As UX professionals, we have a great many analytical and descriptive tools available to us. In fact, there are so many that it can sometimes be difficult to decide which tool is most appropriate for a given task! Hierarchical task analysis (HTA) is an underused approach in user experience, but one you can easily apply when either modifying an existing design or creating a new design.
This technique has applications across a range of different problem domains, including time-and-motion studies, personnel selection, or training, and provides a broad and deep understanding of task performance. While there are core principles that guide a hierarchical task analysis, it’s possible to adapt the basic approach in a huge number of ways to support the needs of any domain under consideration. In this column, I’ll examine one approach to hierarchical task analysis that enables UX designers to quickly understand both what a system does and how its capabilities translate into the system’s user experience. You can also use this approach to support the UX development process. Read More
The idea of a UX unicorn has always been something of a puzzle to me. User Experience is already such a broad field, encompassing digital design, graphic design, interaction design, user research, usability testing, prototyping, and other specialties. Saying that there is something unique or special about a person who is competent in some part of User Experience and also another discipline such as coding feels like a failure to acknowledge the unique breadth of User Experience. But, for the sake of this column, let’s roll with this definition:
A UX unicorn is someone who can deliver broadly on the UX skillset, plus something else that most would consider rare—though perhaps not mythical, as the term unicorn might imply! Read More
“These are my principles; if you don’t like them, I have others.”—Groucho Marx
For a long time, I’ve been an advocate of creating standards, guidelines, and patterns as a way of achieving design consistency within a large organization. While these do offer significant benefits, they also introduce a number of problems into the design process.
Some Problems with Design Standards
First, standards can provide a false sense of expertise in design. Calling something a standard, by its very nature, seems to imply that a great deal of research, thought, and experimentation has gone into its creation. It is likely that the proper stakeholders and experts have approved it. So designing something in a way that differs from a standard sets the designer against the people who set the standard and the weight of the work that they have done. No mean feat. Particularly for people who are new to an organization or junior designers, it can be easier to keep their head down and avoid challenging a safe option. In some organizations, particularly those that outsource a lot of design work, a reliance on standards can also lead to stakeholders using the standards to design solutions themselves, bypassing the UX design team. Read More