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May 2013 Issue

By Janet M. Six

Published: May 20, 2013

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 key methods, tools, and deliverables of user experience strategy, as well as the best way to communicate UX strategy to an organization’s stakeholders.

In my monthly column, 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 Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: May 20, 2013

“Paul Bryan has played a key role in developing UX strategy as a profession—first by establishing the UX Strategy and Planning group on LinkedIn, now by organizing the UX STRAT 2013 conference….”

For many years, UX strategy has been an important part of my work, so I’ve observed the evolution and recent expansion of the profession of UX strategy with interest. Paul Bryan, who is shown in Figure 1, has played a key role in developing UX strategy as a profession—first by establishing the UX Strategy and Planning group on LinkedIn, now by organizing the UX STRAT 2013 conference, which will take place in Atlanta, Georgia, on September 8–11, 2013. So, for our UX Strategy special edition, I’ve interviewed Paul to find out more about his take on UX strategy and plans for the upcoming conference.

Pabini: In a nutshell, how would you define UX strategy?

Paul: UX strategy is about building a rationale to guide UX design efforts for the foreseeable future. UX strategy communicates a vision, priorities, design direction, and roadmap to serve as a North Star for all of the people in an organization who are planning and building digital products and programs. UX strategy is fundamentally based on data, but also encompasses creative leaps that let teams innovate and adapt to rapidly evolving technology contexts. Read moreRead More>

By Mona Patel

Published: May 20, 2013

“A UX strategy needs to be alive and current to be valuable.”

If you were moving to New York City, what would get you excited? You might say the nightlife or the food. But for the geek in me, it was getting Verizon FiOS (Fiber Optic Service). I mean, who wouldn’t want blazing fast Internet speeds? My new condo is FiOS-ready, so I thought it would be easy. I called Verizon weeks before the move, so I would have Internet access on Day 1. But there was a snag: after about two hours on the phone, trying to figure out why we kept getting an error, the sales representative said that she would have to call me back. I never got her call.

Since I had gotten nowhere trying to order FiOS by phone, I next tried ordering FiOS online. Then, two days before my move, I again tried calling Verizon. That sales representative also hit an error and couldn’t help me. I called again on my moving day and asked to speak to a manager. While I waited for a response, I tried using my iPad to see whether I could complete the task online. It turns out that Verizon had run out of phone numbers in the 212 area code. No error messages alerted them to that fact or offered any alternative way of proceeding. Okay, so who cares about an area code? (It turns out, I do—and by yelling and screaming, I ended up getting one—but that’s beside the point.) Read moreRead More>

By Tim Loo

Published: May 20, 2013

“Many of the challenges, issues, and pain points that I talk about in this article reflect my immersion in very large multinational organizations.”

As a UX strategist and business consultant, I work with big business. My clients are primarily global brands with heritages that predate the digital revolution. These companies have tens of thousands of staff spread across multiple locations and countries. Many of the challenges, issues, and pain points that I talk about in this article reflect my immersion in very large multinational organizations.

I talk about user experience and customer experience interchangeably because I view them as being essentially the same thing. Others have differing opinions. In the emerging discipline of UX strategy, there are many different flavors. This is mine. Read moreRead More>

By Mark Schraad

Published: May 20, 2013

“Putting together a cohesive and successful product development process requires some thought about how much you plan to involve customers. This, in turn, drives your team’s level of commitment to user experience….”

Putting together a cohesive and successful product development process requires some thought about how much you plan to involve customers. This, in turn, drives your team’s level of commitment to user experience, and how you’ll shape your approach to user experience.

In this article, I’ll identify, describe, and discuss the three predominant models for product development. Often, whether in very large organizations or startups, there is no clear and deliberate choice of development model. In fact, in very large organizations, there may not be any single person—or even a single committee—who can determine what method to follow. Shared responsibility, turf battles, and resource availability—including talent—may present insurmountable dictatorial hurdles. However, recognizing and understanding the options—whether by design or happenstance, can help you to maximize the good and minimize the negative aspects of each method. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: May 6, 2013

“By comparing the user research methods that never really caught on to those that have become popular, we can determine what it is that makes user research techniques valuable to UX professionals.”

