UX Design Fundamentals

In developing the previous iterations of our products, we had taken a much more structured approach to managing the user experience. This was driven by our Product Manager at the time, who immersed himself in the subject, and created a simple, but powerful, framework which we could share and use within the team.

This approach was so successful that we felt that we felt it would be valuable for the new Product Development team to develop a better understanding as a group.

To achieve this, we turned to a local provider of digital skills training, CodeClan. I met the CodeClan team at the New Start Scotland Expo 2018 event in Glasgow, back in November 2018. Their short course on UX Design Fundamentals felt like a perfect fit for us, and we subsequently enrolled in the next scheduled session. This took place in Edinburgh in February, and the early signs are that this will prove to be a successful move!

The course was delivered by Wojtek Kutyla, an experienced UX practitioner, whose engaging and inclusive style soon had the entire group participating! We covered lots of interesting ground over the 3 days, and I certainly feel better-equipped to deal with the UX challenges we’ll face as we continue our product development journey. This starts as early as next week as we look to recruit a Lead Product Designer to take hands-on ownership of UX/UI Design for our team!

For the moment, I can certainly recommend both CodeClan and Wojtek to anyone looking to upskill either themselves or their team.

Meetup, Discovery, Qlik Luminary and the Qlik Community

My thoughts on the recent #LuminaryMeetup at #Qlik HQ, our subsequent #UserDiscovery session back at #WebhelpUK, the #QlikLuminary program and the #QlikCommunity re-launch!

Qlik Luminary Meetup

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – the #QlikLuminary group is an amazing group of people, and it’s a privilege to be in their company.  The majority of the time, with a few notable exceptions (including, but not limited to, #Qonnections and #QlikDevGroup meetings) the company is virtual, of course.  However, the annual #LuminaryMeetup in Lund changes that significantly – for a couple of days, and nights, many of us are together – and we are together with Qlik.  We’ve joked previously about the collective noun for Luminaries, but it now seems sensible to go with ‘bundle’, given the content of the Qlik Sense November 2018 release!  This year, the bundle reached 30!  It is a full-on couple of days, brimming with content, debate and forthright discussion.  There is something to be taken from every session, every topic and every interaction.  I enjoyed this year’s Meetup immensely!  There is an excellent write-up of some of the details – with more pictures! – on the Qlik Blog.

User Discovery

#UserDiscovery session participants at #WebhelpUK
#UserDiscovery session participants at #WebhelpUK

During Day 2 of the #LuminaryMeetup, we took part in a user discovery workshop session with Qlik Research & Usability team members.  In addition to the experience of simply being able to collaborate with fellow Luminaries and Qlik colleagues, we took some genuine inspiration from this session back to our own ‘Discovery Lab’ in Falkirk, Scotland.  The GCS Product Development team’s latest product will make our workforce scheduling, incentive scheme and payroll processing data visible to each individual advisor and team leader.  We felt that getting a deep understanding of how this population would consume, understand and navigate this data would be crucial to the product’s success.  We also thought that an interactive session would help us to better gauge the level of awareness – actually, the Data Literacy – of this audience, specifically with respect to this data and the relevant business processes.  Long story short – it was a great success!  We had four highly engaged and enthusiastic, cross-departmental groups who came up with some excellent suggestions, commentary and even designs!  Afterwards, one delegate told me, “It was exciting.  I’m excited.  I can’t wait to see what the final product will look like!”.  “Me too!”, I grinned from ear to ear, “Me too!”.

Becoming a Qlik Luminary

#LuminaryMeetup placecard
#LuminaryMeetup placecard

So, why should you apply to be a Qlik Luminary?

Qlik’s own introduction at Qlik Luminary Program gives a collection of Luminary benefits and characteristics – it also contains links to the current Qlik Luminary Class of 2018, and to the 2019 Qlik Luminary Application Form.

However, if you’ve read this far – or if, you’ve read any of my earlier blogs, including my recent series on Qonnections 2018 – then hopefully you’ve got a flavour of the personal and professional positives I’ve taken from a range of fantastic experiences over the last two years.

But don’t just take my word for it: look through Qlik Community (newly relaunched this week, looking and feeling better than ever, by the way!) and review the quality and volume of content authored by this group; or search for #QlikLuminary on Twitter to find help, snippets and signposts to all kinds of useful resources.

Then, ask yourself, “Why would I NOT want to be part of the Qlik Luminary Program?”.  Whatever you decide, don’t hang about – applications close on 30th November 2018.

Data-Driven Digital Transformations: Unlocking Valuable Insights

Details of an upcoming Qlik webinar, which airs on 25th July, with a link to registration.

