Educate, Entertain, Inspire, Guide – That’s How to do “DOCs”


What a great way to educate, inspire, and entertain all at the same time. Beethoven  #GoogleDoodle.

While I’m way into music, I still found myself immersed in this little Google Doodle…enjoying the music, the story, and rooting for a cartoon character I was just introduced to seconds ago. For others not as familiar with his music, they learned that he composed music they recognized but didn’t know who wrote it…and even learned some sheet music structure as well!

Through it all, the Google Doodle inspired me by telling a story, complete with showing problems, sadness, and finally, resolution with resounding 9th symphony chorus. Most importantly, it made me want to continue to the end…to learn more, to stay curious for the outcome.

Think about it: “Inspired”…”Stay Curious”; quite an accomplishment from a silly little web app.

I just gotta wonder how much more our users would get out of our IBM Cloud content if we focused on those two phrases: “Inspire” and “Stay Curious”. What if we were driven to inspire by telling a story, educating with exercises along the way, and use emotion and success to keep users experimenting…to stay curious?

What if we made our documentation an actual reason to click to IBM Cloud? What if the experience of our DOCs was so satisfying, so sticky, so valuable, that the natural next step was to actually try the product out?

…and what if our DOCs were so intertwined with our product that after our users were educated, entertained, inspired, and guided, only then would they realize that through their curiosity, they’ve  been using our product all along?

Thanks, Google, for a great lesson.

Here’s to inspiring users…

Here’s to helping users stay curious…

Here’s to creating the best cloud experience imaginable!





Now That I’ve Experienced Creating Great UX, I…

Over the last several months, I’ve been working with the IBM Design team. Through that interaction I’ve come to improve and refine my measure of great user experience. The project I was just on had it, and it was so exciting…so unifying. We brainstormed on parts of the experience that would add no functionality other than pure delight. We were very proud of what we did. The “It’s like a dream” user quote will stay with me for quite some time.

But now I look around and there are other projects…I have a pit in my stomach…what will it take to change the culture…change our DNA…to make everything we create outstanding…to make everything we create delightful to our users?

I’m not the best designer. By far. But now that I know what working on a team that strives to deliver a great user experience is like, anything less is just sad.

No, not sad.


Don’t Always Rely On Users?

I write songs. Some I think are pretty good and some are just ok. I’ve been wanting to take the craft of songwriting to the next level.

But, to do that I’m not going to walk the street asking what kind of song users want to hear. I’m going to ask songwriting experts. Those that have experience writing great songs that truly connect with the listener know far deeper what it takes to write a great song, the pitfalls, the rules, and when to break the rules than those that listen to those songs.

Now certainly there is a spark of imagination, a connection to an audience, that creates the core of a great song, but it certainly takes expert skill to craft a song into a work of art that deeply connects with a listener…especially as it works its way through a recording studio to the listener’s ears.
I wonder if the same applies to user experience?
I’m the first to agree that deep user research is required to understand what users needs are, and what can truly delight them. However, lately I wonder if we risk creating something less than exceptional if we focus only on user feedback and not receive peer/expert critique once we enter the design phase?
I’ll admit that a songwriter doesn’t really know how exceptional a song is until it’s played in font of an audience, and I agree that a designer doesn’t know if it’s an exceptional user experience until we see users smile while using it, but I’d bet my next royalty check from Spotify that a users smile will be bigger, an audience reaction louder, and the actual product better if we get peer review and craft the song/UX using that expert critique.
What about you? What kind of peer critique do you run for your designs?

Need Purpose In Your Designs? Create An Empathy Map

Maybe it’s the industry I’m in, or maybe it’s my age, but the past year I’ve really been searching for purpose in my work.

You see, my designs don’t help feed the poor or cure cancer (although we at IBM are trying!), so many times I stop and wonder what “Noble Purpose” my work has on my fellow humans around me.

…and then I participated in IBM Design Thinking.

…and found a way to have empathy for my users.

It’s really simple: Create an empathy map.

We identified who are user was, drew 4 quadrants on the wall and simply asked ourselves, “What is Satish saying, doing, thinking, and feeling?”

The doing and saying and even thinking was nothing new…but writing what he was feeling and adding it to a sticky on the wall…I could finally start seeing my purpose.

You see, Satish works really hard. But he feels trapped in his work because he’s always reacting to data center emergencies. Now he’s getting pressure to add new services and to be quite honest, he’s scared. He’s scared of failing, of getting it wrong, of not being valued by his boss, his team. If he only had software that could guide him, educate him, and help him deliver these solutions with ease and speed…without messing up, he would instead feel confident, valued, content, and even happy.


In one day I learned that the work I do does have purpose…I can change a person’s outlook on life…and in turn possibly how he reacts to his kids, his wife, his friends. My designs can save him time…time he can spend playing music, playing with his pup.

No, my designs might not cure cancer (yet), but my designs can help Satish have a better life.

…and that’s a pretty noble purpose.


What I Discovered About Creating Successful YouTube Videos

I have had my YouTube channel since 2009, and for a few years it was used for sharing videos to my family and friends.

Wanting to learn more about video editing, I ended up spending quite a bit of time editing movies about our trips, events, and even making music videos of the songs I wrote. I would spend hours learning 2 camera editing with synchronizing sound and all that.

As I expected, I hovered around 100 to 150 views per video.

Then I got the idea to record myself while I was fixing my keyboard and car mirror and post it as a “How-To”. While I spent some time creating and editing these how-to videos, it was far less time than some of my other videos. Further, I needed to fix these things anyway, so the video was not staged or anything…it was capture something I did in real life in hopes someone else could benefit from it.

You know what?

My channel just passed 100,000 views…mostly thanks to these how-to videos. Now, I realize this is a far cry from many hit videos, but it’s far more than I ever planned and I am quite pleased.

How did these videos become popular? I can think of a few reasons:

  • I created content to help someone else
  • I envisioned a larger target audience than just family
  • I captured a moment that many around the world also experience and created an emotional connection to

The last reason is why I think my other two videos have a lot of hits (my girls getting their ears pierced, and my youngest’s first day of getting on the bus)…

…those videos helped nervous young kids around the world see that other kids ‘did it’ and that they would be fine.

Maybe creating a successful video is actually a simple formula:

Create Content to Help Others

Come to think of it, maybe creating a successful life is even simpler:

Live to Help Others

Take a peek at my channel and my popular videos: 

What do you think?

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