Tech Talent Infographic

This infographic from Udemy points out who is being hired and why as well as providing some information to those trying to decide on the next direction in their careers.

It is important to note that without those key personnel who can take the ideas and turn them into reality, companies like Google, Apple and Facebook would not have the success they do.

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How to Recruit Your Own Usability Test Participants

The most important variable in any research, whether it is usability, marketing or other scientific study, will always be the quality and relevance of your participants.

If you choose to take on the recruiting yourself, it is important to know that there are many methods to getting people (see article below) but be sure that that friend who is doing you a favor may not be exactly who your product is geared to.

from an article on usability news

In case you don’t have a team or resource in your organization that dedicatedly looks after participant recruitment and coordination of usability testing activities, or you don’t have access or simply don’t want to spend on a professional recruitment agency to do the task for you, the following tips will help you to effectively find participants for usability testing on your own without having to work into a cold sweat wondering where are all those people and how can you get them to participate.

1. Let people find the participants for you

Instead of looking for the participants on your own, let people know that you need them and what the criteria for selection is. Once you get contact details for potential participants from these people, you can then screen them to ensure that they fit the bill and also try and determine whether they’d participate fairly or simply try to complete the session in the easiest and fastest manner possible so they can walk away with the compensation. But where are these people who can help you out? They are all around. You can:

– Use the company mailing /distribution list
What better way than using your organization’s distribution list to let a large number of people know that you are looking for participants for a usability test, all in one go. The bigger your company, the better. Try and send it out to the largest distribution list that exists in your office for the particular location you are situated at (assuming you’re not planning on conducting remote usability tests, in which case the ‘global’ list might be a better option). Take permission if required before shooting off the mail to a large group. If you decide to do so, make sure your mail is usable itself. Avoid jargon and explain everything you need in the participant clearly and in the simplest language possible.

– Use the company’s website /product websites /mailers
Let your product users know that you are looking for participants. Add the information to company mailers or have a separate mailer just for this purpose. Put up the information on your organization’s website or your organization’s product websites if so may be the case (this you should do as part of your strategy for creating a usability test participant database anyhow).

– Try and get the HR department to help you out
If you feel that the participant criteria would match that of the job seekers applying to your organization, talk with human resources and let them know the profile of people you’re looking for. After HR completes their interview process, they could let the interview candidates know about the opportunity to participate in the usability test in exchange for gratuity.

– Take help from your friends and family
Spread the word amongst your friends and family. This might not be so useful for recruiting the usual participants but is rather helpful in cases where gratuity can’t be the motivation, as is discussed in the last tip.

2. Find participants on your own

– Use the internet
The internet is your answer to look for anything you need to find if you can search smart, looking for usability test participants included. You will almost definitely find the right users on the net. Look in forums, websites like Yahoo! Answers, classifieds websites… the list goes on, but hopefully you get the idea (In case you don’t, let me know and I’ll be glad to elaborate depending upon the type of users you are looking to recruit.)

– Look around (not in) the office
You might have a lot of people around your office building that would fit your participant profile. Be it the guys from Green Peace, credit card and banking-related services salesman, or students, there’s definitely someone who’ll fit your participant profile. Try persuading them to participate in your usability test.

3. When gratuity just won’t do (or: recruiting users in executive leadership)

There are cases where gratuity is not sufficient motivation for the participants you need to recruit. Take the case of executive leadership and senior management. Besides having no time to spare, gratuity isn’t what they’re looking for, or what you can probably match with their expectations. What will motivate them is the request for participation by someone they know personally who matters – that might be your boss, your parents, your friends or even you. It pays to know the right people and be in their list of loved ones in this case.

10 Ways to Make Sure You & Your Clients See Eye to Eye

Here are some good suggestions on how to alleviate some trouble that often happens when working as a consultant.

An article on Tech Republic by Jack Wallen.

IT consultants need more than technical knowledge and experience — they need to make sure they’re on the same page with their clients. Jack Wallen suggests some ways to make that happen.

It can be frustrating when you and your clients are at odds with one another. It happens for many reasons and when it does, you run the risk of losing the client. Obviously, consultants aren’t in the business of LOSING clients. The goal is to make them as happy as possible. But there are times when meeting a client half way becomes more than a challenge. The best way to nip this in the bud? Make sure you and your clients are always on the same page.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Educate your clients

Let’s face it. The less your clients know, the more they’re going to need you. But this train of thought can cause some sticky situations. When your client is calling you about every little thing, you’re faced with, “Do I bill them for these 10 minutes on the phone or not?” This situation can be prevented with a little education. For example, if your client doesn’t want to pay the small fee for a spyware application that will do auto updates and scheduled scanning, make sure you instruct them how to run the updates and how often they should manually run the scan. This will save you from having to constantly rid their machines of malware and spyware… thus reducing those 10- to 15-minute phone calls. It will also go a long way toward keeping clients happy because they won’t be having to pay for your service all the time. And a happy client is a referring client!

2: Explain things to your clients

I have seen this many times. A previous consultant on a job will completely neglect to inform the client about what they’re doing on a job. Some less-than-trustworthy consultants assume that keeping clients in the dark is the best way to keep them keeping your lights on. It’s not. Keeping clients in the dark only causes them to second-guess the work you have done, as well as your skills and your ability to run a reliable business. Always tell the client what you’re going to do and what you wound up doing on a job. Making sure they know what was wrong will help prevent it from happening again.

3: Take control of documentation

Documentation should be a two-way street. It’s not. Documenting jobs — and this means passwords, usernames, addresses, etc. — will inevitably fall in your lap. You’re going to have clients who NEVER can remember their usernames and passwords. Retain the documentation so you can refer to it and keep those clients happily working. The day you tell a client it is their job to retain their passwords (even though it actually is) is the day you lose sight of the bigger picture.

