June 21, 2021 Edition

Rows and Columns, Part 1: Jump-starting Analysis Using Spreadsheets


Insights from UX research

A column by Michael A. Morgan
June 21, 2021

In this first installment of my series “Rows and Columns,” I’ll describe how to use some very powerful tools of spreadsheets that can make analyzing your UX research data much easier. For those who have been reluctant to use spreadsheets during analysis, this series is for you, and you’ll hopefully find this information useful. For those of you who have expertise in using spreadsheets, some of this information might be review.

The central part of any UX research project is the analysis of data. This task can be both satisfying and cumbersome at the same time. As you go through your data, you might become excited as you recognize emerging patterns or see great variations across participants. However, getting to the point at which you can easily see such trends can be quite difficult. Your data must be in a format that affords easy filtering, so you can decipher the various rows and columns across participants.

Part 1 of this series covers the following features of spreadsheets, which can facilitate your understanding of the data you’ve gathered:

  • filters
  • form elements such as checkboxes and drop-down lists Read More

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Learning Complex Subject Matter

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
June 21, 2021

During your user-research sessions, have you ever suddenly thought to yourself, “What the heck is this person talking about!?” I hate to admit it, but there have been times when I’ve come to that realization.

This rarely occurs on projects involving products to which you can easily relate—such as online shopping, banking, or travel booking. However, when you’re doing research on complex domains—for example, observing the work tasks of investment managers, accountants, doctors, or scientists—it can be difficult to get up to speed on the subject matter quickly. Sometimes you must sit through several sessions before something clicks and you begin really to understand what the participants are doing and talking about. Read More

UX Research for Worldwide Products

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
June 21, 2021

This month in Ask UXmatters, our expert panel discusses how best to perform UX research for worldwide products. Creating a successful worldwide product requires understanding both regional differences and local expectations. It’s necessary to translate products’ text into local languages and localize elements such as people’s names, addresses, units of measurement, dates, times, currencies, and other numbers.

When conducting worldwide UX research, you need to learn exactly who would be using the product and for what purposes. Thus, our experts consider taking a Jobs to be Done (JTBD) approach to user research. Our panelists also discuss collaborating with local UX researchers, as well as the importance of conducting usability testing globally. Read More

Book Review: Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

June 21, 2021

Cover: HookedIn recent years, the perception of UX design has changed dramatically. In the profession’s early days, less mature organizations frequently treated UX professionals as another type of graphic designer, as though UX designers were synonymous with Web designers. But, in today’s leading organizations, UX design is a strategic capability that drives innovation and enhances competitiveness. Similarly, the role of UX professionals has shifted beyond creating functional—if not delightful—user experiences by applying usability, information architecture, and design principles. Now, UX professionals are applying more of their understanding of psychology and human behavior to devising design principles in the service of persuasion. Read More

Responding to Misaligned Recruiting Messages

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
June 21, 2021

It’s happened again: you’ve received a LinkedIn message or an email message from a recruiter who is attempting to interest you in the open position he’s trying to fill—or has asked whether you know of anyone who might be interested or qualified. But the message or its accompanying job description has just made you cringe. Perhaps a company was looking for a unicorn to handle both UX and development duties. Maybe the job description specified that a candidate should have a degree in “Computer Science or similar”—yes, this recently happened to me. Or, perhaps the desired qualifications are for skills that have nothing to do with the field of User Experience. Read More

June 07, 2021 Edition

Why You Should Treat Your Client as a Friend

Business of Design

Learnings from design projects

A column by Manik Arora
June 7, 2021

All good designers share one thing in common: a strong balance between hard and soft skills. Hard skills constitute your knowledge of design fundamentals, while soft skills are the traits that don’t consciously impact your design process, but nevertheless play an important role. One of the most important processes in which soft skills come into play is in maintaining a healthy relationship with your client. Your ability to do this, or the lack thereof, can have a massive bearing on both your design process and the final product.

