May 03, 2021 Edition

Research Planning: A Smooth Takeoff


Insights from UX research

A column by Michael A. Morgan
May 3, 2021

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”—Ben Franklin

How many of you spend adequate time planning your UX research projects? Taking the time to plan your UX research saves you time in the long run. When you’re gearing up for your next UX research effort, it really pays to spend some time figuring out what you’ll need to do. In this edition of my column Discovery, I’ll examine the value of planning your UX research projects and explore what sorts of things you can do to ensure that your next research endeavor has a smooth takeoff and a successful flight rather than a crash landing. Read More

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Pragmatic Design Solutions

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
May 3, 2021

Process and design articles, reports, infographics, and podcasts almost universally discuss the best projects, the ideal cases, and our favorite ways of working. But many of us don’t work within ideal environments. In the last edition of Ask UXmatters, “Prioritizing Parts of a Design Project,” a reader asked what to do when you’ve come late to a project, find there’s no time or budget to make maximal UX impact, the team expects you to just design the user interface (UI), or you run into technical limitations or political resistance to change?

I realized that I had a lot more to say on that subject than I could share there. Also, I often get such questions or, in my consulting work, must help teams by answering exactly this question. Unfortunately, there’s no one clever trick that can solve every problem and every organization is different. Nevertheless, here are some tactics that have worked well for me, which you can apply in your work—as well as some pitfalls to look out for when you have to work on quick-and-dirty design. Read More

Advancing to the Next Level in Your Career

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
May 3, 2021

As a UX design professional in an enterprise environment, you’ve probably struggled at some point to understand what it would take to advance to the next level in your career—especially if the function of User Experience at your company is immature, which, sadly, is common. Many companies still lack clear criteria that would enable any employee—much less a UX designer—to have productive, evidence-based conversations with their manager about receiving a promotion or earning greater levels of responsibility.

Even if your company has provided a formal template or rubric to help UX designers understand and track their potential career growth relative to their current level, such artifacts would only partially inform a manager’s decision about an employee’s suitability for advancement. As I’ve learned over the course of my 20-year career as both an individual contributor and a manager, there are many factors that contribute to a manager’s decision-making process. Read More

4 Soft Skills Every Designer Should Aspire to Learn

Business of Design

Learnings from design projects

A column by Manik Arora
May 3, 2021

Being a designer of any sort requires a multitude of skills, across a variety of disciplines, making design a particularly difficult profession to master. However, many perceive design as an industry that focuses on hard skills—for which having concrete knowledge of design principles and guidelines and software is enough to drive one’s career forward. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. So much of what designers do on a daily basis hinges on their use of soft skills—whether consciously or subconsciously. Some of these skills are experiential and designers can pick them up through years and years of design experience, while learning others requires mindfulness and introspection.

In this column, I’ll discuss four of the most essential soft skills that expert designers should possess and to which novices should aspire. These skills do more than just assist the design-thinking process. To a certain extent, they define it. Read More

The State of UX Design Education, Part 1: Undergraduate Degree Programs

May 3, 2021

The year 2020 was a big one for many of us—and not for the best reasons. It was the year of COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) Year of the Nurse; and working, teaching, and schooling from home. That year may also become known as the Year of User Experience—when UX design graduated from something nice to have to being essential.

According to a LinkedIn Learning survey of “The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020,” UX design ranked #5 worldwide on their top-10 list of hard skills. User Experience dominated four of the top seven job titles in Onward Search’s world of creative, marketing, and technology careers. The 2020 Salary Guide placed product designers and UX designers in first and second place, respectively, with UI designer and user researcher in the fourth and seventh places. Read More

April 19, 2021 Edition

Prioritizing Parts of a Design Project

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
April 19, 2021

This month in Ask UXmatters, our expert panel discusses how to prioritize specific parts of a design when time and funds are limited. Not being able to complete a full design solution is frustrating to many UX designers, but the need to do so is an unfortunate reality. If you won’t be able to do as much as you would like, how can you prioritize what you should do? Our expert panel discusses several approaches, including the following:

  • working within clients’ expectations for the design
  • creating a clear information architecture
  • using thoroughly validated style guides and design systems
  • performing a detailed task analysis
  • evaluating the business considerations of both the seller and the buyer of the product Read More

Book Review: Hackers & Painters

April 19, 2021

Cover: Hackers & PaintersPaul Graham is perhaps best known for his entrepreneurial work with Viaweb—one of the earliest online-shopping experiences, which Yahoo later purchased and made the Yahoo Store—and as a cofounder of Y Combinator, a venture-capital firm. Graham and Y Combinator made early-stage investments in a variety of startups, including disruptive firms such as Stripe, Doordash, Twitch, and many others.

Graham is also an accomplished designer of programming languages and was the creator of LISP. After finishing his computer science degree, in a somewhat unexpected turn, he studied painting. Hackers & Painters is a collection of Graham’s essays. Taken as a whole, the book is a thought-provoking work. Read More

Advice for Conducting International UX Research, Part 2

Practical Usability

Moving toward a more usable world

A column by Jim Ross
April 19, 2021

Conducting international UX research in locations around the world provides some logistical challenges. Plus, there are some important differences between conducting research in your own country and conducting international UX research. In Part 1 of this series, I shared some advice on whether you should conduct international UX research sessions yourself or hire a local moderator and whether you should travel to the sessions or conduct them remotely. I also discussed hiring a local moderator and translator.

Now, in Part 2, I’ll provide some advice about recruiting participants for international UX research, how you can prepare your local moderators to conduct the research, what your local moderators should do to prepare for the research sessions, how to oversee and observe the sessions, and what information your local moderators should provide once the sessions are complete. Read More

How Artificial Intelligence Is Impacting UX Design

April 19, 2021

Today, every business sector and industry is incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) to automate processes, improve efficiency, and reduce costs, including the industry of digital transformation, which is using artificial intelligence specifically to improve the user experience.

In this article, I’ll discuss some impacts of artificial intelligence on user experiences, what UX processes artificial intelligence can make more efficient, how artificial intelligence can help UX designers, and how artificial intelligence might affect UX design jobs in the future. Read More

Creative Culture: Human-Centered Interaction, Design, & Inspiration

April 19, 2021

This is a sample chapter from Creative Culture: Human-Centered Interaction, Design, & Inspiration, by Justin Dauer. 2020 Lead Hand Books.

Chapter 4: Beyond the Viewport

Creative Culture: Human-Centered Interaction, Design, & InspirationWhile our livelihoods exist within the digital realm, inspiration has no such contextual boundaries.

We’ve discussed outlets, interactions, and moments to be seized while in the physical walls of our work environment. Within those halls is an enormous amount of energy to be harnessed and channeled—via our people—but what of the environment we pass through as we make our way into the office—via the people we design for?

In a design process, spatial dynamics are key to being mindful of the bigger picture in our work—via ethnography, user research, observation, and so on. Culturally, human connection and professional relationships are cultivated outside cubicle walls and email threads. In both instances, leveraging tangible interactions begins with the act of getting out of our chairs. Read More