June 19, 2017 Edition

Craigslist’s Unconventional User Experience

Evolution of XD Principles

Challenging XD conventions

A column by Dashiel Neimark
June 19, 2017

I’m going to open my new column Evolution of XD Principles with a quotation that actually contradicts my position:

“If you do it right, it will last forever.”—Massimo Vignelli

He’s wrong. Massimo is a very well-known, well-respected Italian designer who has impressed the world by successfully innovating products in a variety of disparate product spaces. But he’s wrong.

Design should always accomplish one key thing: demonstrate a thorough understanding of the people who will engage with a solution. A design should accommodate the well-defined mental model of those engaging with an experience. However, a challenge for UX designers is this: mental models represent collections of knowledge—and knowledge is never static. Forever is a fallacy.

With this premise in mind, my goal for this column is to write a series of articles that challenge traditional experience-design principles in a way that explores next-generation—and forgotten, last-generation—experience-design strategies.

Join me, as I explore such topics as why ugly products sometimes succeed, how some companies can dictate rather than accommodate usability patterns, and the hidden value of a user experience with a tinge of dishonesty. I’ll be leading you on a journey that will take us off the beaten path—one on which the only constant is change. Read More

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The Most and Least Valuable Contributions of UX Designers

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
June 19, 2017

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our expert panel considers the contributions of UX designers that are most and least important to the product-development process. Can we generalize about the value of UX designers’ contributions to product teams? Or is the value a UX designer provides unique to that designer? How can UX designers exponentially increase the value of their skills and contributions by inculcating an experience-first culture into a multidisciplinary product team? How can product teams make meaningful work?

The panel discusses the importance of UX designers’ being involved in the product-development lifecycle from the very beginning of a project, engaging entire product teams in the UX research and design process, and applying discoveries from research throughout the design process. Our expert panel also contemplates how UX designers can take a more active role in the development process, as opposed to simply executing requirements from product management. Read More

7 Questions About User-Research Panels

Good Questions

Asking and answering users' questions

June 19, 2017

If you’ve ever struggled to find user-research participants, you may have wished you had a list of people who have expressed an interest in taking part in future user-research activities. A user-research panel is exactly that: a list or database of potential research participants—who have given you their contact details and maybe some other information about themselves—that you can recruit for specific research activities as they come up.

We’re enthusiastic about user-research panels, but we’re also realistic about the amount of work they involve. So, in this column, we’ll briefly touch on the benefits of user-research panels, then present seven questions you should consider to ensure that your user-research panels are successful. Read More

What Makes a Good Research Insight Great?

June 19, 2017

You’ve just completed a readout of your latest ground-breaking research, presenting an hour-long slideshow, and hopefully, you’ve wowed your audience with what you’ve shown them. But all too often, after you’ve reported your research results, everyone returns to their workspace and develops a serious case of insight amnesia. Stakeholders quickly forget the juicy morsels of information that would make your company’s products better. Your insights remain stuck in your slide deck and may never again see the light of day.

There are two questions that arise from this dilemma: First, how can you make your research insights more readily available to product teams so they don’t have to slog through your deck to find them? There are multiple, well-known solutions to this problem. The second problem, which is the focus of this article, is how can you ensure that your product team uses your research insights? Read More

Predictive User Experience

June 19, 2017

Envision coffee machines that start brewing just when you think it’s a good time for an espresso, office lights that dim when it’s sunny and workers don’t need them, your favorite music app playing a magical tune depending on your mood, or your car suggesting an alternative route when you hit a traffic jam.

Predictability is the essence of a sustainable business model. In a digital world, with millions of users across the globe, prediction definitely has the power to drive the future of interaction. Feeding a historical dataset into a system that uses machine-learning algorithms to predict outcomes makes prediction possible. Read More

June 05, 2017 Edition

Humanizing the Enterprise

Leadership Matters

Leading UX teams

June 5, 2017

Is your company failing to innovate and, consequently, finding itself the target of disruptive innovation? Is the ability to deliver stellar experience outcomes eluding your enterprise? Are you having a hard time attracting and retaining the best employees?

