February 19, 2018 Edition

How to Stand Out in the Expanding Field of User Experience

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A column by Janet M. Six
February 19, 2018

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our experts consider what it takes to stand out in the growing field of User Experience. As more and more companies realize the importance of good UX design and hire more designers, many people outside the field of User Experience are attracted to the opportunities this field offers and becoming UX designers. While some have the necessary education and talent to become good UX designers, others do not. Unfortunately, the field of UX design is becoming commoditized because some weak UX designers are willing to work for ridiculously low wages, and companies that aren’t able to discriminate between great, good, and poor designers just go with the least expensive option.

Our expert panel explores how to make yourself stand out in the current competitive environment, making specific recommendations for how and what you should communicate about not only your skills, but also about how your design work can fit within a company’s goals. Because it is important to balance business goals and design goals in our work, we need to consider how our work will affect a company—and maybe society at large—over the long term. Our panelists also encourage designers who are working for companies that do not value them to look for other opportunities. Of course, this discussion could be applied to many fields. Read More

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The User Interface Vanishes: How Smartware Will Change the User Experience


The evolution of computing

February 19, 2018

In this column on the future of computing, we’ve examined how a handful of advances in technology, including the Internet of Things (IoT); along with sciences of human understanding such as neuroscience and genomics; and emerging delivery platforms such as 3D printers and virtual-reality (VR) headsets will together transform software and hardware into something new that we’re calling smartware.

Smartware are computing systems that require little active user input, integrate the digital and physical worlds, and continually learn on their own. Now, in this, the final edition of our column on smartware, we’ll consider how the powerful capabilities of smartware will enable new interactions and user experiences that, over time, will become seamlessly integrated into our digital lives. Read More

3 Ways to Take a Step Back and Think Strategically

February 19, 2018

Maybe you’re excitedly reviewing research questions for your upcoming study on internal communication and messaging, and your manager asks how your work will impact the product team’s larger communication strategy. While you’d thought about the larger communication strategy at the beginning of the project, its importance has slowly waned as you focused on creating your interview guide. Or worse, you’re presenting your research findings on improving the usability of a tool in wide use, and your main stakeholder asks how this will improve awareness and adoption of the tool overall. Somehow, that initial goal faded during the research planning discussions.

These sorts of things can happen all too easily. Sometimes we throw ourselves into planning and executing our user research, getting caught up in the details, until someone barges in and asks a simple question: Why? Why are we doing this? What is the overall goal of the research? Read More

The Opportunities of Cloud Computing

February 19, 2018

There are a number of technological drivers that are affecting the way interaction design is currently evolving. Even more than artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality, cloud computing has become the new norm for information technology (IT) in all kinds of companies. What does this mean for interaction designers?

In this article, I’ll explain what cloud computing is and its four major benefits for designers and users:

  1. Democratized innovation
  2. Seamless, personalized experiences
  3. Native collaboration
  4. Robust user experiences

I’ll also explain a few common misconceptions about cloud computing, as well some concerns and misconceptions that people have about computing in the cloud. Read More

Liminal Thinking

February 19, 2018

This is an excerpt from Dave Gray’s book Liminal Thinking: Create the Change You Want by Changing the Way You Think. 2016, Two Waves Books, an imprint of Rosenfeld Media.

Principle 2: Beliefs Are Created

Liminal Thinking CoverAround noon on August 9, 2014, a hot summer day in Ferguson, Missouri, a young black man named Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer named Darren Wilson.

Although there were several witnesses to the shooting, their stories about what happened varied widely.

In the following days and weeks, the mostly black population clashed with the mostly white police force of Ferguson in an escalating series of protests, riots, and police clamp-downs.

This is not a new pattern in the United States. It is a recurring one that has been happening for years. Even as I write this, a similar pattern is unfolding in Baltimore, after a young black man named Freddie Gray died of a broken neck while in police custody. Read More

February 06, 2018 Edition

Measuring the ROI for UX in an Enterprise Organization, Part 1

February 6, 2018

To stay relevant and avoid disruption through advances in technology or globalization, more and more organizations have embraced user-centered design and UX research methods. Thus, after years of fighting for a seat at the decision-making table, it is becoming more common for UX professionals to find one there. Still, executives often ask UX teams to quantify the value and return on investment (ROI) of their UX efforts. While calculating the ROI of User Experience can be challenging for consumer products and services, it can be truly daunting in enterprise organizations.

