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January 2013 Issue

By Paul Bryan

Published: January 21, 2013

“Some in the UX community are now saying that personas have been superseded by the availability of more accurate data or by newer UX design and development methods.”

Personas have been a popular approach for guiding the design of Web sites and mobile apps. However, some in the UX community are now saying that personas have been superseded by the availability of more accurate data or by newer UX design and development methods. In this column, I’ll give a quick overview of how my team and I formulate personas, then discuss the three reasons I most often hear for abandoning personas as a design tool.

The Early Days of Web Design

During the first wave of Web design, before most people called it UX design, there were few standards or tools to rely on for strategic guidance. One of the earliest tools for introducing strategy into the more or less free-form creative process was the company brand book. A brand book is a detailed description of how to express brand attributes in visual design and content. Typically, a Creative Director would distribute the brand book of a company for whom we were designing a Web site at the beginning of a project and expected all subsequent design work to conform to its standards. Read moreRead More>

By Todd Zazelenchuk and Jeff Larson

Published: January 21, 2013

“No two software development teams are the same. They may vary in their composition, experience level, the proximity of their members, and their organizations’ willingness to embrace agile development methods.”

Try this test: Find three UX friends and ask them about the compatibility of UX design with agile development. Odds are that one of them believes UX design and agile can work well together, one swears that they can’t, and one has yet to decide. There are many reasons for the divided opinion on this issue.

In the same way that consumers’ experiences are highly contextual, no two software development teams are the same. They may vary in their composition, experience level, the proximity of their members, and their organizations’ willingness to embrace agile development methods. To be successful, it is necessary to apply strategies that best serve our team’s context. In this article, we share our recent experience trying to make UX design and agile click by examining the design and development of the Android app Find MyHeadset™ and highlighting the strategies and activities that we found most helpful. Read moreRead More>

By Janet M. Six

Published: January 21, 2013

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

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our experts discuss what is the best approach to designing tablet apps.

Every month in Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts answers our readers’ questions about a variety 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 questions to: ask.uxmatters@uxmatters.com. Read moreRead More>

By Ritch Macefield

Published: January 21, 2013

“Interpersonal communication is key to virtually all endeavors that involve more than one person. But interpersonal communication is a difficult and complex business.”

In this article, I want to propose a new UX term: Collaborative Interaction Design and Specification, or CIDS. But first, it would be helpful to provide some background on how and why I came to invent this term, starting with a few words about communication and user experience.

Communication and User Experience

Those UX professionals who have a psychology background or have read seminal works on human communication such as Grinder and Bandler’s The Structure of Magic 2: A Book About Communication and Change know that interpersonal communication is key to virtually all endeavors that involve more than one person. But interpersonal communication is a difficult and complex business. Paradoxically, many seem oblivious to this fact, ploughing on regardless through an unending stream of miscommunications in both their personal and business lives. Or maybe it’s precisely because we unconsciously know just how difficult accurate communication is that we often seem reluctant or unable to address communication issues. Read moreRead More>

By Nathaniel Davis

Published: January 21, 2013

“There are five concepts that drive the six steps for creating a Web site’s information architecture.”

In a previous column, “Creating a Web-Site Information Architecture in Six Steps,” I reviewed several categories of assumptions and tactics for creating a Web site’s information architecture. While that column focused on practice, it would also be useful for you to know how IA theory informed that column. Having a little theory in your back pocket is always useful.

Many practitioners of information architecture have come to understand the fundamentals of creating an information architecture through direct training, text books about practical methods, or real-world experience. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find documentation on the formal theory of information architecture.