@Qlik #QlikLuminary @GCSToolkitTeam @WebhelpUK

One of the many, very cool things about the #Qlik community and the #QlikLuminary programme are the opportunities to get involved in activities which would normally be outside your day-to-day role.  I’ve been very fortunate to have taken part in several such activities, which I’ve enjoyed immensely and have also stretched me – in a positive way!

The latest example is the upcoming webinar on the subject of Digital and Data-Driven Transformation.  This event is a panel discussion on a range of topics from data literacy, to data usage and collaboration.  It is part of a series which I’d thoroughly recommend to all.

The webinar airs on Wednesday 25th July at 10:00 BST.

You can register here:  Digital Transformation – Webinar Registration

I look forward to seeing you there and hearing your feedback afterwards!

@Qlik #QlikLuminary @GCSToolkitTeam @WebhelpUK

Musings on Qonnections 2018 (4 of 4) – I’d Like to Thank…

Part 4 of a 4-part series of posts on Qlik’s Qonnections 2018 Worldwide User Conference.

And finally, I thought it would be fitting to make a list of the people who helped to make Qonnections 2018 memorable for me, and say a few words about why that was the case.  However, it became such a long list, that I quickly ditched the ‘why’ part – suffice to say, if you made my list, you made my visit!  As always, there are few exceptions of note, the reasons for which I will make perfectly obvious!  This list contains all kinds of people – friends, analysts, Qlik employees, partners, customers, sponsors, exhibitors, Qlik Luminaries and more.  For me, it simply confirms the breadth, depth and quality of the community, that I was able to interact with so many people in such a short space of time.

Adam Mayer Alejandro Martinez Andrew McIlwrick
Andrew Quirin Axel Goris Barry Harmsen
Brian Booden Cari Caprio Carolin Borchert
Cindi Howson Dalton Ruer Daniel Nysch
David Bolton Deepak Vadithala Donald Farmer
Donna Edwards Doug Henschen Erica Whalley
George Beaton Gillian Farquhar Grady Ban
Guy Meintjes Göran Sander Harald Weiß
Jacob Cleveland Jason Michaelides Jeannine Boot
John Myers Jonathan Goldberg Julian Villafuerte
Karl Pover Kelly Hall Kelsey Fautsch
Konrad Mattheis Martin Mahler Matthieu Burel
Michael Laverick Mika Ahtinen Mike Capone
Mike Cawthorn Mike Ellis Mike Muglia
Niall Gallacher Nick Murdock Nick Webster
Rachael Selman Ralf Becher Richard Pearce
Rob Wunderlich Robert Fleming Sean Bruton
Speros Kokenes Stephen Redmond Torben Seebach
Viktoria Lindback

Thank you all – it would not have been the same without you!

Now to the exceptions, those who deserve a special mention…

Firstly, thanks to Jeannine Boot, Jonathan Goldberg, Jacob Cleveland, Nick Murdock, David Bolton and Robert Fleming for their involvement in the range of additional media activities I was a part of – it made for a busy few days, but I’d do it all again, in a heartbeat!

Secondly, thanks to Niall Gallacher for his hosting of both of our sessions, and for his ongoing support and encouragement, from one Qonnections to the next, and in between too.  Let’s keep this up for next year!

Thank you also, to Gillian Farquhar and Viktoria Lindback for all you do throughout the year to make the Qlik Luminary programme so rewarding for us.  You deserve a bigger thank you, for running the Fanatics Bar and taking excellent care of us at Qonnections.  And, of course, a massive THANK YOU! not just from myself and the Toolkit Team, but from Steven Whyte and everyone else at Webhelp, for making Stephanie Crooks’ 30th Birthday so very memorable – during the Qlik Luminary event, no less!  It was, quite literally, the cherry on the icing on the cake!

On that note, it is fitting that my final special thank you, is to my Buddy – Stephanie Crooks.  Steph is an amazing teammate, a talented developer and a fellow Qlik Luminary.  Her friendship, enthusiasm, sense of humour and willingness to get involved in all manner of Qonnections activities make her my perfect Buddy.  This was our second Qonnections ‘together’, although we actually travelled separately on this occasion.  I really hope that Steph will be up for making it ‘three in a row’ in Dallas, even if the slight change in dates means that she’ll already be 31!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my take on Qonnections 2018 – please do comment and let me know whether you found it interesting or even useful, and I look forward to seeing you in Dallas in 2019!

@Qlik #QlikLuminary @GCSToolkitTeam @StephCrooks @WebhelpUK

Musings on Qonnections 2018 (3 of 4) – Top Tips

Part 3 of a 4-part series of posts on Qlik’s Qonnections 2018 Worldwide User Conference.

