There are many kinds of informal user research methods. Examples are focus groups, contextual inquiries, coffee shop intercepts, and the like. These informal qualitative methods of user research have proved popular among UX practitioners for their simplicity, low cost, and reduction of the intimidation barrier. But we are experimented with a slightly sideways method of informal user research—drunk user testing (DUT).
Your website should be so simple, a drunk person could use it.
watch 3 intoxicated people to attempt to navigate a website and narrate and commentate their thoughts and experience. The purpose being to gain authentic and unfiltered opinions and feedback about the user experience of the website or app.
Remote work is the future, how to help your distributed team thrive
Remote work, definitely a trend I’m sure we have all been hearing more of. Globally many companies are going remote-first, fully distributed or changing their current people strategy to allow remote work as a viable option and we are talking more than just a WFH policy.
There are several reasons people advocate for remote work such as removing the unnecessary commute, access to the global talent pool, cost reduction (though while operational overhead costs may be reduced, there are new costs associated with going remote you should budget for), higher employee engagement and improved lifestyle for your employees.
Personally, I’ve been working remotely and managing a distributed team for 6 months now. While I would say this is the first fully remote experience I’ve had, I have many years of experience working with and managing offshore teams across the SEA region. This definitely helped make me aware of ways to work with people who are not based in the same office as myself, some of these fundamentals I want to touch on today.
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a fantastic conference, based out of Bali, Indonesia called ‘Running Remote’. Attended by some big names from the remote work movement, 24 inspirational speakers who were well placed to speak to us about their experience with remote work. Some of the names involved were:
Nick Francis, Help Scout
Andreas Klinger, Angel List & Product Hunt
Marcie Murray, Shopify
Anthony Pompliano, Morgan Creek Capital
Marvin Liao, 500 Startups
Zack Onisko, Dribbble
Ken Weary, HotJar
Pulling what I learnt from this conference along with my own learnings from living it, these are five areas I would make sure you focus on ensuring success with your remote team.
1. The right level of process and systematisation
With a remote team, more than likely you are working across multiple timezones, you will communicate via chat or video calls and it’s unlikely you’ll have the same level of interpersonal communication you’d have in an office. Which means you won’t have someone nearby you can tap on the shoulder for advice or you won’t be able to keep an eye over the new guy to make sure they are on the right path.
To get around this, you want to have more documentation and guides on-hand your team can easily refer to. You want to train your team to document everything they do as second nature and ensure team members are rarely left stuck on how to approach something. If they are stuck, this needs to be brought to your attention quickly so it never happens again. The SCRUM framework could be useful here to provide clear steps to structure the team process, along with a daily stand-up where everyone mentions their current blockers. Don’t forget a wiki-style documentation tool to allow quick creation of documents, along with easy access and search functionality.
2. Trust and autonomy
You will need to trust your team if they are remote. You may be concerned they might use remote work as an opportunity to reduce the level of effort they put in, this is not a good way to think. If you want to embrace the remote work way, you must trust your employees, not worry about their minute by minute actions and measure their performance based on their output.
To minimise any concerns they are not being productive, make sure your companies mission and vision is clear, also ensure the team objectives are understood with clear deliverables. Build-in as much automation into their workflows as you can. Ensure they can make their own decisions, move quickly and not constantly rely on you or other team members to help keep momentum. This also relates to the previous point of well-documented processes. You may also want to look into OKRs or something similar to give a standardised framework for goal setting and company alignment.
3. Culture and team building
Keep it fun. You will not have the luxury of going for a drink after work with colleagues, or regularly doing other group activities, make sure everything is not too serious. Look at ways to keep it light-hearted, if a lot of your communication is over chat, it could be easy to fall into only communicating task lists, making it very robotic. Don’t forget there are still real people behind those words, some of them may miss the interaction they enjoyed from being in a physical office previously.
If you are using Slack, there are some add-on apps you can investigate to help encourage this, kudos style apps to show appreciation and don’t forget giphy to add a little silliness to some messages.
While you cannot interact in person with each other every day, it’s still important to make sure you meet your team in person and spend some time together. You will learn a lot more about a person this way. Organise company retreats and meet-ups, the logistics of this will depend on your overall remote structure. I’ve heard it said many times, a happy company creates happy customers and you need customers or there is no company.
Communication underpins all of this. If the team is not communicating well with you and each other, then none of the above will matter, however, if you address the three above points the communication should be easier and more free-flowing.
