February 2016 Issue

By Baruch Sachs

Published: February 8, 2016

“The majority of what we do in the business world is essentially improvisation. Despite all the time we spend doing strategic planning for our work, we still end up having to improvise because of changing environments….”

My last column received tremendous feedback with regard to the importance of soft skills in the profession of User Experience. One consistent theme was the desire for me to get more specific about the types of soft skills that are often lacking in UX professional’s interactions. To answer this request, I will touch upon the following five soft skills in this column:

  1. adaptability
  2. communication
  3. conflict resolution
  4. argumentation and negotiation
  5. gravitas mixed with social grace

Read moreRead More>

By Ania Rodriguez

Published: February 8, 2016

“Human needs that are based on cultural tendencies are the factors that come into play when your goal is to design a globally appealing user experience.”

If you’re designing a product you want to sell globally, assuming every consumer across the world has the same needs and expectations won’t get you far. Knowing and understanding what makes people different is what will determine your success.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow studied human needs throughout his career and social psychologists such as Geert Hofstede continue to research this topic today. (Dirk Knemeyer wrote a three-part series for UXmatters titled, “Applied Empathy: A Design Framework for Meeting Human Needs and Desires.”) Read moreRead More>

By Nathaniel Davis

Published: February 8, 2016

“We’ve seen some new books on information architecture hit the market in the last few years.”

Information architecture is not the easiest topic to write about. So, when a book comes out on the subject, we know that’s a rare event. Nevertheless, we’ve seen some new books on information architecture hit the market in the last few years. Arguably, this trend began in 2011 with the publication of Pervasive Information Architecture: Designing Cross-Channel User Experiences, by Andrea Resmini and Luca Rosati. More on that book in a future review.

In this review, I’ll highlight Abby Covert’s and Andrew Hinton’s latest works. Both are veteran practitioners of information architecture and well-known contributors to the field’s body of knowledge. Read moreRead More>

By Keith Smith

Published: February 8, 2016

“Customers are increasingly opting for self-service. … Customers may want what you’re selling, but they don’t want you to force them to go through a human to get it.”

Let’s face it. While the Internet was designed to make us more connected, it’s also making it easier for us to avoid one another. Just think about that for a moment. Yes, you can reach out and communicate with people in the most distant corners of the Earth, but at the same time, there is nothing more irksome than receiving an actual phone call when an email message would have sufficed.

For example, there’s been a shift in hiring practices. Remember when you were supposed to pound the pavement, handing out a stack of resumes and letting people see your face? Today, no HR manager in the world wants you showing up at his or her door. Even if you did, they would just tell you to go online and fill out a form or submit your resume via email. Read moreRead More>

By Tomer Sharon

Published: February 8, 2016

This is a sample chapter from Tomer Sharon’s new book Validating Product Ideas Through Lean User Research. 2016 Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 5: Do People Want the Product?

Mmm…” I thought to myself as I was reading Nate Bolt’s Facebook post about the Automatic app (see Figure 5.1). “A smart driving assistant? One that hooks up to my car’s computer and sends data to an iPhone app that will help me save energy and money? I want that!” (See Figure 5.2.)

I ordered an Automatic two minutes after I saw that post. It cost me $70. At the time, the product wasn’t shipping yet, and I was paying to participate in a beta that was going to start in a few months. Usually, I’m extremely skeptical about such things. But this was different. I really wanted that thing. I thought the idea was brilliant, and I was 100% positive that I would use and love it. The beautiful, smooth Automatic Web site and purchasing workflow reassured me that I could trust my instincts. When the Automatic package arrived at my doorstep a few months later, I was happy. Unboxing it was very “Apple-like,” and onboarding was great. I hooked the Automatic car adapter to my car (somewhere under the steering wheel where I was able to find the data port quickly), installed the app, and made sure it worked when I drove the car. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: January 25, 2016

Send your questions to Ask UXmatters and get answers from some of the top professionals in UX.

