to and maybe what exists in other places.
Speaker 3:
17:31
Well I think I think we have a pretty typical sort of environment. So I sort of identify with the stuff that I see on the internet about startups in other countries though maybe a little less focused on getting as big as possible and earning as much money as possible. Well though a lot of other startups are more I think startups are in general more mission driven and not yet very money driven. You know what I mean. Yeah I do. That's the idea that I get.
Speaker 4:
18:05
I do so I mean for for four years with where you've where you've been. My guess would be and you could tell me that that motivation hasn't changed for you yet or for the organization that you're with.
Speaker 3:
18:19
No not at all. Pretty much all of us are getting more and more excited about what we're doing. That's fantastic in the beginning in the beginning I remember our platform was pretty crappy and then we had a lot of negative or mad reactions from our users. So that pretty much required our intrinsic motivation to just keep going and keep going and believe we could make it better. And at some point they will they're going to love it and we're now up to a point where people realize what we're doing. And of course we we still need to improve it a lot. But people are excited about what we have now. So that is really motivating to me hearing that we actually are improving people's lives because that's where we were setting out to do. And that makes a lot of fun. So how big is your organization comfort people. About 15 full time people.
Speaker 7:
19:16
And then about three or four interns.
Speaker 4:
19:20
Has that Make-Up been pretty steady in terms of keeping the same people for the same length of time.
Speaker 7:
19:26
Not necessarily the same people we do have at the moment we do have a core team of which I think about AIDS have been here for two or more years and I think four or five of us have been here since pretty much the beginning.
Speaker 3:
19:47
And then we do have a lot of interns coming and going of easily. Well I was I was discussing this with a colleague last week coincidentally and we were wondering how many people have worked at our company and we haven't figured it out yet.
Speaker 4:
20:05
But a lot yeah I mean that change you know change people people coming in and out is is natural. I mean I guess part of the reason I was asking Number one it's inspiring. OK and it's it's really positive to hear that you feel like you know for the most part you're more motivated now than you were when you started. And that tells me a couple of things. It tells me number one that you're doing something that's valuable and important. And number two it tells me that you're getting confirmation of that from people. Yeah. What what kinds of things come across to that make you feel like man I love this job.
Speaker 3:
20:43
When for instance I I speak to teachers and they they see a design that I've worked on. So maybe I'm doing user tests or doing interviews and teachers telling me that they need certain stuff or they would like to have certain stuff and then I show it to them when they're there like oh my god this is what I needed. So some of them are really so excited because they've wanted to change their courses since forever but they could never find the tools to do so. And if they would do it in a low tech way it would just cost way too much time. So sometimes they get so enthusiastic and they're all finally finally I can make my courses better. And that makes me always feel so happy that I could be a part of that. And also we hear from students that really liked to do a certain course and that course courses used our software that is really nice as well. Sometimes we even that we once had a teacher who sent us the grades of his class from last year before he used our platform.
Speaker 8:
21:51
And then the grades of this year while using our platform and the average was about I think two points higher. Wow. And he said the only thing I changed was using your software.
Speaker 4:
22:04
And then all of us were I guess this is where we are doing it for Essy and that's and it's wonderful to get that kind of validation and I think that does not happen for a lot of folks. And I think that's why it's hard for people quite frankly. You know we talked about job jumping a couple of minutes ago and I I always feel like maybe that's part of it. I think you can labor in this field for a long time and not get any confirmation that you're actually sort of making a difference you know and at the end of the day I think for a lot of us in this field that making a difference part matters more than you know the money part or the upward mobility or the you know any other any other part of us.
Speaker 8:
22:43
Yeah I think so too at least I hope so. That's certainly the impression I get. I think that is the case. Yeah. And you can only do so much based on pure motivation at some point. You're just gonna run out of it. You need something that really fills your motivation. Baskett or so to speak.
Speaker 4:
23:04
Yeah. So what do you think. I don't even know if this is the question I've been asking anyway. Is that something that you think people in in all aspects of this field with were termite users experience or from mission architecture or design or even development. You're right. To some degree are entrepreneurs that come up with products like the one that you guys are doing. Is that intrinsic motivation that Torna need to do something for the greater good so to speak. Is that something that you're born with and as such you naturally gravitate towards these things or does it come through experience and reinforcement. Well that's a good question and know that I always wonder you know is this is there something in us that we're sort of compelled to do what we do.
