November 2014 Issue

By Baruch Sachs

Published: November 17, 2014

“If you’re not able to analyze and focus on the right patterns, you’ll end up buried. If you focus on catching every little crisis before it touches the ground and festers, you’ll constantly be putting out fires. Neither of these outcomes is a good place to be….”

Autumn is a great time to be a New Englander. While autumnal beauty happens all over the world, New England is the place to be in the United States. Sitting on my back deck and looking at the forest behind my house is one of my favorite ways to get inspired. One day, as I was watching the leaves swirl and fall, I started thinking about user experience and consulting. Weird, I know, but as each leaf fell, I realized that, while each leaf seems small, enough of them will eventually cover the entire ground. If you rake too early, you will have to repeat the process multiple times. If you wait until every single leaf is off a tree, your job becomes that much harder. With leaves, this is a game every New Englander plays. When should you pay attention to them? Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: November 17, 2014

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 looks at the importance of considering the fundamental principles of great design—not just UX design principles, but design principles in general. Our panel also discusses how great UX design takes place within organizations, looking at this topic on many different levels. How can you create great designs when working with a variety of designers with different backgrounds and while working within the constraints of project-defined goals? How can the presence of User Experience at the C-level and, in general, garnering support from the C-level affect our ability to implement great designs. How can we produce great designs in a repeatable manner? Keep reading for the answers to all of these important questions. Read moreRead More>

By Traci Lepore

Published: November 17, 2014

“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”—Lao Tzu

“The most successful UX professionals aren’t just good at the basic skills that their profession requires. They are well-rounded, self-aware, empathetic, problem-solving beings. Mastery of these soft skills sets a person apart….”

My background is in graphic design, and I’m an artist by nature. I learned the basics of user experience on the ground, in the early days. While those experiences gave me the fundamental skills that I needed to do my work, they didn’t make me the empathetic and insightful designer I am today. I firmly believe that it is my training in acting and theater that has given me the ability to be, not just a good UX designer, but also a successful one.

What Theater Has Taught MeĀ 

The most successful UX professionals aren’t just good at the basic skills that their profession requires. They are well-rounded, self-aware, empathetic, problem-solving beings. Mastery of these soft skills sets a person apart and makes the difference between being employable and being exceptional. Read moreRead More>

By Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin, and Christopher Noessel

Published: November 17, 2014

This is a sample chapter from the 4th Edition of About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design, by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin, and Christopher Noessel.

Chapter 6: Creative Teamwork

“In design and business, teams are common, but rarely are they successful or productive.”

In the Introduction to this book, we described the Goal-Directed method as consisting of three p’s: principles, patterns, and processes. However, there’s a fourth p worth mentioning—practices. This book mostly concerns itself with the first three, but in this chapter we’d like to share a few thoughts about the practice of Goal-Directed design and how design teams integrate into the larger product team. Read moreRead More>

By Jacqueline Kyo Thomas

Published: November 17, 2014

“While parallax scrolling can be visually stunning and make a great first impression, it is also unexpectedly user hostile.”

Parallax scrolling is a popular Web design trend, but is it worthy of all the positive attention that it’s getting? While parallax scrolling can be visually stunning and make a great first impression, it is also unexpectedly user hostile. And the metrics for the most popular WordPress themes on Template Monster indicate that parallax scrolling isn’t as popular as one might expect. Let’s take a serious look at the pros and cons of parallax scrolling. Read moreRead More>

By Pamela Pavliscak

Published: November 3, 2014

“This is the first edition of my new column, Data-Informed Design, which will explore the use of data to inform UX design.”

This is the first edition of my new column, Data-Informed Design, which will explore the use of data to inform UX design. Data, in many different forms, is changing how we think about ourselves and the world. And, for better or worse, it is definitely changing our experience with technology—from great new mobile apps that we can use to monitor our health to incremental improvements on our favorite Web sites to those annoying ads that follow us everywhere.

In my column, I’ll describe how to use different types and sources of data to create better user experiences and how to achieve some balance—so data isn’t driving decisions. Read moreRead More>

By Steven Hoober

Published: November 3, 2014

“Since Samsung created the large-phone market with their Galaxy Note line, people have called these devices phablets because they fill the size gap between traditional mobile phones and small tablets.”

I’ve read many articles lately that tell us the new iPhone 6 series will force all of us to change the way we approach UI design for mobile phones. Well, it may for designers who still focus only on iOS and pretend the rest of the world does not exist.

But large-screen, portable devices have been around for a long time, and those of us who design for every platform have been considering them in our designs since at least 2011. In fact, larger, touchscreen, handheld devices were available as far back as the Apple Newton, with its 5.25-inch screen. So far in 2014, about a third of all the smartphones sold have screens that are over 5 inches on the diagonal—even before Apple got on the large-screen bandwagon. Not just worldwide sales either. Even in the US, large-screen phones are a huge force, so you can use information about how people use them today. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: November 3, 2014

“Email is often the most effective way to recruit user research participants.”

Email is often the most effective way to recruit user research participants.

You might think: So what? Big deal! A whole article about emailing people? I already know how to email people.

Of course, successfully recruiting participants by email requires a lot more skill and effort than simply sending out a bunch of email messages. Do it well, and you’ll get all the high-quality participants you need. Do it poorly, and you’ll end up with few or no participants, which could delay or even doom your study.

In this column, I’ll detail some best practices and tips for successfully recruiting participants by email. Read moreRead More>

By Nathaniel Davis

Published: November 3, 2014

Be prepared to encounter clients who sometimes feel compelled to dictate constraints, as well as the approach to setting IA and UX strategy— thus, potentially, planting the seeds of bad ideas.

Business leaders, clients, marketers, and product owners typically underestimate the strategy, design, and development effort that goes into creating effective computing user interfaces.

Companies whose business model is Web based—for example, those that develop a Web product or service—may have a greater appreciation for information architecture (IA) and user experience (UX) strategy and design best practices. However, this is much less likely for other types of companies. Getting businesses other than technology companies to carefully consider Web user interfaces as a strategic extension of their business will require persistent efforts in education, building trust, and validation. Read moreRead More>

By Daniel Szuc and Josephine Wong

Published: November 3, 2014

“What elements make up a healthy, mature UX practice?”

In our travels over the last two years or so, we have thought deeply and had hundreds of conversations with UX professionals, trying to get answers to the following questions:

  • What elements make up a healthy, mature UX practice?
  • Beyond the UX community, from what influencers can we draw inspiration?
  • In what ways can we encourage better work behaviors on projects to help guide them and design positive experiences for people?
  • How do we design projects that are meaningful, purposeful, and enable people to feel that they’re part of something special?

Read moreRead More>