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Internship presentation

About the company
Enterprise Rent-A-Car is the largest rental car company in North America, who recently acquired National and Alamo. Now it owns over one million vehicles in the United States. The major business of Enterprise Rent-A-Car is car rental and used car sale. It’s ranked the top 10 “best place to launch a career? by BusinessWeek magazine.

What I have done…
I am doing an internship at Enterprise Rent-A-Car as a Usability Architect. My main responsibility during the summer is to design, prepare and present wireframes for a web-based car sale application. In addition, I have put up a series of files for design pattern library. The design pattern in the library is to facilitate the reuse of some popular design ideas.

What I have learnt
Design skill
The first thing I learnt about making wireframe is “as little color-coding as possible?. Since we are handing our design to the visual designer after they got approved by the business, if we have too many color-coding in the wireframe, the visual designer maybe constrained with their design. Secondly, I have learnt not to throw too many details in a wireframe, or the listeners might be distracted by the details rather than focusing on the design itself. One thing I really appreciate in Enterprise Rent-A-Car is that during our design process, we got feedbacks frequently. In business meeting, those who are the heavy users of the application will be walked through the design by us and give us feedbacks based on the walkthrough. We don’t need to wait until the application gets implemented to receive feedbacks from the users. Last but not least, I realize that giving multiple design options is a good idea. For one, the technical team won’t feel that they are forced to accept the idea we come up with. Instead, they are involved in the selection and design process. Additionally, it’s easier to sell the idea you favored since the others can see the difference and compare those alternative designs.

Soft skill
Know your audience. It means that when your audience is different, the words you use should be different. For example, you may use some phrases as “in the session level? in a technical meeting, while you should change the wording and use something like “before you log out of the system? in a business meeting where most of the audience are not that technical savvy.
Conversation outside the meeting room. Conversation inside the meeting room is important, but sometimes it’s the conversation happened outside the meeting room that play a more critical role. Before the design meeting, talk to the key persons in the team with your design idea. Make sure they understand why you design that way and obtain feedback from them about your design. By doing this, you can be assure that the key person in the meeting understand your design concept and when somebody question about the rationale of your design, you are not the only one in your side.
Sandwich principle. Since we are presenting our design to the software engineers who designed the previous version of this application, we sometimes feel that they are somewhat protective to their current design. That’s when Sandwich Principle comes to play. Be positive about the old design first. Phrase your sentence when you are presenting your new ideas in a sense of “improvement? rather than “replacement?. And end your presentation with some good words about the current design. I found that people are more open to your ideas when you present this way.

80/20 Rule. Identify those 20% of your design that would be use most frequently and fight for it. And make some compromise on the other 80% of your design when people say no to them. If you are fighting for every design you have, most probably you will end up winning nothing since people could not tell which one is important to you and to the users.

Posted by chanwei at October 15, 2007 03:30 PM

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