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April 09, 2018 Edition

Adopting a No-Left-Turn Approach to UX Design

Selling UX

A unique perspective on service UX

A column by Baruch Sachs
April 9, 2018

Recently, in a customer workshop, I was listening to business users talking about the issues they were facing with their current system. This was not an academic exercise, as so many often can be, but rather a very interactive session with a highly engaged and enabled customer. My team had helped this customer with user research, design, and development for the application. Since the application had been in production for a few years, there was a ton of data about how people were really using it and how their usage could be expanded. The customer wanted to leverage that knowledge to make incremental design changes. While that sounds exactly like how things should work, anyone in the profession of designing and building user experiences knows that this was actually a rare opportunity—especially in the world of enterprise software.

Even though they had identified a lot of tactical fixes to design and implement, one of the main strategic initiatives they brought up derived from the fact that users did not really know the most expeditious route to follow in completing their tasks. They also alluded to the concepts of speed and accuracy throughout the presentation of the application. Read More

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Fostering Trust to Build Community

April 9, 2018

The world we live in has become disconnected. We have easy access to all the people we could ever want to interact with, but many would argue that communications have become shallow and less authentic as we rely more heavily on digital communities for social interaction. How can we avoid this shallowness and design more depth into our interactions with others?

Brené Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness takes an in-depth, research-based approach to exploring this topic. She has conducted grounded theory research to learn what makes people feel like they belong. She found that trust is a key component of belonging. What makes people trust? Brown created the BRAVING framework, which comprises the following elements that must be present for people to trust one another:

  • Boundaries
  • Reliability
  • Accountability
  • Vault
  • Integrity
  • Generosity Read More


Embracing Voice UX: 7 Steps to Building Great Experiences

April 9, 2018

In 2018, voice technology will go mainstream. According to comScore, in 2017, half of all smartphone owners used voice technology on their phones, with one in three using voice technology daily. Further, voice-first devices—which include smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home—are expected to cross a “critical adoption threshold” in 2018, and their growth is likely to accelerate in the coming years. As the market for voice-assistant applications and smart speakers continues to expand, brands must incorporate voice technology to stay relevant and competitive. However, brands have only a finite window for owning the voice user experience.

According to our research, 70 percent of smart-speaker owners have experienced problems or frustrations using their devices. Plus, 25 percent felt that these smart speakers were not designed with their needs in mind. The numbers were also troubling for third-party voice applications. The research found that 63 percent of those surveyed encountered some type of problem or frustration with these applications. In fact, 29 percent said they would delete an application with which they had a negative experience. Read More


The Future of UX Design Is Automation

April 9, 2018

We’re embarking on an increasingly automated future. By 2029, computers are likely to be more intelligent than humans, according to Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering at Google. Recent technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can now support nonlinear, complex tasks that require logic—and, historically, human involvement as well. These innovations are transforming everything from the way financial technology, or fintech, startups offer financial advice to self-driving cars—and even smarter recommendations for the shows we stream on Netflix.

As automation increasingly plays an integral role in the complex products we create and use, we’re seeing great opportunities for automation to play a role in the future of UX design as well. Automation may be the next big thing to impact the entire industry of UX design—from optimizing the process of providing design feedback to transforming and streamlining the way product teams operate and increasing our ability to create compelling products. Read More


The Right Way to Select Technology

April 9, 2018

This is an excerpt from Tony Byrne and Jarrod Gingras’s book The Right Way to Select Technology: Get the Real Story on Finding the Best Fit. 2017, Two Waves Books, an imprint of Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 5: Why User Stories Are Everything

TCover: he Right Way to Select TechnologyAt this phase, you can convert requirements into user stories that are intelligible to anyone and are testable throughout the forthcoming selection process. User stories are short, real-life narratives that describe your information, your processes, your people, your customers, and your anticipated business results.

