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December 05, 2016 Edition

The Importance of Consistency in Interaction Models

On Good Behavior

The essentials of interaction design

December 5, 2016

There are many different types of interaction models, relating to all sorts of domains of human endeavor. General classes of interaction models that have significant impact on user experience include models for

  • business interactions—Such models represent the ways in which organizations conduct their business—internally, working in partnership with other businesses, or serving their end customers. Business interaction models may be specific to a particular business or represent standard practices in particular industry domains. They define the business context for design solutions and, thus, help ensure that they create business value.
  • social interactions—These models represent the ways in which people interact with one another in specific social contexts—whether in real-world, virtual, or digital environments or on social networks. Social interaction models may either represent common patterns of human interaction or define patterns for specific products or services.
  • user interactions—Such interaction models represent the ways in which people interact with technologies of various kinds, which are often specific to particular platforms or types of devices. However, in today’s cross-channel / omni-channel world, it is becoming evermore desirable to design solutions that are consistent across all relevant channels.

In this column, I’ll focus on interaction models for software and the impact of consistency—or the lack thereof—on users’ ability to learn and interact with software user interfaces. Read More

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Applying UX Design Tactically to Achieve Strategic Objectives

December 5, 2016

UX design encompasses user research, user-interface design, visual design, and content. But what about process design? Why should seasoned companies—whose product-development process hasn’t previously relied on conducting design research—hire UX professionals to help them devise and realize a new business model?

At times, my UX team at Fuzzy Math, has had to convince our clients—particularly those who have been around for a while—of the importance of doing user research before design and explain how it affects the end product. We’ve had to be their UX mentor as well as their design agency. Read More


Encouraging Innovation: Drug Discovery and Clinical Trials

Service Design

Orchestrating experiences in context

A column by Laura Keller
December 5, 2016

As experience designers, we love solving messy, wicked problems. Therefore, many experience designers are now focusing on fixing problems relating to healthcare. We’ve made great progress in improving the healthcare experience. We’re using journey mapping to streamline and improve healthcare providers’ processes—for example, hospitals’ check-in and discharge processes and pharmacies’ processes for dropping off and picking up prescriptions. We’ve designed new channels that let healthcare providers communicate with their patients. We’ve helped make clinics’ physical spaces more warm and welcoming.

No doubt such improvements have made the experiences of being a patient or caregiver better. In fact, many of us have experienced these improvements personally. But there is a healthcare process that, while much less visible and tangible to the average person, offers the possibility of dramatically improving people’s health once we solve it: clinical trials.

Clinical trials and the drug-discovery process overall enable pharmaceutical companies, medical-device companies, doctors, hospitals, and researchers to innovate new and improved ways of treating and caring for people. However, the clinical-trial process is significantly flawed—both for the organizations driving such trials and for patients—so much so that innovation has stalled. Read More


Book Review: The Smarter Screen

December 5, 2016

The Smarter Screen CoverShlomo Benartzi is a behavioral economist at UCLA who, with Richard Thaler, has created the Save More Tomorrow program, which encourages people to save a significant percentage of any future pay raises. The program has been very successful in helping people to save money—even people who had said they could not afford to save. The goal of this program differs quite a bit from the common admonition to spend less and start saving more now: it acknowledges the reality that things may be tight today, making it difficult to save money right now. By encouraging people to save their future pay raises, the Save More Tomorrow program makes saving more practical. It’s easy to plan to be better in the future—just look at all the great resolutions we make on New Year’s Day. But it’s all too easy to give into temptation and break our resolutions. Save More Tomorrow works because people commit to saving money before they have it.

In his book The Smarter Screen: Surprising Ways to Influence and Improve Online Behavior, Shlomo explores the way people spend money on mobile apps because it’s easy, exciting, and gives them an immediate sense of satisfaction. Our mobile devices deliver a great deal of information to us and let us act on it very quickly—sometimes too quickly. Read More


How to Placate Clients Who Are Dissatisfied with Your Designs

December 5, 2016

As designers who work in the spheres of mobile-app design, Web application design, or graphic design for the Web, we may face certain clients whose favorite phrase is: “I don’t like that design.”