Encourage non-work conversations, ask random questions on team calls to allow everyone to get to know each other better. Don’t be alarmed, ultimately all of this will benefit the work that is produced because everyone will feel more relaxed with each other and those difficult conversations that need to happen will flow more naturally. Encourage regular calls, team leaders and managers need to speak with their team regularly individually and together at a regular cadence.
Make sure there are company-wide calls allow the leadership team to communicate the mission and the vision while opening up the floor for your employees to ask questions. All of this come’s down to a shared understanding, the more people are on the same page the more likely everyone will unite.
5. Cultivate more awareness
To ensure you can pull the remote business off, you will need to know what is going on. Previously you could easily walk around your office, talk to a few people, read people’s body language and get a good sense of the general mood of the company. You must tune into what’s going on, using your intuition to understand how your employees are doing without the ability to observe a room.
Make sure you regularly check in with your employees, provide a self-booking calendar employees can book in to speak to you one on one if they wish. Make it easy for feedback to be provided. Again, you could make use of Slack here with feedback bots or just mail out a simple form on a monthly basis. Then there are several ways you can structure but ultimately you want to keep on top of the heartbeat of your company before it starts beating erratically.
There is no one size fit’s all here for remote work, you’ll have to tweak this for you but ultimately this is becoming a widely accepted business model. I encourage you to experience this if you haven’t already and see how it could work for you.
Hope the insights were helpful and gave you some ideas on how to fine-tune remote work for your team or company. If you have any questions, feel free to add me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
What is the Business Model Canvas for & how do I use it?
Who are your customers? How do you create value for them and how do you make money?
The business model canvas is a framework to compartmentalise the various aspects that bring a business together to create value for its customers.
The BMC is a incredibly useful tool that provides a visual representation of your business. It lays out how the different operations within your business function in relation to each other and quickly highlights the areas that have not been getting the attention they require.
In this Meetup session we walk through each of the 9 segments discuss what they are and give some examples and then we applied them to some of our members businesses right then and there!
However, now that we have the most advanced technology, this has not necessarily reflected in more successful projects. So makes you wonder, If technology is not the problem, then why do IT projects fail?
Technology creeps into all parts of our lives and it be can be all consuming and paralyzing.
But the purpose of technology is to make our lives easier. Where diod we go wrong and what can we do about it to turn it around and have technology work for us.
Charlotte Rose-Mellis leads this session to showcase 3 ways to improve your work:life balance and have technology work for you by actully using it less!
Charlotte is With a Bachelor of Science (Psychology & Business Management) and a Graduate Diploma in Psychological Science, my work is influenced by a passion for human-centred design and a decade of experience integrating tech, business and impact as a self-taught web engineer, to create lucrative solutions that regenerate natural environments and grow revenue simultaneously.
Recent career highlights include Speaking at TEDx Tahiti, Finalist for the Young Sustainability Champion NSW and Winner of FYA Pitch the Future (Tech for Good).
The weekend before this event I spent the weekend camping and bush walking through a National Park. I observed the similarities between navigating through the Jungle of technology and that of find ing our way through the jungle of technology in business.
My friends and I spent quite some time at the campsite beforehand, planning our route up the mountain to where the rivers form a Y and the mountains get high and beautiful.
Looking on the map, seemed simple enough. Looking from the top of the ranges, the treelines and river direction seemed easy to understand. A-B.
Technology in business is similar to this. Often it can seem simple enough, but it is easy to get lost.
We started our decent into the rainforest to find the bottom of the gorge with a plan to simply follow the river upstream.
However, the further we went and the deeper we got into the vines, our view of our goal and destination along with how we planned to get there had to change. Navigating our way through the jungle required responding to unforeseen circumstances and constant course correction. There were some paths that led to dead ends. There were some sections that were just not crossable, and we had to find another way round.
It is the same when running a business. The deeper you get into projects (in-particular technology based projects), your view of your goal and destination along with how you planned to get there changes. Business and technology is an uncertain environment that is constantly changing. Things happen, and you need to be flexible enough to adapt. There are some experiments that lead to dead ends. There are some milestones that don’t get met or features that were just not doable and you have to find another way round.
The perspective changes because there is too much happening right in front of you. Getting distracted by smaller problems and obstacles. There is a million ways up the river but how do you know which one is the best? There is so much else to attend to, that it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.