After defining the business case, it’s the most important foundational work you will do, so spend some time to get it right—but don’t agonize over the details, since you’ll have the opportunity to modify them as you learn more throughout the selection process. Read More

March 20, 2018 Edition

7 Questions to Ask Users Early in the Product Lifecycle

Discovery

Insights from UX research

A column by Michael Morgan
March 20, 2018

Whether you’re a UX designer, product stakeholder, or some other kind of curious-minded product professional, you need to know what makes your users tick. My new column Discovery: Insights from UX research is about unearthing what is already there—just waiting for a UX researcher to discover it.

In Discovery, I’ll explore various approaches to gaining insights about your users by employing UX-research methods early in the product-development process. UX research can help you understand what would make your users’ lives easier.

When you’re asking questions during user-research interviews, the key to getting answers that are not tainted by bias depends on what the question is and how you ask it. Taking the time and thought to pose constructive, reflective questions, ensures that participants can provide the information you need to portray an accurate picture of the customer narrative. Encourage participants to take the time to reflect on your questions and ask you for clarification when necessary. Read More


The Benefits of Embracing Failure

March 20, 2018

Failure. Not many people savor it or seek it out. But instead of focusing on disappointing outcomes, we should consider viewing failures as opportunities to learn and improve. One principle of agile software development is failing fast. Of course, the goal is not to aim for failure, but to recognize that failure is a necessary and beneficial part of the development process if you approach it properly. Research and development depends on iteratively generating, inspecting, and evaluating ideas, designs, and products. Great products aren’t miraculously conceived—they’re built, refined, and enhanced iteratively.

Learning About Others’ Failures Improves Persistence and Performance

Professors from Teachers College, Columbia University, and University of Washington wanted to see whether exposing students to stories of the intellectual or life struggles of famous scientists such as Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Michael Faraday would impact their own scientific achievements. They found that the performance of students who heard stories about others’ intellectual or life struggles in science classes actually improved, unlike that of students who were exposed only to stories of successes. Read More


Conference Review: Enterprise UX 2017, Part 1

March 20, 2018

The third annual Enterprise UX (EUX) conference opened on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, when a day of workshops convened at the Argonaut┬áHotel, which is located in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park at Fisherman’s Wharf. The main conference took place Thursday, June 8, through Friday, June 9, at the Innovation Hangar in the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco’s Marina District.

Overall, Rosenfeld Media, the producer of this event, delivered a well thought out conference experience, with excellent content. I’m glad the organizers made attending EUX easy for me this year by moving the conference from San Antonio to San Francisco, which is a great city to visit. In recent years, one of my design goals has been the consumerization of enterprise software, so it was high time I attended this conference. Now that I have, I’m sorry I missed the first two. Read More


When You Need a Product-Design Reality Check with Users

March 20, 2018

In 2001, Apple released the first version of iTunes. The app was simple, sleek, and easy to navigate and users loved it. So why did Apple, a perennial paragon of great design, decide to pack subsequent versions of the product full of features that users didn’t ask for?

Adding features users don’t want is a classic issue in product design. Even though users prefer simplicity in product design, companies rarely reward UX designers for removing features. Instead, they incentivize designers to add bells and whistles that make stakeholders happy, but often hinder users. Because Apple didn’t listen to iTunes users, they inflicted feature fatigue on them and, thus, frustrated their biggest fans. Read More


Researching UX: Analytics

March 20, 2018

This is a sample chapter from Luke Hay’s book Researching UX: Analytics. 2017 SitePoint.

Chapter 6: Measuring and Reporting Outcomes

“The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.”—John Tukey, American Mathematician

Researching UX: Analytics CoverSo far, we’ve covered how to check that your analytics is set up correctly, how to use analytics data to identify potential problems, and how to use it for user research. These techniques, along with other UX methods, will help you to identify where you should make changes to your Web site, and what those changes might look like. Once you’ve made the changes to your site, don’t stop there! You should look to measure the outcome of those changes and learn from the results. Read More