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June 2014 Issue

By Laura Keller

Published: June 23, 2014

“Services function effectively only when an organization orchestrates all elements of the service—including the people, communications, processes, time, technologies, space, objects, and information—holistically.”

Having managed UX professionals at various levels for many years, I find that, after five to seven years working in user experience, they often ask, “What’s next?” in their career. Some become managers of UX groups, while others, who continue to enjoy doing the work, advance to the most senior level of their current role.

But there’s one group of UX professionals whose path is less obvious. They’ve likely been working in a UX Architect or Information Architect role, doing a mix of user research and design activities. These people often reach a point where they’re feeling less challenged—and that the work they’re doing is the same, day in and day out. Even the discovery of new ideas, concepts, and methods that is part of working in user experience—for example, responsive Web design or Lean UX—and would previously have ignited their interest or presented new challenges has ceased to do so. They have likely gained strong leadership skills and, when working on projects, tend to think more broadly than the user-interface design solution currently at hand. If this sounds like you, you may be suited to a career in service design. Read moreRead More>

By Kent Eisenhuth

Published: June 23, 2014

“When creating a new visual design for a software user interface, don’t just adopt the popular style of the year. Instead, get to know your audience by conducting user research, then deliver a design that’s appropriate for that audience.”

When creating a new visual design for a software user interface, don’t just adopt the popular style of the year. Instead, get to know your audience by conducting user research, then deliver a design that’s appropriate for that audience. In this article, I’ll offer some process tips that will help you to make your next visual design project a success.

That Is So 2014!

For the past 18 months, there has been a lot of discussion around design styles. Realism versus flat design has been the biggest point of debate. I follow many designers on Dribbble, a popular design-sharing site. If you peruse the user-interface mockups that appear on Dribbble—for example, those shown in Figure 1—you’ll notice that they all look very similar. Nothing really stands out. What is the common thread? It’s clear that flat design is the current flavor of choice. But will this still be the trend in three years? I doubt it. Read moreRead More>

By Margie Coles and Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: June 23, 2014

“The second day of the main conference at the inaugural UX STRAT … brought another day of great content.”

The second day of the main conference at the inaugural UX STRAT, on September 10, 2013, brought another day of great content.

Keynote: Connected UX: From Tactics to Strategy with Data

Reviewer: Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Presenter: Aarron Walter

Day 2 kicked off with a notable keynote presentation by Aarron Walter, Director of User Experience at MailChimp, shown in Figure 1. He told the story of an approach that his team has innovated: using Evernote to discover new connections between things and, thus, facilitate the analysis of massive amounts of data from disparate sources to inform UX strategy and design. Read moreRead More>

By Judith Wusteman

Published: June 23, 2014

“Some information architects can merely propose information architectures, but the most useful information architects have skills that enable them to be actively involved in Web development.”

Some information architects can merely propose information architectures, but the most useful information architects have skills that enable them to be actively involved in Web development.

What Web skills does a good information architect need? In this article, I’ll propose a set of Web skills that a graduate with a Masters in Information Architecture would ideally possess. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: June 23, 2014

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 what to do when your boss insists that you use pop-up banner advertising. If your boss insists that you add a bad element to your good design: Ack! What do you do? Try to convince your boss that there is a better solution? Show him data that proves this particular bad design element would cause your target audience to flee in droves? Quietly say, “Okay,” then remove this project from your portfolio of design work? As UX designers, not only must we deal with the complexity of creating a strong design for users, we must also make our design work for the business—in both financial and political terms. Let’s hear what our UXmatters experts have to say about this situation that many of us have faced or will face at some point in our careers.

In our monthly column Ask UXmatters, our experts provide answers to 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 questions to: ask.uxmatters@uxmatters.com. Read moreRead More>

By Pamela Pavliscak

Published: June 2, 2014

“Metrics are the signals that show whether your UX strategy is working. Using metrics is key to tracking changes over time….”

