Everybody does it. Information architects do it. UX designers do it. Product managers do it. Even content strategists do it. They all ask questions. It’s part of the work. You’re asking users about how they accomplish tasks. You’re asking clients about business needs. You’re asking developers about technical constraints. Not a day – or hour! – goes by without you asking someone a question. I believe, to paraphrase Erika Hall, the question is the most important tool in our toolbox.
Have you ever thought about how you ask question? I mean, really thought about it? We use them all the time, and yet we don’t have much guidance on how to form them, how to tinker with them, or even how to critique them. In this talk, Dan will draw on decades of experience to reflect on the questions we use day-in and day-out to get input from users, gather domain knowledge, solicit feedback from colleagues, and run brainstorming sessions. Our questions have a purpose — the type of information they will bring into focus. They have an intent — a desired effect on the relationship between asker and answerer. And they may be tweaked and adjusted — the framing of the question itself to meet both purpose and intent. By the end, you’ll have a greater appreciation for the question, the most important tool in our toolbox.
About the speakers
In 2006, Dan Brown co-founded EightShapes, a boutique UX design firm based in Washington, DC. EightShapes designs digital products and systematizes design standards for clients in finance, healthcare, education, and government. Dan’s first two books, Communicating Design and Designing Together, deal with communications and collaboration on design teams, and are widely considered to be essential reading for UX designers. UX teams all over the world have played his game Surviving Design Projects, to improve their conflict management skills. IA Lenses, a new deck of cards, captures the essential questions for information architects working on difficult design problems. His new book Practical Design Discovery deals with the very first phase of a project, in which the product team seeks to understand the design problem. Follow him on Twitter @brownorama.