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May 2011 Issue

By Shanshan Ma

Published: May 23, 2011

“When looking at what makes mobile user experiences successful, we should consider the multiple layers of a mobile user experience.”

In comparison to traditional cell phones, smartphones do a much better job of letting users stay connected on the go. They have bigger screens and higher-resolution displays, and their industrial design is more fashionable. Common features of smartphones include, but are not limited to touchscreens, high-megapixel cameras, global positioning systems (GPSs), and many gaming and entertainment options. Smartphones enable people to engage in a wide range of activities, including communication, entertainment, personal-information management, and social networking.

What’s driving the industry forward? An ever-improving mobile user experience is the key. When looking at what makes mobile user experiences successful, we should consider the multiple layers of a mobile user experience. Each layer involves different factors and affects the user experience on a different level. Back in 2006, Virpi Roto [1] discussed the multiple layers of mobile usability: hardware usability, browser usability, and the usability of the Web sites that mobile users visit. Since then, mobile user experience has evolved significantly, so it’s time to reconsider their three layers. Let’s look at the three layers of mobile user experience depicted in Figure 1. Read moreRead More>

By Jaimie Sirovich

Published: May 23, 2011

“Faceted navigation is one of the most important breakthroughs in modern Web site design. It provides an almost universally positive enhancement to usability.”

Faceted navigation is one of the most important breakthroughs in modern Web site design. It provides an almost universally positive enhancement to usability. Even Google is starting to employ facets—despite the challenges involved in massive Web scale—with simple facets on products and recipes. Facets are great, and seemingly everyone is implementing them. However, there are many decisions we must make in implementing facets that influence their effectiveness. Among these is choosing between single- and multiple-selection interfaces.

Both single and multiple selection have their respective merits, and the use of multiple selection certainly forgoes at least some simplicity in exchange for flexibility. Another fundamental problem with multiple selection is that it makes supporting hierarchies more difficult—or really impossible without some sort of compromise. Let’s explore one such compromise, but first, some background. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: May 23, 2011

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

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our experts discuss how to foster teamwork and collaboration across departments.

In my monthly column Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts answers 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 question to us at: ask.uxmatters@uxmatters.com. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: May 23, 2011

“The three days of the main conference were packed with great content.”

This part of my IA Summit 2011 conference review continues my coverage of the content of the main conference. In Part I of my review, I wrote about a pre-conference workshop and two excellent conference sessions on agile UX.

Content & Presenters: The Main Conference

The three days of the main conference were packed with great content. Most hours, it was hard to decide which of several interesting sessions to attend, and there were very few hours when none of the sessions were of interest to me.

The quality of the speakers and presentations were almost universally excellent. The main conference and plenary addresses featured presentations by many prominent UX professionals and authors. Read moreRead More>

By Kim Oslob

Published: May 23, 2011

“There are many ways to capture useful UX metrics if you have the knowledge of what solutions to use and how to use them.”

How many times have you wondered how you can collect meaningful and significant metrics to validate your research? Many researchers struggle with this same dilemma on a daily basis. For example, how can we know the magnitude of the issues we are detecting in a traditional usability lab study? Surprisingly, there are many ways to capture useful UX metrics if you have the knowledge of what solutions to use and how to use them.

What Solutions Are Available?

Some of the available solutions include

  • survey tools
  • Voice of the Customer (VOC) solutions
  • online usability testing tools

Read moreRead More>

By Colleen Roller

Published: May 10, 2011

“Why is it that people feel so intensely attracted to things that are free?”

In previous columns, I’ve discussed mental shortcuts and their effect on decision outcomes, as well as loss aversion—the fact that people are much more sensitive to losses than gains. When loss aversion influences people’s mental shortcuts, the effect can be powerful. In this column, I’ll focus on a manifestation of loss aversion to which probably every reader can personally relate: the power of free.

The Power of Free

Have you ever attended an event such as a professional conference where sponsors were giving away freebies like pens, key chains, and other assorted chotchkes? How many of those chotchkes did you return home with—only to wonder later what possessed you to pick them up in the first place? If you can relate to this experience, you’ve experienced the power of free. Why is it that people feel so intensely attracted to things that are free? Read moreRead More>

By Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain

Published: May 10, 2011

“One guideline that user researchers commonly overlook is testing with a version or mockup that is free of glitches, bugs, or known errors.”

When engaging in any form of product usability test, there are certain very important guidelines to keep in mind. One guideline that user researchers commonly overlook is testing with a version or mockup that is free of glitches, bugs, or known errors. In essence, you want what you’re testing to be ready for primetime. We have found it is very common for companies to test with incomplete builds of a product that is rife with known issues. We always advocate for using a clean build or mockup of a product, because of negative consequences we’ve encountered in the past. Of course, it is always possible to test with a buggy build of a product, but it is very important to be aware that testing with a product with known issues can extend a usability study’s schedule, compromise the accuracy of its results, and inflate its cost. Read moreRead More>

By Caroline Jarrett

Published: May 10, 2011

“Census forms … present lots of lovely forms challenges. A census might be the ultimately complex form….”

Census years are exciting times for the forms enthusiast. They’re quite rare—most countries run their census at 10-year intervals. And they affect the entire population. That’s the definition of a census—a count of an entire population.

Census forms also present lots of lovely forms challenges. A census might be the ultimately complex form: it’s got lots of stakeholders, it takes years to plan, it has to work for absolutely everyone, and it usually includes a lot of relatively invasive questions. The US 2000 Census form was one of the shorter ones, at only four printed pages.

Relax! You’re not in for a dissertation about the history, theory, realities, and everything else about a census. Instead, I’m going to concentrate on one rather small aspect of a census: the envelopes. Why? Because they’ll inspire some general questions that are worth thinking about when you’re designing any complex form. Read moreRead More>

By Kristi Olson

Published: May 10, 2011

“First, consider what is the most critical action you want your customers to accomplish on your site—what is your primary conversion?”

In my first article in this series, “UX Analytics, Part I: A Call to Action,” I discussed the benefits of synthesizing qualitative user experience research insights with quantitative Web analytics data to generate deeper levels of insight around a Web site’s user experience. I finished the article with a list of steps you could take toward building partnerships and the skill sets you’d need to quantify the impact of usability or user experience issues visitors might encounter on a given Web site. Such issues will generally come to light as you get started planning your first UX analysis win.

First, consider what is the most critical action you want your customers to accomplish on your site—what is your primary conversion? For an ecommerce site, the purchase that a thank-you confirmation represents is commonly the key conversion. From there, work backward to determine the key steps a user takes to get to that conversion point. In checkout, it might be—in reverse order—order confirmation, order review, shipping/billing/payment information, and adding a product to the shopping cart. Read moreRead More>