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September 2013 Issue

By Janet M. Six

Published: September 23, 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 responsive Web design within the context of corporate UX design.

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 questions to: ask.uxmatters@uxmatters.com. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Margie Coles, and Lisa Hansen

Published: September 23, 2013

“The inaugural UX STRAT conference began on September 9, 2013, with a full day of pre-conference workshops. Four leading thinkers in UX strategy presented half-day workshops….”

The inaugural UX STRAT conference began on September 9, 2013, with a full day of pre-conference workshops. Four leading thinkers in UX strategy presented half-day workshops—which at $350 for two half-day workshops were very reasonably priced in comparison to similar workshops at other conferences. Each attendee who signed up for the day of workshops had two choices for the morning and two for the afternoon. The workshops included the following:

  • Morning Workshops
    • “Beyond Business Basics,” by Nathan Shedroff, Chair, MBA in Design Strategy, at California College of the Arts
    • “Customer Journey Mapping: Illustrating the Big Picture,” by Megan Grocki, Experience Strategy Director, and Jonathan Podolsky, Senior Strategist, both at Mad*Pow
  • Afternoon Workshops
    • “Redesigning Business Culture and Thinking Around the Customer,” by Tim Loo, Strategy Director at Foolproof
    • “Lean UX + UX Strat,” by Josh Seiden, Managing Director at Neo

Read moreRead More>

By Paula Barraza

Published: September 23, 2013

“By including a long-term testing approach as part of your UX research plan, you will develop a more comprehensive model of user engagement and a better understanding of how and why engagement changes over time.”

Understanding the relationship between a product and its users over a period of time is a key aspect of user research that is often overlooked. By including a long-term testing approach as part of your UX research plan, you will develop a more comprehensive model of user engagement and a better understanding of how and why engagement changes over time.

Just as the real world quickly changes around us, so does our virtual, online world. We are perpetually being introduced to new ways of fitting the Internet into our lives, and we must often learn how to use new technologies and devices. These, in turn, affect and change our online behaviors over time, as well as our perceptions of our online experiences. Who actually engages with a Web site in exactly the same way as they did when they first used it? During our first visit to a Web site, most of us probably try to get oriented and become familiar with the site, with the goal of figuring out how and whether we want to engage with it. Typically, the things that we looked at and interacted with when using the site for the first time are not the same things that we look at after several months of use—or at least we do not need to look at them in detail or with the same level of attention. Read moreRead More>

By Simon Norris

Published: September 23, 2013

“Digital organizations typically need to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve accessibility without negatively impacting visual design—and this is often where problems begin.”

The Web Accessibility Initiative aimed to improve Web usability for those with disabilities. But fifteen years after its launch, organizations still widely ignore online accessibility. Far too often, people believe that designing for accessibility means compromising an attractive design. As a result, a myriad of misconceptions have emerged, which often prevent organizations from making a determined effort to integrate accessibility into the design of their Web sites.

Although there are a number of advantages to creating an accessible Web site, including a potential increase in audience numbers, digital organizations typically need to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve accessibility without negatively impacting visual design—and this is often where problems begin. When businesses fail to create Web sites that are both functional and accessible, while at the same time ensuring that they do not compromise visual design, they are essentially risking customer experience (CX) and, therefore, revenue. Read moreRead More>

By Devanshi “Nikki” Garg

Published: September 23, 2013

“While most critics would agree that responsive Web design (RWD) won’t be going away any time soon, it is important to realize that the approach has not yet fully matured and is continuing to evolve.”

Web design trends often take off rapidly, then quickly fade to obscurity. While most critics would agree that responsive Web design (RWD) won’t be going away any time soon, it is important to realize that the approach has not yet fully matured and is continuing to evolve. As the Web development community continually refines its techniques and creates new approaches, responsive Web design promises to become an increasingly popular solution to delivering holistic design for the mobile ecosystem. The approach is here to stay—and it’s about to get a lot more intricate.

