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Finding and Learning from Mentors

From last week's blog post, we learn that it is wise to learn from the mistakes of others. Another important insight in life is finding mentors you can rely on and you can look up to. 

Someone said to me that you can make someone a mentor without the mentor knowing it by reading his or her work. 

To continue our series from last week, I’d like to share three more take-aways I learned from my mentor Susan Weinschenk from her book 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People.  

Notice the ellipsis on Instagram? That’s called progressive disclosure. According to the book, you show people what they need when they need it. Susan said that you need to  build in links for them to get more information. When making trade offs on clicks versus thinking, the book suggests to use more clicks and less thinking. A note on using progressive disclosure, make  sure that you  know what most people want and when they want it.

First impressions matter. Let me quote directly from the book.  “People make quick decisions about what is not trustworthy. So they reject a Web site first, and then decide after that whether or not to actually trust it.

Design factors, such as color, font, layout, and navigation, are critical in making it through the first “trust rejection” phase. If a Web site makes it through the first rejection cut, then content and credibility become the determining factors as to whether the person trusts the site.

Having been trained in Human Centered Design, always assume that people will make mistakes even with the obvious nuances in design. 
Below are some tips from the book 

Anticipate Mistakes
Think ahead to what the likely mistakes will be. Figure out as much as you can about the kinds of mistakes people are going to make when they use what you’ve designed. And then change your design before it goes out so that those mistakes won’t be made.

Conduct User Testing with the Right Users
Create a prototype of your design and get people to use it so you can see what the errors are likely to be. When you do this, make sure the people who are testing the prototype are the same people who will be using it. For example, if the product is designed for nurses in a hospital, don’t use your designers down the hall to test for
errors. You need to have nurses at a hospital test for errors.

Take note of the task  
If people are performing a boring task, then you need to raise the level of arousal with sound, colors, or movement. If people are doing a difficult task, then you need to lower the level of arousal by
eliminating any distracting elements such as color, sounds, or movement, unless they are directly related to the task at hand.If people are under stress, they won’t see things on the screen, and they’ll tend to do the same actions over and over, even if they don’t work.
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Learning from the mistakes of others

They say that we are wise if we learn from the mistakes of others.
As we go through the usability insights we uncovered during the closed beta stage, we also ponder upon the lessons of those who have walked the path before us. Below are the first three things that we would like to share for the benefit of understanding good design and usability psychology.

People like convenience
People like convenience and expect technology to be smart enough to anticipate their needs. Asking users to re-enter information that’s already been captured is a big turn off in today’s playing field.

 Don’t make me think
As Steve Krug would say “Don’t make me think”, make it easy for people for understand your interface. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Build on what they know and lessen their mental load.

 People get motivated by achievement and progress
With technology nowadays, people have become more impatient than ever.  A website that loads 4 seconds feels like forever so giving people feedback as to how far they are in a process or task is a big boost to their motivation to complete it.

Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition by Steve Krug

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk
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Progress not Perfection

As a recovering perfectionist, I realize that life should be about celebrating progress instead of aiming for perfection. 

This principle doesn't mean not aiming for your highest standards.      I believe you should always aim to be the best in what ever you do. 

It simply means that you need to see your goals as a journey not as the end destination. We need to see and appreciate how much we have grown instead of how much we failed. We need to see failures as opportunities to progress. After all, success come from failures.

As we go through our closed beta phase, I expected that we will be discovering some areas for improvement and it is within these areas that we will make ZAVI a better product for our partners and users. 

In retrospect, I have also learned to appreciate that ZAVI started from just an idea and is now shaping up to its vision. 

So start the journey, make mistakes and grow along the way. 
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The Art of Starting

I have always been a perfectionist. Being a type A personality, I always had that competitive spirit and innate drive for control so that things go my way flawlessly.

I remember before going to a proper yoga studio class. I practiced using DVDs at home so that I'll be familiar with the Sanskrit terms and to have an idea at least how to execute the poses.

My method worked for my first ever studio class but in business where the dynamics are uncertain you can only plan for so much trying to be perfect and need to just let go of things that are beyond your control. As the Nike Ads would say, just do it.

If you're a big fan of Survivor, you know Mark Burnett. He says that "The fact that you don’t know exactly what to do is OK. I have a philosophy I call ‘jump in,’ which says that those who need to know with 100 percent certainty before going forward won’t do anything. You won’t get married, and you certainly won’t change jobs or start a business. I think it’s OK to be 30, 40, or 50 percent sure and figure out the rest of it. The philosophy of ‘jump in’ means that even if you’re not sure you can swim, swim anyway.”

The Bible also affirms this philosophy. In Ecclesiastes 11:4, it reads that “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”

This belief applies in all facets of life not just in business. Whether you want to get fit or work on a new skill or passion. We just need to jump in and do it. This is my biggest takeaway so far in building ZAVI.

Today, 5-5-15, we mark the our closed beta launch. We expect to learn a lot from our users and customers. We are jumping in and starting this great adventure.
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