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March 2013 Issue

By Steven Hoober

Published: March 18, 2013

“44 pixels is not a physical size. … We cannot even translate 44 pixels, or points, to a single actual size.”

Touchscreens have been with us for decades—and they’ve been the mobile input method of choice for many of us for about 5 years. In fact, many junior designers and developers—or at least those who were late to the mobile party—have never owned a mobile phone for which buttons were the primary input method.

But there are still very few designers who seem to know how touchscreens actually work or how people really interact with them. In my work as a UX design consultant, working for many different organizations, I’ve encountered lots of myths and half-truths about designing for touchscreens. Read moreRead More>

By Sasha Giacoppo

Published: March 18, 2013

“You need to know that you’re going to … have the latitude to craft great solutions for the business and their customers. … To do great work … you’ll have to take a more aggressive, critical, and potentially disruptive approach.

In Part I of my series of articles on user experience in startups, I discussed the challenges and realities of being a UX professional in a startup. Now, in Part II, I’ll present an approach that UX designers can take to ensure a successful engagement with a startup.

Taking the Right Approach

One question you should always get answered before committing to a UX design consulting engagement—or any job opportunity for that matter—is: “How well would I fit in here?” It’s essential to determine not only that you’ll have the opportunity to flex your skills and do your job, but also how well you’ll fit into the organization’s culture and, particularly, how well you’ll be able to work together with other team members on your project. An important question of a more business-oriented nature is: “What would be the best approach to help the startup create innovative solutions?” Of course, both personally and professionally, you need to know that you’re going to be able to do what the job requires and have the latitude to craft great solutions for the business and their customers. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: March 18, 2013

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 whether techniques such as rapid prototyping, Lean UX, and agile development are making user experience better or worse.

Each month in Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts answers our readers’ questions about a variety 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: ask.uxmatters@uxmatters.com. Read moreRead More>

By Paul Bryan

Published: March 18, 2013

“Finding information resources regarding a strategic approach to UX design is a challenge because most UX publications and presentations focus on tactical solutions to common design challenges.”

Companies around the globe are realizing that they need to take a more strategic approach to user experience design. UX teams are feeling the pressure to be both better and faster, as agile development squeezes UX processes into short sprints; while analytics provide an instant read on how designs are performing in the marketplace. UX leaders are trying to keep up with changing technology and an explosion of devices, while at the same time trying to be smarter about how they make decisions for their UX roadmap.

Finding information resources regarding a strategic approach to UX design is a challenge because most UX publications and presentations focus on tactical solutions to common design challenges. In this column, I’ll discuss some ways to get help with formulating a UX strategy and communicating your strategy to an organization. Read moreRead More>

By Andy Polaine, Lavrans Løvlie, and Ben Reason

Published: March 18, 2013

This is a sample chapter from the new Rosenfeld Media book Service Design: From Insights to Implementation. ©2013 Rosenfeld Media.

“The service proposition is essentially the business proposition, but seen from both the business and the customer / user perspective.”

If we are looking to improve an existing service, our blueprint has given us a pretty good overview of the component parts of the service and how these are experienced over time. If we are developing something entirely new, we may have less detail but some idea of people’s needs and what some of the key touchpoints might be. Before going further into the details and committing significant resources to the project, we need to develop the service proposition. Read moreRead More>

By Frank Guo

Published: March 4, 2013

“Understanding the relative importance of the four elements is critical to correctly prioritizing product design and development efforts.”

In Part II of this series, I explained the benefits of breaking down user experience into its four elements—usability, desirability, adoptability, and value—and discussed ways of applying this framework to help you develop products that customers love. In Part III, I’ll discuss the relative importance of each of these four elements in driving UX success, according to the type of product your team is developing. Understanding the relative importance of the four elements is critical to correctly prioritizing product design and development efforts.

When assessing your product’s user experience, keep in mind that not all elements of user experience are of equal importance. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, a product’s usability often matters less than its adoptability, value, and desirability, because these three elements play a large role in getting users to start using the product. However, that’s not always the case; it depends on the type of product you’re developing. Let’s look at a few common product categories. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: March 4, 2013

Successful user research involves close collaboration between clients and researchers to ensure that the research focuses on the right issues and provides acceptable recommendations.

You’ve just signed a contract with a consulting firm, engaging them to provide user research services. You’ll write checks to pay for those services. You’ll attend meetings. But what else does your role as a client on a user research project entail?

In my column, Practical Usability, I usually discuss user research from the researcher’s point of view, but clients play an important role as well. Successful user research involves close collaboration between clients and researchers to ensure that the research focuses on the right issues and provides acceptable recommendations. So, in this edition of my column, I’ll speak directly to the clients of researchers about the steps they should take to stay involved throughout a user research project and ensure its success. Read moreRead More>

By Amaya Becvar Weddle

Published: March 4, 2013

“Quotations from user-research participants are a powerful form of qualitative data. They provide invaluable perspectives, in participants’ own words, on the value and meaning of products and solutions….”

Quotations from user-research participants are a powerful form of qualitative data. They provide invaluable perspectives, in participants’ own words, on the value and meaning of products and solutions—perspectives that have a high level of credibility. Such quotations often provide stakeholders’ only direct glimpses into what happens during research sessions, as participants experience UX designs. Sometimes these influential quotations trickle into marketing and sales presentations. What better way to market and sell products to customers and partners than using words that come directly from the mouths of potential users?

As UX researchers, we have an ethical commitment to represent what transpires during a usability study in an objective manner. How we choose to record and represent what happens during research sessions has a direct bearing on a study’s outcome and influence. Therefore, it is essential that we be thoughtful about how we represent the ideas, perspectives, and impressions of study participants. Read moreRead More>

By Ben Crothers

Published: March 4, 2013

“There is still so much value in UX report writing that our clients both need and expect.”

The current less-is-more, agile UX prototyping practices are leaving the humble report further and further behind. Yet there is still so much value in UX report writing that our clients both need and expect. Think like an artist, and you can reinvigorate your reports and presentations. To help you realize that goal, here are a few insights about the way artists down the ages have thought and expressed themselves.

Rethink Document Templates and Your Mental Templates

Remember when you were at school, and your teachers drummed into you that essays had to have an introduction, then some points to build your argument, and finally, a conclusion? How much writing do you read these days that follows that pattern? If you write as part of your UX career today, odds are that you don’t write in that format. But it can be all too easy to fall into similar patterns of writing and thinking. Relying on document templates, while keeping one eye on your timesheet and project budget, can limit the potential value of your written communications to your clients. To help you to refresh and reinvigorate your report writing, I’d like to show you how to emulate the thinking of some great artists. Read moreRead More>

By Chandler Turner

Published: March 4, 2013

“Many Marketing departments have shown a penchant for using unnecessarily complicated language that either damages or ruins the customer experience.”

In light of recent advancements in technology, it would seem that communicating with our customers should be getting easier. Unfortunately, many Marketing departments have shown a penchant for using unnecessarily complicated language that either damages or ruins the customer experience. There is a way out of this quagmire—using the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) approach to customer experience.

I am a mentor for a local technology-startup business accelerator called Hatch. I am having a wonderful time working with a bunch of bright, young people. In fact, every time I interact with them, I walk away refreshed. The energy is almost palpable. Read moreRead More>