July 15, 2019 Edition

Prioritizing Design Critique, Part 1

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
July 15, 2019

If you’ve worked in enterprise environments with a scarcity of UX resources, you already know how difficult it is to institute design processes whose goal is to improve your craft and the quality of your design deliverables. At companies that allocate insufficient funds and support to User Experience, there is often limited opportunity for activities beyond approved, budgeted project work. Moreover, building additional commitments into your schedule can be exhausting when there are already several, disparate product teams awaiting your and your teammates’ design deliverables. Activities that focus on collaboration with UX teammates and craft are usually the first to fall by the wayside.

However, making the time for UX teammates to come together and focus on our craft and the quality of our deliverables benefits not only us, but the entire company—especially the product teams with whom we work. Doing so helps prevent inconsistent designs, the use of different user interface components and patterns to accomplish essentially the same things, and, above all, the creation of poor user experiences. Furthermore, if we fail to prioritize collaborative activities that would improve the design work and deliverables of the entire UX team, we risk creating a vacuum that product teams would happily fill with their own design solutions—perhaps relying on false assumptions rather than user-centered design and often resulting in subpar user experiences. Read More

Project Estimation, Part 4: Leveraging Design Thinking to Drive Higher Quality

July 15, 2019

One of the greatest challenges of running a service business is balancing your labor costs against clients’ true needs. Addressing a complex business problem can require significantly more resources than addressing a simple one. Complex problems often require more time, higher-paid employees, or both. Complicating matters further, clients want to know how much to budget and the extent to which that budget will be accurate throughout the course of a project. But complex projects, by their nature, are extremely difficult to predict up front. Of course, clients want to get the most value for their money, so they’ll want to reduce costs whenever possible, making estimating even more challenging.

When you put all these challenges together, it’s not too surprising to see service projects failing to meet client expectations, running over budget, or delivering outcomes of far lower value than anyone had hoped. While the approach to estimating that I’ve been discussing throughout this series of articles won’t solve all of these problems, it does eliminate a couple of them by

  • keeping the client in control of costs throughout the project—even when scope changes
  • removing dependencies on hourly rates Read More

Creating Effective Carousels

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
July 15, 2019

One of the most prevalent user interactions is scrolling. For mobile devices, with their small screens and direct, gestural interactions, scrolling is even more important than for desktop applications. But we don’t generally even refer to vertical scrolling because pages in apps and Web sites typically default to vertical scrolling. Today, most of us have grown up reading content—whether in print or online—so scrolling vertically is simply what works best for people.

When designing for content, it is important to remember that people do not always do things the same way. They consume text, grids, or lists not just by reading each item, but very often by scanning. People’s eyes jump from one section to the next, often reading just the first few characters of each line. If you organize content oddly or incorrectly, users might miss a huge amount of what you’re trying to show them. Read More

Collaboration and Transparency: The Keys to Effective Organizations

July 15, 2019

Have you ever spent a lot of time and effort on a project that you thought would be really exciting and impactful, but the big announcement barely registered with your audience—or perhaps you realized it was way off the mark? Or have you ever worked on something only to realize that another team was undertaking a similar project? Having experienced all of these situations, I’ve been focusing on working smarter. Communication, collaboration, and continuous feedback are essential to efficient, effective companies. Great teams are transparent and synergistic, continuously communicating—to avoid creating discrete silos and duplicative efforts—streamlining their work, and combining cross-functional expertise to achieve better outcomes.

Share Your Work While It’s Still in Draft Form

Iteration is a core component of design thinking and user research. Sharing your work early and often is a great way to gather constructive feedback and make sure you’re on the right path. Read More

Staying Up to Date in User Experience

July 15, 2019

Back in high school, I was a member of the Tech Team—a supergroup of nerds who fixed computers and helped teachers resolve any issues with PCs in their classroom. When I got home from school, I worked on my Geocities site. I flipped to the advanced editor to edit the HTML and unintentionally ended up learning the scripting language. The Internet was in its early days, and I was excited that I could build something of my own.

