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June 2013 Issue

By Steven Hoober

Published: June 17, 2013

We need many tools and should use the best tool we can for any one design or communication task.

There are several ways to approach the design of interactive systems and an ever larger number of specialized products to help UX professionals do their work. But I think there is a bit of a gap between some well-discussed practices that many of these new tools support and the way many UX professionals actually do their work.

Several times a week, someone I know or follow discusses the value of designing in the browser—that is, opening a text editor and creating HTML as the first step of detailed design. This might be great, except: Read moreRead More>

By Marnie Andrews and April L. de Vries

Published: June 17, 2013

“Take the classic focus group and turn it into a continuous customer feedback program—a program of recurring sessions that feed your product team the qualitative research it needs.”

In this first part of our series of articles about customer feedback programs, we’ll describe how to take the classic focus group and turn it into a continuous customer feedback program—a program of recurring sessions that feed your product team the qualitative research it needs. We’ll draw from our own experience running such programs at IBM.

The goal of a continuous customer feedback program is to engage real users in conversations about your product. As a UX researcher, you can conduct a customer feedback program to accomplish the following objectives: Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: June 17, 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 some factors that are currently impacting trends in retail UX strategy.

In my monthly column, 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 Ben Werner

Published: June 17, 2013

“Since customer experience (CX) is so important, shouldn’t we all want to know how our digital products, services, and interactions compare to those of our competitors?”

In the current era of business, the customer is more important than ever before. Check out analysts’ recent work on the financial performance of companies that get it versus those that don’t. It’s eye opening. Brands like Amazon who innovate their business to provide the highest-quality, easy, personalized interactions to their customers are taking their markets by storm.

Since customer experience (CX) is so important, shouldn’t we all want to know how our digital products, services, and interactions compare to those of our competitors? Are they sparkling examples of interactive delight that rival those of the CX champions or more like the punch-in-the-face customers get when they deal with health-plan providers? Read moreRead More>

By Debarshi Gupta Biswas

Published: June 17, 2013

“Moving technical writing to the cloud has major appeal for compelling reasons, including lower up-front costs, the immediate availability of software tools, easier collaboration among coauthors, seamless content reviews, and varied storage options.”

Cloud-based computing is arguably one of the most popular developments in the realm of computing in recent years. It has ushered in a radical shift from the pre-cloud era, when IT’s installation, configuration, and management of applications in an enterprise required a significant amount of time and money.

Times have changed. By harnessing the indomitable power of the Web, applications running on remote servers are now available via the Web browser, thereby eliminating the need to install them on local computers. In today’s cloud-driven world, users usually purchase a monthly subscription rather than what may seem like an exorbitant licensing fee, eliminating the need to wait for the installation or configuration of applications. Read moreRead More>

By Frank Guo

Published: June 3, 2013

“Another widely held belief among UX designers: that making a user interface look simple is always good practice.”

So far in this series, I’ve covered several UX design issues that many people erroneously believe to be problematic: long pages and large number of clicks in Part 1; high information density in Part 2. Now, in Part 3 of “Demystifying UX Design,” I’ll discuss another widely held belief among UX designers: that making a user interface look simple is always good practice.

Simplicity Is Not Simple

When it comes to UX design, there is little doubt that simplicity is good. Simplistic design is one of Jakob Nielsen’s widely accepted Web-design heuristics. And the success of Apple user interfaces—which are remarkably simplistic, elegant, and easy to use—has further strengthened the belief that simplicity should always be our goal. Of course, there is much truth in this belief—especially for smartphone user interfaces, where limited screen real estate requires that a user interface be clean. Read moreRead More>

By SuAnne Hall

Published: June 3, 2013

“Accessing the Web from mobile devices is on track to surpass desktop usage in a just a year or two.”

It seems like it’s taken forever, but everyone is finally taking designing experiences for smaller screens seriously—whether they’re doing responsive design or designing stand-alone mobile Web sites. We’re seeing swarms of recently updated sites that are employing responsive design or more mobile-friendly layouts. This is a critical step in the development of the mobile Web, especially when you consider that accessing the Web from mobile devices is on track to surpass desktop usage in a just a year or two. (In fact, mobile Internet traffic surpassed desktop Internet usage in India just a few months ago.) Plus, companies such as Facebook know the importance of catering to mobile demand, because 80% of their traffic comes from mobile devices rather than desktop computers.

At this point, we all know why it’s important to create mobile-friendly Web sites. Thanks to the incredible mobile Web and responsive design communities that have sprouted up in the past few years, we also know how to ensure the best implementation for any browser viewport’s dimensions. However, where we seem to have become confused is about what we should be displaying—or not displaying—on mobile sites. Read moreRead More>

By Catalina Naranjo-Bock

Published: June 3, 2013

“The goal of the research project was to discover key directions, requirements, and design opportunities, as well as to develop an understanding of what it means to design for younger audiences.”

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to conduct user research to understand the world of teenagers from different angles. In this column, I’ll describe the challenges, successes, and lessons that I learned from this experience, focusing on a new method that I’ve added to my toolkit: paired interviews.

Project Setup

The goal of the research project was to discover key directions, requirements, and design opportunities, as well as to develop an understanding of what it means to design for younger audiences. To achieve this goal, I decided to concentrate on exploring the following topics: Read moreRead More>

By Baruch Sachs

Published: June 3, 2013

“When we start educating our stakeholders, we run the very real risk of alienating them.”

My last two columns focused on how to become a great UX consultant. Both columns received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, which I truly find wonderful. A common theme in this feedback was a request that I provide practical knowledge about how to implement some of the advice—particularly regarding my point that UX professionals need to stop educating people:

You are not there to educate people. You are there to advise your client and guide the creation of an amazing user experience. You are the expert; that’s why they brought you in. Collaboration and openness are key here. People need to feel invested, not put upon.

In this column, I’ll address this topic, as well as how to deal with well-intentioned UX design suggestions that come from people who are uneducated about user experience. Read moreRead More>

By Daniel Szuc and Josephine Wong

Published: June 3, 2013

“Recently, we’ve been thinking more about our UX practice, what we do, who we work with, and the impact we would like to have on the people and businesses who are our clients.”

Recently, we’ve been thinking more about our UX practice, what we do, who we collaborate with, and the impact we would like to have on the people and businesses that are our clients. This reflection started on a trip with our friends and STBY colleagues Bas and Geke to visit the Pandas in Chengdu over New Year’s as we entered 2013. It continued when we spoke at Next Bank Asia Hong Kong and ran a workshop on “Global Design Research at UX Lisbon 2013, which gave us opportunities to discuss and understand the barriers and opportunities that UX professionals face today.

We have also been inviting people from a range of work roles and domain backgrounds into our studio in Hong Kong to better understand the barriers that people face in business today, which prevent them from delivering better products and services. This has forced us to think more deeply about our own toolkit—the skills that we need to help people and projects in ways that stretch current approaches—and the future of business that we want to help lead and design. Read moreRead More>