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September 2011 Issue

By Colleen Roller

Published: September 19, 2011

“I never fail to be amazed at the examples of decision architecture I encounter in the real world and to witness just how effective they can be.”

Although I’ve written a number of columns now on the topic of decision architecture, I never fail to be amazed at the examples of decision architecture I encounter in the real world and to witness just how effective they can be.

Last month, my family did what many people do every so often—we had family portraits taken. With a $9.99 coupon in hand, we set out for the portrait studio—dressed in color-coordinated outfits and ready with our best smiles—to get the deed done. And although I hadn’t anticipated it, I quickly realized that we had become players in an experience the portrait studio had orchestrated around some of the key principles I’ve outlined in my columns on decision architecture.

I’ll begin this column by describing what happened during our appointment, then talk in detail about the decision architecture concepts and principles that made the sales experience so effective for the portrait studio. Read moreRead More>

By Laura Keller

Published: September 19, 2011

This Is Service Design Thinking… is likely to become the quintessential service design textbook for students, educators, and professionals alike.”

If you’re like me, you have a mini-library of those user experience books that are most meaningful to you. No, not the ones hidden away on your eReader, reminding you of their presence only when you see their titles on the screen. Rather, I’m referring to those tangible books, sitting on your office bookshelf or on a side table at home. Perhaps some remind you of the time when you first entered the field of user experience, wanting to absorb everything about the topic. Or maybe everyone raves about a book as being seminal to the user experience discipline, but you keep the fact that you’ve never read it a secret. Regardless of why you have them, where they live, or how much you recall of their content, these books are important to who you are as a UX professional.

I’ve recently finished reading what is now the latest addition to my own professional mini-library: This Is Service Design Thinking, by Marc Stickdorn, Jakob Schneider, and numerous collaborators and co-authors. This book is likely to become the quintessential service design textbook for students, educators, and professionals alike. In this column, I’ll share highlights from the book, along with some of my own interpretations, and tell you why you should add this book to your own personal collection. Read moreRead More>

By Mike Hughes

Published: September 19, 2011

“When I find myself designing an application that is complex, either in terms of its length or its logical dependencies, my natural instinct is to take a wizard approach. But … breaking up a task into smaller steps does not always provide a better user experience.

Many applications must gather information from users. At their simplest, such transactions employ dialog boxes or brief forms. Examples include sign-in screens—Who are you and do you have permission to be here?—and printer setups—What is the page size and do you want single-sided or double-sided pages? Others are quite complex, such as helping a user prepare his income tax return. We can measure complexity by the number of questions we ask or the logical branching we use. For example, the question What OS do you use? might have one set of follow-up questions if the answer is Mac and another if it is PC.

When I find myself designing an application that is complex, either in terms of its length or its logical dependencies, my natural instinct is to take a wizard approach. Wizards are cool; forms are dull. Product managers love wizards because they are so Web 2.0. Developers like wizards because they involve more programming expertise than just cranking out forms. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: September 19, 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 what you should have in your portfolio to gain the most consulting contracts.

Every month in Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts answers 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 question to us at: ask.uxmatters@uxmatters.com. Read moreRead More>

By Shanshan Ma

Published: September 19, 2011

“Today, making payments on the desktop Web and on the mobile Web is similar, using either real-world payment methods … or online payment services like Google Checkout, BillMeLater, or PayPal….”

ABI research has estimated that mobile payments will grow to $119 billion in 2015. As mobile shopping continues to grow, merchants, banking and credit companies, mobile service carriers, and third-party software companies are looking for better payment solutions for making online purchases. Today, making payments on the desktop Web and on the mobile Web is similar, using either real-world payment methods, as shown in Figure 1, or online payment services like Google Checkout, BillMeLater, or PayPal, as shown in Figure 2. Read moreRead More>

By Nathaniel Davis

Published: September 7, 2011

“The practice of information architecture is the effort of organizing and relating information in a way that simplifies how people navigate and use information on the Web.”—DSIA Research Initiative

“The reality of getting things done has resulted in a professional environment where the information architect is less important than the practitioner of information architecture (IA).”

Over the past two decades, the volatile evolution of Web applications and services has resulted in organizational uncertainty that has kept our understanding and framing of the information architect in constant flux. In the meantime, the reality of getting things done has resulted in a professional environment where the information architect is less important than the practitioner of information architecture (IA). Read moreRead More>

By Joel Flom

Published: September 7, 2011

“How did I manage to reach the conclusion that customer journey maps are not only a worthy and effective tool, but also a crucial element on large, enterprise user experience (UX) projects? Because I saw them have a significant impact on a recent project….”

Until recently, I never saw the value in customer journey maps. In fact, throughout my career, I’ve even struggled with the value of personas and scenarios. Many times, stakeholders would just skim over them after our presentations or use them only to prove we were making progress on a project. Design teams, with the best intentions, made every effort to keep personas alive and breathing, only to succumb to other project pressures that demanded annotation, use cases, and itemized requirements.

So why have I written an article on the value of customer journey maps? How did I manage to reach the conclusion that customer journey maps are not only a worthy and effective tool, but also a crucial element on large, enterprise user experience (UX) projects? Because I saw them have a significant impact on a recent project with The Boeing Company, and I’m now a believer. Read moreRead More>

By Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain

Published: September 7, 2011

“Research is all about people, so it’s important to find the right people when you’re conducting user research. … The best way to do that is to hire a professional recruiter.”

Research is all about people, so it’s important to find the right people when you’re conducting user research. Whenever you’re trying to get accurate data about a product through a study such as a focus group, usability test, or expert interview, it is essential that your participants represent the larger population. To ensure that they do, you need to locate participants who fit into a specific demographic, and the best way to do that is to hire a professional recruiter.

In this month’s column, we’ll discuss both the value of working with a professional recruiter when doing user research and best practices for making this a smooth process. Read moreRead More>

By Simon White

Published: September 7, 2011

“Everyone has to get on board for a new approach to work.”

It’s not easy to apply new methods, especially when there are old habits in place, making each stage in a process a novelty for stakeholders. Some people like novelty; some don’t. But everyone has to get on board for a new approach to work. Here’s an analysis of how we bootstrapped UX in my company. Figure 1 shows our progression from the old page to the wireframe that we tested to the new page. Read moreRead More>

By Frank Guo

Published: September 7, 2011

“Many UX researchers and analysts aspire to influencing … product strategy. However, it is rather difficult to effect this kind of influence because user research insights tend to center on design and fail to speak to a company’s overall strategy for a product.”

Many UX researchers and analysts aspire to influencing not only design implementation, but also product strategy. However, it is rather difficult to effect this kind of influence because user research insights tend to center on design and fail to speak to a company’s overall strategy for a product.

In this article, I’ll describe how you can influence product strategy through a well-defined approach to user research and illustrate this approach by describing my first-hand experience with it. I’ll also discuss how any UX professional intending to add business value can leverage this approach in influencing product strategy. Read moreRead More>