Designing for Productivity in the User eXperience

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New online course Designing for Productivity in the User eXperience now available

My good (and patient!) friend Dr. Deborah Mayhew, a renowned UX and usability engineer, has exciting news about a new online training course in UX. Her new course is called “Designing for Productivity in the user eXperience.”

This is interesting and her timing couldn’t be better, because as a recent comment from Guntis in my Top 20 UX Blogs the DEFINITIVE List comments indicates, this topic is on many UX practitioner’s minds. He said:

“P.S There are quite many very good books out there but it’s shame that it’s hard to find really great online courses about UX.”

So good news to Guntis and all of you who want top notch training in user experience, that course has arrived!

Online UX course detail:

This is an updated version of a course taught live at CHI and other UX conferences and events, as well as in corporations. It has been newly studio-produced for online delivery.

The course presents and explains 24 design guidelines aimed particularly at efficiency/productivity (i.e., ease of use) as opposed to ease of learning. It also teaches three evaluation techniques for assessing the ease of use (i.e., efficiency) of UI designs, applicable at different points in the design/development process. The course also explains how designing for user efficiency can provide a dramatic return on investment.

The course is a little over three hours of lectures (PowerPoint slides accompanied by a studio recorded video of the lecturer). It includes two hands-on exercises that take about 45 minutes each to do offline. The lectures include both explanations of and solutions to the exercises.

It is list priced at $199, but the good news for you and my other blog readers is she has agreed to offer it to my readers at 25% off: only $149!

Enrollment in the course includes lifetime access, a 30 day money back guarantee, a question and answer forum, and downloadable course materials including all PowerPoint slides and live Excel templates for conducting evaluation techniques.

Sign up to take Designing for Productivity in the user eXperience at the discounted rate or learn more about it:

Designing for Productivity in the user eXperience course

Interview with Dr. Mayhew about her new UX Course

Click here to view latest job postings

I thought you, my loyal readers (hi mom!) might be interested in learning more about her course, and the background for why she created it. I’m pleased that she graciously accepted my offer to interview her, of which the results are below! Enjoy!

1. What is the course about?

DJM:  This course focuses on design principles and evaluation techniques to achieve ease-of-use, as opposed to ease-of-learning. Although many use the terms “ease-of-learning” and “ease-of-use” interchangeably, they are really two different dimensions of usability.  While ease-of-learning refers to just what it sounds like and is most important to novice, casual, infrequent and intermittent users, ease-of-use specifically refers to the average speed with which power users can accomplish tasks, once they have been trained and reached the top of the learning curve.  Productivity and efficiency are just other terms for ease-of use.

2. Whom would this course be useful for? How might it benefit them?

DJM:  The course is aimed at anyone with the need for, or interest in, developing skills in the area of usability/user experience.  This would include interaction designers and front-end developers, but also user experience professionals who have more background and experience in ease-of-learning than in ease-of-use.

I had a lot of consulting work for a period of time that was focused very specifically on achieving efficiency/productivity in software tools for customer support organizations, where users do the same tasks daily for years on end, and are measured and compensated for their efficiency.  I had 20 years’ experience practicing usability engineering before this work came along, and virtually none of it had focused on ease-of-use, it was all focused on ease-of-learning.  I wish when I was starting out I had this course to take to prepare me for that work.  My hope is that this course will add an important and useful tool to the toolkit of user experience professionals.

Perhaps even more than ease-of-learning, optimizing ease-of-use can have a dramatic, bottom line, return on investment in certain circumstances.  In the case of tools for customer support centers and data entry organizations, ROIs can literally be in the millions of dollars (and this is explained in the course).  It’s also true however, that even public websites benefit from attention paid to ease-of-use/efficiency (as well as ease-of learning of course), as visitors can easily become frustrated with website user interfaces that seem to waste their time.

The course is also appropriate for interns and students, helping them develop a great skillset to point to when job hunting.

I would encourage UX professionals who feel this course would improve their skills, to apply to their employers for professional development funding, as the skills they acquire will help them help their organizations save money.  I also recommend that UX professionals encourage their employers to fund the course for the interaction designers and developers they work with, because as we all know, the more knowledgeable our co-workers are about our field, the more receptive and easier to work with they are.  Corporations ought to be funding subscriptions to the course for their employees for the same reason they fund other types of professional development (live classes, conferences, etc), as they will directly benefit from the skillset being imparted.

3. What was your stimulus to create this course?

DJM:  I have been teaching courses on a variety of topics in user experience as long as I have been consulting – almost 30 years.  All my past teaching, however, has been live classroom teaching.  I have taught in tutorial programs at professional society annual meetings, at professional development days sponsored by professional society local chapters, and in-house in many large corporations.

