September 20, 2021 Edition

Wrangling Difficult Usability Testing Participants, Part 2

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
September 20, 2021

Several years ago, I wrote a UXmatters column titled “Wrangling Difficult Usability Testing Participants,” which described ten types of challenging participant behaviors and how to handle them. Since then I’ve come across enough additional types of difficult participants to write more about this topic. Now, in Part 2, I’ll cover nine more types of difficult participants and describe how to handle them.

As I wrote in my earlier column, most usability-testing participants are typical people who find themselves in the unusual situation of participating in usability testing—something that is usually a new experience for them. They really try to be helpful, and you can easily work with them to get the information you need. Unfortunately, you might sometimes come across some difficult participants. However, there are fortunately ways to prevent or overcome the problems that you encounter with them. Now, in Part 2, I’ll provide more tips about how to wrangle difficult participants effectively and get the most out of their usability-testing sessions. Read More

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Fostering Positive Environments for Remote Work, Part 2

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
September 20, 2021

In Part 1 of this two-part series, I shared my own experiences with managing remote UX professionals and teams, covering the following approaches to fostering positive environments for remote work:

  • offering flexibility in camera readiness
  • creating safe spaces for employees to vent and connect
  • demonstrating trust

Now, in Part 2, I’ll share some additional approaches, as follows:

  • implementing the right tools and processes
  • prioritizing the digital space
  • modeling the work environment you want to create
  • providing mental and emotional support  Read More

How to Be Really Good at Losing

Selling UX

A unique perspective on service UX

A column by Baruch Sachs
September 20, 2021

One program I helped develop and now lead at my company is an innovative, deep-level customer-engagement program that combines design thinking, business-value analysis, and enterprise architecture to help potential clients look at their business challenges in a different way. Rather than focus on features, functions, or even software in general, we focus on helping clients to better understand their business needs and frame them in a way that prevents their seeming insurmountable or like something they could fix only through a massive investment in the wrong technologies.

Overall, this is a highly successful program that has really unlocked benefits for our clients, as well as our own company. In general, our win rate is rather high when we get involved, so many clients want to engage with us—and not just one time but for a longer-term, strategic level of engagement. While that is an achievement for which we are striving, nothing is perfect. So, even when we get involved, we don’t always win. When we don’t win, we often become discouraged and beat ourselves up about what we could have done differently to prevent our losing. Read More

When UX Designs for Difficult Tasks Must Be User Friendly

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
September 20, 2021

This month in Ask UXmatters, our expert panel discusses how to handle a company’s insistence that you make an application user friendly upon its first use—even if the task for which you’re designing a solution is inherently difficult, complex, or time consuming. The panel explores what user friendly means, specifically within the context of difficult tasks. Our panelists also discuss defining concrete objectives for design solutions. Plus, we’ll consider training as a way of addressing the complexity of such tasks.

It is important to acknowledge that the complexity of a task can sometimes make an application difficult to use—not because the user-interface design is lacking, but just because the task is so inherently difficult. Read More

Book Review: Articulating Design Decisions

September 20, 2021

Cover: Articulating Design DecisionsFor many UX designers, discussing design solutions with stakeholders is a source of anxiety and frustration. Our stakeholders hire us to design an experience, admit that they lack any expertise in design, yet frequently express opinions that are contrary to our recommendations or even overrule our decisions. Tom Greever’s book Articulating Design Decisions: Communicate with Stakeholders, Keep Your Sanity, and Deliver the Best User Experience provides in depth advice on how to manage stakeholder relationships and conduct design meetings—all with the goal of clarifying your design intent for stakeholders.

Greever takes an approach that I would characterize as UX for UX. He walks us through the primary venue for explaining design—the meeting—and applies a user-centered design process to the design meeting as though it were a project. Indeed, a design meeting is an experience and, as UX designers, we should be capable of delivering a good meeting experience.

