August 23, 2016 Edition

Handling the Competing Demands of Field Studies

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
August 23, 2016

For three reasons, field studies are the most difficult user-research technique to master:

  1. Unpredictability—Field studies have little structure. You have to be prepared to be flexible and go wherever a session takes you.
  2. Learning about unfamiliar domains—You often must learn about participants and their tasks in domains with which you’re unfamiliar.
  3. Competing demands—As a facilitator, in addition to coping with this unpredictability and an unfamiliar environment, you have to be able to handle many competing demands.

There’s not much you can do about unpredictability and a study may require you to learn about new domains. Those are givens. But there are some things you can do that will help you cope with the competing demands of field studies. In this column, I’ll discuss these competing demands and provide tips on how to best handle them.  Read More

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Conference Review: UX STRAT 2015, Part 2: Workshops

August 23, 2016

At UX STRAT 2015, the pre-conference workshops took place on September 8. There were just one full-day workshop and two half-day workshops, so the two of us were able to cover all of them.

Full-Day Workshop

Strategic UX Through Information Architecture”—Andrew Hinton and Dan Klyn, both of whom are Information Architects at The Understanding Group

Half-Day Workshops

Part 1 of this UX STRAT 2015 review provided an overview of the conference.  Read More

UX Trends

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
August 23, 2016

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our expert panel discusses some UX trends that have surprised them—because of either their success or failure—or trends they find just plain silly. Read on for their thoughts on personalization, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, skeuomorphism, and more. The panel also considers whether it’s a good idea to follow UX trends.

Every month in my column Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts answers our readers’ questions about a broad range of user experience matters. To get answers to your own questions about UX strategy, design, or research or any other topic of interest to UX professionals in an upcoming edition of Ask UXmatters, please send your questions to: [email protected]. Read More

Mobile App Analytics: The 12 Most Important Metrics to Measure

August 23, 2016

Eight years ago, on July 10, 2008, the iPhone App Store opened and the mobile app-development ecosystem was born. Then, just a few months later, on October 22, the Android Market came into being. Businesses, developers, and mobile users would never be the same. According to Statista, mobile app revenues are forecast to grow to $76.52 billion in 2017, which is roughly equal to $10 for every person on the face of the Earth!

Businesses that want to earn a share of this enormous mobile app–revenue pie must understand and track 12 key performance indicators (KPIs) that let them measure—and, in some cases, foretell—the success of their apps—or, in the case of 99% of all apps, their demise. With the help of these KPIs, you can better understand how well an app is doing and how users are engaging with the app. Gaining this understanding is a prerequisite to comprehending why an app is performing in a certain way and how to improve its user experience.

In this article, I’ll describe the 12 most important KPIs that will help you to measure the what before you can get to the whyRead More

Designing Desirable Experiences

August 23, 2016

As a UX designer, I have created solutions for many problems, but one simple question strikes me: is it enough to solve problems or should we look beyond merely solving problems and make our solutions more desirable, more exciting? How can we go beyond problem solving and create desirable experiences through design?

One Problem, Many Solutions

The simple use case of keeping time has shaped a huge industry for a very long time. But the industry’s primary use case has become secondary, if not trivialized.

For wristwatches alone, the sheer number of styles, types, and technologies available in the market is simply awe inspiring. For example, there are chronograph watches, big-date watches, moon-phase watches, digital watches, and smartwatches. Brands such as Omega and Rolex position themselves as status symbols for the elite. Brands like Citizen, Casio, and Timex mass-produce watches in many styles, with a variety of functions and purposes, targeting middle-income consumers. The smartwatch manufacturers Motorola, Apple, and Samsung are recent additions to the market. Read More

August 08, 2016 Edition

UX Fiefdoms: Their Dangerous Effects

Selling UX

A unique perspective on service UX

A column by Baruch Sachs
August 8, 2016

Recently, I sat down with the CEO of my company to discuss some topics relating to User Experience. We meet pretty regularly because he is, in general, very interested in getting our customer experience right. Though this was not the focus of our conversation, we talked briefly about the fact that fiefdoms exist in every company, large or small. Some people and groups in every corporation continually seek to create little feudal empires that truly stifle creativity and impede an organization’s ability to move forward.