As long as 20 years ago, I began thinking about how to provide my courses in an on-demand format.  Back then it would have been on a VCR tape, marketed via traditional advertising, and distributed through snail mail.  The barriers seemed prohibitive.  By 2009, the tools (video cameras, video editing software, studio lighting, etc) and the internet seemed to be at a point where the barriers became manageable, and I started working on my first online course.  But in the past year or two in particular, the whole online training industry has really started to take off, and the tools for individual experts like myself for producing quality courses delivered as video over the internet have become affordable and powerful.

4. How is this course special or unique compared to other UX type courses?

DJM:  Well, the subject matter is at least fairly unique, to the best of my knowledge, in that the focus is specifically on ease-of-use vs. ease-of-learning, as described above.  Also still somewhat unique, although it won’t be for long, is the delivery format.

I have yet to encounter a single word or phrase for this format that is instantly and universally recognizable so I just have to describe it.  The format is a video, delivered on-demand over the internet, for self-paced learning.  That is, this is not a webinar, delivered live on a specified time and date over the internet.  It’s also not a recording of a live classroom.  It’s a video, scripted and studio-produced to work well for training purposes.  Think TV show or DVD, but delivered over the internet.  Think YouTube,  but longer and more in depth, much more professional, and higher quality.  Think books, which are also solitary learning, but much more engaging, and with the advantage of being able to show, for instance, software in action.

When someone subscribes to a course in this format, they can watch pieces of it anywhere, anytime, at their own pace.  Individual lectures are short – typically 3-10 minutes long – to help students fit in training time at their own convenience.  Subscribers can view lectures in any order, so they can skip over things they may already know, or jump quickly to a topic that is of immediate interest and go back later to earlier lectures.

Some instructors do “screencasts”, that is, they provide a voice-over lecture to accompany PowerPoint slides or a tour through software or websites, and this can work well.  I have included a “picture-in-picture” video of myself lecturing rather than just voice, because I believe this makes a course more engaging.  I include thought exercises, where I ask the subscriber to pause the lecture video and think about something before continuing, just as I would do in a live course.  Also as in live courses, because learning is always enhanced by doing, I have included more extensive hands-on exercises, where I describe in a lecture the instructions for conducting an exercise offline, then provide in another lecture a sample exercise solution that subscribers can compare their own solutions to.  There are also a number of downloadable documents provided with the course, including lecture PowerPoint slides, exercise materials, work product templates and checklists that can be used on the job, and the like.

The browser-based platform through which my courses are delivered is Udemy.com.  Udemy provides lifetime access to courses, which means subscribers can go back and review lectures at any time.  They also provide a no-questions-asked 30 day money back guarantee of satisfaction.  Udemy seems to be leading the pack in the promotion and delivery of this format for online training.  They currently offer close to 10,000 courses on a huge variety of topics (many of them on IT topics, although currently only a smattering on UX topics) and have over a million subscribers.  They offer course ratings and reviews by subscribers (a la Amazon), course completion certificates, and a question and answer forum allowing interaction between instructors and students.  They are rapidly developing new capabilities all the time.

5. What are your plans, might you be doing new courses, or in-person courses, or something else?

DJM:  Over my career I have published a number of books, and have contributed many chapters to books edited by others.  I have also, as mentioned earlier, done a great deal of live classroom teaching.  I have a lot of UX related topics I could write about or teach.

This newly available format for teaching and passing on skills really appeals to me (more than writing more books or teaching more live classes) for two main reasons:  First, because I think it can be a more engaging and effective way to learn than reading books. Second, because it can reach a much, much wider audience (virtually anyone, anywhere in the world) than live classes will ever be able to.  So, yes, I plan to focus a lot over the next several years on building more courses in this format.

Thank you Deborah Mayhew!

For those of you who were wishing for a top-notch online course taught by a leader in UX, you have your wish!

Take Designing for Productivity in the user eXperience at the discounted rate of 25% or learn more about it:

Designing for Productivity in the user eXperience course

Note: Because I’m a friend of Deborah Mayhew she has agreed to provide my loyal readers with a discount on the course (you’re welcome loyal readers!). And because she is my friend she has offered me a small compensation amount via an affiliate link for anyone that signs up for her course.

More Information about Dr. Deborah J. Mayhew

My original interview with Deborah Mayhew

Deborah J. Mayhew & Associates website

Online User eXperience Institute

Books by Dr. Deborah J. Mayhew at Amazon