An ever-growing number of leading voices in the UX community are discussing the need for designers to develop not only solid research and design skills but also to develop soft skills that can help them to become valued colleagues. Read More

September 06, 2021 Edition

Color and Universal Design

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
September 6, 2021

I rarely talk explicitly about accessibility—not because I don’t care about it, but because accessibility must be so well baked into the overall design process. Plus, there are so many overlaps between accessible design and the concept of design for everyone in every context that my basic design principles and detailed guidelines more or less cover it. On projects, I actually avoid discussing accessibility specifically because I think it tends to lead to project teams’ creating accessibility features, which of course, are all too easy to descope, so teams might never get around to implementing them.

Mobile—and the related trends of using tablets and notebook computers in every environment—has made discussions of universal access even more important. Instead of thinking of disabled rather normal people, it is best to think along the lines of everyone being at least sometimes temporarily disabled. Although much temporary disability is the result of physical conditions, illnesses, or injuries, it can also be the consequence of environmental conditions. For example, sunlight might be coming through a window and glaring off a screen, making it hard to read and colors difficult to differentiate. Read More

6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Preparing for a UX Portfolio Review

September 6, 2021

A portfolio review is a review of your body of work as a UX designer and a demonstration of your presentation skills and your ability to identify what is important to your audience. The process starts with preparing your work artifacts and planning what to say and how to say it—long before the portfolio review ever happens. This article details my process when preparing to present my own portfolio and what I look for in job candidates during such reviews.

Question 1: What is the problem the design is trying to solve?

When you’re discussing a design during a portfolio review or an interview, the first thing many interviewers look for is whether the problem you’re trying to solve is well defined. But candidates often present business goals as the problem—such as This project was a reskin—or personal goals—such as This was a class assignment. Or they completely skip over the problem and go right to the solution. Every good design starts with a clear vision of the problem you’re solving, so any discussion of a project should start with a clear problem statement. If you do not clearly articulate the problem, your audience won’t be able understand the purpose of the design, and they won’t be confident in your abilities as a UX designer. Read More

UX Research: A Cornerstone of Design

Business of Design

Learnings from design projects

A column by Manik Arora
September 6, 2021

The design-thinking process is an all-encompassing journey, which UX designers and their clients undertake when designing and constructing or revamping a digital product or service. However, because the value of the overall UX design process is greater than the sum of its parts, our clients and others beyond the sphere of design often understate the importance of those individual components. Therefore, conveying the importance of the various aspects of the UX design process to a client can be an uphill task—in addition to communicating the value of the design-thinking process itself, which presents its own unique challenges.

Because there have been many circumstances when I’ve had to convince clients to go forward with UX research, I’ve gained an understanding of how to do that over the years. In this column, I’ll break down the many benefits of UX research, then go one step further and describe how UX designers can convey these benefits to their clients, who may be apprehensive about going forward with investing in UX research. Read More

Creating Products Collaboratively: A Design-Thinking Case Study

September 6, 2021

One of our objectives as product-solution creators is to empathize with our users, understand their main goals, and learn what painpoints or issues stand in the way of their achieving those goals. Learning about our users’ goals and painpoints lets us fashion a more user-centered solution for them. At TreviPay, the Product and UX Design teams, as well as other stakeholders in Account Management and Customer Support, work collectively to create software that can assist clients and their customers in achieving their goals with minimal or no pain.

In this article, we’ll describe a case study that illustrates the collaboration of various teams, as well as how we use the Design Thinking model to reach our goals. Read More

5 Design Laws to Apply to Your Mobile App

September 6, 2021

One of the few industries that continues to thrive, despite the chaos of 2020 and 2021, is the mobile-app sector. Statista reports that the sector’s revenues exceeded $581 billion (USD) in 2020. According to eMarketer, users spend over 90 percent of their mobile time using apps.

Now is a great time to develop a mobile app, but you need to ace your app idea, design, and performance. The modern consumer doesn’t accept anything less than perfection! Only you can come up with an app idea that is relevant to your target audience and worth the investment of your effort. However, there are some universal laws of mobile-app design that you can follow. In this article, I’ll consider five mobile-app design laws that can help you level up and attain a higher standard. Read More