November 04, 2019 Edition

Mobile Dark Patterns

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
November 4, 2019

In addition to the misuse, misunderstanding, and bad implementations of perfectly good UX design patterns, we’ve long understood the concept of anti-patterns. These are things that we know don’t work well for users. We’ve clearly defined and documented them so we can avoid using them.

However, as much as I’ve studied the concept of pattern languages and libraries, as cynical as I am about how businesses use and abuse product design, I simply didn’t expect the rise of dark patterns. Dark patterns are design patterns that are effective, but evil. When they succeed, they drive users to make accidental or uninformed decisions against their best interests.

During the creation of dark patterns, there’s typically much argument that they are positive for the business, that they expose ideas and encourage behaviors that the average person would do. I don’t think I need to convince you that businesses often place their own success above that of users and that it is the job of UX professionals to remind everyone that user-centric design must also be moral, ethical, and unambiguously legal design. Read More

Artificial Intelligence, Supervised Learning, and User Experience

November 4, 2019

For machine-learning (ML) scientists to train artificial intelligence (AI) systems and algorithms, they need data. They collect many of the datasets they use to build AI systems from human behaviors and people’s interactions with the technology they use in their everyday lives.

Whether the data comprise a set of liver-disease diagnoses and outcomes, come from a consumer survey on attitudes toward marijuana usage, or derive from active/passive data collection of spoken phrases, AI systems always need training data to ensure their algorithms produce the right outcomes. Such data can frequently be hard to come by. And even once ML scientists have acquired a dataset, how can we be sure that it includes what an AI system needs? Read More

Molding Yourself into a Leader, Part 1

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
November 4, 2019

Many articles about UX leadership focus on what managers do or target those who have direct reports. Such articles typically cover building a UX culture, hiring the right people, developing people, and of course, selling the value of User Experience to the C-suite. While these are all valuable pursuits that are vitally important to building a user-centered culture in your company, leadership does not end with directors, managers, or even team leads. Leadership extends to individual contributors, too. In fact, depending on your company’s UX maturity level, leadership arguably begins with individual contributors—perhaps you, the UX designer.

Unfortunately, UX designers are often in short supply in large enterprise environments, in comparison to people in information technology, engineering, and marketing roles. This, in turn, perpetuates scenarios in which UX designers must be, in equal parts, practitioners, evangelists, and presenters—roles that together exceed the scope of what most UX designers expect they’ll need to do when they first embark on their career. However, being a leader also means cultivating skills that may go beyond the bounds of your craft. But what does leadership really look like for people in creative roles who don’t have any direct reports, lack easy access to the C-suite, and have not had a multi-decade tenure at their company? Read More

Best UX Design Practices for Personal-Banking Applications

November 4, 2019

Building a UX strategy for fintech (Financial Technology) applications and Web sites is different from designing for any other service industry. For fintech software—which enables financial-services companies to provide automated services—speed and security matter more than for any other type of service. There is a lot at stake: the solution must efficiently and safely handle clients’ money and online data. While a balance of reliability and usability is what typically keeps an application’s users engaged, fintech cannot compromise on speed and security.

In this article, I’ll discuss UX design best practices for creating a user experience specifically for the fintech services market. The UX design process for fintech applications and Web sites should comprise the following steps:

  1. Research your customer.
  2. Create a user-journey map.
  3. Define KPIs and create touchpoint scenarios.
  4. Visualize your UX design concepts.
  5. Adapt to the fintech market’s requirements for technology innovations.

Now, let’s take a look at each of these steps in turn. Read More

Interactive Prototyping, Part 3: Adding Interactivity to Your Axure Prototype

November 4, 2019

In Part 2 of this series, I explained the user interface of Axure RP in detail. Now, in the final part of this series, I’ll describe how you can add interactivity to your prototype using Axure RP.

