Beyond writing: How AI can help with the rest of your work
We’ve written about how ChatGPT can help you write. But ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence (AI) tools can also help you with the rest of your day.
They can free up your time to focus on your own writing. Or on other things like user research, user needs, or winning over stakeholders.
User research is fascinating. But trawling through notes, transcripts or survey results afterwards, not so much. AI can help.
If your handwritten notes are reasonably legible, AI image-to-text handwriting recognition software like Google Lens can make a decent guess at it. At least good enough for you to make corrections rather than transcribe the whole thing.
Once you’ve got your notes in digital form, you can feed them to ChatGPT, Bard or another language AI. Treat the AI like a researcher you’re having a conversation with. Get it to summarise or interrogate them. Or ask it specific questions to tease out insights for you.
Remember to strip out any personal information about your user research subjects. And before you rely on an insight you’ve found, go back to the original notes and check that the AI hasn’t made anything up.
This doesn’t just apply to user research of course. Any scribbled meeting notes or to-do lists are targets for AI transcription or summary too.
Interviewing virtual users
The team here at CDL don’t think AI is trustworthy enough yet to make a good user research subject. Its biases could be dangerous if you treat it as if it were a real user. But it could help you test out your questions and the assumptions in your test script, by pretending to be a user for you.
Tell ChatGPT, Bard (or whichever AI you prefer) exactly who you want it to impersonate. Then ask it questions you might want to ask users. Include followup questions to probe deeper. Its answers might tell you which questions work well and which you need to drop or tweak.
Images for presentations or graphics
Image generation AIs like Midjourney or Open AI’s Dall-E can help when you need to illustrate user journeys, presentations, mockups, or prototypes.
If you can’t find the right free-to-use image and don’t have an image budget, you can ask AI to create a bespoke image to your specifications. We’ve used this recently to create materials for workshops and presentations.
Photoshop now has Adobe’s Firefly AI built in. Among other things you can ‘zoom out’ of existing images and quickly change backgrounds.
Turning sketches into graphics or prototypes
We’re big fans of roughly sketching ideas for pages of content. It makes us think about how our content might work in context. And it can help us discuss ideas with visual and interaction designers.
AI software can take your sketches and turn them into functional, clickable mockups, with various degrees of polish. So far we’ve had mixed experiences. But keep an eye on them, they’re likely to get better fast.
Writing documents, wrangling spreadsheets and presentations
Google and Microsoft have both released limited-access versions of AI tools that are built into some of their apps. They’re not widely available yet but look out for their general release.
They can help with:
- writing documents (Google Docs and Microsoft Word)
- crafting emails (Gmail or Microsoft Outlook)
- creating spreadsheets without having to be a formula wizard yourself (Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel)
- making presentations without bothering your graphic designer (Google Slides and Microsoft Powerpoint).
Google Duet – currently by application only, as an add-on to Workspace Enterprise for organisations.
Microsoft 365 Copilot – currently an invitation-only early access program for selected organisations.
Marking up documents
If you need to mark up documents in a complex way that find and replace can’t handle, AI might be able to help.
You can ask it to do things like ‘put emphasis tags around all the questions asked by Rachel’ or ‘put bold tags around all the people’s names’. This automates what would’ve been a drudge of a task.
Just play around
We’re still learning about how AI can help us in our day-to-day work. New AIs are popping up faster than we can type blog posts about them. The trick is not to feel overwhelmed, dive in and start trying things out.
They won’t all work, and that’s fine. But hopefully we’ll all find a place for AI in our workflow, just like we did for software that now seems indispensable like word processing, spreadsheets or photo editors.