Gå till innehåll

About one year ago I realized that UX is "the new black". I have been a vivid user of Effect Maps for many years and a strong believer in the importance of usability. Working in yet another project that completely ignoredall usability issues I made a vowe to get better ammunition for future endeavors.

The Plan

I decided to do my best to learn as much as possible about the fantastic new subject known as User Experience. To be honest I consider it more of an approach than a collection of techniques. I bough a load of books, registered for conferences and classes and started to work hard on applying my newfound knowledge in whatever I did.

Let's Start with the Conferences

I think is fun to meet other people in the community, make contact and chat. Some talks have been very inspiring but far too many too shallow to make any lasting impression. If I look back at the learning part from conference talks it is pretty meager to be honest. It is fun to see famous people live, at least some of them, but it is really hard to deliver a lasting message in 30 minutes.


Now we're talking. I spent a full day working with touchpoints guided by Chris Risdon and we did a lot of hands-on exercising. I have been able to practice what I learned already. I also spent half a day on Lean UX which was really cool. Also with a lot of hands on stuff. So tutorials are a great way of learning.

chris risdon


I also manged to take a two day class called usability in practice - covering interviews, flows, effect maps and some interaction design. Great class but it was so crammed with interesting stuff that would gladly have spent a full week diving deeper into each part. The class is in Swedish so if your are an eager UX-learner fluent in Swedish - register now!

The teachers


I have read a lot of blog posts by well known people in the UX community, none mentioned and none forgotten. I find this a good way of getting a grip on current trends and finding the buzz. Sometimes the discussion dives down in detail on details which bores me quickly. What's the obsession with the hamburger menu anyhow, is this really the most important subject to discuss?

I have read quite a lot of books, some great and some reeeeally boring stuff. Now I am a practitioner so I want to see lots of examples and feel a connection to real work.

Don't make me think by Steve Krug is a wonderful first book on usability that I want to order dozens of and give to my colleagues. That together with The Swedish book Jävla skitsystem by Jonas Södertsröm should shake people up a bit - enough to understand that we do need to think about UX - NOW!

Smashing UX Design by Allen and Chudley is really good -  I especially like the second half on tools, techniques and UX deconstructed.

Communicating the User Experience by Caddick and Cable is a good overview of techniques and models and it would have been even better if the parts about creating stuff in powerpoint was a separate downloadable pdf.

Sketching User Experiences by Bll Buxton looks promising. It is my plan for the next year to read together with the worbook

Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug is another one of this books I want to hand out to all my fellow testers. Just start doing it because it matter and YOU can make difference. Great intro to usability testing.

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud was a fun read and describes a lot of interesting stuff on how to visualize things and how people fill in the blanks. Hey, read it and just enjoy the ride!

And then I started on some really heavy material - Interaction design beyond human computer interaction - highly academic and very heavy. About Face 2.0 - thousand of tips listed and too many words. Since I really like the Inmates are running the asylum this was quite a dissapointment. Handbook of usability testing - hm, after having read Krug's book on agile usability testing this feels a wee bit heavy. The UX book - so heavy that it is hard to carry around and so dense I can´t manage to get into it. Now if I had a year to spend on reading.... nah, forget about it. I guess the problem these books have is that they try to be comprehensive and tell it all - it just does not work for me! Tell me the essentials and then let me practice!


In order to get really great I believe in learning from the best. So I have managed to get a mentor to discuss my current work. This I believe will take it from good to great! I wish I could always work with people that were better than me so I could learn more and faster. You make a difference Micke!

I make sure I get to do more UX at work and always spend a few extra hours reworking my material until it becomes better and better. After all - Practice is the best teacher.


And to really get me out of my comfort zone I push the limits of what I am teaching to contain more and more UX material. This forces me to rethink and restructure and redo and is how I become really good at test design.

Final Words

  • Knowing is step one
  • Doing is step two
  • Teaching is step three
  • Step four may be a book in Swedish on UX?

So is my plan working you wonder...

...you bet!







From the beginning Agile has felt very developer-centered. Some major questions regarding the new roles of requirements, design and testers have been discussed as we are trying to find useful ways of working together. My experience with agile projects so far has been very differentiated. The key success factors for the projects I have been in are: working together, sitting together, delivering working functions every sprint, close collaboration with the users, developers that understand the idea of good enough coding and foremost the team spirit of doing things together. Unfortunately many so called agile projects still seem to be completely unaware of the core values of Agile - requirement analysts only changed their templates and now try to write complete requirements in a user story format - forgetting that every story is a promise of a conversation, interaction design and usability is regarded as cosmetics and therefore less important by project managers that think that everyone can design and developers that focus on the beauty of their code. this rant could go on ...

It is therefore very encouraging to dive into the book Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden which I think focus very much of the important core values of SW development namely to solve real problems for real customers by constant iteration and feedback. Here the interaction designers have given a lot of thought of how they can be of the best help for the team effort. This requires a mind-set where no heroes are allowed in the fairly common manner that one person comes in temporarily, solves a problem and then leaves. Instead the interaction designer is part of the team and acts more like a facilitator for the design effort. Certainly the skills and knowledge are used but more in a collaboratve way saying - I have a suggestion on how to solve this, let me show show you and then YOU can give your input so that we end up with a design that is accepted by all!

The pillars of Lean UX

The authors refer to three core processes that together support Lean UX. These are the Lean startup, agile development and design thinking. I have a hard time making a clear distincion between them as they share a lot of common ground. They are all highly iterative, focus on business value and collaboration. There are some core values of each that are emphasized for each core process.

