September 21, 2020 Edition

Differentiating UX Strategy from Tactics

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
September 21, 2020

This month in Ask UXmatters, our expert panel discusses how to prevent a project whose goal is defining UX strategy from devolving into a tactical exercise. First, our panelists considers how important it is that a project team have a shared understanding of what strategy is, but also acknowledge that, even among UX professionals, not everyone defines UX strategy in the same way. Our panelists define the terms strategy, tactics, business strategy, product strategy, UX strategy, and design strategy.

Our expert panel agrees, only once a business and a product team have aligned on their strategic goals can UX professionals understand how best to support all of those goals. Our panelists also recognize the importance of understanding where UX strategy work fits within a company’s projects and roles. Finally, the panel looks at how to create UX strategy artifacts that support business goals and propel their company toward achieving them. Read More

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Remote UX Research: Advantages and Disadvantages, Part 1

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
September 21, 2020

UX researchers have always had the option of conducting research remotely, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become necessary to use remote methods for all UX research. As I discussed in my last column, “Remote User Research: The Time Is Now,” remote research is not new. We’ve always known that remote research has both advantages and disadvantages to in-person research. However, now that in-person research is no longer an option and we’ve had to convert all of our UX research to remote methods, we’ve discovered some additional advantages and disadvantages.

In Part 1 of this two-part column, I’ll focus on the many advantages of remote UX research. Then, in Part 2, I’ll focus on the disadvantages and provide advice on how to overcome or mitigate them. Read More

Growing Your Career as a Multidisciplinary UX Designer, Part 1

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
September 21, 2020

Unicorns are mythological creatures, as UX unicorns generally are. But UX designers who are working in enterprise environments must often shoulder the entire burden of UX research, interaction design, visual design, and related functions and have proficiency in multiple design programs, tools, and methods as well. When UX designers must take responsibility for multiple disciplines, it becomes difficult for them to grow their career in a way that maximizes their abilities as a UX designer and helps them gain positive exposure within their companies and professional networks. How can you grow your career when you’re burdened with so many different functions that might or might not serve you well in the long term?

It’s often up to UX designers to forge their own career path within organizations that lack UX maturity. Most enterprise environments don’t have a formalized career ladder in place for UX designers and teams. Nevertheless, after nearly 20 years of working in such environments, I’ll reflect on how I’ve grown my career despite these challenges—and I’ve seen others do the same. In this column, which is Part 1 in a two-part series, I’ll present a strategy for growing your career as a multidisciplinary UX designer working within such an environment, as follows:

  • Understand why you want to grow your career.
  • Define your desired career path. Read More

Book Review: The User’s Journey: Storymapping Products That People Love

September 21, 2020

Cover: The User's JourneyThroughout my time teaching and conducting training on the subject of User Experience, I’ve stressed the point that much, if not most, of a user’s experience with a product or service is not visual. This understandably annoys some people—particularly those who, like myself, have a background in visual design. It’s also understandable that there is a bias toward focusing on visual attributes, which are the easiest for many people to identify and critique. More than 50% of the human cerebral cortex is dedicated to image processing.

But, whether people are trying to order furniture from a Web site, interact with a call-center agent, schedule the installation of cabinets, or find their way through an airport, they are trying to accomplish some goal. That experience can become the basis of a story. With this understanding, we can see that the user experience of a product relates much less to where things are on a screen and how they look and much more to users’ motivations and the obstacles they encounter in trying to achieve their goals. Read More

Product-Delivery Methods

September 21, 2020

How can you take your idea for a product and make that idea into a reality? By conducting UX research, you can help your product owner to understand what value your team wants to deliver and determine whether an idea would generate sufficient return on investment (ROI). The product-design and delivery process helps you to successfully design, test, and release good products.

The product-development lifecycle is substantially the same for almost any product—whether a physical product such as a vehicle or electronic device or a digital product for the Web or mobile devices. Some products have very complex, detailed acceptance criteria, while others might have very simple requirements, depending on their significance and influence on people’s lives and the economy. Read More

September 07, 2020 Edition

Mobile Is Now Everything

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
September 7, 2020

When I started speaking and writing about mobile design, I led every talk with some charts about market share, installed base, and usage rates. I helped organize one of the first mobile-specific conferences, but whenever I went elsewhere, it was necessary to explain that mobile was already huge and a massive opportunity.

That’s no longer true. The growth of mobile-device penetration is no longer massive because it’s already happened, as you can see in Figure 1. The mobile market is not just huge; it is everything. Read More

Leveraging Virtual Reality for UX Research

September 7, 2020

Prototype testing is a vital step in the UX research process. However, for smart products that connect to the Internet, creating prototypes early in the product-development process can be a challenge. Simple wireframes often fail to convey their intended interaction models or how they’ll function within an ecosystem of devices. Building digital-physical prototypes for such products is often expensive and time consuming and can be fraught with inefficiencies.

For example, creating a new feature might require designing a new circuit board and necessitate completely rethinking the product’s enclosure. As a result, deadlines often get pushed back so, by the time a prototype is ready to put in front of users, it may no longer be relevant. When you do manage to get an early prototype into the hands of real users, it might be buggy and fragile, leaving you holding your breath and hoping that nothing fails during testing. Read More

The Practice Spotting Tool for Meaning Makers

September 7, 2020

Imagine illustrating a timeline of your own life and work experience. You might start with a minute, then an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, and so on. Consider the activities that happen on that timeline—across moments in various timeframes.

With whom did you interact and why? What did you need to accomplish? What helped you or stopped you from achieving that accomplishment. At certain points, you’ll need to consider both time and place to be able to reflect on the happenings on that timeline and the key moments for you and others.

Now, imagine breaking those moments into different timespans and consider where you could use these as units of analysis—each unit making up part of a story. What if you could have a tool that let you look more broadly and deeply into what was happening in the interactions and relationships between the people, time, and places across different moments in varied environments? Read More

Nearly Half of Companies Start Most UX Design Work from Scratch

September 7, 2020

Starting every new project from scratch leads to unnecessary costs and labor, poor quality, and slow times to market. But according to Limina’s recent research in “The 2020 Design-Integration Report: 6 Best Practices to Build Design-Integrated Businesses that Win,” approximately half (49%) of companies do not reuse design artifacts and instead start UX design projects from scratch each time. A key reason that many organizations reinvent the wheel with every design initiative is that they lack reusable artifacts and repeatable processes.

Companies that have successfully integrated UX design into their organizations are more successful. UX design impacts the bottom line. As companies compete vigorously to innovate and enhance the customer experience, UX design has become more important than ever. So why aren’t more organizations investing in the reuse of design artifacts as a strategy for increasing efficiency and quality? Changing the way people and organizations work requires that they have solid examples of success and clear models to follow. The UX design industry has been lacking such examples. Read More

Engaged: Designing for Behavior Change

September 7, 2020

This is an excerpt from Amy Bucher’s book Engaged: Designing for Behavior Change. 2020, Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 4: Weapon of Choice: Make Decisions Easier

Cover: EngagedIn this chapter, you’ll learn how to structure [users’ meaningful choices on their behavior-change journey] so that it’s easier for people to select good options that ultimately support their goals.

The fact is, people aren’t great at making decisions in real life. They have limited brainpower and short attention spans that make it hard to sift through information and make sense of it. The shortcuts the brain has developed to cope with this issue aren’t perfect and lead people to a predictable pattern of mistakes in judgment. People may also find themselves in a struggle between heart and mind, when what they most want to do isn’t what they think they should do to reach their goals. Decisions aren’t just logical. They affect feelings, too. Read More