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UX Cake

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UX Cake is a podcast for user experience professionals who want to be more effective and happy in their career. Every week we talk to seasoned UX pros and industry insiders for practical advise on building skills to get the best outcomes for our selves, our teams, our users, and our UX careers.

UX Cake is a podcast for user experience professionals who want to be more effective and happy in their career. Every week we talk to seasoned UX pros and industry insiders for practical advise on building skills to get the best outcomes for our selves, our teams, our users, and our UX careers.
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UX Cake is a podcast for user experience professionals who want to be more effective and happy in their career. Every week we talk to seasoned UX pros and industry insiders for practical advise on building skills to get the best outcomes for our selves, our teams, our users, and our UX careers.








Designing a Life You Love

This week, I had the opportunity to speak with Ayse Birsel, a renown designer and the co-founder of Birsel + Seck, an award-winning design and innovation studio in NY, working with Herman Miller, IKEA, and Toyota, among others. Ayse is also the creator of Design the Life You Love, which is a guide for anyone who wants to create their very best life. Ayse developed this transformative process when she decided to try out a design methodology she created called Deconstruction-Reconstruction, on...


Being in UX at a Startup

I recently joined a start-up called Spruce Up so topics related to startups have been top-of-mind for me. In this episode of UX Cake, I am joined by Phillip Hunter of Pulse Labs and Cassie Wallender of Invio, Inc. We really enjoyed recording live in Seattle and had a candid conversation about the challenges and benefits of being in UX at a start-up and shared the techniques we have found effective while working in this type of start-up environment. Phillip Hunter is VP of Products at Pulse...


Redesigning The Way We Work

This week on UX Cake I had a chance to catch up with David and Mary Sherwin about their new book, Turning People Into Teams. I love this topic — how do we go from being just a bunch individual people with different motivations, attitudes, working styles, communication styles, into a team where the whole is better than the sum parts? It’s about redesigning the way we work together. And the exciting thing about it is that it can happen in small incremental ways; it doesn’t mean a big re-org or...


Creating and Nurturing a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion

Even if we consider ourselves advocates for diversity and inclusion when it comes to considering gender, race, age, LGBTQ or ableness, how do we stretch ourselves even further? How can we create a truly diverse team in thought, background, and culture, and how do we make sure we are creating products that are inclusive to all? How do we break the molds that are exclusive in their very nature? On today’s show, I have a candid conversation with Timothy Bardlavens, an outspoken advocate for...


Work Together Better to Design Great Products

Ep. #19: Much of the time we like to work independently, maybe because of work environment, preference, or pride. And yet we know there are great benefits and advantages to working as a team and collaborating with other people. This week’s episode is a re-edit of episode 3, one of my favorite episodes, when I spoke with David and Mary Sherwin, co-founders of Ask the Sherwins, about doing the impactful work we want to do, through improved collaboration and effective teams. David and Mary work...


Designer-founded startups

Ep. #18: Over the past few years we’ve seen a growing trend of designer founded startups. There are a few really notable designer-founded startups like — Airbnb, Kickstarter and Lynda.com have paved the way… and in general startups are realize the value of user-centered design as a competitive differentiator, so there’s definitely more value placed on design and user experience. But the designer as founder is still not the norm for startups. This week I’m talking with designer-founder Will...


Outcome-focused Design - Tarot Cards for Tech

Ep. #17: Using tarot cards to create outcomes-focused designis a very out-of-the-box approach, and yet it's actually really simple and approachable. In this episode I talked with Sheryl Cababa, an executive creative director at Artefact Group design agency, about their Tarot Cards of Tech. It's a card deck of prompts for team discussions, a fun product that's meant to be playful, but with a serious purpose – to get teams thinking differently about their strategy and design. In this fun...


Shark-proofing Your UX Presentations

Ep. #16: This special episode of uxcake was a panel discussion recorded live in front of an audience in Seattle on June 28. If you’ve been in ux design or research for awhile, it's almost certain you’ve been involved in a review of your work, or your team’s work, and chances are you’ve experienced a review that goes off the rails, or that causes chaos after the fact, or you just don't get the feedback you really need. In this episode we discuss lessons learned and techniques you can use to...


Understanding Client Dynamics

Ep. #15: Have you ever had a meeting with a stakeholder or client who you thought you were in alignment with, and afterward thought “What the heck just happened in there?” Well it happened often enough to Morag Johnston and her team that she’s created a website and blog dedicated to the problem of understanding client dynamics, called understandingclients.com. Morag is a digital strategist and leadership coach at Effective by Design in Toronto, Canada, and she joined me for a conversation...


