Smashing Magazine - #389: UX Playbooks

UX playbooks, methods, launch kits, product design resources and business guides for designers. Issue #389 Jan 24, 2023 View in the browser 💨

Smashing Newsletter

Dobry wieczór Smashing Friends,

We’ve all been there before. You might be working in a feature-driven company that’s heavily focused on code quality and the speed of delivery. There are many incredible engineers on the team, and it’s not surprising that the quality of the engineering work is nothing short of breathtaking.

Yet here you are, repeatedly arguing about the importance of UX research and user testing, fighting for resources and time to refine the product roadmap with user needs in mind. Perhaps because the team is building the wrong product, or because the right product is being built in a wrong way.

Design KPIs

The first thing I try to do in such scenarios is to create an organization-wide alignment with objective design KPIs. These are user-centric qualities and targets that are defined to match key business goals. Establishing them takes UX work, and that’s what this newsletter is all about.

We’ll explore UX methods and useful playbooks for UX designers, some activity ideas for remote UX workshops and business guides for designers, along with a launch kit for UX interviews.

We hope that it will be just enough to move the needle in just the right direction.

Vitaly (@vitalyf)

1. Usability Heuristics

For many UX designers, Jakob Nielsen’s “10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design” is the go-to evaluation approach. However, sometimes you might discover discussion-worthy user experience problems that don’t fit the mold.

Usability heuristic frameworks: which one is right for you?

Michael Kritsch was in the same situation and started searching for alternative usability heuristics frameworks. This led him to the question: How to choose the appropriate method? To help you make an informed decision, Michael explored, categorized, and standardized ten heuristics. He summarized his findings in a comprehensive article and, for a quick overview, in a handy chart. (cm)

2. UX Research Methods

How to get to know your customers and test new ideas? How to get user feedback on your prototype? How to find out if your product fills an actual user need? The team at User Interviews published a set of UX research launch kits that help you find out.

The UX Research Methods Launch Pad

In the collection, you’ll find launch kits for user interviews, qualitative usability tests, product/market fit interviews, diary studies, and continuous user interviews. If you’re not sure what type of study to run, there’s a quiz you can take to find the best solution for your use case.

Jordan Bowman also wrote a great post to help you find the right UX research method for your project. In “The Best UX Research Methods in a Pinch,” he takes a closer look at six methods that don’t take much time or money but give you the insights you need, quickly and effectively. (cm)

3. Playbooks For UX Designers

Whether you’re a student looking to land your first job in UX design or a design manager growing a design team, Playbook answers common questions that UX designers might encounter at any stage of their career to help them achieve their career goals.


The Playbook shares tips and actionable advice about getting your first product job, growing as a design manager, building a design system, and being a successful freelancer. The action items come from the people who know best: product designers, founders, design managers, and consultants from small companies, just like global players such as Google, Facebook, and Adobe. A treasure chest of wisdom. (cm)

4. Upcoming SmashingConfs and Workshops

That’s right! We run online workshops on front-end and design and Smashing Conferences on accessibility, performance, and design patterns. In fact, we have a couple of them coming up soon, and we thought that, you know, you might want to join in as well.

Smashing Hour with Sara Soueidan
Join us for a Smashing Hour with Sara Soueidan next week!

We also have a Smashing Hour with Elliot Jay Stocks coming up on February 21 as well as a Smashing Meets session on all things Figma on February 28. Join us, won’t you? ;-)

Smashing Online Events
With online workshops, we aim to give you the same experience and access to experts as in an in-person workshop from wherever you are.

As always, here’s a quick overview of our online workshops:

5. UX of Banking

So you’d like to open a new bank account. How do you choose which bank to go to? Do they provide a relatively similar experience, or are there some outliers that are just much easier and much more comfortable to use?

UX of banking

Fortunately, Peter Ramsey has published an opus on UX of banking about his adventures of openubg 12 bank accounts (Monzo, LloydsBank, Natwest, HSBC, Revolut etc.) and comparing their UX, service quality and fees, from making a first payment to freezing the card. Incredible insights on everything — and things to keep in mind when designing a fintech product.

And as it happens, today Peter published a new chapter on ordering 12 new cards, measuring the number of clicks and time to have an active card. Fantastic research that must have taken ages! (vf)

6. Remote UX Workshop Activities

Activities are the building blocks of UX workshops. But how to get them right to create a workshop that is worth everyone’s time? Jordan Bowman compiled a comprehensive list of remote-friendly activities.

33 Activity Ideas for Remote UX Workshops

From icebreakers and activities for generating and processing ideas to wrap-up activities, each of the 33 exercises has a description, an explanation of when to use it, and a quick tip to ensure everything runs smoothly. Even if you already have a set of favorite activities you keep reverting to in your remote workshops, the collection is bound to spark some new ideas. Or have you heard of “Zombie Cats,” “The Aliens Have Landed,” and “Crazy 8’s” before? (cm)

7. Business Guides For Designers

d.MBA is a collective of design leaders who believe that the business world would greatly benefit from more design leadership and empathy. To equip designers with business knowledge, they created a series of free guides that dive into the intersection of design and business.

d.MBA Guides

The guides explore business questions to ask for your next design projects, fundamental economic concepts, how to become a more strategically-minded designer, estimating the ROI of design work, and more to foster business confidence within the design community. If you want to dig deeper, there’s also a free 7-day Mini MBA email course that explains fundamental business concepts for designers. (cm)

8. Product Design Resources

Every designer knows the situation when they are in the middle of the design process and quickly need a particular resource, be it a pattern, a font, or an article. Instead of jumping right to Google every time he’s looking for high-quality content, Ozan Öztaskiran decided to create a database of product design resources, a toolkit only with the good stuff. And since every designer is glad for some carefully curated resources, he published the database on Notion, free for anyone to use.

Product Design Resources

The database covers everything from UX and UI to design systems and animation, from icons and illustrations to fonts and Figma files. You’ll find learning resources just like inspiration and useful tools. Everything is searchable and sortable by tag. Starred resources show Ozan’s personal favorites. One for the bookmarks. (cm)

9. Better Design Review Meetings

Your design review meetings aren’t as efficient as you had hoped? Sean Harris outlines a useful technique for design review meetings that don’t get derailed: the Feedback Workshop.

How to conduct design review meetings that don’t get derailed

The Feedback Workshop brings structure to the traditional round-table discussion and solves the challenges that those usually bring along. If you want to give it a try, Sean summarized everything you need to know about the approach. The Feedback Workshop is not only suitable for the product design space but can be used to review any kind of idea, process, or concept.

Another interesting read on the topic comes from Dan Winer. Based on Sean’s Feedback Workshop framework, Dan summarized things to avoid when you want to get feedback on your work and ideas to try instead. (cm)

10. New On Smashing Job Board

11. Recent Smashing Articles

That’s All, Folks!

Thank you so much for reading and for your support in helping us keep the web dev and design community strong with our newsletter. See you next time!

This newsletter issue was written and edited by Cosima Mielke (cm), Vitaly Friedman (vf) and Iris Lješnjanin (il).

Sent to truly smashing readers via Mailchimp.
We sincerely appreciate your kind support. You

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