May 22, 2017 Edition

Establishing a UX Budget

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
May 22, 2017

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our expert panel considers some different approaches to establishing the budget for a UX team within a large organization. In particular, we consider the pros and cons of using a ratio model for funding User Experience and how to define a UX budget as a percentage of the research and development (R&D) budget.

In my monthly column, Ask UXmatters, experts answer our readers’ questions about user experience matters. To read their answers to your question in an upcoming edition of Ask UXmatters, just send your question to: [email protected]. Read More

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UX Role Grids and Individual-Contributor Career Paths

May 22, 2017

Setting up a UX practice inside any organization—whether small or large—can be a challenge. As a UX leader, to ensure you keep the highest-performing individual contributors on your team, you should make sure they have a clear understanding of what they must do to expand their careers within your organization. While leaders often have a clear growth path inside a company, it is often less clear how individual contributors can nurture their professional career.

For example, in some companies, the only way to advance from an interaction designer, visual designer, UX researcher, or other individual-contributor discipline is to become a manager. But, for individual contributors whose talents are less as people managers and more as superstars in their discipline, who love what they’re doing, and who want to continue to be the best at what they do, their way forward is unclear. Read More

Guiding Practices for Making Meaningful Work

May 22, 2017

Recently, a group of about 30 technologists invited us to run a two-day client training workshop to teach them some best practices for making meaningful work and help them to kick start and sustain a UX practice on their projects. These technologists had limited exposure to User Experience or practice with design tools. In other words, we needed to help them get excited about the topic, understand what it means for them, and give them some capabilities that would let them take at least some of this program forward—even after only two days of training together.

Facilitating workshops is always a nice challenge—especially with a new group of participants—because you must generally be well versed in the topic, study new practices, and prepare exercises to help participants understand and embody their learnings, using the prescribed tools. For us, it’s also really important that the participants have a good time during the workshop—as they step outside their own day-to-day work routines and job functions—and that we can provide at least a touch of inspiration. Our intent is to get participants to express themselves and open up conversations on how they can mix tools and processes in various ways to help them understand what users need and, most importantly, gain clarity on requirements as a path to better design. Read More

Gaining Commitment to User-Centered Design Guidelines

May 22, 2017

The intent of a guideline, by definition, is to help determine a course of action or provide advice on how to do something. A guideline can be a recommendation, suggestion, general rule, or principle. Guidelines can inform design, inspire, help bring about consensus, or aid in decision making.

You can translate your UX research findings and understanding of users’ needs into design guidelines that apply to your design efforts. However, the challenge is often writing guidelines that are both inspirational and actionable.

Recently, my boss asked me to take over design strategy for an architectural design project from a colleague who was leaving the firm for an opportunity closer to her home. My colleague had conducted UX research and had done a great job of documenting her findings. I was to step in and pick up where she had left off. She had already developed a set of design guidelines for the project. I came onto the project at the point when we were to share those guidelines with the architects who would be designing the building. These design guidelines were inspirational in their language, and I wanted to understand what they meant to the project team members. Read More

Designing UX: Forms

May 22, 2017

This is an excerpt from Chapter 5 of Jessica Enders’s new book Designing UX: Forms. 2016 SitePoint.

Chapter 5: Flow

Cover of Designing UX: FormsPaper forms are static. Immobile, unresponsive, fixed. Forms come alive when they’re on the Web: questions can appear or hide, errors can be flagged and corrected, and the experience can be tailored to users and their needs.

In this chapter, we’ll see how to best design all these user interactions and more. Because we want the total user experience to feel smooth and painless—like gliding down a river—we’ll call this aspect of form design flow. Read More

May 08, 2017 Edition

Design for Fingers, Touch, and People, Part 2

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
May 8, 2017

In my last column, I reviewed my research and analyzed on how people hold, touch, and view mobile phones and tablets. I even provided some guidelines on how to design for touchscreen mobile devices. Now, I’m going to explain how I arrived at those guidelines, going into more detail about everything I’ve learned. Looking beyond simple design tactics, this column describes what people actually do and will help you to understand why they interact with their phones and tablets the way they do.

Design Guidelines for Fingers, Touch, and People

For many years, I have performed foundational research, as well as research that was incidental to my design work. From this research, I have learned a great many things about how people hold, touch, and view smartphones. In fact, because I had gathered data on many different things, it had actually started to get confusing. Read More

IA, Rosenfeld Media, and EUX: An Interview with Louis Rosenfeld

May 8, 2017

As a founding father of the field of information architecture (IA), Lou Rosenfeld applied the principles he had learned in the University of Michigan’s Information and Library Studies program to organizing information on the Web. With his partner, Peter Morville, Lou built one of the first information architecture–consulting firms, Argus Associates, which provided consulting services until 2001. When the recession brought down their company, they both moved on to independent consulting. Together, Lou and Peter wrote the seminal work on information architecture, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites—affectionately known as the Polar Bear book—which O’Reilly Media first published in 1998. The book is now in its fourth edition (2015) and has sold over 300,000 copies. Lou is also the author of Search Analytics for Your Site (2011).

Lou has played a very active role in evangelizing the professions of information architecture and User Experience. He was a co-founder of the IA Summit (2000), the Information Architecture Institute (2002), and UXnet (2002), an organization whose mission was to foster cooperation and collaboration among the many organizations that serve the international UX community. I joined UXnet as a Local Ambassador for Silicon Valley in 2004. My active participation in UXnet was instrumental in my being able to launch UXmatters successfully. I first met Lou in person at DUX2005, where I convened the first meeting of the UXmatters Advisory Board, on which Lou had agreed to serve. Read More

Prototyping: Paper Versus Digital

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
May 8, 2017

UX designers have long promoted paper prototyping as the ideal way to quickly create and test new designs. In comparison to older methods of digital prototyping, creating paper prototypes is much quicker, easier, requires no technical skills, makes iteration easier, and focuses less on design perfection. Plus, participants feel more comfortable in criticizing sketches rather than polished designs.

But, over the last few years, many new design and prototyping tools have emerged that let UX designers create highly interactive prototypes quickly and easily, realistically simulating interactions and transitions without any coding. More tools seem to come out every day. With so many great, new prototyping tools, is doing paper prototyping still worthwhile? Have these new tools finally caught up with the advantages of paper prototypes, while transcending paper’s disadvantages? In this column, I’ll answer these questions. Read More

Beyond Agile: Lists and More Lists

May 8, 2017

If your team lives and loves agile, God bless you. You need read no further. If, however, your team does not follow agile practices or has found agile disappointing, here’s another idea. You can use this approach either along with agile or instead of agile. It requires no training, no reference books, no coaches, no special software, and no cutesy vocabulary. In fact, you probably learned this approach in third grade. It’s not a process or a methodology. It’s really just a habit—a disciplined reminder to do something systematically that you already do now and then.

I call this approach Lists and More Lists, or LML. The idea is simply to make lists for every aspect of a product itself, as well as the process of creating it. Everything. Read More

Highlights from UX STRAT 2016

May 8, 2017

At UX STRAT USA 2016, the main conference took place on September 15 and 16, at the Providence Biltmore, in Providence, Rhode Island. UX STRAT was a very useful, enjoyable, well-curated conference.

The depth and breadth of the programming at this year’s conference was impressive, covering a wide range of business strategy, UX strategy, customer experience, product design, and service design topics. There were so many fantastic speakers and topics that I had a hard time choosing just a few favorites to highlight in my review. I have chosen to review the three talks that really stood out for me and had relevant meaning for my work. Read More