October 17 meetup: Breaking into UX

by: Michael Seidel | 2016

When: Monday, October 17, 6:30pm
Where: Irish Pub, 2nd floor (124 N Water St)
Cost: FREE!
RSVP: Here (note: you are not required to RSVP to attend. Feel free to just show up!)

In the 7 years of mkeUX’s existence, we’ve had the distinct pleasure of watching the UX discipline grow and gain wide influence. It’s been an exciting ride. And there’s no end in sight – more and more UX jobs flood the market daily.

We know from talking to hundreds of UX practitioners and UX hopefuls over the years that getting started in the field can be intimidating. Often, people are worried they’re not qualified for jobs, or worse, they’re afraid that a job in UX is insurmountable based on their background or lack of experience.

This usually isn’t true. Not at all.

This roundtable will tackle the issue of breaking into UX. We’ve assembled a crack team of UX minds to discuss that various ways to get into the field or grow your expertise once you’ve done so.

We’ll break down the sub-disciplines under the UX umbrella (UX is not just visual design, you know) and generally have a very frank discussion about UX.

This meeting will appeal to:

  • Students
  • Recent graduates
  • Career changers
  • UX people looking to diversify their skillset

Back by popular demand, Steve Grobschmidt will moderate.


joeJoe Elmendorf – I architect places made of information. I use strategic ignorance, patient listening, and concept models to understand complexity and represent it clearly. I focus on defining and gaining agreement on what should be before figuring out how to make it be.




maryMary Johnston is a Milwaukee-based UX designer and creative director. She first came to Milwaukee in 2010 to pursue a Masters Degree from the School of Information Studies at UW-Milwaukee and after she was finished she liked it here so much she decided to stick around. She’s been working with the Madison-based agency Noble Applications since 2013.



rachelRachel Krause is a UX/UI Designer at Centare in Brookfield, creating web and mobile experiences on scrum teams. She is an advocate for keeping the UX process lightweight and collaborative. Prior to getting into the UX world, she started her career as a graphic designer.




nicoleNicole Madison – For the past 4 years, I’ve been a user experience designer at Johnson Controls designing building efficiency software. Previous to working at Johnson Controls I worked for over 15 years as a graphic designer within a few marketing agencies in Milwaukee. My undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Milwaukee. Currently, I’m pursuing a Master’s degree in User Experience Design from Kent State University and expect to graduate summer 2017.



coreyCorey Poquette – Corey has spent 13 years developing and designing user interfaces. Currently a UX Architect & Strategist for Johnson Controls (JCI), Corey leads the creation of industry-changing user experiences for JCI’s Building Efficiency products. In his free time, Corey enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, running marathons, smoking various meats as well as being a rabid Green Bay Packers fan.

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August 15 meetup: Beer garden happy hour!

by: Michael Seidel | 2016

Happy hour!
When: Monday, August 15, 5:00 – ? pm
Where: Humboldt Park Beer Garden (3000 S. Howell Ave, Bay View)
RSVP: Here (note: you are not required to RSVP to attend. Feel free to just show up!)

Join us on August 15 for an informal UX happy hour at the Humboldt Park Beer Garden in Bay View. Chat with your fellow UXers and UX-sympathizers while enjoying a beautiful Milwaukee summer evening.

The event will start around 5 and last until everyone decides to leave. This is a social event, so the start and end times don’t mean much. Just roll in whenever you finish up with work and look for the congregation of nerds. You’ll know us by the size of our brains.

Note: Given the nature of the beer garden, no food will be provided and you will need to spring for your own drinks. You may want to grab dinner beforehand or after you leave.


Hope to see you there!



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July 19 meetup: UX Beyond the UI

by: Michael Seidel | 2016

What: UX Beyond the UI
When: Tuesday, July 19, 6:30pm
Where: Irish Pub, 2nd floor (124 N Water St)
Cost: FREE!
RSVP: Here (note: you are not required to RSVP to attend. Feel free to just show up!)

When we talk about user experience (UX) and software development, we tend to focus on the visual and interactive – user interfaces, graphic design and UX activities such as user research.  However, we often forget that UX can be affected by other aspects of software development such as the application code across the stack and even the development process itself.