This series of articles will describe our journey of discovery in learning how to measure the ROI of User Experience at a large, Fortune-500 company that develops human capital management software and services.

The company had made the decision to invest in several innovation centers throughout the US. Observing the adoption of User Experience in other large enterprises such as IBM, General Electric, Capital One, Honeywell, Philips, and JPL, they came to believe that user-centered design was an essential component of the innovation equation. Therefore, they established our UX team just over three years ago. Read More

Measuring the Value of UX

February 6, 2018

What do I mean by value? The value of a UX design or digital project equates with the impact the project makes.

Impact is the tangible change that research provides—be it in policy, business, industry, or society.”—Oxford University e-Research Centre

Given the ubiquity of technology in our lives, there has, until recently, been a surprising lack of work to assess the digital impact of User Experience. To determine the success of a Web site, we turn to data on conversions and analytics that indicate user behavior, but what about the wider impact? What is its lasting value? This kind of value is impossible to describe in purely quantitative terms.

In this article, I’ll present a robust approach to measuring the digital impact of projects, using a framework that I developed: the Digital Impact Framework (DIF). The DIF can answer specific questions about a project’s impact. It is also a strategic tool that decision makers can use in planning and prioritizing the appropriate goals and objectives, which can actually generate the identified impacts. Read More

Conference Review: O’Reilly Design Conference 2017

February 6, 2018

The overarching theme of the second annual O’Reilly Design Conference was “Prepare to Design the Future.” The conference convened March 20–22, 2017, at the historic Westin St. Francis┬áHotel, on Union Square in San Francisco. Monday, March 20, provided a full day of tutorials, while the main conference took place on March 21 and 22. O’Reilly Media delivered a better conference experience than in 2016 and again provided very high-quality content.

In Part 1 of this review, I’ll cover the following aspects of the conference experience:

  • Organization
  • Content and Presenters
  • Proceedings
  • Venue
  • Hospitality and Events
  • Community
  • Tutorials Read More

Finding Design Strategy

February 6, 2018

Everyone’s a design strategist these days—and that’s a problem.

Beginning in the late 2000s, companies decided that design thinking was the next Six Sigma, and executives rushed to the promised land of creativity for the business masses. In the aftermath, businesses lost sight of the benefits of real design strategy, preferring instead to accept design thinking’s perceived limitations—which are outlined in Bruce Nussbaum’s “Design Thinking Is a Failed Experiment. So What’s Next?” In doing so, many people, including those in our own UX industry, seem to have lost the true meaning of design strategy. I’m on a quest to find it.

Over the years, I have heard countless descriptions of design strategy. It’s branding or graphic design or good packaging. It’s applying user-centered design. It’s “whatever Apple is doing.” It’s using some combination of a good / better / best or razor / razor blade model. All of these definitions are wrong—or at least not holistic enough to define the field. I’ve come to realize that there are actually two types of design strategy, which is probably contributing to the confusion. While each type can exist independently within a company, they work more effectively as two parts of a concerted whole. Read More

Excerpt from Natural Language Processing for Social Media

February 6, 2018

This is an excerpt from Atefeh Farzindar and Diana Inkpen’s book Natural Language Processing for Social Media, Second Edition. 2017 Morgan & Claypool Publishers.

Discount for UXmatters Readers—Buy Natural Language Processing for Social Media from Morgan & Claypool Publishers, using the discount code uxreader, and save 20% off the retail price.

Chapter 3: Semantic Analysis of Social Media Texts

Cover: Natural Language Processing for Social MediaIn this chapter, we discuss current NLP methods for social media applications that aim at extracting useful information from social media data. Examples of such applications are geo-location detection, opinion mining, emotion analysis, event and topic detection, summarization, and machine translation. We survey the current techniques, and we briefly define the evaluation measures used for each application, followed by examples of results. Read More