While our conversation just touched on this topic lightly, it got me thinking about the current state of enterprise UX—where we are in danger of creating fiefdoms. I have previously written about how UX teams are literally in a golden age, finding themselves in unprecedented positions of power and influence within organizations that are finally realizing how critical User Experience is to the success of modern-day products and services. However, the internal actions of our UX teams could easily diminish the positive effects of this golden age. Read More

Practical UX Design

August 8, 2016

This is a sample chapter from the book Practical UX Design, by Scott Faranello, which was published by Packt Publishing Ltd. in April 2016. UXmatters is publishing this chapter with Scott Faranello’s permission. Copyright ¬© 2016 Packt Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.

Chapter 2: Creative UX

Practical UX Design CoverLet’s go a little deeper now and talk about another important area of focus for the practical UX practitioner: creativity. Developing a UX mindset is essential to better design work because it allows you to see things differently, which in turn will allow you to design differently, leading to more creative solutions on a consistent basis. Of course, we all want to be our most creative selves most of the time, but in the working world, we also have to deal with deadlines, meetings, office politics, and other distractions that can make creativity a major challenge and negatively affect your solutions and subsequent designs. The key, therefore, is to find a balance between creativity and decisiveness, two mindsets or modes that can often be at odds. By following some steps, inspired by someone who knows, you will be able to switch between these two modes more easily and more effectively.

In this chapter, we will look at:

  • The essential mindset for creativity
  • The six conditions needed for creativity
  • Applying creativity to UX design Read More

How Innovations in Logistics Fulfill the Experience Demand

Service Design

Orchestrating experiences in context

A column by Laura Keller
August 8, 2016

At the risk of dating myself, when I purchased my first computer for graduate school, I recall using my friend’s dial-up modem to connect to AOL. Then I pulled up the Web site to track its delivery status. I refreshed the status and, when the screen finally read, “Delivered,” ran down to the lobby of my apartment building in Boston to retrieve my precious package before someone tried walking away with the large Dell box. Ignoring the fact that shipping and delivery took over a week at that time, I was thrilled that I could instantly see the status of my package, then have it in my hands five minutes later. I appreciated this service-experience win years before I ever cared about service design as a profession.

The service experience that connects our desire or need to have a product and the speed at which we can get it has come a long way since those early AOL days. Today, we expect free shipping for the things we buy online, and we want them at our door within one or two days. We also want easy returns, in case we don’t like what we bought. But the behind-the-scenes complexity that’s involved in fulfilling of these needs and desires cannot be overstated. In this column, I’ll explore how and why the shipping, delivery, and logistics industry is evolving to be more customer centered and what this means to us as¬†experience design professionals. Read More

Creating User-Friendly Documentation

August 8, 2016

Simplified Technical English (STE) and minimalism are of great importance in writing user-friendly documentation, particularly for user content such as maintenance manuals. However, many technical writers experience specific problems when implementing STE and minimalism. The ASD-STE100 Specification is a complex document, and a disadvantage of this approach is its expensive learning time. Plus, literature about minimalism comprises complex documents, and training is scarce.

In this article, we’ll clearly describe the steps you need to take to implement the principles of Simplified Technical English and minimalism in designing optimized, user-friendly documentation. First, we’ll cover the concepts behind the Thumbs-Up Technique—principally, STE and minimalism. Next, we’ll detail the steps to follow in implementing STE. Finally, we’ll detail the steps to follow in implementing minimalism. By following the steps we’ll outline, you can apply the principles of STE and minimalism to your documentation quite easily. Read More

Accessible Documentation

August 8, 2016

Accessibility is the ability to do things differently! As the world moves toward assistive technology, one principle that has gained prominence is accessibility. With billions of users taking advantage of technology, it is imperative that technology be accessible to all. This is the basic idea from which the concept of accessibility has originated and the reason why assistive technology is gaining prominence.

Accessibility refers to the idea of creating a product with the intention that people with various disabilities can use it. The term disability encompasses different kinds of impairments that arise from physical, cognitive, visual, auditory, and neurological challenges. The American Psychological Association defines disability as a “functional limitation that affects an individual’s ability to perform certain functions.” Technology can play a huge role in helping people to overcome their disabilities to a great extent. Accessibility strives to make information and technology usable for disabled users. Read More