July 06, 2020 Edition

Designing Mobile Tables

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
July 6, 2020

Tables have an undeserved reputation for being evil and wrong in the digital environment.

We’re now deeply into an era when developers code tabular data into Web pages using CSS tricks because the perceived overuse of tables for layout in Web 1.0 has resulted in a tables are bad mantra throughout the Web design and development world.

But we should display tabular data in tables. Using tables properly, for the display of data, is a good and necessary thing. However, small-screen tables are an entirely different matter. Tables generally take up lots of space, and mobile devices do not have big screens. For years, I have set aside most discussions of mobile screen size in favor of discussing their use in hand and on the go and the extra capabilities that sensors and connectivity provide. But the data table is one case where the size of a mobile screen is absolutely the biggest problem, and the other capabilities of a mobile device provide no clever workarounds. Read More

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Building Narrative into Your User Interface, Part 1

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
July 6, 2020

Has a developer or stakeholder ever informed you that your user-interface (UI) design deliverables were oversimplifying things or were portraying systems and workflows differently from the way they actually worked at a programmatic level? Perhaps they criticized you for creating order on top of the chaotic underpinnings of the systems or for willfully streamlining technical tasks whose completion they assumed to be the responsibility of users—who might not readily understand them. I’ve encountered such scenarios numerous times throughout my career. Often, the people offering such criticisms were correct: the user interfaces I had designed did not truly reflect the underlying system they represented. Of course, this was intentional on my part.

Human beings are hardwired to respond to stories—not complex systems. As I described in my column “Telling a Story Through Your UX Portfolio,” by building narrative into your portfolio, you can make a more resounding impact on interview teams than simply by reciting facts. Similarly, the people who use the user interfaces we design can better comprehend the workflows, interactive cues, and calls to action (CTAs) of those interfaces when we build narrative into them. Moreover, you can deliberately create narrative, which is beneficial to the people who use software systems because their perceptions of the systems often do not reflect the way the systems work. Read More

How Nondesigners Contribute to Designing the Right Things

July 6, 2020

“Design the right things versus designing things right.”

About five years ago, I began hearing this expression more frequently. At that time, I was in the middle of an exciting, mind-changing experience: my company had given me the chance to relocate to Vienna, Austria. From one day to the next, I had landed in another city, in another country, with people speaking another language. I was completely out of my element. Most importantly, I started working as an insourced designer at an international bank that was a client of my design studio.

I wasn’t alone; a team of colleagues had already been there for about eight months. In those first days, I carefully observed how the design team laid the foundation for all their activities. How the Head of UX and the other senior designers were dealing with new requirements coming from stakeholders was very interesting to me. They often challenged those requirements—sometimes quite rigorously. Having arrived with a consulting-oriented mindset, that was a bit surprising to me—although my design studio, Digital Entity, has always supported challenging the requests and briefs coming from our clients, with the aim of designing the best possible experience for users. But my perception changed a little once I had started working as an insourced designer. I was now able to see how clients generated the requirements. Read More

Integrating Design Thinking into Organizations

July 6, 2020

What can your company learn from other organizations’ failures in embracing design? Embrace the best ideas from the experiences of thousands of organizations who have taken a shot at becoming more design driven!

Many now accept that design, in a broad sense, can boost any company’s shareholder value. Therefore, companies and public offices alike should be welcoming design. However, if your organization is like most, you’ll find that spreading the philosophy of design thinking is difficult, slow, or even counterproductive to becoming more design driven. Fortunately, there is no need for you to encounter all potential design-cultivation problems. Through a decade of experimentation of across various organizational contexts, we have accumulated plenty of empirical evidence from which we can learn how to succeed in design induction. Read More

Mobile User Experience Design

July 6, 2020

The goal of mobile UX design is the design of positive experiences for the people who use mobile devices, wearables, and the services and apps that run on these devices. Mobile UX design focuses powerfully on both discoverability and efficiency. The success of a mobile app depends solely on how well it engages the feelings and attention of users.

