September 2014 Issue

By Jim Ross

Published: September 2, 2014

“When you’re suddenly faced with a large-scale research project, it can seem so intimidating or even overwhelming.”

What would you do if you were asked to do an extremely large-scale user research project? What do I mean by large? How about performing more than 150 contextual inquiries? How would you handle such a large amount of information from many different user groups, whose subject matter covers such a large scope? Doing unmoderated research such as online card sorting and unmoderated usability testing is an easy way to get a large number of participants, but what if you need to do moderated sessions?

Admittedly, needing to do such large-scale research is a rare situation. UX professionals usually face the opposite problem—not having enough participants. That’s why, when you’re suddenly faced with a large-scale research project, it can seem so intimidating or even overwhelming. Read moreRead More>

By Kay Corry Aubrey

Published: September 2, 2014

“Crafting a single statement that encapsulates your interview objectives will help you and your teammates to stay focused and make good decisions about which questions to cover.”

The simplest approach to learning about users’ needs and challenges is to talk with them. In this article, I’d like to share with you some of the approaches that I use that lead to successful interviews with users.

Planning and Preparing for Interviews

Some of the things that set you up for success happen before your interviews even begin.

1. Pinpoint the issues and topics that you need to explore.

Ask your team, your management, and other project stakeholders for their input on the types of people to whom you should be talking and the questions you should ask. Crafting a single statement that encapsulates your interview objectives will help you and your teammates to stay focused and make good decisions about which questions to cover. You should limit the number of topic areas that you’ll be covering, so you can explore each topic in depth without worrying about going over schedule. This is especially true if you are new to a subject area or your goal is to give research participants the opportunity to provide rich, unique insights. You may need to run a few pilot interviews to help you gauge the number of topics that you can handle within the time that you have available. Read moreRead More>

By Peter Hornsby

Published: August 18, 2014

“These are my principles; if you don’t like them, I have others.”—Groucho Marx

“For a long time, I’ve been an advocate of creating standards, guidelines, and patterns as a way of achieving design consistency within a large organization. While these do offer significant benefits, they also introduce a number of problems into the design process.”

For a long time, I’ve been an advocate of creating standards, guidelines, and patterns as a way of achieving design consistency within a large organization. While these do offer significant benefits, they also introduce a number of problems into the design process.

Some Problems with Design Standards

First, standards can provide a false sense of expertise in design. Calling something a standard, by its very nature, seems to imply that a great deal of research, thought, and experimentation has gone into its creation. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: August 18, 2014

“More and more leaders in the UX community have become convinced that it’s important to focus on UX strategy as a way to deliver greater business value to the organizations for which they work, advance the role of User Experience within their organizations, and get a seat at the C-level table.”

In recent years, more and more leaders in the UX community have become convinced that it’s important to focus on UX strategy as a way to deliver greater business value to the organizations for which they work, advance the role of User Experience within their organizations, and get a seat at the C-level table.

Paul Bryan, who is shown in Figure 1, has been instrumental in promoting the profession of UX strategy—through his UX Strategy column on UXmatters, by establishing the UX Strategy and Planning group on LinkedIn, and by organizing the UX STRAT conference—which covers the full spectrum of experience strategy, including UX strategy, customer experience (CX) strategy, and product and service design strategy—and his UX STRAT Masterclasses. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: August 18, 2014

Send your questions to Ask UXmatters and get answers from some of the top professionals in UX.

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts discusses how they capture and categorize information that comes from many different sources for easy access later on.

The Internet provides so much information that we can drown in it! Professionals in cutting-edge fields like user experience must stay up to date with the most recent advances in their fields. While having easy access to all of this information on the Internet is great, it can also be overwhelming! How can we organize this large volume of information so it’s useful to us?

Each month in Ask UXmatters, our experts provide answers to our readers’ questions about a broad range of user experience matters. To get answers to your own questions about UX strategy, design, user research, or any other topic of interest to UX professionals in an upcoming edition of Ask UXmatters, please send your questions to: ask.uxmatters@uxmatters.com. Read moreRead More>

By Ahava Leibtag

Published: August 18, 2014

This is a sample chapter from Ahava Leibtag’s new book, The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web. 2014 Morgan Kaufmann.

Chapter 2: Making the Case for Content

“You have to convince the right people that to move the business in the right direction, they need to invest in content: Content production, distribution, and management.”

Content drives the sales process. Even if your job title doesn’t include the word sales, you are still trying to achieve something. Content is responsible for getting you there. Think of it as the fuel in an engine. Now, consider what we’ve done in our society to ensure we have enough fuel to power our cars and homes. That’s how important content is to your business.

Not everyone understands this in your organization. But you do. That’s the first step. Now you have to convince the right people that to move the business in the right direction, they need to invest in content: Content production, distribution, and management. How do you do that? Read moreRead More>

By Yanfei Ma, Yunhui Lu, and Dinara Saparova

Published: August 18, 2014

“To better understand the role of iterative usability evaluation during agile development, we recently conducted a study whose focus was the usability evaluation of a personal health–management system.”

The agile approach to software development has significant impacts on the practice of user-centered design (UCD), including usability evaluation. To better understand the role of iterative usability evaluation during agile development, we recently conducted a study whose focus was the usability evaluation of a personal health–management system. The complexities of healthcare systems require thoughtful and well-structured usability evaluations—especially when the design process occurs within the context of an agile development process.

Our study identified three different stages of the usability-evaluation process. Usability experts, system developers, and users participated at different stages of this process, which occurred iteratively during each two-week sprint. Our research also offered insights into how usability experts perceive their roles during rapid, iterative collaboration with system developers and users. We learned that usability experts serve as an essential bridge connecting system developers and users. Read moreRead More>

By Nathaniel Davis

Published: August 4, 2014

“The UX Design Practice Verticals [offer] a snapshot of the activities that are necessary to architect and design human-computer interactions….”

Have you ever wondered how you’ll ever wrap your head around what seems to be a never-ending list of UX design skills? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. All information architects and UX designers question this once or twice in their career.

In this column, I’ll describe a powerful model that I’ve developed as part of my research for the DSIA Research Initiative: the UX Design Practice Verticals. This has been a useful model for me and thousands of other UX professionals because it offers a snapshot of the activities that are necessary to architect and design human-computer interactions (HCI). Since their creation in 2011, the UX Design Practice Verticals have rendered many valuable insights—I’ll summarize a few of them here—and provided an indispensable reference guide. Read moreRead More>

By Dorian Peters

Published: August 4, 2014

This is a sample chapter from the book Interface Design for Learning: Design Strategies for Learning Experiences, which New Riders recently published as part of their Voices That Matter series. ©2013 New Riders.

Chapter 2: How We Learn

A whirlwind tour of essential learning theory sprinkled with a “who’s who” of big names in educational psychology.

Learning Theory and Interface Design

“Designers need to understand how people learn in order to develop learner-centered software … learning sciences must be integrated into software design.”—Quintana et al. in “Learner-Centered Design,” Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Science Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: August 4, 2014

Send your questions to Ask UXmatters and get answers from some of the top professionals in UX.

You have a new UX design project. Great! Now, what should you do to get to know your users and model them to ensure that you design the right solution for their needs? Let’s see what our panel of experts has to say about how they go to users and observe them in their natural environment. In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our experts discuss some ways to learn about and model users.

By learning about your users, making sure that you share what you discover with your colleagues, using your personal design strengths, and applying what you learn through research during design and implementation, you can meet your users’s needs. Read moreRead More>