September 09, 2019 Edition

Juggling Multiple Product Teams

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
September 9, 2019

Working with multiple product teams can be a rewarding experience for UX designers. You gain exposure to diverse groups of people, work in different parts of the business, and design a variety of products—large and small. This often leads to growth opportunities within your discipline and enhances your reputation within the company for which you work.

However, working with multiple product teams can also be fraught with unique sets of challenges. For instance, most product-team members working in other roles focus on just one project at a time—especially in large enterprise environments—so they have clearly defined priorities and boundaries. One project—whether large or small—is their top priority, so the product teams with which you work might assume that their project should be your top priority, too. Aggravating this challenge is the fact that UX designers are typically underrepresented in large enterprise environments, in comparison to engineers, quality engineers, and architects.

As I’ve experienced firsthand, being the lone UX designer supporting multiple projects of different sizes, scopes, and types greatly magnifies this issue. One project might be designing a mobile application, another installable software for a thick-client application, and yet another a Web application. Designing for each of these platforms requires specific knowledge and poses unique challenges. Read More

Collecting Data Is One Thing—Acting on It Is Another

September 9, 2019

The amount of data we produce every day is growing exponentially. This explosion of raw data means synthesis, analysis, and interpretation are more important than ever before. Without the right processes and tools in place to understand and act on our data, it has little value. It is essential that we understand what data is available, how it can answer pressing questions, and how it can enable action.

As UX professionals, we collect a wide array of data through a variety of sources and techniques—from market trends to one-on-one interviews to product-usage data to usability testing to sales feedback. We must collate, classify, and comprehend disparate sources of data to create a more holistic understanding of whatever question we need to answer. While the volume of data might seem overwhelming at first, design thinking and a tinkering mindset are invaluable in helping to break down the problem, define a plan of action, and iterate and refine solutions as necessary to turn the raw data into actionable insights and concrete products. Read More

Organic Product Development and Authentic Design

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
September 9, 2019

I often think about the principles that drive design. Not just when musing in my spare time or because another column for UXmatters is due, but in my day-to-day work as I make decisions about how to design a product or solve a problem or discuss how to make a teammate’s design better.

Although I have done so in the past, I don’t really have to make up my own design principles. The things that drive optimal design for human beings have not really changed. Plus, it doesn’t take much abstraction of design principles for fields such as industrial design from the 1950s or ’60s to make them perfectly applicable to today’s digital product design. Read More

5 Keys to Ethical Design Research

September 9, 2019

Perhaps because of a lifetime of avid consumption of action thrillers, comic books, and video games, I conceive of design work on most—though by no means all—projects as a mission or quest: We assemble a squad of people with different skills. We take actions in pursuit of our mission objectives. Finally, we compile after-action reports. Hopefully, at the end of a project, we celebrate our protagonists’ victory against the odds and all obstacles.

But, from many a narrative arc, I’ve also learned this: Before the mission begins, our heroes need the intelligence that would put them in a position that would give them their best shot at winning. They need to know the lay of the land and the challenges they must overcome.

For product and service designers, design research is the source of this kind of intelligence. Because, as UX professionals, we aim to be data informed rather than data driven, a large part of design research involves speaking with people—whether stakeholders from the C-suite or the person on the street. Our cherished users are the source of our knowledge about what happens when the digital rubber hits the digital road. Read More

Interactive Prototyping, Part 1

September 9, 2019

Wireframing and prototyping are two of the most important stages of the design process. Wireframes and prototypes enable you to present your design concepts and show a Web site’s or application’s basic functionality to your stakeholders and clients. It is important that your clients understand the significance of creating wireframes and prototypes for their overall project and the differences between these deliverables.

At one of my previous organizations, our design team was redesigning an ecommerce Web site. During a daily standup meeting, our client suggested that we skip the prototyping stage and, instead, start with front-end development, creating interactive screens with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Angular JS. This meant our team needed to design what the site was actually going to look like, as well as its functionality, in actual code. Read More

August 26, 2019 Edition

UX Writing: Creating Microcopy That Speaks to Users

August 26, 2019

“The words we write may be tiny at times, but have a big impact and convey a lot.”—Roxanna Aliaga, UX Writing Manager at Dropbox

Words are important, but as obvious as this statement might seem, this fact hasn’t always been evident in the design of product user interfaces. Twenty years ago, the pop-up error messages of the Windows operating system were full of jargon, and the user interface was so unattractive that people would sometimes just click an Accept or Exit button without even reading the message text.

Today’s writers, marketers, and designers know that a single word in combination with the right visual design can make the difference between a user who engages with your brand and a user who never comes back. UX writing is about emotion, accuracy, and strategy. Let’s explore this fascinating, new field. Read More

Book Review: Designing Your Life

August 26, 2019

Cover: Designing Your LifeAre you happy with how things are going in your life? Are you doing the work you thought you would be doing; living the life you hoped you would? Did the plans you set for yourself in the autumn of your senior year of high school work out?

One thing that has bothered me for some time is the folly of expecting young people who are between the ages of 16 and 18—or even younger—to try to determine what profession they should choose for the rest of their life. Add to this the insanity of expecting many of these young people to choose the right post-secondary education to qualify them for a profession and having them and their families fund this education at a cost of around $50,000 over four years—very possibly more. All of this in pursuit of a degree and a profession they might not even like, that could change significantly within a few years of their graduation, or that might not even exist within a decade. Contributing to this uncertainty is the fact that a not-insignificant percentage—the exact number is debatable—of graduates won’t ever work in a field relating to their major. Read More

Revolutionizing the Future of the User Experience

August 26, 2019

Technology is undergoing a revolution, as are product user experiences and even the profession of UX design. Every year brings new advances in technology and User Experience, changing the future for the better. While it’s hard to predict the future, current UX-design trends [1, 2] show some of the directions in which we’re heading. Let’s explore some of these trends.

Motion Design

Motion design is emphatically not about creating bouncy, fancy animations. Motion design is all about storytelling, as Figure 1 shows. Motion guides the user to the sequence of actions necessary to perform a task. Motion drives the user experience and acknowledges the actions the user has performed by providing feedback. Read More

Emerging Technologies and User Experience

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
August 26, 2019

In this month’s edition of Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts discusses some of their preferred ways of discovering and exploring emergent technologies. Our experts emphasize the need to look at emerging technologies through the eyes of their customers and focus on solving customers’ problems. Then, they share some of their favorite online resources for learning about new technologies and how they think about emerging technologies. Finally, they tell us some stories about their early life experiences with new technologies, reflecting their natural curiosity about technology in general.

Every month, in my column Ask UXmatters, a panel of UX experts answers 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: [email protected]. Read More

Inclusive Design: An Overview of Current Thinking

August 26, 2019

When designing products and services, you can challenge and stretch your thinking by actively engaging with people who have different perspectives and abilities. This lets you understand how best to design products that satisfy diverse human needs and motivations, expand human interactions by making them more inclusive, and view diversity as a source of inspiration for creative professionals. In this article, I’ll focus primarily on inclusive design, which Microsoft defines as follows:

Inclusive design is a methodology, born out of digital environments, that enables and draws on the full range of human diversity. Most importantly, this means including and learning from people with a range of perspectives.” [1] Read More