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November 2011 Issue

By Shanshan Ma

Published: November 21, 2011

“With the aim of discovering optimal ways of designing simple interactions on mobile devices, I examined the task of checking flight status.”

Users visit mobile sites not only to consume content, but to get things done. Let’s take air travel as an example: tasks that users often find themselves performing on an airline company’s mobile site include checking flight status, checking in for a particular flight, and searching for and booking a flight. How does mobile user interface design support task completion? What are the optimal ways of communicating and displaying interactions on mobile sites? With the aim of discovering optimal ways of designing simple interactions on mobile devices, I examined the task of checking flight status. I’m hoping that my analysis sheds some light on this topic.

The Interaction: Checking Flight Status

Travelers can initiate a status check for a flight by locating the flight using its departure date, plus either the flight number or the departure and arrival city or airport for the flight. Sounds simple enough, right? Analyzing this task, here are the steps that are involved in checking flight status: Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Published: November 21, 2011

Please click this link now to take our survey:
2011 UXmatters Reader Survey

Thanks to the 149 UXmatters readers who have already participated in our sixth annual UXmatters Reader Survey. Your feedback has been very helpful. But we still hope to hear from more of you. Please take advantage of this opportunity to participate in the 2011 UXmatters Reader Survey and share your thoughts with us while you still have the chance. Completing the entire survey takes only about 10 minutes, and you can answer or skip questions as you choose. Our survey will close on December 1, 2011.

In this last installment of our sixth anniversary issue of UXmatters, we’re announcing the Top 25 articles for the last year—that is, the most-read articles on our site from November 1, 2010 to October 31, 2011. Check out our 2011 Top 25! Read moreRead More>

By Jordan Julien

Published: November 21, 2011

“When designing a program—any Web site, application, or interactive element whose main purpose is to communicate a message—the primary goal should be to communicate the message at every step of a user’s journey toward his destination.”

When creating a Web site or application whose primary intent is to house content, or a platform, the primary goal should be getting a user to his destination. Therefore, in creating platforms, you should prioritize usability over providing an immersive experience. However, when designing a program—any Web site, application, or interactive element whose main purpose is to communicate a message—the primary goal should be to communicate the message at every step of a user’s journey toward his destination. That means programs can sacrifice usability, in certain circumstances, in favor of providing an immersive experience.

I started thinking about the conditions under which an immersive digital experience is appropriate when a Creative Director made this comment to me: “Sure, it’s fine to make things usable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t create fun, experiential campaigns.”

I agree with that statement. Fun campaigns that are also usable can be very successful and achieve many types of business objectives. That said, there are a couple of things everyone should understand about creating immersive digital experiences. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: November 21, 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 interview and evaluate the work of a potential UX team member.

Each month in 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.

The following experts have contributed answers to this edition of Ask UXmatters: Read moreRead More>

By Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain

Published: November 7, 2011

“User research provides the information that product designers and stakeholders need to make decisions.”

As we’ve discussed in previous articles, the belief that some research is better than none is not accurate. This month we’ll explore this belief and its possible consequences in depth.

In much the same way governments use intelligence in making military or diplomatic decisions, user research provides the information that product designers and stakeholders need to make decisions. If a government’s intelligence is accurate, leaders can make good, well-informed decisions. However, if the intelligence is inaccurate, leaders might make costly decisions that accomplish little or have negative consequences. Think of user research as design intelligence that helps product designers and stakeholders make informed decisions regarding product direction. Inaccurate design intelligence tends to lead to bad decisions, even when the best designers and savviest stakeholders make them. So, what are some of the ways in which user research can go wrong? Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Published: November 7, 2011

Please click this link now to take our survey:
2011 UXmatters Reader Survey

To the 77 UXmatters readers who have already participated in our sixth annual UXmatters Reader Survey, thank you! We really appreciate your sharing your thoughts with us.

To the 16,214 other readers who have visited UXmatters since our survey began and the many more who will come to UXmatters this month to read some of the best content about user experience on the Web, we’d really like to hear from you, too. It’s in your best interest to ensure that our editorial staff understands and can better serve your information needs.

Please take this opportunity to participate in our 2011 UXmatters Reader Survey. Tell us what types of content interest you and help us get to know you better. You can help shape the future direction of UXmatters! Read moreRead More>

By Ben Crothers

Published: November 7, 2011

“Storyboards are appealing at an aesthetic level, but are trickier to use in persuading clients who are more used to cold, hard numbers, charts, and tables.”

In the fields of user experience and service design, we use storyboards to illustrate our solutions, so clients can walk in the shoes of their customers, staff, or community and see our solutions as we see them. Storyboards are appealing at an aesthetic level, but are trickier to use in persuading clients who are more used to cold, hard numbers, charts, and tables. Offering more tangible measures of customer sentiment helps clients make connections between the experiences we depict and the sorts of technology, financial, and resource decisions that are necessary to make those experiences happen.

