February 22, 2021 Edition

Performing a UX Audit on an Existing Product

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
February 22, 2021

This month in Ask UXmatters, our expert panel discusses how to perform a UX audit to evaluate an existing product. A UX audit typically includes an evaluation of a product’s usability, learnability, and accessibility characteristics. There are several approaches you can use when conducting a UX audit. Our experts describe their preferred methods.

Understanding the user’s journey fully requires that you map the user journey for both the product and any related Web site, then evaluate both. Plus, it is important to understand the business requirements for the product to understand whether the product is fulfilling those requirements. Read More

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The Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence Journey

February 22, 2021

Artificial-intelligence (AI) technology is capable of behaving with human-like intelligence. With recent advances, AI has become more pervasive. Insurance companies use AI in processing claims and banks rely on automated stock trading. People can perform self-checks for skin cancer, using smart apps such as Skinvision or HealthAI-Skin Cancer, or they can interact with intelligent services through user interfaces such as Google Home or Amazon Echo, which are themselves smart because they understand natural-language queries and provide answers using natural language as well.

Most users of AI technologies do not have sufficient insight into their inner workings to understand how they’ve arrived at their outputs. This, in turn, makes it hard for people to trust the technology, learn from it, or to be able to correctly predict future situations. Read More

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Design Beyond Devices

February 22, 2021

This is an excerpt from Chapter 9 of Design Beyond Devices: Creating Multimodal, Cross-Device Experiences, by Cheryl Platz. 2020 Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 9: Lost in Transition

Cover: Design Beyond DevicesOne constant in truly multimodal systems is change. When you could assume a customer would remain in the same context for the duration of an interaction, the only change that designers had to consider was the change in the customer state enabled by the user interface (UI). Don’t want a change? Then don’t build an affordance for that change. Simple.

Multimodal systems are defined by their flexibility. Without the ability to transition between inputs and outputs, all a multimodal system provides is a single choice up front about an engagement. It’s essentially several mutually exclusive single-mode interactions. Read More

Ethical Design: Why Is It Critical for UX Designers?

February 22, 2021

How many times have you seen design solutions that showcased male chauvinist attitudes or marketing content that exhibited racial or gender biases? The content that designers create represents our social thought, values, and culture. Similarly, any product’s design embodies a value system, clearly indicating the designer’s beliefs and moral principles.

While the biases in some design solutions and content are deliberate and unethical, the creators of other designs and content consciously adopt an ethical stance and reject such biases. The intent of a UX designer to design great products that follow moral principles is ethical design.

In this article, I’ll describe how unethical designs occur, as well as explain the concept of ethical design. I’ll also describe how you, as a UX designer, can create change within your company—merely by following the best ethical-design practices. Read More

Book Review: Make Your Customers Dance

February 22, 2021

Cover: Make Your Customers DanceIn learning theory, a constructivist approach suggests that, among other things, the ability to gain new knowledge depends on a learner’s existing knowledge. The experience of trying to explain to people what User Experience is bears out this philosophy. In his book Make Your Customers Dance, Marc Majers illustrates the importance of user experience, while describing its tools and tactics in an accessible way.

Marc has a diverse background, as a Web designer, UX professional, and, of course, a wedding DJ. Many associate User Experience with Web sites, mobile apps, and software. Some go further and include products and services. Marc’s approach is unique in that he describes the design of a real-world experience: a party or wedding reception. Read More

February 08, 2021 Edition

Greeking Versus Designing with Actual Content

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
February 8, 2021

Greeking is a centuries-old term that refers to the use of placeholder text or images instead of including the real, final content in a design. Traditionally, designers have used greeking because the real text was not available, or they thought it would be irrelevant because they wanted other designers or reviewers to focus on the design alone. At least, these were designers’ traditional arguments for its use.

However, in recent decades, as we’ve applied more and more science to the practice of design, we’ve found that such arguments are not really true, and it can be a terrible idea to use placeholder, dummy, or mock content. Design documents must, by their nature, represent content. So there is now a strong trend toward designing content first, and I strongly agree with it. If you don't have real content or functionality at the beginning of design, it can be hard to design a good solution. Content does not distract from your design. It’s the point of your design’s existence. Read More

Understanding Gender and Racial Bias in AI, Part 4

February 8, 2021

In my four-part series about gender and racial bias in artificial intelligence (AI) and how to combat such biases, Part 1 focused on the bias in voice- and facial-recognition software and the algorithms and big data that power them. Part 2 discussed how AI-based software—such as Google Search and some common design tools—influences designers in ways that can perpetuate biases in design deliverables. In Part 3, I provided a how-to guide for addressing your own implicit biases during the UX design process. Now, in Part 4, the final part of this series, I’ll describe how to make the case for anti-sexism and anti-racism in your UX design work.

Remember when we used to have to argue the return on investment (ROI) for User Experience to justify our existence and do all three parts of our job: the user research, the design, and the usability testing? Thankfully, times have changed, and most businesses have now accepted that good UX is good for businesses. Read More

5 Ways to Elevate Your Design Pitches to Clients

Business of Design

Learnings from design projects

A column by Manik Arora
February 8, 2021

Pitching is one of the most important skills for any UX designer to have. Your ability to pitch clients well naturally permeates your UX design outcomes. Knowing what makes a perfect pitch is something that undoubtedly comes with practice, but your pitches can be effective if you prepare them meticulously. Whether you’re working for a multinational design agency or are an independent UX designer, your design solutions are only as good as they appear to your clients. Therefore, a good design that you pitch poorly has very little impact.

Throughout all my years pitching designs to clients, there have been highlights and lowlights. Over the years, I’ve isolated what has worked well from what hasn’t. I’ve picked up the best ideas from how others pitch and formulated and refined my own approach to pitching. You can do the same. In this column, I’ll share my specific approach to pitching, including five strategies that have helped me impress my clients. Whether you’re a rookie UX designer or seasoned veteran, incorporating some or all of these pitching strategies can elevate your pitching skills to the next level. Read More

Getting the Most Out of Performance Feedback

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
February 8, 2021

With another new year upon us, now would be a great time to reflect upon your career growth and performance as a UX professional. One of the most effective ways of improving both your performance and your growth potential is through the feedback you receive from your peers, superiors, and subordinates.

However, contrary to what many people might believe, the exchange of high-quality feedback isn’t solely the responsibility of the person providing the feedback. It is equally important for the person receiving feedback to endeavor to ensure that the feedback is actionable, constructive, and conducive to his or her growth. In this column, I’ll provide some tips on what you can do before, during, and after receiving performance feedback to maximize its impact and ensure that it ultimately contributes to your growth. Read More

Resolutions for UX Researchers

February 8, 2021

Even though, to most of us, 2020 felt a lot longer than the typical year, it’s finally behind us! Now, as we’ve moved into 2021, many UX researchers are thinking about making or have even committed to New Year’s resolutions.

As a UX researcher, what UX research resolutions are you thinking about striving toward throughout the upcoming months of 2021? It’s never too early or too late to commit to making positive changes in your career. In this article, I’ll discuss a few career-enhancing UX research resolutions that I’ve made in the past or that I’m currently aiming toward during 2021. Read More