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August 2011 Issue

By Shanshan Ma

Published: August 23, 2011

“eCommerce sites have now evolved through multiple generations to ensure a high-quality online shopping experience.”

Shopping at bricks-and-mortar stores and shopping online provide very different experiences. eCommerce sites have now evolved through multiple generations to ensure a high-quality online shopping experience. Some key elements of a good online shopping experience include allowing customers to check out without creating an account, informing customers where they are in the checkout process, and providing a clear confirmation that a customer has successfully completed an order. Amazon’s home page has gone through multiple generations, as shown in Figures 1 and 2. Read moreRead More>

By Jaimie Sirovich

Published: August 23, 2011

“In my explorations of taxonomies—especially taxonomies for ecommerce sites—the case I find the most frustrating is what I, for lack of a better term, have christened the browsable facet.”

In my explorations of taxonomies—especially taxonomies for ecommerce sites—the case I find the most frustrating is what I, for lack of a better term, have christened the browsable facet. All UX professionals likely know the following generalizations about faceted navigation:

  • Hierarchical category trees are good for making fundamental decisions—for example, choosing camera or camcorder.
  • Facets are good for deciding details and narrowing or broadening the scope of available options—for example: What resolution? Which brand? Users have become accustomed to using facets, which are usually to the left of or above products.

Read moreRead More>

By Greg Nudelman

Published: August 23, 2011

“Though date filters are among the hardest and most time-consuming controls for people to manipulate, many user interfaces stubbornly fail to retain the information they have so painstakingly provided or safeguard them from inadvertently making errors.”

In contrast to the decimal system for Arabic numerals that was invented in India around 1500 years ago, the Gregorian calendar has been in use for only about 428 years. As a consequence, humanity as a whole has had a bit less practice with calendars and dates, which on their own can be confusing to most people. Date filters frequently add to this confusion by neglecting usability and design best practices. Though date filters are among the hardest and most time-consuming controls for people to manipulate, many user interfaces stubbornly fail to retain the information they have so painstakingly provided or safeguard them from inadvertently making errors. Often, people literally groan during usability tests when asked to enter date values. Sloppy or indifferent designs for date filters lead to unhappy customers. This column shows you how to design date filters to be as intuitive and pain free as possible. Read moreRead More>

By Lauren Shupp and Davis Neable

Published: August 23, 2011

“Working remotely is a growing trend that has merited a lot of attention, especially when it comes to articulating the trade-offs between remote and face-to-face working styles.”

“Where’s the remote?” A few years ago, anyone asking this would have been searching for the channel changer. These days, however, this question more often refers to a remote member of a team at work.

Working remotely is a growing trend that has merited a lot of attention, especially when it comes to articulating the trade-offs between remote and face-to-face working styles. For user-interface designers in particular, working with remote teammates can be challenging, because body language and creativity are two big factors that working remotely can adversely affect. In our first article, “Tales of Designer Initiation: User Experience Boot Camp,” we discussed the impact of a short timeline on the design process. This article draws on that same two-week design project to examine the impact of remote work. Our experiences expose some of the strengths and weaknesses of traditional design activities when teams perform them over the wire. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: August 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 the extent to which user experience is integrated with software development in practice.

Every month, Ask UXmatters gives our panel of UX experts the opportunity to answer our readers’ questions about a broad range of user experience matters. To get answers to your 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 Colleen Roller

Published: August 8, 2011

  • Why do resumes on heavy clipboards make job candidates seem better qualified?
  • Why do rough objects make social interactions seem more difficult?
  • Why do hard chairs increase rigidity in negotiations?
“People’s mindset is very much affected by what they physically touch.”

In the realm of judgment and decision making, these are questions worth pondering, because research shows that people’s mindset is very much affected by what they physically touch. In this column, we’ll take a look at some fascinating studies in the area of embodied cognition that reveal the important linkage between what we touch and what we think—and how it affects both judgment and decision making.

We’ll start by looking at a series of studies [1] in which researchers considered three different tactile sensations—weight, texture, and hardness—and how they can influence people’s thoughts and perceptions. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: August 8, 2011

“User research findings are rarely … sensational, and it is seldom that they completely amaze and stun our clients.”

