October 2015 Issue

By Jeremy Wilt

Published: October 5, 2015

UX Unicorns belong to the rare breed of UX professionals who can do it all without flinching and speak about it at the next big conference, inspiring us with their incredible wit and tact.”

Many of us have seen or heard the labels UX Unicorn or UX generalist—whether in the design community or LinkedIn job postings. UX Unicorns belong to the rare breed of UX professionals who can do it all without flinching and speak about it at the next big conference, inspiring us with their incredible wit and tact. There have been arguments for and against their existence, hunting expeditions in search of such famed talent, and blog posts about how to become a UX Unicorn yourself.

However, I believe there are two other breeds of UX professionals who are just as valuable. Meet the Fox and the Hedgehog. Western society has passed on these archetypes from Archilochus of Paros, a Greek lyric poet. Read moreRead More>

By Daniel Szuc, Josephine Wong, and Michael Davis-Burchat

Published: October 5, 2015

“A huge challenge in large organizations is the ability to form smaller, nimble project teams who share a common sense of purpose.”

Large organizations are complex organisms with different combinations of roles, teams, and departments and are often political in nature. People have personal needs, handle a range of jobs and functions, and have different backgrounds and educations. Organizations employ various approaches, skills, methodologies, measures, and reward structures in accomplishing their goals.

A huge challenge in large organizations is the ability to form smaller, nimble project teams who share a common sense of purpose. It’s the ability of such teams to come together and intentionally create something great that enables organizations to achieve stellar results—with the help of integrated approaches and practices that guide them, not only in becoming better at working well together, but also, hopefully, in getting more enjoyment out of their work. Over time, such teams get better and better at both their individual roles and their ability to work effectively together. Read moreRead More>

By Debarshi Gupta Biswas and Samiksha Chaudhuri

Published: October 5, 2015

“By marrying the superlative power of analytics with the underlying principles of user experience, technical communicators can assess specific user behaviors that occur as users read content.”

By marrying the superlative power of analytics with the underlying principles of user experience, technical communicators can assess specific user behaviors that occur as users read content. As the technical communication industry evolves and goes global, technical communicators are developing content in a way that fosters increasing engagement with the user population. To accomplish this, the industry is adopting a more user-centered outlook. By leveraging analytics, technical communicators can quickly determine what information users search for most frequently and which information sets they largely disregard. To echo the words of Tristan Bishop, a senior content strategist:

“It won’t be long before you’ll know which of your topics are making a positive difference, which need some help, and which can simply disappear. It will soon be painfully obvious which team members are writing the high-impact topics, which are writing the unintelligible topics, and which are writing the irrelevant topics.”

By Leban Hyde

Published: October 5, 2015

“The term [user experience] can seem nebulous at times, so knowing exactly what it is and what it involves is important….”

User experience has become all the rage among business leaders and talent-acquisition teams. Whether you’re a student or recent graduate seeking a career in User Experience, are transitioning to a career in User Experience, or must fill a need for User Experience within your organization, this article will help you to understand how to get started. First, I’ll explain what user experience is, then provide some resources for learning about user experience, and finally, share some insights on UX practice.

Understanding User Experience

Before venturing further, I want to impart a better understanding of user experience. The term can seem nebulous at times, so knowing exactly what it is and what it involves is important—and you may need to explain user experience to others at some point. The information in this section will help you to do that. Read moreRead More>

By Zsombor Varnagy-Toth

Published: October 5, 2015

“People with autism … may have an advantage in processing vast amounts of complex, static information.”

In the last year, I’ve conducted about 30 usability tests with adults and children who are on the autism spectrum. I’ve tested Web sites, online software, and games to determine whether they were usable enough for users belonging to this group. Figure 1 shows Abel, a smart, eleven-year-old boy, playing the video game Auti-mate during a test session. He’s very focused, though his favorite puppet is within reach. Read moreRead More>

By Baruch Sachs

Published: September 21, 2015

“The profession of User Experience is moving away from pure design and becoming more deeply embedded in the overall process of how we create products and services.”

Part of running a UX services consulting team is interacting with numerous UX design and UI development teams. These teams come in various shapes and sizes and may have different skill levels. Such teams may be part of a customer’s in-house UX design team, an implementation partner’s UX design team, or an external agency. The team I lead at Pegasystems comprises excellent people who excel at both design and front-end development. It has taken me a long time to assemble this talented group, and I am always on the lookout for more high-caliber people.

