January 20, 2020 Edition

Popular Excuses for Not Doing Exploratory Research and How to Overcome Them


Insights from UX research

A column by Michael Morgan
January 20, 2020

At your company, what percentage of your time is spent doing evaluative studies—for example, usability testing or expert reviews—versus formative, early-phase research, using such approaches as contextual inquiry or low-fidelity prototype testing?

If you’re spending significantly more time evaluating the usability of your existing applications and finding and fixing problems, there’s a good chance your firm is underinvesting in exploratory research.

The main purpose of exploratory research is to discover and understand how your clients are using your existing products and identify their painpoints and challenges within their current context. It’s also about understanding how prospective buyers are using similar products to get their work done today. Read More

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Is Focusing on Agile or Lean Damaging the Practice of UX? Part 1

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
January 20, 2020

This month in Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts discusses how development teams’ prioritizing the use of agile or Lean methodologies affects the practice of User Experience. Our panelists lament how the goal of speeding up development devalues UX research and design, leads to design inconsistencies, and encourages product-team members to take shortcuts. Agile and Lean’s focus on speed can also make it more difficult for product teams to keep the big picture in mind.

Some companies have even decided that their use of agile or Lean methodologies means they can reduce the number of UX designers and researchers working within their organization—or that they can even bypass UX research and design altogether. This is a big problem! Read More

Book Review: How Not to Be Wrong

January 20, 2020

Cover: How Not to Be WrongThere are certain topics—politics, religion, sex—that are sure to invite disagreement, judgment, and the gnashing of teeth. I want to add math education to that list of uncomfortable discussion topics. Math education—how math is taught and whether it is really applicable to the real world—as been a consistent source of irritation for parents and students across generations.

When I was in school, I hated math. In fact, I maneuvered my education so I could take my final math class in the 11th grade—meeting the state’s minimum requirements for high school. I avoided math throughout my post-secondary education, but I was still able to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees. Nearly 20 years after that final math class, in an admission interview for business school, I shared that I was somewhat concerned about the accounting, finance, options, and statistics courses I would need to take. The admissions committee assured me that I would do fine. Read More

User Experience and the Big Picture, Part 1: Problems, Problems

January 20, 2020

This is Part 1 of a three-part series in which I’ll ultimately present some radical thinking about how we could improve the software-development lifecycle (SDLC) and the key role that UX professionals can play in achieving this improvement.

Those of you who are familiar with my other UXmatters articles—such as “Are You Still Using Earlier-Generation Prototyping Tools?”—are aware that I’ve given a great deal of thought to making the UX function more effective and efficient. If you’re familiar with some of my other articles—such as “Agile Problems, UX Solutions, Part 1: The Big Picture and Prototyping”—you’ll also understand that I’ve given even more thought to making the entire SDLC more effective and efficient, and the key role that User Experience plays in this important goal. Read More

Big Data: Revolutionizing UX Design Strategies, Part 1

January 20, 2020

The world of UX design has seen rapid evolution in the last decade—much of it because of the value users have gained in the digital space.

Search engines consistently rolled out updates that penalized Web sites with crappy user experiences. Digital marketers woke up to the reality that—no matter how great their backlink strategy or the depth of their content—it was their Web site’s user experience that determined how users perceived and valued their site and the things on offer there.

But some big questions remain: What exactly is a good user experience? How do we define the specifics of what makes a good user experience? How can companies create good user experiences for their Web sites and apps? Ambiguity regarding the answers to these questions persists.

In Part 1 of this four-part series, I’ll discuss the negative impacts that some typical UX design approaches have had on businesses. Read More

January 06, 2020 Edition

Dark Isn’t Just a Mode

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
January 6, 2020

In my last column, I wrote about dark patterns, but this time I want to discuss something that is literally rather than metaphorically dark: inverted polarity–display methods, or dark mode.

I haven’t addressed this as a stand-alone topic before, even though I’ve been doing dark interface design for years. I have a lot of experience designing for dark palettes and have discovered what works, what doesn’t, and have tried to learn why things do or don’t work so I can improve my designs.

But, for many UX designers, dark mode is a new thing because operating systems are now supporting it. In fact, dark mode is now so ubiquitous that it is almost a requirement for many new apps. Plus, it’s even making its way onto the Web. But the usual backlash has started, with some people questioning its value.

So let’s set aside all the rumors, opinions, and hot takes on this design style and, instead, take a look at what it actually means to be in dark mode, why it exists, and what the research on dark mode actually says. Read More

Molding Yourself into a Leader, Part 3

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
January 6, 2020

In Part 1 of this three-part series, I wrote that the quality of leadership extends to individual contributors and described some behaviors that I have observed in individual contributors who have earned the respect of their superiors and the emulation of their peers. In Part 2, I described additional behaviors that individual contributors who others perceive as leaders consistently exhibit.

Now, in Part 3, I’ll wrap up this series by presenting the following additional behaviors:

  • mastering self-discipline
  • demonstrating self-awareness
  • projecting confidence
  • being humble
  • exuding passion Read More

Artificial Intelligence Is Shifting Our Perception of Great User Experiences

January 6, 2020

Does hearing “Do you want fries with that?” change if a robot says it?

Today, companies are trying to answer the question of how artificial intelligence (AI) will transform the face of their user experience. They’d better hurry: 78 percent of businesses plan to implement AI or virtual-reality solutions by next year—or have already implemented them.

Their hope? That this paves the way toward better user experiences.

What will top-tier interactions look like in a few years? Current research in this area might provide some idea: an MIT Technology Review report found that automated systems already resolve between 25 and 50 percent of today’s customer inquiries, and this number will only grow. Read More

7 Ecommerce UX Tips That Drive Sales

January 6, 2020

Are you worried about bounce rates on your ecommerce site? Do you wonder what’s stopping your site’s visitors from converting to customers?

While there are many factors that contribute to high bounce rates, a poor user experience is certainly one of the most common. But, once you know what your customers want, you’ll be able to align your ecommerce site with their expectations and boost your sales effortlessly. To help you achieve this goal, here are seven tips on how to improve your user experience and drive your ecommerce sales:

  1. Provide usable navigation and smart search
  2. Offer real-time support on all touchpoints
  3. Optimize product pages for conversions
  4. Support smart visual searches
  5. Provide product filters
  6. Ensure a smooth checkout experience
  7. Optimize your mobile-store user experience Read More

UX Design for Kids: Key Design Considerations

January 6, 2020

Although the Web is maturing quickly, User Experience remains a primary area of contention for most Web sites and applications across diverse product domains. But User Experience is not a constant across all audiences, irrespective of their age group. A UX design that works perfectly for most people, most of the time, might not work at all well for kids. Children have particular wants and needs that you must address.

All UX designers and app developers must take the needs of kids into account when designing Web and mobile apps. Children’s perceptions and experiences matter because kids now make up an essential audience for many Web sites and apps. There are numerous educational Web sites and apps, online games and mobile game apps, productivity apps, and entertainment Web sites and apps that cater to children. These services and platforms are increasingly gaining popularity among children. Plus, online learning is becoming more and more popular among kids of all ages.

When kids are your audience, your UX design concepts and solutions must address their specific concerns and needs. So, in this article, I’ll explain various aspects of UX design for kids and describe why they matter. Read More