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

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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

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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

March 06, 2017 Edition

Design for Fingers, Touch, and People, Part 1

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
March 6, 2017

People have now read and referred to my 2013 column How Do Users Really Hold Mobile Devices? almost too much for my comfort. Why? Because, since I wrote that column, I have continued to do research, put my findings into practice for real products, written additional articles, and presented on that topic. In the years since then, I’ve learned a lot more about how people hold and touch their phones and tablets—a lot of which I did’t expect. And that’s the problem with my old columns. I made some assumptions that were based on observations of the usage of desktop PCs, standards for older types of interactions, and anecdotes or misrepresented data. However, through my later research and better analysis, I’ve been able to discard all of those erroneous assumptions and reveal the truth.

All too often, I see people referring to my oldest, least-accurate columns on this topic. Sometimes readers combine my obsolete data with other out-of-date information, then draw their own incorrect conclusions. I hope put a stop to that now with this updated overview of everything I know about how people interact with touchscreen devices and how you can use that information to design better digital products. Read More

Experience Design: Beyond a Simple ROI

March 6, 2017

Executives want to know the return on investment (ROI) for the products and solutions their company creates. They typically want to know the ROI for user-experience efforts, too. However, while many UX leaders would love to be able to create a reliable ROI model to justify their team’s resource needs and communicate its value, a product’s user experience is so pervasive that trying to determine isolated UX metrics is futile. It’s always difficult to come up with atomic ROI assessments, but this is especially true for the user experience, which, in fact, represents the entire product.

For example, even if a call-center application’s user experience were outstanding and saved five minutes per call, it would not be possible to isolate the direct impact of the UX team that designed the application. Engineering and Product Management have also contributed to the application’s excellence, so what percentage of that savings would it be logical to attribute to User Experience? Conversely, if the intended user experience of that application had instead degraded during development, making calls take longer, to what team should you assign the additional cost of calls? Read More

Conducting Qualitative, Comparative Usability Testing

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
March 6, 2017

Although UX designers usually consider various different design directions early during projects, they typically choose one design to develop further—long before conducting the first usability test. However, testing multiple designs early in a project can provide much more useful information than testing just a single design solution. When participants can experience two or more designs during testing, they can provide better feedback. As a result, you can gain greater insight into the elements of each design that work well and those that cause problems.

What Is Qualitative, Comparative Usability Testing?

When you read the term comparative usability testing, you might think it refers only to benchmarking the usability of an existing user interface against that of its competitors. In this type of comparative usability testing, you’d compare existing user interfaces with each other, using quantitative metrics such as task-completion and error rates and time on task. Therefore, participants perform test tasks without interruption and do not think aloud. You might also compare participants’ responses to a questionnaire. Read More

Conference Review: O’Reilly Design Conference 2016

March 6, 2017

The inaugural O’Reilly Design Conference took place at Fort Mason in San Francisco, January 20–22, 2016. O’Reilly Media formed its conference division in 1997 and currently hosts nine different conferences for software-development professionals, in various locations around the world. O’Reilly has extensive experience organizing professional conferences and a stable of 55 authors who have written O’Reilly books on user-experience topics, so this was bound to be a very good conference.

In this review, I’ll provide an overview of the conference, including its

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

Value, Quality, Respect: Getting the Most Out of Technical Writers

March 6, 2017

In over 25 years as a technical writer, I’ve experienced both good and bad clients. The good ones know what they’re doing, treat writers with respect, value quality beyond paper metrics, and appreciate the value of technical communication. The bad ones end up wasting everyone’s time and shooting themselves in the foot.

In this article, I’ll discuss how you can get the most out of your technical writers by creating a healthy business environment, in which value, quality, and respect reinforce one another, as I show in Figure 1. Read More