In many cases, relationships between designers and their clients are overly formal—and not without good reason. Of course, professionalism should be the cornerstone of your interactions with your clients. However, maintaining a lighter, friendlier relationship can be the best course of action at times, bringing many benefits during and after the delivery of your designs. In this article, I’ll describe a few of the benefits I’ve experienced through maintaining a friendly relationship with my clients, which would not have been possible with greater formality. Read More

Drawing Upon Baseline Values to Inform Connection

The Designer in Focus

Connecting creation with collaboration

A column by Justin Dauer
June 7, 2021

Some touchpoints—values, really—exist between the ways in which we must engage with one another at work and the capacity we must create for engaging with those outside of business: humility, inclusion, compassion, and respect. These values lead to connection—to the benefit of our work and those who engage with it. These touchpoints are identifiable; we can leverage them; and they can show up in the smallest perceived dynamics.

A Familiar Scenario

For example, consider the simple act of planning a meeting. When you’re looking at people’s calendars, it can often be hard to find a single unit of time that is free for everyone. But somehow, someway, on most people’s calendars, the noon-to-1pm block of time always seems to be available. How is that possible? Read More

UX Paradise, Part 2: Draining the UX Swamp

June 7, 2021

This story describes how Huxley, a new hire at Delta Market—a fictitious chain of more than 500 medium-to-large, high-end grocery stores—boosted the organization’s competitiveness by raising Delta’s UX maturity from low to high. Their journey, which required nine steps that any organization could easily pursue, took them from 2012 to 2019.

This is Part 2 in my four-part series that describes Delta’s long, winding road from the UX Swamp to UX Paradise. In Part 1, I presented the state of Delta Market in 2012, as well as the personas and the UX maturity model that I’ll use throughout this series. Now, in this article, I’ll use specific examples to explain what I mean by UX strategy, business strategy, UX vision, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and other terms that UX professionals should understand to communicate effectively with management and executives. Read More

Change Management of the Product Experience, Part 1

June 7, 2021

As software products have expanded over the decades, companies have had to apply a fair amount of effort to managing their customers’ experience. Since companies have added more and more features and functions to their software products, customer engagement has begun to fluctuate. Managing customers’ expectations had become complicated. These products have continued to grow because customers desired more features and the software companies wanted to offer more value—for a nominal fee, of course. Now, these companies confront the challenge not only of how to design and build the new features but also how to manage and release them.

Several companies—for example, Google—have managed these changes fairly well, but many have a lot of room for improvement. The days are over when we can honestly say, “If we build it, they will come.” We must do the work necessary to truly understand our customers’ needs. If we understood our customers, we would understand that we can’t just jam new features or functions into our software and expect customers joyfully to accept them. Read More

The State of UX Design Education, Part 2: Graduate Degree and Certificate Programs

June 7, 2021

This is Part 2 of a three-part series on the state of UX design education. In Part 1, I discussed the role of undergraduate education in User Experience, including a comparison of design versus liberal arts and sciences programs and an examination of bachelor’s degree versus associate’s degree programs. Now, in Part 2, I’ll examine graduate degree and certificate programs and discuss how they might help or hinder a career in User Experience. Watch out for Part 3 next month, in which I’ll look at the future of User Experience and what hard and soft skills will be most in demand.

Needing Versus Wanting: Not the Same Thing

Before we dive into the question of whether UX professionals need a graduate degree, let’s first answer this question: does any professional ever really need a graduate degree? It’s true that some professions do require a master’s degree or the equivalent. If you want to be a doctor, lawyer, or librarian, you should plan to go to graduate school for your MD (Medicinae Doctor), JD (Juris Doctorate), or MS (Master of Science), respectively. If you want to climb the corporate ladder in business or finance or translate general business skills to a new industry, you’ll likely need an MBA (Master of Business Administration). Bear in mind that these are still edge cases. Most people working in the arts and humanities and many of the sciences have productive, successful careers without graduate degrees. Read More