Michelle Brownstein is a mom, a reader, and an aspiring writer with a background in psychology, design, and public speaking. As Associate Director of User Experience Research, she has been essential in elevating the work of Three Five Two’s development teams and shaping our client relationships.
This week, we sat down to discuss Michelle’s perspectives on Three industry macro trends, Five must-have tech tools for work, and Two tools that have also impacted her personal life.
Three Work Philosophies
1. Falling in Love with the Problem
“When it comes to developers working in innovation, I’ve noticed some people only want to solve the immediate problem. They see that someone has a cough and a runny nose and immediately give them cold medicine before testing if the symptoms are from an allergy. Those underlying causes need different treatments. You don’t want to just treat allergies with cold medicine or vice versa. It might solve the issue temporarily, but won’t ultimately fix the core problem. This idea of falling in love with a problem instead of the solution allows us to be more strategic and understand the underlying systems that impact what our decision-making process will be.”
2. You are Not Your User
“I’ve seen a shift of people validating and appreciating the differences between their perspective of how the system functions and what their users may perceive. Ultimately, we can never be our own users because even if we are the target demographic, we know how the system is supposed to work. This automatically adds a bias to one’s ability to truly appreciate any problems that customers would have.”
3. Focus on Accessibility
“Accessibility reviews, making sure things are built from the ground up with accessibility in mind, appropriate contrast ratio font sizes, making sure that screen readers can access all parts of our digital product, these are important things that ensure we are being mindful of accessibility in the long run.”
Five Must-Have Tech Tools
“It’s such a simple tool and can be created through any number of systems, from sticky notes on a whiteboard to Monday, Trello, or Jira. Having a way to prioritize work and maintaining visibility ensures user experience research is at the forefront of everybody’s minds. During planning, it helps us align on the scope and the types of research we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it, and when we’re going to do it. Making sure things are in the backlog and that you have the assets and resources needed to support those items will ultimately improve the flow of your team and increase the productivity of your research.”
“It’s a classic, but it’s timeless. Although there are digital whiteboards, the ability to just draw a box quickly and easily on a real board is faster and more effective for communicating.”
3. Unmoderated Testing Service
“This is important, not only for development, but even for innovation when you want to get those quick iterative cycles and keep the momentum. Just put out a quick script, ask someone to walk through a user flow, and facilitate fast feedback.”
“Marinara timer is based on the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method where one works in 25-minute intervals, but with Marinaratimer, you can set up custom times and intervals. I try to work for 45 minutes at a time then take a 15-minute break. This allows me to work with my team, but still have the focus time I need to be more productive and to get into flow.”
5. Stable Internet Connections
“In the world of working from home, it’s become apparent that a stable internet connection is essential. You need to be able to have consistent calls without people dropping off, and to share assets when you’re working remotely. Without a reliable internet connection, none of this works. It might sound obvious, but stable internet connections at home shouldn’t be taken for granted.”
Two Tools that Impact personal life
1. Leveraging a Backlog
“What happens if we put house projects on a backlog, and instead of assigning points, we assign dollar values and prioritize based on that? What happens if we put kids’ activities into a backlog and prioritize based on that? I used to think introducing backlogs to one’s personal life was overkill, but after applying it around my household, I am now able to look at life through a lens of prioritization, impact, value, and cost which in turn gives us more energy to use where it is most effective.”
Zoom has had a huge impact on our social lives and relationships. I’ve had social gatherings with friends and family over Zoom, especially those who are long-distance. I’ve improved relationships and kept my family from feeling isolated.”
Michelle and her teams are working with business leaders, day in and day out, to create change that matters. If you’d like to speak with us about a product or venture you’re working on, drop us a line today!