A number of my previous Research That Works columns on UXmatters have focused on semi-structured user research techniques. My interest in these techniques stems from my desire to get the most out of my time with research participants and to leverage foundational work from other disciplines to gain unique insights for user experience design. With this in mind, a colleague of mine recommended that I try the laddering method of interviewing, which is a technique that is particularly helpful in eliciting goals and underlying values, and therefore, possibly helpful during early stages of user experience research, as I learned after a brief review of the literature on this topic. This column introduces the laddering technique and describes my first experience trying it for myself. Read More
In the design process we follow at my company, Mad*Pow Media Solutions, once we have defined the conceptual direction and content strategy for a given design and refined our design approach through user research and iterative usability testing, we start applying visual design. Generally, we take a key screen whose structure and functionality we have finalized—for example, a layout for a home page or a dashboard page—and explore three alternatives for visual style. These three alternative visual designs, or comps, include the same content, but reflect different choices for color palette and imagery.
The idea is to present business owners and stakeholders with different visual design options from which they can choose. Sometimes there is a clear favorite among stakeholders or an option that makes the most sense from a brand perspective. However, there can often be disagreements among the members of a project team on which design direction we should choose. If we’ve done our job right, there are rationales for our various design decisions in the different comps, but even so, there may be disagreement about which rationale is most appropriate for the situation. Read More
Consider the following scenario: You are the UX lead on a project. You’ve completed some business intelligence and foundational user research activities to inform a series of brainstorming and idea-generating sessions. Following the brainstorming, you sketched the basis for a design solution in a series of wireframes and presented the concepts to business stakeholders. You have a tight timeline on the project, but you recognize that the stakeholders need to absorb the concepts for a day or two, so they can provide appropriate comments. Following your concept presentation on a Tuesday morning, you told stakeholders to “send me feedback by end of day Thursday.” You walked out of the meeting feeling confident.
It seemed as though the stakeholders found the concepts and ideas embodied in your wireframes engaging. You were hopeful that stakeholders would provide meaningful comments on your designs—letting you know, for example, whether the designs align with business goals, there are unaddressed requirements, or there are any potential issues with the workflows or navigation. Read More