Our User-Interface (UI) Text Team began with an editor whose goal was to organize a team that could keep all UI text consistent and manageable as our company moved to a new development technology. This shared vision united the UI Text Team, which comprises two writers, two UX designers—one of them being me—and the editor who founded the team. However, during our first meeting, we weren’t sure what to do or how to get started, so we started small, with the objective of promoting and enforcing consistency in our products.
We knew what was currently inconsistent in our user interfaces, including terminology, spelling, the use of abbreviations, labeling, case—sentence or title case—and the use of colons in labels.
In a little over a year’s time, the UI Text Team had started implementing guidelines—defining, publishing, and communicating them—and getting leadership approval for their inclusion in Research & Development (R&D) guidelines. Read More
Most of us have experienced the struggle of seeking help on a Web site, only to end up in a link-clicking loop that leaves us more confused than we were to begin with.
The goal of self-service sites is to help users find answers themselves, forestalling the need to contact a real person. Take a look at WebMD for a good example of such a site, as described on the Kayako Blog, in “How WebMD Moms Are Shaping the Future of Support.” When such a site is done right, it leads you straight from symptoms to diagnosis to cure. However, if self-service sites are done poorly, they’re hard to navigate and offer no effective way to find the information you need or to learn about next steps. The only thing that’s left to do is to call a customer-service agent, who hopefully will have the information the user needs.
Great UX design can solve this problem. In 2013, the UK Government Digital Services (GDS) team won Design of the Year for its self-service Web site GOV.UK, beating contenders in fashion, architecture, and product development. One of the judges even remarked, “It creates a benchmark … all international government Web sites can be judged on.” Read More
After nine years of building a robust UX consulting practice within a large software consulting firm, I sort of expect certain things. For one thing, I expect that the people in my organization understand the basic importance of what I do. I’ll bet you do, too. While we might not always get all of the time we’ve scheduled or be able to do all of the things we want to do on a project, in general, our expectation is that, at some level, most people recognize the importance of user experience these days. After all, even when some auto parts store in some remote part of the world revamps their Web site, they tout their “simplified user experience.” When you see that, you start to think that this whole UX thing has become institutionalized to some degree.
That’s why it came as a bit of a shock to me recently when I realized that the issues one of my consultants was having on a project were the result of a development team that felt a good user experience just wasn’t critical to the project’s success—or to the product’s overall user adoption. Read More