May 18, 2020 Edition

The Relationship Between User Experience and Branding

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
May 18, 2020

This month in Ask UXmatters, the UX professionals who belong to our panel of experts discuss the relationship between User Experience and branding, comparing their scope and the value they deliver to an organization. Our experts then consider the relationship between User Experience and Customer Experience (CX).

Our panelists also explore the measurement of brand strategy utilizing KPIs and UX measurements. Plus, they consider the importance of consistency in the brand experience. Finally, our experts look at the impact that all of the touchpoints for a product’s or service’s user experience have on the brand experience. Read More

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Applying In-Depth Research and Analysis to Achieve Better Outcomes

May 18, 2020

Over the past 20 years, two of the domains to which I have applied my research and analysis skills are UX research and career exploration. I’ve noticed a lot of similarities between the approaches I use in these two domains to get the most desirable and effective outcomes.

  • In UX research, the goal is to have the best possible impact on product design and innovation—to help product teams innovate, design, or improve a digital service or product that achieves the highest level of usability, usage, and user satisfaction.
  • In career exploration, the goal is to identify the career that best suits a person, in which that person would thrive, excel, and achieve his or her full potential, maximizing personal fulfillment, and contributing to the benefit of the company, community, and the planet.

In both of these domains, the approach, methods, and tools you choose for research and analysis make a big difference in achieving the desired outcomes. My experience has taught me that in-depth research and analysis provide more optimal outcomes over the long term. Read More

Book Review: Weapons of Math Destruction

May 18, 2020

Cover: Weapons of Math DestructionSome have said that we are living in the age of algorithms. Netflix uses an algorithm to recommend videos. Facebook has an algorithm that displays the posts and advertisements you’re most likely to interact with. Google’s algorithm serves different search results to different people, based on prior Web traffic. Amazon’s algorithm makes recommendations for things you might want to buy. Match’s algorithm identifies people with whom you are likely to be romantically compatible. We have smart thermostats that use algorithms to learn user’s climate-control preferences. My 11-year-old son uses an algorithm to solve Rubik’s cubes in under a minute.

An algorithm is really nothing more than a mathematical model or formula that accepts inputs, applies calculations, and provides output. Cathy O’Neil, the author of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, introduces the idea of an algorithm as being similar to making a family dinner, taking into account the various likes, dislikes, and quantities her family needs. Algorithms can be extremely useful in automating and understanding large, complex sets of information—for example, searching for a document on your hard disk. But they can also be harmful, as several articles about YouTube have noted, describing how their algorithm tends to lead viewers down rabbit holes of conspiracy theories, propaganda, and salacious content. Read More

Book Excerpt: The Jobs to Be Done Playbook

May 18, 2020

This is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Jim Kalbach’s new book The Jobs to Be Done Playbook: Align Your Markets, Organization, and Strategy Around Customer Needs. ©2020, Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 4: Defining Value

The Jobs to Be Done PlaybookIn this chapter, you will learn about these plays:

  • How to find unmet needs
  • How to create goal-based personas
  • A new way to compare competing solutions
  • How to define a value proposition

The product marketing manager at a company I once worked for stood up in a meeting to present his strategy. He proceeded to describe the top customer needs that we should support with our solutions. I was thrilled to see him align to a customer-centric model. Read More

How an Almost Professor and a Wannabe Doctor Got into UX

May 18, 2020

As usability and user experience continue to become priorities for companies developing products and experiences, the demand for UX professionals is growing. However, those who lack a traditional design, usability, or human-computer interaction background face significant obstacles in making a successful transition into the field of User Experience, as Jon Walter noted in his recent article on UXmatters, “Breaking into the Field of User Experience.”

But it can be done! Amy originally planned to become a university professor. Ruben wanted to be a doctor. A LinkedIn connection put us in touch. Although our backgrounds are quite different, we both have a deep passion for User Experience and had some surprisingly similar experiences on our path into the field. Even though we’ve never met in person, the timing of our connecting with one another created a serendipitous opportunity for this virtual collaboration in sharing our UX stories. Read More

May 04, 2020 Edition

Designing for Progressive Disclosure

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
May 4, 2020

Links are one of the most foundational elements of connected digital technology. They long predate the Web and form the backbone of the whole concept of hypermedia.

