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July 2011 Issue

By Traci Lepore

Published: July 18, 2011

“What I’m looking for is our interpretation and vision of the story. I’m missing one of the key components of storytelling: the Context, and it’s throwing my experience for a loop.”

I’m working on a new production right now. It’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream. I should be thrilled because it’s one of my favorites, and it was my very first Shakespeare production, so the nostalgia factor is kicking in hardcore. But I find myself having trouble connecting with what is going on and falling behind in my line memorization. This is frustrating because I usually throw myself wholeheartedly into any production I work on.

It’s taken me a couple weeks to figure out why this is happening. But I finally realized that it’s because I’m not clear about the story we are telling through our production. Now, of course, I realize that the obvious answer is Midsummer’s, but what I’m looking for is our interpretation and vision of the story. I’m missing one of the key components of storytelling: the Context, and it’s throwing my experience for a loop. Read moreRead More>

By Shanshan Ma

Published: July 18, 2011

“One of the challenges usability professionals constantly face is showing the value of usability testing through quantifiable results. Convincing a client to invest … in usability testing often requires some concrete numbers that explicitly tell what the return on the investment in usability testing will be.”

Traditional usability testing involves several steps: creating screeners, sending out recruitment email messages, scheduling sessions, creating test scripts, conducting the test sessions, consolidating the findings, and making design recommendations. Large-scale usability testing can run for months, which is a big investment in time, money, and effort.

One of the challenges usability professionals constantly face is showing the value of usability testing through quantifiable results. Convincing a client to invest tens of thousands of dollars in usability testing often requires some concrete numbers that explicitly tell what the return on the investment in usability testing will be. A client might say, “Yes, the usability testing will tell me how horrible the Web site is and how much users dislike filling out the forms on the Web site. So what?” From the client’s prospective, the real question is: How do I know the usability testing will help me meet my business goals—making more sales, lowering costs, and increasing conversions? Just saying that the user-satisfaction rate will go up is not enough. Read moreRead More>

By Leslie Johnson

Published: July 18, 2011

“UX teams in small organizations face some unique challenges, so industry-standard solutions for large organizations are not always a good fit.”

UX teams in small organizations face some unique challenges, so industry-standard solutions for large organizations are not always a good fit. Often those solutions are too large scale, costly, scary, and overwhelming for a small organization’s management team. Plus, management may be skeptical about the return on investment (ROI) making a high level of investment in user experience would bring. This poses some interesting challenges for a UX team in a small organization:

  • The UX team is typically small—often only one or two people. We all know that just one or two people can’t do all of the work of a UX team—even if they’re generalists who can work in various UX or user-centered design (UCD) disciplines.
  • The UX team doesn’t typically have control of its own budget. And the budget is teeny! This means the UX team has to be hyper-clear about the ROI for every dime they want to spend.
  • It’s difficult for team members to take advantage of out-of-the-office learning opportunities. Because of budget and time constraints, it’s difficult to get to conferences or classes.
  • The UX team doesn’t always have control over how or when they work. Often the UX team reports into either the Product Management / Marketing organization or the Development organization, and it can be very hard for User Experience to have a voice. Consequently, the UX team must often work according to someone else’s vision and schedule.
  • It’s difficult to make large changes that produce high returns. Because the UX team is working to someone else’s vision and schedule and the organization’s management is skeptical about ROI promises from the UX team, it’s hard to make an impact.

Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: July 18, 2011

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

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our experts discuss two very different topics:

  • how to determine the value of a product or service
  • design patterns for the Android platform

Every month in Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts answers 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 us at: ask.uxmatters@uxmatters.com. Read moreRead More>

By Kristina Mausser

Published: July 18, 2011

Lou Rosenfeld’s newest book, Search Analytics for Your Site: Conversations with Your Customers, has been the subject of more prelaunch buzz than most UX books have gotten this year. It seemed everyone was tweeting, talking, or speculating about it before the ink had even had a chance to dry. And, true to the hype, this book delivers in spades. If you read one book this year to hone your craft, add value to your UX practice, or enable you to help your clients, this is the one! Lou recently found some time in his very hectic schedule to sit down and talk with me about his book and the burgeoning practice of site search analytics (SSA).

KM: This book is so rich with actual case studies and insights. It has obviously been years in the making.