Then, when I applied for college, I wanted to continue building Web sites. However, that goal changed somewhat when I took a required class in human-computer interaction (HCI). The course made me think differently about building Web sites. Instead of just coding them, I wanted to design sites to ensure they would be useful and usable. So I went on to study User Experience in graduate school and landed a couple of internships doing user research and design for both Web sites and software. Read More

June 17, 2019 Edition

Driving Telehealth Success by Creating Trust and Meaningful Interactions

Service Design

Orchestrating experiences in context

A column by Laura Keller
June 17, 2019

Most people are aware of the evolving state of healthcare today—whether they’ve personally experienced the plethora of issues that healthcare presents or have read the many news reports covering the industry. As a service designer who is constantly identifying and solving problems, I have always been fascinated with the truly wicked problem that healthcare presents. Considering the broad scope of healthcare and its many stakeholders—including the government, healthcare providers, payers, pharmaceutical companies, and pharmacies—the problem seems almost impossible to address.

But patient demand is driving big changes. People’s experiences across industries are elevating their expectations of the healthcare industry. As a consequence, companies are reinventing themselves through acquisitions and partnerships to address the healthcare system’s legacy issues. Examples include CVS’s acquisition of Aetna and JP Morgan Chase, Amazon, and Berkshire Hathaway partnering to create Haven. Plus, people are taking more ownership of their health and are adopting digital health technology such as wearables and remote tracking to support their expectations and behaviors. Read More

Book Review: A Designer’s Research Manual

June 17, 2019

Cover: A Designer's Research ManualAs a design discipline, User Experience frequently gets lumped together with visual or graphic design—often to the chagrin of UX professionals. Of course, this tendency reinforces and is reinforced by the common belief that design is defined by its deliverables. Further, the plethora of books, periodicals, annuals, and Web sites that worship the unique style and fashion of graphic design rather than process and outcomes encourages the description of design in terms of its deliverables.

The high-water mark—or maybe low-water mark—for this philosophy was probably the late 1990s, when graphic designers pushed the limits of legibility in pursuit of distinctive style. An exemplar of that trend might be the celebrity graphic designer David Carson, who described the “intuitiveness” of his visual design work, while pushing the limits of legibility. As an author and speaker, he’s made a number of statements discussing his design philosophy. Read More

Integrating UX Design into a Continuous-Delivery Environment

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
June 17, 2019

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our experts discuss how to integrate UX practices with a continuous-delivery approach. First, our expert panel considers the company’s goal: continuous delivery or delivering meaningful outcomes? They then discuss how advances in DesignOps can help in this situation. Finally, our experts provide several tips on working within a continuous-delivery pipeline.

Every month in Ask UXmatters, our 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

Practicing What You Preach: Experimenting and Iterating in UX Research

June 17, 2019

In the field of User Experience, design thinking, failing fast, and iterating are popular concepts. When developing new products and features, we need to learn continuously by ideating, experimenting, and refining.

Since joining Factual—a medium-sized startup—as their first UX researcher, I’ve faced a new challenge: building a brand-new research practice. I’ve relied on my core UX principles to help me succeed. I’m constantly trying things out, reflecting on how they’re working, then revising my approach as necessary. During my first ten months at Factual, I’ve experimented with new ideas and approaches, learned from my mistakes, and adjusted my processes as necessary. I’ve pivoted everything from my research projects to my recruiting efforts to my reporting techniques, depending on what is or isn’t working. Read More

Choosing the Right UX Process for Your Software-Development Model

June 17, 2019

“It’s very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better.”—Jonathan Ive, Chief Design Officer, Apple

Deciding on the right product-development process for your team can often be a paradox. Maintaining balance amidst a proliferation of inconsistencies in product requirements and development outcomes is challenging for both large and mid-sized organizations —especially when teams lack any metrics to measure their impact on a release.

Friction arises when there is a mismatch between the user’s mental model and product features. When a development team finds itself in an untenable situation, the blame game begins. But as Mad Men’s Don Draper often said, “Move forward.” Read More