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November 2012 Issue

By Michael Hawley

Published: November 19, 2012

Guided selling is an approach that attempts to educate consumers about a set of products or services and provide decision-making support that directs them to a solution that is right for them.”

Guided selling is an approach that attempts to educate consumers about a set of products or services and provide decision-making support that directs them to a solution that is right for them. Similar to a helpful salesperson, a software-based guided-selling application leads a consumer through a set of questions that assess their values, intended usage, and knowledge of a particular product category, then directs them to information and products that meet their needs.

This approach is especially helpful in situations where the decision-making process is complex—for example, when purchasing complex products with many features and functions. In addition, this approach is valuable when selling products that are new to the marketplace and in situations where the intended audience is not likely to have knowledge of a product domain. Some obvious examples are consumer electronics and complex products and services relating to healthcare, insurance, financial services, and travel. Guided selling can be helpful in any circumstance where consumers are likely to need help orienting themselves to the available choices, as well as support in making an informed choice. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Published: November 19, 2012

Please click this link now to take our survey:
2012 UXmatters Reader Survey

This month, in conjunction with UXmatters’ seventh anniversary issue, we’re conducting our 2012 UXmatters Reader Survey. To those of you who have already responded to our request for our readers’ help in making some vital decisions about the future of UXmatters, thank you! You’ve shared some great ideas with us, and we really appreciate your taking the time to give us your thoughts.

To those of you who have been meaning to respond to our survey, but just haven't gotten around to doing it yet, please take our 2012 UXmatters Reader Survey now! As we envision the future of UXmatters and think about how we can fulfill unmet wants and needs of the UX community, we need your help. You may have unique needs, so you’re the only one who can tell us what they are. We want to hear from you!

Please show your appreciation for the value that UXmatters provides to the UX community by investing a few minutes of your time in participating in our 2012 UXmatters Reader Survey. The survey ends on December 1. Help us to make UXmatters better than ever! Thanks in advance for your help! Read moreRead More>

By Simon Keatley

Published: November 19, 2012

“The problems that we run into … may be amplified—because we’re dealing with more platforms, devices, interactions, and potentially, the consequent slowing of our workflows.”

Working in an agile studio for Deloitte Digital has its UX challenges. As a Senior UX Designer, I get paid to solve problems for clients. Along the way, I facilitate that process by doing user research, sketching, creating personas, and wireframing. We do both Web and extensive native mobile design work. So, in comparison to agencies that primarily do Web work, the problems that we run into at Deloitte Digital may be amplified—because we’re dealing with more platforms, devices, interactions, and potentially, the consequent slowing of our workflows.

Because of this, I’m always trying to make my wireframing workflow more efficient, so I can spend more time sketching, thinking about problem spaces, and getting my work out to the broader team for review, so I can iterate on my designs—especially when I’m working on multiple platforms at the same time! Boil down all these problems and needs, and you get this: Wireframe fast at the lowest fidelity possible to communicate and elicit usable feedback from stakeholders. This can be a difficult task. But as you read on, you’ll see that I’ve found some ways to create wireframes more efficiently, with some UX process and philosophy sprinkled in. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: November 19, 2012

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 conduct an effective design critique.

In my monthly column Ask UXmatters, a panel of UX experts answers our readers’ questions about various user experience matters. To get answers to your 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: ask.uxmatters@uxmatters.com. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: November 12, 2012

“Perhaps, as I once did, you think that you don’t have anything to say—at least not anything new that others haven’t already written or talked about.”

You! Yes, you! You can publish. You can present at conferences. Yes, I do mean you, the person reading this article.

Perhaps, as I once did, you think that you don’t have anything to say—at least not anything new that others haven’t already written or talked about. Maybe you think: Who am I to write anything or present at a conference? Who’s going to listen to me? Maybe you fear public speaking. Maybe you think you’re too busy. Or maybe you intend to write or present, but just never get around to it.

That’s how I felt, until one day—to get my manager off my back—I submitted a proposal to the UPA (Usability Professionals’ Association) Conference, thinking: This will never get accepted. To my surprise, it did get accepted, and that has led me to where I am today. I’ve published 20 articles and presented at three conferences. I don’t say this to brag, and I don’t profess to be a publishing or presenting expert. I’m just a regular guy who has the same doubts and fears that most people experience. But I faced those fears and succeeded. In this column, I’d like to share my experiences to help others get started publishing and presenting. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Published: November 12, 2012

Please click this link now to take our survey:
2012 UXmatters Reader Survey

Right now, we’re conducting our 2012 UXmatters Reader Survey, and this year’s survey is more important than any we’ve conducted in past years. As we envision what more UXmatters might be to fulfill the unmet needs of the UX community, we need your help. We’re doing this for you! And you’re the only one who can tell us what your unmet needs are. Use your imagination! Think outside the box! Dream a little! Please help us to make UXmatters better than ever! Invest a bit of yourself in UXmatters.

