May 2015 Issue

By Jim Ross

Published: May 4, 2015

“Designing an effective user experience requires an understanding of the needs of both the business and users and designing a solution that meets them.”

In user experience, we often write about and discuss conducting research to understand users and their needs, but have focused much less attention on understanding stakeholders and their needs. This turnaround from a traditional development process—which focused almost entirely on gathering stakeholders’ requirements and gave very little consideration to the needs of users—was once necessary. But perhaps the balance has tipped too far in some cases, with our focus almost exclusively on users’ needs and a lack of adequate consideration or understanding of business needs. Designing an effective user experience requires an understanding of the needs of both the business and users and designing a solution that meets them. Read moreRead More>

By Steven Hoober

Published: May 4, 2015

“The menu icon has a long and storied history that long predates mobile devices.”

The menu icon has a long and storied history that long predates mobile devices. Designers have used menu icons, in one form or another, since long before touchscreen smartphones gained dominance. Plus, there are hardware menu buttons—often with iconic representations of menus similar to that shown in Figure 1. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit and Jim Nieters

Published: May 4, 2015

“The program for Day 1 of the conference was packed with great content.”—Pabini Gabriel-Petit

In Part 2 of our UX STRAT 2014 review, we’ll cover Day 1 of the main conference, which took place on Monday, September 8, at the Boulder Theater, in Boulder, Colorado. Paul Bryan, producer of UX STRAT 2014, welcomed everyone and opened the conference. The program for Day 1 of the conference was packed with great content. Read moreRead More>

By Nathaniel Davis

Published: May 4, 2015

“Buzzwords are double-edged swords that both validate successful practices and can become the bane of thoughtful UX professionals who must manage the unrealistic expectations that emerge along with the hype and misinformation.”

Lately, I’ve been writing columns that are not specifically about information architecture (IA), but more about how the cultures of business and technology can challenge our ability to do good work. For example, my last column discusses how to make progress in agile team environments. And my column before that walks through three steps for putting bad ideas to rest before they get off the ground. This month’s column confronts another formidable challenge: buzzwords.

Buzzwords are double-edged swords that both validate successful practices and can become the bane of thoughtful UX professionals who must manage the unrealistic expectations that emerge along with the hype and misinformation. Buzzwords often become so popular that people co-opt them for distinctly different purposes—thus, disconnecting them from their original value proposition. Read moreRead More>

By Lisa Welchman

Published: May 4, 2015

This is a sample chapter from Lisa Welchman’s new book Managing Chaos. 2015 Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 7: Getting It Done

“The governance framework design effort is a good opportunity for your organization’s digital stakeholders to learn how to work and collaborate better.”

The governance framework design effort is a good opportunity for your organization’s digital stakeholders to learn how to work and collaborate better. So, even if you already have a sense of who on your digital team ought to have the authority to make decisions related to digital strategy, policy, and standards, it’s still important to go through the design effort with a larger team. Because it’s not just the end state that is important, but rather the interim conversation, collaboration, and compromise required to build your framework. Those activities will bring your team into better communication, better community, and better alignment. Read moreRead More>

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>