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October 2011 Issue

By Janet M. Six

Published: October 17, 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 how to bridge user research into design.

Every 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 question to us at: ask.uxmatters@uxmatters.com. Read moreRead More>

By Paul Bryan

Published: October 17, 2011

UX strategy is about building a rationale that guides user experience design efforts for the foreseeable future.”

Many people in the UX community are puzzled by the term UX Strategy. What exactly does it mean? What does a UX Strategist do? When I started the UX Strategy and Planning group on LinkedIn, one of my clients asked, “Why is UX strategy such a niche field?” I’m still not exactly sure how to answer that question. The concept of developing a strategic approach to user experience design has been around for years, but resources that explain UX strategy as a discipline are still few and far between.

UX strategy is about building a rationale that guides user experience design efforts for the foreseeable future. This article provides an overview of the ingredients I consider essential for developing a successful UX strategy. If you want to enter the growing field of UX strategy or learn more about it, this overview points you in the right direction. Read moreRead More>

By Tyler Tate

Published: October 17, 2011

“The message is now abstracted from the medium, and the book is a channel-independent experience—whether held in its physical form, heard as the spoken word, or read on an eReader, mobile phone, or desktop computer.”

A few Saturdays ago, I was walking around Greenwich in southeast London when I decided to peruse the local bookshop. Drawn to a display titled “Utopias and Dystopias,” I noticed the book A Brave New World sitting beside George Orwell’s 1984, which I had read and remembered enjoying. Curious about the association between the two, I picked up A Brave New World and glanced over the back cover. I then pulled out my phone and searched Google to see what others were saying about the book and noted that it is often considered one of the top-100 novels of all time. My mind was settled: I wanted to read this book. But rather than walking, book in hand, to the checkout counter, I instead used my phone to navigate to Amazon’s Kindle Store, where I typed in the name of the book and used their 1-click ordering to purchase the book. Leaving the bookshop empty handed, I caught the next bus home. On the way home, I pulled out my tablet device and started reading page 1 of A Brave New World. Figure 1 shows some of the devices on which Amazon Kindle applications run. Read moreRead More>

By Paul McInerney

Published: October 17, 2011

“A complicating factor in UX analysis and design is that people starting with the same goal can often pursue different strategies in achieving that goal.”

A complicating factor in UX analysis and design is that people starting with the same goal can often pursue different strategies in achieving that goal. I once experienced this complication when conducting generative user research prior to designing a user interface. Once I had collected data from one group of participants, I decided to collect additional data from a second group to extend and validate the initial data. To my consternation, the data from the second group was strikingly different. Far from providing guidance for designing the user interface, this additional data left me feeling like a person with two clocks that tell different times. Further analysis revealed that, through some fluke, people in the first group tended to work in one type of situation, while those in the second group tended to work in another type of situation. This research led to the insight that our user population uses two different strategies depending on their work situation. This example represents just one of the many times when I’ve had to account for multiple user strategies in a UX project. Read moreRead More>

By Michael Griffith

Published: October 17, 2011

“But what is sometimes lacking is a first-impression impact on users—and because of the nature of mobile apps, often there may be no opportunity for a second impression.”

The average user doesn’t open a mobile app more than twenty times, and people use only one third of the apps they download beyond 30 days. [1] As an app designer, I find this depressing. It means much of my hard work gets discarded. This got me thinking about the lifecycle of an app living on my phone.

There are specific milestones in my relationship with a mobile app. I believe understanding that lifecycle is important in designing an app to outlive those statistics. A user-centered design approach ensures we design with purpose, users’ desires are front and center, and users can easily complete their tasks. But what is sometimes lacking is a first-impression impact on users—and because of the nature of mobile apps, often there may be no opportunity for a second impression. Let’s take a closer look at the lifecycle of a mobile app in Figure 1. Read moreRead More>

By Daniel Szuc, Tomer Sharon, and Johanna Kollmann

Published: October 17, 2011

“The primary goal of Lean UX Machine’s organizers was for global and local mentors to lead a weekend of user experience learning, collaboration, and mentorship for startups.”

