April 10, 2017 Edition

Collaboration Versus Compromise

Leadership Matters

Leading User Experience teams

A column by Jim Nieters
April 10, 2017

Recently, I met with another UX leader who asked me what my priorities are as a UX leader. I answered that I’ve reached a point in my career where I choose to work only with companies that are committed to doing what it takes to produce great experiences and disrupt their market. I’m no longer willing to create mediocre experiences—because, as Jim Collins points out in his book Good to Great, “Good is the enemy of great.” For me, the key question is: how do we create experiences that inspire users and disrupt markets?

Sadly, that design leader was so afraid of alienating Product Management within her company that she took my comment to mean that I do not understand the importance of compromise. But I actually recognized something very different—and somewhat insidious—in her assumption: She did not understand that, in the best companies, Product Management, User Experience, and Engineering work collaboratively, from the inception of every project, to define an ideal experience outcome. Each discipline knows that they need one another’s perspectives, and they integrate each other’s insights into their own thinking. Such early collaboration precludes the need for the kind of compromise this UX leader was concerned about. Her comment suggested a much more troubling assumption that represents a deeper challenge: that UX professionals must compromise to keep their jobs, because it is Product Management that defines features and even experiences, and User Experience must not rock the boat. Read More

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When the Experience Is the Business Strategy, Everyone Wins

Selling UX

A unique perspective on service UX

A column by Baruch Sachs
April 10, 2017

There are few hard and fast rules in consulting. Variances in our customers, projects, engagement models, and other factors all contribute to there being a significant amount of breadth and depth in what we do. This, in turn, requires us to be flexible in our methods and the deliverables we produce. But one hard and fast rule that does exist—at least in my world of consulting—is this: It does not matter if you are right. It matters that you are helpful.

As a consultant, when you ensure that everything your do for and with your clients aids them in achieving their business strategy, you also enable their providing a world-class user experience and, thus, ensure your own success. Luckily for all UX professionals and our profession, more organizations than ever are rapidly embracing the concept that the experience is the business strategy. This change is occurring because these companies are recognizing that they need to flawlessly conceive and execute their product and service experiences to solidify their place in the marketplace—whether to sustain a leadership position or move into a leadership spot. Read More

Applied UX Strategy, Part 5.1: Outcome-Driven Design

April 10, 2017

In the first part of my series on applied UX strategy, I outlined a UX maturity framework. Parts 2–4 of this series provided in-depth coverage of some operational and tactical aspects of implementing UX strategy, including requirements for product designers, employing platform thinking to ship quality products, setting up a design team, and creating a design culture. Now, in Part 5.1, I’ll begin my discussion of how to solve business problems through design.

In Part 5.1, I’ll discuss the use of a shared language between business and design, then solving business problems through design. Finally, I’ll consider the transformation of the product designer’s role in depth, which progresses through three stages:

  1. Helping product teams identify and solve user problems, which I’ll cover in Part 5.1
  2. Evaluating maximal outcomes for problem solutions, which I’ll cover in Part 5.2
  3. Moving from problem solving to innovation, which I’ll also cover in Part 5.2 Read More

Book Review: User Story Mapping

April 10, 2017

User Story Mapping CoverAuthor: Jeff Patton, with Peter Economy

Publisher: O’Reilly Media

Publication date: September 2014

Formats: Paperback, ebook, and Safari Books Online. 324 pages in print.

Print ISBN: 978-1-4919-0490-9 and 10:1-4919-0490-9

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4919-0485-5 and 10:1-4919-0485-2

List Price: Paperback, $34.99; ebook, $29.99


If you are or soon will be working in an agile development environment, User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product, by Jeff Patton is a must read for you. This book details story-mapping techniques and explains why they are important for teams that create products to meet user needs. According to Patton, user story mapping is not about creating set of written requirements, but a way of thinking. Telling stories through words and pictures builds understanding and helps solve problems for organizations, customers, and users.

The most important job we have is to focus on the outcome and the impact of the products we are creating. Taking a slightly philosophical view of the importance of project outcomes, Patton writes, “The truth is, your job is to change the world.” Read More

Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population

April 10, 2017

This is an excerpt of a sample chapter from Jeff Johnson and Kate Finn’s new book Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population. 2017 Morgan Kaufmann.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population CoverTechnology is making the world ever smaller: communications are more frequent, transactions are more instantaneous, and reporting is more direct and unfiltered. If you aren’t connected, you can be at a real disadvantage. Another disadvantage is being unable to easily and effectively use digital devices and online resources. As designers, developers, and advocates of digital technology, we should be doing our best to make it useful and usable for everyone, so no one will be at a disadvantage.

