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 AEM.org

Nora Lahl, Senior Producer at Lightburn, shares the approach her agency took on the redesign and restructure of AEM.org, 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 theaccessibility.com.
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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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Deconstructing/reconstructing UX slides

by: Michael Seidel | 2015

On Aug 18, 2015, mkeUX founders Mike Kornacki and Michael Seidel presented their talk, Deconstructing/Reconstructing UX. The presentation was an attempt to bring clarity to the perplexing world of UX job postings, and also to help UX practitioners gain confidence in their selling their skills/ability/knowledge when applying for UX jobs.

We’re posting the slides from the talk below. If you have any questions, please feel free to let us know. We’re eager to give this talk more often, so if you’d be interested in hiring us to give it live, reach out to us for that as well.

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Sept 29 meetup: User Research Panel

by: Michael Seidel | 2015

When: Tuesday, September 29, 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!)

User Research. It’s important. Really important it. Without involving actual users in a UX design process, the “U” part of the equation gets chopped out and all that’s left is the “X” part (eXperiences). Whether those are the right or wrong “Xes” is an unknown. Doing timely, iterative user research can help alleviate these unknowns. It helps get concepts into the wild before they get too fully baked and too costly to re-work.

In mkeUX’s 5 year history, research is the topic that seems to create the most hub-bub. We’ve had speakers talk about research, but there always seems to be a thirst for more information.

To help quench this thirst, we’ve decided to organize a panel of 4 of Milwaukee’s preeminent User Researchers: Kim Baker, John Dugan, Deb Sova, and Rob Sova. Each will provide their unique perspective on how research happens in academia, consulting organizations, and within in-house UX teams.

The panel will be moderated by Milwaukee’s very own Steve Grobschmidt, mastermind behind The Art of Web Accessibility.

Types of topics that may be discussed:

  • User research methodologies (contextual inquiry, cognitive walkthroughs, usability testing)
  • How to recruit users
  • How to get stakeholders to invest in research
  • What fidelity of designs can/should be tested
  • Testing horror stories
  • Research slam dunks

Like all mkeUX meetings, we’d primarily like this to be an open dialog, so please feel free to come to the meetup prepared with any questions you have about user research.

Speaker bios:
Kimberly Baker teaches undergraduate business writing, technical writing, and usability, and MBA classes in critical and analytical thinking at UW Milwaukee where she also co-manages a Usability Testing Lab. Baker has a decade of  experience in marketing communications, and she earned a BA in advertising from Marquette University, an MA in English specializing in Professional Writing from UWM and she is currently a PhD candidate.

John Dugan has been in the field of usability and user experience design for over 20 years. His psychology doctoral gave him a strong background in HCI, measurement and statistics — three areas of inquiry he is passionate about. After leaving academia, he’s worked for a host of different companies across a swath of industries ranging for large IT consulting firms, globally recognized Internet companies, banks, and retailers.

Deborah Sova has been around the UX usability block a few times. Having spent nearly 20 years observing hundreds of people interacting with technology, she continues to enjoy providing user research insights to design teams for improving the user experience. Deborah was mentored into the field, and she enthusiastically mentors others into the field. You probably know one of her favorite proteges.

Ron Sova started out as an engineer, worked as a developer, attended MIAD, and after attending a usability presentation, became a user-centered designer. Continuing his focus on the user, Ron enjoys reading about the human brain and applies what he learns to UX design and user research. Ron loves sailing off into the sunset with his wife, Deborah.

Steve Grobschmidt has been a designer and user experience practitioner for over 17 years. He is currently a UX architect at Johnson Controls. He writes about UX and accessibility at his blog, The Art of Web Accessibility.

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August 18 meetup: Deconstructing/Reconstructing UX

by: Michael Seidel | 2015

When: Tuesday, August 18, 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!)

Back in May 2015, mkeUX founders Michael Seidel and Mike Kornacki presented a talk called Reconstructing/Deconstructing UX at C2. In order to get extra life out of the talk, we’ve decided to present it again to our mkeUX friends.

Here is C2’s description of the talk, which is good and still holds true:

Using the increasingly complex job descriptions written to recruit User Experience (UX) practitioners, this seminar promises to clarify expectations of the UX role and tools for better articulating a job posting, and ultimately secure a better fit between candidates and those doing the hiring.

Our speakers, two of Milwaukee’s most vocal UX advocates, live this daily. Mike Kornacki, User Experience Architect at Johnson Controls and Michael Seidel, User Research Lead/Information Architect, Johnson Controls, offer their entertaining yet enlightening insight into the rapidly evolving field and share how they’ve stayed abreast to hire the best.

We hope to see you there!

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