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August 06, 2018 Edition

Mobile Apps: Native, Hybrid, and WebViews

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
August 6, 2018

I have a very expansive view of the role of User Experience in developing products. While I’m deeply of the opinion that designers should not code, that’s mostly because there are very few people who can code on many platforms and at many levels. I used to be a Web developer, database administrator (DBA), and system administrator. But I was never great at fulfilling all of these roles—much less all of them at once—while also being a Web designer.

As new technologies arrived, I had to stop and learn them—or learn to collaborate with others who knew them. So, instead of learning more and more technologies, I decided to focus on design and usability.

As UX designers, we should avoid becoming too deeply engaged in any one technology, but we do need to know a little about most technologies. This lets us consider the entire scope of users’ needs and suggest solutions that leverage the whole range of technology options—choosing whatever platforms, technologies, and methods best meet both users’ needs and organizational capabilities. Read More

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Benefits of Partnering Closely with Your Product Owner

August 6, 2018

In UX research, your job is to understand, persuade, and influence. First, you need to talk to users to understand their behaviors and uncover their needs. Then, you need to convey your learnings to the product team in a persuasive, coherent way. Finally, you need to drive action within the product team, influencing the project and its priorities.

Establishing strong partnerships with both your product owner and your overall product team is the best way to increase the impact of your research. Involve the team throughout your research process—from defining the research goals to presenting the final readout—and everyone will get more out of the research. The product team learns how valuable well-designed, well-executed research can be, and you’ll conduct better informed, more relevant research. Having regular discussions with the product team helps you focus on the most valuable research goals, enabling you to refine your research plan to ensure maximum impact. Read More


What Does It Really Mean to Delight Users?

August 6, 2018

The field of user experience is rife with terms that lack a mutually agreed-upon meaning. Even the name of the field itself can vary depending on the communicator and the audience. Are we User Experience (UX)? Design Research? Human-Centered Design? Are all of these the same thing?

Often, this lack of clarity on terms leads to debates even among UX professionals about the meanings of certain terms and their appropriate use. Is user experience still the right term if it doesn’t involve a digital component? Where do you stand on the term design thinking? Which term is preferable: human-centered design or user-centered design? Does it matter?

As User Experience develops and gains industry awareness and acceptance across domains, we’ll inevitably engage in more terminology debates. Read More


The Usability of Cryptocurrency

August 6, 2018

With everyone talking about cryptocurrency in the technology sector, you might think it would be more popular, but only a small fraction of Americans are invested in cryptocurrencies—only about eight percent, according to a survey from early 2018. Crypto proponents believe that currencies such as bitcoin will achieve universal acceptance someday. However, the path to its mainstream adoption is today hindered by one huge obstacle: a lack of usability.

As with most new technologies, cryptocurrency must first overcome barriers to entry to reach its audience. Right now, you must have a good amount of technical expertise just to be in the market. While cryptocurrency’s promise is that it’s accessible and decentralized, its complexity is restricting its user base to a narrow, homogeneous set of early adopters. Thus, the most popular cryptocurrency platforms are currently Coinbase and Robinhood—the apps with the friendliest user experiences. Read More


Mobile First

August 6, 2018

This is a sample chapter from Luke Wroblewski’s book Mobile First. 2011, A Book Apart.

Cover: Mobile FirstChapter 7: Layout

Appropriate adaptations of how we think about organization, actions, and input on the desktop take what we know about Web design and make it usable on mobile. But how do we ensure it’s also usable across the wide range of mobile devices available now and in the coming months—not to mention years?

  • Come to terms with the fact that mobile is going to change at a breakneck pace for the foreseeable future.
  • Let mobile browsers know you are creating designs that fit them.
  • Be flexible, fluid, and responsive in your layouts.
  • Know where to sketch the lines between device experiences.
  • Reduce to the minimum amount necessary. Read More

July 23, 2018 Edition

UX Design for Personalization

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
July 23, 2018

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our expert panel considers how best to influence the design of personalization logic so it effectively delivers what users need. Our panelists discuss recommendation systems, some technologies that support personalization, the difference between customization and personalization, the different types of personalization, and the process for designing and testing personalization.

