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December 02, 2019 Edition

Molding Yourself into a Leader, Part 2

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
December 2, 2019

In Part 1 of this multipart series, I communicated that leadership does not end with directors, managers, and team leads. It extends to individual contributors, too—especially when UX-design resources are a scarce commodity within an enterprise. I also explained that, in many cases—depending on a company’s UX maturity—leadership in the field of User Experience begins with UX designers.

Then, I described the following behaviors that I have observed in individual contributors who have earned the respect of their superiors and emulation by their peers:

  • communicating with intention
  • reacting appropriately
  • adapting to change
  • enabling others
  • being open minded
  • demonstrating integrity Read More

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The Perils of Client Recruiting

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
December 2, 2019

Sometimes your clients can be the best source of user-research participants. This is especially true when a client already has access to lists of customers, members, or employees. Your clients would usually have closer relationships with potential participants than you do. These potential participants might know your client personally, have heard of him or her, or at least have an existing relationship with the client’s organization. Such potential participants would be more likely to pay attention to research requests—and consider them legitimate—if they came from a person they know or a company with which they’re familiar.

Often, as a UX researcher, you’re an unknown third-party to these potential participants. They don’t know you or your company. Plus, they don’t know any recruiting companies you might work with either. They might consider research requests as spam or a scam.

Therefore, it can be very helpful to have your clients perform at least the initial steps of recruiting. However, because your clients aren’t recruiting experts, there are some perils and pitfalls you should avoid. In this column, I’ll discuss how to avoid the potential problems that can arise when clients handle recruiting. Read More


Sample Chapter: Writing Is Designing

December 2, 2019

This is a sample chapter from Michael J. Metts and Andy Welfle’s book Writing Is Designing: Words and the User Experience. 2019, Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 3: Creating Clarity: Know What You’re Designing

Cover: Writing Is Designing

One thing many writers have a strong opinion about is the serial, or Oxford, comma. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s the comma that comes before the and in a list, as in “this book is about writing, designing, and the user experience.”

Every major style guide on writing takes a firm stance. (The Associated Press Style Book, for example, is against using it, but the The Chicago Manual of Style is for it.) It’s common to see writers declare their personal stance in their Twitter profile.

“Without it,” proponents cry, “There will be chaos! No one will know to what we’re referring in lists!” Then they point to an example of an author dedicating their book to “my parents, Beyoncé and God.” Read More


UserZoom State of UX in the Enterprise 2019: Top Challenges, Trends, and Opportunities

December 2, 2019

More than 200 global UX professionals completed UserZoom’s second annual State of UX in the Enterprise survey. Overall, our research findings show that the state of enterprise User Experience is strong and growing stronger. Nevertheless, many enterprise organizations still face common challenges. The good news is that there are lots of opportunities for companies and their leadership to grow and drive User Experience in the enterprise to the next stage.

While other surveys over the past few years have looked at the state of User Experience as a whole and at UX design in particular, the state of User Experience in the enterprise had not yet been analyzed in depth or tracked longitudinally—particularly in regard to understanding how enterprise companies are conducting UX research. That’s why, in 2018, we conducted our first survey with hundreds of UX professionals at some of the largest global organizations to better understand the culture of UX research and state of User Experience in the enterprise. In 2019, we’ve conducted our survey again.

Now, let’s dig into the survey findings. Read More


Integrating Usability Testing into Your UX Process

December 2, 2019

Customer-centric organizations are advancing in today’s marketplace, growing their market share and revenues. They are leaving behind organizations that are failing to meet or exceed customers’ expectations, make their customers’ lives easier, and keep up with the fast-moving pace of digital products. According to research by Deloitte, client- or customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable in comparison to companies whose focus is not on the customer. The customer centricity of User Experience increases users’ satisfaction by making their tasks easier to complete.