This talk will cover:

  • the importance of UX given the near constant interactions we have with software today
  • the impact of software development considerations such as performance, security and reliability on UX
  • how a focus on software quality can improve user experience in subtle yet meaningful ways
  • how all members of a software development team contribute to user experience


Joe Regan is a UX Designer/Developer for Red Arrow Labs in Milwaukee WI, helping to create technology solutions and great user experiences in the healthcare and life science industries. Prior to his transition into UX, he was a long-time software developer working with iOS, Android, .NET and Java technologies

Here is an interview we conducted with Joe so you can know more about him before attending the meetup.

Where are you currently employed and what is the primary focus of your daily workload?

I work for Red Arrow Labs in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, part of the Dohmen family of companies. We specialize in developing software solutions for the health and life sciences industries.

My primary focus thus far has been UI design for mobile and web apps with a bit of front-end development. I’m hoping to get more involved with user research activities in the future.

How long have you been working as a UX practitioner?

Strictly speaking since April 2015. But I did mobile development for a number of years before that so UI and UX concerns were certainly foremost in my mind then as well.

Tell us about your path to the UX field.

My path to UX could be described as slow in that it took me a number of years before I finally took the leap to commit to a career in UX! I’d guess my path is somewhat atypical too since I came into UX from a developer role.

What are some misconceptions you had about UX before you started working in it?

I’m not so sure I had misconceptions but perhaps an incomplete and evolving understanding of UX. Like many of us, I started at UIs and usability and later came to learn about other facets of UX like user research, information architecture, content strategy and more.

In regards to your July talk, what was there a certain set of circumstances in your professional life that inspired you to talk about this topic?

As I started to learn more about UX while developing mobile applications, I began to see that outside of the UI, the impact of the actual code and the software development process on UX hasn’t fully been examined. There’s a lot going in websites and applications behind the UI, so I hope to delve a little deeper and see how the rest of the software stack can affect UX.

Where else will you be presenting this talk?

I’ll be presenting this talk at That Conference, a developer conference, in the Wisconsin Dells August 8-10. Nervous but excited!

Anything else you’d like people to know about your talk?

Stay for the outtakes after the credits (really!)

Do you have UX book, article or video recommendations for others within the mkeUX community?

I like the Nielsen Norman Group’s weekly newsletter and Kenny Chen’s UX Design Weekly is a great roundup of UX and design posts.

As far as books go, anything from A Book Apart is great but I really feel that Eric Meyer’s and Sara Wachter-Boettcher’s Design for Real Life is a very important read for anyone in UX. It discusses designing for stress cases – certainly pertinent for Red Arrow’s work in health care but for everyone else as well given that we interact with software on a near-constant basis. 

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June 21 meetup: UX Lightning Talks!

by: Michael Seidel | 2016
What: UX Lightning Talks!
When: Tuesday, June 21, 6:30pm
Where: Irish Pub, 2nd floor (124 N Water St)
Cost: FREE!
RSVP: Here (note: you are not required to RSVP to attend. Feel free to just show up!)


This event will showcase the diversity and talent of the Milwaukee UX community. In these 5 short presentations we’ll see great examples of professional quality, passion projects, and exploring the new ideas about the kind of experiences we can create for people.


Presentation #1: Conveying UX Strategy Through Meaningful Journey Maps

Suhasini Pashikanti, from 7Summits, will be sharing how to structure and deliver meaningful journey maps to clients that help to lay the foundation for long-term UX strategy with a focus on understanding the “why” and discovering opportunities.

Presentation #2: Redesigning the Project Properties UI

John McCauley with Rockwell Automation shows users using Rockwell’s Industrial Automation products & the visualization design problems tackled.

Presentation #3: Spaceship Interfaces, The Next Generation

Garrett Wiens-Kind, a usability officer in the United Federation of Planets (and at Johnson Controls) boldly goes where no UX practitioner has gone before. Garrett will present his ongoing work and research on improving the operational efficiency and safety of spaceship bridge crews through better touchscreen interfaces.

Presentation #4: How UX and Content Strategy Built a Better

Nora Lahl, Senior Producer at Lightburn, shares the approach her agency took on the redesign and restructure of, the website for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. This included the not-so-simple task of selling UX as a whole to internal stakeholders.