Early on during the Web explosion, as everyone began making Web sites for their favorite hobby, then for their company, they simply sprinkled links across the landscape so people could learn more about a topic by following a link to a source document or just another Web site.

For a while, there were Webrings to bring related content together. Later, we saw link clouds. But somehow, we all settled on layers, layering top and side navigation bars on pages. We began to divorce the clicks from the content and developed the concepts of navigation and wayfinding.

But I’ve come to realize that there was a key nugget of truth in that first, most basic use of the link. Hypermedia means not just simply linking two things together, but giving the user an easy way to get more information about almost anything, with one click or tap. Read More

How to Test the Usability of Documents

Good Questions

Asking and answering users' questions

May 4, 2020

Does usability testing work for documents? Our answer is a resounding yes.

In this column, we’ll give you three techniques for having people try out documents or any other stand-alone content. These techniques apply whether your document is on paper or online—for example, as a Web page or a PDF. They apply for both in-person and remote usability testing—especially with moderated remote testing.

What Is a Document?

We’re talking about functional documents that provide information to people—not fiction or poetry. Functional documents include informative banners—such as the ones on many Web sites about how an organization is dealing with COVID-19—legal documents, manuals, notices, official letters, press releases, privacy policies, terms and conditions, and more. Read More

Winning Teams Over Through Your Design Deliverables

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
May 4, 2020

You’ve spent many hours conducting up-front research with your target users to understand their goals. You’ve solicited feedback from internal, subject-matter experts who are familiar with the business problem you’re collectively trying to solve. Finally, you’ve created design deliverables that represent what you believe are the most effective, efficient workflows for solving users’ problems. Now, you just have to get the product team and business stakeholders to buy into your solution.

Maybe you’re new to your product team and don’t feel that you have much influence capital. Perhaps you’re dealing with a product team that has never engaged the efforts of a UX designer in any official capacity—until now.

As someone who has often collaborated with multiple product teams at the same time—each of which might be in a different location, in a different phase of their product-delivery lifecycle, and using a different software-development methodology—I’ve concluded that there is no one method of delivering design work that guarantees its unquestioned adoption. Read More

Review: Figma Versus Adobe XD, Part 1

May 4, 2020

The UX design process kicks off with discovery activities such as contextual inquiry, user research, focus groups, stakeholder discussions, personas, scenarios, user journeys, and mind mapping, which establish a strong foundation for user requirements. Then, we start creating some quick-and-dirty paper prototypes and get stakeholders’ approval. Next, using the tool of our choice—for example, Axure, InVision, Balsamiq, UXPin, or Zeplin—we start creating interactive prototypes. After getting our interactive prototypes approved, we create high-fidelity designs using tools such as Photoshop or Illustrator. Finally, we hand off our designs to the developers.

UX professionals have really been struggling to find a single tool we can adopt for wireframing, prototyping, creating mockups, and development. Until 2010, designers relied heavily on Photoshop and Illustrator for creating high-fidelity designs. However, after the arrival of Sketch on the market in 2010, the equation changed completely. Read More

The Importance of Information Architecture to UX Design

May 4, 2020

Information architecture (IA) is a key aspect of UX design that focuses on organizing information, structuring Web sites and mobile apps, and helping users navigate them to find and process the information they need. A well-designed, user-friendly information architecture ensures that users spend less time and effort searching for information and are successful in finding what they need. Key information-architecture tasks include identifying common features in content, forming groups of similar information objects, and linking documents to other documents on the same topic. Optimizing search for a Web site or mobile app also helps visitors to find information quickly.

The knowledge that forms basis of a well-designed information architecture for a Web site or mobile app comprises the following:

  • the information needs of visitors
  • a site or app’s content
  • business goals and budget constraints

In this article, I’ll describe some principles of information architecture, then look at the role of information architecture within the context of UX design. Read More