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New on UXmatters

By Janet M. Six

Published: January 19, 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 the future of large design firms, as more and more organizations form their own in-house UX departments—or even acquire UX consultancies outright. The field of UX is growing and changing. More corporations than ever are now seeing the importance of user experience and bringing User Experience in house. Some companies are accelerating their adoption of User Experience by acquiring some of the best UX design consultancies. How will this shift affect large and medium-sized UX design firms in the near future? Our Ask UXmatters Expert Panel discusses this topic from several angles. Read moreRead More>

By Baruch Sachs

Published: January 19, 2015

“While 2015 will be a great year for consulting in general, it is going to be a great year for UX consulting in particular.”

Times of uncertainty—whether because of economic, political, or societal changes—are good times for consultants. The more problems there are, the more insecure people are about deciding how to address them, so there is good and plentiful work for consultants, including UX consultants. Last year, 2014, was a great year for User Experience as we saw many organizations develop a more robust understanding about what User Experience is and is not—and more importantly, how User Experience has evolved to become part of the larger revolution known as Customer Experience.

Over the holiday season in December, I read about 20 articles and blog posts on predictions of User Experience trends for 2015. As happens every year, I agreed with some of them, while I thought others were ahead of their time by anywhere from one to five years. And I disagreed with many. Read moreRead More>

By Joel Rosen

Published: January 19, 2015

“People feel overwhelmed by the ever-increasing pace of change in technology.”

Articles and surveys on the Web and in print tell us that people feel overwhelmed by the ever-increasing pace of change in technology. And, of course, these articles offer a lot of helpful advice on how to ease the stress that people may be feeling as a result of such changes.

As an early-adopting, tech-savvy UX professional, I feel that I should thrive on technological change, be readily able to make sense of it, and incorporate the latest, greatest innovations into my own personal technology landscape. However, I must admit that I am better at this sometimes than others, when I find myself reaching the limit of my capacity to absorb it all. Therefore, I’ve started trying to take a more considered approach toward looking at each new application that comes across my screens. Plus, my time is more precious than ever, so before I download and install an app, I ask myself, How would this improve my current situation? Read moreRead More>

By David Mannheim

Published: January 19, 2015

“Do … more beautiful Web sites result in an increase in conversions? Not necessarily.”

Some Web sites look as though someone has cobbled together a few clip-art images and some text. Conversely, other Web sites look extremely professional and, in some sense of the word, beautiful. Design is art after all. Then, there’s everything in between. Some have taken the position that everyone craves more beautiful Web sites, [1] but do these more beautiful Web sites result in an increase in conversions? Not necessarily.

Tread Carefully in Creating a Pretty Web Site

In my experience, doing a Web site redesign in the hope that the site will look prettier and more professional can sometimes result in lower conversions. When we take an archaic, ugly Web site and turn it into something that looks slick and sexy, but it delivers underwhelming results, we need to understand why this is the case. There are lots of examples of such unintended effects of redesigns, where conversions have decreased despite a site’s visual impact and the changes’ getting a positive qualitative response from visitors. Read moreRead More>

By Simon Robinson, Gary Marsden, and Matt Jones

Published: January 19, 2015

This is a sample chapter from the new book There’s Not an App for That: Mobile User Experience Design for Life, by Simon Robinson, Gary Marsden, and Matt Jones. 2015 Morgan Kaufmann.

Chapter 7: Problem 2: From Heads Down to Face On

“Most apps today require us to look down at the screen. This can lead to what’s been called a stop-start form of living: we are drawn away from the action around us to complete a task on our phones.”

What’s the Problem?

Most apps today require us to look down at the screen. This can lead to what’s been called a stop-start form of living: we are drawn away from the action around us to complete a task on our phones. Breaking our flow is one thing; perhaps a bigger issue is that we are missing opportunities to use our devices to enhance our experience of the people and places around us. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Nieters and Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: January 5, 2015

“Great UX leaders integrate User Experience strategically into their organization, enabling them to differentiate their product and service experiences.”

