On the 28th of January, I silently launched UX Recipe, a checklist where you discover, choose and estimate your next UX project tools and techniques. Since then, a lot of crazy things happened that I want to share. But first things first, let's start with the beginning.
It all triggers with a frustration of mine: "UX" is being objectified with each day; it's not UI, it's not a fancy word to describe your design career. It's more than that. It's part of a process, a process that ideally should involve planning, research, exploration, validation, testing and so on. Especially now, when we have access to a large and constantly growing palette of tools and techniques to choose from.
Moreover clients should not be surprised when redesigning their website means more than a bit of styling here and there. All in all consider this my personal... manifesto.
I'm fully aware nobody uses all the techniques a UX project should have (at least not all the time - and it goes for me too), that's why my proposal had to incorporate a certain flexibility (it had to appeal to both small and large companies). Yes, I want to do research, but I don't need all the tools (due to personnel or budget constrains for example). So I will be able to select the tools, but also have an overview of my project scope.
I started looking around and I found some nifty UX / IXD / WD checklists that are promising, but besides checking items, there isn't anything much left to do. And then it hit me: I select the tools, but also calculate what I need to pull it through (people, time, money). And as a final interaction you get to print the full report.
Perfect, so let's get started.
I put all my ideas on paper, I sketched, I doodled, I iterated, I threw them away, then recovered'em back and so on. Out goes another Moleskine notebook.
After reaching a proper structure and flow, I moved it all on Trello. This allowed me to transfer the cards from one section to another. I resumed myself to seven sections: planning, research, exploration, information architecture, design, prototyping and testing. Each section has its own tools and techniques. After selecting them you get a review where you fill the number of people, days and cost. Finally you get the sum for each and print the final calculations.
I quietly made the web app (add, commit, push, repeat). Based on my sketches I took it directly to code. It was always live, allowing me to test it on mobile devices. It had to be responsive from the start.
While I was coding I made all the design decisions I needed to make: style, colors, fonts, interactions etc. For example I didn't put any effort into the logo: it had to be a badge (the kind you see in food packaging to go with the theme) with some quirky retro typography and a mustache for awesomeness (everything looks bad-ass with a mustache on) and that's it. My focus was more on prototyping.
For making the prototype, I used Sublime, Bootstrap, Labelauty, SweetAlert2 and Fontawesome (simple, efficient and free). The project is not a masterpiece of coding excellence. Apparently giving up on development to pursue a design career has its disadvantages after all, but I try my best.
The content was an itch. Even now is not final. I will change, modify, add new cards as I progress. The voice needed to be smart, funny, yet serious. "Let's bake some awesomeness" was not my first choice. Others I tested like "Get started", "Select now" were too common. Moreover the text I added had to have a specific size and length for the call to action to stay above the fold... even on mobile.
I didn't do this based solely on my presumptions. I asked around, showed the current status. I demoed to my colleagues (Project Managers, Designers and Markepsters) and received valuable feedback. For instance, the calculator is a great addition to the project, but I must take into consideration that PMs might have their own formula to estimate. For now, I'm going with a more generic approach.
It was "Launch day" (Yes, I set myself a deadline or else I would have been working on it without any sense of direction). Based on my little research the best time was to post it on 9 AM (Eastern Time). I chose Twitter and Designer News as main channels. I finally published and I admit, I was hoping for a more instant viral effect. Nothing happened... so it seemed at first.
After the first day I contacted Vitaly Friedman from Smashing Magazine for a quick review for UX Recipe. What did I have to lose? Nothing, because he said yes and gave me a very solid, constructive and helpful feedback.
During this I was constantly attracting new visits (based on Google Analytics) coming more from Twitter. That made me curious and thanks to Flavian, I started searching uxrecipe.github.io or UX Recipe on Twitter's search. I was stunned. There were a lot of mentions and retweets and no wonder I got no notifications: I forgot to include my username in the AddThis script. Brilliant, just brilliant!
Moreover I received a mail how I forgot to add my contact links in the footer. The anchors were empty. As you can see I was a bit nervous and didn't triple over check everything before launching.
After starting collecting the feedback, I discovered something very interesting and disappointing. People don't notice the hashtags. Those hashtags offer curated content for each checkbox. It opens a modal window using SweetAlert2 and gives you access to useful links and (future) personal-made templates. I even introduced a hint and a self-timed popover to give the visitors a heads up, but from what I'm seeing, I guess I have to rethink the whole #hashtag feature.
Without promoting it, I managed to score 170 upvotes on Product hunt, over 200 shares on Twitter and more than 10.000 unique visits... and still counting and counting. Not that impressive for some, but tear-dropping for me.
All this buzz confirmed me that I'm on the right path and the project has some serious potential to actually be a useful and popular tool. It needs a lot work to get to that vision in my head, but Hey!... at least I'm trying.
Regarding the near future, I will keep on updating in order for it to continue attracting UX enthusiasts, professionals, project managers and even clients. For now I will fix bugs, refine the content and add new features as they will prove to be worth it. Bottom line, I enjoy working on this with each bit of my free time... what's left of it.
Although I embarked myself in a solo mission, I would like to thank Andreea S, Eddie V, Ciprian B, Anca Ț, Elena J, Flavian C, Marius U, Iordan R and Vitaly F for their feedback or for just listening. It means more than you think (even in small doses). Also I salute everyone who greeted and shared the project (on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc). You guys rock.
PS: For the feature image of this article (although it's free), I used a packaging template. Look for number 24.
New subscribe feature
Lately I've been working under the blog's hood and improved it as much as Squarespace allows me to. So I added a subscribe feature for you to get the latest news from the blog right on your inbox. It's based on Mailchimp's RSS campaigns, so on each Wednesday you'll receive an email with what's new on the blog.
If you are interested, head over at pxdotpt.com/subscribe/ and register now.