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January 07, 2019 Edition

The Biggest Mistakes in User Research, Part 1

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
January 7, 2019

If you break user research down to its essential steps—watching people perform their tasks and interviewing them—it sounds deceptively easy. However, as anyone who has conducted user research knows, it involves much more than that, and it’s a lot harder than it looks. In this two-part column, I’ll discuss some of the biggest mistakes people make when planning and conducting user research and how to avoid them.

Conducting General User Research Without Any Focus

If you have all the time and money in the world, embarking on a user-research study with the vague goal of learning about a product’s users is a fine idea. However, in the real world, you’ll rarely have the luxury to pursue such broad, undefined user-research goals. So, unless you have a lot of time, money, and a limitless number of participants, doing general, unfocused research produces general, unfocused findings. Such research rarely elicits enough information to draw useful conclusions. Read More

Measuring the ROI of UX in an Enterprise Organization, Part 2

January 7, 2019

In Part 1 of this series, “Measuring the ROI for UX in an Enterprise Organization,” JD and her colleagues discussed their enterprise UX team’s journey in developing a UX-measurement plan. Their objective for this plan was to identify a measurable connection between user-centered design (UCD) efforts and company performance metrics.

Now, in Part 2 of this story, we’ll discuss how two enterprises in vastly different industries—a Fortune-500 human capital–management (HCM) company and a healthcare-technology company—have modeled the impact of employing a user-centered design process on financial metrics. We’ll also suggest some key questions to consider as you embark upon your own UX-measurement initiative at your organization. Read More


Adaptive Information Design and the Box Diagram

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
January 7, 2019

One of the best ways to make your mobile app or Web site pretty—but also inconsistent and unusable—is to begin by drawing the user interface (UI).

However, starting with problems, user needs, and audience definitions, then defining the data structure and information architecture is a pretty well-defined approach that many UX designers and product teams believe in and try to follow. Still, too many go from there straight to user-interface designs. That’s still too big a jump and leaves too much to chance, gut instinct, default framework behaviors, and nitpicking reviews.

Instead, to understand and define an app or Web site’s information design, we first need to create a box diagram, or box model. Read More


XR Design: Patterns for Interactions

Evolution of XD Principles

Challenging XD conventions

A column by Dashiel Neimark
January 7, 2019

In my previous two columns in this mini-series about extended reality (XR) design, I discussed some building blocks of XR, as well as some fundamentals to consider when designing an XR experience. Now that I’ve covered some of the broader aspects of this design space, I’d like to shift gears a bit and discuss some specific concepts you should be aware of once you’ve gained some traction in the XR space and want to improve the experiences you’re creating.

In this installment of my mini-series, I’ll cover five additional design concepts:

  1. Field of view (FOV) and retention versus exposure in virtual reality (VR)
  2. Foveated rendering
  3. Multimodal interactions
  4. Hologram placement
  5. Locomotion and disorientation Read More


Prototyping User Experience

January 7, 2019

A prototype is a primitive representation or version of a product that a design team or front-end-development team typically creates during the design process. The goal of a prototype is to test the flow of a design solution and gather feedback on it—from both internal and external parties—before constructing the final product. The state of a prototype is fluid as the team revises the design iteratively based on user feedback.

Why Are Prototypes Important?

Tom and David Kelley of the design company IDEO have perfectly summed up the importance of prototyping by saying:

“If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a prototype is worth 1,000 meetings.” Read More

December 17, 2018 Edition

Collaborating with Automated UX Tools

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
December 17, 2018

This month, the Ask UXmatters expert panel discusses how UX professionals can best collaborate with automated UX tools, considering the different, but complementary strengths of AI systems and human beings. Our experts also consider the deeper question of whether artificial-intelligence (AI) tools will replace UX researchers and designers and what the future holds for UX professionals working in an artificially intelligent environment.

Our experts also describe the respective roles of automated UX tools and UX researchers. Plus, they discuss the merits of automated versus moderated usability testing. Read More


Demonstrating the Value of User Experience to Enterprise Product Teams, Part 2

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
December 17, 2018

In Part 1 in this two-part series, Chris Braunsdorf and I explained that, in an environment where UX maturity is low, onboarding User Experience with an enterprise product team poses unique challenges. However, you can overcome these challenges by

  • conducting early user research
  • requesting the feedback of individual team members
  • receiving teammates’ input openly and patiently
  • redirecting teammates’ feedback to align with your user-centered approach
  • recruiting team members as active participants in your UX research and design activities

However, once you’ve onboarded User Experience in your organization, you must demonstrate certain skills to ensure that it becomes an essential component for your enterprise product teams going forward. These skills extend beyond your UX design capabilities. Read More


Conference Review: Enterprise UX 2018, Part 1

December 17, 2018

This year, the fourth annual Enterprise UX (EUX) conference took place in San Francisco—Wednesday, June 13, through Friday, June 15. On Wednesday, the conference opened with a full day of workshops at the beautiful Palace Hotel. On Thursday and Friday, the main conference convened at the Mission Bay Conference Center, on the UCSF (University of California, San Francisco) Mission Bay campus.

Rosenfeld Media produces this event annually and the Program Committee again put together an excellent conference experience, with interesting content that addressed the needs of UX professionals who either work within or create products or services for large enterprises. Read More


Book Review: Designing Voice User Interfaces

December 17, 2018

Cover: Designing Voice User InterfacesOne of the most common questions I hear when talking with students, prospective students, colleagues, and clients is: what are the emerging trends in User Experience? Most of the time, people seem to be looking for specific product predictions: What is the next device that Apple, Amazon, or Google will roll out? Or maybe, what is the next big social-media trend?

While predicting specific disruptive innovations can be challenging—and forecasting their precise timing is even more difficult—it is safe to assume that the technology that mediates our interactions with information will become less obstructive and eventually recede into our environment. This may seem obvious to people who have read Adam Greenfield’s Everyware or Peter Morville’s Ambient Findability. Plus, we have been experiencing this shift for some time—longer than many realize. Read More


Content Strategy for Mobile

December 17, 2018

This is a sample chapter from Karen McGrane’s book Content Strategy for Mobile. 2012, A Book Apart.

Chapter 3: Adaptive Content

“Get your content ready to go anywhere because it’s going to go everywhere.”—Brad Frost

Cover: Content Strategy for MobileAdaptive content is more than just mobile. It means getting your content into a format so you can share and distribute it to any platform you want. It means you can get your content onto platforms you control—and platforms you don’t. It even means you’ll have a fighting shot at getting your content onto platforms that haven’t been invented yet.

Rich Ziade, CEO of Readability, told me that he thinks this problem is even bigger than mobile:

“The mobile browser is no longer the sole destination of the hyperlink. Stu opens inside of Twitter and Facebook and that means that content needs to be ready to go in all these new contexts. Content is being plucked and refitted everywhere. Take a look at most modern Twitter clients: they show Instagram photos and links to videos inline in the tweet. That’s not a Web page anymore. It’s just the content in whatever context makes sense. This is one step beyond responsive design and form factors of devices. It is content reduced down to its essence then custom tailored.” Read More