December 2014 Issue

By Jim Nieters and Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: December 8, 2014

“Producing great, highly differentiated user experiences should be the goal of every UX leader. But in many companies, UX leaders face challenges that force them to approach leading User Experience in a less than optimal way.”

This column is the second in our series that highlights our insights on what it would take for companies to go from producing dreary, overly complex user experiences to producing truly great user experiences that differentiate their products from those of competitors in their marketplace. In our first column, we stated that producing great, highly differentiated user experiences should be the goal of every UX leader. But in many companies, UX leaders face challenges that force them to approach leading User Experience in a less than optimal way. If, as a UX leader, you find yourself stuck in a situation where you and your team cannot do great work—that is, you are unable to produce user experiences that solve people’s problems, inspire, and delight—you’re working for the wrong organization and should find a better job. In that column, we also discussed how to position User Experience for optimal impact. Read moreRead More>

By Will Hacker

Published: December 8, 2014

“When creating early mobile designs, we should still start with the same simple sketching techniques that we’ve traditionally used for desktop designs.”

These days, it’s easy to design mobile user experiences using powerful tools such as Axure RP, Blueprint, or Protot.io. But when creating early mobile designs, we should still start with the same simple sketching techniques that we’ve traditionally used for desktop designs. Now, there are apps that let us get our sketches on real mobile devices for demos and usability testing. In this article, I’ll share some of my favorite tools for sketching mobile user experiences.

When I first started designing user experiences for mobile devices, there were almost no tools whose specific purpose was sketching hand-held user interfaces. Designers were creating six-ups and Photoshop and Illustrator templates for their own use, but since these belonged to individual designers or design agencies, few became resources for the larger UX community. Fortunately, the landscape has changed, and many tools and resources are now available for designers to sketch mobile user interfaces—working within the constraints of device screen sizes—then turn their sketches into interactive prototypes. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: December 8, 2014

In exploring potential means of integrating user experience into an organization’s product strategy and overall business strategy, our expert panel discusses such approaches as presumptive design and the Jobs to Be Done model.

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts discusses two topics:

  • how to integrate user experience into an organization’s product and business strategy
  • how to best understand the culture of an organization for which you are providing design solutions

In exploring potential means of integrating user experience into an organization’s product strategy and overall business strategy, our expert panel discusses such approaches as presumptive design and the Jobs to Be Done model. On the related topic of best design practices for a particular culture, the Expert Panel considers observation and anthropology. Read moreRead More>

By Oleksandr Sukholeyster

Published: December 8, 2014

“The user experiences of enterprise applications do have direct impact on an organization’s performance. When the applications that an enterprise employs provide better user experiences and usability, its people are more efficient and productive.”

Organizations that have IT (Information Technology) departments should be more effective than organization that lack them. If your organization doesn’t use and maintain its software and servers efficiently and effectively, that’s money down the drain.

But, while it’s easy to see the direct impact that the user experience of a consumer application has on user conversions, that’s not true of user experiences for the enterprise segment of the software marketplace. Computer software that automates the business of non-software organizations is usually slow evolving. However, the user experiences of enterprise applications do have direct impact on an organization’s performance. When the applications that an enterprise employs provide better user experiences and usability, its people are more efficient and productive. The greater the cost of human resources within organization, the bigger that impact is. Read moreRead More>

By Hang Guo, Khasfariyati Razikin, and Muhammad Hatib

Published: December 8, 2014

“The UX community has a long acquaintance with the pile-sort method of user research.”

The UX community has a long acquaintance with the pile-sort method of user research. In this article, we’ll revisit the origin of the pile-sort method in anthropology and provide an account of how we used this method to understand user task flows. We’ll also introduce an extension to the pile-sort method that helped us to collect user data more effectively while working in an agile software-development environment. Finally, we’ll discuss the analytical method that we used to process our study results: factor analysis. Read moreRead More>

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>