Metrics are the signals that show whether your UX strategy is working. Using metrics is key to tracking changes over time, benchmarking against iterations of your own site or application or those of competitors, and setting targets.

Although most organizations are tracking metrics like conversion rate or engagement time, often they do not tie these metrics back to design decisions. The reason? Their metrics are too high level. A change in your conversion rate could relate to a design change, a promotion, or something that a competitor has done. Time on site could mean anything. Read moreRead More>

By Ritch Macefield

Published: June 2, 2014

“An expert heuristic evaluation is a form of discount usability evaluation.”

An expert heuristic evaluation is a form of discount usability evaluation. The essential idea is that such evaluations are, or should be, quicker and cheaper to perform than usability studies with a sample of participants that are representative of actual users.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve done a fair few expert heuristic evaluations. Recently, I did one for a client who wanted me to provide a good description of this approach to usability evaluation in my report—something I’d never been asked to do before. I thought I’d be able to just do a quick Google search and steal something suitable—providing an acknowledgment and reference, of course. My search yielded lots of good stuff. My own library of usability books and journals also included lots of good information on this topic. But I didn’t find quite what I was looking for, so I decided to write something new about expert heuristic evaluations. I hope that this information will be useful to the wider UX design and usability community. Read moreRead More>

By Rebecca Baker and Xiaoning Sun

Published: June 2, 2014

“Having a practical, reliable usability evaluation method for touch mobile interfaces is vital.”

Touch mobile interfaces have become commonplace in our daily lives. While touch interfaces were previously in common use only for entertainment and social networking apps, many large software firms are now designing touch interfaces for mobile apps that provide extensions to enterprise software, giving customers access to functionality that had previously required them to be on a Web site or application. Because the functionality of these apps tends to be complex, having a practical, reliable usability evaluation method for touch mobile interfaces is vital.

Remote usability testing is often a corporate mainstay. Getting feedback from an international audience early in the development process reduces costs and ensures a universally usable product design. This is especially true of mobile app development because UX design guidelines are still evolving and the challenges of mobile interactions are not yet well understood. Read moreRead More>

By Mona Patel

Published: June 2, 2014

“Our goal … is to discover insights with clients, not for them.”

This week, we launched our new service offering: co-conducting design-thinking, innovation research with clients. Our goal for such projects is to discover insights with clients, not for them. On our first project providing this new service, our goal was to bring the client along on the research journey, get them closer to the customer, and help them to break out of their status quo and current thought patterns by conducting insights research.

Agency—Does It Just Mean Work?

Our client is in the financial space and is very special to me because they were one of my first clients under my Motivate Design brand. My first project for them was doing a few rounds of usability testing, but even during these early sessions, I was pushing them to do more during their time with customers. We ended up discovering a lot more about the customer’s drivers, motivations, and barriers than you would find through typical usability testing. The results led us to working with this client on everything from conducting a mobile diary study; to doing a hybrid of focus groups and in-depth interviews (IDIs)—for example, running a focus group on a topic, then picking a person to do a deep-dive interview on that topic—to conducting online moderated and unmoderated research. Read moreRead More>

By Luke Chambers

Published: June 2, 2014

“One of the aspects that I enjoy most about the field of user experience is the constant injection of talents and perspectives from a long, eclectic list of other fields….”

One of the aspects that I enjoy most about the field of user experience is the constant injection of talents and perspectives from a long, eclectic list of other fields, including library sciences, cognitive psychology, ergonomics, anthropology, industrial design, architecture, computer science, and game design to name a few. Many of these fields have been fundamental in defining the roles and processes that we use in modern UX design.

However, this is a somewhat self-important way of thinking about user experience. While UX design is a popular and growing field, it’s certainly not the only career pinnacle for people working in digital design. Many people are transitioning or graduating to roles other than those in user experience, but there’s not enough discussion of the alternative career paths that people can pursue post-user experience. Read moreRead More>