Speaker 3:
23:51
I think so but I think most people feel the need to do something good for the world or for humanity or whatever. It's just a matter of your definition of good. I think there a lot of friends instance lawyers are judges when I do something good as well they just might have a different definition of good.
Speaker 7:
24:14
Or they might value other things before doing good. I think that's a huge group of people as well.
Speaker 3:
24:22
I think there are very little people who actually set out to do something constructive. There is a group but I think I don't think it's a majority.
Speaker 4:
24:32
Do you think part of the problem could be that in some cases you're rewarded for the wrong things. In other words in a lot of cases people find themselves sort of banging their heads up against the wall because the culture values.
Speaker 9:
24:47
Other things. Yeah or maybe you can get paid enough to do good stuff and you need to survive. So maybe you get stuck into another line of work just because you need to pay rent and do groceries and all that stuff.
Speaker 4:
25:02
Has there ever been any point in your own career where you felt frustrated disheartened felt like you know maybe I don't know if I can continue to do this.
Speaker 3:
25:10
Yeah because like I said we're a startup so there wasn't a lot of money. Our CEO is always really done his best to not have investors so he never had a party investing in us which is something we take pride in because it means that we can do what we want to do and improve education and have an investor wanting to cash out as fast as possible and therefore stopping innovation.
Speaker 9:
25:40
But because of that we also usually have a lot of money to spend also on salaries. So there have been about a year or so that it was kind of hard to get through the month and sometimes the last few days I didn't really have that much money anymore so we would have to eat like ramen or just rest.
Speaker 10:
26:05
There was some sauce for three days until the next paycheck came in and after a while they kind of got exhausting as well.
Speaker 3:
26:15
It's stressful to have to watch your bank account all the time of course. But I think the work that we do kept me going and the team we have an amazing team. So such lovely people I consider pretty much every one of them close friends and that really helps that feeling like you are all in this together. Yeah. Yeah. We were all we were all living like that basically and we were all doing doing awesome stuff and we all felt like if we just make it better and better and better the product than where we're going to just tell we're licenses to universities and they'll have more money than we can get paid more. So we kind of saw it as our own responsibility to make the company more money and therefore making ourselves more money instead of kind of being a victim and saying I don't get paid enough I'm going to leave is there.
Speaker 4:
27:15
Out of curiosity is there any sort of sharing of ownership or shares in the company in other words. Is there any sort of formal structure in place where if the company does well you know you're sort of brought along with that success.
Speaker 3:
27:31
Yeah if the company gets sold everyone who works there at that point in time will get a share of that money. Wonderful. And how big that share is depends on how long you've worked here. Also our boss really wants you to pay us as much as you can so whenever there's more money available he raises our salaries. Fantastic. So it's not that I need you to fight for it. I know that he wants to. So whenever you can he does and it's rare.
Speaker 4:
28:05
OK. And again I can't speak for overseas organizations necessarily given that I'm based in the U.S. but I do think that's rare. And I think it's it's a lesson that a lot of organizations once they get past the startup phase either sort of forget or never properly learned in the first place and that is if you want people to be down there with you in the trenches you know and you want them to care about as much as you care about it and you want them to give 1000 percent like you believe you are. Then you have to allow them to share truly in that success. They have to be a part of it.
Speaker 8:
28:42
Yeah we share the bad times when we share the good times. Basically we cannot share the horrible times. And then when it gets good you're like OK.
Speaker 4:
28:54
Right from where you started to where you are. Are there any either people or experiences or instances that you feel like have been a huge influence on what you do and how you do.
Speaker 9:
29:08
Well for most of my time here I've been the only designer. There have been some times where we had one or two others but they never stayed fortunately. And whenever we did have another designer I was more experienced in in general and also experience within the company. So I never really had a leader type or someone I could live on but I did have the full responsibility of. Of. Making. The designers work. And I think having their responsibility and just having to deliver was something that really motivated me to learn a lot. And I did learn a lot during my time here. When I look back at my first science I'm pretty embarrassed.
Speaker 5:
29:59
We all are. We all share that story. I couldn't have made this.
