Craig Morrison inspires us to know why we’re building what we’re building by looking for an opportunity in a market that needs something, and then by giving it to them. He also reminds us to do all the user research needed until we’ve built a product that people want to use.
Craig Morrison (Validation Man) is an extremely curious and generous UX Design Consultant focusing in the area of startups. He’s an active blogger who’s authored some very popular UX articles including “Why You Shouldn’t Hire a UI/UX Designer” and my personal fave “How to Land a Job in UX with No Experience“. He’s also quite the comedian and has a video channel where he and a buddy set some really peculiar records.
[BOOK] Rejection Proof
[ARTICLE] How to Land a Job in UX with No Experience
[ARTICLE] Why You Shouldn’t Hire a UI/UX Designer
[BOOK] Lean UX
Jason Ogle: Craig Morrison is an extremely curious and generous UX design consultant focusing on in the area of startups.
He’s an active blogger. Who’s authored some very popular UX articles, including why you shouldn’t hire a UI UX designer and my personal fav, how to land a job in UX with no experience. He’s also quite the comedian and has a video channel where he and a buddy set some really peculiar records. Hey Craig, welcome.
I’m super excited to have you on the show today.
Craig Morrison: Thanks for having me, Jason, I see you’ve done your homework.
Jason Ogle: Didn’t expect that last little bit is,
Craig Morrison: I didn’t, I just gave it a new layer,
Jason Ogle: but you know what that part of what I want to do here is in part of the, my passion behind this show is, really getting to know you it’s, you’re doing some great work in UX and we’re definitely going to get into that, but I feel like, it’s, I think the best way to connect with people is to really tell stories.
And I’m sure you have some really great stories to tell. And I think that starts with, who you are as a person and how you got where you are. So that’s that’s the little intro here and it’s the superhero secret identity startup here, and that’s how we start the shell.
Yes. So I want to talk about yours to take a minute and you give us a look into your personal life.
Craig Morrison: Sure. So I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, way up here in the North. And yeah, I live with my girlfriend and a little bit about me, so I started into the digital world many years ago when I was probably, 16 years old 15, 16.
And it could have even been before that. I’m not too sure, but I decided I wanted to start a geo cities website to post pictures of me and my friends snowboarding. That was my big thing. And it was so long ago that I was getting the pictures. What do you call it? Getting the pictures printed and then scanning them up into my computer and then posting them on geo cities, old school.
Old school stuff indeed. And it was probably the worst website that’s ever been created in the world, but that kind of got my sort of passion for design happening. This is where I got into Photoshop and editing the photos and also editing a little bit of, quote unquote branding for the website.
And then from there I just grew my, a close friend of mine actually started selling websites to clients around when we were about 17 or 18. And he would come to me and say, okay, I sold those websites. Now let’s build it. So that kind of got me into front end development, a bunch more.
And then from there I just followed that path, continued building websites for clients and my own. I got into the advertising world a little bit. I also have a background in video production and. Motion graphics animation. So I did that for a while. And then that kind of brought me around to startups and user interface and user experience design.
And that’s a brief overview of my path.
Jason Ogle: Nice. Now I think we needed geo cities again.
Craig Morrison: I agree. This is Squarespace stuff. It’s just not doing it
Jason Ogle: for me. Everything’s starting to look the same. I, let’s, even if it looks bad, at least it’ll look different.
Craig Morrison: Exactly. At least it’s teaching somebody, you gotta to work for that website, not just that’s
Jason Ogle: right. Theme. You gotta work for it. That’s true. And a minimum of at least four animated gifts. So I love it, man. That sounds real familiar. I definitely identify with your startup story there.
You’re starting out story. So you told us that part what inspired you to pursue UX design as a career? What really got into your soul that made you really want to do that? Yes.
Craig Morrison: I guess it got to the point where, you know, so I’m very kind of entrepreneurial focused and I got to the point where I’m building websites and I’m building, I’m always building small side projects ever since, I was 16 years old and it got to the point where I started wondering, how do I make these better from how do I make people want to use these more?
So if anyone’s familiar with starting your own side project, a lot of the time, nine times out of 10, you create something and you’re all passionate about it and you release it to the world. And nobody cares. Nobody uses it. And then you are depressed for three months. So that kind of feeling that feeling of failure brought me to this point where it made me think, like, why don’t people want to use this?
And what is the, what are the steps I can take to really get inside people’s minds and find out what they want and give it to them as opposed to just, coming up with ideas off the top of my head. So that got me into sort of UX. And then once I started learning about, wow, this makes a lot of sense.
It makes a lot more sense than the way I’m seeing most people, design websites, even in the advertising world, no one is focused on the user there, especially in advertising, it’s all about, client and then the agency and they build this website and kind of, no one’s asking well where who is using this?
Jason Ogle: absolutely. And it’s frustrating to spend so much sweat equity and, blood, sweat, and tears to build something and create something and to discover that no, one’s really using it or caring about it.
Craig Morrison: Exactly. Because they can’t use it. Yeah.
