August 02, 2021 Edition

Fostering Positive Environments for Remote Work, Part 1

Enterprise UX

Designing experiences for people at work

A column by Jonathan Walter
August 2, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted how we do our work in unprecedented ways—some of which have arguably been positive. While many people have expressed a desire to return to their workplace after 16 months in lockdown, 41% of Americans want to continue working remotely on a part-time, hybrid basis because they’ve experienced an improved work-life balance. As remote work continues to reshape the policies of many large companies—including those who are beginning to encourage their employees to return to their physical offices, even if just part time—it’s important to step back and reflect on what we’ve learned from this shift to remote work. Companies must continue to help employees feel supported and satisfied in their jobs—wherever they are.

In this column, which is Part 1 of a two-part series, I’ll share my experiences with managing remote UX professionals and teams. I’ll provide some tips for avoiding pitfalls that could arise if managers and leaders are not mindful of how remote work affects their employees. Although I’m writing this column from a manager’s point of view, anyone can work with their manager or other leaders in their company to foster a positive, remote-working environment. I’ll cover the following tips in Part 1:

  • offering flexibility in camera readiness
  • creating safe spaces for employees to vent and connect
  • demonstrating trust Read More

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The Importance of UX Writing

Business of Design

Learnings from design projects

A column by Manik Arora
August 2, 2021

UX design is a complex field that encompasses myriad disciplines, including information architecture, interaction design, user-interface design, user research, usability testing, and more. UX professionals working in each specialty must work in concert together to provide a user experience that is as enjoyable for users and as seamless as possible.

One of the most important, but often overlooked aspects of UX design is UX writing. In this article, I’ll discuss the significance of UX writing and share some design strategies for improving UX writing that I’ve personally implemented in my designs, helping users to successfully achieve their goals. Read More

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention: Service-Experience Improvements and the Pandemic

Service Design

Orchestrating experiences in context

A column by Laura Keller
August 2, 2021

As we begin to see more friends and family, put social events and gatherings on our calendar, and slowly become more comfortable going maskless, I am grateful for the degree to which we’re now able to return to normal. My kids are in summer camp, and we’re looking forward to a couple of getaways. We can reflect on a difficult past year that our family managed to get through happily and healthily. We found ways to adjust and continue leading our lives, whether it was buying patio heaters so we could have family over for an outdoor holiday visit, rolling up our sleeves to help our kids when school was fully virtual last spring, or using more collaborative, digital tools at work.

While it’s easy to become eager to go back to the way our lives used to be, many people are now taking the opportunity to reflect on the last 18 months of the pandemic and decide whether any of the changes we’ve made as a result of the pandemic should persist in the future. From evaluating friendships to avoiding over-scheduled lives to working from home more often, people are motivated to move forward to a new and improved normal. We’ve realized what we can live without and what we want to have more of. Read More

Balancing UX Design and Conversion-Rate Optimization

August 2, 2021

Whether you are designing a Web site or a mobile app, both UX design and conversion-rate optimization (CRO) play important roles in lead generation, conversion, and retention. To achieve optimal results, you need to establish a symbiotic relationship between UX design and CRO, in which they supplement one another’s efforts and work together to achieve common goals.

Focusing too much on either UX design or CRO is often to the detriment of the other, so it’s important to strike the right balance between them. Before I provide some tips on how to balance UX design and CRO, let’s look at these two terms in context. Read More

Mitigating User Errors

August 2, 2021

All people make errors. User errors occur when people are unable to interact effectively with your Web site or application. According Don Norman, there are two types of user errors:

  • mistakes—These errors occur when the mental models of users who are not familiar with the way a particular Web site or application works don’t coincide with its actual functionality. Mistakes generally result when UX professionals haven’t conducted sufficient user research and create design solutions that don’t meet users’ expectations.
  • slips—These are unconscious errors that happen when users accidentally take an action that they did not intend to take. For example, tapping Cut instead of Copy or making a typo. Slips generally occur when users are familiar with a site or application and its features, but aren’t being sufficiently attentive. Plus, users are less likely to verify interactions with which they’re familiar, so might fail to notice a problem. Some slips are partly the result of design deficiencies as well—for example, placing a Delete button too close to other buttons—making it all too easy for mistakes to occur. Read More