So, I’d like to share several theoretical concepts from my research that I used as the foundation for my column “Creating a Web-Site Information Architecture in Six Steps.” I’ll condense these concepts into a simple and, hopefully, memorable diagram. Read moreRead More>

By Steven Hoober

Published: January 7, 2013

“The highest aspiration a telephone call had was to be as good as being there. It falls short in that it creates a session-based interaction that doesn’t match how we are interacting physically in the same space.”—Martin Geddes

Martin Geddes is one of the few people whose opinion I uniformly respect and consistently listen to. I don’t feel this way just from reading his newsletters, but because we worked together during an exciting time at Sprint, periodically coauthoring whitepapers and designing revolutionary mobile ecosystems that never quite came to pass. Martin has kept up this work, and I think of him as being somewhere between a quite successful strategic telecommunications (telecom) consultant and a radical futurist. He is perhaps the most well-informed person about telecommunications—as both technological and social phenomena—that I know of.

At Oracle Open World, in October 2012, Martin revealed a concept called hypervoice, which is a term he’s coined to describe a breakthrough innovation that HarQen has achieved, but were struggling to explain. He had heard the phrase links what you say to what you do during a meeting with them, and it immediately became clear that a new hypermedium had been invented. Best of all, hypervoice is not just a concept, but a working product. Read moreRead More>

By Laura Keller

Published: January 7, 2013

“Much of the work of service implementation is in understanding how employees need to change. … Applying service design methods to the roles of employees within an organization can help uncover and address barriers to change that may be systemic within a culture.”

The theme of the Service Design Network’s Global Conference in Paris, France, was Cultural Change by Design. I had the opportunity to copresent at the conference with my colleague Lisa Woodley. In this column, I’d like to briefly recap some highlights of the conference as a foundation for sharing the service design community’s upcoming task of redefining service design.

Companies and Change: Service Designer as Group Therapist

Lisa and I kicked off the two-day conference at the headquarters of La Poste, the French national postal service, with our topic “Companies and Change: Service Designer as Group Therapist.” Implementing a new or revised service in an organization is not as simple as creating a clear articulation of that service in a blueprint, then hoping that it suffices to bring that service to life. Rather, much of the work of service implementation is in understanding how employees need to change. Our topic concentrated on the idea that applying service design methods to the roles of employees within an organization can help uncover and address barriers to change that may be systemic within a culture. We believe the service designer’s role in a helping an organization to change is similar to the role that a group therapist plays when working with families who are trying to change their behaviors. Read moreRead More>

By James Coston

Published: January 7, 2013

“We can infer someone’s mood or emotions and even read thoughts from a face. However, all too often, we ignore or fail to fully understand this reality when designing Web sites.”

If you were to describe what a face is, what would you say? Would you talk about its features? Or would you talk about its function? We interpret the majority of the things a human face does unconsciously.

Faces Express Who People Are

I’m guessing that you probably said the main role of faces is to let us identify and recognize people, which is true. But faces do much more. People’s faces

  • reveal their identity, age, and gender to others
  • show their genetic inheritance
  • portray a variety of emotions—for example, anger, disgust, happiness
  • identify their ethnicity
  • influence the behavior of others

Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: January 7, 2013

“Presenting brings you professional recognition and advances your career.”

If you’ve never presented at a user experience conference, the thought of doing so can seem daunting. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, the main reasons people don’t present at conferences are

  • their inability to think of a topic
  • lack of time
  • doubt about being accepted
  • the perceived difficulty of creating a proposal and presentation
  • fear of public speaking

I also discussed the many rewarding benefits of presenting at a UX conference. Read moreRead More>

By Riley Graham

Published: January 7, 2013

“To get an innovative product to market quickly and efficiently, follow a lean UX process during each iterative development cycle. A lean UX process lets you validate business goals and identify market needs and affords opportunities for innovative change.”

Earlier this year, I worked for a client, in a start-up environment, who needed extensive user research to validate their product concept and bring it to market. We conducted lean UX research continuously throughout the development process and quickly took the product to market. The results of our research were incredibly significant.

To get an innovative product to market quickly and efficiently, follow a lean UX process during each iterative development cycle. A lean UX process lets you validate business goals and identify market needs and affords opportunities for innovative change. Read moreRead More>