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October 19, 2020 Edition

Remote UX Research: Advantages and Disadvantages, Part 2

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
October 19, 2020

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, all UX researchers have had to rely exclusively on conducting remote UX research. In Part 1 of this column, I discussed the many advantages of remote UX research. Although remote UX research does have many advantages, it also has some disadvantages. Now, in Part 2, I’ll consider the disadvantages of remote UX research and how to overcome or mitigate them.

The Disadvantages of Remote UX Research

What are the disadvantages of remote UX research and how can we minimize them as much as possible to get the best results?

You Cannot See Much of the Participants’ Context

The biggest disadvantage of remote UX research is also the greatest advantage of in-person UX research—being able to observe participants performing their tasks in the context of their natural environment. If you’re interested in understanding a particular group of people, their behavior, their typical tasks and processes, the tools and artifacts they use, the people with whom they interact, and the environment in which they’re performing their tasks, there’s no better way of understanding all of this than to visit participants in person so you can observe and interview them. When you’re not in the same room with participants, your view is limited to what you can see through their Webcam and what they share on their computer, phone, or tablet. Read More

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Tips for Conducting Remote UX Research and Testing, Part 1

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
October 19, 2020

This month in Ask UXmatters, our expert panel provides some helpful tips about conducting effective remote UX research and usability testing.

As COVID-19 has forced UX researchers to conduct research and testing remotely, both participants and the teams conducting remote research and testing have had to learn to deal with new testing tools and conditions. There are multiple factors to consider in transitioning to remote UX research, including the following:

  • making remote research and testing possible
  • making remote research and testing effective
  • understanding the bias that remote research and testing introduces because participants are likely more technically sophisticated Read More


Figure It Out: Getting From Information to Understanding

October 19, 2020

This is an excerpt from Stephen P. Anderson and Karl Fast’s book Figure It Out: Getting From Information to Understanding. 2020, Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 11: A Pattern Language for Talking About Interactions

Cover: Figure It OutEpistemic actions are … a mechanism for spreading cognitive processes across brain, body, and the world. They allow us to see wildly different behaviors as serving the same cognitive purpose. …

In this chapter, we are going to describe a suite of epistemic interactions that people use to create meaning, solve problems, make decisions, establish plans, analyze information, and do other cognitively complex tasks. Taken together, they serve as a versatile vocabulary for describing how people figure things out, … an invaluable framework for pinpointing the underlying cognitive work that drives the understanding process. …

Our interaction vocabulary … provides a way to separate the visual trappings of our digital world—windows, menus, and scrollbars—from the essence of how we interact to figure things out. Moreover, these interactions are not tied, in any way, to a particular technology. They can also be used to describe how we create understanding with paper-based technologies, or virtual reality, or any other technology—even ones that have yet to be invented. … Read More


Book Review: That Will Never Work

October 19, 2020

Cover: That Will Never WorkIf you’ve ever frittered away an afternoon, watching a late 1990s sitcom on Netflix on autoplay or, if you lamented the final demise of the neighborhood video stores—or even Blockbuster—Marc Randolph’s idea might be to blame.

While Reed Hastings has been the CEO of Netflix throughout its period of tremendous growth since 2002, Marc Randolph was its first CEO and co-founded the firm with Hastings. Over a period of roughly a year, Marc led Netflix from launch to an established firm providing mail-order DVDs. Many of the innovations that Netflix initially pioneered—such as its queue of movies, distinctive envelope, and automated method of recommending movies—the company conceived during Randolph’s tenure.

That Will Never Work is Marc Randolph’s autobiographical perspective on the early days of Netflix, from ideation through research, iterative design, and launch. Read More


The Value of Ethnographic Research and Contextual Inquiry

October 19, 2020

UX design begins with UX research. Studying the contexts in which people experience a product or application is pivotal in developing an understanding of how they engage with it, as well as to understanding the many, varied factors that lead them to the moment of engagement.

Ethnographic research is the professional practice of stepping outside of one’s own bubble and into someone else’s reality. Contextual inquiry is a method of practicing being present with users. UX professionals use these methods to understand users and the significance and complexity of their contexts, enabling designers to create nuanced experiences that users not only want, but desperately need. Read More

October 05, 2020 Edition

Delivering Meaning to Your Stakeholders

Discovery

Insights from UX research

A column by Michael Morgan
October 5, 2020

In this edition of Discovery, I’ll complete my series on Visual Data Collection (VDC), which provides an efficient way of taking notes during research sessions. This method uses a combination of open- and closed-ended questions, along with screenshots of the prototype you’re testing. What makes my VDC method different from other notetaking techniques is the consistent use of annotations to mark up the screenshots, which affords easier analysis by the UX researcher, who can more efficiently tally up the results across participants.

In this column, I’ll consider how you can use the VDC method to deliver meaning to your stakeholders—the people you must influence and inspire for your research to have an impact—by communicating your results effectively. Thus, this column focuses on the Deliver swimlane of the Visual Data Collection journey map in Table 1, which gives you a quick overview of the VDC method. It comprises the various phases of UX research and shows how to incorporate the VDC method into each phase. Read More


Using UX Research Repositories to Foster Organizations’ Customer Centricity

October 5, 2020

UX researchers in every organization have likely experienced a situation when a stakeholder came by their desk and asked: “Have we done any research about the search feature?” or “What do we already know about the painpoints of our small business customers?”

When a colleague poses a question about existing research findings, suddenly the search for relevant data starts. The researcher sifts through spreadsheets and presentations in shared folders, ask colleagues whether they know anything, and might even check their own drive for pertinent information.

Answering what seems to be a simple question can take hours if the research data is spread across different locations or is in the heads of the people who conducted the prior studies. Even worse, the responsible person might have left the company, taking all the relevant findings with them. Read More


Data-Driven Design: An Integral Part of UX Design

October 5, 2020

“What’s measured gets managed. Numbers have an important story to tell.”—Peter Drucker.

What is data-driven design (DDD) and why should we care about it? UX design uses research data of various kinds to determine how to provide an optimal user experience. Forbes has described some key customer analytics, including customer satisfaction, lifetime-value, segmentation, sales-channels, Web, social-media, engagement, churn, and acquisition analytics. This data helps product teams understand their target users, reveals information about users’ painpoints, unearths new trends, supports data-driven design, and assures teams that their work is on track. User data can lead directly to improved business outcomes. UX methods incorporate data-driven design, which has proven, tangible results. Read More


A Guide to Creating Mobile-App Wireframes in 2020

October 5, 2020

Wireframes play an important role in both the design and development of mobile apps. As you make decisions about an app’s functionality and create wireframes to depict your design solutions, your wireframes pass through various stages.

Different UX design teams follow different approaches in creating mobile-app wireframes. Some may help you come through with flying colors, while others may lead to failure. In this article, I’ll describe eight important steps that can help a mobile-app design company to build best-in-class wireframes for their projects. So let’s begin.

Creating Mobile-App Wireframes: A Step-by-Step Guide

The overall process of creating a mobile-app wireframe comprises eight steps. Read More


The Best Design Is No Design

October 5, 2020

One characteristic of good UX design is that it’s unnoticeable to users because it reflects the way they work. As many companies scale up—especially growing startups—they struggle to add value without adding complexity. This is one reason we’re seeing a trend toward adding secondary navigation at the left of many applications. Often, one horizontal navigation bar across the top of an application is just not scalable.

Your focus should be on simplicity. The main question you need to ask yourself when considering your user-interface design is how you can help your application scale. How can a company grow their offering while keeping the spirit of an intuitive product alive? Read More