In Part 1 of our two-part series on UX leadership, “UX Leadership: The Nature of Great Leaders,” we discussed the need for great leaders in User Experience and what qualities and capabilities make a UX leader great. Now, in Part 2, we’ll describe the things that great UX leaders do to transform their companies into experience-led organizations—enabling them to deliver great user experiences that differentiate their products in the marketplace.

Great UX leaders integrate User Experience strategically into their organization, enabling them to differentiate their product and service experiences. They know how to set up an organizational structure for User Experience that enables them to work cross-functionally to deliver differentiated experiences. Such leaders inspire a culture that attracts the best talent and enables UX researchers and designers to do what they do best. They inculcate design thinking throughout the organization. Perhaps the most important thing that great UX leaders do is inspire a shared vision that captures the heads and the hearts of their employees and executives alike and enables them to hire and retain the best researchers and designers. Read moreRead More>

By Steven Hoober

Published: January 5, 2015

“People use their phone in real environments and interact with them just as they do with anything else, so we must set aside the assumption that they’re interacting just with a flat, glass screen.”

These days, a common misconception about smartphones and tablets—partly from advertising—is that they are flat slabs of glass, as shown in Figure 1. While phones are as thin as possible, and this is often the view that their manufacturers use in advertising them, everything happens on the screen of this thin, nearly flat phone. But even if phones were to become infinitely thin, people are three dimensional and exist outside the phone, as you can see in Figure 2.

People use their phone in real environments and interact with them just as they do with anything else, so we must set aside the assumption that they’re interacting just with a flat, glass screen. The way people hold and tap their phone changes according to their grip—and that changes frequently because they may be carrying items, holding onto children, talking to others, or opening doors. Read moreRead More>

By Kevin Sheldon

Published: January 5, 2015

“The card sort is one of the most common research techniques for developing information architectures.”

The card sort is one of the most common research techniques for developing information architectures. The concept is pretty straightforward: you ask participants to place various items into different categories and, by doing this, get a sense of what pieces of content should go where. As with many research techniques, however, the reality is more complicated. In fact, entire books have been written about the subject.

At PledgeMusic, we have an expansive, form-based system that musicians and our staff use when creating and managing content, merchandise, and communications with fans. One of our upcoming projects is to redesign this system to make it easier and faster to perform all of the tasks that it supports. As part of our discovery process, a colleague and I recently had the opportunity to run a series of workshops at several company offices in different countries. Our task was to gather information about this system from our coworkers who use it daily in their work to get a sense of what parts do and do not work for them. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: January 5, 2015

“While the basics of usability testing sound simple, doing it well is much more complicated than it seems.”

Usability testing has been around so long that it’s the most well-known and most frequently practiced user research method. So I find it amazing that there are still so many misconceptions about usability testing. In this column, I’ll debunk the most common myths and misconceptions that I’ve encountered over the years.

Myth 1: Usability Testing Is So Easy That Anyone Can Do It

Many people think that all you have to do is come up with some common tasks, give them to people, watch what they do, ask questions, and take notes. They see usability testing as a basic user research technique that anyone can do. Read moreRead More>

By Andrii Glushko

Published: January 5, 2015

Executives want access to information at any time and in any place, want data to update in real time, and need to react immediately to critical events.

The evolution of digital ecosystems—such as wearable devices—is quickly making the channels by which users interact with devices more efficient and effective. We can only imagine what the Internet of Things will bring tomorrow, but today, we’re already reshaping mobile user experiences to provide a more accurate, granular, context-sensitive experience for all domains. This new reality turns out to be particularly important for business executives.

Decision-Support Systems: The Context of Use

Before we can properly analyze a decision-support system and its related ecosystem, we need to understand its users. When talking with executives in large, multinational corporations about their needs, you’ll hear a lot about performance management—including such issues as tracking KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and metrics—and effective communication. Read moreRead More>