A business owner has a jungle in every part of the business. There is a lot to take into consideration and it is a challenge to keep up with it all. For example, it would be wise for a business to adopt a CRM and related marketing technologies to more effectively communicate with their customers and manage other important business metrics. But, how is the average business owner expected to know which technology is best suited to their business? Here are their options:
And that is only marketing technology!
There is technology for every part of the business and it is highly important that the right technologies are chosen with a clear vision for the future.
The beautiful thing about technology is that almost anything is possible. It can change your business and your personal life as well. But in many cases I’ve seen, it has the opposite effect. Driving people to the brink of breakdown out of frustration, stress and inefficiency.
The core of any business is its people. The people who serve the customers, the customers who you’re serving, the management and leadership team who drive the direction of the company. But nearly every person in the organisation (including the customers) is dealing with a never ending to-do list and are feeling stressed out!
How do we leverage the power of technology to create more space in our lives?
How can you go from working 70-80 hours to perhaps 3-4 days a week? (possibly more if you’re committed to the process I can share with you)
The key to transforming your business and your life comes down to removing, delegating or automating the smaller, menial tasks that individually don’t look like it would be worth the effort. But the truth is, there is so many of these tasks that if removed from your day, has a compounding effect and you will find yourself with more time to dedicate to the more important projects.
The benefits of this are greater than you might think. By creating more space in your day, you are giving yourself the time and the focus to think about things more, consider opportunities and strategies, have deeper conversations, be creative, be present and engaged in what your doing and most importantly, enjoy your work!
Think about what you want for yourself. What kind of relationship do you have with your work? Is it something you try and avoid? Or something that you dread on Sunday night? Life is too short and beautiful to let it pass by and not experience it in an enjoyable and appreciative way.
If you would like to learn more about this process of removing, delegating or automating your work and your business, complete this form to receive an outline of the process.
Until next time
P.S. we made it to our destination even though it took us longer than expected and we took a completely different track. We got to where we wanted to go and the journey was great.
What would have made it easier, is to have a local who knew the terrain and the obstacles to help guide us through the jungle.
Where are you going with your business? What role does technology play? How do you plan to choose your adventure and who would you like to embark on it with?
You have an idea for an app. But how do you explain what you want to a development team?
User Story Mapping is a tool to visualise an end-to-end flow of the user experience of a service off a product.
This is useful if you’re a startup or business wanting to build a piece of technology. It helps you communicate what you need in a way that allows both technical and non-technical people to come together and speak the same language.
8 simple Steps of User Story Mapping
how do you translate your vision of a digital product into a collection of user stories to populate a product backlog?
Creating a Story Map: Start with the Backbone
Step 1: Individually describe tasks needed to complete an activity.
Specify individual tasks on each Post-it note.
As a group, write these down individually in silence.
Think about the entire user journey from start to end and what actions the user is taking , what decisions their making and what they need to do for them to reach their goal.
Step 2: Combine common tasks and remove duplicates.
Come together as a group now and combine the common tasks. So there is unique tasks for each step in the user journey process.
Working in groups reduces the chance of missing things. Coming together to collaborate is like a giant bran of collective intelligence. The benefits of collective thinking.
Step 3: Order tasks from left to right in a narrative flow.
Order the tasks from left to right in a sequence from start to finish.
Step 4: Identify group and define activities.
Once you have your story line you can look at the relation of each step and group them into categories so you can see the fully functioning process at a high-level.
Step 5: Test for gaps and update flow if needed.
Review the process to see if there is any gaps. Is there anything missing from a business case or user perspective.
Creating a Story Map: Build Out Map with Prioritised Stories
Step 6: Map stories to expand out each user task.
Now that you have your high level user journey, you can start digging into what the user needed to do within each of those steps. Now, create user stories for each of these steps.
As a…. I want to…. So I can……
Each User story should meet. Criteria using the INVEST principle.
Independant: stand lone
Small, enough to be developed in 1 iteration (20 day sprint)
Testable; can it be measured, is there an acceptance criteria.
Now, everyone generates as many user stories as the can, against the move INVEST. And places them under their most suitable task lists and activities.
There is no limit to the number of user stories.
Creating a Story Map: Build Out Map with Prioritised Stories
Step 7: Prioritise the stories under a task.
Now, you need to go through each user story and start to categories each one against a MOSCOW rule so you end up with a prioritised list of user stories.
The result of this will be a list of Must have user stories that will make up the backlog of the next development sprint.