Jason Ogle: I love it. And yeah, exactly. And you know what else too is, another little thing I want to pull out from what you said is just about the curiosity factor.
I think, curiosity, passion and empathy are the three requirements for a great UX designers. So yeah. If you, I couldn’t agree more, sorry, if you weren’t doing this for a living, what would be your second career choice and why?
Craig Morrison: 100% comedy writing, I’d say very distant, a far jump from one to the other, but comedy writing was my passion.
Growing up I did it. So you mentioned in the intro, which I’m sure we’ll get into more later, I’ve done a lot of I produced a couple of web series that were sketch based comedy. I wrote for second city here in Toronto and produced a couple of live shows.
I also acted in a few live shows and that, it’s, I really enjoy making people laugh. That kind of puts me on the spot to be funny, which is hard, but that would definitely be my second choice. And it’s something that we, I did try to, I took a stab at, but I just wasn’t comfortable in that world of, you either are going to succeed or you’re going to fail miserably for your entire life.
Jason Ogle: Who’s been the biggest inspiration in your work and why,
Craig Morrison: In terms of UX stuff, in terms of UX. Inspiration wise. I’ll tell you when I read, so I started reading books. I was already into UX and I was doing the whole thing. And then I started reading more books on the strategy behind the overall concept of building a product, which kind of in my mind really is what UX is all about.
So when I read books like the lean startup and then lean UX lean UX for startups, these kind of books really they caused this big shift in my mentality where I was like, whoa, this is more about the bigger picture, and in UX, some people think of UX as wireframes and.
Wireframes and UI and just a relationship between the person who’s building this and the user. But, these books opened my mind to the fact that it was it’s about the whole thing. So in my opinion, and I’ve written about this before the UX person, in your company is literally the most important person there.
Yeah. If you have them in charge of sort of an overall making sure that experience is consistent from S from top to bottom, from start. Yeah. To finish. So in terms of like specific people, I’m not sure if I can really name one individual person, but. I would say books on the lean sort of movement or kind of really what have influenced me the most.
Jason Ogle: I just started reading lean UX and pulled something out. Is that really? Yeah, it’s a great I’m not too far into it, but I have high expectations. But I tweeted something yesterday that got a little traction it’s just right out of the book where he says it’s, I think it’s one of the motivators behind the movement is because the biggest lie in software is phase two.
So that was that’s so true. In how often have you designed something and had a vision for your design and it’s we’ll get to that phase two. And how often does it ever happen? Not often, right? Yeah.
Craig Morrison: Yeah. So love
Jason Ogle: said,
Craig Morrison: yeah.
Jason Ogle: What’s one habit that you believe contributes to your success, Craig
Craig Morrison: Just let me think here habit. I’m actually just reading the book the habit loop. So it’s a topical question. Oh, nice. Yeah, the habit wise, I would say not taking things personally. It’s not really a habit, but not taking things personally and not getting too discouraged.
So I guess the habit for me would be just showing up and doing what you’re there to do every day. It sounds, I don’t mean to get too on emotional or uninspiring, but, I see a lot of people, a lot of people that I talk to get caught up in motivation and they get caught up in, oh, I feel really motivated to do this today and I’m going to rush out and, do this, but that’s a fleeting feeling.
So what I try to sort of. Tell myself is, do the thing you’re here to do every day. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t matter if you get a whole bunch of accomplished today, doesn’t matter if you, you change the world, as long as you’re there to put in what you want to put in towards that single goal, then you’re making progress.
Jason Ogle: Love that. Stay consistent.
Craig Morrison: Yes. That’s key
Jason Ogle: to stay. And whether somebody’s looking at what you’re doing, whether somebody is using what you’re doing, whether somebody cares or not stay consistent,
Craig Morrison: stay passionate. Yeah, exactly. We’ll get to don’t get too caught up in your emotions, because you’re going to be up and down all the time, but if you can push through those and see what the goal is and just accomplish a little bit, then you’re good.
Jason Ogle: Can you tell us about the one thing you’re working on that you’re most excited about?
Craig Morrison: Yeah, so I just launched a new product two weeks ago. So we’re in like a beta phase right now, but early on when I started blogging. So I’m not really a big social guy, I didn’t know that much about social media, but I knew, Twitter especially is more geared towards business and you get a lot more traction for business articles and especially UX stuff than you would on say a Facebook page or something like that.
So I started looking into tactics for getting more of a Twitter presence. Okay. So it was like, how do I, how do I increase followers and how do I get more people to be listening to what I’m saying and want to click on the things that I click on. And so I was listening to a lot of podcasts and I was listening to Michael O’Neill, who has a podcast called the solopreneur hour.
Oh, I’ve heard of him. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this guy, but he’s got a good podcast where he kind of interviews entrepreneurs in more of a chit-chat scenario. Yeah. So they just kinda, it’s more of a talk show than it is, more of a business podcast.
Anyway, long story short, he was talking to one day about buffer which is this social media scheduling program. And then they had these suggestions for suggested tweets. And so he was saying what he does is he goes on and he grabs these suggested tweets and he accused them into his Twitter feed.
