What a Difference a Lab Day Makes

Four years ago CauseLabs started setting aside one day every two months for our team to build projects of their own choosing. Little did we know the impact these lab days would have on our company’s internal motivation, our employees’ skillsets, and our ability to work collaboratively in innovative ways. Now, four years in, we’ve broken down our insights into best practices for other companies to follow, to help them achieve similar success. Innovation days go by many names, but the key elements are consistent: Bring together a few people, set up a basic process, and tackle acute problems. At its core, a “lab day” is any amount of time devoted to team collaboration on an agreed upon problem or project. Companies from Google to small start ups are finding that committing to lab days can make an immense impact on productivity and engagement in every other area of their business. Lab days engage our imaginations, address our restlessness, and allow us to tinker. During a lab day the blinders are on to other projects, email, and all other distractions. Teams of one to three people build for a set amount of time, then join with other teams at the end of the day to demo and get rapid feedback for next steps. Any organization with design thinkers and makers can use time like this to solve problems. Our path to lab days At CauseLabs, a software strategy firm, we began lab days a few years ago after one of our staff members came back from a conference with the idea of doing an internal day of innovation. Nonprofits...

Facebook, Sentiment Analysis, and Emotional Contagion

Sentiment analysis and emotional contagion are nothing new, but Facebook’s recent research study, dubbed by the media the “emotion manipulation” study has launched heated debates regarding the accuracy of the research and the ethics of performing experiments on people without their knowledge or consent. Sentiment analysis is the study of positive and negative words in communication and has been employed in various fields, including traditional and social media marketing, brand analysis, poll predicting, and even dream analysis. In today’s big-data-driven world, algorithms are used to analyze text in an effort to distinguish what emotions are behind the words. As the algorithms improve, the analysis will as well, but some argue that the algorithms are far from where they need to be for accurate analysis. Recently, Facebook conducted a sentiment analysis on possible emotional contagion via status messages. Emotional contagion has been theorized for centuries and continues to be researched heavily by modern psychologists such as Elaine Hatfield of the University of Hawaii, who states that emotional contagion, “may tell us something about the awesome contemporary power of celebrityhood and of the mass media as these agencies of large-scale emotional and cognitive contagion continue to expand their capacities to define reality for billions of people.” However, the media and thousands of Facebook users were not convinced that Facebook’s expanded capacities were worth their feeds being “manipulated” to mine and influence their emotional responses. The controversy stems from how Facebook used sentiment analysis to perform research into emotional contagion, whether their findings were scientifically accurate, and whether they violated peoples’ rights. It all began with a simple study, made public back...

An Interview with the Future

Flying cars, phones that fit in a pocket, robot vacuums… it’s clear we live in the future. Perhaps more futuristic than any other technology is the web, and the many quickly evolving sites and applications that connect us to infinite information and to one another. This is the future that Matt Griffin is exploring in his new documentary, “What Comes Next is the Future.” Peering into the future is a task most often attempted by psychics and fortune tellers. Yet the clues to what comes next are all around us: in the decisions we make, and in the technology we build. This is what Matt Griffin, founder of Bearded, is relying on to tell the story of the web, and the “titanic shift in the web landscape that mobile devices have initiated.” In order to tell this story, Matt’s calling on us — the people who make the web. He’s interviewed designers, strategists and developers who have impacted the creation of the web as we know it over the past 25 years to tell their stories. We recently had the opportunity to ask Matt about his story — why he’s making this documentary, and how it’s going to impact us as user experience professionals. We’re excited to share with you all that he had to say about the past, present, and future of the mobile web. In What Comes Next is the Future, you interview dozens of people who have impacted web design over the years. What attributes did you consider as you selected contributors? We’re in the midst of big, important changes. The explosion of web- and internet-connected...

Designing Digital Strategies, Part 1: Cartography

As digital products and services come to comprise an increasingly important part of our everyday life, the division between the digital and the physical begins to blur. We can, for instance, see a washing machine on TV, read reviews of it online, purchase it on our phone, and have it installed by our local shop—all […] The post Designing Digital Strategies, Part 1: Cartography appeared first on UX...

Fail Fast, Fail Often: An Interview with Victor Lombardi

What can we learn from failure? A great deal, says Victor Lombardi. In his latest book, Why We Fail, Victor tells over a dozen stories of projects gone awry and how their lack of success can inform our design strategy. The post Fail Fast, Fail Often: An Interview with Victor Lombardi appeared first on UX...