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April 05, 2021 Edition

Employee-Centered Workplace Transformation

Service Design

Orchestrating experiences in context

A column by Laura Keller
April 5, 2021

A year has passed since COVID-19 turned our personal and professional lives upside down. There are almost infinite ways in which to reflect on this milestone: how different countries handled the spread of the virus, how families coped with remote learning, how many memorable moments we missed because we didn’t travel or attend graduations or weddings, and how many memories we created simply by staying at home. But one way to reflect on this past year is how companies and employees have changed their expectations for where and how people work.

Very suddenly in March 2020, COVID-19 forced most employees to work remotely—at least at companies whose operations allowed it. Companies had to figure out quickly how to enable employees to work from home—especially organizations who had not previously established a remote-working policy. Different employees likely had very disparate reactions to working from home, depending on whether they had previously been accustomed to it, had elders or children who required care or home schooling, and so on. Most companies likely assumed that this was temporary—only to realize by late spring that it wasn’t. As the initial, triage phase of remote working plateaued and operations within companies stabilized, many companies realized that they should use this situation as an opportunity to rethink the future of work for all their employees. Read More

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Planning UX Research Studies with Stakeholders

April 5, 2021

Planning is one of the most important steps when you’re going to do usability testing, concept testing, or any type of UX research. Collectively planning a UX study with your stakeholders helps align teams on what you need to learn from users. Conducting a planning workshop lets your team members contribute to your research studies, allowing you to capitalize on their various perspectives.

In this article, I’ll briefly highlight some goals for collectively creating a UX research study plan and having stakeholders contribute to your study guide. Then I’ll outline the main parts of a study guide and describe the importance of each section. Finally, I’ll consider the importance of creating a protocol for UX-research sessions. Read More


How UX Designers Can Add Value to a Business

Business of Design

Learnings from design projects

A column by Manik Arora
April 5, 2021

The field of UX design is vast and expansive. It impacts every organization in the world. No business remains untouched by modern design sensibilities. As Adam Judge has said, “The alternative to good design is bad design. There is no such thing as no design.”

But what is the worth of good design to an organization? Do UX designers add value to businesses in tangible and intangible ways? Yes! Studies suggest that the ROI of UX design could be as high as 9,900%! Furthermore, according to McKinsey, companies that score in the top quartile of the McKinsey Design Index outperform industry benchmark growth by 2:1. Read More


Reflection: A Critical Practice for Leading Healthy Cultures

April 5, 2021

A common observation within organizations of various sizes is that people generally get caught up with being busy at work. Being busy can be an attractive mode for workers because it can give the impression that they are important to the work they’re doing. However, if people get too caught up in busy work and work tasks that are too transactional in nature, this can lead them down a path and into a space in which they simply do not have time to reflect. This is a very serious problem that affects how people inform and approach their work and how they gain clarity in making decisions every day.

In this article, we’ll examine reflection as a critical work practice and outline how you can improve the practice of reflection—both for yourself and for your organization—by applying strategies for deep reflection to both learning and decision making. We’ll also consider spaces, units of analysis, and lenses for reflection, then look at the role of reflection in decision making. Finally, we’ll discuss the organizational benefits of establishing an MMW (Make Meaningful Work) Studio as a sustainable space for reflection and how this contributes to a healthy work culture. Read More


How Our Expectations for Modern User Experience Evolved in 2020

April 5, 2021

In 2020, Disney announced plans to prioritize its streaming services going forward. The media and entertainment giant realized how valuable on-demand content has been to people during the pandemic, prompting it to create more material for that medium.

This move makes sense from a strategic standpoint. After COVID-19 hit, people who were fortunate enough to remain employed experienced major changes in when, where, and how they worked. Their attention and time quickly became fragmented as they jumped between attending video conferences, caring for their children, arranging more meals at home, and more.

As a UX professional, you should take note of Disney’s decision. When people don’t have as much time to spare, they are less forgiving of products, services, and tools that fail to meet their needs. Unless you’re considering what the modern user needs at work and at home, your approach to UX strategy is not comprehensive. Read More

March 22, 2021 Edition

Advice for Conducting International UX Research, Part 1

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
March 22, 2021

In many respects, conducting UX research internationally is much the same as conducting studies in your own country. You can apply the same basic principles of human-computer interaction and UX research techniques in studying people’s behavior in any country. However, there are logistical challenges with international UX research and important differences that you need to consider. In this two-part series, I’ll provide advice about conducting international UX research studies.

Determining Who Should Moderate Your Sessions

Most UX researchers prefer to moderate their own sessions because it gives them maximal control over their research. However, for international studies, you may need to hire local UX researchers to moderate the sessions within each country in which you’re conducting research, while you observe and take notes. To determine whether you should moderate the sessions yourself or hire local moderators, ask yourself the following questions. Read More


Writing for Action

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
March 22, 2021

There’s no getting around it: as UX designers, we must write effectively if we’re to persuade others to act and achieve the results we seek. The intent for any written communication is to spur an action of some kind—whether it’s to get feedback on a mockup from your peers, obtain a product manager’s approval to contact customers who use your products or services, secure funding for your team from a senior vice president, or simply ensure that someone can comprehend whatever information you need to convey.

You don’t have to be an accomplished writer to persuade someone to take an action and achieve your desired result. You can persuade others by using the following simple, yet effective techniques:

  • providing rich information scent
  • structuring your requests
  • avoiding common mistakes Read More


Book Review: The Design of Everyday Things

March 22, 2021

Cover: The Design of Everyday ThingsAfter reviewing some more recently published books, I decided to review a title among the foundational writings for User Experience: Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. This book was originally published in 1988 and has been expanded and updated to apply the principles of human-centered design to Web sites, software, and mobile apps.

Don Norman is a key figure in the history of UX design and the second N of the Nielsen Norman Group. Norman began his career as an electrical engineer, then later earned a PhD in Psychology. His contributions as a researcher and UX consultant have spanned decades. Highlights of his career include his research into the Three Mile Island nuclear accident and his five-year stint as Vice President of the Advanced Technology Group (ATG) at Apple in the mid-1990s. His writings and talks have been widely credited as foundational to our application of psychology to product design and our understanding of the relationship between people and technology. Read More


Sharing Findings for Maximum Impact

March 22, 2021

This is an excerpt from Gregg Bernstein’s new, self-published book Research Practice: Perspectives from UX Researchers in a Changing Field, which is a collection of brief essays about UX research practices from UX researchers around the world. 2021 Greggcorp, LLC.

Cover: Research PracticeThe classic way to report findings is to write a report. But writing is hard. Reading a well-written report is also quite hard nowadays, with full schedules and attention spans reduced to Instagram stories and TikTok posts.

The foundations of user research trace back to academia, in fields like [human-computer interaction] (HCI), cognitive psychology, and computer science. Academics are used to presenting results in writing because writing is the currency of academia: you write an article, you send it into the darkness, and many months and many revisions later, a committee accepts it for publication, after which you add it to your [curriculum vitae] (CV). Read More


The Role of a Chief Empathy Officer

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
March 22, 2021

This month in Ask UXmatters, our expert panel looks at the role of a Chief Empathy Officer. This role is currently emerging within several organizations worldwide. Our panel discusses what a Chief Empathy Officer does, as well as what the need for this role says about an organization.

Our experts acknowledge that proving an organization’s empathy to its customers is not the work of only one person. Empathy must to be part of the organization’s culture. Conducting user research is actually a powerful way for an organization to show empathy to customers. Read More