An amazing UX design is the result of an efficient design process. The best mobile-app developers always keep the user experience in mind.

Why Is Mobile UX Design Relevant?

Mobile is a growing technology that more and more people are adopting. Mobile devices are convenient to use and are more readily available than a conventional desktop or notebook computer. Mobile UX design is vital to mobile-app development. The user experience of a mobile app encompasses the user’s entire journey when using the app, of which its graphic user interface (GUI) is just one aspect. Read More

June 22, 2020 Edition

Redefining Service-Channel Strategies Amidst COVID-19 Impacts

Service Design

Orchestrating experiences in context

A column by Laura Keller
June 22, 2020

In the not-too-distant past, I recall companies’ forcing me to call them to resolve any issues I had. Whether it was my bank, my cable company, or my health-insurance provider, I first tried to find answers and support on their Web site, then if I couldn’t get the help I needed online, I’d reluctantly call customer service. The customer experience (CX) was excruciating—the complex, interactive voice response (IVR) system, the redundant requests for my personal information and details regarding why I was calling, and the hoops I had to jump through to get to a human being. I was frustrated not only as a customer but also as a service-design expert who knew all too well the many customer-experience laws they were breaking, for example:

  • Make it seamless.
  • Make it predictive.
  • Make it intuitive.
  • Make it intelligent.

But what was the biggest law they broke? Give me options. Read More

Is Your User Experience Saving the World?

June 22, 2020

Recent months have brought an extraordinary number of simultaneous crises—from the global pandemic of COVID-19 to high unemployment and economic uncertainty to systemic social injustices. Any one of these events alone would be destabilizing. Taken together, they place individuals and societies under unprecedented strain.

More than ever, empathy matters. More than ever, user experiences matter. Even as some states and countries lift restrictions relating to COVID-19, for the foreseeable future, we’ll have significant limitations on our personal interactions and experience potential challenges in meeting our foundational needs. As many essential activities have, by necessity, gone online or transitioned to virtual formats, UX designers now have a unique role to play in the changes occurring in the everyday lives of millions of people. With that power comes responsibility. Read More

Book Review: The Innovation Stack

June 22, 2020

Cover: The Innovation StackHave you ever encountered something in our world that was so obviously wrong that you knew it needed to be fixed? Did you ever have the chutzpah to think you had the power to make the world better? Jim McKelvey has—quite a few times, actually. He is the cofounder of Square, the point-of-service system that started out as a way of making credit-card processing accessible to a wider audience.

But until you’ve read McKelvey’s book The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time, you might not realize just how revolutionary his work was. Read More

UX Design for Compliance-Heavy Applications

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
June 22, 2020

This month in Ask UXmatters, several UX professionals who belong to our panel of experts discuss creating innovative UX designs for compliance-heavy industries.

First, our panelists discuss the impact of regulations on our ability to create innovative designs and how these constraints can actually be helpful. Then, our experts discuss the possible need to adapt your research methods to take compliance into account. Finally, our panel discusses the compliance-versus-innovation paradox. Sometimes, innovation and compliance are not as different as they might seem. Read More

Remote User Research: The Time Is Now

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
June 22, 2020

For many years, UX research professionals have been able to conduct their user research either remotely or in person. But now the COVID-19 pandemic has made remote user research the only option for the foreseeable future. In-person research requires close contact with participants so isn’t safe in a world that requires social distancing. I don’t think we’ll see in-person research sessions resuming anytime soon. In the meantime, let’s make the most of remote user research.

Fortunately, remote user-research methods are not new to most UX researchers. We’ve been conducting remote user research successfully for years—and have discovered what works well and how to overcome many of its limitations. So switching all of our user research to remote sessions doesn’t require us to make any dramatic changes. In this column, I’ll discuss how to adapt to conducting all of your user research remotely and consider whether it makes sense to continue conducting user research during this unusual time in our history. Read More