August 2015 Issue

By Janet M. Six

Published: July 20, 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 some other professions that have inspired their UX design work. Our experts have taken inspiration from such diverse fields as music, dance, philosophy, theater, and gastronomy. Have you taken inspiration from another profession and applied it in your UX design practice? If so, please share the source of your inspiration in the comments. Read on to learn about some of our experts’ sources of UX inspiration.

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 Brady Bonus

Published: July 20, 2015

“Creating a simple experience that looks easy, feels easy, and actually is easy is quite complicated.”

Creating a simple user experience requires a method. It’s not enough to say that you’ll create a simple design, that you’ll design like Apple, or that you’ll just remove enough stuff until it feels right. Creating a simple experience that looks easy, feels easy, and actually is easy is quite complicated.

My search for a framework for simple design started when I began studying the work of John Maeda, a computer scientist, graphic designer, and former President of Rhode Island School of Design. Maeda’s book The Laws of Simplicity presents ten laws that constitute simplicity, and he expounds on how each law contributes to things feeling simple. Inspired by his work, I took a few of his laws and created a three-step method that you can apply to design thinking. I can only hope that my distillation of his ten laws down to three steps would make him proud. Read moreRead More>

By Traci Lepore

Published: July 20, 2015

“The story begins anew with each and every interaction you engage in when on stage—and the same is true in UX design.”

Rehearsals are over. You have survived tech week. The dress rehearsal has happened.  Now its opening night: the lights go down, the audience quiets, and the show begins. But that doesn’t mean the work is over. In fact, it is only beginning.

While this may sound a little strange to you, it’s true. There are many factors that go into a live performance that can be difficult to manage or anticipate ahead of time. Biggest of all is the unpredictability of human beings—who can and will make mistakes. The energy of a particular audience can drive or deplete your supply of adrenaline. Technical or wardrobe malfunctions could occur. A lot of stars have to align to ensure that you deliver an amazing performance. Read moreRead More>

By Baruch Sachs

Published: July 20, 2015

“Sometimes … a design is found wanting in actual usage … [and] there are still significant user-adoption issues after the design gets implemented.”

Sitting where we do within a consulting organization for a software vendor, my team and I often feel like mediators between two warring factions. On one side, we have Design and, on the other side, user’s actual usage of an application. Sometimes, both meld fantastically well. In such cases, the design is almost always well thought out, slick, and crafty. At other times, though, a design is found wanting in actual usage, especially at the higher end of the scale. It is at such times that, although a design seems great, all parties agreed to it, and we put it through rigorous testing, there are still significant user-adoption issues after the design gets implemented. How does this happen, and how can we address this problem?

During this golden age of design that we are experiencing, it is becoming increasingly important to address such situations. Even though the profession of User Experience is rapidly maturing, many executive sponsors of our efforts still look at User Experience as some sort of magic pixie dust. UX experts come in, sprinkle it about, and all is well. This mentality does not leave a lot of room for UX folks to fail to hit the mark the first time out. Such expectations may be unfair, but more and more, this is becoming the reality. Design, especially Web page design, is now becoming a commodity. Business leaders understand that User Experience is critical, but there is also a growing sense that what we do is totally repeatable. Read moreRead More>

By Arun Joseph Martin

Published: July 20, 2015

“An online diagramming and collaboration tool, Lucidchart lets you create flowcharts, process diagrams, mindmaps, and wireframes.”

As UX professionals, we use different diagramming tools to create a variety of diagrams that articulate our UX designs. We must share these diagrams with our collaborators and stakeholders, who may be in remote locations, to receive their feedback. Most diagramming tools are either desktop or cloud applications, with some collaboration options. Just a few tools, including Lucidchart, offer us the flexibility to work both offline and online and have video and chat collaboration features.

An online diagramming and collaboration tool, Lucidchart lets you create flowcharts, process diagrams, mindmaps, and wireframes. Because it is a cloud-based Web application, you can use Lucidchart in any leading browser on Windows or Mac OS computers. There is also a free iPad app. Free Google Chrome browser extensions for Lucidchart enable you to work in Google Docs and use Google Drive to back up Lucidchart documents. When you have no Internet connection, Lucidchart’s free Google Chrome app lets you create diagrams offline, then synchronize them later when you are again connected. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: July 6, 2015

“Unfortunately, analysis remains underappreciated and is often overlooked. … Analysis [is] the process that transforms research data into deliverables.”