And then he hashtags them with popular hashtags. And he was saying, Oh, he’s getting a lot of traction doing this. So I started doing that and it was working really well. So then buffer canceled their suggested tweet feature. That’s right. So I was like, oh, no, like this has been working so well.
I’ve been seeing such consistent Twitter growth. I was super bummed out and they released this blog post with all these people commenting like over 150 comments, just furious with the fact that they’re removing this feature. So I said, all right maybe there’s an opportunity here.
So I kind of me and a good friend of mine put together a very sort of minimal viable product of suggested social content to share. Ah so now basically you sign up, you log in and you get 25 sort of suggested pieces of social content to share in the categories of, very close to buffer suggestions, which were sort of entrepreneurship, like a life hacking productivity marketing, and a couple of other ones.
And these are all articles that have been proven to show retweets and get a lot of attention. So most of the ones on there have over a thousand social shares already. So just launched that and pretty excited about the potential that is going to have, because I just posted a comment on Buffer’s blog and I got a hundred over a hundred kind of signups waiting for the product to launch.
Nice. So that kind of, yeah, so that kind of gave me, a lot of optimism, a little bit of validation, which is always super important. I gave me the validation I needed to move forward. And I was like, okay, let’s just build something really minimal. W when you log in, literally you just see yeah.
List of the suggested tweets with hashtags and a little button that you can either tweet it or add it straight to buffer. But that’s my most recent project that I’m excited about. Sweet.
Jason Ogle: So lean UX defenders, you heard that we’ve mentioned it a couple of times. Definitely look into lean UX, grab hold of that book and dig into it.
The MVP we are scientists. I talked to, I interviewed Josh Tucker last week. He’s a prototyper really cool smart guy. And we talked about we talked about the MVP and the importance of experimenting because we are all scientists in a way, and I put it out there where mad scientist, and then he’s I’m only mad when I don’t get my work validated.
And I said, okay we’re glad scientists. So anyway that’s kinda, that’s neat. I’m glad you said that. So let’s move into oh, first of all, before we move into the next segment, is there a place where folks can go and get into that and sign up for what you’re doing there that you just mentioned?
Craig Morrison: Yeah. Yeah. You can visit the URL is get Qualia. So I’m going to spell it because it’s a little bit harder to get. And then, Hey K w I L I a and get quickly a duck so that the Queally just really quickly is a, is the largest, it’s the largest flock of birds. So it’s a south African bird that it’s not spelled that way, but it’s pronounced that way.
And so I went with that, thinking of the idea of, large groupings of tweets,
Jason Ogle: clever, right on. Okay. Yeah. I like that. That’s really clever. Let’s get into your transformation. Every superhero goes through some sort of transformation where they realize the powers that they have and they harness them for the greater good.
So let’s get into your, what’s your design super power. Craig,
Craig Morrison: my design superpower. I love this. I love this thing. Superheroes. Nice. Fantastic. Thank you. So I would say my design super power is the ability to, this is like my ability to design a mock-up and Photoshop and then turn it and then code the front end of it.
Like to a T like pixel product. Love it. So I was, I, throughout my career, sometimes being a designer, like you get so frustrated when you pass off a mock-up to some developers and then they’re like, okay, it’s done. And you look at it and you’re like, what? This is so like this isn’t even close.
You’re like, I’m okay. I’m okay up to 80% of the original design, because I understand there’s differences between, the code and Photoshop, but come on. Sometimes it’s like this, these fonts are like in a different place and. This picture is over here. So I taught myself to do this like really perfect front end, which, in the end is not even that smart, because you can spend a lot of time perfecting and design.
And once you go past a certain amount of time invested you’re being counterproductive. But before I learned this lesson, I got really good at, you can barely tell the difference between the Photoshop file and the HTML.
Jason Ogle: Nah, man. I don’t get me started first of all, on that totally agree with you.
And it has been a pain point in my career. I can code on the front end as well. But just the way that certain, sometimes there’s certain roles are assigned and the way the process works, it’s just not always possible to do that. And like you said, too, you can get caught up as well, getting a little too pixel perfect.
When all you really need is an MVP and then iterate later. Definitely agree with you, man. I think that’s great that you have the skills. What’s on the other side, on the flip side, what’s your design cryptic
Craig Morrison: design kryptonite. That’s a good question.
I’m going to say logo is, I am like terrible at logos. I. I can’t illustrate, like really good logo designer will be able to whip up some awesome little icon or shape the words into some cool, metaphor for the name of the company. I’m all about just like word marks.
Oh, the logo, like the logo for my website is just words, maybe one word will be bold and the other word will be not bold, but looking at your user defenders podcast logo, like I could never in a million years even attempt anything close to how awesome this look.
Jason Ogle: You know what I think you can, I think it’s it, design is a muscle, I think, as long as you have some sort of, visual aesthetic that what looks good, I think you can exercise that muscle.
And I got some encouragement from our first guests Daniel Hooper, who is just one of those kind of unicorns that’s master of both. So he’s you can, anyone can develop these strengths. It’s just a matter of really digging in. And that’s the thing. Do we have time to do that? That’s the other question.
