September 26, 2016 Edition

Effective UX Leaders

September 26, 2016

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our expert panel discusses the characteristics of effective UX leaders and how they function within an organization. Our experts consider business acumen, emotional intelligence, and the ability to teach while, at the same time, being a life-long learner.

Each month in Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts answers our readers’ questions about a broad range of user experience matters. To get answers to your own questions about UX strategy, design, or research or any other topic of interest to UX professionals in an upcoming edition of Ask UXmatters, please send your questions to: [email protected]. Read More

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Beyond the Lab: Gathering Holistic, Qualitative User Experience Data

September 26, 2016

The field of User Experience is increasingly under pressure to gather qualitative data in shorter amounts of time. As a UX professional, I’m on the hunt for novel methods and approaches that facilitate the collection of meaningful information about users’ emotions and engagement. A central tenet of User Experience is the importance of gathering revealing, informative, powerful data about the user experience by engaging with users. For example, during usability tests, users interact with Web sites, applications, products, and concepts and give us detailed feedback as they go. Whether you are a UX designer, developer, marketer, engineer, or in executive leadership, seeing users use your product first hand is invaluable.

After leading many formative and summative studies, including usability tests, I’ve become more and more interested in the reactions of users at the conclusion of an experience—when they reveal their feelings about the overall experience they’ve had. As we take a more holistic view of the user experience, there is growing interest and value in looking at what artifacts stick to the user’s memory. However, this is not easy information to access—especially within the context of a lab study where the moderator and the situation may make even the most confident participant feel inhibited. Developing rapport with participants and facilitating authentic sharing from them is challenging.

However, with companies today increasingly looking to improve the holistic experience they provide to their customers, it’s time to find a way to tap into users’ authentic feedback and engage with them in a way that allows them to share something real—beyond what we can usually capture within the lab. Read More

The Problem with Personas and Some Solutions

September 26, 2016

Personas, when they’re done right, can offer valuable insights into a typical user’s goals, behaviors, and aspirations, as well as highlight motivations and contexts of use. Above all, they provide a constant reminder that designers and others on a product team are not the users.

Personas are also an excellent communication tool. A designer can effectively describe each design decision in terms of an experience outcome for a certain persona. This provides clear context and clarifies the fact that a user’s goals and aspirations differ from the designer’s. Read More

UX Leadership Roles: Multiple Paths

September 26, 2016

Over the last 15 years, I’ve had a recurring conversation with senior UX professionals: “I want to progress in UX, but I’m not sure I really want to manage teams.” It seems to many that the one way up is the management track—and in many organizations, this is the only upward path for UX professionals.

In my long and varied career working on staff within companies and for clients in agencies and consultancies, I have seen many roles in User Experience that need a senior, mature person—some with people-management responsibilities; others that continue to focus on product design. These roles include the following:

  • Creative Director
  • UX Principal
  • Team Leader
  • UX Manager
  • UX Project Lead

Each of these UX professionals plays a specific role within an organization. For senior UX professionals, their quandary is to work out which role is required when and what role suits them best. Read More

Mapping Experiences

September 26, 2016

This is a sample chapter from the book Mapping Experiences: A Complete Guide to Creating Value Through Journeys, Blueprints, & Diagrams, by Jim Kalbach, which O’Reilly Media published in May 2016. UXmatters is publishing this chapter with O’Reilly’s permission. Copyright © 2016 O’Reilly Media. All rights reserved.

Chapter 4: Initiate: Starting a Mapping Project

Mapping Experiences CoverOne of the most common questions I get in my workshops on mapping is, “How do I begin?” Aspiring mapmakers may see the immediate value in these techniques, yet they have barriers getting started.

Getting stakeholder buy-in is a common challenge. I’ve been fortunate to have had opportunities to create diagrams of all kinds and have found that stakeholders see the value in mapping only after the process is complete. As a result, initiating an effort requires convincing them up front. Read More

September 08, 2016 Edition

Mobile UX Design Approaches: Workshops

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
September 8, 2016

Whenever a client or team comes to you for help designing anything specific—such as an app—your first question should be: Why an app? Or: Why whatever else they think they need?

UX design should always start with gathering information, understanding users’ needs, and establishing measurable objectives. Just adding design to someone else’s idea or cleaning up what development has created is not a recipe for success. Our job titles communicate our focus on users. But there’s still much pressure from businesses to go faster, and many believe we can just pull ideas out of our heads or quickly clean up turn-key vendor solutions and create something that’s good enough.

We need to start projects by focusing on the experience and push project teams to question the entire product ecosystem and set aside their assumptions so we can organically discover what we really should build and how. One effective approach to doing this is conducting design workshops. Read More

Applied UX Strategy, Part 4.1: From Design Team to Design Culture

September 8, 2016

In the earlier parts of my series on applied UX strategy, I described the UX maturity model shown in Figure 1, the product designer’s role, and platform thinking as it applies to design delivery. Collectively, this series constitutes a manifesto for applied UX strategy—how to make a UX strategy work on all three levels: operational, tactical, and strategic. Now, we need a design team to make all of this work. How can a design team be most effective on an operational level and achieve tactical wins, so a company can achieve its strategic goals? Read More

Review: UX STRAT 2015, Part 3: Conference Highlights, Day 1

September 8, 2016

The UX STRAT USA 2015 conference took place on September 9 and 10, at the Athens Classic Center in Athens, Georgia. The conference program promised two days of excellent content.

Now, in Part 3 of our UX STRAT USA 2015 review, we’ll cover some highlights from Day 1 of the main conference, on Wednesday, September 9.

Each day at the conference, Paul Bryan, UX STRAT organizer who is shown in Figure 1, delivered his opening and closing remarks, making sure everyone knew about the events of the day and evening. Read More

The Agile Manifesto for Designers

September 8, 2016

Many say that UX design processes do not fit well into the agile methodology. As a UX designer who has experience working on both waterfall and agile projects—and many variants in between—I object to this assertion.

The Agile Manifesto outlines twelve principles that guide the agile methodology. One by one, I’ll explain how each of these principles not only fails to conflict with good UX design practice, but can even improve it. Read More

Conference Review: Digital Design & Web Innovation Summit 2015, Part 1: Overview and Day 1

September 8, 2016

On September 10 and 11, 2015, Innovation Enterprise hosted the first Digital Design & Web Innovation Summit at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in Los Angeles. This conference comprised the following five tracks, as shown in Figure 1:

  • Brand Strategy
  • Content Strategy
  • Digital Strategy
  • Digital Marketing
  • Digital Design & Web

I chose to attend and review the Digital Design & Web track. Read More