Putting this UX team together has been one of my greatest challenges, but it has been worth it—especially considering what I originally perceived as the direction in which User Experience is going as a profession. I say “originally” because, while I believed that what I was doing was the correct approach, the validation I have received from our customers has shown me that I am indeed on the right path. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: September 21, 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 determine whether they have recruited the right participants to enable them to conduct effective user research. Not only is it important to match the salient demographics and contexts of participants with those of a product or service’s actual users, it is also essential that we understand users’ real motivations for using a product or service. Therefore, a good screening process is a must. Our panelists also discuss what to do in low-budget situations. We must always remember that research participants are real people, with real feelings, who are contributing to the excellence of our designs. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: September 21, 2015

“Teresa Brazen, who is a Design Education Strategist at Cooper…, kindly consented to this interview, during which we discussed Cooper’s mission, Cooper U and their new courses, Cooper’s user experience practice, and trends in UX training and consulting.”

Cooper has long been a respected leader in UX design and strategy consulting and training. Alan Cooper and his wife, Sue Cooper, co-founded Cooper in 1992. Alan pioneered Cooper’s user experience practice, innovating the goal-directed design methodology and humanizing the users of technology products by inventing personas, which represent a product’s real users and help teams to keep users in mind throughout the design process. Alan is the author of two seminal works: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity and About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design. Sue handles the business side of Cooper and has built a company that has had a significant impact on technology products, the UX community, and users of technology products. She is the company’s heart, established Cooper’s great culture, and continues to guide its future.

In 2002, Cooper established Cooper U to teach their clients, UX professionals, and other members of product teams its goal-directed methods of design. Kim Goodwin, former VP of Design and General Manager at Cooper, led the effort to create the original Cooper U interaction design curriculum. The growth of Cooper U also owes much to Kendra Shimmell, Managing Director of Cooper, who expanded its offerings beyond the core interaction design curriculum and created the popular Design Leadership course and UX Boot Camp. Today, Cooper offers training in customer experience strategy, product definition, UX design and research, brand strategy, and leadership development. Read moreRead More>

By Ronnie Battista

Published: September 21, 2015

“While a two-day Amazon delivery is certainly a step up from a trek to¬†Bleecker Bob’s, … even buying music on Amazon is not so convenient anymore. With streaming music sites such as Pandora and Spotify, … I can play it instantly.”

Recently, over drinks, an old friend and I reminisced about our high school days as suburban, punk-rocker wannabees. Back then, getting your hands on punk or alternative music wasn’t easy. Mainstream department and record stores didn’t carry much, if any, punk music. So, for New Jersey kids like us to get our hands on rare albums from punk bands—especially the coveted vinyl punk imports—we usually had to head to New York City and go to places like Bleecker Bob’s in Greenwich Village to get the good stuff.

One of my favorite bands at the time was the Dead Kennedys, a legendary San Francisco punk band famous for their frenetic hardcore sound and satirical, socio-political lyrics. To whit, they named their 1987 compilation album “Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death” as their commentary on the excessive American consumerism at the time. I owned that album and listened to it extensively, so for a bit of nostalgia, I decided to look for an image of the album cover online. Read moreRead More>

By Leo Frishberg and Charles Lambdin

Published: September 21, 2015

This is a sample chapter from the forthcoming book Presumptive Design: Design Provocations for Innovation, by Leo Frishberg and Charles Lambdin. 2015 Morgan Kaufmann.

Chapter 1: Introducing Presumptive Design

“The future does not just happen. Except for natural events like earthquakes, it comes about through the efforts of people.”—Jacque Fresco


PrD is a design research technique. Organizations, large and small, use PrD to quickly identify their target audiences’ needs and goals. It is fast. It is cheap. And it is definitely good enough. If you are looking for ways to rapidly and inexpensively reduce risk to your project, PrD is the best technique we’ve found in our 30 years of experience.

PrD differs from—and is complementary to—traditional market-research methods. It provides intimate insights into the desires of end users (for products and services), communities (for social innovation), and internal stakeholders (for strategy). The method reduces risk to our projects by capturing our target audience’s reactions to a future we have envisioned. As we describe in detail throughout the book, the devil is in the details: How we envision that future and how we capture those reactions is what sets PrD apart from other research methods. Read moreRead More>