  • Lean Startup - we have an idea of what we want to build. This must solve some form of existing problem. Instead of spending loads of cash on building something we make an MVP - minimum viable product. It is iportant that the product is not only minimal but also viable - it is NOT about creating something crappy - rather to test a hypothesis we have.
  • Agile development: working in small, collocated teams with much interaction with the customer, delivering working software in small increments that each focus on outcome - solving real problems.
  • Design thinking: focus on solving prolems by suggesting solutions. Requires a user interface. We have an idea of what is the problem and design something that we think will solve it - then go out and get feedback from users. Analyse and then redesign and the process starts over.


The Lean UX process



Start by trying to understand what the problem is, make assumptions on what we need to solve. Then suggest ways of solving this by creating one or more prototypes. Also write down what signals you can get in order to validate or invalidate your assumptions.

In the beginning your prototype may be handdrawn on paper, later interactive in Balsamiq and to get close to reality a coded prototype maybe even with some real data in it. The important thing is that you have an MVP that actually works for getting feedback.

Now run experiments. This can be in the form of a landing page, a structured usability test, interviews, site analytics and more. The important thing is to know what you need to find out and to run experiments so those questions can be answered.

What Else?

There is a description of how to create and maintain a style guide which is good info for interaction designers. The book ends with how to integrate with agile and make organisational shifts.

My Own Reflections 

I feel that the message here is pretty clear and along the same lines that I am already thinking. The main points I take with me is to let the design drive the project even earlier on. I have been mostly focused on impact mapping. Prototyping like this may very well be a much better way than to start writing requirements for the GUI -parts. I have decided do learn how to make interactive prototypes in Balsamiq and maybe in Powerpoint as well.

It is a fairly easy read and I specifically like the strong focus on solving real problems together with the users. It is definetly time for the UX movement to take more place in our often dysfunctional projects.


Visual problem solving is a powerful method for problem solving. Have a go at the paper Using your visual super powers.

I recently gave a tutorial on test design with a strong focus on visual problem solving. Part of the class material is an essay on how visual problem solving can help us understand and solve probems in a collaborative manner. The method literally puts us all on the same page.

Visual Problem Solving
Visual Problem Solving

I am not saying that this is the whole truth but a very powerful tool in order to focus on three of our main challenges namely:

  • UX - user always in focus
  • Collaboration - aiding us working together
  • Consensus - helping us agree on what we model together

Using Your Visual Super Powers Ryber

This is the first official version but I aim to further develop the material so I am happy to get comments from my readers.




I hired Per Frykman to find out what my professional reputation was by asking colleagues and clients I worked with what they think are my strengths and weaknesses. The result was overwhelmingly positive, which was a real boost for my self confidence.

New Web Design

After many creative discussions and some wild ideas this is where we finally landed. My goal was to have a web page with a modern and minimalistic touch. Important information should be easy to find and the focus should be on me as a professional and what I do.

My Professional Reputation

The new web is part of a larger effort to reach customers and colleagues in a more professional manner. I hired Per Frykman to find out what my professional reputation was by asking colleagues and clients I worked with what they think are my strengths and weaknesses. The result was overwhelmingly positive, which was a real boost for my self confidence. I must admit that it did feel a bit strange in the beginning presenting the result publicly, this is not so common in Sweden. But hey, when looking for a new job you give references to your future employers and my professional reputation is actually a condensed ten-person reference!


I also had some new photos taken by a professional photographer. Armand Dommer usually has clients that are younger and better looking than me but I think he did a great job with the material he had this time!

What´s With the Blogging?

The last three months the web has been under development so I have intentionally not wanted to update or change anything. However I have been very busy reading and writing.

New Learnings

I have been digging deep into visual problem solving reading the works by Mike Rohde, Becky Agerbeck, Dan Roam, David Sibbet, Lee Lefever and bikablo dictionaries. Test design modelling goes right along the same track of visualizing problems in order to analyse and increase collaboration.

In November I will be giving a full day tutorial at EuroSTAR and I really wanted to update the material with all the new ideas I have. Creating the material included not only new content and new slides but a 50 page paper on the subject! This paper is submitted for the EuroSTAR contest besides being material for the tutorial. The paper will be available as an e-book in November.

I have also written a shorter article on the same subject in Swedish. This is part of a book that will be published in November by TestZonen.

The Lean Effort I Started?

Since last blogging I have participated in a value flow mapping workshop taking notes and analysing the workflow. This was an enlightening day on how these workshops are conducted but I will not be able to share any details due to confidentiality agreements. My job was paying attention to the group, keeping my mouth shut, thinking hard and documenting. Later I discussed my findings in detail with the workshop leader.

The Toyota Kata book is the next item on my reading list for Lean. Problem is that there are so many interesting books on other subjects I still have not read.

What About Work?

I have a part time assignment testing a web application which is planned to end around Christmas. Besides that I give classes in testing.

I will be participating in a management consulting effort done by my colleague Mattias Nordin and am discussing a lot around enterprise architecture with my friend, teacher and guru Peter Tallungs. I want to increase my skills in these areas and what’s better than learning from the pro’s in real situations!

As of right now I have openings for new assignments starting January next year.

[social icon="twitter" url="http://www.twitter.com" target="_blank"]

Recently found some great sketchnotes done by Ruud Cox

As I am an extremely spontaneous person I ordered the book on Sketchnoting he recommended

I read it, started practicing and LOVED IT!

The whole flow from becoming inspired to creating on my own took less than a month. That is pretty Lean I Think!

Here's a recent note created for the Nordic Testing Days I will be speaking at in a couple of weeks:

Lean Process of Development

And here is one on Lean Usability testing:

Lean Usability Test


This is so much FUN and I do Believe Pictures are wonderfully effective for explaing things.

I also got to buy a lot of new Writing materials which makes things even better.

You will see more of these images in the future!

Got to go - on my way to an evening class on Lean given by my mentor Anders.