August 2015 Issue

By Pamela Pavliscak

Published: August 24, 2015

“Thinking about what data you need to inform the customer journey, there are clear gaps. You have a lot more data about your Web site or app than about the other sites and apps that may make up part of the experience, or the user experience ecosystem.”

In actuality, most people spend most of their time on Web sites and apps other than those our organizations have created, and we may not know much about what those experiences are really like. However, your organization can map the customer journey. There is no one right way to map a customer journey. Journey mapping can mean defining an ideal path that we’d like customers to take. Sometimes it means seeking a more nuanced understanding of what people do on a Web site. Less often, we look at an experience globally, mapping touch points for a product or brand, both online and offline.

Whether people are making direct comparisons or just moving from site to site, the most common user experience is the multi-site experience. Booking travel typically involves more than ten sites. Finding a place to eat might involve a mix of sites and apps, very few of which are about the actual dining experience. Even watching a favorite TV show—something we used to think of as a fully engaged or directed activity—can involve other sites. Read moreRead More>

By Leo Frishberg and Charles Lambdin

Published: August 24, 2015

“You haven’t done any user research, but various internal stakeholders already strongly feel they know what the solution should be. They’re wrong, of course, but how can you dissuade them from believing in their assumptions and ideas?”

You’re on a project team. The team has just formed, so you haven’t done any user research, but various internal stakeholders already strongly feel they know what the solution should be. They’re wrong, of course, but how can you dissuade them from believing in their assumptions and ideas? You could protest, stressing the need for up-front user research, but that would generate thrash. You could wait until you’ve prototyped something, then have the stakeholders watch usability testing with users, but the time that would take would likely be too much of an investment—especially given how early in the development cycle it is and how little there is to go on.

As our new book Presumptive Design argues, there is a third way—a middle way. Instead of telling the stakeholders they’re not going about things right or allowing them to overinvest in what’s most likely a bad idea, you can accept their ideas without judgment, get them to unpack the assumptions that lie behind them, build junk artifacts representing their current assumptions, then, without hesitating, test these artifacts with users and watch them fail. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: August 24, 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 the need for the work of technical writers to be an integral part of the UX design process. Strong technical writing can play an important role in a product’s success. Unfortunately, the prevalence of product team’s ignoring technical writing until the latter stages of product development detracts from the ability of technical writers to positively impact product success. Therefore, our panel also discusses some possible ways in which technical writers can encourage teamwork and ensure that they’re involved in a project before it is too late in the product-development lifecycle. Read moreRead More>

By Hilary Basch

Published: August 24, 2015

“In our digital, mobile world, at nearly every moment, user experience (UX) matters. Google calls these micro-moments….”

Do any of these experiences sound familiar? A cleverly designed shopping app in which you can’t find the Buy button. A Phone number text box where it’s unclear whether you need to type dashes, so you waste time typing it both ways to see what works. An illegible CAPTCHA standing between you and the 30 seconds you have remaining to complete your Taylor Swift concert-ticket purchase.

Micro-moments

In our digital, mobile world, at nearly every moment, user experience (UX) matters. Google calls these micro-moments—hundreds of fragmented, in-between, in-the-now, on-the-go times when we turn to technology to research, discover, connect, share, set goals, buy stuff, and do a million other things. Read moreRead More>

By Marg Laing

Published: August 24, 2015

“What UX-specific challenges exist with remote work?”

“I like the idea of working remotely, but I’m worried that I won’t produce great work if I’m cut off from the team.” Does this statement ring true for you? It did for me six months ago, as I struggled through a remote contract. I hadn’t worked remotely before. As I feared, I did not produce great work, and I felt lost as to how to improve the situation.

People had often asked me why I couldn’t work from anywhere like developers do. But, usually, I just shook my head. I couldn’t explain exactly why not. Was it because I couldn’t talk with users? Not really. I’ve worked on many projects on which I couldn’t speak with users. I realized that it was something to do with communication. But why should doing UX design remotely be any different from remote visual design? Read moreRead More>

By Paul Bryan

Published: August 10, 2015

“UX strategy is a counterbalance to efficiency-driven, product-centric methodologies like agile, Lean Startup, and Lean UX.”