LR: Heh… Thanks, but those “years in the making” actually had much more to do with the many other activities and milestones—both professional and personal—that interrupted my writing. To be blunt, I hate to write and would rather do just about anything else. But the extra time did help me think through the topic a bit more. I hope that shows in the final product. Read moreRead More>

By Michael Hawley

Published: July 4, 2011

“You were hopeful that stakeholders would provide meaningful comments on your designs—letting you know, for example, whether the designs align with business goals….”

Consider the following scenario: You are the UX lead on a project. You’ve completed some business intelligence and foundational user research activities to inform a series of brainstorming and idea-generating sessions. Following the brainstorming, you sketched the basis for a design solution in a series of wireframes and presented the concepts to business stakeholders. You have a tight timeline on the project, but you recognize that the stakeholders need to absorb the concepts for a day or two, so they can provide appropriate comments. Following your concept presentation on a Tuesday morning, you told stakeholders to “send me feedback by end of day Thursday.” You walked out of the meeting feeling confident.

It seemed as though the stakeholders found the concepts and ideas embodied in your wireframes engaging. You were hopeful that stakeholders would provide meaningful comments on your designs—letting you know, for example, whether the designs align with business goals, there are unaddressed requirements, or there are any potential issues with the workflows or navigation. Read moreRead More>

By Colleen Roller

Published: July 4, 2011

“Seemingly insignificant aspects of information presentation can have surprising effects on people’s perceptions and behavior.”
  • Why should fancy restaurants print their menus in a font that is elegant, but difficult to read?
  • Why should scary rides in amusement parks have names that are difficult to pronounce?
  • How do people assess the risk of food additives in everyday grocery items?

… And what does any of this have to do with UX design and usability?

Every day, your users make judgments and decisions about the products and services you provide based on the way you present them. In this column, I’ll talk about why seemingly insignificant aspects of information presentation can have surprising effects on people’s perceptions and behavior. Read moreRead More>

By Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain

Published: July 4, 2011

“Focus groups have gotten a bad rap over the years as UX research has shifted away from this very traditional method of market research. But focus groups can be quite useful for UX research if we approach them properly.”

Focus groups have gotten a bad rap over the years as UX research has shifted away from this very traditional method of market research. But focus groups can be quite useful for UX research if we approach them properly. This month, we’ll talk about ways you can get the most out of focus groups and apply the method properly to avoid the pitfalls that many people commonly encounter.

Do Use Focus Groups Early to Identify Important Research Questions

Focus groups can be an effective way to get started on a project. When you are just starting to explore a product idea, getting a group of potential users together to discuss ideas can be extremely helpful. Focus groups can provide you with a cost-effective means of testing your team’s initial assumptions, beginning to identify relevant market segments, exploring product ideas, and acquiring the data you need to create a UX research plan to guide product development. Read moreRead More>

By Shazeeye Kirmani

Published: July 4, 2011

“There are many factors that contribute to the perceived trustworthiness of an ecommerce site. Not only is the inclusion of trust elements important, their visibility … also plays a vital role in determining whether customers feel comfortable performing online transactions.”

Quickly establishing trust is critical in ecommerce sales. Taylor Nelson Sofres’s 2006 survey showed that customers terminate 70% of online purchases because of a lack of trust, which resulted in $1.9 billion in lost revenues for that year alone. There are many factors that contribute to the perceived trustworthiness of an ecommerce site. Not only is the inclusion of trust elements important, their visibility, or placement on the home page, also plays a vital role in determining whether customers feel comfortable performing online transactions.

My company recently performed a study in which we asked 18 participants to share their first impressions of four ecommerce sites: AbeBooks, Blue Nile, eToys.com, and Newegg.com. We chose these sites from a Forbes list of the best ecommerce sites of 2005. Read moreRead More>

By Kristina Mausser

Published: July 4, 2011

Did you know that there are big profits to be made from no-search-results pages? Have you ever considered that your customers’ search results—rather than the products you offer for sale on your site—have the potential to make or break sales online? I hadn’t, until I read Greg Nudelman’s book, Designing Search: UX Strategies for Ecommerce Success.

As businesses strive to reach the elusive brass ring of the ultimate ecommerce experience—replicating the success of the customer-centric shopping experiences of the bricks-and mortar-world—Nudelman’s book can definitely help them to get closer to their business goals. I recently caught up with Greg to discuss his book, which covers ecommerce site search across desktop and mobile platforms. Read moreRead More>