User research is cool. User research deliverables can even be cool. But sadly, to many people, analysis isn’t cool. Clients and project team members get excited by the idea of user research, they like being able to say they did user research, and they like to show off impressive user research deliverables. But the unsung-hero, who does much of the heavy lifting is analysis. Unfortunately, analysis remains underappreciated and is often overlooked.

There are plenty of books, articles, and presentations about user-research techniques and deliverables, but they seldom discuss analysis—the process that transforms research data into deliverables. To some, it may even seem that you come out of research with a fully formed understanding of users and their tasks and immediately begin creating personas, diagrams, and presentations. Read moreRead More>

By Steven Hoober

Published: July 6, 2015

“The way you diagram the task flows for an app or Web site should always communicate something about the organization of the elements it contains….”

In a recent Mobile Matters column, “Tools for Mobile UX Design: Task Flows,” I covered how to draw task flows, why you should draw task flows, and the value of the level of system understanding that task flows give to your project team. However, I didn’t cover everything about the architectural decisions that go into creating task flows, so in this column, I’ll dig into some other things relating to task flows that I think are important.

Hopefully, you’ve spent some time thinking about how to organize the digital products or services that you design. What is the relationship between elements? When should they be next to each other, on top of each other, or stacked one above the other? Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: July 6, 2015

“UX Strategies Summit 2015 was a very well-organized, smooth-running conference.”

Almost exactly one year after their first, very successful UX Strategies Summit (UXSS) in 2014, the Global Strategic Management Institute (GSMI) presented UX Strategies Summit 2015, which again occurred at the beautiful Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel in San Francisco. A full day of pre-Summit workshops on Tuesday, June 9, preceded the two-day General Summit, which took place on June 10–11, 2015.

Here, in Part 1 of our three-part review, I’ll give an overview of the event, covering all of the categories that appear in the star ratings to the right, then review the workshop that I attended.

Organization

Logistically, UX Strategies Summit 2015 was a very well-organized, smooth-running conference. GSMI specializes in organizing conferences and did an even better job of planning, hosting, and running the Summit this year than they did last year. Summit Producer Breanna Jacobs, who is shown in Figure 1, welcomed everyone at the beginning of each day of the General Summit. She and the rest of the GSMI team did a great job. Read moreRead More>

By Andrew Micallef

Published: July 6, 2015

“Frequent delivery is an important agile principle. Empowered teams with intense user involvement can achieve frequent delivery through well-defined, time-boxed planning.”

In Part 1 of this two-part series on the agile manifesto for product management, I described the four phases of agile development projects: conception, definition, planning, and deployment; then covered the first four of nine principles for agile. Now, in Part 2, I’ll cover the remaining five agile principles, then conclude with a summary of some benefits of agile software development.

Principle 5: Frequent Delivery

Since the agile mindset is flexible, iterative, and dynamic, frequent delivery is an important agile principle. Empowered teams with intense user involvement can achieve frequent delivery through well-defined, time-boxed planning. In an agile approach, it is a team’s responsibility to deliver maximal business benefit through minimal business requirements. Read moreRead More>

By Johannes Stock

Published: July 6, 2015

“In her book Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design, Lisa Welchman shows us how to tame the digital beast. Her reality-tested approach and holistic view make for a great read….”

In her book Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design, Lisa Welchman shows us how to tame the digital beast. Her reality-tested approach and holistic view make for a great read that is worth every minute of your time.

The book’s subtitle promises digital governance by design, which will get the attention of curious designers and other digital workers alike. But it will also likely produce some skepticism in her audience. After all, don’t we owe a huge part of our creativity to the boundless freedom and chaos the digital environment provides? But if we can hold back the romantic within us for a moment, we’ll remember various situations in which our energy and creativity were stifled by chaos. Read moreRead More>