So I appreciate your time.
Craig Morrison: Yeah, it’s absolutely true. Totally. It’s absolutely true. And I think just lastly, I was going to mention logos just on that kind of putting time into practicing it. I think I shied away from logos my whole career, because. It’s like the one thing that clients are extremely picky about.
True. So there might’ve been, like, I might’ve started into logos like many years ago. And after going through like a ton of iterations being like, okay, I just, I’m going to avoid these unconsciously for the rest of my life.
Jason Ogle: So can you tell us, this is the area we talk about failure and, failure is no fun to really talk about or to think about even, but it is what shapes us into who we are and what defines us in many ways.
And honestly, if we’re not failing enough, we’re not trying enough is that’s how I see it. So could you tell us a story about what’s been your biggest failure and just really take us to that place?
Craig Morrison: Yeah, absolutely. Pick one, I failed a thousand times. Amen. I’d say the failure I learned from the most was So I started getting really heavily into this arm, entrepreneurial side of things and creating a product.
And this was probably, I’d say maybe six years ago now. And so I was watching my friend use Instagram and he, this was like early, early in, in Instagram days and he loves tattoos. He’s covered in tattoos. And so he was like, oh, I’m getting a new tattoo. I got to show it to you. It’s I found it on some guy’s Instagram.
And so I watched him search through Instagram and try to find this picture that he was looking for inspiration, that he’d looked at a few days ago and he just couldn’t find it. And I said what’s going on here? Isn’t there a way that you can save pictures or go look back to see what you’ve commented on or it, and he’s no.
Like I can’t, I just have to search the hashtag and look back through. And immediately I’m like, Oh, maybe there is an opportunity here. So I run home and fire up Photoshop and come up with this idea for this web app. It’s basically, it pulls in it pulls in pictures based on hashtags.
So what I call this was tats diagram. Okay, nice. So this site pulled in every single picture that was posted on Instagram that was tagged with like tattoo or tats or inked or anything like that. Huh. And it laid them out. It laid them all out in this sort of grid pattern. And you could sign up like in, with your Instagram account and then you could like these photos and comment on them and share them and, save them in your little inspiration folder.
And then you can sort them, top rated or most like today a Reddit sort of Reddit for pictures. Yeah. And I had this plan like, oh, once one of these is successful, I can just make I was gonna make one for cupcakes as well. Cause cupcakes were like huge baking, that kind of stuff.
$3 cupcakes. So yeah, exactly. So I spent I spent I’d say $5,000 I hired I hired developer off of oDesk and I did the front end. I coded it all. I worked with this developer and I was that guy that was like, oh, this isn’t pixel perfect. You have to change the button. It needs to be 10 pixels wider.
And I spent months working with this developer being like this isn’t perfect. This needs to be perfect. I need to launch it all needs to look like super perfect all without even, considering if anyone wanted to use this thing And then, so finally, like five grand is six months later.
I’m like, yes, I’m ready to go. When I launched this thing and I like really turn on the promotional power. So I’m like, I create its own Instagram and I’m like tagging people and re uploading their pictures and telling them to check out the site. And I do this like hard for probably two or three months.
And I get a total of six users. Oh. And I’m like, Oh man I don’t understand, I had this huge goal in my head. I guess in my head when I was building it, it was already successful. Sure. Because I was envisioning exactly what was going to happen. And that was just like such a huge mistake in such a big lesson to learn is, don’t look beyond where you are at this very moment.
Don’t live in your fantasy of what’s going to happen when you launch this thing. So yeah, when I finally decided to call it quits, I was like, hell yeah. What happened? And then, recovering from that, I started reading more about validation and this idea of, making sure and like MVPs and all this stuff.
And then I was whoa, I was totally wrong. Yeah, but that’s definitely the failure I learned the most from. I appreciate you sharing
Jason Ogle: that. And what do you want our listeners to take away from that story?
Craig Morrison: Don’t launch anything ever. What I mean by that is elaborate. Don’t ever be building something and like planning for this big launch, because it doesn’t make any sense.
You should be building something with people that want it already. So I have this sort of theory, not mine. I’ve read it a hundred times before, but it’s don’t launch, don’t launch anything just slowly build and iterate and work with people, do all the user research you need to do until you’ve built a product up that people for one to use.
And it’s just going to slowly build, it’s just going to slow the grill itself. There is no, like you’ll kick the doors, open launch party, a thousand people all sign up at once and then dive into a pit of money. That just doesn’t half in that way. I would almost go as far as saying if you’re, this is all very like entrepreneurship, not very UX based.
Jason Ogle: I’ve seen both go hand in many ways.
Craig Morrison: Yeah. So I think that, what I am starting to write about now and tell more people is don’t think of your own ideas. Look for an opportunity in a market that really needs something and give it to them because then you’re so much less risk of a failure and no one’s showing up.
Cause you’ve already identified that a whole group of people really need it.
Jason Ogle: Defenders Craig said something that pretty much epitomizes the reason this show exists, fighting for the user, build something, people want,
Craig Morrison: man,
Jason Ogle: do you have any, do you have a story of something really crazy or super awkward that happened during user testing?