UX strategy has come into prominence in the past few years as a specialty area within the field of User Experience, as shown by the rapid increase in UX Strategist job titles and events such as the conference UX STRAT. For many of us who have been in the field for a long time, UX strategy is a counterbalance to efficiency-driven, product-centric methodologies like agile, Lean Startup, and Lean UX. For others, it is a natural progression from basic UX design activities like wireframing to more rigorous, analytical activities such as formulating data-driven personas.

An important question that people ask me frequently at the UX STRAT events that I organize is: “Who needs a UX strategy?” Developing a UX strategy takes time and effort, so what circumstances indicate that developing a UX strategy would be a profitable exercise? The short answer to this question is: If your company has multiple digital products and services, has access to substantial customer data, and has competitors that could take away market share, you need an overarching experience strategy to guide product and service design. Conversely, if your company is a startup with one or two products and an extremely limited runway before it runs out of cash, you should focus on developing a product strategy that is more fluid. This strategy may change as you show your product to potential users before or even after launch. Read moreRead More>

By Yury Vetrov

Published: August 10, 2015

“Many designers still focus on deliverables—work products of their creative process.”

In Part 1 of my series on applied UX strategy, I defined a framework and a profile for product designers. We need both to approach design systematically. Now, in Part 3, I’ll explore how these work.

Many designers still focus on deliverables—work products of their creative process. Following this approach, they do research on a market and users, define scenarios and information architectures, explore solutions through sketching and prototyping, create mockups and guidelines, then give all of their deliverables to the developers. Next, they review the implementation of their design, which usually requires a lot of corrections, until the team achieves the right product-market fit and a decent level of quality. While this works in general, this classic assembly-line approach burns a lot of time and effort on needless deliverables. Designers spend their time polishing supplementary documentation instead of focusing on the product itself. The purpose of most deliverables is simply to transfer knowledge about the product design to other team members, and they quickly become obsolete. This approach leads to high transactional costs. It’s definitely not an optimal approach! Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit and Jim Nieters

Published: August 10, 2015

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

In Part 1 of our three-part review of UX Strategies Summit 2015, we provided an overview of the conference’s organization, content and presenters, proceedings, venue, hospitality, community, and workshops, as well as a detailed review of the workshop that Pabini attended, “Rapid Prototyping for Mobile Experience Design,” which was presented by Will Hacker. Now, in Part 2, we’ll review Day 1 of the General Summit, which took place on June 11, at the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel, in San Francisco, California.

Highlights from Day 1 of the General Summit

The stronger day of the two-day General Summit, Day 1 began well, with all attendees together in the elegant Commandants room for two sessions. Read moreRead More>

By Jaron Rubenstein

Published: August 10, 2015

“There’s a tough balancing act between form and function. Functional solutions often lack visual appeal, while designs with a visual focus sometimes lack functionality and usability.”

When design studio karlssonwilker came to me with a concept for Wolf-Gordon’s new Web site, another development firm had already given up on their vision. The studio wanted an interactive experience that would allow users to leaf through wall-covering swatches as though they were in a bricks-and-mortar store. Their previous development firm had believed that this vision was too ambitious. The site design would require a cutting-edge technology implementation.

Anyone who has ever tried to bring a product to market knows this challenge well. There’s a tough balancing act between form and function. Functional solutions often lack visual appeal, while designs with a visual focus sometimes lack functionality and usability. But that’s no reason to cite irreconcilable differences and give up. By taking the right approach, designers and developers can marry form and function—hitting the sweet spot between simple engineering and a seamless user experience. Read moreRead More>

By Ohad Rozen

Published: August 10, 2015

“A great user experience is … essential to a successful customer journey and as vital to organizational success and growth as product strategy.”

Though it’s taken quite a bit longer than many frustrated UX designers thought it would, the business world is finally waking up to a fundamental fact: when it comes to B2B or B2C Web site design and development, a great user experience is not—and has never been—optional or merely nice to have. Rather, it is essential to a successful customer journey and as vital to organizational success and growth as product strategy. As consumer-behavior consultant and author Brian Solis has rightly noted: “UX packages efficiency and enchantment to deliver more meaningful, engaging, and rewarding consumer journeys.”

What’s more, given the link between great user experiences, rewarding customer journeys, and increased sales, ensuring that business Web sites spark this virtuous cycle is a high priority. Read moreRead More>