Getting More of The Work You Want to Do

Ep. #14: Besides needing strong technical skills, much of the work in UX and in our careers requires convincing others, about our ideas, our work, or our ability to do the work we want to do. My guest is Fiz Yazdi, a managing director at cxpartners in London and Bristol, UK. Fiz developed an approach to selling based on what’s called a ‘consultative’ model which Fiz adapted into a simple framework she uses in her own UX practice and has begun sharing it with others. Fiz Yazdi is generously...


Design & Dev: How to create solutions together

Ep. #13: No one would argue about the relationship between UX and development being a critical one, but it’s not easy. Join us for a conversation with Jaime Lopez, an experienced developer and co-host of the More Than Just Code podcast (www.mtjc.fm) about the UX and developer relationship, creating solutions together, and increasing collaboration and communication. Jaime is an experienced software developer with a focus on iOS development. He led the iOS development team at OfferUp where he...


Going Independent, part 2 – Making it work for you

Ep. #12: Part 2 of Leigh & Laura's conversation about freelancing. In this episode we focus on ways to be more effective in your freelance career, from finding and managing clients to managing balance, and continuing to grow in your career. If freelancing is something you’re considering, or maybe you’ve been doing it for awhile and wondering what other people do, or what mistakes other people make, then listening to our experiences might fill in some blanks. And for lots more online...


Going independent – is it for you?

Ep. #11: In this episode, Leigh and Laura discuss being an independent UX pro — contract, freelance, or consulting. The flexibility is what draws a lot of people to independent work, whether it's to have more time to travel or more time for family or a hobby, but of course there are drawbacks as well. Is there a personality type that works better for independent work? What are the benefits and drawbacks during different parts of your career? How does it affect your career over the long run?...


Creating Personas That Align Stakeholders

Ep. #10: We’re talking with Tamara Adlin, a persona pioneer, about a process for creating personas that not only aligns executives and stakeholders, but that also actually gets those personas used. Tamara’s honed this process over the last decade, and she shares with us what "alignment personas" are, how and why she creates them, and how you can create them too. Plus, how to navigate this potentially political process that is fraught with danger!


Transitions in UX - AR/VR

Ep. #9: Many UX practitioners are interested in transitioning into emerging technology but aren’t sure where to start, or what that path looks like. In this episode we’re talking about the practical aspects of getting into augmented, virtual, or mixed reality, with Di Dang, who’s a UX specialist in AR/VR, and leads an emerging tech department at POP agency in Seattle.


Overcoming Mentoring Challenges

Ep. #8: Mentoring is one of the most powerful tools for developing talent and leadership… it’s also often taken for granted as something anyone who’s been working for awhile can do. So we end up with senior practitioners going into a managerial track with no management training, and no real mentoring experience. And yet, think about how important managers have been in the jobs you've had, whether they've been good, or bad. Mentorship is part of management, but it's also a practice unto...


Transitioning in UX: Voice Design

Ep #7: How people interface with technology is constantly evolving, but we’re seeing big changes in the technolgy platforms themselves, and that means big changes in the UX field. This week is the beginning of an occasional series on UX careers in transition, starting with voice design, talking with Cheryl Platz, a principal designer at Microsoft. Cheryl has worked on high profile voice platforms including Cortana and Alexa, and she has also moved between voice-based design and visual-based...


Augmented Humanity & Our Changing Reality

Ep #6: Technology is changing the way we perceive reality — whether you have some kind of headset on or not… and it’s much more than pokeman go. In this episode we hear from Galit Ariel, self-proclaimed ‘digital hippy’ and author of Augmenting Alice, and Chirryl-Lee Ryan, a trans-disciplanary design leader, two brilliant multi-disciplinary UX experts, on two different sides of the globe, about augmented reality, the minister of loneliness, and experience design as the ‘muse’ of product...


Adding To Your Creative Toolbox

Ep #5: Generating, sustaining, and selling creative ideas requires a lot more than inspiration.There is process and structure - which doesn't sound or even always 'feel' creative. It isn’t always easy or straightforward. As author Scott Berkun says, it’s a dance, which he talks about in his latest book, The Dance of The Possible. In this episode we talk about some of the tools you can use for staying creative, selling creative ideas, or motivating your teams' creativity. Which may or may not...


004: Improv for Empathy & Make Better Products

When you're designing products for people, having empathy for those specific people (aka users) is critical. Yep, you know that, but how can you increase empathy for the users from the entire team, and stakeholders too? In this episode, Karen Reilly, UX Director at Iterate in Dublin, Ireland, shares insights and techniques inspired by her work in improv for developing more empathy, not only for users but within our teams as well. Karen is an expert both at creating user-centered products,...