Yes. Good. I’m sure I had a feeling you might, and I’m sure there’s some comedy behind it. I would hope so.
Craig Morrison: It’s not super awkward between me and the users, but okay. And if it, okay, so I don’t like. Approaching people like in public, I’m not sure a lot of people do, but like I have this especially hard thing where I just avoid it entirely, like going up to someone saying oh, Hey, excuse me can I ask you a couple of questions?
Or Hey know, can you give me directions? I just, I hate the feeling of putting people out or causing them an inconvenience. So one of the, the first startups I ever started working for I was pushing the need for user testing. We hadn’t done a lot of user testing and I was like, look, we have to get this in front of people.
Again we were building for months and months without letting anyone touch this thing without running any kind of testing on any prototypes or anything. So I said, I was the guy being like, we have to do this. Like I’m going to arrange some user testing. And so finally the CEO says, okay, great.
We’ve got a plan for you. You’re going to go to Starbucks. And you’re going to do some like gorilla testing. You’re just going to approach people and get them to test the product and buy them a coffee while I was like, oh God, worst nightmare ever for me. And what have I done?
I like, I can’t be like, no, that’s a terrible life. I’ve been the one saying. And so they’re like, okay. So like tomorrow, just head to the Starbucks, near your husband and do that. And I was like, oh my God. Okay. And so the next day I went to Starbucks and I was like, okay, let’s, let’s start approaching people.
And I just couldn’t do it. I like it. I approached one person. They were like, no, get out of here. I’m a busy I’m Gavin coffee and leaving. And I was like, I can’t like, I can’t sit here all day and do it. So I didn’t do it. And I just told them that I did. Oh man. And I was like, they’re like, how’d it go?
And I was like, oh yeah, great. Yeah. Lots of lots of useful information from that. And they’re like, okay, great. And then they didn’t ask to see it, and so it’s very don’t do this very wrong to do, but I just I just had to avoid it at all costs. So not awkward. Between me and a user, but more so just me being in a weird, awkward guy who can approach people.
Jason Ogle: Oh, I appreciate you sharing that. Your vulnerability there, and I’m gonna tell you brother, I’m the same way I I am just forcing myself within the past year or so to really jump out of my scan, to really get out of my comfort zone. I would never have been doing this show right now.
That’s not something I am not a social person, so I totally identify with you there. And so have you taken any steps to try to get out of your comfort zone more?
Craig Morrison: Yeah, I’m much better now. And I, I can approach people now more like this was so many years ago, I guess I was a bit younger too.
And it wasn’t as confident in it. Wasn’t my products. There wasn’t as confident in the product but now you know, much less trouble doing that. That’s great. For whatever reason. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just. With age or just confidence in, my skills or what I’ve built, but yeah, I’m much better at it now. Yeah.
Jason Ogle: And it’s, it’s one of those things where it’s, really a lot of the magic happens outside the comfort zone, hat tip to John Lee Dumas, entrepreneur on fire, who has been a big inspiration on the reason I wanted to do this show too. But, he says the magic happens outside the comfort zone and speaking of books, there’s a great book called rejection proof.
And this guy, his name is Josh Zhang, I think. And he decided that because he also had the same struggles with that he decided to do, to conduct an experiment. And for a hundred days he went and asked random strangers, the weirdest things just to get a no. His goal was to get and knows enough, knows where he just, what would bust his fears and that’s his website, his fear busters.
So anyway, he would, one thing he did was he went to somebody’s house and knocked on the door and asked if he could play soccer in the backyard. And the guy actually said, yes. Eventually you’ll get it. Yes. I guess that’s the point that I’m trying to make, eventually you will get a yes, it’s just the tenacity and the consistency that we talked about earlier. So thanks for sharing.
Craig Morrison: Craig. Yeah that, that’s a big that’s a big thing I see in a lot of these sort of entrepreneurship training things. I checked out Noah Kagan’s course, which is, oh, I can’t remember the name of it. It’s a make, make $1,000 per month or something like that. Make monthly one K or something like that.
Anyway, I went through that to just check it out. And, part of the lessons in there is teaching people how to ask for things in a really awkward setting. So one of the like steps is go to your local coffee shop in order to our coffee and just ask for it to be free and, just be like, can I have this for free?
And they’ll be like, why? And then it’s be like, oh, I just need it for free. And then, it’s this stuff about getting over your fear of asking for things, but like the people in the comments are like, yeah, this works like 90% of the time. Like now you’re saying to people like, yeah, I just got it for free just by asking.
Jason Ogle: Yup. This American life had an episode or they were talking about similar things and it was the one, one of the guys would go to any place, even a department store and say, Hey, can I get the good guy deal? And he was surprised at how often it worked, where the, yeah, sure. I’ll give you 10% off or 15% off.
So try that, the guys try that. Anyway yeah, the good guy deal. Okay. Getting back on track to the I love that that transition though, that was fun. One of my favorite lines from Tron was when he said I fight for the youth. How do you fight for your users, Craig?