It is all too easy to fall back on evaluating UX design subjectively. Does the UX designer like the design? Can the product team get it to work? What does the CEO think? However, what your stakeholders think of a UX design solution and whether it works for them are irrelevant. Real users, in real settings, are the only audience whose validation you need. You can achieve user validation through usability testing. Read More

November 18, 2019 Edition

Artificial Intelligence and User Experience

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
November 18, 2019

In this month’s edition of Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts discusses how UX design for artificial intelligence (AI) applications differs from designing a traditional application. A panelist warns the questioner about the dangers of over-relying on artificial intelligence instead of defining a product that truly meets users’ needs.

Our experts then consider the role of User Experience in the creation of AI applications—especially those that rely on machine learning (ML). Their discussion ranges from the importance of user advocacy, the value of doing user research, how to avoid bias, defining high-quality training data, transparency to users, and gaining user trust by ensuring that the user feels in control of an AI application. This column concludes with a brief discussion of the need for UX design best practices for AI applications. Read More


How to Bridge the Gap Between Your UX Design and Development Teams

November 18, 2019

Developers and UX designers are creating great software in an ecosystem that’s more competitive than ever before, so it’s important to find ways to support the software-development process. In today’s hypercompetitive world, it’s critical that members of product teams share their discipline’s skills to ensure that they build the best products for their clients and users.

Facilitating collaboration between Development and UX Design is one of the best things companies can do to get optimal results. By understanding the goals and limitations of the other disciplines that are part of the product-development process, Development and UX Design can build bridges of understanding and work together far more efficiently and effectively. Read More


Book Review: Intertwingled

November 18, 2019

Intertwingled CoverPeter Morville is a prolific author on the subject of information architecture and his writings are always insightful. As the coauthor of the “polar bear book,” as many people refer to Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, which is now in its fourth edition, I can think of few non-academics who could provide a more authoritative assessment of information theory and the practical application of information architecture to our lives.

I picked up his book Intertwingled at an IA Summit a few years back, after seeing Morville’s presentation. Having read Information Architecture and Ambient Findability and hearing Morville speak, I expected the book to be a good read.

The book begins with Morville’s arrival at a national park for a hike. It’s a rugged, little-traveled national park—one that is isolated and has seen dramatic changes in its ecological system, specifically in its populations of wolves and moose. As Morville relates the story, over the course of nearly 20 years, the number of moose had tripled, then halved. Experts had speculated that the predator in the system, the wolves—whose numbers had doubled in the same time period—might hunt the moose to extinction. However, an external shock to the system, disease, led to a decline in the wolf population, allowing the moose to recover. Now, global warming and new diseases are introducing new challenges to both the moose and the wolves, and their numbers continue to fluctuate. Read More


Creating a UX Design Style Guide

November 18, 2019

“A style guide is an artifact of design process. A design system is a living, funded product with a roadmap [and] backlog, serving an ecosystem.”—Nathan Curtis on Twitter

As Nathan Curtis described on Twitter, a style guide is a document that a UX designer creates to document a growing and ever-evolving set of design guidelines that arise from the design process. In creating a style guide, UX designers are basically documenting their own thought process as they design a Web site, application, or system. Thus, the essence of creating a style guide is documenting your own design decisions. Who is the audience for this document? In this article, I’ll answer many important such questions about style guides to help UX designers create effective documentation. Read More


Maximizing Value Through Usability Inspections

November 18, 2019

Creating a seamless user experience is something that all UX professionals strive for. No matter what an individual team member’s contribution toward that goal—whether as a UX researcher, UX designer, strategist, product manager, software engineer, or doer of all works—the collective goal of any great product team is to make the user experience a good one.

As UX professionals, the task of balancing time, money, and resources to reduce UX debt and maximize value to the user is our constant challenge. The purpose of employing usability-inspection methods is to identify significant usability issues quickly and inexpensively—in a way that is much more efficient than usability testing.

In deciding which of the family of usability-inspection methods would be best for auditing your software’s usability, this question often arises: What is the most efficient method of auditing or inspecting the usability of software? Should we do a cognitive walkthrough or a heuristic evaluation? Employ a combination of the two methods? Or choose a different method altogether? Working through your options to determine the best method of evaluating your software—and, thus, maximizing value to both users and the business—is a challenge that we all share. Read More