Notes on Boon Sheridan’s One Piece at a Time

From the video of his presentation at Adaptive Path’s UX Week 2014, link here.

Boon shared his some methods for doing better work on big projects—and his methods are agnostic, no Lean label necessary!

Basically, break large products into small, more achievable pieces

The whats and whys:

  • Start with small, meaningful improvements
  • Get some small wins under your belt while establishing team cadence
  • This also creates a platform for growth—it’s impossible to learn everything in advance of a working on large product
  • Pick off something small as an introduction that has impact on the next piece
  • The team will end up with important learnings throughout the process—not just at the end
  • The team will receive faster, more continual recognition for achievements
  • Rapid testing along the way helps establish criteria for testing the final product
  • Teams get to flex their skills and learn new new ones—far easier to let someone devote 20 hours over three weeks to learning something new than giving them a discrete chunk of time devoted only to learning
  • Helps the team’s achieve a happier life balance

The hows:

  • Try looking at the project from a new perspective:
    • Goals of the project
    • Audiences who matters most for these goals to be satisfied
    • Tasks that those people need to do
    • Methods by which we can achieve our goals
  • Reframe the goals
    • Rewrite fuzzy (the “best of breed” “delight our customers” crap that can take years to achieve) into small measurable steps
    • Reduce bounce rate on key screens, update content to be shorter and more timely, create better site error handling mechanisms so the call center volume goes down etc etc etc
  • Reframe your audience to create more manageable goals
    • Take time to really discover who the key audiences are for your site
    • Use them to reframe your goals—creating better experiences for “all of our users” is rarely successful
    • Reframe tasks to be as fine-grained as possible
  • Reframe the concept of “page” into “flow”
    • The “what’s on this page?” concept goes out the window with responsive design
    • Plan instead for “what’s necessary for this flow?”
  • Reframe the methods
    • Is it mainly a content issue, a design issue, a structural issue etc
    • Sometimes it’s really a technology issue like technical debt

Final example: How does the team “Make our customers love us more”?

  • Customers aren’t looking to “love” companies, this goal is unattainable (and nonsensical)
  • Customers are looking, say, to “have a shorter, easier login flow with more human-understandable text”, which can lead to both a reduction of bounce rates and an increase in customer appreciation for the site
  • Write goals that talk about users’ their tasks and frustrations
  • Write goals that talk about how to improve our site’s structure and content to make those tasks easier to complete

About Boon Sheridan: Boon loves solving problems and sharing stories. He brings over 15 years of design and strategy experience to life in words, pictures, personas, maps, flows, workshops, and the occasional voice-over. As a card-carrying geek, Boon hates duplicating efforts. Over the years he’s taken apart the way he and his teams work, found common goals and mapped where overlaps occurred. Now he adds a pinch of audience needs and content models into persona dimensions, sprinkles site goals and structure into editorial plans and sleeps much better at night. (from


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