In today’s rapidly shifting business environment, many large enterprises are struggling with all three of these challenges. The reason: meeting each of these challenges requires a highly engaged workforce and, unfortunately, such workforces are rare.

If, as a leader within a large enterprise, you need to solve one or more of these problems, you should think about how you can humanize your enterprise and make it a place in which people can do their best work. Read More

Blind Spot: Illuminating the Hidden Value of Business

June 5, 2017

This is a sample chapter from the new Two Waves book Blind Spot: Illuminating the Hidden Value of Business, by Steve Diller, Nathan Shedroff, and Sean Sauber. 2016 Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 10: Design

Blind SpotAt this point in your journey, it’s time to start making touchpoints. Let’s face it—this can be a little scary. All of the work you’ve done so far has been preparation for that big blank sheet of paper—or nowadays, more likely, a screen—that you’ll use to create ideas and concepts, and develop them into something new. Needless to say, many find this a disorienting and difficult moment. Many businesspeople treat this phase as just another check box on the to-do list.

It’s not.

Designing the offering is the most complex phase, the most critical, and although incredibly ambiguous and anxiety-producing for those who feel safe with a set recipe, the most fun. Read More

How Smiling and Nodding Affects Our Interactions

Selling UX

A unique perspective on service UX

A column by Baruch Sachs
June 5, 2017

Ever since I was little, I’ve avoided uncomfortable moments in movies. I would always fast forward through the parts where the characters I liked put themselves in uncomfortable or embarrassing positions. I still do that today. In general, most people avoid uncomfortable situations in real life, but we all have our strategies for dealing with them.

Just this morning, I had an uncomfortable encounter with a shoeshine guy at the airport. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, he proceeded to talk to me about his religious beliefs in excruciating detail. At this juncture, I had several options. I could have asked him to stop. However, that would have immediately changed the interaction between the two of us from a friendly service encounter to one of frosty silence. I could have faked interest and engaged with him on this topic—something I’d have a hard time doing in my personal life. I could have chosen to let this annoy me. However, getting my shoes shined is one of my personal pleasures, and the context was all wrong for going down this path. Read More

The 14 Characteristics of Polite Software, Part 1

June 5, 2017

The Inmates Are Running the AsylumI recently read Alan Cooper’s book The Inmates Are Running the Asylum, which came out in the late 1990s. Cooper is known as the “Father of Visual Basic” and founder of Cooper, a San Francisco design consultancy. In his book, he takes a comprehensive look at software companies’ engineering-centric development processes and how they lead to unusable software. The book is a must-read for interaction designers.

For me, the most memorable part of the book is the chapter “Designing for Power,” in which Cooper discusses—among other interesting topics—why we should design human-like politeness into software. In this two part series of articles, I’ll discuss Cooper’s fourteen characteristics of polite software, providing relatable examples—both good and bad. I hope this approach to software design will be as helpful to you as it has been for me. Read More

Book Review: Practical UX Design

June 5, 2017

Practical UX DesignIn Practical UX Design, Scott Faranello talks to UX designers and others about the harsh reality that User Experience is still an often-misunderstood field. User Experience is about much more than just user interface design and product usability testing that occurs late in a product-development cycle. User Experience requires a holistic mindset that considers value creation for users, customers, and stakeholders. Scott believes it is very important to speak about User Experience outside the field of User Experience. Our professional peers need to understand what User Experience can do so we can practice the profession in the most effective way.

Scott talks about numerous cases in which companies and UX designers have considered—or failed to consider—how people will use a product in real-life situations, as well as the business impacts of their decisions. He discusses the myth that Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses,’” noting the fact that this quotation cannot reliably be attributed to Ford. More importantly, what Ford actually did shows that he did keep his customers at the forefront in his mind. Ford perfected the assembly-line method of manufacturing so customers would have access to affordable cars. Throughout his book, Scott provides many examples, pictures, and links to additional resources on the Web. Read More