September 07, 2020 Edition

Mobile Is Now Everything

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
September 7, 2020

When I started speaking and writing about mobile design, I led every talk with some charts about market share, installed base, and usage rates. I helped organize one of the first mobile-specific conferences, but whenever I went elsewhere, it was necessary to explain that mobile was already huge and a massive opportunity.

That’s no longer true. The growth of mobile-device penetration is no longer massive because it’s already happened, as you can see in Figure 1. The mobile market is not just huge; it is everything. Read More

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Leveraging Virtual Reality for UX Research

September 7, 2020

Prototype testing is a vital step in the UX research process. However, for smart products that connect to the Internet, creating prototypes early in the product-development process can be a challenge. Simple wireframes often fail to convey their intended interaction models or how they’ll function within an ecosystem of devices. Building digital-physical prototypes for such products is often expensive and time consuming and can be fraught with inefficiencies.

For example, creating a new feature might require designing a new circuit board and necessitate completely rethinking the product’s enclosure. As a result, deadlines often get pushed back so, by the time a prototype is ready to put in front of users, it may no longer be relevant. When you do manage to get an early prototype into the hands of real users, it might be buggy and fragile, leaving you holding your breath and hoping that nothing fails during testing. Read More

The Practice Spotting Tool for Meaning Makers

September 7, 2020

Imagine illustrating a timeline of your own life and work experience. You might start with a minute, then an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, and so on. Consider the activities that happen on that timeline—across moments in various timeframes.

With whom did you interact and why? What did you need to accomplish? What helped you or stopped you from achieving that accomplishment. At certain points, you’ll need to consider both time and place to be able to reflect on the happenings on that timeline and the key moments for you and others.

Now, imagine breaking those moments into different timespans and consider where you could use these as units of analysis—each unit making up part of a story. What if you could have a tool that let you look more broadly and deeply into what was happening in the interactions and relationships between the people, time, and places across different moments in varied environments? Read More

Nearly Half of Companies Start Most UX Design Work from Scratch

September 7, 2020

Starting every new project from scratch leads to unnecessary costs and labor, poor quality, and slow times to market. But according to Limina’s recent research in “The 2020 Design-Integration Report: 6 Best Practices to Build Design-Integrated Businesses that Win,” approximately half (49%) of companies do not reuse design artifacts and instead start UX design projects from scratch each time. A key reason that many organizations reinvent the wheel with every design initiative is that they lack reusable artifacts and repeatable processes.

Companies that have successfully integrated UX design into their organizations are more successful. UX design impacts the bottom line. As companies compete vigorously to innovate and enhance the customer experience, UX design has become more important than ever. So why aren’t more organizations investing in the reuse of design artifacts as a strategy for increasing efficiency and quality? Changing the way people and organizations work requires that they have solid examples of success and clear models to follow. The UX design industry has been lacking such examples. Read More

Engaged: Designing for Behavior Change

September 7, 2020

This is an excerpt from Amy Bucher’s book Engaged: Designing for Behavior Change. 2020, Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 4: Weapon of Choice: Make Decisions Easier

Cover: EngagedIn this chapter, you’ll learn how to structure [users’ meaningful choices on their behavior-change journey] so that it’s easier for people to select good options that ultimately support their goals.

The fact is, people aren’t great at making decisions in real life. They have limited brainpower and short attention spans that make it hard to sift through information and make sense of it. The shortcuts the brain has developed to cope with this issue aren’t perfect and lead people to a predictable pattern of mistakes in judgment. People may also find themselves in a struggle between heart and mind, when what they most want to do isn’t what they think they should do to reach their goals. Decisions aren’t just logical. They affect feelings, too. Read More

August 17, 2020 Edition

Creating Low-Fidelity or High-Fidelity Prototypes, Part 2

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
August 17, 2020

This month in Ask UXmatters, our expert panel is continuing our conversation about when and why to use low-fidelity or high-fidelity prototypes. One of our UX expert explores the need to truly understand all of the dimensions that affect the creation of design artifacts, including resource constraints, the stage of the product-development lifecycle, what desired project outcome is driving the need to create a prototype, and the context in which the design project exists.

Plus, another one of our UX experts discusses how the quality of a product team’s communications can affect your choices about what types of prototypes to create. Finally, another of our experts considers the need to iteratively create different types of prototypes depending on their purpose, which can evolve over the different stages of the product-development cycle.

You might also want to read Part 1 of this column, in “Creating Low-Fidelity or High-Fidelity Prototypes, Part 1.” Read More

The Democratization of UX Research in Product Development

August 17, 2020

The democratization of UX research is an approach that centers on empowering various teams within an organization to conduct UX research, analyze the results, and take action on them. Leaders in the industry of UX research—such as Carol Barnum, in her article “The State of UX Research,” (PDF) and UserZoom’s Alfonso de la Nuez, in his UXmatters article “Democratization of UX Insights: What Does This Really Mean?” and his talk at BetterUX London 2019 “Why and How to Democratize UX Research”—have discussed various approaches to the democratization of UX research, touching on its value and benefits, as well as the possible dilution of the practice of UX research.

As businesses create more and more applications, new startups get launched, and organizations hire more UX team members, the need for the democratization of UX research has become clear. UX professionals and teams must take responsibility for empowering other individuals and teams to conduct UX research. Read More

Book Review: Traction

August 17, 2020

Cover: TractionOver the past several years, I’ve been spending more of my time working with startups, entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs. Many founders have a lot of passion for their ideas and fervently believe they can build a successful company. There are also many programs available to help businesses start up, through grants and matching funds. Plus, there is a plethora of books, Web sites, and other information available to help founders go through the mechanics of establishing a business and filing the right paperwork.

But what startups are often missing is the ability to effectively manage and lead an organization as it grows. When the time comes to turn an idea for a business into a functioning team that can execute on the business’s purpose, things can get a bit dicey. As a result, these young businesses often tread water, make little progress, hire the wrong people, and fail to build a plan for growing the business. They may have great plans for building technology, but they need help getting on a path to success. Read More

5 UX Buzzwords We Need to Retire

August 17, 2020

When I first began my formal UX studies, I was surprised to learn that the field of usability actually predates the widespread use of computers. Like many people, I had assumed that user experience was simply an outgrowth of society’s increasing reliance on digital technologies.

Not so. Findings from industrial and cognitive psychology in the 1950s helped lay the foundation for today’s human-centered design practices. For example, during World War II, usability pioneer John Karlin began his work on how sound influences task performance. His later research on the optimal design of telephones, at what was then Bell Labs, explored everything from cord length to the layout of the dial and, later, keypads. His work continues to influence our day-to-day interactions with common objects. Paul Fitts’s experiments in the 1950s resulted in Fitts’s Law, which gave UX designers an understanding of the relationship between movement, target object, and distance that we still cite. Read More

Current UX Design Trends That Engage Users

August 17, 2020

UX design and user-interface (UI) design are crucial factors in the success of Web sites, both Web and desktop applications, and mobile apps—any software systems with which humans interact.

Customers constantly visit many different Web sites and use many different mobile apps, so businesses need a way to somehow draw their attention and make them stay on their platform.

UI design comprehends every visual element of a design, including animations, widgets, images, color, and text. Of course, good visual design can capture people’s attention, and that is its ultimate goal. Having an eye-catching design for your Web site or product can make it stand out in the marketplace. Read More