"I Am Feeling Lucky Strike Today" by Gennady Osipenko

Saturday, March 1, 2014



One day, a prospective client asked me to meet him to discuss some work over lunch. The weather was fine and at some point we changed the subject and started talking about websites, their souls and life cycles. Sitting in a quiet Belgian fusion bar in center of Kiev, I compared websites to living beings, suggesting they evolve like any other creature on our planet. The soothing ambient music accompanied our conversation and the imported Palm ale made things even more relaxing. I had to do something to stay focused, so I picked up the cigarette pack that was on the table and started explaining: “Imagine creating a site for Lucky Strike fans!”

I’d like to note that I don’t smoke and don’t encourage others to, either. The problem was, the cigarettes were the closest thing to hand; my iPhone simply happened to be a bit further away.

So, holding the cigarette pack right in front of my face, I said, “We start by launching a site for fans of—let’s see,” I looked at the pack, “Lucky Strikes. Those of us who adore these cigarettes would like to know that we aren’t alone in the vastness of the internet. So we start by counting like-minded individuals. Let’s show an image of a pack of Lucky Strikes to attract brand Nazis like us and place a button that says ‘I’m feeling Lucky Strike today!’ Visitors click the button and we show the number of times it was clicked. That will help our site to get underway and become at least a little popular.” ...

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(Image: Dominic's pics)

"Design is Problem Solving—
In More Ways than One"
by Sudhindra V. Murthy

Wednesday, February 5, 2014



It all began on a cold day towards the end of October in 2005. I was rushing up to go over for a client meeting, 5 miles into the city. As I was about to close and lock my computer, I saw a message pop from the Resourcing Team. I gave it a cursory glance, thought with a sigh, “Another hard gruelling project” and locked my computer. However, I thought I had noticed something like a “travel instruction”. So I unlocked my computer and read it in full. It was indeed a new project I was to take up, but to my disbelief, I saw that I was to travel to Singapore in the next 3 days. Of course, I was shocked, unhappy and essentially disturbed since I was to travel at such a short notice.

“Let’s deal with this when I am back from the client meeting,” I thought. The meeting itself went pretty well and the clients were a happy bunch, now that we had turned around their rather clumsy news site into a more “new-worldish site” - in their own words.

I came back three hours later, went through the mail again and called the Resourcing Team. The first thing they asked me “Did you get your ticket yet? What kind of accommodation are you looking for? Please fill in the travel request form and send it back ASAP.” I fought to control my myriad emotions at play and asked them a simple question “Why is it such a short notice?” “Because the project has started yesterday and today, you will be talking to the client at 6.30 pm. Did you not get the invite yet?” was the reply. ...

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(Image: yeowatzup )

"UX Professional Goes
Car Shopping" by Timothy Keirnan

Sunday, January 12, 2014



In the winter of 2008 my most excellent auto mechanic, Jake, gave me the bad news: my beloved 12-year-old car should not be driven through any more Michigan winters. Too much corrosion was attacking the frame.

Many car parts can be fixed or outright replaced, but a frame with too much corrosion becomes dangerously weak and impossible to repair. Michigan is in what we Americans call “the rust belt”. The steel in automobiles competes with the salt spread onto the roads during the winter. Eventually, the salt wins because the rust spreads like crazy.

“If you really want to keep it forever as you’re always telling me, get something else to drive in the winter,” Jake said. Jake knows what he’s about. He rebuilt the engine for me at 217,000 miles. Replaced the clutch, too. He also modified the suspension and exhaust system for me over the years as we made the car more fun to drive than it had been straight from the factory.

So this car I’d bought when fresh out of grad school in 1996 was now too rusty to drive all year round. This was a moment of serious emotional import. This car and I had been through a lot together. It was even stolen in 1999 when I lived in Denver. Days after the theft, I bought another 1996 Saturn SC2 in nearby Colorado Springs because I couldn’t order a new one. (Saturn had ruined the model for me with Chapter 2 251 Timothy Keirnan UX Professional Goes Car Shopping some ugly revisions in 1997, and there were no other car brands on the market that remotely interested me. I wanted the same car back as I had lost!) But then the police found my original car partially stripped in a south Denver parking lot. So I had two 1996 SC2s in my driveway for a few months until my original car was restored and I sold the second one. ...