Even if you have extensive experience as a designer, showed your client countless examples of your work that the client seemed to appreciate, and your client provided a detailed design brief before you started the project, you’ll sometimes encounter dissatisfied clients and will have to listen to objections like the following when you deliver your design solutions:

  • It’s not a fit with what we’re looking for.
  • It’s not in our style.
  • We can’t associate our organization with that branding. Read More

November 21, 2016 Edition

Common Problems UX Leaders Encounter

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
November 21, 2016

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our expert panel discusses common problems that UX leaders face within organizations and offer some ways to overcome them. These organizational issues include the following:

  • failing to understand the unique, strategic value—the business value—of User Experience
  • not investing adequately in User Experience
  • lacking an understanding of User Experience and its vocabulary
  • failing to create a business context in which User Experience can succeed—whether because of an organization’s less than optimal structure, misunderstandings or a lack of respect between people in different functions, resistance to change, or a lack of appreciation for the unique value UX professionals provide
  • considering User Experience too late in the development process
  • placing pressure on UX professionals to skip essential steps in the design process

Every month, our Ask UXmatters experts answer our readers’ questions about user experience matters. To read their answers to your question in an upcoming edition of Ask UXmatters, just send your question to us at: [email protected]. Read More


Agile Development Is No Excuse for Shoddy UX Research

November 21, 2016

Agile development and UX design are like a couple in an arranged marriage—a relationship between two strangers who are expected to coexist, develop trust and respect, and eventually, love each other. Throw UX research into the mix and you have the makings of an even more awkward alliance, as you can see in this typical conversation between a UX designer and a product owner, somewhere in the middle of Sprint 0:

Product owner: “Hey Jen, when can we see some wireframes?”

UX designer: “Well, we’re wrapping up our user interviews and putting together some personas—basically trying to get more clarity around our target users. We’ve already started on some sketches, but I expect we’ll need to make some tweaks based on what we learn.”

Product owner: “That’s all very good. But we can’t afford the luxury of spending too much time on research. Sprint 0 ends next week. We can’t keep the developers waiting! Let’s speed things up. I’d really appreciate if you could get those wireframes going quickly?” Read More


Where Do Killer Ideas Come From? Value Loops and UX Design Strategy

November 21, 2016

In UX and CX design, we’re all looking for the next killer idea—a project that could catapult our company and our career into the spotlight and, potentially, enable us to make a difference to a massive body of users. For many in UX design, such ideas seem almost mythical. How can you find your killer idea? How can you choose which projects to work on?

The anatomy of a great idea is actually quite simple. In this article, I’ll describe what makes a great idea and how they work. Read More


The Conundrum of Humdrum Innovation

November 21, 2016

Imagine how user interfaces and interactions might look and feel in a future when we all have e-ink wallpaper, short-throw projectors that are mounted all around us, augmented-reality devices; and ubiquitous, cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI).

My company was asked to do just that—to develop a new user-interface aesthetic for a venerable consumer electronics brand to roll out in 2020. Needless to say, we were thrilled. This is exactly the sort of design challenge for which my students at Art Center are in training and, I assume, hope to work on in the real world. But, for most working interaction designers, this sort of open-ended brief is rare and, accordingly, highly coveted.

Today, when a designer receives a brief like this, it is quite different from the past, when designers were asked to imagine the future. Then, designers had to stretch their imagination and free themselves of assumptions about what was and wasn’t feasible to conceive of something new. But, today, the gap between the fantastical world of imagined movie interfaces and what we have in our homes, can fit in our pockets, or strap on our wrists seems to be shrinking by the minute. Recently, when Mark Zuckerberg casually posted about his project to build an AI for his home “like Jarvis in Iron Man,” that sounded completely normal. Read More


Build Better Products

November 21, 2016

This is a sample chapter from Laura Klein’s new book Build Better Products: A Modern Approach to Building Successful User-Centered Products. 2016 Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 11: Measure Better

Build Better Products CoverTeams get rewarded based on whether they’ve shipped features on time and on budget for a very good reason—it’s easy to measure. It’s trivial to track things like how many new features are in the latest release or whether version 2.0 was shipped when it was promised.

Sometimes companies make a small effort to tie reviews to real performance. They’ll do it by giving everybody a bonus if the company makes its third-quarter revenue targets or if their division meets a certain large goal for releasing a new product.

Unfortunately, both of these tactics are useless for understanding whether or not a team’s work has made a product better for users. Read More