4: Be respectful toward nontechnical users

Have you ever gone to an auto mechanic and been told why your car was doing what it was doing… and you had absolutely NO idea what the mechanic was talking about? This is how your clients feel when you try to explain to them what is going on. Always remember that your clients are coming at this from a completely different vantage point. More than likely, they know next to nothing about how their computers work. They just know when they don’t work. Treating your clients as if they are idiots for not knowing something is like when an auto mechanic rolls his eyes because you don’t understand the air:fuel ratio that’s causing your turbo to fail.

Don’t talk to your clients as if they were children just because they don’t understand that their DNS servers are keeping them from getting online or that using out-of-date antivirus definitions is the reason they’re constantly getting virus infections on their PCs. Treat those clients with respect, no matter how little they know about the technology you often take for granted.

5: Bill consistently and professionally

Billing keeps the lights on in the shop. It has to be done and your clients have to pay. The most important aspect about billing is consistency. Don’t just send an email with your bill detailed inline. Make sure your billing is done professionally. If you have QuickBooks, you can use its built-in tools to create invoices and then email the generated PDF as an attachment. This will have your logo and all the detailed information about the job listed for the client. And details are key. Make sure every job you do has as much information on the billing statement as possible. Leave no holes or questions open in your billing. Be complete. Be thorough.

6: Be accessible

You have to be available to your clients. If a client calls and you do not respond within a decent amount of time, that client is going to lose faith in you. Make sure you have a standard setup for return calls and follow-ups. You don’t want clients getting upset and heading off to your competition. Give your clients the means to contact you: Business phone, business email, text (if you allow it), and (especially) a help desk system.

7: Know your clients

This is one of the more challenging aspects of being a consultant. You need to know your clients. When you know them, you will know how to deal with them. I have certain clients I have to treat in certain ways — it’s just a part of life. I have some clients I will do anything for. With other clients, I will do only what they ask. I have clients who have certain protocols for jobs and clients who are more like pals when I arrive. Treating everyone as if they are the same entity will cause you more headaches than you can imagine. Take the time to get to know a client. Find out their quirks, what is important to them, and what they are willing to spend money on. When your clients know that you know them, you will see eye to eye much more often.

8: Know when to say you don’t know

There are times when you can BS your way out of a situation. There are times when learning on the job is okay. But when you simply have no idea how to resolve an issue or how to approach a problem, it’s time to say “no.” If you don’t, and you get yourself caught knee deep in the muck and mire of failure, your clients will have plenty of ammunition to fire at your head. If you don’t know how to solve a problem, tell your client so and tell them you will see if you can figure it out. Let them know your efforts to solve the puzzle will not be on their time, and a solution will be found. Your other option? Outsource that job. Regardless of how you deal with it, make sure you are completely honest with your client so there will be no ugly outcome.

9: Resolve the situation

Sometimes, you do a job, but whatever you do fails to resolve the issue. When this happens, your client is certain to call. In some cases, that client is not going to be happy. If this isn’t the first time this has happened (especially on this particular job), that client is most certainly not going to be happy. The best way to resolve this situation is to, well, resolve the situation. Hit the job from a fresh angle, research what you did, search forums for alternative solutions… whatever you have to do. Ultimately, you are in a contractual agreement that says you are going to resolve your client’s issues. When you do not (or cannot) resolve those issues, the client will be justifiably upset.

Remember, from your client’s perspective, they’re paying a LOT of money for your services. They pay you to make something work that should “just work.” If they have to continually pay you to get something working, you are going to lose them (and possibly other clients, thanks to word of mouth). I have heard of consultants who leave pieces of jobs hanging to keep the cash flow flowing. This is not only bad business, it is unethical. See your job through to completion.

10: Know when to let go

There may be clients you just can’t see eye to eye with. Maybe there are personality issues, maybe a job went wrong and the client can’t seem to forgive you. Regardless of the reason, you need to know when a consultant-client relationship simply will not work. It will be far better for your business not to string that client along (for fear of losing business) than to keep an unhappy client around. The longer you retain such clients, the more likely you are to develop a bad reputation. And the last thing you need is word getting around that you can’t be trusted, that your work is subpar, or whatever gripe that client has. When you see a relationship isn’t going to work out, end it professionally. Refer the client to someone who can help them. Do whatever it takes to leave as much of that bridge unburned as possible. There may be a time when that client, based on your professionalism, will refer another client to you.

Keeping it copacetic

The quest to make your clients happy requires a tricky balance. Not only are you charged with getting the job done, you must do so in such a way that you and your clients start and finish on the same page. Making sure you and your clients see eye to eye on as many levels as possible will make for a far richer relationship for both parties. Have you come across a situation where you and your client didn’t see eye to eye? If so, how did you resolve it? Or if you couldn’t resolve it, what was the outcome?

Hand vs Brain UX Work


Jared Spool wrote an article describing the difference between ‘innies’ & ‘outies’ as well as ‘handiwork’ vs brainwork’ when it comes to ux consulting.

The short version-

Innies work within an organization, while the outies are brought in for projects

Handwork is when the consultant is creating, producing work, wireframes, etc.

Brainwork is when the person is hired to give advice, more like a strategy consultant.

The difficulties arise when either a company doesn’ t know which kind of work they need, or they hire someone to do handwork, when really they need brainwork, or the person hired to do handwork has a great ‘brainwork’ idea but isn’t listened to. Even worse, the person is hired at brainwork prices but ends up wasting their talents on handwork.

It is up to the project managers and hiring managers to be sure they not only know what the project and team need, but also that they hire the right person at the right rate.