On August 4–6, 2011, we were privileged to present and mentor at Lean UX Machine, in Tel Aviv, Israel. Eden Shochat, a partner at Genesis Partners, Yaniv Golan, a partner at lool Ventures, and Tomer Sharon, a UX Researcher at Google New York, were the primary organizers of this event, in collaboration with others.

The primary goal of Lean UX Machine’s organizers was for global and local mentors to lead a weekend of user experience learning, collaboration, and mentorship for startups. Read moreRead More>

By Nathaniel Davis

Published: October 3, 2011

“Before Boersma’s articulation of [The T-model], many had considered the practice of information architecture as the overarching umbrella, referring to this as Big IA.”

In 2004, UX design professional Peter Boersma suggested that information architecture was one of the many disciplines that come together to shape the multidisciplinary practice of user experience design for the Web. He titled the diagram he used to express this concept The T-model, shown in Figure 1. Before Boersma’s articulation of this viewpoint, many information architects had considered the practice of information architecture as the overarching umbrella, referring to this as Big IA.

Since Boersma created his diagram, many respected practitioners of information architecture have adopted a similar position. In his 2008 IA Summit plenary, Andrew Hinton described the practice of information architecture as one of a tribe of many disciplines that contribute to the broader practice of user experience design. And in their latest book, Pervasive Information Architecture: Designing Cross-Channel Experiences, [1] Andrea Resmini and Luca Rosati have concurred with Boersma—referring to the practice of information architecture as a necessary part of the user experience design elephant. Read moreRead More>

By Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain

Published: October 3, 2011

“There are some key principles you should keep in mind that you aren’t likely to discover in any textbook….”

We meet a lot of people who do user research, but don’t have a research background or extensive training in research. Sometimes they are UX designers or graphic artists at a company that doesn’t have researchers. Sometimes they are people in small startups who are looking for some indication of the right direction to take. Sometimes they are just people who are new to research, don’t yet have a great deal of experience, and need guidance.

If you find yourself in such a position, there are some key principles you should keep in mind that you aren’t likely to discover in any textbook or research manual. Learning any skill involves both knowledge from books and what you learn through some form of personal mentorship in which you can receive feedback on your work. Research is a complex skill, and people who are just getting started need both knowledge and guidance to gain mastery. We’ve tried to distill what we think are the most important concepts that we emphasize when we’re mentoring new researchers. They are principles that we have discovered through our years of experience, and we’ve found that they apply in all instances. Read moreRead More>

By Catalina Naranjo-Bock

Published: October 3, 2011

“Most of the content and interactive elements in applications for children employ graphic components and vibrant color combinations.”

While most of the content and interactive elements in applications for children employ graphic components and vibrant color combinations, the way in which application’s combine these elements can lead to a great user experience or be a cause of frustration and confusion.

This column is a continuation of my last Designing for Children column, “Effective Use of Typography in Applications for Children.” In this column, I’ll discuss the optimal use of color and graphics when designing digital applications for kids between two and five years of age. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: October 3, 2011

“When I discovered the SyFy Network series, Ghost Hunters,… I began to recognize a lot of surprising parallels between researching users and researching ghosts.”

It was never my childhood dream to become a usability professional. In kindergarten, I didn’t observe the other kids playing with their toys and think of ways to improve them. I didn’t yearn to perform heuristic evaluations, usability tests, and contextual inquiries. Don Norman wasn’t my Mister Rogers and Jakob Nielsen wasn’t my Captain Kangaroo.

Instead, as a child I was fascinated by ghosts. I must have read every ghost book in the library at least twice. Not many kids knew what a parapsychologist was, yet to be one was my dream—to travel the world searching for evidence of ghosts.

Sadly, as most childhood dreams do, mine faded away as I grew up. Through a series of practical choices and career changes, I eventually became a UX design researcher. Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do, but there’s still a part of me that wonders, What if I had become a ghost hunter?

A few years ago, my ghost-hunting dream was rekindled when I discovered the SyFy Network series, Ghost Hunters. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking, but I began to recognize a lot of surprising parallels between researching users and researching ghosts. Okay, this may sound like a bit of a stretch, but bear with me, and I’ll explain the similarities between them and the lessons user researchers could learn from ghost hunters. Read moreRead More>