Our experts explore, in some depth, the various stages of development during which UX researchers and designers can have the greatest impact on the design of personalization logic and the contributions they can make to the process. Finally, we consider the importance of iterative testing and design in designing personalization software. Read More


Analyzing and Responding to Initial User Feedback from Focus Groups

July 23, 2018

Many first-time product owners have a hard time responding to and learning from focus groups. They may understandably become frustrated by any negative feedback that their product receives. Or they might overreact to positive feedback, which is not always indicative of a product’s overall success. In this article, I’ll explore how product owners can better learn from and respond to initial user feedback from focus groups. I’ll also touch on how to get the most out of your often limited time with focus groups.

Don’t Bias Your Focus Group Participants

It is critical that you avoid biasing or priming your participants. For example, if your product improves the way small business owners do their accounting and you want to see whether there is a market for your product, do not begin by saying, “Are you often frustrated when doing your business accounting?” Instead, begin by asking broader questions—for example, “What are some of the biggest challenges you face when running your small business?” Read More


Review: UX and Digital Design Week 2017

July 23, 2018

Future London Academy’s UX and Digital Design Week 2017 took place August 14–18, in London. Throughout the week, we visited a variety of design studios and product companies and learned a lot about the way they work, including their projects, products, processes, management, culture, and all the things that shape them. The lineup for the program was great as always, featuring Moving Brands, Microsoft Lift, Territory, Deliveroo, Moo, Made by Many, NomNom, Monese, Analog Folk, Firedrop, and Andrea Picchi.

In this review, I’ll provide an overview of the conference, describing its

  • organization
  • venue
  • hospitality
  • content
  • presenters
  • proceedings
  • community Read More


Book Review: Evil by Design

July 23, 2018

“Now you see that evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.”—Dark Helmet, in Spaceballs

Cover of Evil by DesignLucifer. Darth Vader. Voldemort. Gru. Literature is filled with heroes, but also memorable villains. And why not? The uncomfortable truth is that, for many of us, villains and evil are much more interesting than heroes and good. It’s easy to identify the hero—the good—in a narrative. Heroes are predictable and idealistic. Villainy, on the other hand, leads us to ask questions: Why? What next? Can evil tactics get more results than good ones?

That line of thinking is what initially attracted me to Chris Nodder’s book Evil by Design: Interaction Design to Lead Us into Temptation. Throughout its 320 pages, the book examines the dark patterns and means of persuasion that have infiltrated our profession and culture. While good UX professionals advocate ease of use, obvious disclosures to customers, and increasing confidence on the part of users, seemingly evil UX professionals take advantage of the users’ shortcomings to short-circuit their judgment and enhance the all-important conversion rate. Read More


Book Excerpt: Orchestrating Experiences

July 23, 2018

This is an excerpt from Chapter 9 of Chris Risdon and Patrick Quattlebaum’s new book Orchestrating Experiences: Collaborative Design for Complexity. 2018, Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 9: Crafting a Tangible Vision

Orchestrating Experiences: Collaborative Design for ComplexityWhen you work in a small business, such as a startup, you can get everyone to play off the same sheet of music more easily. The larger your organization, however, the greater the challenge of understanding the end-to-end experiences you want to enable and why. Hierarchy, functional silos, and distributed teams create communication and collaboration barriers. Strategy is distributed in slides with terse bullet points that get interpreted in multiple ways. The vision for the end-to-end experience is lost in a sea of business objectives, channel priorities, and operational requirements. The result: painful dissonance when the dream was a beautifully orchestrated experience.

This chapter is about working with others to craft a tangible vision for your product or service—a North Star. These approaches will help your organization embrace a shared destiny and collaboratively create the conditions for better end-to-end experiences. Read More