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(Image: Wikimedia)

"A Day at Acme Corp"
by Mark Hurst

Tuesday, January 7, 2014



I spent a day at Acme Corp recently … you know, the multinational company that makes all the supplies for Wile E. Coyote and other avid inventors. (Hey, I figure it’s more interesting than “all names and details have been vastly changed” etc. :)

Anyway. Acme had a problem: research showed that their website was completely, unforgivably, disastrously hard to use for their customers. And ugly, on top of that, as if it was spat from a template circa 1996.

So I sat down with the executives, everyone with a stake in the online presence, to help them improve the business metrics by improving their website.

Here’s an excerpt of the meeting transcript, more or less. ...

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(Image: disney.wikia.com)

"Accepting Star Wars at Work"
by Henning Brau

Saturday, January 4, 2014



Red cascades of data flicker rapidly through my right eye. They move with me as I turn my head, telling me where to go; I now have to turn right. I mechanically follow the instructions, getting closer to my destination.

My mission is clear: find artifact A2000 4356 7832, pick it up, bring it back home. As easy as that. Yet I have never been in this sector before; I must rely on the information that appears in my eye.

I listen to the metallic pounding of my heavy boots on the floor, echoing and fading away. My hand wanders over the touch pad in the beltmounted device at my side and I change the intensity of the rays.

Distant machines stamp out their never-changing beat. The hall I enter lies bathed in dim light.

Although the walls numb the senses with their icy greyness, I am not cold; it is warm in here, maybe 27° Celsius. A bead of sweat runs down my forehead into my eye. I feel a sudden sting, but I do not dare to wipe it away, afraid to lose sight of the thin red lines.

A man comes round the corner and stops in his tracks as he sees me. His mouth opens in disbelief. He certainly wasn’t expecting me—the cyborg—to appear here. ...

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(Image: Peter Taylor)

"One Thing, Many Paths"
by David St. John

Saturday, December 28, 2013



When I graduated from college the only computer programs I knew how to use were Word, Internet Explorer, and the popular CD-ROM based PC game called Myst. This was still the height of the dot-com boom, so while I had limited technical experience, my college education and a healthy local economy lead to plenty of work as a contractor for several startups in the Seattle area. Most of the assignments were not glamorous (data entry, quality assurance and categorizing products), however these experiences opened my eyes to the way of life in several technology companies that were still grappling with how to turn a profit using this new thing called the Internet.

It was during this early period that I participated in the launch of a new category of products for a large and successful e-commerce company in the Seattle area. All of the employees I met were extremely accomplished. Several people had companies that were acquired during the Internet’s growth spurt, while several others abandoned previous careers to join the tide of new companies flowing onto the Internet. It seemed that no matter your background, there was a place for you in this new economy.

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"Moving into Non-Linear Iteration" by Dave Malouf

Saturday, December 21, 2013



... and Managing People Who Haven’t Arrived There Yet

Have you ever noticed that all stories are really sub-stories of a bigger story? There is no true beginning and there is no true end. Really great stories actually begin to develop their back-story in fuller depth as you move forward through the part of the tale that the teller wants you to focus on. As I begin to write this story, I’m struck by this same problem. Where exactly does the introduction start and where does the conclusion end? Through the iterations of this very paragraph I have started and restarted a host of times. At some point, you just have to throw the proverbial dart at the screen and let it fly from there: Design.

That is my introduction to how I learned about iteration as a primary concept and tool for design. Of course, even the simplest story is strewn with nuances and sub-themes and hopefully a few of those will rise to the top as well.

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More than 100.000 downloads

Saturday, December 7, 2013



The other day we crossed the 100.000 downloads benchmark. Isn't that amazing? A big thank you goes out to all the authors who contributed to this project. Another big thank you goes out to the entire team that worked on this project for almost a year - back in 2010. And of course: a big thank you to you, dear readers. Thanks for downloading this free eBook.

