March 2015 Issue

By Ronnie Battista

Published: February 16, 2015

“Small things can have significant impacts on customer acquisition and loyalty—and companies often overlook or under-prioritize them.”

When I talk to companies, customers, and colleagues about UX strategy and the importance of understanding the end-to-end customer experience, I often tell stories about seemingly trivial parts of an experience with a brand that can have huge impacts. Small things can have significant impacts on customer acquisition and loyalty—and companies often overlook or under-prioritize them. For example:

  • The process of exchanging a pair of shoes to get the right size may be so cumbersome that you don’t even want to bother with it.
  • A meal that you have at a restaurant leaves a bad taste in your mouth—not because it wasn’t delicious, but because the server was inattentive and rude.
  • Navigating a company’s interactive voice response (IVR) system to speak to a real person on the phone becomes a test of rage restraint, because it’s so abundantly clear that they want to make it as hard as possible.

Read moreRead More>

By Pamela Pavliscak

Published: February 16, 2015

“As a researcher, I want to understand how technology changes people’s lives, not wade through a bunch of data. Like a lot of people, I think in stories rather than numbers….”

As a researcher, I want to understand how technology changes people’s lives, not wade through a bunch of data. Like a lot of people, I think in stories rather than numbers; in the tangible rather than the abstract. So, when I made it a goal to understand all of the data about the experiences people have with technology—not just the kinds of data that I was comfortable with—there were some big gaps in my knowledge.

First Steps

First, I had to cross the threshold of my number aversion. This wasn’t too hard because, even though I love to dive into messy questions, I’m not thrilled with messy answers. I’m still relearning statistics—thanks to Khan Academy and The Cartoon Guide to Statistics—getting more confident with Excel, and gaining some basic skills in Tableau. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: February 16, 2015

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

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts discusses whether responsive Web design is really necessary for ecommerce sites and some of the key elements of responsive designs.

Imagine that your company has chosen you to be part of a team that is going to design and build or update an ecommerce Web site. The budget and deadline are tight, and the boss wants to know what is the minimum that you can do to create a strong, profit-building machine. What would you tell him? Would you stay focused only on your existing desktop Web site—or if you’re creating a new site, build for the desktop first—and let your mobile customers deal with it as best they can? Would you build a Web site that is somewhat different on and adapts to each type and size of device? Would you insist on developing a mobile app? And how would you plan to maintain the solution? Read moreRead More>

By Peter Hornsby

Published: February 16, 2015

“Observing users interacting with software is a powerful and often under-used technique in user experience. Its power derives primarily from the frequent disjoint between what users say and what they do.”

Observing users interacting with software is a powerful and often under-used technique in user experience. Its power derives primarily from the frequent disjoint between what users say and what they do. UX research techniques such as surveys and interviews produce a lot of useful data, but self-reporting about behavior typically lacks accuracy. Plus, such research usually requires turnaround times of weeks, which does not fit into the fast cycle times of an agile development process. Observing users in context provides two key benefits. Read moreRead More>

By Arun Joseph Martin

Published: February 16, 2015

“Learning from online video lectures [on] … All You can Learn, Udemy, Lynda, and SkillShare.”

As a UX professional, I continually learn about new UX topics through online courses, in the form of video lectures. In this review, I want to share my experiences learning from online video lectures that are available from the following learning resources: All You can Learn, Udemy, Lynda, and SkillShare. While all of these sites offer online video lectures, they tailor their lectures for different learning outcomes. Table 1 provides an overview of all of these services.

All of these sites synchronize their courses across different devices. So, if I watch a part of a virtual-seminar video on my notebook computer, then switch to my Android device, I’m able to continue watching it where I left off. Read moreRead More>

By Liam Friedland

Published: February 2, 2015

“I wanted to document a handful of key UX concepts … [and] hit upon the idea of using 3 x 5-inch note cards and simple, hand-drawn visualizations as an expressive medium for this content.”

The idea behind my new UXmatters column, 3 x 5 UX is an idea that formed several years ago when I was preparing for a Pecha Kucha event. I wanted to document a handful of key UX concepts and share them with the UX team that I lead. Simple visualizations seemed like a promising approach. To constrain my slideware exuberance, I hit upon the idea of using 3 x 5-inch note cards and simple, hand-drawn visualizations as an expressive medium for this content. To keep my drawing skills intact, I typically use 3 x 5 cards to capture ideas, manage my daily to-do lists, and dash out quick sketches. Creating visualizations at that size for my presentation required a minimalist approach and was both challenging and fun. My team enjoyed the presentation, and I thought these cards might have value for a broader audience. Pabini Gabriel-Petit, publisher of UXmatters, agreed and 3 x 5 UX was born.