Craig Morrison: that’s a good question.
Fighting for your users. I would say in my sort of day to day and my mindset I don’t really fight for the users in the traditional sense that I’m trying to protect them from like the evil stakeholders, although it is the villains are like, we love your
Jason Ogle: stakeholders.
Craig Morrison: So I guess. The way that I would fight for users is doing my best to communicate to stakeholders and to founders and to CEOs the importance of building a usable and user-friendly product in that it’s going to benefit them. Yeah. So a lot of times I feel like I’m approached by people to help them with their UX.
And I say, why do you want help with your UX? And they say, oh, so that it’s has better UX, like it’s a checklist on the list of things to do. And so what I try to communicate is, is having good UX and having a really user-friendly product. It’s going to mean that your product is more successful.
It’s going to grow faster. It’s going to, it’ll cost you lessen support costs. It’ll, you’ll be able to focus more on building the business rather than putting out fires kind of thing. The way that I equate that to fighting for the users is that by communicating good UX to the stakeholders and by allowing them to put it in place, it means the product can continue to exist for those users to get value from.
You know what I mean. I do.
Jason Ogle: I do. So I, I realized something. I skipped a question that I, that is one of my favorite questions that I wanted to ask you. And this is it here. It’s what would your UX design superhero name be?
Craig Morrison: Oh man. UX design superhero, man. Ah, man. Let’s go with validation, man.
Nice. I like that. That’s good. I find the concept of validation, like just. From an overall UX perspective. It’s the most important part, whether you’re like building a new product or whether you’re just like, should we put this feature into place or whether it’s just, does this, checkout process need work?
Rather than just listening to a stakeholder, says I was looking at the checkout procedure and I think it needs some work. I think just off the top of my head, it looks like it needs some work, it’s no, you need to validate like everything. Everything has to have a reason to be fixed or changed or worked on.
And you have to have a goal in the end. So validation man would be the guy who comes down and says did you just say you were going to include a new feature, without there being a demand for it. And then I just punch every away.
Jason Ogle: Love it. Thanks for embellishing me on that too.
That’s great validation, man. That’s wonderful. I have a friend, his name’s Caesar Lemus, and he’s a storyboard artist. And what I do is I have him create art for each guest. So it’s fun, a lot of fun. So you’re validation, man. And I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for that. His handle on Twitter is fire head it’s P H Y R E D I think.
Yeah. P H Y R E D or H E D one of those anyway. Great artists. Great friend. How do you, now you mentioned about validating, your ideas, which is absolutely required to be successful, but how do you measure that success after you do get your idea validated and you get an MVP out there, how do you measure it?
The success of that?
Craig Morrison: I it’s a good question. I think it’s, I think it’s dependent on the product that you build. You could measure success in revenue or you could measure success in sign-ups or, I think monthly active users, like in terms of in terms of a digital product, I think that the big thing is how often are people coming back and how often are they using it?
Monday active users is a big thing for me. You could, anybody could do a bunch of marketing and get a whole bunch of people to come to a landing page and sign up for something. But if you’re not successful in delivering the value that you’re promising through the landing page, then you’re just gonna have a whole bunch of people that signed up and left and never came back.
That’s also, yeah. And getting people to continue to use your product and continue to be able to get better. Are you from it? Is a sign of success. Excellent.
Jason Ogle: And would you say that analytics helps a lot to determine those things.
Craig Morrison: Absolutely. Yeah. Like I said, like th the metric of monthly active users is the one that I would look at perfect.
Jason Ogle: This question is a toughie, but I think it’s really important. I think a lot of our listeners will really appreciate what you have to say to this one. It’s what does the future of UX look like to you?
Craig Morrison: I think this is something that I’ve thought about before. Nice. I think the future of UX kind of we’ll see the what’s the word I want to say, like doing away with the title of UX designer, because I think that, yeah, I think that UX is new enough that, and it’s coming into the mainstream now.
I think that the, like the job postings for UX designer have, they must have gone up like 5000000% in the last two years. Especially with the startup boom and everything. But I think that not a lot of people are really clear as to what it is, including people who are UX professionals. You mentioned that, that article I wrote why you shouldn’t hire a UX UI designer.
Yes. I published that and like explosion of comments, mostly from UX professionals, like half of them being like on the money, man, and the other half being like, shut up, I’m gonna come to your house and break your face. Like very passionate about this thing that I wrote in the article was about, most of the roles that I see being advertised or someone who.
People that want a guy to come in and design their user interface, but then also, also consider UX and what is consider UX, that’s, it’s such a gigantic term. So what I think will you’ll see happen is maybe focusing more on this, the each individual role within, the kind of makes up this UX designer, so there’s all the different parts that make that up.
There’s user research there’s IAA, there’s, UI, there’s all of these different professionals that have always existed. But then now there’s UX designer, which doesn’t really have a like a definitive set of responsibilities. And I do think that’s a problem. I do think that, hiring someone to be a UX designer without really knowing what you want.