Speaker 8:
30:09
I think I think having a responsibility in just having to figure out what I need to learn and then how I am going to learn it in time for my next delivery something that really really shaped me. And we also always had a very like all my co-workers whenever I asked for feedback Tuesday usually showed that my designs.
Speaker 9:
30:34
And then they gave feedback on it and they were always very critical. They never tried to spare my feelings or anything. So sometimes they could be really harsh but that was really helpful as well because I didn't like those sessions in the beginning. Sure I just wanted to get my designs as good as possible so that I could finally get some good feedback from them.
Speaker 4:
30:58
How did you learn to become to become more comfortable with that. Because you know it's hard to hear the cruiser's really kind it's hard to hear especially if you care about what you do.
Speaker 9:
31:06
Yeah and I know it's not about me but it's also about my work. So it's still a bit hard. I don't know. I think it helps to do those sessions often at some point you just get more used to it as well. Like for instance presenting in the beginning that's also super scary. But the more you do it the easier it gets. And also yeah just making my designs is as good as I could and asking for direct feedback. Also really helps because sometimes they get a lot of feedback about stuff that I wasn't even wanting feedback on or that wasn't even done yet or something like that. So I'm priming them by explaining the context of the design and why it is like it is and what aspects of it I want feedback on that really helped as well.
Speaker 4:
32:05
So would you be as successful. Do you think without those difficult conversations.
Speaker 9:
32:09
No no not at all. Because usually the feedback is really good and sometimes the feedback doesn't make sense to me. But it's still interesting because it's a point of view. They apparently have a point of view at that time that I hadn't considered yet. And sometimes the users like when I make another version of my design and I get tested sometimes the users don't agree on the feedback that the team gave me. Interesting but that's fine. At least I checked because sometimes it is better. Sometimes it's really improvement because I'd rather get some harsh feedback from my co-workers than from the users. Because when we get feedback from the users that means that someone did a class or maybe an entire course and we sort of ruined it in some way or form so then I read it get it from the team there from the customers users.
Speaker 6:
33:09
Basically you have to find out that you're wrong you'd rather have it happen internally. Yeah exactly. And that makes it way more easy to digest and to just receive that feedback as well. Right.
Speaker 4:
33:22
Out of curiosity have you ever rolled anything out to users that they just unanimously complained about. But then you've sort of found out through use that it was actually beneficial to them even though they were never had those instances where people you know sort of rose up and said This is terrible we're never going to use this and then they're used told you otherwise.
Speaker 9:
33:47
I cannot think of an instance where it happened.
Speaker 4:
33:50
I'm just I'm always curious about the disconnect between what people say they want and what they actually want because there are so many instances of that. Well something that we do have happening often is that teachers or students say they can do something or that for instance when we were building them because she spoke to.
Speaker 8:
34:13
Us. I spoke to a lot of teachers and they were all very confident sounding like I really need to do those kinds of assignments and to do those all the time now and. And then when we made that to from then on we could actually see what they were doing and how they would construct the assignments. And then sometimes we get negative reaction from them saying well it took the students way too much time to give the feedback or they couldn't find it for you. Well like a negative experience. And then we went to look how they set up the assignments. Often it was the case that they just set up the assignment in a horrible way. So it wasn't really because of the door but because the students had to peer review for instance work of 20 pages using about 10 criteria which is way too large because you cannot remember 10 criteria while reading so much stuff and then annotating all the time. It takes a lot of time and a way too much cognitive effort. So that was kind of funny that we were seeing those teachers that were so confident they were going to do this well kind of screw up.
Speaker 11:
35:30
Well not funny but funny but you know I don't really know what you mean.
Speaker 4:
35:36
I mean in those instances you know to what degree is it within your power to build in some kind of constraints to try and alleviate that because at some point you think to yourself OK it may very well be that some of these folks aren't going to change. You probably know this as well as I do. You can train people you can encourage them to do certain things but at some point you almost always have to try and take a step to constrain some of that behavior with the software because you know you're not going to get there.