What Is the Difference Between Strategy and Tactics?

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”—Sun Tzu Read moreRead More>

By Yury Vetrov

Published: February 2, 2015

“UX maturity is impossible without great product designers and a strong UX design team—a great leader alone is not enough.”

In Part 1 of my series on UX strategy, I defined a mature design approach for the modern world. There are three levels of UX maturity:

  • operational—Designers are just implementers. They work on assigned tasks and create design deliverables.
  • tactical—Designers are an integral part of a product team. They deeply integrate design into other product development tasks and processes.
  • strategic—Designers are visionaries or product strategists—perhaps even product managers. They influence and make strategic decisions on how to evolve a product.

Each level of UX maturity has its own challenges, goals, and limitations. These change as an organization matures. We need strong UX leaders with the clear vision and passion that are necessary to drive change and realize their goals, ensuring that their company’s design culture can grow rather than falling into decline because of real-world limitations. However, UX maturity is impossible without great product designers and a strong UX design team—a great leader alone is not enough. In this article, I’ll describe the role of product designers and how they pursue UX strategy. Read moreRead More>

By Nathaniel Davis

Published: February 2, 2015

“One counterproductive practice in agile software development has persisted…: agile planning gives little regard to user experience strategy or information architecture—two pillars of sound requirements gathering.”

Despite the promise of flowering fields of innovation, efficiency, and manageable chunks of working software, you should be cautiously optimistic in applying the agile philosophy to your practice of information architecture.

Intention

One counterproductive practice in agile software development has persisted since the original publication of the Agile Manifesto: agile planning gives little regard to user experience strategy or information architecture—two pillars of sound requirements gathering. Instead, backlogs of requirements fill up with a never-ending stream of ill-informed requests that provide the basis for user stories. To accommodate the barrage of irrational objectives, information architects and other UX professionals who find themselves working in such an environment must resign themselves to becoming flexible—which means giving up any hope for coherent guidance in exchange for pure bedlam. Teams that are plagued by such strategic malpractice must develop a high threshold for pain and ambiguity. Read moreRead More>

By Daniel Szuc, Josephine Wong, and Michael Davis-Burchat

Published: February 2, 2015

“Our quest: to discover what a mature, holistic practice and project framework looks like; what we need to think about in designing the future of business, and the nature of a successful project team.”

In our last article, we explored the elements that make up a mature UX practice and how they apply to project teams. We also looked at some ways in which we could encourage better behaviors on projects, guide teams, and design positive experiences for people. In outlining the elements that encourage the design of a humane UX practice, we considered current and future states, an academy of learning, values and beliefs, the language that a project team uses, toolkits; soft skills, or human qualities that deserve continuous practice; spaces in which to design and validate solutions, learnings from stories; and well-understood, shared artifacts for members of project teams to use in telling their common story, independent of their role on a project.

All of this speaks to our quest to discover what a mature, holistic practice and project framework looks like; what we need to think about in designing the future of business, and the nature of a successful project team. Read moreRead More>

By Ritch Macefield

Published: February 2, 2015

Our first and universal response upon trying the new adaptive features was amazement at how powerful and comprehensive they were.

Sitting around a table in Hamburg with three German Axure trainers from Ax-Stream, our three-day mission was to design a new Axure training course focusing on Responsive Web Design (RWD) using Axure 7’s adaptive features. Our goal was to produce an initial course design that we could pilot test with our other Axure trainers across Europe. More on that later!

We were working with an early beta version of Axure 7. Axure had asked us to review their new adaptive features and provide feedback regarding necessary improvements for its final release. In my prior discussions with Axure CEO, Victor Hsu, he had briefed me that Axure 7 would better address adaptive Web design than full RWD. For example, in keeping with earlier versions of Axure, there would be no support for liquid layouts, specifying positions and dimensions of Axure’s widgets—what some might call screen objects or components—using percentage values, or dynamic reflowing of text within widgets as the parent window gets resized. Read moreRead More>