User Centered Design

My favorite graphic depicting the challenges User Centered Design process faces:


User Centered Design is about empathy for the target audience. In order to meaningfully communicate to end users:

  • Drive a sense of the project’s vision with all project participants
  • Understand the target user
  • Experiment with conceptual designs
  • Complete the designs
  • Evaluate the target audience’s response to the designs
  • Maintain and update the results

The following graphic shows a simplified approach to User Centered Design.

A more complete depiction of the User Centered Design process was published by SAP. They got it right!



IMG_5377At Apple, I developed sales tools for the international sales force and partners. There wasn’t a single type of sales person or partner. In order to be successful (and we were!), I traveled throughout the US, Europe and Asia, talking with the people who needed the tools. The insights gained enabled the development of tools and distribution methodologies based on User Centered Designed principals.  The results saved Apple money, decreased the time it took to get sales tools distributed, and increased sales force effectiveness. The result was that I won the “Apple Sales Impact Award” (trophy below), including an all-expenses paid trip for 2 to Ireland!

Standards Development

Developing standards, especially at a large company, can be challenging and politically charged. Product management teams can resist changes for many reasons including:

  • An installed base that is accustomed to the current UI.
  • The time and cost to make updates.
  • A focus on new features rather than revisiting what has already been developed.

standards developmentFurther, the need for consistency across products (users may own more than one product), as well as technology changes, platform requirements and user research results, can dictate a need for corporate standards.

At Cisco, I was asked to develop and evangelize UX standards for 40 business units. Our approach was to begin with 3 business units. We developed standards, tested them, got testimonials from users and then made the business case based on efficiency and time to market. As our standards started to show impressive gains, additional business units began adopting them. To better manage our standards in cross-functional teams, we established councils that provided oversight. After 2.5 years, 27 of 40 business units were active partners in our standards development.

People Management

people managementPeople management skills include mentoring, training, planning, organizing, staffing, listening, evaluating and directing. I have managed teams of up to 40 people, at Apple, Cisco, eBay and Seagate.

The most significant influence on my management style was the curriculum courses I attended at Apple University. There, I learned to focus on people first. While important, projects, products, budgets and business plans, do not have as much impact on success as fulfilled, acknowledged and informed employees.