Author: Nicole Capuana

About Nicole Capuana

UX everything & interaction designer @LeanDog - practicing living in the moment & an artful life.



In all my experiences with attending UX conferences, I usually don’t come back and immediately put into practice what I’ve learned. Sure, I’ve been inspired by many, but I found it difficult to implement within the various organizations I worked in.  This last time was different; I attended LeanUX NYC back in April, and I came home inspired and ready to put what I learned into action.

How to get others to begin using design thinking

I was inspired by Ariadna Font Llitjos’ (@quicola) workshop of Designing an MVP to bring the techniques we covered to my team and community. I presented a slice of the workshop at the CleAg Meetup, and just yesterday, taught high schoolers enrolled in a Lean Startup class the basics of interviewing, empathy maps and personas.   I am in the process of developing a second workshop that will cover the rest of the MVP spectrum with designing prototypes and usability testing.

Lean UX Research

Tomer Sharon (@tsharon) presented some realistic and easy testing methods in his talk High-quality, Impactful, Fast UX Research for Engineers, where he encouraged us to watch what our users do as opposed to what they say. The Noticeability Test is a great and simple way to validate what parts of the screen a user has seen, and the Rainbow Spreadsheet allows for the team to quickly report on usability findings with visualization of what worked or didn’t work. I enjoyed Tomer’s presentation so much that I, along with some of our developers, attended another of his online classes, which left our developers inspired. So inspired, that we plan to develop an app based on our research for a local community group.

How to run a Design Studio session

I spent a day going through Design Studio, led by Thomas Wendt (@Thomas_Wendt) and Jabe Bloom (@cyetain), and I loved it.  I have run similar exercises throughout my career, but experiencing the exercise as a participant instead of the facilitator, gave me a new perspective. The big takeaway for me was the importance of facilitating and presenting individual sketching before moving into the collaborative sketching portion. I just need to allow for more time in our larger discovery sessions to cover both the individual and collective sketching. Currently, I’m in talks with a startup to serve as the real-world business problem in order to run a Design Studio through one of our Meetups.


Something I knew nothing about was the Cynefin framework (pronounced Kuh-Ni-Van). This workshop was merely an introduction to the framework led by Kim Ballestrin (@kb2bkb), and boy, I felt like I was in a graduate theory class. She presented a very interesting concept, where disorder sits in the middle and only exists temporarily because we, as humans, will find patterns to move out of disorder. David Snowden explains the concept beautifully.

Two things became clear in the course of three days:

1.  It starts with a problem. We need to make sure we have a well-defined problem that we can solve and measure. I’m reminded of a quote from Grace Ng, who asks “What is the biggest problem you can solve in the simplest way?”.

2.  I need to teach others. While I learned a few new things, and got to experience hands-on exercises instead of facilitating them, I felt that to get the most out of conferences, I need to share my knowledge by presenting.  Maybe it happens naturally after a certain amount of time working in your craft – I think it’s a good thing.


This conference had high-quality content with well-structured presentations, hands-on workshops and networking events. I give it an A+ rating and recommend it for any UXer wanting to hone the Lean practices of their day-to-day work.

Read my scribbles from the presentations

Creative Commons LEAN UX NYC – Set 1 by deanmeyersnet is licensed under CC 4.0

Creative Commons LEAN UX NYC – Set 2 by deanmeyersnet is licensed under CC 4.0

Creative Commons LEAN UX NYC – Set 3 by deanmeyersnet is licensed under CC 4.0

Creative Commons LEAN UX NYC – Set 4 by deanmeyersnet is licensed under CC 4.0

Creative Commons LEAN UX NYC – Set 5 by deanmeyersnet is licensed under CC 4.0

Speaking at 2012 M3 Conference

In the last year, I kept asking myself “what has to change” and I started to find ways to make my life more balanced and my work more rewarding. The biggest change was joining LeanDog which has been amazing – fast paced, really interesting work, and a fantastic environment. But I also set a goal to speak at a conference and am happy to say that I just met my goal giving the talk “No one reads anything – designing for users on the move” at the 2012 M3 Conference in Columbus.

Sharing stories of what goes into making great mobile designs and tips on getting started, I found speaking quite easy and I ended up going a little faster than I expected. It was such a great experience for me, I’m already thinking of some other talks I’d like to get together. Anyhow, if you have any questions or just want to walk through some of these ideas, drop me an email or tweet – I’d be happy to talk.

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