By the Book: Examining the Art of Building Great User Experiences in Software

John McRee (EffectiveUI)
Design & User Experience
Location: 2001 Level:
Average rating: ***..
(3.09, 33 ratings)

Successful user experience strategy and planning are essential as software users increasingly expect effortless, engaging interaction with desktop, Web and mobile applications. But creating exceptional software to drive business value and increase brand strength from concept to deployment is an art. Unlike building a bridge where engineers can clearly and precisely plan ahead for the challenges ahead of them, the process of software development is more comparable to that of war, where the battlefield is complex, dynamic and unpredictable. Using examples from the new book, “Effective UI: The Art of Building Great User Experience in Software,” published by O’Reilly Media, co-author and EffectiveUI lead user experience architect John McRee will discuss the difficulties associated with traditional planning and project requirements, how to embrace uncertainty and the unknown when developing software and the importance of adaptable as opposed to rigid project requirements. John will also review three popular development methodologies – Waterfall, Big Design Up Front (BDUF) and Agile – providing a detailed overview of each, including their strengths and weaknesses.

John McRee


John McRee brings 10 years of experience to his role as a lead user experience architect for EffectiveUI. Specializing in design process management, user research, persona development, information architecture and interaction design, John creates highly engaging architecture and interaction models that drive exceptional user experiences.

John joined EffectiveUI in 2007 as an interaction designer and has worked on high-profile projects such as Herff Jones’ eDesign and ABN AMRO. In this role, he partnered with Adobe to provide UX consultation to Mercedes Benz. Most recently, he worked on Qwest Communication’s business-to-business Web portal, which has seen in an increase in site traffic and lead generation within months of its launch.

Earlier in his career, John worked as a lead interaction designer for Quark Inc., where he was instrumental in overhauling its flagship product with QuarkXpress 8. Prior to his experience in software design, he designed e-travel and e-commerce sites, including, CheapTickets and eBags.

Likened by his peers to Mikey, the finicky four-year-old who popularized the Life cereal commercials in the ’70s and early ’80s, John is a man whose satisfaction with a piece of software means it has to be good. It is his empathy for clients and their end users, in addition to his own frustrations with software, which drives him to design highly intuitive and engaging interfaces.

John earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from the University of Denver. As an undergraduate, he also focused his studies on technical communication.

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Picture of Mikhail Panchenko
Mikhail Panchenko
05/15/2010 4:15am PDT

I enjoyed the “here’s how you get everyone to buy into design” portion of this talk a lot.

Paul McKeever
05/09/2010 9:13pm PDT

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy this session.

I found it basic, and somewhat simplistic. I have no doubt about John’s knowledge and ability, but came away disappointed thinking that this was a talk anyone could have given.

I felt the delivery was weak as it lacked a strong narrative or central idea to hold together a range of different points.

Thanks for making the effort to present and I hope you find this feedback constructive and useful.

Tim Woods
05/06/2010 6:58am PDT

It was ok. I found the lack of examples to be a problem though. The theory is good, but more things I can see to prove it, the better.

Picture of Michael Boor
Michael Boor
05/04/2010 10:13am PDT

Superb presentation and would only add that in my experience the UX approach to new product development is a powerful agent for stakeholder buy-in, and to deal with internal stakeholders as your customers/clients. Client-based relationships go a long way to have everyone seeing the same “unicorn.”

Thanks John!

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