“This is great, but if I presented this to our executives, it would be like setting off a bomb in the room.” That was the highest compliment I’ve ever received from a client after presenting my user research findings. The findings had revealed the failure of the application and uncovered sensitive political dysfunction within the company. The participant quotations were especially devastating.

Sometimes, as a user researcher, I feel like an investigative reporter, unearthing sensational findings and hidden truths that will amaze and intrigue my audience. Sadly, user research findings are rarely this sensational, and it is seldom that they completely amaze and stun our clients. By client, I mean anyone for whom we’re doing research—whether a consulting client, an internal client team, or a project team.

Ideal Reactions to Research Findings

Ideally, our clients are as interested in our user research findings and recommendations as we are and find them valuable. User research usually reveals new information about users and provides helpful new insights and perspectives on something our clients already know about. It can also confirm and validate their assumptions. Regardless of whether our clients already know about something, our research should provide useful information that has its basis in an understanding of user and business needs. Read moreRead More>

By Daniel Szuc and Josephine Wong

Published: August 8, 2011

“An important component of success in designing meaningful experiences is inviting team members into environments that foster a culture of collaboration, creativity, and openness….”

In this article, we’ll outline the key elements you need to plan and facilitate a design workshop to give you a better chance of success.

One focus of user experience design is designing consistent experiences or touchpoints for customers. Beyond merely achieving consistency, an important motivation for UX designers is creating delightful and meaningful experiences or touchpoints for customers—something they will remember and tell others about in glowing terms. Making this happen is hard work, requiring not only an understanding of what people need, but having the right people to develop the organizational structures and operational realities to see its realization through.

An important component of success in designing meaningful experiences is inviting team members into environments that foster a culture of collaboration, creativity, and openness, in which it’s safe to critique, there are good energies, and team thinking helps you to move beyond your product of today toward a roadmap of possibilities. Read moreRead More>

By Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain

Published: August 8, 2011

“Getting the attention of late adopters can present an enormous challenge.”

We’ve met with several startups recently that are targeting market segments in which there is a lot of room for growth. Some of these are representative of segments that are showing rapid adoption of more advanced technologies like smartphones and tablets. But some are targeting traditionally late adopters of technology such as older adults. It might appear that technology is currently under serving these users and, therefore, that these markets are ripe for new technology products that would enhance their lives. However, getting the attention of late adopters can present an enormous challenge. This month, we’ll describe this challenge, then explore some strategies that can help you reach this audience.

The Path of Innovation

Everett Rogers introduced his theory of the diffusion of innovations in 1962. [1] Since that time, his theory has provided guidance to businesses and individual innovators when bringing new technologies to market. The normal path to mainstream success begins with innovators and early adopters, as Figure 1 shows. Innovators are typically people who actually develop new technologies. They plug into the newest technologies as a way of feeding their need to innovate. Early adopters are the first consumers in the market and the test bed for other users. Early adopters are typically itching to try new technology, regardless of the quality of its execution. So they usually acquire new products immediately, just to try them out and determine whether something will be a revolutionary success or an innovative misfire. In this respect, they provide a valuable service. Read moreRead More>

By Caroline Jarrett

Published: August 8, 2011

“Longitudinal studies look at long-term user experience. Usually, that means over a few months or possibly a few years. But recently, at the European Survey Research Association Conference, I learned about some much longer-term studies that offer some lessons….”

How long is your typical project? Are you working in 6-week agile sprints? Running monthly usability tests? Trying an A/B test for a week? Updating a Twitter stream hourly? The demands of Internet time keep us focused on shorter and shorter time intervals, with experiences measured in days, minutes, or even the first 50 milliseconds of exposure to a Web page, according to a team of researchers at Carleton University in Toronto led by Gitte Lindgaard. [1]

What happens if you turn that around and think in terms of months, years, or lifetimes? Longitudinal studies look at long-term user experience. Usually, that means over a few months or possibly a few years. But recently, at the European Survey Research Association Conference, I learned about some much longer-term studies that offer some lessons about how to conduct our rather shorter investigations. Read moreRead More>