In this episode, Jackie D’Elia introduces the new co-hosts for the rethink.fm podcast: Cathi Bosco and Monique Dubbelman. The podcast continues in a new format, focusing more on design and user experience, both in and outside the WordPress ecosystem. Please find the transcript of the podcast at the bottom of this post.
Listen to Episode 1
New co-hosts for rethink.fm podcast
While we’re redesigning this website to fit our new branding, please learn more about the new co-hosts for rethink.fm.
I’m Cathi and I’m a Connecticut based UX Architect. I’m really excited to be part of this! Since we all bake, it’s also a baking support group!
Where to find Cathi
Hi I’m Jackie, the founder of this podcast. In another life, I could have been Rizzo from Grease.
Where to find Jackie
Hi, I’m Monique and I’m one of the inventors of Dutch Directness! (Or is it in our dna?).
Where to find Monique
Or contact us via UXATT.com
Links to discussed topics
- GravityView Diversity Grant 2019
- WordCamp US 2018
- WordPress.org Design
- John Maeda Design-in-Tech Report 2020
Full Transcript of this Podcast Episode
Jackie Hey everybody, it's Jackie D'Elia with Rethink.fm. And I'm here with the start of season three, and a complete rethink of Rethink.fm. I'm joined now by my two co-hosts, Monique Dubbelman and Cathi Bosco who will be permanent members of the Rethink.fm Team. And we're going to be making some format changes. And we just wanted to do an intro episode to share a little bit about what our ideas are for the future for Rethink.fm. So I'll introduce each of you. Monique, would you like to say hello?
Monique Hello. Do you want me to say more?
Team UX All The Things [Laughter]
Monique So, for people who don't know me yet, from this perspective, I am Monique Dubbelman, I'm from the Netherlands. I'm one of the inventors of Dutch directness - I think. Or maybe I was... you know it's in our genes. I don't know! But, yeah, I'm happy to be on this podcast and share our ideas about design from different perspectives and parts of the world.
Cathi Hey, I'm Cathi Bosco and I'm located in Connecticut. And I'm really excited to be, you know, part of this partnership in this larger design collective with Monique and Jackie, and we work really hard to make an impact for the teams and projects we work with. And we laugh a lot. We bake it's also a baking support group. So there's that as well.
Monique And Grease, Grease!
Cathi Yeah, yes. We're big fans of Grease. We all will answer to the name Sandy.
Jackie I thought you said I was Rizzo.
Cathi Oh, yeah, you're definitely.
Jackie I'm definitely Rizzo.
Monique Yeah, anyway, this shows our age as well. Right?
Jackie We're fine old is good.
Monique Yeah. Old is experienced.
Jackie So one of the things that when I started Rethink.fm, the goal was to focus on web design and front end development and specifically in the WordPress space. Our new format is going to be more focused on design user experience, and it'll be in and outside of the WordPress space. It's not going to be just in the WordPress ecosystem. We all formed a collective last year UXATT.com. So UX All The Things Cathi and I have been working together for probably at least three years on digital projects for clients. And Monique and Cathi met up last year at PressNomics. Do y'all want to share how UXATT came to be?
Cathi Well, actually Monique and I met before that because we both were contributing to the design team at WordPress. And we met at a WordCamp contributor day. That's really how I met you, right Monique.
Monique In Nashville, right?
Cathi Yeah. Jackie and I saw Monique's talk remember Jackie? It was a great presentation.
Jackie We did. Yeah.
Monique On information architecture, right. And we met at the design table, contributor day where we already said it will be fun if we could work together because we connected and then we started to actively contribute to the WordPress design team. me more on an organizational format, like joining the meetings for note taking and you check Cathi, you were doing some actionable stuff, right. Also for WordPress Governance. So we contribute to that actively for like two years or so. And yeah, we met again at PressNomics because I won the grant to attend that from GravityView, which I'm so really grateful for. And yeah, what was that like? I mean, we were there. For two days, and it was good, we had good networking, we stayed in a house with lots of really nice women from the WordPress community.And then it was sort of the final hour that you sort of pulled me off from my chair.