Speaker 3:
36:05
Yeah definitely. And apparently not all of them knew how to set up a good beer. Two big assignments. So I created some new designs and built in some constraints. Not really constraints because they still can create an assignment with 10 criteria. But after the fifth or sixth after that the button allows you to add another one. What have some text next to it that says we advise you to not use more than blah blah criteria and the button itself gets a little less attention grabbing as well. So at least if someone isn't aware that they're doing it wrong will now know it and can that be like oh OK well I need to do this differently. And also we created some placeholder text in the criteria creation Baartman that kind of illustrated what a good criteria is.
Speaker 4:
37:00
See another two great examples. Those are two great examples you built two things in that didn't force anybody to do anything right. Because it goes against human nature. Yeah. That the same time you're providing necessary guidance. I mean similar to actual solutions Yeah.
Speaker 11:
37:15
So pretty much they can still screw it up but it will be harder.
Speaker 6:
37:23
It will be harder for them to accidentally screw it up. That's kind of what we were going for. Did you see any change as a result.
Speaker 3:
37:31
Well so far so good. We just had the summer vacation and we changed that. Right before the summer vacation. So currently we're still in the first quarter of the school year. So not a lot of concrete results yet but so far as it can get we have had less complaints so far on assignments. But the evaluations still have to come in.
Speaker 4:
37:55
It sounds like that's a step in the right direction because like we said the tradeoff is always you can't force anybody to do anything but a lot of times as you said people aren't aware yeah that they're doing something that is that is sort of making it hard and being aware of the words you're doing is a bit unconventional.
Speaker 3:
38:13
That's that's the key because some teachers just do things differently or they are trying to innovate using existing tools or whatever and we want to allow for that. So you can do whatever you want. Well we tried to guide you into doing the correct thing which is the hardest balancing act in the world.
Speaker 4:
38:33
But it's part and parcel of everything that we do. Designers are you actors or product developers of any kind. You're always straddling the line between trying to draw hard boundaries around things and at the same time giving human beings the essential freedom to be themselves you know which is how everybody does things.
Speaker 3:
38:52
Exactly. It's like there's the famous image of Bath's through the bark with some grass and then you see like the people don't don't go around the corner but they just cough through the grass and then you see new paths emerging there. It's kind of like that right to cut the corner Yeah. And you can keep them on the back by putting fences everywhere but that would just make people miserable.
Speaker 6:
39:16
Yeah and they'll probably find another way although they will always find a way.
Speaker 4:
39:21
Right. Right right. You know I mean I always feel like some of the biggest aha moment you could ever have in product development is watching the work arounds that people come up with Yeah in order to avoid using what's in front of them.
Speaker 11:
39:34
Definitely.
Speaker 10:
39:35
I remember you had a gesture of that in your book and that was so eye opening to me. I was like oh yes the work arose as something since then I've been really paying attention to that and it's really interesting because every time now that the user mentions to me like oh I can do this or it's hard to do this. And I just say okay well maybe it's hard but how do you do it right.
Speaker 4:
40:01
And it's so interesting to see what they come up with sometimes and the volume of effort that's involved and that that solution.
Speaker 3:
40:09
And also when they do come up with the workaround that costs a lot of effort then apparently they want it back.
Speaker 10:
40:16
So it's a goal that they really have and they're dedicated to that yeah. So if you make a fix for that it's going to be right for them for sure right.
Speaker 4:
40:25
And they often can't tell you you know what it is exactly what they want. But what you're absolutely right if you understand what the goal is if you understand what they're trying to accomplish Yeah that's how you get there.
Speaker 9:
40:36
And you know it's important to them as well. The goal is important to them so that is validated as well.
Speaker 4:
40:42
Yeah because I mean like I said You see you see people do an extraordinary amount of work just to avoid using workflow sequence that has maybe you know four or five steps. Yeah it's crazy. It is crazy. So we're at about 10 minutes that's what I usually like to do here is I want to ask you some hotseat questions do things that aren't necessarily directly related to you so you can answer them however you like but this is really just more about you. So the first question is what word or phrase do you use to offer something you say a lot.
Speaker 11:
41:18
That's not how I decided to develop first. Do you realize how many times a day. About three times a day as developers like to say you love creative liberty or maybe sometimes they try and cut corners.
Speaker 10:
41:39
I don't know but sometimes I'm looking over their shoulders wearing it varies quite a small office so all the developers like within two metres of my desk. And sometimes I see them making something that well but that's not how I designed it. Look at the images.
Speaker 5:
41:57
So do they I know to hide their work for me.
