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New on UXmatters

By Steven Hoober

Published: April 25, 2016

“My fitness tracker is largely a map, but … it hadn’t synced or saved a map while it still had coverage, so when I needed the app, it just complained about there being no coverage at that time.”

This week, while traveling, I noticed my smartwatch wasn’t working right. So I launched the app to get it to reconnect, but it insisted on checking for updates. At a restaurant in the middle of nowhere, there wasn’t a strong enough Internet connection, so I got stuck without its working for a few hours. I couldn’t read news while I was waiting for the bill because my favorite news app doesn’t load stories until I launch it.

Later, I went for a trail run at a little park. The main screen of my fitness tracker is largely a map, but in this case. it was totally blank. It hadn’t synced or saved a map while it still had coverage, so when I needed the app, it just complained about there being no coverage at that time. Read moreRead More>

By Allie Brock

Published: April 25, 2016

“An organization is unlikely to achieve a successful agile transformation simply by rigidly following a defined set of agile strictures. Instead, an agile transformation requires a complete cultural shift across entire teams, structures, and processes.”

In today’s fast-moving digital landscape, organizations in all sectors and of all sizes are increasingly turning to agile ways of working, with the goal of gaining the speed, flexibility, and responsiveness they need to remain competitive. In fact, Version One’s most recent State of Agile survey found that 95% of software organizations now practice agile development and, in 43% of organizations, the majority of development teams are agile. However, an organization is unlikely to achieve a successful agile transformation simply by rigidly following a defined set of agile strictures. Instead, an agile transformation requires a complete cultural shift across entire teams, structures, and processes.

In this article, I’ll look at some of the most common reasons behind the failure of agile transformations. My hope is that this information will help your organization to avoid its agile initiatives’ falling foul of the same mistakes and ensure that you’re able to reap all of the rewards the approach has to offer. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: April 25, 2016

Send your questions to Ask UXmatters and get answers from some of the top professionals in UX.

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our expert panel discusses how to merge User Experience into a large company that usually approaches projects from a systems-engineering point of view, with the goal of ensuring that the efforts of both disciplines support one another. The panel also discuss how and when to involve team members and stakeholders.

Each month in Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts answers our readers’ questions about a broad range of user experience matters. To get answers to your own questions about UX strategy, design, user research, or any other topic of interest to UX professionals in an upcoming edition of Ask UXmatters, please send your questions to: [email protected]. Read moreRead More>

By Jonathan Evans

Published: April 25, 2016

“Why can’t filling out government forms be more like using TurboTax?!”

If you’ve ever purchased a home, the most painful part of the experience was probably filling out those seemingly endless forms—that and paying for the home, of course. Why can’t filling out government forms be more like using TurboTax?!

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in pulling those government forms together? There is a whole enterprise-software industry focusing on data entry and processing for the forms that the government and banking industry require. That industry is just one of many that need to find a better way to process the multitude of government forms. In this article, let’s take a look at the UX challenges this industry faces—for example, a lack of context, or situational awareness—and discuss the different opportunities organizations have in addressing them. Read moreRead More>

By Peter Hornsby

Published: April 25, 2016

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, eyesight bleary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of UX lore—
While I nodded, merely stalling, suddenly there came a calling,
Like a baby loudly bawling, a sound I’d heard too much before.
“’Tis some client,” I muttered, “calling for some tiresome chore—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each hopeless sketch found its place upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow I could not ignore—
For the rare and radiant design that the clients all adore—
Besought here for evermore. Read moreRead More>

By Baruch Sachs

Published: April 11, 2016

“Now, more than ever before, I find myself fighting a different kind of fight, to ensure that teams allocate the proper time to User Experience for us to be effective.”

With all the amazing changes that have been happening in the business world over the past few years, thrusting User Experience into the limelight, one would think that UX professionals have arrived. That we’d be able to devote enough time, money, and resources to ensuring the user experience is just right—because, you know, it’s important. For decades, we’ve been fighting to ensure that User Experience gets considered during product development. Now, more than ever before, I find myself fighting a different kind of fight, to ensure that teams allocate the proper time to User Experience for us to be effective.