July 19, 2021 Edition

The Future of UX Design

Ask UXmatters

Get expert answers

A column by Janet M. Six
July 19, 2021

In this special sesquicentennial (150th) edition of Ask UXmatters, our expert panel ponders the future of UX design. Our panelists discuss the sustainability of the discipline of User Experience, specialization in the UX professions, required skills for UX designers, the value of T-Shaped people; merging the best practices of Product Management, User Experience, and Engineering; sharing the ownership of User Experience, the growing importance of design as strategy, user experiences of future technologies—including interacting with our environments—and how all of this can help us create a better world.

I want to thank the many UX experts who have contributed to Ask UXmatters since its first edition, “Choosing the Language for a User Interface,” in November 2008. We have covered a wide variety of UX topics since then, including strategy, user research, design validation, working with stakeholders, agile and Lean methodologies, systems engineering and interrelated systems, and artificial intelligence. We’ve seen tremendous growth in the field of User Experience since 2008. This column would not be a success without the time and efforts of our more than 100 expert-panel members, from six of the world’s seven continents. Thanks to the many readers of Ask UXmatters as well. I sincerely hope that this column helps you to advance and grow in our field. Read More

UX Paradise, Part 3: A Day in UX Paradise

July 19, 2021

In this article, I’ll describe a typical day in the life of Huxley, the UX manager at Delta Market, an organization that is at the highest level of UX maturity, and explain how functioning at this high level of UX maturity affects Delta Market’s employees—in particular its UX professionals. The purpose of this article is to encourage discussion and to help organizations define their UX vision and set goals for their UX development.

This article is the third in my four-part series “UX Paradise,” which relates the journey of the fictitious Delta Market toward UX maturity. In Part 1 of this series, I discussed the company’s state circa 2012 and presented personas for their team, as well as their UX maturity model. In Part 2, I chronicled their journey from the lowest to the highest level of UX maturity—from the UX Swamp to UX Paradise—outlining the steps that Delta took to change the organization and its UX culture. Read More

What Is a Normal Level of Innovation Risk?

Selling UX

A unique perspective on service UX

A column by Baruch Sachs
July 19, 2021

Normal is an odd word, one that has taken on new meaning in these days of a global pandemic. As I write this column, there are some parts of the world that are seeing light at the end of the tunnel, while other parts are firmly entrenched in the darkness. Many of us are currently engaging in introspection about what we want to do with our life, our career, and what challenges we need to face. At such a time as this, the topics of risk and innovation are coming up more than usual. Plus, I’m seeing massive confusion about what innovation actually is.

Innovation is a differentiator, a way to make great things happen. But how can we go about innovating as we crawl out of the pandemic we’ve faced over the last 18 months and will continue to deal with for some months into the future? How can we apply and scale all the innovating we have actually done during these past long months? What lessons have we learned? How can we ensure that innovation is still the main driver of our success? Read More

Change Management of the Product Experience, Part 2

July 19, 2021

In Part 1 of this two-part series, I described some challenges that companies have in managing their customers’ experience as their software products evolve. These are not uncommon problems, nor are they easy challenges to overcome.

In my experience, developers of legacy software that are working to grow their platform are generally the furthest behind the curve. If, in general, they have dealt with change management in a piece-meal fashion, they are bound to face a sobering reality at some point. These companies also have existing customers who have contributed to and have a vested interest in the legacy software. Plus, they need to onboard new customers on the legacy system who may struggle with the legacy software and want improvements. This situation can present a wicked problem that puts a company in a perpetual technical tug of war. Read More

Book Review: Org Design for Design Orgs

July 19, 2021

Cover: Org Design for Design OrgsAs the strategic business value of design as a methodology gains recognition, so has the importance of the structure and leadership of Design teams. In fact, I describe my own career as having started out with my designing Web sites, then digital solutions, then systems, and finally, designing business models and teams.

Fortunately, many business schools and thought leaders within the UX community have recognized the importance of the structure and leadership of Design teams. We see this in discussions that focus on topics such as soft skills or the UX maturity of organizations, as well as in a number of books that focus on the management of Design teams and an increasing number of business writings that discuss design. Read More