Speaker 11:
42:00
No they do it. They know I'll find out eventually. There is no escape. I will find out. You can run but you can't hide the spirit.
Speaker 4:
42:11
Do they ever come up with something that is better.
Speaker 3:
42:14
Yeah that has happened sometimes. There was a use case that I forgot for instance. And then they came across it and they just made up something for it and then it was like oh nice. I completely forgot about that.
Speaker 5:
42:27
Very nice but often it's worse often that's not the way I just like unfortunately.
Speaker 4:
42:38
Tell me what are you.
Speaker 8:
42:40
Not very good at I'm not very good at planning stuff. Managing I'm getting better but it's a weakness though that I've never been good at that. It doesn't come natural to me. I'm a bit chaotic and I don't like to be superstructures. But there is a certain amount of structure that I need to be able to work with other people so I'm kind of trying to find a balance there.
Speaker 4:
43:04
I think for some people specially folks who are much more red brained I mean that's sort of a life long struggle.
Speaker 10:
43:10
Yeah. I don't expect to ever get good at it. That's OK as long as you keep trying. I'm aiming for good enough.
Speaker 12:
43:16
You know you go good enough. Yeah. I'm not very good at exercising either.
Speaker 5:
43:27
Who is I guess not a lot of people are.
Speaker 4:
43:31
Tell me something that's true about you extra design or product development that almost nobody agrees with you.
Speaker 8:
43:38
Well in my experience like pretty ambit within my company stuff that pretty much no one agrees on is that rules don't always matter. Sometimes a coworker comes across one of those design rules for instance. You need to be able to reach everything within three clicks.
Speaker 10:
44:02
One of my favorites the app that kind of stuff sometimes someone comes with one of those things and then they come to me and they say well it takes way too many clicks to get to here or there.
Speaker 8:
44:14
Or they say oh this button needs to look like this because of what. And then I in my usual answer is like well OK that might be a rule but it doesn't necessarily apply in this situation.
Speaker 5:
44:28
That's usually a nice discussion though we have the nice desk. I get the feeling you're being very polite.
Speaker 10:
44:38
I don't really like to like feed other stuff. I don't mean like to be. I know I'm the designer and I'm going to do it like this. No matter what you think.
Speaker 8:
44:48
Sure I like it if we were all on the same page so I usually try to come up with arguments to explain to them why I'm saying this and that's the right way to do it. It often takes a lot of time because most people think stuff from certain websites is more reliable than my word and I can understand that everybody is sort of searching for an absolute you know a silver bullet method.
Speaker 4:
45:13
And I've been guilty of using that term myself to be honest but I really believe that there are no absolutes. No you find one rule that applies to every single situation. Do you think that it's just natural human beings to want that.
Speaker 8:
45:29
Kind of simplicity. I think so because it makes it way easier to understand everything around you. If you only have to remember one chunk of knowledge and you can apply that to everything your life that is really easy because you learn a small thing and then you can do everything. But if you have to look for new patterns everywhere you go like friends I think I think this is really baked into our biology because when you've had an encounter with a tiger back in the days and you run into another Tiger you're going to be OK. This one's probably going to be dangerous as well. You're not going to find out oh this tiger dangerous. Oh is that Tiger dangerous. I think we tried to look for consistencies and patterns everywhere but sometimes they just don't exist or there might be a pattern. But this might be an exception to the pattern. It is also a possibility and I do think that though those kinds of rules are helpful as a starting point. But you do need to investigate whether this might still be a different situation.
Speaker 4:
46:40
I agree. I agree. And I think it's the right way to go about doing just about anything. You know you have to stay open. Yeah I think so do. So are you into music. Yeah. So here comes this one. If you were only allowed to pick one band or song that you could listen to for the rest of your life what would it be.
Speaker 5:
46:58
Oh my god that's a hard question for the rest of my life. Well I would fail this completely.
Speaker 3:
47:07
Well that is difficult because you want to have something that you can listen to at parties or in concert and dance to but also is chill for when you're out for instance on a train you're doing something wrong. OK so let's say band not song. Yeah definitely. That is hard. A band that I really love is dire straits pretty much everything. Mark Knopfler but it's not really party music's more chill music. They have pretty wide range though yeah they do. So I think that would be the most suitable but I would need a second one for more parties though.