Yeah. Them to do it doesn’t really make any sense. And so I think that as we come to seem nor value in, in UX. You’re gonna see people focusing more on, okay what I really need is a user researcher. What I really needed someone to research and, find out all the information I need to know about my target customer, as opposed to I need a guy to build wire frames and that’s half the thing I need to use it.
UX designer to build me some wireframes it’s what are these wireframes based on? What are the what’s influencing me is like, what, so maybe just yeah why frames? So definitely just a more clear cut classification as to what UX designer is going to involve and probably maybe not hiring this kind of overall UX designer role.
Jason Ogle: Very provocative. My friend. And I appreciate that. I do. And I just want to tell you, I just want to say, candidly, I think my comment on there is one of the top rate pushed comments, and I want to I hope my comment didn’t come across in any sort of combative way.
And please forgive me if it did. I really was not trying to be combative or like I’m going to come to your house and throw eggs at it. But I just, I do still feel like even though I think you, what your intent and your perception behind that, I believe that you have a lot of really good points, especially as it relates to specialization.
Because even though the whole buzzword, it seems like the, we need generalists. We don’t need specialists. We need generalists. The trade-off is you’re going to have somebody who does a lot of things, but not one thing really well. So I want to ask you, and I still hold to my conviction of companies not being there yet to where they either have the belief or budget or both to be able to actually accomplish that.
Do you how do you think companies can get behind your vision? Which again, I think you have a very good argument can get behind that vision and actually move forward in that.
Craig Morrison: I think it’s about sort of a goal, like setting your goals. And I totally agree that especially startups, they don’t have the budget to hire five different people to be a giant UX department.
And so I guess I’m not saying you need to hire each person individually to specialize on that one thing. Definitely from a larger organization that is, if you have the budget, then that’s going to, help the success of your, or whatever you’re working on, like so much. But I think that maybe maybe what I’m trying to hit on is don’t hire someone to be your UX guy and then say okay, do UX, can you like, can you UX this stuff up so that it works better?
Make me a, such a product. Yeah. Don’t yeah. Don’t in one day and say to UX guy, like I need some wireframes and then the next day we be like, oh shit, we need to do some user testing. And then in the same day. So yeah, also, can you can sort all of the content that we’re planning on producing in, in, organize it all it just seems like it’s smarter to be able to allow UX professionals to focus on what they’re doing, rather than hire them to do a million things all at once.
And you know what the ma like this opinion could be biased on my experiences. That’s okay. Because I haven’t had a lot of experiences like that. And I’ve seen it take away from the forward momentum of building a product, which is, one minute that you’ve got the person doing this and the next minute you got the person doing that and they’re taking little tiny baby steps, on each front instead of actually accomplishing something.
I dunno, that helps clear up what I’m saying, but no, it
Jason Ogle: does. And I do appreciate you speaking to that. It’s definitely an interesting point of view and what things changed so much in this industry, which is another reason why I wanted to do this show who knows maybe that is a movement we will start to see more of, especially as we see so many incredible products being built and launched into the market that are really helping change people’s lives and the way they do things.
So thank you.
Craig Morrison: Yeah, no worries. I, you know what? I didn’t even realize that you were the top comment now I’m looking at it. And I was laughing when you wrote me. I was like, I know this guy, like when you were like, Hey, love you in the pockets. I was like, how do I know this guy? I recognize his name. Now I know I have your picture on a dartboard. love it. Oh, that’s great. I don’t care. I don’t care.
Jason Ogle: And that’s, what I love about this community is, there’s so much generosity, and you are one of those guys that’s been, it’s really out there. You’re one of the good guys, that’s out there generously giving your knowledge and, helping others and that blog you guys.
Listen to me, you got to read that post that Craig wrote. It’s how to get a job in UX design without any experience. Really great writeup. So check that out and we’ll get into
Craig Morrison: the user testing blog. That’s on the user
Jason Ogle: testing log. Yes. So usertesting.com and then just type in Craig Morrison, I think, into the search box.
Yep. So as we start wrapping up here, I apologize for going a little over, but start wrapping. It’s been great conversation. Awesome. Let’s wrap up with superpowers. I like to leave our defenders with some great resources they can look into after they listened to this what’s your most invincible UX resource or tool you can recommend to our listeners?
Craig Morrison: I do. This is, sounds like unplugging. Now. I do really like user testing, user testing.com. Because user testing is it’s a big time commitment, especially to organize the people, find them, get them to come I’m in or organized doing it over a computer, which is just an even bigger nightmare.
I’ve found that using usertesting.com to quickly get some feedback on things you’re looking for. So it doesn’t always, it’s not going to work. If you have a, if you have a base of users that you want to test on you, can’t just say Hey, go go to user test in a common sign up, but it does work.
I worked on a product a while back. That was it was like a Kickstarter for advertising. So we were trying to get people to, so let’s say that you were, I don’t know some kind of charity organization, like stop wailing or something. And you don’t have a huge like marketing budget.
But you produce like a little video and you want people to see it so that you can is awareness. We were asking people to donate money towards the marketing budget for that video. So if you gave 50 bucks, then we would take that $50 and we would pay for that to run at the start of YouTube ads or YouTube videos.
