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November 2013 Issue

By Frank Guo

Published: November 25, 2013

“The relative importance of these elements in driving UX success reflects what matters most to your users, in your particular business context.”

In Part III of this series, I explained how the relative importance of the following four elements of user experience varies depending on the type of product you’re designing:

  • value
  • adoptability
  • desirability
  • usability

For convenience, I’ll refer to these four UX elements using the acronym VADU (Value, Adoptability, Desirability, Usability). Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: November 25, 2013

Please click this link now to participate in our survey:
2013 UXmatters Reader Survey

We’re currently conducting our 2013 UXmatters Reader Survey. Our thanks to those of you who have already responded to our survey! 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 2013 UXmatters Reader Survey now! As we envision the future of UXmatters and think about how we can better meet the wants and needs of the UX community, we want to hear from you!

Time is running out! The survey closes on December 1, 2013. Please participate in our annual reader survey while you still can. Completing the survey takes just a few minutes. Thanks in advance for your help! Read moreRead More>

By Traci Lepore

Published: November 25, 2013

“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done—then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.”—Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“A great story can captivate us emotionally again and again, no matter how familiar we become with it.”

When I was a child, my mother never could understand my desire to read my favorite books over and over again. The number of times I’ve read The Secret Garden alone must be in the hundreds. And that doesn’t include the times I’ve watched various movie versions of the story. As a teenager and an adult, I’ve also seen and performed in numerous productions of Midsummer’s Night Dream. You may ask whether I get bored with these stories? Never!

A great story can captivate us emotionally again and again, no matter how familiar we become with it. In fact, if a story truly grabs our emotions, our familiarity with it is actually a motivator to continue to engage with it. In my case, I was motivated to read The Secret Garden again and again, even though I could recite 80% of it from memory by the age of ten. I was also motivated to read sequels to that story, which other authors wrote long after the original book came out. And to see every movie adaptation ever made. When a story resonates with you, you’ll always have a connection to it. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: November 25, 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 how best to conduct user research at an ecommerce startup.

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

By Baruch Sachs

Published: November 25, 2013

“With so many rapid shifts in technology and design trends and philosophies, it is incredibly difficult to know what is real versus what is misguided and destined to be short lived.”

Being both a consumer and a creator of user experience is challenging these days. With so many rapid shifts in technology and design trends and philosophies, it is incredibly difficult to know what is real versus what is misguided and destined to be short lived. Clients ask me for guidance all the time about the various technologies and techniques that make up user-interface design. It was not all that long ago that I was cautioning clients not to create enterprise user interfaces in Flash. Today, I’m fielding numerous questions around two topics relating to user-interface design:

  • How can we create the right flat design for our user interfaces?
  • What is this whole responsive thing we keep reading about?

Some clients think responsive Web design (RWD) is just another trend, while others focus on its ability to ensure that content looks good no matter what a display’s form factor—whether desktop, tablet, or smartphone. However, neither of these perspectives captures the true meaning and potential of RWD. And they also gloss over a lot of the challenges with RWD these days—challenges that require UX guidance. Read moreRead More>

By Steven Hoober

Published: November 11, 2013

“People stretch and shift their grip to reach targets anywhere on the screen, without apparent complaint.”

In previous columns, I have revealed guidelines for touchscreen design and research into how people really hold their phones, but in neither case did I get very far into how to really apply this information in your design work. Partly, this was because, at that time, designing for touch was still evolving rapidly. Until recently, Josh Clark’s charts of thumb-sweep ranges represented the state of the art in understanding touch interactions. In creating his charts, Josh surmised that elements at the top of the screen—and especially those on the opposite side from the thumb, or in the upper-left corner for right-handers—were hard to reach, and thus, designers should place only rare or dangerous actions in that location.

Since then, we’ve seen that people stretch and shift their grip to reach targets anywhere on the screen, without apparent complaint. The iPhone’s Back button doesn’t appear to present any particular hardship to users. So the assumption behind those charts seems to be wrong—at least in the theory behind it. But are there other critical constraints at work?

I am starting to think that it’s time for us to start designing for fingers and thumbs instead of for touch. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: November 11, 2013

Please click this link now to take our survey:
2013 UXmatters Reader Survey

To those of you who have already participated in our 2013 UXmatters Reader Survey, thank you! If you have not yet shared your thoughts with us, please take this opportunity to participate in our eighth annual reader survey. We want to know how you think we’re doing and learn how we can better meet your needs.

We’re currently envisioning what UXmatters might become by looking at different ways in which we might help to fill the unmet needs of the UX community, and we need your help. Please share your ideas with us. You can help guide the future of UXmatters. Put your creativity to work and, together, we can make UXmatters better than ever!

Please invest just a few minutes of your time in participating in our 2013 UXmatters Reader Survey. Thank you, in advance, for your participation! Read moreRead More>

By Lis Hubert and Paul McAleer

Published: November 11, 2013

“We’ll expand on our approach to mapping business value to User Experience and explain how we have put it to use.”

In Part 1 of this series on mapping business value to User Experience, Lis introduced a new approach for proving the value of User Experience to our business and technology partners. Now, in Part 2, we’ll expand on our approach to mapping business value to User Experience and explain how we have put it to use. Our goal in sharing this information is to be as transparent as possible about our process and our intentions, so the greater UX community can pursue an important conversation that we’ve been eager to have. What is that conversation going to be about? It is a dialogue that centers around selling User Experience—which goes far beyond user-interface design—to all of our organizations. This is a dialogue in which we, as an industry, need to engage. Hopefully, hearing our story will inspire you to share your own story.