We know the benefits of staying mentally, socially, and physically active as we age. Digital technology can help with that. So it seems paradoxical that older adults can be particularly susceptible to the ill effects of poorly designed digital devices and user interfaces. Read More

March 27, 2017 Edition

Books That Have Influenced Our UX Careers, Part 2: Applied UX Research

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
March 27, 2017

For the centennial edition of Ask UXmatters, I asked our expert panel to tell me about the books that have had the greatest influence on their career—including books about User Experience and other topics. I received so many stories about books that had an impact on our experts that I decided to publish this column in three parts. Part 1 covered design books. Now, in Part 2, we’ll focus primarily on books on UX research—covering books on both user research and usability testing—but we’ll also cover some books on applying the findings from UX research through user-centered design. Next month, Part 3 will consider books that, while not about User Experience, have greatly influenced our experts’ thinking.

AnnouncementUXmatters is now an Amazon Associate, so you can support UXmatters by initiating a shopping trip on Amazon by clicking a book link in this column, then buying the book or any other products on Amazon. Thus, by making purchases on Amazon, you can—at no additional cost to you—help UXmatters cover its operating expenses, fund our ongoing Web-development efforts, and defray the recent $90,000.00 cost of completely rebuilding our site to implement our responsive design. Please show us that you value UXmatters and want us to continue delivering high-quality, free content to you every month. Thank you! UXmatters plans to launch a new Books section on our Web site, recommending helpful books to our readers about User Experience and other topics of interest to UX professionals. Read More

Conference Review: UX STRAT USA 2016, Part 1: Overview

March 27, 2017

UX STRAT USA 2016 took place at the Providence Biltmore, in Providence, Rhode Island, on September 14–16, where members of the UX community came together to hear about and discuss the latest trends in experience design and strategy. Pre-conference workshops took place on September 14; the main conference, September 15 and 16.

Overall, I found UX STRAT USA 2016 to be a very useful, enjoyable conference, and—judging by the rave reviews of my fellow attendees—I am not alone in this opinion.

My overview of the conference will cover:

  • organization
  • content and presenters
  • proceedings
  • venue
  • hospitality and community Read More

3 Kinds of Simplicity

March 27, 2017

From a design perspective, the TV remote control presents an interesting problem. What other technology is in such wide use, but so disliked? Every living room in Western civilization has at least two of them. With so many remote controls from so many manufacturers, you would think a best design pattern would have emerged by now. But particular remote controls may demonstrate three different types of simplicity:

  1. Engineering simplicity
  2. Conceptual simplicity
  3. Aesthetic simplicity Read More

Book Review: Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion

Innovating UX Practice

Inspirations from software engineering

A column by Peter Hornsby
March 27, 2017

Webs of InfluenceThe second edition of Nathalie Nahai’s book Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion will be out on March 19, 2017, from FT Press. Nathalie has kindly provided me an early copy for review. I had not read the first edition, so was coming to this edition with fresh eyes and an open mind. Nathalie describes herself as a Web psychologist, international speaker, author, and consultant who has worked with Fortune-500 companies, helping them apply scientific rigor to their Web-site design, content marketing, and products. The first edition of this book reached Number 6 in Amazon’s Retail category.

In this book, Nathalie discusses “the secret strategies that make us click.” The book’s audience is digital marketers, product designers, and Web designers. Natalie’s background is in psychology and digital strategy, and it’s good to see someone with solid academic credentials positively influencing digital design. Read More

Bad Managers: Why People Quit Their Job

March 27, 2017

“People leave managers, not companies.”—Victor Lipman

Employees join companies to hone their skills, contribute business value, and rise up the career ladder. People really don’t want to quit their job within their first year because it may appear that they are job hopping. So what exactly would induce or compel an employee to take such a drastic step as leaving after just a few months? In most cases, people leave because of the negative attitudes, behavior, or character of the manager to whom they report directly. According to a survey that Gallup conducted, approximately 50% of employees quit their job because of bad bosses.

Working in an unprofessional environment, getting bad performance reviews, or being overburdened with work for months on end are some of the major reasons why employees think of quitting. But managers with appalling traits can demotivate employees so completely that they quit their job. If, while reading this article, you recognize some of the unfortunate situations we describe and feel trapped in your job, it is probably time to rethink where you want to spend your time and effort. Read More