Do you create products or organize events for UX professionals or manage a UX team that’s hiring? Sponsor UXmatters and see your ad or logo here! Learn moreLearn More

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2011 Issue

By Mike Hughes

Published: December 19, 2011

“Working in software development, I have found two dimensions of conflict that are particularly challenging from a UX perspective.”

A project management instructor told me that, if there were unlimited resources and no deadlines, there would be no need for project managers. This general principle applies to many aspects of human endeavor: If there is no tricky path for you to navigate between a rock and a hard place, anybody can do it. So, why do we need you?

Fortunately, UX professionals often find themselves having to negotiate conflicting goals, looking for that sweet spot that optimizes the end result. However, working in software development, I have found two dimensions of conflict that are particularly challenging from a UX perspective:

  1. convention versus innovation
  2. control versus freedom

I like to think of these as knobs, like the bass and treble knobs on my radio. You can’t move in one direction without going away from the other, and you generally want to find some point in between the two extremes. Read moreRead More>

By Antonia Anni

Published: December 19, 2011

“It has become increasingly difficult to describe who UX professionals are and what they do.”

?In recent times, it has become increasingly difficult to describe who UX professionals are and what they do. As a new entrant into this profession, defining who I am and presenting the skills I possess as something that is valuable to any organization has been an uphill task.

When looking out for suitable roles, I have come across job titles that ranged from Heavyweight User Experience Architect to Champion User Experience Rock Star. These titles just left me puzzled about what the hiring company might expect of me or another UX professional.

From the varied definitions of user experience I have stumbled upon in various blog posts and articles, I have felt a sense of discord among those in the UX community regarding our profession. While I already had my own perception of what user experience entails, I wanted a concrete definition to build on as I began my career. Through my search, I came to realize that focusing on titles and definitions of user experience was not very valuable. Too many words and too much time have been lost to never-ending arguments on the meaning of user experience. Read moreRead More>

By Peter Hornsby

Published: December 19, 2011

Inspired by Clement Clarke Moore’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas

’Twas the night before site launch, when all through the place,
Not a server was stirring, not even a trace.
The breadcrumbs were hung by the navbar with care,
In hopes that some customers soon would be there.

Our clients were nestled, all snug in their beds,
While visions of riches danced in their heads.
And the coders in their tees, and I with my apps,
Had just closed our notebooks for a quick winter’s nap. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: December 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 how to encourage participation during collaborative design sessions—and even make them fun.

Ask UXmatters is a monthly column, in which 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 Sharon Harper

Published: December 19, 2011

“This conference wildly exceeded my expectations. There were ample networking opportunities, education in usability, interaction with experienced professionals, and a glimpse of the disciplines’ future.”

The 2011 UPA (Usability Professionals’ Association) International Conference took place from June 21 through June 24, 2011. The conference lived up to its theme, Designing for Social Change, and heralded the 20th anniversary of the UPA Conference. Approximately 600 experienced and novice usability, user experience, and user interface design professionals gathered at the Hyatt Regency, in Atlanta, Georgia. This was my first UPA Conference, and I was fortunate to be an on-site volunteer. My expectations for this conference mirrored my experience of the many other conferences I’ve attended in the past, but this conference wildly exceeded my expectations. There were ample networking opportunities, education in usability, interaction with experienced professionals, and a glimpse of the disciplines’ future.

Organization

With over 300 international volunteers managing submissions of proposals for workshops and sessions, evaluating student projects, selecting the conference venue, and planning the flow of the event, it was obvious why the quality of this conference was so high. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: December 5, 2011

“The first thing you should decide is what you want to focus on.”

Recently, I celebrated my 11-year anniversary in user experience. Ten years is supposedly the time it takes to become an expert. Though I don’t necessarily feel like an expert, because I like to think that I’m still learning and gaining experience. Nevertheless, 11 years seems like a good point at which to reflect back on the things I’ve learned over my career and pass on some advice to those who are just getting started in the field of user research.

Do You Want to Be a User Researcher, a Designer, or Both?

The first thing you should decide is what you want to focus on. There is a great variety of roles in user experience. Some UX professionals are generalists who do everything from user research to UX design—and sometimes even software development. Others specialize on a particular aspect of user experience such as interaction design, visual design, content strategy, or ethnography. And many fall somewhere in between—for example, a UX Architect who conducts user research and is responsible for every aspect of UX design except visual design. Read moreRead More>

By Catalina Naranjo-Bock

Published: December 5, 2011

“Between the ages of 7 and 10 years of age, … even though their motor, physical, social, and cognitive skills are still developing, kids … focus on discovering their favorite activities, artifacts, colors, and friendships.”

I dedicated my last Designing for Children column to exploring the effective use of color and graphics in interactive applications for toddlers and preschoolers. In this installment, I’ll continue my exploration of the use of color and graphics, but this time, in applications directed toward older children.

The I’m-Not-a-Baby Stage: 7 to 10 Years of Age

Between the ages of 7 and 10 years of age, most children are entering a process of self-definition. Even though their motor, physical, social, and cognitive skills are still developing, kids of this age focus on discovering their favorite activities, artifacts, colors, and friendships. Designs for these older children can include emotion and more extreme colors and graphics, as well as more abstract elements that invite these young viewers to complete a picture. Read moreRead More>

By Ollie Campbell

Published: December 5, 2011

“We have a group of users. We want to understand what’s important to them. … So we decided to use some of our research and design techniques on ourselves.”

Before we started Navy, we spent years working at big agencies. And after every client pitch or new business meeting, we had the same discussion in the taxi. Did they like us? Did they get it? Are we the kind of company they want to work with? Wouldn’t it be great if we could read their minds?

Suddenly, it hit us. We have a group of users. We want to understand what’s important to them. We want to make their lives a bit easier. We know this stuff! This is just a design problem! So we decided to use some of our research and design techniques on ourselves. Read moreRead More>

By Nathaniel Davis

Published: December 5, 2011

“The subject of optimizing the presentation of content within a domain for discovery by search engines falls into the activities of information seeking and search behavior.”

In this month’s column, I’ll discuss how to put search engine optimization (SEO) in its proper place in the grand scheme of things, demonstrating its relationship to information architecture. In my last column, I introduced an order grid that details the key competencies, or areas of interest, of eight major UX design practice verticals. I created this order grid to help identify the required competencies for IA practitioners.

Some of you may have noticed that SEO did not make it to that list—not because SEO is not part of the design and development process, but because, arguably, SEO is part of the subject matter of information architecture strategy—within the fifth tier of the IA practice vertical. Read moreRead More>

By Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain

Published: December 5, 2011

“Research planning can reduce costs and decrease the time it takes to perform user research. One of the biggest challenges in performing user research is determining which research approaches to apply and when to apply them.”

Last month, we talked about ways that user research can go wrong. This month, we’ll discuss how research planning can reduce costs and decrease the time it takes to perform user research. One of the biggest challenges in performing user research is determining which research approaches to apply and when to apply them. The research methods you choose are dependent upon a variety of factors, including budget, schedule, development phase, business goals, and research questions.

If you are familiar with various research methods and their applications, your organization’s business goals, and product development constraints such as schedule, budget, and the development process, you can create an end-to-end user research plan to cover an entire product development cycle. Having a user research plan helps you to establish and communicate research goals and expectations regarding logistics and set research milestones for a product development effort. Read moreRead More>