Presentation #5:  Mindbloom, Bridging the Gap Between the Physical World and Digital World

In trying to solve for a very real world problem that is stress, participants are encouraged to relax the mind and lower heart rate trying to bloom a physical and digital flower. Elise Georgeson, Kat Lau, Millie Bley from GMR will present.

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May 10 meetup: Evangelizing design leadership

by: Michael Seidel | 2016

What: Evangelizing Design Leadership
When: Tuesday, May 10, 6:30pm
Where: Irish Pub, 2nd floor (124 N Water St)
Cost: FREE!
RSVP: Here (note: you are not required to RSVP to attend. Feel free to just show up!)

As technology and graphic design continue to be commoditized, customer experiences will be the primary market differentiators. However, anyone can design a decent customer experience, but what is needed organizationally to design an outstanding, world-class customer experience? In this mkeUX session, we will explore:

  • Why companies that strive to be Apple or Google fail or experience mixed results.
  • Who design leaders.
  • How proper design leadership can transform your organization.
  • The side effects of mismanagement and its impact for designers and the organization.



Alan Schwegler has been a User Experience Designer at Johnson Controls for the past five years. He’s currently finishing up his MBA from Milwaukee School of Engineering. Prior to MSOE, he graduated with his Graphic Design degree from Creighton University.

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April 25 meetup: Journey Mapping

by: Michael Seidel | 2016

When: Monday, April 25, 6:30pm
Where: SafeNet Consulting (1036 West Juneau Ave, in the Pabst Business Center – it’s their new location!)
Cost: FREE! Our hosts will be providing pizza and sodas, too!
RSVP: Here (note: you are not required to RSVP to attend. Feel free to just show up!)

Does your company really know their users? Are user experiences being made based technology instead of the user? With mountains of demographic and analytic data at your finger tips, is the team missing the real view users are experiencing?

In this mkeUX session, we will dive into utilizing Journey Maps as an important UX tool. A few of the topics we will be covering:

  • What is a Journey Map? What are the different types?
  • What is needed to generate a Journey Map?
  • When do you use a Journey Map? When do you not?
  • How do you identify and resolve gaps that arise?
  • How can a Journey Map aide in estimating and generating backlogs?

Frank Dalton
Speaker bio
Frank Dalton is an accomplished UX strategist, experience architect and creative leader with over 14+ years in delivering award winning digital experiences for clients. He is currently the User Experience Practice Director at SafeNet Consulting.

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Lightning talks – share your work!

by: Michael Seidel | 2016

Hi mkeUXers, you do great work! You improve a processes, make users lives easier, and make beautiful and functional work you’re proud of. We’d love to see that work shown off at an upcoming mkeUX event.

Anyone who’s interested can contact Tony Beuche.

Here’s what we’re thinking so far, but we’re open to ideas

  • 5-10 minutes per person
  • Talk about the problem and showing your solution, or show an old design and your improvement. Screenshots are great!
  • We love simple elegant solutions, well executed designs, and intuitive new experiences.
  • Consumer stuff is sometimes easier to relate to, but if you have something you can show that you’re proud of from other spaces, we like to show that too.
  • If you’re concerned about whether you CAN share the work, it doesn’t hurt to check with a manager. A lot of the time there are exceptions for educational purposes like this.

Again, anyone who’s interested should contact Tony Beuche. Sending an email doesn’t commit you to anything. We’re excited to hear about your work and ideas!

No dates have been set for this session, but we’re targeting June, based on interest.

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Feb 9 meetup: Accessibility & UX

by: Michael Seidel | 2016

What: Accessibility & User Experience: You Can’t Have One Without the Other
When: Tuesday, February 9, 6:30pm
Where: Irish Pub, 2nd floor (124 N Water St)
Cost: FREE!
RSVP: Here (note: you are not required to RSVP to attend. Feel free to just show up!)


Accessibility and UX go hand in hand. Both are after the same thing – great experiences that your ENTIRE audience can use and enjoy.

During this meetup, Steve Grobschmidt will delve into what accessibility is, dispelling some myths along the way. He’ll also explore how UX methodologies like personas can help you make the most accessible experiences possible.