Creating a Story Map: Create Outcome-based Release Slices
Step 8: Create Outcome-Based Release Slices.
You now have a clear backlog of user stories that can be handed to the dev team for the first sprint.
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Contact us about User Journey mapping for your product or service.
How many times this week has someone asked, what you do? How do you usually answer?
At this months Meetup we walked through the Gaddie Pitch. The Gaddie pitch provides a structure to easily convey what problem you solve in the world and how you do it in 2-3 sentences. Super helpful when your prospective customer or potential investor has landed in front of you.
Antony Gaddie is a marketing expert based in Melbourne, Australia. Gaddie breaks down his pitch into three sentences:
You know how…? - Target market + their key problems
Well what we do is…
Listen to the recording as Dondon Bales walks us through the process using examples.
1) my old introduction use a lot of jargons that people outside of my industry peer group will not have any clue
2) my old introduction was all about me, my position, my responsibility, what I do...and nothing about the other person
"To be brutally honest, no one really cares about my position or what I do.
What people really care about is how I can actually help them or what's the value I can give them to solve their problem.
3) my old introduction was not clear; too broad; not enticing; there was no differentiator that makes me stand out as it was a very generic introduction
Use Gaddie Pitch technique to stand-out
Blue post it note: Who is your target audience? Who are the specific people who you want to talk to/to pitch/to sell? Then right down what is their most common pressing problem or challenge that they continuously complain about (pain point)
Pink post it note: Divide into 3 columns - (1) What you do (2) Benefits (3) Feelings. Pick top 2 things that you do (what you offer, what you sell) and place under the "What you do" column. Then imagine what the benefit that others get by what you do and write in the "Benefits" column. Then imagine what the feelings they will experience once they have the benefit of what you have offered them and write in the "Feelings" column (are they happy? satisfied? excited?) Choose a powerful, energetic, emotionally charged feeling word.
Note: You only use the statements in the 1st column (What you do) when you talk with people in your industry and peer group. For everybody else, use the "Benefits" and the "Feelings" again.
People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
Green post it note: Reminisce the biggest accomplishment or a specific case study of which you have delivered an outcome by what you do. Make sure this is the story that supports your claim on the Benefit and Feeling written in the "Pink Post it note".
Gaddie Pitch: (3 sentences, no more than 30 seconds)
You know how < Blue post it Note with focus on pain point by target market >
Well what we do is < Pink Post it Note - with focus on Benefits and Feelings >
In fact < Green post it note with focus on testimonial success story that supports the previous statement >
Example Gaddie Pitch by Digital Village
You know how small medium enterprises and start-up companies struggle to understand and use technology, and find the right tech savvy people to help them with their business?
Well what we do is help them connect with trusted I.T. advisors and expert teams around the world who are affordable and right for them, who reassuringly hold their hand, walk with them in their journey, and deliver the right technical solution to help grow their business, leaving them highly satisfied.
In fact, we've helped one of our start-up client, IExpeditions, by forming a team of experts who created their online platform and help them reach $1 million dollars in sales in their 1st 6 months of trading, and we continue to support their systems from 2 years ago up until this day.
That’s the basic formula. But there’s a little more to it than that.
Have you identified the aim of your gaddie pitch? Is it clear, concise and wrapped up in the first one to two sentences?
Have you explained your role in your business?
Have you communicated your ‘uniqueness’?
Have you followed up with a question to engage your audience?
Have you practiced your pitch? Does it flow? Is it 20-30 seconds?
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Latest Blog Posts
We are so excited and proud of our theme. It is really easy to create a landing page for your awesome product.
Strong technical skills alone is not enough to run a successful IT project. A combination of communication and soft-skills along with business acumen is needed to be sure that objectives are met and outcomes are delivered.
Business owners struggle to articulate what they need in a way that makes sense for a developer to do their job. And equally as much, engineers struggle to articulate the complexities of software to their clients in a way that makes sense to them. Technology is expanding and becoming even more complex, and businesses are relying on tech more than ever. So this problem is only getting bigger.
The importance of communication and soft skills in IT projects
The combination of technical and people skills in IT projects is so great that we have partnered with an organisation who specialises in coaching engineering teams in communication and leadership.
The Accelerator Program (Provided by Cred)
Cred works with governments and corporations to train and develop IT teams in communication and leadership and to focus on delivering business outcomes rather than focusing on only code and features.
