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February 18, 2019 Edition

Conducting International User Research

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
February 18, 2019

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our expert panel discusses some key considerations for conducting international user research. These include ensuring that the researchers have the proper training to handle international research effectively, as well as knowledge of the legal requirements in different countries. There are also the practical considerations of researchers’ being able to understand the participants’ language during research sessions and the logistics of working in another country.

It is always very important to create rapport with research participants. This is especially true for international research. Not knowing the cultural traditions of the hosting country can lead to uncomfortable moments during studies or cause researchers to miss valuable insights during analysis. Read More

Design Critiques: Setting Some Ground Rules

February 18, 2019

Feedback is a critical component of the overall design process, so it warrants more than just some nice-to-follow guidelines and best practices. A polite reminder to observe the proper critique etiquette doesn’t cut it. To make the most of feedback sessions, managers and team leads need to set ground rules for design critiques.

Stakeholder-feedback sessions deserve the same rigor, consistency, and diligence as any other step in the design lifecycle. Conducting even a single design evaluation properly—with the right intentions—has the potential to propel designs from good to great. Unfortunately, design critiques often suffer from ambiguous expectations, unclear agendas, a lack of focus—or an undue fixation on peripheral issues—unbridled biases, impertinent opinions, or a cacophony of unmoderated voices. Read More


Platform UX: Facilitating Cross-Application Workflows with Deep Linking

February 18, 2019

The integration of enterprise applications is a complex, long-term process that requires careful consideration of business goals, user input, and technical constraints. Enterprises often apply the word integration broadly to describe different types of integration scenarios. In some cases, integration refers to connecting separate applications in ways that enable those applications to function together more seamlessly, while maintaining their independence. In other cases, integration refers to connecting separate applications with the ultimate goal of consolidating them into a single cohesive platform.

Deep linking between applications provides continuity for users throughout the execution of their work tasks. In instances where the ultimate goal is to consolidate applications, deep links provide an intermediate path to integration. This article outlines some techniques for exploring deep-link candidates with your users and characterizing the ways in which those deep links should operate. It also describes several deep-linking patterns for which users commonly perceive a need. Read More


The Pitfalls of Personas and Advantages of Jobs to Be Done

February 18, 2019

In a prior article I wrote for UXmatters, “Presenting UX Research Findings Using the Jobs to Be Done Framework,” I discussed the benefits of using the Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) framework when sharing findings from generative UX research. The article described how the organizational components and the corresponding artifacts of the JTBD method—that is, the Jobs Atlas—empower stakeholders to develop an empathetic understanding of users and help UX researchers make granular, tactical decisions. In the article, I posited that these methods and artifacts offer a better way of providing usable research findings to stakeholders than other methods of disseminating the results of deep-dive, generative, user research—particularly personas.

This last point has inspired some feedback from colleagues and other UX professionals who are already comfortable with creating personas and prickled at the suggestion that JTBD can provide the advantages of these structures with fewer of their inherent weaknesses. As a result, I decided to write this article, which provides a detailed discussion that focuses primarily on the advantages that the JTBD perspective affords over personas. Read More


Book Review: Computers as Theatre

February 18, 2019

Cover: Computers as TheatreMuch of the literature relating to User Experience focuses on one of just a few key topics: task engineering, users, research, information, or the design or usability of user interfaces. Many portray the experience the user has with a product or service as the outcome of design decisions relating to a user interface—as a metric that we can measure in negative or positive terms. This is somewhat incongruent given both the name of our field and the common mantra: people don’t buy products; they buy experiences. Read More

February 04, 2019 Edition

The Biggest Mistakes in User Research, Part 2

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
February 4, 2019

User research is challenging, and it’s all too easy to make mistakes. In Part 1 of this two-part series of columns, I discussed some of the biggest user-research mistakes that teams make, including the following:

  • conducting general user research without any focus
  • dismissing client and stakeholder knowledge about users
  • relying too much or too little on what participants say
  • separating research from design
  • leaving others out of the research
  • bringing too many people along on field studies
  • being too inflexible
  • not providing enough time for user research
  • scheduling sessions that are too short

Now, in Part 2, I’ll describe eight additional mistakes and provide advice about how to avoid them. Read More


Book Review: Human + Machine

Leadership Matters

Leading UX transformation

February 4, 2019

Cover: Human + MachineAs UX professionals, it’s important that we stay abreast of the latest technologies and consider how they might impact UX design. So, over the past year or so, I’ve read more than half a dozen books, as well as numerous articles on various aspects of artificial intelligence (AI)—ranging from highly technical books for developers to more accessible works whose targets are business leaders, product managers, or even the general public. The most valuable of these books: Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI, by Paul R. Daugherty and H. James Wilson. This book is targeted primarily at business leaders and the professionals who influence them. Anyone who works for a corporation that deploys software to achieve its business goals would benefit from reading this book—and today, that’s just about every business. Those in government and education should also read this book. In addition to applying its lessons to their own unique contexts and ensuring that the workforce is ready to contribute maximal value in the age of AI, they can also influence business leaders to choose the right path forward at this critical inflection point. Read More


Supporting Localization

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
February 4, 2019

Users want to work in familiar languages and environments, so companies that build and sell enterprise products to customers from different cultures and in different locales must support these expectations. Doing so requires localization—adapting documents or products to ensure they’re culturally appropriate. However, product teams often overlook this requirement or put off localization until late in the development cycle.

Even when localization is a formal requirement, a product team that is battling a tight deadline or budget constraints may choose to skip localization or defer it until a later release. Their localization effort languishes in the team’s growing pile of UX debt, remaining unaddressed until a senior executive receives an angry phone call from a customer, complaining about the product’s subpar experience in their native language or environment.

How can you, as a UX professional, support localization, help reduce the odds that your product might alienate customers, and avoid contributing to your team’s UX debt? In this column, I’ll provide a localization expert’s perspective on this topic, then describe some practical ways in which you can design user interfaces to better support localization. Read More


Creating a Usable Intranet Despite the Backend

February 4, 2019

Intranets have evolved considerably since their debut in 1994, changing from simple document-management systems to unifying business collaboration and communication solutions. Successful intranets bring real, bottom-line benefits to businesses—including improved efficiency, increased productivity, and satisfying employee experiences in today’s digital workplaces.

Typically, by the time a company has matured sufficiently to acknowledge the need for an intranet, the company has already made significant technology investments and a legacy platform is in place. Previous investments heavily influence decisions to purchase new software for an intranet. Thus, UX professionals often have very limited or no influence on the selection of an intranet’s backend platform.

How can you design a useful, usable, engaging user interface for an intranet when the backend is already in place? Focus on understanding the users’ needs and how best to help them accomplish their goals. Read More


Sample Chapter: Just Enough Research

February 4, 2019

These excerpts are from a sample chapter from Erika Hall’s book Just Enough Research. 2013, A Book Apart.

Cover: Just Enough ResearchChapter 8: Analysis and Models

Qualitative analysis can seem like a mysterious process. A group of people enters a conference room with interview notes and stickies and emerges with recommendations for creating or changing the functionality or interface of a system.

For us humans, this is actually the most natural thing possible. We’re social creatures and pattern-recognition machines. Getting people together to analyze qualitative data is like throwing a party for our brains. Once you start, you’ll get hooked. Read More