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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 2013 Issue

By Janet M. Six

Published: October 21, 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 the best ways to collaborate with stakeholders—whether internal or external—and customers—and why collaboration is so important.

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 Mona Patel

Published: October 21, 2013

“There are a some common misconceptions about Lean UX. Many companies have told me that they think being lean just means spending less money.”

Recently, in managing a small user experience and design agency, I’ve discovered that there are some common misconceptions about Lean UX. Many companies have told me that they think being lean just means spending less money. Agencies cost money, so these companies think that keeping UX work in house is lean. Some of our clients have asked us to skip research, avoid creating deliverables, and complete our work based only on assumptions. They’ve asked us to participate in daily meetings, with the goal of working more collaboratively, but often this just slows us down. Read moreRead More>

By Lis Hubert

Published: October 21, 2013

“The problem for UX professionals is that you don’t have a concrete way of articulating how your profession adds tremendous value to a business’s bottom line.”—A friend

It was a cool day in January, and there I was, speeding across Interstate 80 in my car with a friend, providing support as he went to interview for graduate school. If you’ve ever driven along this particular interstate, you know it’s a pretty long, straight, boring drive. So the journey provided plenty of thinking time, and as I drove, a thought came to me: “You know what’s wrong with my profession?” I asked my friend. “What’s that?” he queried. “We don’t know how to package our value well. Therefore, those outside user experience—especially business stakeholders and CEOs—never really understand our value,” I replied. “You know what? You’re right,” he began. “The problem for UX professionals is that you don’t have a concrete way of articulating how your profession adds tremendous value to a business’s bottom line.” His statement got me to thinking more deeply, and an idea was born.

The Current State of User Experience

Before we get to that idea, it’s important that I describe the current state of our profession of User Experience. And, before that, it’s important for you to understand my background, which is what ultimately led to my conceiving of this new framework. Read moreRead More>

By Peter Hornsby

Published: October 21, 2013

“I recently attended the Eurogamer Expo, which gave me … an opportunity to use the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset.”

I recently attended the Eurogamer Expo, which gave me a chance to look at what was new in the world of gaming and play with some of the Cool New Stuff coming out over the next year. In addition to playing with the Xbox One—which was disappointing—and the PlayStation 4—which, though interesting, was underwhelming—I also had an opportunity to use the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset. I like new, cool hardware. Occasionally, I’m disappointed—Leap Motion, I’m looking at you—but every so often I find a gem, and the Rift is one such.

A few gaming stands at the show featured the Oculus Rift headset. Most of these were high‑definition headsets. But the queues were around an hour long, and while I am keen and dedicated, there were better things to do with my time. So I tried a standard-definition headset that a university was demoing. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: October 21, 2013

“This first-ever UX STRAT conference generated a lot of excitement in the UX community and brought together many leading thinkers on UX strategy….”

This first-ever UX STRAT conference generated a lot of excitement in the UX community and brought together many leading thinkers on UX strategy—making for an interesting dialogue on UX strategy topics among both presenters and audience members. It was great to come together with like-minded UX professionals who are collectively moving the practice of UX strategy forward. UX STRAT 2013 took place in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center, and spanned two days—September 10–11—following a full day of pre-conference workshops. (You can read our workshop reviews.)

Organization

UX STRAT 2013 was a very well-organized conference. When you consider that this was the inaugural UX STRAT conference, the job that Paul Bryan, shown in Figure 1, and his team did was nothing short of phenomenal. In addition to Paul, the rest of the core team that organized the conference included Mark Schraad, Shane McWhorter, Jenny Sun, and Andrew Schechterman. I’m sure they found the generous advice they received from the organizers of other UX conferences helpful—including UXPA, WebVisions, UX Hong Kong, User Experience Lisbon, the EPIC Conference, IA Summit, and Interaction 13. Read moreRead More>

By Laura Keller

Published: October 7, 2013

“The typical XD consulting approach is not healthy for our client organizations.”

Imagine that you’re checking into a hospital to receive medical care. You don’t really know what’s wrong with you, but you know something isn’t right. You feel light-headed, short of breath, and have a severe headache. You could have waited to see whether you improved on your own, but you’re worried it might be something serious, so you seek expert advice sooner rather than later. Doctors and staff come in to see you and go out. They’re polite, but answer your questions curtly, and you don’t know exactly what’s going on. You wonder, What is wrong with me? What are they testing for? Will I be okay? When will I go home? When they discharge you and you’re ready to leave, the staff finally give you your diagnosis, along with written instructions explaining what you need to do. As the hospital staff proceed to treat other patients, they leave you to figure it out on your own, and you head home.