Cred has partnered with DV to deliver an accelerator program to enable IT specialists to level up their career, be in demand, over-subscribed, and to increase their income and stability.
To learn more about this program click here..
The Digital Village Producer
A Digital Village Producer is a project leader who understands people, business and technology and can translate business requirements into technical solutions that deliver business outcomes.
Digital Village connects 'hybrids' (a person who speaks both man and machine) to businesses on a contract and project basis. Learn more about the DV model here.
Explore our past meetups below and get involved in the next one!
Exploring Value Based Pricing- a Design Thinking Workshop
On the 7th of March 2019 we held our 6th Digital Village Monthly Meetup.
Value Pricing is a process of pricing a project based on its value to the customer as opposed to using traditional time and materials pricing method. Value pricing is still very early in its adoption within the software development profession. So we ran a workshop style Meetup using Design Thinking methods for us to collectively explore our concerns, considerations, possibilities and opportunities around value pricing. We then broke things down and agreed collectively on solutions to those problems raised.
This article documents the process and the steps we took throughout the design thinking process and summarises key problems and potential solutions.
Step 1: Territory Mapping
The first thing we did, was have everyone write down their assumptions, concerns, considerations and anything they know or understand about value pricing. Everyone is provided a pen and sticky notes and are asked to describe their understanding of Value Pricing.
[caption id="attachment_2096" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Dondon Bales (Digital Village COO) introducing the session[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2097" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The group sticks their thoughts and concerns on the topic to the wall[/caption]
Step 2: Affinity Cluster
Categorise or group the inputs of everyone into common or similar themes to categorise patterns based on everyones' input. It was interesting seeing the diversity in thinking and opinions of people and it was quite a challenge to then group the thinking into 3-4 clusters.
We determined 3 key clusters from the collected inputs and they were:
Cons and Resistance
Value Process & Value Determination
[caption id="attachment_2101" align="aligncenter" width="592"] Communicating and determining Value[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2100" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Cons and Benefits[/caption]
Once the 3 groups had completed their problem statement for their allocated cluster, we were ready to create a matrix to explore possible solutions to each problem statement using enablers such as technology, process and policy, and anything else that may assist in enabling the possible solution to the problem.
We then did another round exploring what would you do if you were an… airline.
[caption id="attachment_2102" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The 3 groups present their problem statements and Dondon adds them to the creative matrix[/caption]
The collective intelligence of the group was fascinating. The ideas that come from each person being inspired by in-person communication and collaboration were original, dynamic and progressive. The emergence of new thinking from the amalgamation of thoughts and experience blew me away.
[caption id="attachment_2105" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Everyone coming up with individual ideas for solutions[/caption]
Step 5: Visualise the Vote
Once we had exhausted ourselves coming up with potential solutions to the problems, we individually voted on our favourite solution for each problem. This activity is carried out in one instance where everyone is to post their voting sticker on the idea that they believe to be the best. We do it at the same time to avoid people being influenced by others. You can see the respective votes from the green dots.
[caption id="attachment_2116" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Visualise to Vote: the group voting on their favourite solution[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2107" align="aligncenter" width="768"] How might we understand the core value proposition? How might we assess/evaluate the commercial value proposition?[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2106" align="aligncenter" width="768"] How might we address the needs and expectations of the customer in a collaborative and efficient way?[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2122" align="aligncenter" width="768"] How might we measure and communicate value?[/caption]
From the session we discovered that the most popular solutions to all 3 problem statements all included a common thread of transparency, collaboration between stakeholders, feedback, data collection and measurement. The collective findings show that the key elements of successfully implementing value pricing would entail engaging in open questions to determine what's valuable to the customer, co-creating solutions with the customer to address their true needs, conducting qualitative research and determining ways to quantify and measure the value of the outcomes.
Value Pricing has great potential for both buyers and suppliers to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. The better the communication, the more likely the result to be satisfactory.
The biggest take away in this for me was the way in which such completely different ideas can come to work together and produce totally unique outcomes. Most of all, it was fun.
Feedback: Rose, Thorn, Bud
In the spirit of design thinking, we took 1 minute for everyone's feedback on the event and on their experience of Digital Village in general. There was some lovely notes, and there was some valuable lessons that can be learned for us to improve what we do and what is important for people.
Rose: All the positive things a person like about it.
Thorn: Things they didn't like.
Bud: Opportunities and suggestions for the future.