To create a prototype that meets your client’s expectations, you must have all the necessary skillsets in your repertoire. By using various user-research and user-centered design techniques, you can understand what your users expect from a particular application, product, or Web site. These techniques include contextual inquiry, stakeholder interviews, persona development, scenario creation, and user-journey mapping.

While there are quite a few prototyping tools available on the market—such as JustInMind, Balsamiq, InVision, and Adobe XD—Axure RP is my tool of choice. Now, in Part 3, I’ll explain some complex concepts that you’ll need to understand when adding interactivity to your prototypes in Axure RP. Read More

October 21, 2019 Edition

Visual Data Collection: Making Sense of Tally Sheets


Insights from UX research

A column by Michael Morgan
October 21, 2019

For those of you who are wondering exactly what Visual Data Collection (VDC) is, you can read my article “Increasing Your Research Velocity with Visual Data Collection,” which describes the method in full detail. You can also read my subsequent Discovery column, “Sensemaking with Annotations,” which covers the various annotations I use for VDC notetaking. That column also provides insights on the use of annotations to inspire those using the VDC method to extend their set of annotations and adapt the method to their UX research workflow.

In this column, I’ll focus on how to go about collecting useful annotations from the discussion guides from various UX research sessions into one place, using handwritten tally sheets. Once you’ve completed a study, you’ll analyze these tally sheets and report your findings—perhaps by adding your insights to a storage repository for future curation. I’ll provide some examples of tally sheets on which I compiled data I had collected during UX research sessions. (You could alternatively use a spreadsheet to accomplish the same task.) Read More

Book Review: Redesigning Leadership

October 21, 2019

Cover: Redesigning LeadershipJohn Maeda has been an influential figure in the creative, technology world for decades. He began his career as a computer-science student, then pivoted to art and design. He was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he led the Media Lab; became president of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), was Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), and now serves as a Strategic Advisor there. He currently leads design at Automattic, a Web-development company that is known primarily for

The term leadership frequently causes some discomfort among creative types. Perhaps it conjures images of an authoritarian figure maintaining centralized command and control of disparate activities. Of course, such control is anathema to creating the diversity that is necessary to realize unique, creative outcomes. Read More

Speaking Up for Conversation Design

October 21, 2019

Voice-first user experiences are now ubiquitous. Smart-speaker sales are up, as is their usage. Older adults are benefiting from the use of voice assistants. However, a large percentage of users still find the experience of talking to voice assistants unnatural. So how can we make voice experiences better?

While understanding conversation design–best practices is necessary, it’s not enough to make these conversations feel natural. To take your voice user interface (VUI) to the next level, you must add polish—in the form of pacing, sound effects, and diverse phrasings. Let’s take a look at each of these in turn. Read More

Crafting a UX Portfolio

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
October 21, 2019

In this month’s edition of Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts discusses how to craft a UX portfolio. One panelist considers hiring managers’ expectations for the portfolios of applicants to design-management roles, as well as other specific UX roles. As a hiring manager himself, he also explores what he looks for in a candidate’s portfolio, discussing the importance of telling the right story about your experience and offering several story formats.

Another panelist describes how important it is to show your thought process and demonstrate how you accomplished the work you show in your portfolio. Finally, our panelists describe some tools and methods that they find useful in building their UX design portfolio. Read More

Considering a Switch to User Experience?

October 21, 2019

Because the field of User Experience offers interesting problems to solve, a fast pace, and lucrative salaries, its professions have gained attention and grown in popularity over the years. As a consequence, a steady stream of people have reached out to me to learn more about my career path and my daily work experience and to request practical tips for breaking into the field. In this article, I’ll provide the key points that I share with these people to help them get started in User Experience.

Attend Meetups

Meetups are a great way to get your feet wet, learn the UX lingo, see whether you’re really interested in the industry, meet UX professionals, and learn about job openings. I was actually incredibly lucky to land a UX research internship at the very first meetup I ever attended. I realize now how crazy that was, but I’m definitely glad I decided to venture out to the meetup after work that day. Read More