Jeff Gothelf is a user experience guru that has worked for many years as a product designer and team leader. These days he spends most of his time as a teacher, workshop leader and public speaker. He recently published the book, Lean UX: Applying lean principles to improve user experience (O’Reilly 2013). Jeff has been successful in leading cross-functional, collaborative, agile teams at organizations of all sizes.
His main focus is on building and training evidence-based, customer-centered product development teams. Through worldwide keynotes and workshops, Jeff has helped teams figure out the best way to utilize cross-functional collaboration, product strategy and experimentation and agile-friendly product design to ensure their ideas are found, designed and developed in a way the market welcomes.
In 2012, along with Josh Seiden and Giff Constable, Jeff launched a lean product design and innovation studio called Proof in NYC where he worked with companies building and designing innovative product ideas while helping those organizations adopt leaner development processes. In late 2012, Proof was acquired by Neo Innovation Labs – a larger organization backed by Eric Ries and Joi Ito with an identical vision. They are now the NYC office of Neo, where Jeff works as a Principal in a full-stack innovation shop.
We had the opportunity to speak with Jeff to dissect how he thinks about user experience design, what he is excited about, top trends he can’t wait to implement and the most challenging problems that he is looking to solve.
1. What are the biggest transformations you anticipate in UX in 2015?
Wearables are going to be huge. They’re becoming more prevalent and will only grow in popularity. This radically changes how we design the information that goes into these infinite form factors.
Medical technology is also transforming rapidly. We always joke that UX is rarely a life or death practice. In this case, it literally is. How can we empower healthcare providers to give better care and create better experiences in the delivery of that service? I think that’s very exciting.
Finally, the Internet of Things will generate so much new data that we’ll need to help companies figure out how to make sense of it all. New tools, displays, apps, and tools will do that and we can help design them.
2. What is your approach when solving a user’s problem?
Talk to the customer. It seems simple and yet it is still a new skill for so many companies. Find your customers and observe their behavior, ask them questions and get a sense of how they currently solve their problems. This will give you a sense of where the real value is for the product or service you’re creating.
3. What are your thoughts on First Time User Experience (FTUX) and how do you see it evolving?
This is often overlooked or treated casually by many apps. It’s often left to a slideshow of features or an overlay of the controls. Helping people make the most of the app will help onboard them quickly and most importantly, retain them as continuous users. Without that, app downloads and sign-ups are just vanity metrics.
All that being said, Snapchat has no on-boarding and UI that proves challenging for anyone over the age of 20 and they seem to be doing pretty well.
4. When you think about a design that you have implemented, how do you measure success?
I measure success with business outcomes. The question I ask is what is the customer behavior I want to change? How will I measure that? Then I set a goal and that is my success. Everything is done to optimize for that metric.
5. We define a dynamic app user experience as one that adapts to the user based on the context of where and who they are. What do you think the roadblocks are that apps will have to overcome to make a difference in delivering dynamic user experiences?
The form factor will prove challenging here. An app reacting on a phone is different than an app reacting on a watch or on a “smart” purse. Designing for all of these scenarios at once will be impossible. Instead, we should pick the core experiences we want to optimize and then decide, based on customer insight, where we want to expand our service further.
6. What is out there today that excites you?
Tesla is doing amazing things. Landing a refrigerator on a comet is amazing. I still love my iPhone. The evolution of social media into chat apps as platforms is fascinating. Finally, the enterprise-scale focus on innovation is exciting. Many companies still don’t know how to fund and incentivize great work inside their companies but at least we’re talking about it. That’s a good start.