October 24, 2016 Edition

Making the World a Better Place Through User Experience

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
October 24, 2016

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our expert panel discusses the desire that many UX professionals have to make the world a better place and how that altruistic impulse can align with the profit motive of the businesses that employ them.

To prevent our work colleagues from trivializing UX design, UX professionals must play an integral role in defining product strategy. That is where we can add the most value—to the business and users alike. In describing how User Experience can contribute to product strategy and business success, we’ll debunk some common misconceptions that many product companies have about User Experience and its place in a product-centric company.

In the course of this conversation, we’ll talk about how important it is for UX professionals to work for companies that value User Experience, the impacts corporate culture has on the ability of UX professionals to successfully engage with teams around product strategy, the alignment of User Experience with business goals, the value that UX design can contribute to the bottom line, and what you should do if your organization doesn’t appreciate the value of User Experience. Read More

Sponsor Advertisement
Continue Reading…

Achieving Excellence Through Flow

October 24, 2016

Each day, we tackle a great number of challenges in both our professional and personal lives. From the time we wake up in the morning until we lay back down to rest at night, we face hurdles that can sometimes make us feel as if we bear the weight of the world on our shoulders—or whose conquest can make us feel invincible. This is particularly true of the challenges we encounter at work.

Companies full of stressed out managers and employees are common—especially in the software industry. Among the most common factors contributing to their stress is the great amount of work teams must accomplish within limited timeframes. The usual result is teams’ working overtime and having a general sense of dissatisfaction with their professional lives.

The glimmer of hope is that, in many cases, teams can avoid all of this unnecessary pressure. The key lies in understanding and achieving flow—the state of mind in which you are completely focused on a single thing. This state seems to bend time because you become so absorbed in the task at hand that, when you lift your head seemingly just a few minutes later, you realize that the minutes were hours, and you’ve been working at a much faster pace than you realized. Read More

9 Tips from Design Research: Getting More from Your Conversations

October 24, 2016

Design researchers are experts at quickly identifying business and design opportunities from brief conversations with users or by observing them work through a process. However, during typical business meetings, it is usually difficult to achieve such clarity and agreement so quickly. Avoiding rounds of circular discussion, notes from a devil’s advocate, or last-ditch efforts to push people’s individual agendas is often impossible. However, you can use design-research techniques to combat many of the problems that commonly occur in meetings.

Design researchers rely on a toolkit that includes myriad research methods—from observation techniques such as shadowing and ethnography to facilitation techniques such as gamestorming and whiteboarding. Anyone can apply these methods and the theory behind them to run more effective meetings, diagnose business problems more quickly, understand users’ tasks and needs, and better comprehend what their colleagues and customers really think.

In this article, I’ll present nine ways in which, by acting like a design researcher, you can get the most out of your conversations. Read More

Encapsulating User Experience

Innovating UX Practice

Inspirations from software engineering

A column by Peter Hornsby
October 24, 2016

We live in a time when the amount of information available on the Web about any subject far outstrips the wildest dreams of the early pioneers of the Internet. There are thousands of sources of information on any topic. Click-bait titles like “Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design” or “7 Signs Someone Isn’t Actually a UX Designer” seem to promise a quick education in just a little time, but tend to lack credibility simply because of the simplistic approach they take.

In an attempt to simply define what User Experience is, some sources try to explicate each dimension. Here are some examples:

Responsive User Assistance for Mobile Devices

October 24, 2016

We are experiencing a mobile revolution in the 21st century, with high-end, user-friendly smartphones, tablets, and ereaders and a great diversity of mobile apps.

According to a survey conducted by International Data Corporation, the global smartphone market grew by over 13% in 2015. The mobile market is expected to grow to about 2 billion people by the end of 2016. As a consequence, companies are altering their business and communications strategies to achieve maximum reach and exposure through mobile devices. They are leveraging mobile devices and apps to grow their business and are embracing responsive, mobile-friendly design strategies. Businesses that are creating mobile-friendly, responsive designs have an edge when it comes to engaging the ever-increasing numbers of mobile users.

How can user assistance—an important part of any effective user experience—complement the mobile experience? As the mobile industry continues to grow, it is creating exciting opportunities for technology-agnostic technical communicators. Read More

October 10, 2016 Edition

Getting Enterprise Mobile UX Right

Selling UX

A unique perspective on service UX

A column by Baruch Sachs
October 10, 2016

Even today, enterprise clients are rather slow to adopt a true mobile strategy for their applications. This is just a fact. Very few internal, complex applications have realized the full potential of a world-class mobile user experience. While consumer-grade applications are causing a huge shift in the enterprise space, the biggest changes are happening in the desktop- and Web-application space, with only a trickle-down effect on mobile offerings. While, in theory, the highly touted mobile-first approach is valid, adopting a full mobile-first design strategy in practice is something that gets deferred release after release.