How It All Began

First, we’d like to describe how we came to work together. Back in December of 2012, Paul was eagerly gathering together speakers to join him for a UX speakers’ series that he was holding at his company. He reached out to Lis, asking her to participate, and she immediately accepted. They then began brainstorming ideas on what Lis would speak about. One topic that quickly bubbled up to the top was an issue that Paul had been having: promoting all of the various functions of User Experience throughout his organization. Lis was quick to tell Paul about the idea she had been thinking about for mapping business value to User Experience, and they began planning out a session. Read moreRead More>

By Daniel Szuc and Josephine Wong

Published: November 11, 2013

“UX-maturity diagrams … showed how, at one end of the spectrum, businesses completely misunderstand User Experience; at the other end of the spectrum, fully integrate User Experience into their business; and everything else in between.”

When Dan attended a UX conference in China at the end of 2012, the conference opened with some UX-maturity diagrams that showed how, at one end of the spectrum, businesses completely misunderstand User Experience; at the other end of the spectrum, fully integrate User Experience into their business; and everything else in between. These diagrams were useful, but seemed to lack connected elements or dimensions that would enable us to holistically describe what it takes to design and deliver good user experiences for people. Perhaps Dan was wanting more after having just completed Global UX with Whitney Quesenbery and feeling the need to explore practice boundaries beyond User Experience.

In this article, we’ll discuss this question: What should you do when you are frustrated professionally? In thinking about this question, a number of quick fixes presented themselves, including considering postgraduate study, finding new mentors, taking a leave from our business, trying out a completely new profession, seeking other events where we could hear more satisfying answers, reading more to nudge ourselves out of a rut, or perhaps all of the above—or perhaps stopping and taking a deep breath to restore reason. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: November 1, 2013

“When we conduct a user experience study, we can’t help but introduce unnaturalness. … We inform participants about the study and get their consent to participate, but when people know we’re observing them, their behavior changes.”

As I mentioned in a previous column, user research is unnatural. When we conduct a user experience study, we can’t help but introduce unnaturalness. Following ethical research guidelines, we inform participants about the study and get their consent to participate, but when people know we’re observing them, their behavior changes. This is known as the Hawthorne Effect. [1]

Most researchers are aware of these limitations of research, but after a while, we tend to take them for granted and may forget how strange it can feel for a participant to be in a usability lab. We may try to overcome this artificiality by going into the field and observing people in their natural environments, which certainly is more natural than conducting research in a lab. But knowing that we’re observing them can still be an uncomfortable experience for participants, and we may forget that our presence affects their behavior. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: November 1, 2013

Please click this link now to take our survey:
2013 UXmatters Reader Survey

It’s November again, marking another anniversary for UXmatters. We’re celebrating UXmatters’ eighth year in publication. Each November, we conduct our annual reader survey to find out how well we’re meeting our readers’ needs and to learn more about what you want. This years’ survey is especially important because we’re in the process of redesigning and reimplementing the UXmatters Web site, so we’d like to have your input about how we can make UXmatters an even better publication. Please participate in our 2013 UXmatters Reader Survey and help us to ensure that our design and development efforts address your real needs. Thank you!

Since launching UXmatters in November 2005, we’ve published 755 articles on a broad range of topics—including regular columns by and interviews with thought leaders in the UX community and reviews of books, conferences, and products for UX professionals. Thanks to our global community of 211 authors! The UX professionals who contribute to UXmatters live and work all around the world. Our community of UXmatters readers continues to grow. Over the past year, UXmatters has had 807,145 unique visitors—up from 652,770 in 2012—and 1,625,499 pageviews. Read moreRead More>

By Jon Innes

Published: November 1, 2013

“In ecommerce, … you have to convert the user into a customer. That’s why, in my experience, executives at ecommerce firms get that user experience matters.”

I recently returned from the first UX STRAT conference in Atlanta, where I was an invited speaker and panelist. Just the fact that this conference has even occurred shows that we have reached a level of maturity in our profession. Finally, there are enough of us who are interested in applying strategic thinking in the field of user experience that we can hold a conference whose focus is on how we can get involved with corporate strategy and apply strategic thinking to our UX work.

Near the end of our “Who Owns Strategy?” panel session, someone raised this interesting question: “What’s the difference between user experience and customer experience and does it really matter?”

This was a tough question to answer in a short, panel-style format. I merely suggested that, when considering the difference between user experience and customer experience, the audience think about an ecommerce site and the potential customers who have not yet converted by buying whatever goods the site sells. But I thought this subject warranted more in-depth consideration. Now, here’s the extended version of my answer. Read moreRead More>

By Nathaniel Davis

Published: November 1, 2013

I recently asked the Twitterverse to suggest some information architecture topics that would be worth discussing in my UXmatters column. In response, I received a single tweet from @ToonDoctor (Toon):

“We need a lot of theory on information architecture (IA) that goes beyond Web sites and apps or screens.”

“The field of information architecture does need more theory.”

I couldn’t agree more with Toon’s statement. The field of information architecture does need more theory. In fact, our industry’s need to pursue theory is the reason my Twitter handle is @iatheory and why I am currently writing a book on the subject. But, enough about me. Here are the topics this column will cover in responding to Toon’s comment:

  • What We Need
  • A Lot of Theory
  • On Information Architecture
  • Beyond Web Sites and Apps or Screens

Read moreRead More>