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June 27, 2016 Edition

The Next Big Thing in User Experience, Part 1

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
June 27, 2016

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, members of our expert panel begin their discussion on what they see as the next big thing in User Experience. Of course, our experts have divergent viewpoints and their vision for the future of User Experience varies, so we’ll discuss quite a few different future-focused topics across two parts. In Part 1, the topics under discussion include putting people first, customer experience and service design, and UX strategy. In Part 2, our experts will discuss several other leading-edge topics, including UX training, integrating new technologies into user experiences, and looking at the future of design for the Internet of Things, mobile, motion, and physical environments.

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 More

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Why Emerging Technologies Are the Next Great Frontier for UX

June 27, 2016

Robotics. Genomics. Synthetic biology. Such emerging technologies are today at the cusp of widespread commercial adoption and will have disruptive impact across industries—from agriculture to manufacturing and health to energy. These technologies are the next great frontier for User Experience.

Science, engineering, and design are percolating on solutions to many technological challenges. UX designers are bringing the expertise they’ve gained in creating digital and physical products to bear on new robotic and even biological products. For instance, at the Wyss Institute, cross-disciplinary teams comprising scientists, engineers, designers, business people, and other innovators are creating and commercializing bio-inspired products. Last year, the Bio/Nano Programmable Matter group at Autodesk created a synthetic bacteriophage and 3D printed the virus. The company, which is best known for its design and engineering software, is now working on a next-gen software platform for synthetic-biology design. Read More


Traditional User Experience Is at a Crossroads, Part 2

Leadership Matters

Leading User Experience teams

A column by Jim Nieters
June 27, 2016

In the first part of this two-part series, I discussed the reality that User Experience, as a profession, is facing a turning point: we either need to commit to creating high-quality user experiences within our current companies or leave them for other organizations in which we can actually make a difference. In Part 1, I covered the first two of several ingredients that are foundational to differentiating on the experience:

  • Executive support—This includes executives’ being emotionally committed to transformation and hiring an amazing UX leader, at the VP level or higher, to help drive that transformation.
  • Culture change—This includes creating an environment of radical collaboration, instilling a culture of integrative thinking; establishing rewards for teamwork, collaboration, and joint decision making; embracing candor, learning from failure, and more.

Now, in Part 2, I’ll highlights the next three factors that are necessary to transforming a company so it can be experience led. Read More


The Power of Inclusion: Why Having Your People Matters

Dramatic Impact

Theater and the creative process of design

A column by Traci Lepore
June 27, 2016

“Sometimes I wonder where I’ve been/Who I am/Do I fit in”—Irene Cara, “Out Here on My Own”

While these lyrics may be a bit cliché, this is an existential question we all have struggled with at various points in our lives, myself included. In fact, this was true for me recently. Changes in organizational structure at work and challenges in my personal life in general had me asking exactly these questions not so long ago. But I’ve always been a pretty strong, resilient person. So I wondered why it felt so hard this time. I also wondered how I’d dig myself out of my quandary.

Participating in two recent events has unwittingly made a huge impact on me—and I think I understand why. These events helped me find my people again and, in doing so, to remember who I am, as well as my place and value in the world. Read More


How Piracy Has Become the Best User Experience in Media

June 27, 2016

Media is a hot industry. Netflix is making major moves in creating award-winning new content. HBO recently launched HBO Now for users without TV service. Everyone from Hulu to Yahoo! is trying to get a piece of the media pie. But, for all the money each of these industry titans is pouring into their streaming products and platforms, it is the underground community of pirates that is truly defining the media user experience.

Considering the investments major media companies are making, it’s surprising not only that this is happening, but also that these big companies are letting it happen by relying only on legal action to curb piracy. Recent developments indicate that there are far more effective ways of stopping piracy. So let’s take a look at how the pirates have taken the lead in media user experience and why the major media companies are sitting back and watching this unfold. Read More

June 14, 2016 Edition

Algorithms as the New Material of Design

Data-Informed Design

Understanding data to achieve great user experiences

A column by Pamela Pavliscak
June 14, 2016

Algorithms drive the stock market, write articles—but not this one—approve loans, and even drive cars. Algorithms are shaping your experience every day. Your Facebook feed, your Spotify playlists, your Amazon recommendations, and more are creating a personalized window into a world that is driven by algorithms. Algorithms and machine learning help Google Maps determine the best route for you. When you ask Siri or Cortana a question, algorithms help shape what you ask and the information you receive as a response.