What is really surprising is the lack of any true understanding about what an enterprise organization’s mobile strategy actually is or should be. On an almost weekly basis, I have conversations with clients who are thinking about making mobile applications out of existing desktop applications that serve hundreds or up to tens of thousands of savvy, internal users. That’s a great goal. However, the same fractured nature of the enterprise that affects many different areas impacts mobile applications as well. While understanding the desired user experience is important, if a UX or application-development team does not understand how to implement or extend the enterprise’s existing mobile strategy, the work may never get done. Read More

The Fundamental 4s: Secrets to Designing Extraordinary Customer Experiences

October 10, 2016

No sane person wakes up in the morning thinking: Today, I want to be a poorer version of myself than I was yesterday! Whether we’re considering a baby taking its first steps, a student acing a test, or a person winning a championship, getting a promotion, or losing a few pounds, human beings are hardwired to aspire and improve. In all aspects of life, we are extremely motivated—consciously or unconsciously—to become better versions of ourselves. Each of us is motivated to become the better me.

Think about what you’re doing at this very moment. Reading this article could demonstrate the value you place on being an educated person—your desire to BE better. Perhaps you are reading this to learn something, so you can give a better presentation at work this week—DO better. You might be reading because you want to LOOK better and get recognition of your refined knowledge from your colleagues. Or maybe you are just lounging around the house, reading to relax, clear your mind, and enjoy yourself—in which case, your strongest motivation is to FEEL better. Read More

Applied UX Strategy, Part 4.2: From Design Team to Design Culture

October 10, 2016

In Part 1 of this two-parter within my larger series on applied UX strategy, I wrote about the composition and structure of UX design teams. Now, in Part 2, I’ll cover two other areas of focus that are essential in making UX design an integral part of the development process and achieving success in a highly competitive marketplace:

  • leaders
  • culture


When thinking about UX leaders, many people might imagine somebody like Jony Ive. But having a lone regent of design is usually neither possible nor necessary. As an organization grows, a single UX leader is rarely able to deal with the massive number and broad variety of projects and tasks. A UX leader must be deeply engaged in ongoing projects to make smart decisions. This is hard to do when a company makes many products. Plus, someone outside a product team would have limited influence on that team. When a UX leader is spread thin, day-to-day project tasks often take higher priority over long-term strategy. Read More

Lean UX for Wearables: An Interview with Greg Nudelman, Part 2

October 10, 2016

Wearables are becoming increasingly pervasive devices with a growing array of apps—yet, somehow, the user experience for many of these devices is lacking. What is the best way to design for this new class of devices? In Part 2 of my interview with Greg Nudelman—who is a mobile and tablet experience strategist and a leader in the emerging arena of UX design for wearables—we’ll continue our conversation about a better approach to UX design for wearables. If you missed Part 1, you might want to read it first.

Applying Lean UX to Wearables

Janet: How does Lean UX for wearables differ from Lean UX in other contexts?

Greg: That is a great question. Basically, you follow the same principles. You need a measurable experiment and to spend as little time and money as possible in creating something people can actually put to use. The idea that I find compelling is the minimum viable prototype, or MVP. While most people interpret MVP as minimum viable product, thinking about a minimum viable prototype lets you focus on creating the cheapest, crudest, yet plausible prototype that lets you communicate your idea to a customer. Read More

Getting Along with Developers: Tips for Better Understanding

October 10, 2016

A good developer is possibly one of the best allies a UX designer can have. Given that designers and developers spend a lot of time working closely together on projects, it seems inevitable that they would develop close relationships with one another. However, while these relationships should become powerful alliances, struggles often occur between these team members.

As designers, we may find it difficult to see a developer’s point of view, which is ironic because we constantly strive to put ourselves into other people’s shoes and see things from their perspective. We are obsessed with doing usability testing and user research to understand users and customers, but, for some reason, we don’t always apply the same approach to understanding our teammates.

In recent years especially, there has been a lot of talk about having empathy for the user. Strangely, developing empathy often doesn’t extend beyond users and homeless kittens. What about having empathy for the people we work with on a regular basis? Applying the same approach to your teammates will go a long way—especially when it comes to developers. This may seem like a daunting task, but as with most things, you can break it up into smaller steps and develop understanding and empathy over time. Here’s what you should start doing. Read More