Designing from strengths, not just problems - An Appreciative Happy Hour

We as UX professionals have a problem. We have lots of problems in fact. We're accustomed to reflexively looking for what problems exist as a path to improvement and that in itself, is a problem. By focusing so much on what's not working and then designing from there, is it possible that we're only finding and solving problems?

What's possible if we dream and design from a place of what is alive and working for people?

We're excited to share with you our experiences incorporating techniques from Appreciative Inquiry into our research projects. Appreciative Inquiry is an evidence-based innovation system that assumes and maintains a positive bias from the beginning and looks for what strengths exist as a foundation for design. It's not just more enjoyable to do so; there's lots of neuroscience behind the benefits of creating from a positive orientation. We've found from experience that shifting the conversations in this intentionally positive direction has dramatic, far-reaching effects on the resulting interactions and solutions.

Join us for an enlivening happy hour where we'll introduce the method and provide some experiences to try it out for yourself!

What Limbic Resonance Can Provide in UX Research

Limbic resonance is a theory that our brain chemistry and nervous systems are affected by other people (and other mammals, like our dogs, because they also have limbic systems). In A General Theory of Love, three psychiatrists explain the many implications of this theory.

One implication that we have seen in our own work is that we can affect our participants in a way that allows them to be more present and actually combats the observer effect.

The Heart of UX

The Heart of UX

In years past, UX researchers used to watch participants from behind one-way glass and speak to them over microphones. They were trying to avoid the observer effect, the term for influencing people and therefore data with your presence. 

Of course, this set-up feels pretty unnatural for most people (with a setting reminiscent of a police interrogation room, people often feel that they are being tested, rather than the product!). We believe that the heart of UX is not separation but connection between researcher and participant, person to person. 

Understanding the User Experience Through Eye Tracking

Eye tracking gives researchers insight into users’ emotions and unconscious reactions to interfaces. People usually focus their attention on what they are looking at. Because of this, tracking the length of time spent looking at an area can be a good way to indirectly analyze people’s cognitive processes. This is what makes eye tracking such a valuable tool in interface and experience design.