Cathi That's right, there was a number of very successful entrepreneurs in the WordPress space, asking questions about how to get usability testing for the products. And it was like, Oh, well, there's this 800 number you can call and some stranger, will walk through it and tell you what and how they thought of it. And I'm, thinking here we are, all of these, incredibly experienced professionals. In the room and at the table. I'm like, we're right here. We will conduct usability testing for you. And I though let us stand up and start doing this. There's a demand for it and there is not a resource for it that they know of. So that's really when I turned bright red in the face and stood up and said we will do your usability testing and Monique reluctantly (with some arm pulling) stood up next to me. Yeah, we will. We might be drunk, but we'll do it. There was talk about the drunken UX texting website... so it was a good laugh.
Monique I don't think it went that way. I think you called me up and sort of forced me to come and stand with you. But I'm, I'm totally like, I know.
Cathi And I asked you first I said, Will you stand up with me? And you're like, what? No, why?
Monique And then all of a sudden, I was standing, but I never regretted it. And it's like the past few months, we've been like, figuring out and like creating our own voice in this design space. How do we feel what our thoughts are? We've discovered that we have a lot of mutual like, ways we think about this. But there's also lots of interesting stuff and discussions we've been having and that we would like to inspire other people with. It's not like UX design, in a way is a very global and ambiguous term that a lot of people can't relate to. And they either think it's something visual design, or it's just a few buttons, you push but it's also a lot of research. It's looking at things from certain perspective. And it will be good to to educate people like in a broader sense and inspire them to what our mission is like, make a better world with better UX, better user experience, right?
Cathi Yeah, I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about what UX is and what design is and what the role is, and how to put it into agile engineering processes. Yes, even that is still a challenge for a lot of teams. So yeah, we have a lot of complementary skills, and since this is an introductory thing, let's talk about our skill set. For example, Jackie is an amazing Front End Engineer. She's also a visual designer. She's also an Information Architect like nobody's business. One can have different skill strengths that are all part of design and I don't think some people even realize front end engineering is part of UX. I have no My strength is not front end engineering, but I'm pretty good at research. I'm pretty good at user centric conversations and matching business goals with users needs so I work sort of in that area as if I'm the hood ornament on that car, I'm way out of the engineering cycle. But I do love every aspect of it. And I've learned so much from you both and of your other skill sets. So, I'm not really good at talking about my own strengths Monique. Are you good at talking about yours? What are yours? You are excellent research.
Monique I was happy when you started introducing Jackie because then I thought, Oh, we can we can all tell about each other's skill sets. And that's easier than bragging about your own. So, but you're gonna do all three of us. So go,
Cathi Oh, no, see, I talked too much, Jackie, you could talk about Monique. What are Monique's skill sets?
Jackie Oh my gosh, Well, number one, she is the most organized out of all of us.
Cathi Yes 10 times more!
Jackie Documenting and keeping us on schedule. She's an amazing UX writer. So and researcher, right. So those are the things that I've noticed about her and really enjoyed. And I think that, like you were saying, we have some overlap between our skill sets, but they they are they blend really nicely together so that we can cover an area instead of just one single focus on it. Right, right.
Cathi And you forget accessibility you are both excellent accessibility engineers and designers.
Jackie I would just say that we're definitely passionate about accessibility and I try and everything that I do to make sure that the work that I produces is accessible. And I know Monique feels the same way too. And so do you, Cathi. I mean, it's been an education process for all of us over the years as that became something we wanted to focus on, and that we realized that some of the tools and some of the ways that we were doing things were we're making things not accessible for people. And I think that awareness, once you become aware of it, then you start to look well, how can I improve it? And before you know it, you know, you're no longer doing anything that is inaccessible anymore. So those are good. Those are good things.
Cathi Yeah, you're a stickler for security too Jackie. So we got accessibility, security and performance covered.
Monique And it's not only about accessibility for the sake of accessibility, right we we discussed it the other week, and we'll we'll probably revisit that but John Maeda didn't excellent part in his year in tech review. where he talks about equality, equity? Oh, what was it again?
Cathi ...inequality and justice.
Monique And the first thing about accessibility is looking at giving people equal rights. Yeah. So that might be the broader basis of user experience that it's not a good user experience for some, but for all, so they call it SUX as UX, some user experience - I don't want to swear. And obviously, like Jackie said, I care a lot about writing and content. We have fun calling content strategy calling a constant tragedy. It's such a tongue breaker for me.
Cathi I think that should be the name of your first book, Monique.
Monique Constant tragedy. I'm claiming it here. Any publisher wants to publish it for me, I'm open to discussion,
Cathi That would be a great book!