As experience designers, we rely more on algorithms with every iteration of a Web site or application. As design becomes less about screens and more about augmenting humans with extended capabilities, new ideas, and even, potentially, more emotional awareness, we need algorithms. If we think of experience designers as the creators of the interface between people and technology, it makes sense that we should become more savvy about algorithms. Read More


Understanding Us: A New Frontier for User Experience

June 14, 2016

It’s a good time to be a seasoned UX professional. Software, the epicenter of User Experience practice, continues to expand into every nook and cranny of business. Salaries for senior UX people are competitive with those of our business colleagues, and most of the roles within the galaxy of User Experience are intellectually challenging and—in the right organization—are generally rewarding and contribute to a fine quality of life.

However, this comfortable state of affairs is going to change more quickly than we realize. Already, training programs such as General Assembly and Treehouse are flooding the job market with newly minted practitioners of User Experience. This influx of low-priced, albeit inexperienced, talent that is eager to take an entry-level position and get their career started, slows and even reverses wage growth for senior talent, while making jobs increasingly harder to come by. Read More


Expand Your Influence: 6 Communication Techniques Designers Can Use to Earn Trust

June 14, 2016

While more companies than ever before have a desire to be more customer centric, many UX professionals still struggle in trying to gain a high degree of influence over their organization’s overall strategy and direction. At the end of the day, instead of leveraging their design-thinking, user-research, and empathy skills to guide the highest levels of decision making, many design teams still find themselves focused on creating UI designs under the direction of others. When I attend professional meetups and discussions on design management, much of the discussion often centers around tactics for establishing User Experience as the go-to resource for strategic direction. A common sentiment: “We need to be invited to meetings earlier in the process, so we can apply our way of thinking.”

In their UXmatters article “In Search of Strategic Relevance for UX Teams,” Jim Nieters and Laurie Pattison do an excellent job of describing several organizational tactics that serve to elevate the stature of design groups. One of the most important practices they point to is establishing a level of trust with key sponsors and stakeholders. It’s best to have executive sponsorship to advocate for design, prioritize investment in design, and defend a customer-centric design approach during planning and resourcing initiatives. Sounds great, right? The challenge is that you can’t simply find these sponsors and champions in your organization. You have to earn them. Read More


A No-Compromises User Interface Rarely Gets Built

Selling UX

A unique perspective on service UX

A column by Baruch Sachs
June 14, 2016

Some argue that a UI designer should simply be able to design without having to worry about whether there are technical or business limitations that a design solution should accommodate. The argument, so it goes, is that this is the only way it’s possible to innovate.

Purely from a design sensibility, I am not unsympathetic to this notion. Nevertheless, I do see this purist mentality actually hurting designers’ ability to deliver, especially in the enterprise world.┬áSimply put, when we design without giving any thought to how we’ll actually make something real, we may indeed innovate. However, an innovative concept does not automatically translate into an actual product or application. Read More


Lean UX for Wearables: An Interview with Greg Nudelman, Part 1

June 14, 2016

Wearables are becoming increasingly pervasive devices with a growing array of apps available—yet, somehow, the user experience on many of these devices is lacking. What is the best way to design for this new class of devices? In this interview, I’ll have a conversation with Greg Nudelman—a mobile and tablet experience strategist and a leader in the emerging wearables design arena—about a better approach to design for wearables. Greg is a Fortune-500 advisor, author, speaker, CEO of Design Caffeine, Inc., and has also authored four UX books:

  1. The $1 Prototype: A Modern Approach to Mobile UX Design and Rapid Innovation—See my review for more information about this approach.
  2. Android Design Patterns: Interaction Design Solutions for Developers
  3. Smashing Mobile Book, with co-authors
  4. Designing Search: UX Strategies for eCommerce Success, a UXmatters book, with Contributing Editor Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Read More