Do you create products or organize events for UX professionals or manage a UX team that’s hiring? Sponsor UXmatters and see your ad or logo here! Learn moreLearn More

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 2009 Issue

By Janet M. Six

Published: October 19, 2009

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

In this Ask UXmatters column—which is the first in a series of three columns focusing on usability—our experts discuss the use of usability testing versus expert reviews. In the upcoming columns, we’ll discuss what usability techniques to use when money or time is tight and how to best conduct remote usability testing.

Look to Ask UXmatters for answers to your questions about user experience matters. If you’d like to see our experts’ responses to your own question in an upcoming edition of Ask UXmatters, please send your question to: ask.uxmatters@uxmatters.com.

Q: Under what circumstances is it more appropriate to do usability testing versus an expert review? What are the benefits and weaknesses of each method that make one or the other more appropriate in different situations?—from a UXmatters reader Read moreRead More>

By Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain

Published: October 19, 2009

“The key to creating brand loyalty is developing a consistent and salient brand perception through the association of specific emotional experiences with a product or service.”

The key to creating brand loyalty is developing a consistent and salient brand perception through the association of specific emotional experiences with a product or service. A classic example of this is the emotion of wonder and happiness people associate with The Walt Disney Company’s films and theme parks. By crafting amazing experiences for the people who enjoy their products, Disney has created such a favorable association, leading consumers to feel they can trust the brand and know what kind of experience to expect from a visit to a park, hotel, or movie theater. People can appreciate their intense focus on the user experience, whether watching Mary Poppins, meeting characters like Goofy and Minnie Mouse for the first time as a child, shown in Figure 1, or watching Toy Story characters leap to life in the amazing and spellbinding zoetrope at the California Adventure theme park.

There are plenty of other companies that work to establish their brands by intentionally pairing a positive emotional experience with products. Those that do it well tend to be very successful. Companies like Apple, Toyota, Nintendo, and YouTube have all achieved something very much like what Disney has done—creating a brand perception in the market that inspires confidence, trust, and cultish loyalty. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: October 19, 2009

“Seeing where people look while using your Web site, Web application, or software product sounds like an opportunity to get amazing insights into their user experience.”

It is easy to get excited about eyetracking. Seeing where people look while using your Web site, Web application, or software product sounds like an opportunity to get amazing insights into their user experience. But eyetracking is expensive and requires extra effort and specialized knowledge. The heat maps and other visualizations certainly look impressive, but what can you really learn from them? After using eyetracking for the first time, many find that it is not easy to know how to analyze the visualizations and make conclusions from them. Does eyetracking really provide any additional insights you would not have discovered anyway through traditional usability testing? Does the value of eyetracking outweigh its limitations? This article will discuss and answer these questions.

What Does Eyetracking Show Us?

Eyetracking detects where a person’s fovea fixate and the movements in between fixations. The fovea is a small spot on the retina that is responsible for our fine, detailed vision. Outside the fovea, visual acuity decreases greatly. Our eyes constantly move in rapid bursts called saccades, with brief stops called fixations, during which we take in visual information through our fovea. We use our parafovea—the area just outside the fovea—and peripheral vision to determine where to fixate next. Read moreRead More>

By Colleen Jones

Published: October 19, 2009

“I define content strategy as planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.”

As a participant in the Content Strategy Consortium at the IA Summit 2009, I have enjoyed watching content strategy grow into a user experience discipline. The most recent and significant sign of content strategy’s rise is the release of Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson. Kristina is a renowned content strategist, co-curator of the Content Strategy Consortium, and president of Brain Traffic. I was honored to chat recently with Kristina about her new book.

Tell us, what is content strategy?

Kristina: There are lots of different definitions floating around out there. It was important to me to talk about content strategy in a way that people can understand easily. I define content strategy as planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.

Planning is the key. Planning is about asking the right questions to collect data and information, with the goal of delivering a plan that gets you from where you are now to where you want to be. Read moreRead More>

By Jonathan Follett

Published: October 5, 2009

“Symbols and icons can be both friend and enemy to UX designers. They can convey a great deal of information in the span of just a few pixels or utterly confuse users, depending on the context.”

