May 2015 Issue

By Ronnie Battista

Published: May 18, 2015

“Many in our field, including me, strongly believe in the potential of journey mapping for helping companies to achieve human-centric business transformations.”

Recently, during an early scoping effort for a project with a new client who needed our help transforming their retail experience, we proposed their considering a journey-mapping exercise. Their response:

Please! I do not want to see another journey map.”

Were we surprised? Meh. It was only a matter of time.

This response—or perhaps lament might be a better word—came from the client executive who is responsible for leading the effort. I was not at that meeting, but was curious about where this comment came from, so I probed for more detail about the context. There wasn’t much more to learn, but it was clear that this person had experienced a few journey-mapping efforts in the past and failed to see their value. And it confirmed what a lot of us have been expecting. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: May 18, 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 how to pose probing questions to participants in a usability study and get the answers you need, without leading them to a particular answer.

You are in the midst of a usability study and, when testing one of the tasks, you observe that participants do not seem to see a design element that would help them to finish their task. What do you do now? Do you ask them whether they see the element? Do you just continue and say nothing? Do you ask them later? Is it even possible for the moderator to avoid affecting the test results in some way? Read moreRead More>

By Monique Rivers

Published: May 18, 2015

“Business owners who think that contact forms are nothing more than an easy method of communication that they provide to users of their Web site are making a huge mistake.”

Business owners who think that contact forms are nothing more than an easy method of communication that they provide to users of their Web site are making a huge mistake. Contact forms should not be passive elements of a Web site that gain meaning only when visitors have a problem and use them to find out an easy way to solve it.

Great contact forms inspire people to reach out and play an active role in a company’s online presence. But what makes a contact form really effective? What are the key features of the best contact forms? Read on to find out. Read moreRead More>

By Baruch Sachs

Published: May 18, 2015

“My expectation is that, at some level, most people recognize the importance of user experience these days.”

After nine years of building a robust UX consulting practice within a large software consulting firm, I sort of expect certain things. For one thing, I expect that the people in my organization understand the basic importance of what I do. I’ll bet you do, too. While we might not always get all of the time we’ve scheduled or be able to do all of the things we want to do on a project, in general, our expectation is that, at some level, most people recognize the importance of user experience these days. After all, even when some auto parts store in some remote part of the world revamps their Web site, they tout their “simplified user experience.” When you see that, you start to think that this whole UX thing has become institutionalized to some degree.

That’s why it came as a bit of a shock to me recently when I realized that the issues one of my consultants was having on a project were the result of a development team that felt a good user experience just wasn’t critical to the project’s success—or to the product’s overall user adoption. Read moreRead More>

By Shannon McHarg

Published: May 18, 2015

“Last year’s rocky roll-out of healthcare.gov … got many people talking about why government agencies should join the rest of the technology industry in using agile development practices to improve the delivery of digital services.”

A positive outcome from last year’s rocky roll-out of healthcare.gov is that it got many people talking about why US government agencies should join the rest of the technology industry in using agile development practices to improve the delivery of digital services. What if we took that notion a step further and considered how the government could use agile practices to fix some of the problems we have with gridlock in Congress?

Google defines a democracy as “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.” [1] However, the current state of our democracy has more to do with what lobbyists want, what would get legislators re-elected, and what would persuade the few who are willing to cross party lines to vote for a particular piece of legislation. Did you know that only 9% of bills actually become laws? [2] And 42% of all Senate votes in the last year required a filibuster-proof two-thirds majority vote? [2] If we look at this problem from a designer’s perspective, we can start to find ways to improve the system. Read moreRead More>

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>