Steve Grobschmidt has worked in the UX and web design fields for over 17 years. He is currently a User Experience Architect at Johnson Controls, and blogs about accessibility and UX at
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Nov 3 meetup: UX happy hour(s)!

by: Michael Seidel | 2015

When: Tuesday, November 3rd, 5pm
Where: Burnhearts (2599 S Logan Ave, in Bay View)
Cost: FREE!
RSPV: Here (note: you are not required to RSVP to attend. Feel free to just show up!)

Join us on Tuesday Nov 3rd for an informal UX happy hour. It’ll be a great chance to meet and talk with your fellow UX and UX-sympathizers while drinking free Riverwest Stein and eating Classic Slice pizza, both graciously provided by our good friends at SafeNet.

We’ll take over the back room at Burnhearts (by the pool table), so that’s where you can find us when you arrive.

The event will start around 5 and last until everyone decides to leave. This is a social event, so the start and end times don’t mean much. Just roll in whenever you finish up with work and look for the congregation of nerds. 

Connecting mentors and mentees

We’d also like to use this meetup as an opportunity to connect potential mentors with potential mentees.  Contact us if you’re either one of these and we’ll put you in touch with others who are interested in this during the happy hour.

Hope to see you there!

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3 phases of user research

by: Michael Seidel | 2015

Our User Research panel discussion last night was great. We had a very engaged audience of 50+ people. There were a ton of questions coming at research from different angles, from the conceptual to the practical.

Luckily for you, I wasn’t on the panel, so you didn’t have to hear me blather on about my approach to research. BUT! That panel and other discussions I’ve had with mkeUX community members lately have sent some research-related topics swirling around my head. And given that I’m one of the organizers of mkeUX, I have the power to blog here so you can read my blatherings about my approach to research.

Sorry to put you in this awkward position, but thank you for getting this far.

The 3 phases
For this post I want to outline the 3 Phase approach that I’ve been focusing my user research approach around for the past few years: Contextual inquiry → Design feedback sessions → Usability testing. I want to explain the what’s and why’s of the different research methodologies and help show how I string them together to create a kind of research continuum. For people who are just getting into research or who are looking for a more comprehensive research toolkit, this breakdown may be helpful. It’s worked pretty well for me so far.

Phase 1
Methodology: Contextual inquiry
What it is: Job shadowing users as they go about their normal daily routines. Observe and record what they say and do, and ask in-context clarifying questions.
Why it’s done: To get a deeper understand of users’ journeys and identify design opportunities.
When it’s done: Early in the ideation phase, before design begins. Contextual inquiry can be used to build personas and archetypes, and to generally help project teams and stakeholders get a common, nuanced understanding of who they’re creating a product for.
Other names: Ethnographic research, job shadowing

Phase 2
Methodology: Design feedback session
What it is: Sharing early stage iterative product or feature designs with users. (Early stage can mean sketches, wireframes, or rough prototypes.) Walk users through the concepts and ask probing questions.
Why it’s done: To poke holes in the design so it can be reworked by the design team and then presented again for another round of user feedback. It helps vet design approaches before too much time or money is invested in potentially unusable designs.
When it’s done: As often as possible throughout the design process. In an Agile environment, this would mean showing concepts to several users per sprint.
Other names: Cognitive walkthrough

Phase 3
Methodology: Usability testing
What it is: Watching users as they interact hands-on with a living, working product. Create realistic scenarios and tasks to get users to engage with the product. Ask open-ended, contextual questions and watch for emotional/physical responses to their experiences.
Why it’s done: To discover problems in a product as a user interacts directly with it, and to help uncover organic, user-centric resolutions to those problems.
When it’s done: For a new product, usability testing is the final, critical research step before launching a new product (after going through the other research phases listed above). For an existing product, usability testing helps identify and prioritize areas of improvement before the embarking a redesign.
Other names: Usability study

Making it even better
My goal in writing these is to have clearly-worded descriptions of these methodologies that can be understood by a general audience (non-techy, non-UXy, non-designy). 

A few questions for you:

  • How do you explain these steps to the people you work with and for?
  • How can we demystify the stages of user research in order to get people more vested in investing in it?
  • What do you differently?

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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