April 2015 Issue

By Jim Nieters and Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: April 20, 2015

“When your organization’s goal is to differentiate on the experience, you must start every product-development project by defining the experience that you want people to have with your product or service. ”

When your organization’s goal is to differentiate on the experience, you must start every product-development project by defining the experience that you want people to have with your product or service. Companies that differentiate on the experience do not begin by defining feature sets. They first define a vision for the experience outcome that they intend to deliver to their users and customers. Only once your team fully understands the experience outcomes that you want users to have can you make good decisions about what features and technologies would optimally support that vision.

This is the fourth column in our series about what companies must do if they want to stop producing average user experiences and instead design great experiences. As we have already stated in our previous columns, great UX teams focus on differentiating their companies through design. If that’s your goal, you need to work for a company that shares your aspirations. Read moreRead More>

By Pamela Pavliscak

Published: April 20, 2015

“Teams need to have a way to know whether they’ve achieved their goal.”

Recently, I was invited to speak about this topic for the Collision Conference, which is coming up in May: Can good design be measured? This is a great, complicated tangle of a question. Immediately, I started thinking of ways to answer it. If it’s a question I’m supposed to answer it, right?

Can Experience Be Measured?

Answer 1: Yes, because we have to measure it. Teams need to have a way to know whether they’ve achieved their goal. Sure, it’s great to have a happy-customer story or even deep insights from contextual research, but teams also need to know where we’ve been, where we are right now, and where we’re going—and data tells us all of that. Usually, that data needs to tie into what an organization values, whether money earned or lives saved.

Answer 2: Yes, because it helps us to understand people in a different way. A good measure will tell you more than you knew before. It can tell you whether regular visitors to your site are spending more or less time on the site on each subsequent visit. That doesn’t tell you much about the design—and just a bit about the experience as a whole. But measures can also tell you whether people are reading long posts all the way through or which details seem to get the most attention. This may tell you something new and provide a good jumping off point to learning more. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, with Jim Nieters

Published: April 20, 2015

“UX STRAT 2014 was again a single-track conference, so all attendees shared a common experience.”

The UX strategy tribe gathered once again for the UX STRAT 2014 conference in picturesque Boulder, Colorado, at the foot of the magnificent Rocky Mountains. After a day of pre-conference workshops on September 7 at the beautiful Hotel Boulderado, the main conference convened for two days, on September 8 and 9, just one block away at the lovely Art Deco Boulder Theater.

In this review, I’ll provide an overview of the conference, covering the same dimensions as the star ratings to the rig<>ht, and Jim Nieters and I will review four of the workshops that took place on Sunday, September 7.

Organization

Paul Bryan, producer of UX STRAT 2014, who is shown in Figure 1, did a great job of organizing another excellent and enjoyable conference. I was really glad that UX STRAT 2014 was again a single-track conference, so all attendees could share a common experience. As Paul promised in his UX Strategy column on UXmatters, “UX STRAT 2014: Focusing on UX Strategy,” “Experienced UX strategy professionals will present their approaches to guiding UX projects, products, and programs.” This year, Paul decided to dispense with panels and vignettes, which allowed more speakers more time for in-depth explorations of their topics. In my view, these were good decisions. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: April 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 several ways of involving stakeholders at different stages of a project.

What are the best ways to involve stakeholders in the research and design for a project—especially when you have a large number of them? Do you bring all of them into an initial design meeting? Or wait until you have a solid first design? Or should you wait to involve stakeholders until you have a very strong, well-iterated design? How should you best handle the different types of stakeholders—for example, those who will actually use the product versus those who would decide to buy the product? Read moreRead More>

By Ben Newton

Published: April 20, 2015

“I know of a relatively untapped market that, in the USA alone, accounts for over 12% of the entire population…. This market is, of course, people with disabilities (PWD), which has an estimated world-wide population of 1.3 billion people….”

“How does accessibility fit into our development and content strategy?” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this in a meeting about a Web site or app, I’d be, well, only a dollar or two richer. In the ten years I have been developing digital products for clients and agencies, I could count on one hand the number of times we’ve discussed Web site accessibility.