New approaches are beginning to emerge for controlling the quality of product images, blog posts, and news stories and improve performance on responsive Web sites. From responsive images to responsive content to server side responsive Web design (RESS), the methods and techniques for optimizing multidevice accessible Web sites are becoming more complex, yet more effective. In this article, which is Part 1 of a two-part series on responsive Web design, I’ll describe some of these techniques. Read moreRead More>

By Steven Hoober

Published: September 9, 2013

“I would like to discuss in some detail how I draw wireframes, as well as some of the tips and tricks that make wireframing easier for me to do using my tool of choice, Adobe InDesign.”

Whenever I discuss at length how I draw—like I did in my last column, “Tools for Mobile UX Design”—people start asking for tactical details about my methods. Many of them are easy to explain and understand. Even if you haven’t seen information design with Post-it® notes, it’s pretty easy to understand after seeing one photo. So I’ve instead chosen to explain one of the more complex cases: I would like to discuss in some detail how I draw wireframes, as well as some of the tips and tricks that make wireframing easier for me to do using my tool of choice, Adobe InDesign. Read moreRead More>

By Frank Guo

Published: September 9, 2013

Knowing when and how to make user-interface changes that matter is critical for UX management and resource planning.

Many designers, product managers, and front-end developers hold a false belief: users should notice and understand the changes that we make to user interfaces. For example, they might assume that users would pay attention to a new logo that they just put on their Web site’s home page, should read the update message telling them about the logo, and should appreciate that their new design is more visually appealing than the old one.

Observing designers’ and product managers’ response to how real users react to user-interface changes, I’ve heard them say: “I can’t believe that they didn’t notice the difference!” After our already having asked users a hundred times, they asked: “Can you ask them one more time whether they noticed this?” “Should we make it bigger so they will notice?”—when it’s already a huge banner. Or simply, “How come? Are they blind?” Read moreRead More>

By Baruch Sachs

Published: September 9, 2013

Our engagements to consistently require thought leadership around best practices for using our products. This is sometimes a new experience for our clients, who just expect us to enable them to do what they want to do rather than learning how they can do something better.

My UX team consists of highly skilled, outgoing UX professionals who live and work all over the world and engage with a diverse set of customers—both rewarding and challenging. Generally, our consulting style is a blend of directive and collaborative consulting. By this, I mean that we provide thought leadership on how to create successful user experiences for our software products, but we do this with a customer rather than to a customer. This is a common and effective approach, blending leadership with a desire to be inclusive and get everyone on board with our ideas and see them come to fruition.

Recently, after an engagement of several months, one customer told me that one of my consultants was almost too adaptable to their needs. This struck me as a bit odd because adaptability is what we are all about in the consulting world. We lead people without commanding them. We adapt to and work within a customer’s culture, while still exposing them to new ideas and methods that will make their project a success. Since my team and I work for a software vendor and are the subject-matter experts for all things relating to the user experience of our products, I expect our engagements to consistently require thought leadership around best practices for using our products. This is sometimes a new experience for our clients, who just expect us to enable them to do what they want to do rather than learning how they can do something better. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: September 9, 2013

“Board games and applications use many of the same principles to quickly get new players and new users started.”

Growing up, I loved playing board games. Now that I have kids, I’ve been able to relive playing a lot of those great games with them. As the Dad, it’s my job to be the instruction reader and rule explainer to my kids. As a result, I’ve become somewhat of an expert on how well, or how badly, games explain their rules to new players. Over time, I began to realize that board games and applications use many of the same principles to quickly get new players and new users started.

Both board games and applications have the challenge of getting new players and new users started quickly—before they get frustrated and give up. The best games and applications make it easy to learn the basics without reading lengthy instructions, and it’s easy to remember how to play the very best games—even when it’s been a long time since you last played or used them. Read moreRead More>

By David Peter Simon

Published: September 9, 2013

“Copywriting is an integral element of design.”

Copywriting—Jeff Gothelf called it the secret weapon of user experience. Jakob Nielsen quipped that it could fix 50% of usability issues. And, according to Optimizely, it may have been the key element that netted Obama $60 million more in donations. No matter how you look at it, copywriting is an integral element of design.

In this article, I’ll explore the importance of words in relation to user experience, which according to Nielsen is one of “the main money-makers on a Web site.” Read moreRead More>