So if you searched up a video about, SeaWorld, you might see a video that was like, stop whale hunting, or stop keeping whales in captivity. And that was paid for, by people who donated the money anyway, to bring it back to user testing. This didn’t really have a set group of users.
It was just, anyone who could get to come to the page to donate. So we did a ton of testing on usertesting.com and it gave us so much insight onto if people were able to understand the concept and what we needed to communicate better. And this is stuff that, would have taken.
Hours and weeks to recruit people from wherever Craigslist or friends or pay them to come down to our office, and do all that kind of stuff. It just really saved a ton of time. So that’s kinda my like big resource usertesting.com and they actually have a thing called peak. I think it’s like peek.usertesting.com.
And this is like free, it’s like a free five minute test. If you put together a landing page or like a product interface, and you’re like, I wonder what, just a wonder what people think you can throw it up there and they’ll send you an email with a live person using it for five minutes.
That is awesome. So it’s super cool.
Jason Ogle: Love user testing, love user testing.com. Great resource. If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why?
Craig Morrison: the lean startup, as I mentioned before, it just why is because it just it really helps me. Reinvision like how The process of building something can work, like iterating and really just building a minimum viable product.
And it reinforces a lot of UX stuff, but it brings it into more of a a product development and like an overall sort of start to finish kind of concept. And this shape really helped shape. It helped shape, beyond just building products, that, and going into the 80 20 rule, which is, you don’t need to put in a thousand hours to get the value that you want out of it.
So definitely the lean startup, everyone that I work with, every sort of company that I start to work with, I asked them like, have you read this? And if they haven’t, I say it’s almost a requirement if I’m going to work.
Jason Ogle: Great. Yeah. I need to read that one. I’ve I’m reading lean UX, but I know that was inspired from lean startup book by Eric Reese.
Craig Morrison: I believe. Eric Reese. Yeah. He created this whole lean movement and it’s based on a it’s based on the, I don’t know if you know that story it’s based on the manufacturing plant of, I think it’s Honda. Oh,
Jason Ogle: Toyota?
Craig Morrison: Toyota. Yeah. Yeah. So he took that lean sort of manufacturing process and applied it to building a product suite.
Jason Ogle: Okay. So what’s your best advice for aspiring UX design superheroes?
Craig Morrison: Don’t let me think, how do I word this? Don’t get lost in getting angry about people not understanding UX. So I think that, a lot of new UX. Professionals. I see. They’re very passionate, which is amazing. Like the community is so passionate, but sometimes I see people like getting like angry or frustrated or how could they do this?
Like, how could they build this? This is so stupid, and then going in and looking at stakeholders, like they’re evil people, who are trying to just like, like zap users of their life force kind of thing. I think what you should keep in mind is being able to communicate the benefits of UX to stakeholders in a language they can understand.
So instead of just saying you have to build a product that users can use so that the users can use it, communicate to them things like, if you invest in UX, it means like a ton of stuff, less support costs, less time putting out fires, you’re not you’re having your developers working on.
Building things to expand your product, instead of going back and fixing things. And this is stuff that stakeholders can understand, as opposed to just saying, you need to have a product that’s usable, like the end. You know what I
Jason Ogle: mean? Yes, absolutely. You know what, Craig, I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I’m taking away from that.
So thank you. Pro tip be kind.
Craig Morrison: Yeah.
Jason Ogle: Exactly. And a great community. As we close, Craig, why don’t you tell our audience the best way to connect and keep up with you?
Craig Morrison: Sure. You can find me on Twitter at Craig M C F five. And we talked about my blog, so my blog is usability hour.com. So if you go there, you’ll see a bunch of resources and in some articles I’ve been writing and also we mentioned earlier, get qualia.com, which is the product I just launched.
It helps you grow your brand’s social presence mainly on Twitter. And actually, if you just feel like, shoot me an email and yelling at me and telling me that all my opinions are wrong,
Jason Ogle: I’ll tell you how awesome your comedy is.
Craig Morrison: You can send me an email. Yeah, at email@example.com. And I like to read all my emails and reply to people and it’s great to hear from anyone.
Jason Ogle: Wonderful Craig. And folks, I’m going to put this stuff in the show notes. So I’ll put all these links in there and everything as well for easy access preg, it has been an absolute pleasure having you on the show today.
I thank you for your time. And all the great value you added to the show. Fight on my friend!
Stay lean, validate and experiment.
Ability to code my designs into a pixel perfect rendering.
FUTURE OF UX
I think the future of UX will see the doing away with the title of UX Designer. I think that UX is new enough that it’s kind of coming into the mainstream now. Not a lot of people are really clear as to what it is including people who are UX professionals. What I think we’ll see happen is more focus on each individual role within what makes up a UX Designer.
Don’t get lost in getting angry about people not understanding UX. Be able to communicate the benefits of UX to stakeholders in a language they can understand. Communicate things like if you invest in UX it means less support costs, less time putting out fires, developers are working on building to expand products instead of fixing things.
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Artwork by Cesar Lemus | Editing by Jason Ogle | Music by Wyman Gentry