Perhaps, as the knowledgeable developer, I should be raising my hand as the one who is culpable and accepting the blame for this. After all, shouldn’t I be championing all relevant standards that would lead to my Web sites being pillars of the Internet? This would be ideal. However, on the occasions when I’ve done this, I’ve encountered the all-too-familiar blank stare washing over the faces of decision makers, as my suggestions sail over their head as they wait for their turn to talk. And, when their turn does come, what they say usually takes the form of praise, followed by a request that I fit as much work as possible into half of the amount I’ve quoted. Read moreRead More>

By Peter Hornsby

Published: April 6, 2015

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”—Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”—Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

The year is 2015. There’s a good chance you have a smartphone in your pocket—a marvelous device with which you can access, if not the sum total of all human knowledge, at least enough of it to do pretty well in a pub quiz. (For readers in the USA, that’s a bar quiz.) You can order your groceries online, buy books and movies from Amazon, and search the Web with Google and Bing. So it’s fair to say that you’re at least reasonably familiar with the Web. Read moreRead More>

By Will Hacker

Published: April 6, 2015

“We’ve probably all had the experience of opening an HTML email message on a smartphone only to find that it hasn’t been optimized for mobile. The text is too small to read easily, and it’s difficult to interact with calls to action because of their size and spacing.”

We’ve probably all had the experience of opening an HTML email message on a smartphone only to find that it hasn’t been optimized for mobile. The text is too small to read easily, and it’s difficult to interact with calls to action because of their size and spacing. However, there are ways in which email creators can solve these problems, including using responsive design techniques and taking a mobile-first approach to designing HTML email messages.

The example shown in Figure 1 is a TechCrunch daily-update email message, which is not optimized for smartphone users. The first problem is that the headline text is too small to read easily without zooming in, so it requires horizontal scrolling. Some headlines have additional text beneath them, but that text is even smaller. And the read more call to action feels almost microscopic. To be fair, the headlines also link to the articles, but people may not know that at first, because there is a separate, more explicit call to action. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: April 6, 2015

“For Day 2 of the conference, the audience was happily united in a single track.”

The Global Strategic Management Institute (GSMI) launched the first UX Strategies Summit on June 10–12, 2014, which took place in San Francisco, California, at the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel. In Part 1 of my two-part review, I covered the organization of the conference, the “Adaptable Product Roadmaps” workshop that I attended, and Day 1 of the “General Summit.” Now, in Part 2 of my review, I’ll cover Day 2 of UX Strategies Summit 2014 and complete my overview of the conference, reviewing its proceedings, venue, hospitality, and community. Read moreRead More>

By Indi Young

Published: April 6, 2015

This is a sample chapter from Indi Young’s new book Practical Empathy. 2015 Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 2: Empathy Brings Balance

Going deeper than assumptions and opinions in your understanding of people is powerful. If your organization is captivated by metrics, empathy will balance out the numbers. Being honest about what you don’t know, being interested in the simpler underlying philosophies that make people tick—these characteristics are what can catalyze your creativity and your collaboration.

Empathy Is Not What You Might Think

At first, most people seem to think that empathy is about showing warmth and kindness, or at least tolerance, toward another person. People think empathy is “to walk in someone else’s shoes,” to put themselves in that person’s place and embrace or excuse his behavior. This is not what empathy is about. Not exactly. Read moreRead More>

By Hang Guo

Published: April 6, 2015

“It is widely accepted that creative design is not a matter of first fixing the problem and then searching for a satisfactory solution concept; instead it seems more to be a matter of developing and refining together both the formulation of the problem and ideas for its solution, with constant iteration of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation processes between the two “spaces”—problem and solution.”—Nigel Cross and Kees Dorst, in “Co-evolution of Problem and Solution Spaces in Creative Design,” 1999.

“Constant changes in both the problem and solution spaces are the fundamental forces underlying the UX design process.”

If my work in UX design holds any truth, it is that everything could change. On every project, we search for two qualities in parallel: a deeper understanding of the problem at hand and better solutions for it. Constant changes in both the problem and solution spaces are the fundamental forces underlying the UX design process. Read moreRead More>