Symbols and icons can be both friend and enemy to UX designers. They can convey a great deal of information in the span of just a few pixels or utterly confuse users, depending on the context. The careful application of icons, however, can greatly enhance software, enabling quick access to a feature or function, using a minimal amount of screen real estate.

Of the many choices for icons, the arrow falls into that small group of supposedly universal symbols that we can expect most people using a Web site or application to understand intuitively. (Others include the X, plus (+) and minus (–) signs, and—maybe—the stop sign.)

The arrow and its brethren are everywhere on our computer screens. For example, a quick examination of the Firefox 3.0 browser, shown in Figure 1 in its standard configuration, yields eight examples of arrows—Forward, Back, and Reload buttons, scroll bar controls, and drop-down menus that reveal search engine, history, and bookmark choices. Read moreRead More>

By Whitney Hess

Published: October 5, 2009

“Does a portfolio really encapsulate all that I am as a designer?”

Not long after I went independent, a friend who works at a well-known global advertising agency asked if I would be interested in helping out on a high-profile Web site redesign project. I was pretty stoked. He suggested I come in to meet his team. After meeting with the lead developer and project manager, I was told they wanted to bring me on. All I had to do was to meet the creative director.

When he finally got a chance to sit down with me, the first thing he asked was something I wasn’t prepared for: “Can I see your portfolio?”

I hadn’t brought one. “I can give you the URL,” I said. We weren’t near a computer.

His glassy response: “I’m not sure what we have to discuss if I can’t see your work.” And with that he asked that we reschedule for a time when I could come back with my book. Then he left.

The truth is, I do have a book—a portfolio. It’s a pretty heavy binder actually, and I don’t like carrying it around. And the last time I had used it was almost two years prior when I was applying for my last full-time job. When interviewing for all the freelance work I had been doing since then, I had never needed to show it, and I hadn’t kept it updated. Read moreRead More>

By Greg Nudelman and Frank Guo

Published: October 5, 2009

“Conflicting demands make many UX professionals think of ads as a necessary evil.”

Conflicting demands make many UX professionals think of ads as a necessary evil. Customers frequently go out of their way to say they hate ads, while marketers always seem to try their hardest to stuff as many of them as they can on each search results page on your site. This leaves many UX design professionals caught in the middle, trying to balance the ad equation—and frequently failing to fully satisfy either customers or marketers. For this 2-part column, I’ve teamed up with advertisement and eyetracking research guru Frank Guo to present real-world strategies for successfully integrating ads into your search results. The goal is making money without unduly turning off your customers.

Don’t Kill Your Golden Goose

Internet ads have gone full circle—from the Ads are great! Now, we can make money on anything! mania of the early 1990s to the Ads are dead post-dot-com bust philosophy. Currently, the notion that ads are a legitimate way of boosting revenues on an ecommerce site seems to be making a comeback—in part, because this is a tough economy for many etailers. Every penny counts, and every stream of potential revenue demands careful consideration. However, research and experience show that, for an online business to succeed and thrive, it is important to temper any temptation to load up on ads and get a quick revenue boost this quarter with broader, long-term considerations—like user experience, customer loyalty, and brand attributes. If you are not careful, trying to squeeze out a few more eggs can easily kill your golden goose. Read moreRead More>

By Peter Hornsby

Published: October 5, 2009

“Software engineers dealing with ill?defined problems move repeatedly between examining scenarios, clarifying requirements, defining their solution at a high level, and doing low?level design for difficult elements.”

Traditional, heavyweight development methodologies can be very effective at solving well?defined problems, where the person solving the problem has a clear understanding of the initial and goal states, the available options, and the constraints on the problem. At the opposite end of the spectrum are ill?defined, so-called wicked problems. When it’s necessary to balance numerous, often?conflicting factors, traditional development methodologies are much less effective.

Raymonde Guindon demonstrated that—in stark contrast to the highly structured methodologies traditional software development organizations have used, moving from requirements through development to delivery—software engineers dealing with ill?defined problems move repeatedly between examining scenarios, clarifying requirements, defining their solution at a high level, and doing low?level design for difficult elements. [2] Agile development approaches are best suited to solving these kinds of thorny problems. Read moreRead More>