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What is the problem?

This is a common question in our industry. As UX practitioners, we are called to define what the problem is and provide a practical and effective solution.

In mature companies that understand that poorly defined problems cost more money, a team of specialists form an alliance with one goal: Problem definition.

Web analysts are taking care of the quantitative metrics, UX researchers doing their qualitative things and product managers are orchestrating everything together like elite maestros (but they are really more than that). They all combine their findings, analyse them and from that, they extract pieces of evidence that point to what the problem is ( probably, hopefully).

In smaller startups, 1 or 2 Product people or UX Designers are doing any research they can afford, always within the real life constraints of the startup life: Resources and time.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of tech companies that aren't so much into UX Research and evidence. Data are nothing compared to their leader's intuition, experience and gut. They simply know their users, they understand their needs and there's no need to lose time and money on meaningless methods like user testing and user interviews. They have all they need from sales calls and charismatic leadership.

But why is this so unfortunate, Thanos?
Well, let me tell you a story while you're listening to this fine tune.

Eyes blue like the Atlantic & I'm going down, like the Titanic

It was a fine Saturday morning, I think it was March, and I was waiting in line to get my morning coffee and like the gossip girl I am, I overheard a group of people behind me discussing about the 'rona and how it's a global conspiracy to make us lose our freedom, act by act. First, they're going to make us wear masks. Well, fuck masks. We ain't wearing them, we're not sheep mate. You all fake!
I was like 'kay, thanks, bye!

Fast forward to last week, I was meeting a friend in a nearby park when the same crew passed right in front of me, masks on. I was like, ok what the fuck?
My friend was telling me about this new bike he wants to buy when I completely ignore him and run towards the masked men. Here's a transcript of our dialogue:

- Hey guys, what's up with the masks?  
( I live in a small town, we all know each other)
- What's up with your mask, Thanos?
- No I mean, it's the first time I see you guys wear them.
- Well, Thanos, that's because while you are afraid of a fake virus, we are protecting ourselves and our families from the people who are getting vaccinated. They are the dangerous ones, just wait and see what will happen in 3 years from now.
- Oh ok, got it, thanks, bye!

You see, my friends, even if these people are dead stupid and haven't use any evidence, any data to identify the real problem, they are still protected. They are washing their hands, wearing their masks, using disinfectant regularly and keeping their distances with people they don't know.
Did they value any scientific methods of problem definition? No. Does it matter now? I don't think so. Will it matter in a few years? it most definitely will and it's gonna hurt.

And that got me thinking. Am I, sometimes, this person as well? Life is full of problems. Am I always in a position to take the time, put my feelings aside and identify the problem or am I so full of myself that I almost always assume that I know what the problem is?

Here are a few takeaways from all this, kind of like a note to self for future reference:

The next time you bump into a problem, take a breath and pretend that you don't understand what the problem is for a moment. Don't try to solve it immediately if it isn't a life or death situ.

Ask for help. Problems are being identified better from an elite group of people that can perform quantitative and qualitative research. Or your friends or family could do the trick.

Solving the wrong problem has the same amount or more consequences than not solving a problem at all.

Something new & shiny

I used to ignore online whiteboard tools like miro. I never had the need to use them and I always preferred to do the work on my iPad pro, which is faster and provided me with total creative freedom.
Well, introducing Figjam. The first tool that's actually faster than my iPad and I'm willing to sacrifice a little bit of freedom for it.
Use it to create flows, journeys, even rough concepts and share them with your team, or do a collaborative brainstorming session together. It works like a charm!
It's free for 2021, but it's going to cost you $8/month from 2022.

What have I been up to lately

A couple of Sundays ago, I completed a series of live sessions on the subject of website redesign. The first one is fairly small and it's my take on what to do and not do before you start redesigning a website. During the second and the third video, we redesigned the website of a well known, non-profit organisation.

Next Sunday, we're discussing about a hot subject: How to choose the right company or freelancer to design & develop your e-commerce website.

I'd love to see you all there!

Ποιος θα μου φτιάξει το e-shop;

Two exceptional TV shows & a movie.

For All Mankind
Combining true space stories with a little bit of "what if", but keeping it real through the whole show, Apple+ brings us a masterpiece! 

Shadow & Bone
A good story, a little bit of SteamPunk, Magic, blood and of course, a good old love story and you have a netflix original that I personally liked more than The Witcher. Yes, I said it.

Saul Goodman, the infamous lawyer in "breaking bad" and "better call Saul" is John Wick. No wait, he's just a nobody. Maybe he's just a friend of John's, who knows.

I hope you're enjoying my monthly newsletters so far and if you do, please share it with friends and people you think there’s something of value for them here.

Until next time, be happy my friends. Find those problems and show them hell! 

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