#012 Still Untitled

How can I help today?

“Forget about success just for a moment and ask yourself: “How can I help today?” I can tell you that in my case, that small big change of mind, opened doors I would have never imagined.”

12 November 2021

Not too shabby as an office is it. Photo by dav76 on Depositphotos

Contents of this issue:
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    Piccia Neri's face looking up to the left, with a smile and the sunlight behind her

    By Piccia Neri

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    By Piccia Neri.

    I told you in the last newsletter that I hadn’t been very well: I’m happy to report that I am much better now, so much so that I was able to finally make the trip to Italy that I’d had to postpone.

    This is issue #012 of Still Untitled, issued on Friday 12 November 2021.

    You’ve probably noticed that the running joke about the title (or lack thereof) is still running. What with getting better, travelling, catching up with work as well as family and friends here in Italy, and everything else, I haven’t been able to send you the naming survey I’d prepared.

    Honestly? I like Still Untitled. The only thing against that is that it says nothing about the topic of the newsletter. It’s just a matter of deciding whether that’s important, or not. I still welcome and value your opinions and suggestions, even when I don’t find the time to immediately answer – so, do write back please.

    Quick word of warning: today’s email is, once again, void of the long story that I’m fond of sending you. It’s been a busy week here in Italy and I’m travelling back today, which is always an adventure from Siena, where my family lives. You might remember that I mentioned the UX of that trip in a newsletter last summer.

    A mention of things to come

    One of the reasons for this trip to Italy was the in-person meeting with the whole team behind the UX re-design of the website for the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria. This dreamy museum is hosted in the magnificent medieval palace that you can see in the opening photo. We were having the meeting in one of the offices on the top floor.

    Like I said: not too shabby as a workplace, is it.

    I feel immensely privileged every time I have the opportunity to be in that city and in that building. (Plus, the restaurants around it… all part of the UX).

    And to clarify. Rest assured that I am very keenly aware of how lucky I am to be involved in this project (and how lucky it is to have Italian roots…).

    So much so, that sometimes I’m reluctant to talk about it! But I should, because it’s great and I should share it – I know you won’t hate me for it.

    As you can imagine, this UX rebuild – as well as running the project and the team remotely – provides plenty of material for stories and interesting UX and design-related content, which I promise will come.

    A room in the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, currently (Nov 2021) closed to the public while the hangings are rearranged. A medieval foldable altarpiece with open lateral panels is in the middle of the photo. Sun light is streaming in from the gothic window in the background.
    A dreamy room in the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, currently (Nov 2021) closed to the public while the hangings are rearranged.

    Free UX/UI reviews

    I’m also very happy to announce that an old favourite will be coming back in the new year: my UX and UI reviews for WP Builds (you can watch them in the WP Builds webinars playlist on YouTube).

    I love reviews because very often they are such a quick win: they can bring incredible results, just with the implementation of some of the advice. You don’t always need to re-build from scratch: sometimes a little tweak is all you need to bring great improvements.

    I’m working on the new format with Nathan Wrigley now, and we’ll soon update you on how you can submit your own websites/ apps/ projects to be reviewed in our broadcasts. I can’t wait to get this up and running again, in a new and improved format. Oh and it’s for free of course! (see my new mantra below)

    A re-brand is coming

    Another thing that will come, and I might as well let you know now, is the gathering of all my operations under the Design for Conversions umbrella.

    Yes: it’s time to let Design for Geeks go.
    Design for Conversions is so much more inclusive, and it represents what I do beautifully and succinctly (thank you Kim Doyal once again).

    The re-branding will take a little while, but it will all be worth it, because it will allow me to help you all so much better.

    And while we mention helping people out…

    The only thing that really matters

    I’ve been torn for a while about my professional output, and how to measure “success”. It’s not out of the question that my recent illness was, in fact, a case of burnout mistaken for a virus.

    This beautiful post by Alessandra Scicchitano reminded me of what truly matters: being helpful.

    (if you don’t know Alessandra, who among other things is a Human-Centred Tech Advisor, you should definitely follow her and sign up to her newsletter)

    That’s what UX design is about: providing solutions that improve other people’s lives.