Remember GOMS analyses? Pluralistic walkthroughs? Have you written any scenarios lately? When was the last time you performed a cognitive walkthrough? Maybe in grad school? Never?

Of all the user research methods that have emerged over last few decades, why did some catch on and become renowned, while others are still waiting for their big break or have declined from their previous glory to has-been status? By comparing the user research methods that never really caught on to those that have become popular, we can determine what it is that makes user research techniques valuable to UX professionals.

Hey, I Still Use That!

In this column, for each of the user research methods that I’ll describe as still waiting for their big break or as has-beens, I’m sure there are some fans who will protest, “Hey, I still use that!” While I’m sure there are people who still do use these methods, I’d bet that most would admit that they aren’t in wide use. Read moreRead More>

By Mia Northrop

Published: May 6, 2013

Soft skills, the interpersonal and behavioral skills that impact how you manage yourself and work with others, can make or break UX professionals….”

At some stage in your UX career, the focus of your professional improvement will likely switch from what you can produce as a UX strategist, designer, or researcher to how you produce it. Not only do you need to master hard skills such as how to articulate a UX vision, run a card sort, or wireframe for mobile rather than the desktop, you also need to negotiate with developers, facilitate prioritization workshops for teams, and sell design concepts to stakeholders. Soft skills, the interpersonal and behavioral skills that impact how you manage yourself and work with others, can make or break UX professionals and distinguish the brilliant from the respectable among us. Read moreRead More>

By Tyler Tate

Published: May 6, 2013

In this article, I’ll scrutinize the nature of information environments by investigating their most fundamental elements.

In Part 1 of this series, I argued that vestiges of the pre-Web, print era still haunt digital experiences. To create information environments that are truly coherent, we must view them not as books full of pages, but as spaces to navigate and explore—much like finding our way through a city or a museum. This is what I call information wayfinding.

In this article, I’ll scrutinize the nature of information environments by investigating their most fundamental elements. In doing so, my ambition is nothing less than to subtly reframe the way we think about interacting with information on Web sites, in mobile applications, and in other digital experiences. Read moreRead More>

By Peter Hornsby

Published: May 6, 2013

“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”—Nils Bohr

“Looking at trends in technology can help us to manage and prepare for uncertainty—or at least give us the illusion of doing so.”

In my last column, I looked at how we could make the Iron Man suit a reality, using existing technologies. Some of the Twitter feedback and comments on that column talked about using brainwaves to control the suit, so I thought it would be interesting to see what is being done in that area.

Prediction, as Nils Bohr noted, can be a dangerous activity, but also fun: looking at trends in technology can help us to manage and prepare for uncertainty—or at least give us the illusion of doing so. Historically, in user experience, predictions of the future have been tied up with inventing it. Doug Engelbart’s “Mother of All Demos,” shown in Figure 1, being the most notable example. If you’ve not already seen this video, I strongly recommend a viewing. In 1968, Engelbart demonstrated videoconferencing, hypertext; a collaborative, real-time editor; and other technologies that we would not fully realize for decades to come. Read moreRead More>

By Warren Croce

Published: May 6, 2013

“It’s impossible to understate the importance of a great first-use experience of your product or service.”

It’s impossible to understate the importance of a great first-use experience of your product or service. No matter how amazing your product’s capabilities are, if using it feels like a struggle the first time users try your product, you’ll have a hard time wooing them back.

What Is First Use?

Some people interpret first use very literally—meaning the experience starts the first time a person uses a system. While that’s certainly true, there’s more to it. In my view, first use starts with a user’s initial introduction to a product or service, continues as the user learns about what the product offers and signs up for an account or downloads the product, and concludes with the user’s actually using it for the first time. Your brand and how you want people to perceive it is also part of first use. For example, walking into an Apple Store is part of a first-use experience. If it weren’t, Apple could sell products off the back of a truck and save a bunch of money. Read moreRead More>