My top tips to help you make the most of #Qonnections…

If you are exhausted after reading my previous post, then it’s understandable.  Make no mistake, Qonnections is a full-on event – don’t let anyone describe it as a ‘jolly’! – and as such, you need to be prepared!  Of course, there are opportunities to relax and have some fun, but if you want to get the most out of the few days in the whirlwind, then my top tips are exactly what you need.

Plan Ahead – come with a clear intent, whether that’s to get certified (a great opportunity!), spend time with your Qlik partner, meet other partners or customers, catch up with vendors, meet Qlik contacts – or all of the above.  The days go by so quickly, so unless you are prepared, it will be a blur!

Make Time – to relax and unwind, ideally after the conference, to reflect on what you’ve picked up.  Make your notes, create your follow-up To Do list, compile your conference report, write your blog – do whatever you need to do to close off the event.  Then you might even begin to prepare for your return to the “real world”!  I found that catching up with, and responding to, the weeks’ e-mails was much easier in the warm sun, with a cold drink at hand!

Breakout Booking – use the sessions website as soon as it is made available, read the session content carefully, identify the speakers you’d like to hear from, plan ahead (see above), and book your places early – if you end up on a waiting list, don’t despair, you may still make the cut on the day!  Also, why not speak to your Partner or Qlik contacts well in advance, and submit a presentation so that you can share YOUR story with all of us.

Accommodation – stay in the conference hotel – you will be close to the action (whether that be for food, drink or sessions), you can fit in a power-nap if necessary, and you can pop back and change your shoes if the marching between rooms is taking its toll on your feet.  I only brought flats this year, so I coped just fine.

Buddy – bring a colleague, or two – unless your plan is one-dimensional, you will have to split up and cover multiple sessions, since with so many rich and interesting topics, there is always a clash.  Even with a buddy you’ll be missing more than you hit.  However, many of the sessions have materials available for download afterwards, so all is not lost.  We’ll see whether Qlik can improve on this, following my suggestion in the last post!

Be Social – both online and in person.  Twitter, Linked In, What’s App – at least! – are all used extensively throughout the event – as is the custom-developed Qonnections Mobile App (an absolute must!).  Get your virtual game on, so that you don’t miss out.  There are also numerous opportunities to meet people over food, drinks and excursions to share notes and experiences – try not to pass these up, because you never know what might happen.  As if to prove my point, I’ve just had a What’s App message from a fellow Qlik Luminary, inviting me to join their group for dinner!  Back soon!

Being Starstruck – assuming that you are far enough along your Qlk journey to contemplate attending Qonnections, you will be in an environment where you’ll meet ‘stars’ (or even your heroes!).  It’s easy to become starstruck.  Don’t fight it.  Embrace it!  Clear your throat, approach with enthusiasm, extend your hand, and introduce yourself – then ask for the selfie or autograph!  Remember that you already have a ‘Qonnection’, and that’s all the ice-breaker you’ll ever need!

In my final post in this series, I have a few words of thanks to share – it might get a little emotional, so have a hankie at the ready!

@Qlik #QlikLuminary @GCSToolkitTeam @StephCrooks @WebhelpUK

Musings on Qonnections 2018 (2 of 4) – Delegates, Community and the Programme

Part 2 of a 4-part series of posts on Qlik’s Qonnections 2018 Worldwide User Conference.

If I had to describe Qonnections in one word, it would be ‘enthusiastic’ or ‘energetic’ – OK, I know that’s technically two words!  The enthusiasm and energy is visible in customers, partners and Qlik employees alike.  It’s a shared, positive feeling, which permeates the venue from arrival to departure, from dawn until dusk.  It’s infectious too – just when you are grabbing a quick coffee, or a quick breather, you are liable to run into someone who’ll ask, “So, what are you doing with Qlik?”.  Speaking personally, that’s another open invitation for me to tell our story, and each time, it’s received with genuine interest.  Then the question is reciprocated, and so it continues.

In turn, these feelings and interactions breed a deep sense of community, which is fuelled by liberal contact with Qlik colleagues, and further strengthened by specific initiatives such as the Qlik Luminary programme – of which I’m extremely proud to be part.  This latter group are particularly visible and vocal throughout the year, but especially so at Qonnections, making passionate pleas to Qlik across a broad range of topics.  I certainly feel that there is a bond within this group, which is beautifully orchestrated and supported by a dedicated Qlik team.  This caught me completely by surprise, and it’s truly a humbling experience to spend time with such a talented, committed group.  There was a high level of Luminary attendance this year, which made it all the more special.