    As Alessandra says:

    Forget about success just for a moment and ask yourself: “How can I help today?”
    I can tell you that in my case, that small big change of mind, opened doors I would have never imagined. I met people I didn’t even dream of and I built experiences that I now treasure in my heart.

    Next time you feel unsuccessful or under too much stress,
    take a deep breath and move your focus on what you can do today to help someone.
    Be your customers, your users or your employees.”

    This will be my mantra from now on: every single day.
    And I’ll be asking you for feedback on what further help I can give.

    And while I’m at it: thank you for being here, and for reading my ramblings.

    A neon sign in red cursive script on a wall, saying "Thank you"

    …And how I can put it into practice

    It’s about time I made you all aware of the many ways in which I can help you.

    One of my favourite ways is coaching and training.

    Courses are not always enough

    Courses are great, but let’s face it: we start them with unbridled enthusiasm – only to stop half way through, when we lose interest or forget about them or let life get in the way.

    The only courses I’ve finished have been the ones that provided a coaching element alongside the modules, with direct access to trainers and coaches.
    Those are the ones that create community, as well as life-long learning. Those of you who have been through WP Elevation (now re-branded as Agency Mavericks) will know what I mean.

    So many agencies as well as lone wolves designers and developers could do with some design and process guidance. A lot of agencies – especially WordPress ones as I’ve noticed – have very talented designers on board: however, they rarely have a UX lead with enough experience to offer guidance to the younger members of the team. But of course, hiring a lead is expensive!

    Coaching and training programs for all needs – coming soon

    My answer is: get on board with one of my training programs, and get a UX lead for your team or for your sole-trader business at an extremely affordable price – with the extra bonus of a comprehensive UX course as the cherry on the cake. Very importantly, there will be a community module in Circle, where we can all interact and help each other out.

    I’ve already tested the concepts with a couple of agencies and individuals and the feedback has been fantastic.

    I’ve decided to launch these invitations to work with me in correspondence with Black Friday, not because I want to put a gun to your head and force you to buy within 30 seconds before the price shoots up to 100000000000 more… no, it’s just because, as Kim Doyal says, Black Friday is when most businesses plan to spend their money for the following year.

    So now you know! I will come up with some very interesting invitations soon: keep some of your Black Friday/ Cyber Monday budget aside if you think this  might be what you need.

    How can I help with this?

    In the meantime, Is there anything you think I should do to better help with this? Is this something that you think would help you? Does this type of program respond to a need of yours?

    Please write to me to let me know your thoughts, needs and expectations.

    A green neon sign in a sans serif typeface saying "Super Helpful"
    Honestly doing my best. Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

    I’d rather have a migraine app please

    It would feel remiss if I didn’t at least mention the big event of the past few weeks: the Facebook parent company rebrand to Meta.
    There are SO many angles I could look at this from. I still haven’t chosen one. I’ll just say, for now, that it took me a while to work out whether Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote video was produced by The Onion, or perhaps it was a spoof by Charlie Brooker (the evil genius behind Black Mirror).

    Once I’d clarified that the video was actually true (so to speak), it was kind of fun for a few days to navigate through all the consequent reactions. This is my absolute favourite:

    Screenshot of a tweet by the app M-sense Migräne @msense_app saying "We are very honoured that @facebook felt inspired by the logo of our migraine app – maybe they'll get inspired by our data privacy procedures as well 👀 🤓

    There is so much to unpick in this tweet. (You may not know, but I’ve been a brand designer). For now, I’ll leave you to giggle and consider what the tweet implies – in more ways than one. Great food for thought!

    As for M-sense: their app must be good, as it’s released with a doctor’s prescription – but only in Germany for now! When can we have it in the rest of the world please?

    In case you missed it: typography does matter

    Screenshot of a tweet saying "Ok this has ended me" above the photo of a pub sign with very confusing typography: it reads "Cuth Pube" although it probably should read "The Cube Pub" perhaps?

    Tell me again, where are we meeting for drinks tonight?!

    That’s all from me for this week.

    And please hit reply to let me know how I can better help you.

    Do hit reply even if you just want to say hi – or if you’ve seen another funny sign that proves just how important good typography is.

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    By Piccia Neri.

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