Hey, why not repost parts of the actual UX Storytellers foreward? Here we go:

I contacted many potential authors, and over the next 10 months, we—Jutta, Stephen and I—set about collecting and reading stories. Reading and re-reading them. And re-reading them again. Sending suggestions back to the authors who were so generous to submit a story for this book. And so on. Finally, we ended up with 42 extraordinary authors, all people I admire and look up to. Take a look at their lives, their books, their blogs, and their achievements. Jaw-dropping, isn’t it? You can’ t help but be astonished and inspired. Not only are they leading experts in UX and related fields with strange acronyms, but they are also the most wonderful people. Please take the time to read and truly listen to their stories in this book—or in person, if you happen to bump into them at one of the many conferences that take place around the world nowadays. Dear authors: I salute you.

Moreover, a special thank you must be said to all the non-English speaking authors who had the additional challenge of writing in English, but kept at it and delivered really marvellous stories. We have carefully polished their stories while retaining the local flavour—always wary of reducing them to bland uniformity.

Why are there so few female authors in this book? Well, I can assure you I honestly tried to contact as many female authors as I could think of (ok, there was a bottleneck right there). I am all the more grateful for the contributions of Andrea Rosenbusch (Switzerland), Colleen Jones (USA), Deborah Mayhew (USA), Marianne Sweeny (USA), Olga Revilla (Spain) and Sylvie Daumal (France).

"Almost Dead on Arrival: a Tale of Police, Danger, and UX Development" by Aaron Marcus

Saturday, November 30, 2013



How We Got Started: It is not often that the lawyer for a prospective client, that is heavily armed, calls us in for a new project. Starting off with lawyers and police, we were already on alert. Still, we anticipated that this job would be different, challenging, and perhaps dangerous. It happened about five years ago.

The lawyer (for the policemen’s union) explained that the police department of a major Silicon Valley city was rolling out a new mobile information display system, but they were running into problems. The police officers who had to try the new system found it problematic, sometimes refusing to even use it, because they said it might endanger their lives. What a customer or user reaction! As we learned more and more about the context, the application suite, the software developer, the threads of politics, software development and organizational behavior became more and more intertwined. We felt like we were detectives ourselves, trying to understand how things had come to this situation; that the police officer’s union (which hired us) was about to sue the software developer, the police management, and the city for creating a fiasco. The newspapers were also beginning to sniff around. ...

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"Wine, Women and Song"
by James Kalbach

Saturday, November 16, 2013



Hello, Deutschland: “Wine, women and song.” That’s the short answer I tell people when asked how an American ended up in Germany. Either that or “sex, drugs and rock-and-roll.” Both jokes, of course. But it usually brings about a chuckle.

Actually, there were a lot of converging reasons for my coming to Germany and staying there. The most important was meeting my lovely wife. There was also the excitement of living in Europe: Prague, Oslo, Amsterdam, Paris—all a short flight or train ride away. And the European way of life simply appealed to me, particularly their orientation towards time. A saying I once heard sums it up well: in the U.S. you live to work; in Europe you work to live. Who wouldn’t want 30 days of vacation? Compared to the measly 5-10 vacation days you start with in the States, a month and half of paid time off is luxurious.

Work-wise, job prospects kept me in Germany as well. If doors open up, you sometimes have to take the opportunity. So the whole moving-to- Germany thing wasn’t planned at all: it just kind of happened. But in moving to Germany, I also found a career that matched my academic background, experience and skills: information architecture, usability, and, later, user experience.

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About This Blog

This blog is a companion to the UX Storytellers project. You will find everything that's currently going on, what has happened so far and what is planned for the future.

Learn through storytelling

The best way to learn is through listening to stories. The best way to teach is through telling stories. Are you a UX Expert with stories to tell? We would love to hear your story.

Famous Quotes

The universe is made of stories, not atoms.
Muriel Rukeyser

There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories. Ursula K. LeGuin