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New on UXmatters

By Peter Hornsby

Published: October 21, 2014

“I’ve recently had a number of conversations with designers that suggest their perception of usability testing is fundamentally wrong. … They believe that nothing can be known about a design that a team is going to implement unless that design has been tested with the target audience.”

I’d be the first to admit that there are a lot of things that irritate me. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • people referring to a small, potent coffee as an “expresso”
  • people saying “pacific” when they mean specific
  • the use of the word intuitive in describing a design or product requirements
  • anything else that undermines the delivery of effective UX design

And although I’ve never before considered usability testing as something that falls into the large—and growing—list of things that undermine effective UX design work, I’ve recently had a number of conversations with designers that suggest their perception of usability testing is fundamentally wrong. I’ve heard both junior and senior designers express their perception of usability testing in different ways, but the core message is the same: They believe that nothing can be known about a design that a team is going to implement unless that design has been tested with the target audience. Read moreRead More>

By Bill Rattner

Published: October 21, 2014

“One of the major benefits of a modern digital strategy is its innate ability to centralize an organization’s numerous different operational facets. For any business, interdepartmental accountability is key to streamlined operations….”

One of the major benefits of a modern digital strategy is its innate ability to centralize an organization’s numerous different operational facets. In other words, it gives us the ability to avoid the fragmented approach that we often encounter in the world of 21st century business. Why is this so important? The answer to this question is as simple as it is critical. For any business, interdepartmental accountability is key to streamlined operations—and without effective cross-channel communications, efficiency will suffer as a result. An example that shows the critical nature of digital strategy is the way in which CapTech Ventures provided a from-the-ground-up digital strategy for the energy giant Dominion Resources. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: October 21, 2014

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 explain the need for user research and usability testing to a client who wonders why an expert review is not enough.

I hope you enjoy this month’s lively discussion about the best ways to persuade a client that user research and usability testing are a necessary part of a project. Why is it essential for UX designers to rely on user research and usability testing? What value does getting the views of users provide? What data already exists about users and  what are the gaps in that knowledge? How can all of this data support your UX design work and deliver project outcomes that deliver value to your client? You need to convey the answers to all of these questions to your clients—and be sure to connect your answers to your clients’ business reasons for starting a project in the first place. Read moreRead More>

By Stephanie Schuhmacher

Published: October 21, 2014

“As UX professionals, we pride ourselves on making software that is human friendly and easy to use. But keeping the right balance between adding features that customers and users need and maintaining a clean, simple user interface design is often harder than it seems it should be.”

As UX professionals, we pride ourselves on making software that is human friendly and easy to use. But keeping the right balance between adding features that customers and users need and maintaining a clean, simple user-interface design is often harder than it seems it should be. This is a challenge that most product teams have in common. In this case study, I’ll describe how our team at Bloomfire integrated Lean UX into our product-development process to address this challenge.

How can you distinguish between what the people who purchase and use your products say they want and what they actually need? Luckily, there are some effective ways to reduce the risk that you might design products your customers don’t want or your users can’t use and, instead, to design for their actual needs. Read moreRead More>

By Jack Moffett

Published: October 21, 2014

“A collaboration life cycle maps the activities of designers to those of the developers in each phase of a typical product development process. The cycle starts with requirements analysis….”

This is a sample chapter from Jack Moffett’s new book, Bridging UX & Web Development: Better Results Through Team Integration. 2014 Morgan Kaufmann.

Chapter 3: Collaboration Life Cycle

Process. Regardless of what type of designer you are—graphic, information, interaction, service, industrial, game—you follow a common process. It typically begins with research and observation as you learn about the people who will use the product of your efforts and the context of its use. Then there’s synthesizing of the information you’ve collected, coupled with ideation and iterative prototyping, as you plan what is to be built, physically, digitally, or figuratively. Ideally, this also involves some form of testing with users to verify your rationale. As I illustrated in Chapter 1, this is where many of us stop, passing our specifications on to the developers who will implement the work. There are also varying degrees of participation in following phases of testing, bug fixing, and further documentation. Of course, there are sundry variations, Agile and Lean UX being the most notable, but the same activities are involved (or should be). Read moreRead More>

By Jim Nieters and Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: October 6, 2014

“Insights on how to help companies progress from delivering mediocre user experiences, as is all too common, to producing truly great experiences that differentiate their products and services in the marketplace.”

This column is the first in a series that will offer insights on how to help companies progress from delivering mediocre user experiences, as is all too common, to producing truly great experiences that differentiate their products and services in the marketplace. Doing so requires a radical transformation in the way business executives and UX teams engage in creating user experiences.

This series is not about making incremental improvements to the way UX teams work. It is about taking a different approach and driving radical transformation within organizations. No major changes in history have ever come about by playing it safe. Having said this, all of the ideas that we’ll share in this series have proven effective in one business context or another. Read moreRead More>

By Kimberly Dunwoody

Published: October 6, 2014

“During internal UX design presentations, many UX designers find themselves faced with well-meaning stakeholders who believe that their needs are highly representative of the needs of users, or customers.”

During internal UX design presentations, many UX designers find themselves faced with well-meaning stakeholders who believe that their needs are highly representative of the needs of users, or customers. For example, in recent months, stakeholders have told designers on my team:

  • “I prefer using a house icon instead of the word Home in the navigation, and I am sure that our users would feel the same way.”
  • “I used to be in the same field as our users five years ago, so I am sure that I know what they want.”
  • “If this is too difficult, we’ll just put more information in the training manual. That is what our users would expect.”

Read moreRead More>

By Peter Morville

Published: October 6, 2014

This is a sample chapter from Peter Morville’s new book, Intertwingled: Information Changes Everything. 2014 Semantic Studios.

Chapter 3: Connections

“It’s hard to argue with the success of the Internet…, and yet it’s worth reflecting upon what was lost in the translation from idea to implementation.”

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
—Robert Frost

Read moreRead More>

By Matt Rintoul

Published: October 6, 2014

“If you start with the idea that user experience is a feeling, you’ve already made progress toward really understanding user experience.”

Many people seem to think of user experience as a controllable outcome of a design process—as though it were something at which you can throw minds, designers, and builders with the goal of understanding and manipulating a person’s experience of a product or service. In fact, user experience is often thought of as defining and managing a person’s experience of a product.

But your product doesn’t define a user’s experience. That person’s own behavior, attitudes, and emotions do. Thus, user experience is a feeling. In reality, it’s even more than that, but if you start with the idea that user experience is a feeling, you’ve already made progress toward really understanding user experience. Read moreRead More>

By Evan Wiener

Published: October 6, 2014

“Google … wanted to increase the legitimacy and value of data collection to deliver a better product to users as they expanded beyond Web search products.”

Google had a problem. They realized that the more they knew about user behavior outside the limited scope of a search box, the more valuable their services could be to their users. They wanted to increase the legitimacy and value of data collection to deliver a better product to users as they expanded beyond Web search products. To ensure that they had sufficient control of the user experience, Google felt it would be best to offer their own Web browser as a way to gain more direct access to the diverse range of people who grew accustomed to using Google Search to find what they were looking for on the Web. The Google brand had enough cachet that it had become a verb in the lexicon—something Google would like to protect. The large population of novice users who usually search using Microsoft Windows were at risk when Microsoft offered a competitive product to their captive audience. Read moreRead More>