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New on UXmatters

By Laura Keller

Published: September 22, 2014

Numerous similarities also exist between designing physical and virtual spaces. … I want to share what some of these similarities are—in the hope that UX professionals who … aspire to expand their skillset to designing physical spaces will be able to understand how relevant their existing expertise is to designing them.

UX professionals are accustomed to thinking about how people interact with digital user interfaces. Whether we’re designing a mobile application or a marketing Web site, it’s in our DNA to consider what would be the optimal experience for people. But digital user interfaces are not the only elements of an experience with which people interact. In services, people may also interact with each other, with processes, with communications, and with physical spaces, and it’s the responsibility of the service designer to understand their needs and create an optimal experience that considers all of these diverse elements. Plus, while the goal of a service designer is to think holistically about how these elements work together in a service experience, each element has its own discreet set of design considerations. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: September 22, 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 answers questions about two issues that confront UX professionals:

  • Should accessibility be a UX team’s responsibility?
  • What is the best way to work with a visual designer?

Should user experience and accessibility be the responsibility of the same team? Should accessibility be part of a UX team’s purview? When should designers think about the accessibility of a design? What types of disabilities may impact people’s ability to use your products? Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: September 22, 2014

“Reflections on the state of democracy in the United States and how we can use design thinking to imagine a more participatory form of democratic government.”

Dirk Knemeyer, shown in Figure 1, is a UX thought leader, an entrepreneur, a game designer, and a former UXmatters columnist. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Dirk about his experiences as a UX professional and entrepreneur, as well as his reflections on the state of democracy in the United States and how we can use design thinking to imagine a more participatory form of democratic government.

Perspectives on User Experience and Entrepreneurship

Dirk shared some thoughts on working in agencies, as well as his various pursuits as an entrepreneur, including starting up Involution Studios, Facio, and Conquistador Games. Read moreRead More>

By Baruch Sachs

Published: September 22, 2014

“Effective planning … differentiates a truly successful UX consultant from one who is merely busy—constantly putting out fires.”

These are words that one never really wants to hear from a home-improvement contractor. Or any type of contractor really. Recently, I built a new house. And I heard these very words from a person who was coming in to clean up a mess. At some point, the tile guy had messed up the work the hardwood guy was doing and left an inch gap between the place leading into the bathroom—where the tile floor ends and the marble threshold begins. Or maybe it was the hardwood guy who had messed up the tile guy’s work. It’s hard to tell these days. We live in an era when the deflection of blame and the avoidance of personal responsibility are common. Read moreRead More>

By Jennifer Romano Bergstrom and Andrew Schall

Published: September 22, 2014

“This chapter is an exploration of what eye tracking can tell us about the user experience of forms and surveys. It discusses when eye tracking is appropriate and when it can be misleading. This leads to some tips for what to do when using eye-tracking techniques to test your forms and surveys.”

This is a sample chapter from Jennifer Romano Bergstrom and Andrew Schall’s new book, Eye Tracking in User Experience Design. 2014 Morgan Kaufmann.

Chapter 5: Forms and Surveys

By Caroline Jarrett and Jennifer Romano Bergstrom

Introduction

Most parts of a Web experience are optional. Forms usually are not.

You want to use a Web service? Register for it—using a form. You want to buy something on the Internet? Select it, then go through the checkout—using a form. Want to insure a car, book a flight, apply for a loan? You will find a form standing as a barrier between you and your goal. Read moreRead More>

By Steven Hoober

Published: September 2, 2014

“Touch devices are still fairly new. We’re still developing patterns for interactions and are just now beginning to understand how users understand and employ their touchscreen devices.”

While I’ve discovered many things in the last few years about how users work with touchscreen devices, the one thing I’m really sure about is how much we do not understand. Touch devices are still fairly new. We’re still developing patterns for interactions and are just now beginning to understand how users understand and employ their touchscreen devices.

Since my first research into how users really hold and touch their phones came out over a year and a half ago, I’ve continued to build on my early research and explore the human side of mobile touch interactions. The next logical step was for me to attempt to actually understand users’ motivations and determine whether I can draw relationships between different types of actions or contexts and user interactions. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: September 2, 2014

“So much of success derives from mindset rather than skillsets…. … Mindset is who you really are at your core. It’s your habitual way of thinking.”

This article was inspired by a discussion at last week’s Silicon Valley IxDA meeting, where Daniel Szuc and Josephine Wong spoke on the topic “Sleepwalking + Designing for a Healthy Future,” which got me thinking about what qualities one must have to be an effective UX professional. So much of success derives from mindset rather than skillsets, and mindset takes a lifetime to develop—or, for those of us who believe in reincarnation, multiple lifetimes. Your mindset derives from your life experiences and the way you respond to them, as well as what you learn from those who influence you greatly—such as your parents, mentors, and spiritual teachers. Read moreRead More>

By Ronnie Battista

Published: September 2, 2014

“I was still struggling to get leadership to see my UX team as being responsible for more than user interface (UI) research and design.”

Last April, the UX leadership at my company, Slalom Consulting, gathered at an off-site meeting to get aligned on how best to brand and market our UX capabilities to our colleagues and clients. Slalom has a strong, seasoned UX team with people distributed across its local offices in the USA, as well as a national team that supports all of us. We excel at holistic, outside-in, omnichannel experience strategy work, which is an exponentially increasing growth area for us and an integral part of our business and technology services. It’s this type of UX strategy work that gets me pumped and makes me want to spring out of bed every morning. But as I discovered, some people at Slalom did not see this work as belonging to the User Experience practice. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: September 2, 2014

“When you’re suddenly faced with a large-scale research project, it can seem so intimidating or even overwhelming.”

What would you do if you were asked to do an extremely large-scale user research project? What do I mean by large? How about performing more than 150 contextual inquiries? How would you handle such a large amount of information from many different user groups, whose subject matter covers such a large scope? Doing unmoderated research such as online card sorting and unmoderated usability testing is an easy way to get a large number of participants, but what if you need to do moderated sessions?

Admittedly, needing to do such large-scale research is a rare situation. UX professionals usually face the opposite problem—not having enough participants. That’s why, when you’re suddenly faced with a large-scale research project, it can seem so intimidating or even overwhelming. Read moreRead More>

By Kay Corry Aubrey

Published: September 2, 2014

“Crafting a single statement that encapsulates your interview objectives will help you and your teammates to stay focused and make good decisions about which questions to cover.”

The simplest approach to learning about users’ needs and challenges is to talk with them. In this article, I’d like to share with you some of the approaches that I use that lead to successful interviews with users.

Planning and Preparing for Interviews

Some of the things that set you up for success happen before your interviews even begin.

1. Pinpoint the issues and topics that you need to explore.

Ask your team, your management, and other project stakeholders for their input on the types of people to whom you should be talking and the questions you should ask. Crafting a single statement that encapsulates your interview objectives will help you and your teammates to stay focused and make good decisions about which questions to cover. Read moreRead More>