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our expert panel discusses the purpose of site maps. Web site design has come a long way since designers slapped a Site Map link at the bottom of every Web page to help users who were perplexed by a Web site’s organization—or has it? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Our experts cover exactly what constitutes a site map and how site maps differ from other UX design deliverables. They also consider the evolution of the term site map over the years, how site maps apply to increasingly responsive Web designs, and how agile development has impacted the use of site maps.

Every 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, user 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 moreRead More>

By Bobby Emamian

Published: January 25, 2016

“While most Web-site creators have mastered the art of effective hyperlinking, the mobile community has yet to catch on fully. Sure, many apps feature hyperlinks—but they’re not deep links.”

Hyperlinks exist everywhere on the Web—in articles, email messages, social-media posts, you name it. In theory, they should provide one-click access for those who seek additional information. But every now and then, users encounter a link that leads only to a Web site’s landing page, an app’s home screen, or completely unrelated content—basically, nowhere useful.

While most Web-site creators have mastered the art of effective hyperlinking, the mobile community has yet to catch on fully. Sure, many apps feature hyperlinks—but they’re not deep links.

Deep links provide direct access to specific content. While generic links might go to a Web site’s homepage—for example, http://www.website.com—deep links send users straight to a particular page or section within that site—for example, http://www.website.com/page/section/. Read moreRead More>

By Jeremy Wilt

Published: January 25, 2016

“We should consider whether our meetings provide value. … When you leave a meeting with a sense of accomplishment and shared understanding, it was a worthwhile meeting.”

The first step to overcoming any addiction is admitting there’s a problem. The business world is addicted to meetings. We demonstrate what we value by what we put our time and energy into. In most companies, people spend the majority of their time either in meetings or working on ideas or activities that began in meetings. From the Board of Directors and the executive leadership team on down throughout entire organizations, most companies have a growing dependence on meetings.

We’re now so used to meeting just for the sake of meeting that many of us walk like zombies from meeting to meeting and find ourselves staring at bullet-point presentations, shared screens, and video-conference systems for hours at a time. It’s no wonder that many meetings leave us feeling demotivated, disillusioned, and exhausted. Yet, with all the time we spend in meetings, we rarely stop to question why we meet. Read moreRead More>

By Jaime Levy

Published: January 25, 2016

This is Part 2 of a sample chapter from the book UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products That People Want, by Jaime Levy, which O’Reilly Media published in May 2015. UXmatters is republishing this chapter with Jaime Levy’s permission. Copyright © 2015 Jaime Levy. All rights reserved.

Chapter 2: The Four Tenets of UX Strategy, Part 2

Editor’s Note—We published Part 1 of “Chapter 2: The Four Tenets of UX Strategy,” from UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products That People Want, in the January 2016 edition of UXmatters. If you missed it, give it a read now.

Tenet 2: Value Innovation

“It is value innovation that disrupts or creates new mental models for people.”

As digital product inventors, we must be hyperaware of all the changing digital market dynamics. We must understand how and why people use their digital devices and what defines a successful and failed UX. This is because a user’s first contact with the interface generally determines success or failure. It provides the user with their first impression of your value innovation, and it is value innovation that disrupts or creates new mental models for people. We definitely want to do that. Read moreRead More>

By Meg Barbic

Published: January 25, 2016

“Experience designers [are] unafraid of remaining in uncertainty and ambiguity when others around them are rushing to cling to the comfort of a ready solution.”

Recently, I have been noticing experience designers’ unique balance of soft skills such as communication, creativity, and empathy—in addition to the hard skills they’ve attained in an industry that requires a high level of understanding of new and emerging technologies. At the UX STRAT 2015 conference in Athens, Georgia, I attended some insightful talks and workshops and met a crowd full of people who had all of these things in common.

I’ve also noticed that experience designers are inquisitive and have a natural tendency to ask Why?—every time. It is this non-negotiable level of inquisitiveness that gives experience designers a fierceness that makes them unafraid of remaining in uncertainty and ambiguity when others around them are rushing to cling to the comfort of a ready solution. They trust their own design process, which enables them to lead teams to a solution that is driven by the user’s experience. Experience designers are also brave enough to try new things, and they seem to evolve and learn constantly. Read moreRead More>