Nona Blog

On The NONA Bookshelf | vol.1

Here at NONA two of our core values are making continuous improvement a way of life and being generous with our knowledge. So it only makes sense that conversations in the office often drift to what we’re learning from the books we’re reading. We thought it would be great to start sharing our reading lists and reviews outside of the office in our new series “On the NONA Bookshelf”. Each volume will feature short book reviews by a selection of NONA people on a wide variety of books. From topics around business and biographies to software development and design — we’re reading it all.

In our debut edition we have a review by one of our senior devs, Jonathan Arnold, who lays down exactly what he found useful reading about negotiation. One of our developers, Dominic PrawnStar Bauer, learnt more about Bruce Lee’s exciting life journey and our Design Intern, Laura Flint, dove into expanding her knowledge on usability and user testing.

“Getting To Yes — Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” by Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton

Reviewed by Jon

I found this book incredibly helpful and interesting and this is why:

It helped, first and foremost, to clarify when and how often people negotiate things (which is in effect every day of their lives). It also helped make sense of the tools and strategies people have at their disposal when negotiating, and why positional bargaining (which is a strategy that many people utilise) can result in less than optimal outcomes for all parties involved.

It advocates, in short, the following as a process to follow for principled negotiation:

  • Separating people from the issues at hand/ the problems that need to be solved.
  • Focusing on and identifying the interests of the negotiating parties (finding out what they really want rather than what they are saying they want).
  • Generating and exploring options (which neither side should feel bound by).
  • Using mutually agreed objective criteria when evaluating the fairness of an agreement (Scientific findings, professional standards, or legal precedent).

It furthermore breaks down in depth strategies to employ in the event of the following situations:

  • When the Other Party Is More Powerful
  • When the Other Party Won’t Use Principled Negotiation (The method outlined above)
  • When the Other Party Uses Dirty Tricks

I found it down to earth and well reasoned. It didn’t advocate any behaviours that someone would consider unethical or dis-honest, and was completely practical in its approach to the subject at hand.

I would highly recommend reading it if you have a passing interest in the subject.

“Bruce Lee: A Life” by Matthew Polly

Reviewed by Dom

A life of contemplation, meditation and calmness. That was what I expected when I grabbed the Bruce Lee autobiography. Wow, how wrong I was.

Bruce Lee was anything but calm. Getting into fights from a young age, raising a knife to a teacher and essentially being a thug. Never backing down from a fight. Not the image you typically get of the master of Jeet Kune Do — the Way of the Intercepting Fist.

This book really changed my perspective on who the real Bruce Lee was. From a God amongst men into simply a man. Not perfect, full of issues, unfaithful; normal. A man who was entirely committed — obsessed actually — with whatever he put his mind to; martial arts, philosophy and acting. This is what lead to his success and the journey is a read well worth it.

Here’s a love note he wrote to his wife before they were married. I think it sums up the man:

“To the sweetest girl, from the man who appreciates her: To live content with small means, to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than passion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In other words, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common.”

“Don’t Make me Think Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability” by Steve Krug

Reviewed by Laura

There’s a reason this book appears on every ‘UX Reading List’ blog post you’ll come across — it covers usability testing extensively but in a way that really does come across as common sense. Krug breaks processes down, explains how testing doesn’t have to be expensive and, most importantly, makes it obvious why UX is so important.

You may be thinking “well, that’s all well and fine but I don’t feel like reading a UX textbook” (especially if that’s not what you’re too into). Well, Krug manages to throw in his awesome sense of humour and some great diagrams and images to keep anyone entertained. He constantly makes reference to the oddities of human cognitive behaviour and how this is a) entertaining and b) useful to keep in mind when designing various parts of a digital product (although you’ll come across some non-digital examples in the book too).

Recently we’ve been working on improving NONA’s user testing processes and have largely been drawing from things we’ve learnt from this book. Most notably his thoughts around the process of user testing as we have been testing the way we test our products. We’re also taking his advice to keep delight, learnability and memorability in mind as we work on usability of new and existing projects.

This book has impacted my journey into the software/digital design industry to such a great extent that I can confidently recommend it to every designer no matter what your chosen discipline. More importantly, I think it’s a great read for developers too — so that they can understand where their UX teammates are coming from when they nag at seemingly menial issues.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our little reviews. Have you read any of these? Do you have any recommendations for us to add to our shelves? We’d love to hear from you!

Nona designs and builds intuitive software for FinTech businesses. If you’d like to accelerate your FinTech project, book a consultation with us!

Laura Flint

Designer - Nona