In addition to the time, effort and expense it takes to host this kind of event, Qlik makes a clear commitment in another obvious way – employee attendance and contribution.  Whilst everyone would expect the senior leadership team to lead from the front (and they do, particularly when it comes to the keynote sessions, of course), there are numerous Qlik colleagues from all areas of the company – doing everything from hosting, presenting and supporting the breakout sessions to working with partners and industry analysts and manning stands at the Expo event.  Though their roles vary considerably, the Qlik team have one thing in common – their accessibility.  It’s a simple matter to approach someone and ask a question, get an opinion, or make a point.  Importantly, I genuinely believe that Qlik listens to the community – and I’ll use the announcement about licencing (“One User, One Entitlement, One Experience”) from this event, to back this up.  I’ve heard discussions on this topic over the last year or so – and I’ve personally raised a question on a couple of occasions during the same period.  Now, I’m certainly not claiming that I’m responsible for this strategic decision on Qlik’s part, but it does demonstrate my point.  It’s something I’ll be following up on, since I’m keen to understand how this will be implemented.  For us, it could make a difference when it comes to using parts of the Qlik platform we’ve not fully explored as yet.

Coming back to the Keynote Sessions, the choice of guest speakers was again inspired, although very different from 2017.  I still remember the intensity of Jason Silva’s delivery, and the emotion induced by Jake Porway’s subject matter, from last year, which demonstrates the impact of those sessions.  Difficult acts to follow, both.  However, the insightful, thought-provoking, humorous and hugely entertaining hour and some, hosted by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (of Freakonomics fame) was certainly a highlight for me.  It was delivered in such a matter-of-fact, almost under-stated manner, that it felt akin to a friendly chat in your front room – assuming you have a large front room!  The stories they shared were extremely interesting, imparting relevant lessons I’m taking back to our everyday work.  Whilst I’m pretty sure this wasn’t a promotional event on their part, I’m happy to admit that I have just placed a multi-book order with a certain on-line retailer!

And finally, to the meat of the event – the Breakout Sessions, which run continuously throughout the entire two and half days, filling virtually every available room in the venue.  Here, there is absolutely something for everyone, so much so, that you are spoiled for choice.  The challenge begins in the lead-up to the event, where you can (in reality, must) pre-register for the sessions which interest you.  Choosing around 10 to fill your agenda, from a collection of almost 300, is tough.  Choosing 10 which don’t include a schedule clash is nigh-on impossible.  Do your best – and check out my top tips for coping with some of this in the next post!

Qlik – if you are still listening, here’s a request from me!  Whilst the session material download is very useful, even allowing for the odd animated slide which doesn’t work (picky, I know!) what are the chances of recording some/all of the sessions for later viewing?  I understand that there would be complexities involved in terms of the logistics and technical setup (and probably more besides) but I felt like I should ask anyway!

Next up, in part 3, some simple, practical tips for getting the most out of Qonnections!

@Qlik #QlikLuminary @GCSToolkitTeam @StephCrooks @WebhelpUK

Musings on Qonnections 2018 (1 of 4) – Introduction

Part 1 of a 4-part series of posts on Qlik’s Qonnections 2018 Worldwide User Conference.

At the time of writing, I’m one of the few conference delegates remaining at the Rosen Single Creek, Orlando, Florida – the venue for Qlik’s Wordwide User Conference, Qonnections 2018.  Since the place is so quiet without everyone, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the events of the last few days.  This is particularly true, since my ‘Buddy’ (more on that later) has also left the building.

Despite my long career in software engineering and business intelligence, I’m limited in my ability to draw direct comparisons to other conferences of this scale.  However, what I can say, is that Qonnections is exactly the kind of user conference that I’d want it to be.  It’s the main reason that, as soon as I return to the UK on Monday, I’ll be starting to prepare the ground so that I can attend Qonnections 2019 – which will be held in Dallas, Texas.

Several of my fellow delegates, including other members of the Qlik Luminary community, have already written summaries of the event, covering much of the content and giving their views on the takeaways – keep reading these as they appear, as you’ll gain valuable insight on what you may have missed!

However, I thought I’d take a slightly different stance.  So as an alternative view, from a customer perspective, over the next few posts, I describe why I feel so passionately about Qonnections, and I share my top tips so that you can make the most of next year’s event – on the assumption that my ringing endorsement is enough to make you quickly reach for your calendar and favourite travel web-site.  By the way, I’ve checked, and there are no direct flights from Scotland!

From start to finish, the event is slickly-run.  This is due both to Qlik’s organisation and the efficiency of the event staff at the venue.  Before you know where you are, you are marching swiftly from room to room like a local – which is just as well, since the breakout session agenda is crammed full to bursting with interesting presentations.  As a result, the Tuesday and Wednesday rush by in a blur, even if both are punctuated with memorable evening events!

In my next post, I’ll cover both the delegates and the event programme in more detail.

@Qlik #QlikLuminary #QlikSven @GCSToolkitTeam @StephCrooks @WebhelpUK