Speaker 12:
47:48
OK. You're welcome. Who's your party back. Who's my party back. So you went there.
Speaker 8:
47:56
Well that would be something cheerful. So I would take some rock n roll rockabilly kind of because they condense it so little Richard or something Richard. Not so we have dancing music into music.
Speaker 4:
48:11
All right cool. And of course in a perfect world you to have much more than that as we definitely did. I'm glad we have more. Amen amen. You know I'm the type of person where I get bored with what I'm saying to sort of on a daily basis Yeah you know it's sort of it's sort of never changes for me and I'm just always looking for something else and there are a few things that get me as excited as when I hear something that just blows me away. Yes. You know like wow I can't believe that this exists and I didn't know.
Speaker 10:
48:43
But definitely. And those kinds of moments I usually have with like hard rock or heavy metal girls is just so energetic and so more intense than that usually with that kind of music when I come across new songs. This is it dances so nice. I really love that.
Speaker 8:
49:04
I'm a big fan of the Discover Weekly feature of Spotify. I love that because I get new music every week guaranteed and that can lead you to watch an entire album and maybe a similar other band or artist and it gets the ball rolling.
Speaker 4:
49:20
Yeah and that's why I mean we'll wrap this up but I feel like it always bothers me when I hear people say well there's just there's no good music anymore there's no bands making great music there's nothing you know interesting or innovative or inventive and I'm like you know there's so much there's a universe out there. When I from high school to college in particular I mean you had to work to find something that wasn't mainstream you know radio the same six bands that got played. There was physical effort involved just trying to find out about this stuff and now it's like when you open up Google you're there.
Speaker 10:
49:56
Yes everyone just can record some stuff you don't have to get a record label and loads of money and all that stuff. Everyone is just making music and it's amazing.
Speaker 4:
50:05
And that's a gift. To me that's a gift for me. So what is your wedding band. Oh you're going to make me answer this.
Speaker 13:
50:12
Yes.
Speaker 4:
50:16
So you can ask the question but I've never in my life been able to because there are things that I there are so many things that I love. And I love with with equal passion. I love metal I love jazz. I love punk. I love classical music. I have heard country that has blown me away although not a whole lot. Same same there isn't a genre where I haven't heard something that made me go wow I mean that's amazing. My kids place police to me all the time that they're listening to that I would never seek out okay otherwise. And I still manage to be floored here and there. One band I think quite honestly if I was absolutely forced to choose one band it would probably be Black Sabbath because their entire career and I'm including the years with Ronnie James Dio vs Ozzy Osborne because it stylistically they were all over the place. I mean even those early or six Sabbath records have a tremendous amount of jazz in them. Yeah as much as anything else I mean they swing. In some cases it's you know there's there's quiet moments there's loud moments there's pure blues there's just sort of all over the place there's a lot of it what's word variety that's the word.
Speaker 6:
51:34
So I think it's you I think if you made me that was sort of be my choice but good choice but I do so grudgingly. Well it isn't terrible question but you started.
Speaker 5:
51:44
I know and that's why. And kudos to you for turning into something. All right Astrid it has been an absolute pleasure talking with you.
Speaker 4:
51:52
I wish you much success in your career. Thank you. And it seems like you will find it all by yourself given your attitude toward things. I want you to know that that's rare thinking and you should protect it. That's very nice of you to say. And I think it's obvious. OK. Success comes in my opinion from the intrinsic motivation that you're talking about from caring very deeply about what you do and the result of what you do. And I think that you've got that in spades.
Speaker 3:
52:20
Cool. I think it definitely helps you.
Speaker 4:
52:22
All right well you take care and until next time. Yes. I wish you well.
Speaker 3:
52:27
Have a nice day YouTube.
Speaker 1:
52:28
Bye bye. That wraps up this edition of making us work. Thanks for listening and I hope hearing these stories provide some useful perspective and encouragement along with a reminder that you're not alone. Before I go I want you to know that you can find shows and links to the things mentioned during our conversation by visiting give you X dot com slash podcast. You'll also find links to more US resources on the web and social media along with ways to contact me if you're interested in sharing your own story here. Until next time this is Jonah totally reminding you that it's people like you who make you work.