November 05, 2018 Edition

Paging, Scrolling, and Infinite Scroll

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
November 5, 2018

As I’ve noted many times before, people do not necessarily read left to right—and certainly, not in anything that is reliably like an F-pattern. However, once people find your content, they do reliably read it from top to bottom.

Wrapping text to the next line, continuing line after line, and presenting lists of discrete items of information are the two safe, reliable ways of designing digital content, especially for small mobile devices.

But what about when your content goes on and on? While there’s great concern about the right way of displaying arbitrary amounts of information, people make a lot of design decisions on the basis of hearsay, opinion, fear, or inertia. Plus, they assess existing design patterns based on incomplete data or bad implementations. Read More

Scoping User Research

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
November 5, 2018

Scoping a project’s user-research phase is a classic Catch-22 situation. Before a project even begins, you must plan the research activities and the time necessary to perform them, but you’ll rarely have enough information to make these decisions optimally until after the project begins. If you estimate too much time and money, you might scare clients away. Estimate too low, and you’ll either go over budget or won’t have enough time to do the research properly.

To accurately scope user research, you must have a somewhat detailed understanding of the project’s business goals, the users, and their tasks. While you can usually get an overview of this information by talking with your clients, it’s difficult to obtain accurate, detailed information until after a project’s kickoff meeting and initial stakeholder discussions. At that point, you might realize that the research methods you’ve planned aren’t the ones that would let you best understand the problem. You might need more or different participants, and there might not be enough time to conduct and analyze the research. In this column, I’ll discuss some of the problems you may encounter when scoping user research and provide some advice about how to make scoping more accurate. Read More

Demonstrating the Value of User Experience to Enterprise Product Teams, Part 1

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

November 5, 2018

The general public is often unaware of enterprise software products. For the UX professionals who create these products, designing for highly specialized users poses unique challenges. The learning curve for a particular domain can be steep because UX designers don’t necessarily have any applicable knowledge about similar domains or products. When UX professionals are working with product teams who know their unique domain much better than they do, it can be particularly difficult to demonstrate the value of User Experience.

What often happens is something like this: Business leaders for an enterprise product bring on UX professionals who have some available bandwidth, but no familiarity with the problem space. They then drop these UX professionals into teams with product managers, developers, testers, and program managers who already know the domain. Such teams often perceive these UX professionals as not adding much value on strategy, up-front research, task analysis, or interaction design because they don’t have the deep product expertise that comes with training and time in the domain. In such cases, the role of User Experience is often limited to making the product somewhat more usable or look better. Read More

Prioritizing Conversion Rate Optimization

November 5, 2018

Many marketers don’t understand their Web-site visitors. But boosting Web-site traffic is usually high on their list of goals—if not their highest priority. How can they increase their site’s traffic if they don’t know what visitors want or need? And will simply growing the number of visitors lead to higher profits?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that your Web site looks amazing. If you’re asking the wrong people to do the wrong things at the wrong time, your conversion rates will suffer. Conversion-rate optimization (CRO) requires understanding your audience, which, in turn, requires conducting research, asking visitors for feedback, and experimenting with messaging—among other things. Having a CRO strategy is the best way to ensure your site visitors turn into loyal customers. Read More

Delivering Digital Transformations Through IoT Innovations

November 5, 2018

As the reach of the Internet of Things (IoT) expands, gaining applications in many new domains—such as healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and banking—businesses worldwide are becoming concerned about their digital future and looking for ways to incorporate IoT-based solutions and deliver more efficient operations.

Already, 94% of the businesses who have invested in IoT have registered a positive return on their investment. In the future, the number of IoT devices is expected to reach the 50-billion mark. Enterprises project that their investment in IoT will garner profits of $19 trillion (USD). Read More

October 22, 2018 Edition

The Role of Soft Skills in Conveying Strategy to Executives

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
October 22, 2018

This month, my question to our Ask UXmatters experts surfaced a common area of confusion among UX professionals: the difference between UX strategy and UX design strategy. As a consequence, the focus of our experts’ answers differs somewhat. Some of our experts more broadly address the soft skills that are essential to conveying strategy to executives—whether UX strategy or design strategy. The answers of other experts focus more on how to convey design strategy to executives, covering both the soft skills this requires, as well as some elements of design strategy that it is important to communicate.

Therefore, in this column, we’ll first briefly define UX strategy and design strategy and describe some differences between these two types of strategy. Then, we’ll consider soft skills that are essential to conveying strategy to executives. We’ll provide an overview of some soft skills that are particularly important for UX designers who are conveying strategy. We’ll cover presenting strategy to executives in some depth. Finally, we’ll look at a particular approach that is helpful in communicating design strategy. Read More

Improving User Acceptance of AI: The Bold Future of UX

October 22, 2018

Conversations around artificial intelligence (AI) inevitably lead either to dreams of a world in which computers predict every need one might have or fears of the impending doom of humanity through a SkyNet / Ultron / War Games scenario.

As entertaining as these discussions might be, our focus should instead be on what AI needs to do to provide better functionality and achieve greater acceptance by society—that is, by users. Sometimes, technology—including some advances in AI—seems to be advancing simply because developers want to see whether they can build it. But, as UX professionals, we want to see meaningful advancements in AI that deliver useful functionality to users. This is key to the success of AI. Read More

Voice First Versus the Multimodal User Interfaces of the Future

October 22, 2018

What will be the voice-technology winner of tomorrow—voice-first or multimodal user interfaces? Those working in the voice user-experience sector are avidly discussing this hot topic—and UX researchers, UX designers, developers, marketers, and entrepreneurs may find it of interest as well.

In this article, I’ll define the terms voice first and multimodal, using current products as examples, explore some use cases and rationales for different types of user interfaces, consider contemporary research, and conceptualize the future of voice user interfaces. Should you keep your product’s visual features? Yes, because, ultimately, voice-enabled, multimodal user interfaces will be the preferred user experience. Read More

7 Tips for Building a UX Research Team

October 22, 2018

I recently transitioned from working as part of a mature UX Research team at a large Fortune-500 company to building a UX Research practice from the ground up at a small, but rapidly growing startup. It’s now been about two months since I joined the company, and I’ve already made some real progress.

In this article, I’ll describe the goals that I’ve focused on accomplishing and what I’ve done so far that has worked well. If you’ve accepted a job as a UX Research team of one or are excited about an amazing opportunity to establish a UX Research practice, but you’re not entirely sure where to start, I hope the seven tips I’ll share here will help you get off to a good start. Read More

Book Review: Managing Chaos

October 22, 2018

Cover: Managing ChaosOften, when I attend conferences, I like to purchase a new book. This is how I discovered Lisa Welchman’s book, Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design, to which I was immediately drawn.

Digital projects are often challenging, creative, and fun. There may be a fair amount of healthy—and, sometimes, unhealthy—debate, but that’s generally a positive thing. Inevitably, if you are working on an initiative of any great size, someone will mention governance.

If there’s a faster way to remove oxygen from a room, I’ve yet to find it. Perhaps part of people’s aversion to governance is its reputation for bureaucracy, overhead, and generally slowing things down. There may be a sense of dissonance between those who exercise governance and those who feel encumbered by it. Read More