Dexter’s Authority

Way back in ancient times, there was a great Australian TV game show called Perfect Match. The ever buff and polished Greg Evans hosted the show, and a lovely young lady or a peppy gent would ask three questions of three contestants who were seated on the other side of a screen. The lady or gentleman then chose one of the contestants, and the new couple went on a holiday together to see if they were, indeed, the perfect match. Read moreRead More>

By Nathaniel Davis

Published: November 7, 2011

“A viable IA candidate must have had previous success at practicing UX design.”

In Part 1 of this series on strategies for hiring IA practitioners, I revisited the Boersma T-Model for user experience design, shown in Figure 1. My earlier column, “Framing the Practice of Information Architecture,” outlined what I consider information architecture’s six primary areas of interest. I inserted those areas of interest into Boersma’s model to create a more refined view of the IA-practice vertical. While this helped to reduce information architecture’s level of abstraction within the T-Model, I argued that a viable IA candidate must have had previous success at practicing UX design. Hence, it became apparent that, to evaluate the desired skills for an IA practitioner, we need to understand the nature of the high and low tiers of the remaining UX practice verticals. Read moreRead More>

By Caroline Jarrett

Published: November 7, 2011

“Confidence intervals are extremely valuable for any usability professional. A confidence interval is a range that estimates the true population value for a statistic.”
—Tom Tullis and Bill Albert

What is a confidence interval? I wanted to know that recently and turned to one of my favorite books: Measuring the User Experience, by Tom Tullis and Bill Albert. And here’s what they say:

“Confidence intervals are extremely valuable for any usability professional. A confidence interval is a range that estimates the true population value for a statistic.”

Then they go on to explain how you calculate a confidence interval in Excel. Which is fine, but I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely sure that once I’d calculated it, I really knew what I’d done or what it meant. So I trawled through various statistics books to gain a better understanding of confidence intervals, and this column is the result. Read moreRead More>

By Michael Hawley

Published: November 1, 2011

“To be successful as a UX professional, you need to know how to be persuasive.”

In your work as a UX professional, do you ever find that you need to convince people that the team should follow a user-centered design process? Do you need to convince stakeholders they should do user research? Do you try to get user experience thinking inserted earlier in the project lifecycle? Perhaps you need to sell yourself or your company? I certainly do. In fact, I find that there are many of these persuasive moments in the practice of user experience design. To be successful as a UX professional, you need to know how to be persuasive.

Being good at persuading people is particularly important in our profession, for a variety of reasons. First, many business stakeholders and partners do not understand what UX design is all about. They don’t understand the basis for many UX design principles or how a user-centered design process leads to intuitive design solutions. Second, because they all interact with an increasing number of user interfaces, they develop their own opinions about what works and what doesn’t. It is the UX professional’s job to persuade stakeholders and decision makers that their personal biases and opinions might not always suggest the best design solutions. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Published: November 1, 2011

Please click this link now to take our survey:
2011 UXmatters Reader Survey

This month, we’re celebrating the sixth anniversary of UXmatters. Since we launched UXmatters in November 2005, we’ve published 509 articles on a broad variety of topics, including columns, interviews, and reviews of books, conferences, and products for UX professionals. Our 137 authors hail from countries all around the world and include 28 columnists whose frequent contributions to UXmatters have consistently offered great value to the UX community. And the community of UX professionals who read UXmatters continues to grow. Over the past year, 505,900 people have read articles on UXmatters, for a grand total of 1,154,701 pageviews.

You can help us to publish a Web magazine that continues to serve the information needs of UX professionals worldwide by participating in our 2011 UXmatters Reader Survey. Please tell us how we’re doing, what topics you’d like to read about on UXmatters in the future, and a little something about yourself. We want to hear from you! Read moreRead More>

By Traci Lepore

Published: November 1, 2011

“You are a 14-year-old boy who lives on a farm in Maine in the early 1800s. Or maybe you’re a farmer who makes little money for demanding physical labor. Perhaps you’ve never been outside your town, and you ache for some adventure. Then you hear about whaling expeditions leaving Nantucket, and your head fills with stories of wine, women, song, and, of course, whales.”

“This story of my experiences at the Whaling Museum … helps to illustrate … how successful a story that fully coordinates the context, spine, and structure can be.”

This was the beginning of a fantastic story I heard at the Nantucket Whaling Museum recently. We sat in a gallery that housed a whale skeleton, a whaling boat, spears, lances, media, and other artifacts—evocative props for the presentation we were about to experience. We learned about the rich history of whaling in Nantucket—from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy on a whaling ship. Read moreRead More>

By Peter Hornsby

Published: November 1, 2011

“In this column, I’ll take a look at some of the questions that can arise on a project team—and how they should and should not be answered.”

The relationship between client and designer does not always work out as smoothly as we would wish, despite the best efforts of all concerned. In this column, I’ll take a look at some of the questions that can arise on a project team—and how they should and should not be answered. I hope these raise a smile—and possibly help you tackle the next awkward client conversation you encounter.

Questions UX Designers Ask Their Clients

First, let’s look at some some of the challenging questions UX designers often ask—and some answers they might get in response. Read moreRead More>