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August 20, 2018 Edition

Design Thinking and Digital Intent, Part 2

Selling UX

A unique perspective on service UX

A column by Baruch Sachs
August 20, 2018

As I discussed in Part 1 of this series, companies are focusing on design thinking and digital transformation these days, trying to come up with better solutions to the same old problems that still exist in business today. I also talked about the term digital intent. While this not my own term, I have applied it in a different way to describe the outcomes of design thinking.

The popular business term digital transformation describes the journey companies are undertaking today as they integrate digital technologies into every aspect of their business. Digital transformation considers people, processes, organizational culture; and the how, what, and why of how customers engage with a business. While every major company is currently engaged in digital transformation, often undertaking multiyear transformation programs, their progress and digital maturity vary greatly as they grapple with legacy processes, technologies, and culture. As a result, many are still struggling to deliver tangible business outcomes. Read More

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The Ebbs and Flows of UX Teams in Large Organizations

August 20, 2018

When something’s level regularly becomes higher, then lower in any particular situation, it has an ebb and flow. There are multiple examples of such ebbs and flows in life. I remember, when growing up, my sister had a poster on her wall of a kitten hanging from a tree branch with these printed words: “Hang in there, baby,” shown in Figure 1. This metaphor has appeared in the arts many times: Frank Sinatra performed a song called “Ebb Tide,” the first episode of Season 2 of The Wire was titled “Ebb Tide,” and Ken Griffen’s “Ebb Tide” provided background music for Season 5 of Mad Men. In business, a company’s stock price reflects the daily ebb and flow of the company’s business performance. Read More


Book Review: Design Leadership

August 20, 2018

Design LeadershipAs the profession of User Experience matures and becomes more enmeshed in organizational strategy, we see a greater need for UX professionals to develop soft skills. It is this realization that led Paul Sherman, my colleague at Kent State, to give his presentation “The Unicorn Is Dead” at several conferences and for our Kent State UXD program to explore ways to incorporate leadership skills into our curriculum. Leadership is a learned skill that we need to apply at all levels of an organization—not just at the top.

One of the books I reviewed during this exploration was Design Leadership: How Top Design Leaders Build and Grow Successful Organizations, by Richard Banfield. Read More


Book Excerpt: Meeting Design

August 20, 2018

This is a sample chapter from Kevin M. Hoffman’s new book Meeting Design: For Managers, Makers, and Everyone. 2018, Two Waves, an imprint of Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 5: Facilitation Strategy and Style

Cover: Meeting DesignFacilitation Styles

Facilitation is a balancing act. It requires demonstrating empathy for a group’s interests and capabilities while simultaneously keeping them away from tempting, but unproductive lines of discussion. The effort and focus required to maintain that balance varies based on what kind of person you are and what kind of topic or group you’re facilitating. These three spectrums—scripted to improvisational, drawing to speaking, and space making to space filling—are designed to help you get a better sense of your own, or anyone’s, facilitation style. They will also help to assess when a style supports a meeting or when it needs something different. Read More


Integrating Documentation with an Existing User Experience

August 20, 2018

Is it possible to integrate documentation into an existing user experience? Yes, this is certainly possible. I would even go so far as to state that creating such an integrated user experience is a must for every vendor trying to create greater customer loyalty.

I am not referring to the kind of loyalty that results from loyalty schemes that give a customer a sense of belonging—for example, when checking into a hotel where the customer stays frequently. Although such schemes undoubtedly do add to the customer’s satisfaction when using a product or service. I’m really thinking of something much more basic—something that seems to be terra incognita for most companies. Read More

August 06, 2018 Edition

Mobile Apps: Native, Hybrid, and WebViews

Mobile Matters

Designing for every screen

A column by Steven Hoober
August 6, 2018

I have a very expansive view of the role of User Experience in developing products. While I’m deeply of the opinion that designers should not code, that’s mostly because there are very few people who can code on many platforms and at many levels. I used to be a Web developer, database administrator (DBA), and system administrator. But I was never great at fulfilling all of these roles—much less all of them at once—while also being a Web designer.

As new technologies arrived, I had to stop and learn them—or learn to collaborate with others who knew them. So, instead of learning more and more technologies, I decided to focus on design and usability.

As UX designers, we should avoid becoming too deeply engaged in any one technology, but we do need to know a little about most technologies. This lets us consider the entire scope of users’ needs and suggest solutions that leverage the whole range of technology options—choosing whatever platforms, technologies, and methods best meet both users’ needs and organizational capabilities. Read More


Benefits of Partnering Closely with Your Product Owner

August 6, 2018

In UX research, your job is to understand, persuade, and influence. First, you need to talk to users to understand their behaviors and uncover their needs. Then, you need to convey your learnings to the product team in a persuasive, coherent way. Finally, you need to drive action within the product team, influencing the project and its priorities.

Establishing strong partnerships with both your product owner and your overall product team is the best way to increase the impact of your research. Involve the team throughout your research process—from defining the research goals to presenting the final readout—and everyone will get more out of the research. The product team learns how valuable well-designed, well-executed research can be, and you’ll conduct better informed, more relevant research. Having regular discussions with the product team helps you focus on the most valuable research goals, enabling you to refine your research plan to ensure maximum impact. Read More


What Does It Really Mean to Delight Users?

August 6, 2018

The field of user experience is rife with terms that lack a mutually agreed-upon meaning. Even the name of the field itself can vary depending on the communicator and the audience. Are we User Experience (UX)? Design Research? Human-Centered Design? Are all of these the same thing?

Often, this lack of clarity on terms leads to debates even among UX professionals about the meanings of certain terms and their appropriate use. Is user experience still the right term if it doesn’t involve a digital component? Where do you stand on the term design thinking? Which term is preferable: human-centered design or user-centered design? Does it matter?

As User Experience develops and gains industry awareness and acceptance across domains, we’ll inevitably engage in more terminology debates. Read More


The Usability of Cryptocurrency

August 6, 2018

With everyone talking about cryptocurrency in the technology sector, you might think it would be more popular, but only a small fraction of Americans are invested in cryptocurrencies—only about eight percent, according to a survey from early 2018. Crypto proponents believe that currencies such as bitcoin will achieve universal acceptance someday. However, the path to its mainstream adoption is today hindered by one huge obstacle: a lack of usability.

As with most new technologies, cryptocurrency must first overcome barriers to entry to reach its audience. Right now, you must have a good amount of technical expertise just to be in the market. While cryptocurrency’s promise is that it’s accessible and decentralized, its complexity is restricting its user base to a narrow, homogeneous set of early adopters. Thus, the most popular cryptocurrency platforms are currently Coinbase and Robinhood—the apps with the friendliest user experiences. Read More


Mobile First

August 6, 2018

This is a sample chapter from Luke Wroblewski’s book Mobile First. 2011, A Book Apart.

Cover: Mobile FirstChapter 7: Layout

Appropriate adaptations of how we think about organization, actions, and input on the desktop take what we know about Web design and make it usable on mobile. But how do we ensure it’s also usable across the wide range of mobile devices available now and in the coming months—not to mention years?

  • Come to terms with the fact that mobile is going to change at a breakneck pace for the foreseeable future.
  • Let mobile browsers know you are creating designs that fit them.
  • Be flexible, fluid, and responsive in your layouts.
  • Know where to sketch the lines between device experiences.
  • Reduce to the minimum amount necessary. Read More