Monique But I mean, we can talk about design. But design content is design writing is design. It's not about a visual thing. You need to create hierarchies and have the right tone of voice that connects with your audience. So you can't ignore that. It's it's all, you know, a game of lots of different aspects. So
Jackie I think one of the things that just for me, that brought me into the user experience world was I had done a lot of website projects early on, and I realized a lot of, of the work that I was doing was being driven by client direction. And I've come to realize over the years that a lot of that direction was not founded in any evidence based work, right. So people were guessing or they basically were just building things that they wanted, and not really thinking about their visitors, their users, those people and what they were expecting or what they were needing from a website, or for any digital product and application, it really doesn't matter. I think, for me, that was that realization that you know, you needed to do some research in the beginning, you really need to learn who your users are, and understand what their needs are, in order to design something that would serve that purpose. So that was a that was a change for me over time. It was a gradual change. But I think many of us when we first started, we're happy to just do whatever a client asked and like, I need, you know, I wanted I want it to be orange, I want it to be this and I want this to be on the homepage with and not really doing any research about whether or not that was really something that was going to add value or help somebody else.
Monique Yeah, or even questioning that right because at some point when one of my clients started going this way I want this and I want that and I said, Yeah, but it's not about you. And you know, they look at you and go like, What do you mean? Excuse me? Yeah, no, it's not about you that you're not building this website for you because why, bother putting it out on the World Wide Web, right? You might as well keep it on your own computer, if you're building it for yourself. Look at it on your own desktop.
Cathi That's the quote of the day right there.
Monique I mean, it's such an eye opener for them. And when you're doing this work, it's for us it's coming knowledge it's become common knowledge but but still for people who build their website. And and saying that at the same time, I don't think user experience is only about the users, right? We've been looking at how you should match and align business goals and user goals. Because obviously, there's always a business point of view and perspective and accomplishments you want to make there as well. So it will be good to to have a look at those two and see where there's mismatch or match?
Jackie So it really does start with research with your stakeholders and getting your business goals together. And then learning about the users, right? So you, those are all steps that need to be done before you start doing any design work.
Cathi Right. So we could talk a little bit about our logo since this is our intro podcast, and we're on the subject. So our logo is built with three rings, and the outer ring is the customer experience, because typically, we would work with clients at scale that have significant business goals. Not every product or experience has a business goal. So customer experience is the outer ring, user experience is the inner ring where we're understanding our users needs, and then the UI is the center ring because we're developing an interface from which to interact with people. And that's where the heuristics come into play so that's why we designed our logo that way, right?
Monique Yeah. And interaction is not only with within the product or website or company or shop or wherever you're interacting. It's it's also the part before that where you have like the customer experience, as you said, A big part where I'm happy that things start to meet each other more and more is search engine optimization and user experience. Where before people sort of choose to design or write for Google or another, you know, search engine or for the client, but they're becoming one more and more. Which makes sense because you can't have good usability before you have findability, right? You need to find something first before you can read it. And if something is doing very well with the search engine, so it's really findable. But you've you've already noticed that as well, when you land on a website that is really hard to use and not giving you a good user experience you found, but you've got like the user's gone straight away. So you need to match their their expectations when you're found. But if nobody can find you, you can have like the best user experience within your projects or your website. But no one's going to find it and not going to use it and not have that great experience, which is shame as well.
Cathi Yeah, the before, during and after, that's a really good point. Because the next experience would be onboarding. And do I have to click 144 times before I can be a member of this particular site like?
Monique Preferably yes, because she didn't want to make it easier.
Cathi When we did our research, I think almost everyone we interviewed for our own user research said, you know, you always know bad user experience, but good user experiences just invisible because you're just on with doing what you want it to get done. And so that's a challenge for us as well. Right? We're so good at this job, you can't even tell... hahha
Monique I'm... knowing what should be done doesn't mean that your own website our thing is always like the best experience like we're learning by doing by asking our clients we're evolving you know, we're doing metrics where I mean, it's it's not a one time off, you know, you have to work on it constantly. I think and that's not just I'm not saying that just because I want people to keep bringing work. Right, but you keep learning it's it's things change, people change, you get new insights from tracking how things go for from hearing stuff from people.
Cathi rethinking, refactoring.
Jackie Okay, guys, well, I think that about wraps up our intro episode. So we wanted to take this opportunity to introduce everybody on the podcast to the followers that were followers of Rethink.fm or new people that have found the podcast and if you like where we're going with this, please feel free to share it out there on the web. And we will see you in the next episode. So for Monique, Cathi and I we say have a great week and we'll see you next time.