Can you imagine such a hospital experience—being kept in the dark about your own diagnosis and prognosis, until you’re about to be discharged? Can you imagine a medical staff expecting you to change your behavior based on a few brief interactions with them and a set of written instructions? Luckily, the healthcare industry has figured out more effective approaches to treating patients and achieving better outcomes. Unfortunately, those of us in experience design (XD) consulting have not. In this column, I’ll first explore why the typical XD consulting approach is not healthy for our client organizations. Then I’ll look at what I think should be the ultimate goal of an XD engagement: educating our clients and being transparent about our XD methods and approaches. Read moreRead More>

By Kate Finn

Published: October 7, 2013

“The number of older people throughout the world is surging. The general characteristics of older adults … merit particular consideration when designing the user interfaces that they will use.”

By whatever definition of older we might use, the number of older people throughout the world is surging. The general characteristics of older adults—along with demographic and technological trends—merit particular consideration when designing the user interfaces that they will use. As a heterogeneous population with its own usability considerations, however, this group has not gotten much attention.

The “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 speak in terms of accessibility rather than usability. (For this discussion, let’s assume a very large overlap exists between the two terms.) And the W3C’s WAI-AGE project, which looked at the application of the WCAG to improve Web accessibility for older and disabled people, found that “existing standards … address the accessibility needs of older Web users,” implying that no further work was necessary. But have greatly improved user experiences for older Web site visitors resulted from the existence of WCAG 2.0 or any other set of usability or accessibility guidelines? Read moreRead More>

By Baruch Sachs

Published: October 7, 2013

“The overall intent of flat design [is to] rely on typography and layout to convey hierarchy and complexity rather than less meaningful elements such as shadowing and glossiness.”

An ounce of gravy can hide a multitude of sins—or so the old adage goes. When it comes to food, gravy might seem to hide an inferior product, but for someone with a sophisticated and nuanced palate, its inadequacies would certainly shine through. The same holds true for the new paradigm of flat design.

Unless you’ve been dwelling in a cave, you know—like most UX professionals—that so-called flat design is the way to go these days. After all, Apple says so. But once you get beyond the hype of flat design in the new iOS7, you can quickly see that the flatness of the design was not really about aesthetics. At its heart, it was about information architecture, the desire to go deep without being distracted by aesthetic elements. Read moreRead More>

By Chi-Pong Wong

Published: October 7, 2013

“Any service … can garner positive or negative press, depending on how it is administered.”

Any service—whether it be handling a standard support request or a common customer complaint—can garner positive or negative press, depending on how it is administered. Two contrasting episodes that happened in 2013 demonstrate how a well-executed service can suddenly catapult a brand to the status of service marvel and how an ill-supported service can relegate a brand to the abyss of notoriety just as fast.

In January 2013, seven-year-old Luka Apps spent his Christmas money on a LEGO Minifigure, only to have it fall out of his pocket without his realizing it during a shopping trip with his parents. Luka wrote to LEGO explaining the situation and asked if they would kindly send him a replacement Minifigure, promising never to take it to a shop again. LEGO wasted no time in sending Luka a soothing letter to comfort him, along with a pair of Minifigures—an exact replica of the one Luka had lost, plus its archnemesis, so he could pit the two Minifigures against each other in a fight. This story of LEGO’s kindness soon got tweeted and then spotlighted on media all over the world. Read moreRead More>

By James Coston

Published: October 7, 2013

“EEG records the activity and strength of the brain’s electrical signals.”

In Part 1 of this series on the adoption of scientific techniques by user experience, I described how those who have incorporated such techniques into user research have sometimes let them down. For many, the introduction of a new technique is a means of profiteering, so there is little communication of why one should use a technique or how to apply it. Now, in Part 2, I am going to review EEG (Electroencephalography), explain what it is, describe how it works, and evaluate whether it might have a place in user experience.

What Is EEG?

As the human brain functions, it continuously sends out electrical signals. Depending on what a person does or thinks, different parts of the brain fire more intensely. An EEG machine is a measuring tool. Through electrodes that a researcher has placed in various locations on a person’s scalp, EEG records the activity and strength of the brain’s electrical signals between various points on the head. Figure 1 shows an overhead view of the positions where a researcher would normally place electrodes on a person’s head. Read moreRead More>