When stakeholders say they want something to pop, wow, or sizzle—or use some other silly word to describe User Experience—they’re actually trivializing the work that is necessary to make User Experience happen in a meaningful way. When people refer to UX professionals as magicians, those who are not part of the design or User Experience world begin to think that what we do is easy. But creating an amazing User Experience is really hard work, so we need to start reminding folks—gently, of course; don’t be a blow-hard about it—that what we do is not magic. It requires time and—God, forbid—actual planning to do the job properly. Read moreRead More>

By Dashiel Neimark

Published: April 11, 2016

“Is the team in a panic and scrambling for a magic UX pill? Or does a consistent intake of UX nutrients support the team’s process?”

No, this headline isn’t a joke about the increasing popularity of the term Lean UX. Rather, I am talking about the choices that organizations make in deciding how to adopt User Experience as a practice and improve the experience they are attempting to create. Do they apply User Experience through intermittent, quick fixes to rectify gaps in an experience? Or do they foster UX practices from beginning to end, throughout a development cycle? Is the team in a panic and scrambling for a magic UX pill? Or does a consistent intake of UX nutrients support the team’s process?

The UX Diet

The UX diet is all about preventative measures. One easy way to identify a team that has a steady UX diet is to see at what point they inject UX into their overall development process. If they involve user researchers and experience designers during a project’s discovery phase, that’s a positive sign. Involving User Experience in the generation of requirements rather than just the amendment of those requirements typically results in reducing the need for such amendments. In contrast, if a team hires a UX professional for a last-call, polish-it-off sort of engagement, the UX diet is likely absent. The driving force behind the UX diet is ensuring more precise, consistent validation of the direction a team is taking. It requires a long-term outlook. Read moreRead More>

By Laura Keller

Published: April 11, 2016

“This population not only represents a large proportion of the people who may make up our user base in the future, but their age and health conditions also present interesting design challenges.”

A few weeks ago, I visited my husband’s grandmother in her retirement community. We had been there several times before, but our most recent visit made me appreciate her situation more. After having read numerous news stories about elder abuse, fraud, and deplorable living and healthcare conditions in nursing homes, I found her community to be quite the opposite.

It’s important to mention that her community offers a mix of living situations, depending on a resident’s health and preferences. There are single-family homes for people who still want some autonomy—and can afford them—but most people reside in the large, mansion-like, main building. Residents and couples have their own apartment, which they can customize and decorate according to their wishes. Visiting nurses help sick patients in their homes. However, for those who are debilitated or need physical therapy, there’s a healthcare wing of the building that essentially functions as a hospital. Read moreRead More>

By Tom Greever

Published: April 11, 2016

This is a sample chapter from the book Articulating Design Decisions, by Tom Greever, which O’Reilly Media published in October 2015. UXmatters is republishing this chapter with Tom Greever’s permission. Copyright © 2015 Tom Greever. All rights reserved.

Chapter 4: Reducing Cognitive Load

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
—Alexander Graham Bell

When it comes to usability, getting users to successfully complete a task is all about their available brain space: their cognitive load. The more clutter, options, or roadblocks we put in front of them, the more we fill their head and make it difficult for them to complete a task. The same is true when it comes to the task of meeting with stakeholders. Our goal should be to remove as much of the clutter, options, and roadblocks as possible so that our stakeholders’ brains are freed to focus on the primary task of the meeting: getting approval for our designs. If they are distracted by an incoherent outline, grumpy coworkers, or a derailed conversation that has nothing to do with the project, it will be much more difficult for us to complete that task. Our goal is not to just have a meeting, but to make the meeting productive, valuable, and successful. Read moreRead More>

By Bob Hotard

Published: April 11, 2016

“We are fast approaching 2020, the year corporations are holding up as the finish line for the promised land of a digital revolution. What trends are signposts toward the future as we approach 2020?”

The decade is half over—so it’s as good a time as any to reflect on what’s important in UX design. We are fast approaching 2020, the year corporations are holding up as the finish line for the promised land of a digital revolution. What trends are signposts toward the future as we approach 2020? After reflecting on my experiences, working as a designer of corporate Web sites over the past five years, I’ve decided to write a series of articles about trends I think will still be relevant in 2020.

Plenty of trends have hit since 2010: Responsive Web Design (RWD), Big Data, and wearable technology to name just a few. Five years ago, the focus was on adapting Web designs to iPhones and Android smartphones. Since then, we’ve learned to design for tablets, HD wide-screen monitors, and now, the miniature screens of wearables such as Apple Watch, which was introduced in 2015. Technology and device trends will come and go, but simple, clean, well-tested, Web user interfaces, provide the best user experience across platforms. Read moreRead More>