Of course, we’ve got some ideas in mind for features and services that we’d like to add to the UXmatters Web site, but we don’t want to limit your thinking by telling you what they are just yet. So, please tell us what you want and need by participating in our 2012 UXmatters Reader Survey. Thank you! Read moreRead More>

By Paul Bryan

Published: November 12, 2012

“Why can’t UX Strategists share their craft openly like other UX professionals do…? It’s because a UX strategy is a valuable asset that companies want to protect: a battle plan for success in the digital realm.”—Paul Bryan

The role of UX Strategist is a relatively new one on UX design teams. From time to time, senior UX professionals ask me, in my capacity as manager of the UX Strategy and Planning group on LinkedIn, how they can move into UX strategy as a career-growth path. In an earlier UX Strategy column on UXmatters, “What Does a UX Strategist Do?” I partially addressed this question by analyzing UX Strategist job ads and asking experienced UX professionals for their opinions.

In this column, I’ll take this discussion a step further by interviewing three people who are working as UX Strategists for well-known companies and who agreed to participate in this interview. Read moreRead More>

By Ritch Macefield

Published: November 12, 2012

“Intelligent UX strategies can solve certain problems that are characteristic of agile development, as well intrinsically benefit our UX design work.”

This is the first installment of a two-part article about how intelligent UX strategies can solve certain problems that are characteristic of agile development, as well intrinsically benefit our UX design work. My starting point: a few arguments that I made in a recent UXmatters article: “(Why) Is UXD the Blocker in Your Agile UCD Environment?

To summarize what I wrote in that article: For a variety of reasons, particularly the ever-increasing need for software development speed, agile development methods are gaining in popularity. In many ways, this is good for UX professionals because agile fits well with the philosophy of true user-centered design (UCD) and, therefore, potentially fits well with good UX design practice. For example, a great way to define the requirements for agile sprints is for the UX team to provide the development team with an initial, functional prototype for each sprint—a prototype that they’ve already subjected to stakeholder review and successful usability testing. This approach is best supported by a modern, fourth-generation prototyping tool such as Axure RP Pro, iRise, or Justinmind Prototyper. Read moreRead More>

By Nathaniel Davis

Published: November 12, 2012

“We must give credit to Peter Morville and Lou Rosenfeld, who in 1998 blazed more than a trail for the concept of information architecture in their book, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web….

Anniversaries often cause me to pause for moments of reflection. This anniversary issue of UXmatters is no exception. After a year writing Finding Our Way, my column on information architecture (IA), I am mindful of the challenge that I face each time I discuss information architecture. The harsh reality is that we are still lacking clearly authoritative online resources on this subject. When anyone—myself included—is free to define information architecture by writing on the subject from his or her own perspective, it can be difficult for UX professionals to navigate the practice and principles of information architecture. Oh, the joys of the Internet!

However, regarding authoritative sources on information architecture, we must give credit to Peter Morville and Lou Rosenfeld, who in 1998 blazed more than a trail for the concept of information architecture in their book, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web—also known as the polar bear book. They moved mountains and paved a highway that traversed a wealth of topics that helped us to understand the basics of Web site strategy, design, and development. Read moreRead More>

By Steven Hoober

Published: November 1, 2012

“There’s still an unstated assumption that all desktop Web input widgets will work.”

I often say that desktop computing—and especially the desktop Web—made the practice of interaction design lazy, by promulgating assumptions that are not always true outside of this narrow domain. With the massive scale of mobile device usage, most of these assumptions are becoming a bit of a problem.

One key area that surprises a lot of designers and developers that I have worked with is input methods. Yes, they know that users don’t have a mouse, but there’s still an unstated assumption that all desktop Web input widgets will work. Perhaps more troubling is that their personal preferences and rumors sometimes supplant data regarding the kinds of actual experiences that exist out in the world. Read moreRead More>

By Caroline Jarrett

Published: November 1, 2012

“The state of satisfaction may include a variety of emotions and … their intensity may vary according to how much you care….”

Recently, Janet Six devoted the October edition of her Ask UXmatters column to customer feedback surveys. That column has inspired me to have a go at one particular aspect of customer feedback in more detail: asking about user satisfaction. That and the excerpt from an email message, shown in Figure 1, which I received after an encounter with a customer support facility, complete with its odd repetition of the question. Read moreRead More>

By Kate Lawrence

Published: November 1, 2012

“Your role as a usability test facilitator … should be to facilitate according to your understanding of test participants. And what better way is there to understand them than to engage them in conversation before the testing begins?”

In a previous professional life, I had a boss who insisted that my job as a usability researcher was to “serve it up cold” when conducting usability tests. “Be professional, yet impersonal,” he advised me, “and you’ll get solid results.” I suppose I did get solid results—if by solid you mean responses that are stale and forced. My test participants were never comfortable because I did nothing to help them feel at ease. Sure, I was professional, but professional without being warm and conversational.

I wasn’t getting test participants to open up and really talk to me, because I wasn’t engaging them in the basic human exchange of conversation. Plus, while I was busy directing users in completing test tasks, I was missing a valuable opportunity to understand users’ view of the world, which would have ultimately given me a more holistic view of how users interact with our products. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Published: November 1, 2012

Please click this link now to take our survey:
2012 UXmatters Reader Survey

This month, we’re celebrating UXmatters’ seventh anniversary. As part of our anniversary issue each year in November, we conduct our annual reader survey to find out how we’re doing and what our readers want and need. This year’s survey is particularly important because we’re embarking upon a re-envisioning of the UXmatters Web site, and we’d like to do some user research to find out about your needs before making any decisions. So, please participate in our 2012 UXmatters Reader Survey and help us to ensure that our design and development efforts target real user needs. Thank you! Read moreRead More>