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July 2014 Issue

By Baruch Sachs

Published: July 21, 2014

“All too often, organizations miss opportunities to integrate User Experience into projects effectively, preventing the success of User Experience on large, digital-transformation software projects.”

In my last column, I wrote about the challenges of undertaking a truly transformative software development project within a large enterprise and how it’s sometimes a struggle for User Experience to find the right role within an organization. All too often, organizations miss opportunities to integrate User Experience into projects effectively, preventing the success of User Experience on large, digital-transformation software projects. Thus, UX professionals are left simply managing the UX component, instead of providing the right blend of value and influence.

Now, in Part 2 of this series, I’ll offer guidance on three specific UX activities that should be part of a transformative software development project. Read moreRead More>

By Traci Lepore

Published: July 21, 2014

“We work in such collaborative environments. We follow agile or lean methods. So the strength of our work relies heavily on the strength of the team. As the UX people on any team, we play a critical role in bridging different sides of the story together.”

We’ve all experienced some negative moments—when we don’t think we can achieve some goal or a challenge seems too hard to take on. Or maybe, we just feel like we’re in a slump and are finding it hard to stay motivated. It’s easy to let moments like these get the best of us. Sometimes, our first reflex in such a situation is just to say, “No!” The problem, when that happens, is that our attitude can quickly spread to everyone around us. And that kind of negative attitude is destructive to any team.

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”—Winston Churchill Read moreRead More>

By Daria Shualy

Published: July 21, 2014

“Early in a startup, you need to acquire your customers for free. Later on, you can spend on customer acquisition.”—Fred Wilson

“When you’re spending your own time—your most valuable asset—you want to make every hour count. So you find yourself measuring each and every effort, constantly making tweaks and improvements to get better results.”

This statement is true for two reasons: The first is that, as a startup, you are usually short on funding. The second is that not spending money on customer acquisition helps you to be very focused. In a way, spending money may seem to be easy, but when you’re spending your own time—your most valuable asset—you want to make every hour count. So you find yourself measuring each and every effort, constantly making tweaks and improvements to get better results. If you had money to spend, you might be tempted to throw more money at the problem. But when there is no money to throw at customer acquisition, you’re forced to look carefully into all aspects of your customer-acquisition efforts. Read moreRead More>

By Paul Bryan

Published: July 21, 2014

“Early-bird registration ends on July 31, 2014, so register now to save.”

The field of UX strategy has been growing rapidly over the past couple of years, as a specialty within the broader field of user experience. In the past year, postings of jobs that specify UX strategy as a key competency and specialized UX Strategist roles have become increasingly frequent. Events, workshops, and classes whose focus is the topic of UX strategy have been springing up to meet the growing need for education and professional growth in this area.

In just a few short years, the UX Strategy and Planning group on LinkedIn has grown to over 12,000 members, providing an active forum for discussions about UX strategy and, more broadly, experience strategy. UX design and management professionals around the world are participating in the dialogue. UXmatters has dedicated a significant amount of space to publishing articles about UX strategy—including my column UX Strategy, which I began in January 2012, as well as UX STRAT 2013–speaker Ronnie Battista’s new Strategy Matters column—altogether, 190 articles on UX strategy topics by many thought leaders within the realm of UX strategy. Read moreRead More>

By Debra Gelman

Published: July 21, 2014

This is a sample chapter from the new Rosenfeld Media book Design for Kids: Digital Products for Playing and Learning. ©2013 Rosenfeld Media.

Chapter 2: Playing and Learning

At a 4-year-old’s birthday party, I had an interesting conversation with two different parents about their children’s iPad use versus their TV watching. I asked about the rules these parents had in place regarding screen time for their kids. One mother strongly objected to any “playing” on the iPad for her child. Instead, she let her son—a very intelligent, developmentally sophisticated 4-year-old—use age-appropriate reading and math apps for about an hour a day, and then allowed him to watch two TV shows before bedtime. Read moreRead More>

By Steven Hoober

Published: July 7, 2014

“A key facet of human behavior is the influence the environment has on people.”

Ever since I figured out that the design work that I do is really rooted in psychology and physiology, I’ve been fascinated by human behavior. A key facet of human behavior is the influence the environment has on people. While the term context is a good shorthand way of referring to this, it’s too often confused with a user’s physical location and activities. And way too often, people assume that a user’s context is simply sitting at a desk, looking at a computer.

Naturally, I disagree with that perspective on context. You might expect that’s because my work focuses on design for mobile devices, but there’s more to it than that. It’s not just because mobile phones open the whole world to computing, but because context—or environment—is a much broader thing. So imagine my excitement on reading this:

“The history of technology is part and parcel of social history in general. Technology cannot be studied in isolation.”—John Ellis Read moreRead More>

By Liraz Margalit

Published: July 7, 2014

“User-centered design tries to optimize products for the ways users can, want, or need to use them rather than forcing users to change their behavior to use a product.”

For the past fifty years, successful product marketing has involved an effort to see products and services from the customer’s or user’s point of view. User-centered design tries to optimize products for the ways users can, want, or need to use them rather than forcing users to change their behavior to use a product.

“User-centered design (UCD), is a design philosophy where the end-user’s needs, wants, and limitations are a focus at all stages within the design process and development lifecycle.”—Webopedia

Since the late 1980s, the paradigm in design theory has shifted from technology-oriented design to user-oriented design. However, recent studies have shown that this shift has yet to be fully integrated into current design practices. Engineers, product managers, and others who are involved in the design process still consider the user interface and the context of use primarily as integral parts of the overall development process. Many of them—even some UX designers—still mistakenly assume that their own preferences and skills are representative of those of the user or that users will adopt the perspectives of the designers and developers as they interact with a Web site or application. An extreme example of this self‑as‑user outlook is the belief that problems interacting with a product are the fault of users’ mistaken interactions or their failure to follow instructions. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: July 7, 2014

“Much has been written about “the Prius Effect”—how the Prius and other hybrid vehicles change driving behavior by providing feedback that shows drivers how their actions affect their gas mileage.”

I recently bought a Toyota Prius and was surprised to notice my driving behavior change to a more economical style of driving. Doing some research, I learned that I wasn’t alone in this. Much has been written about “the Prius Effect”—how the Prius and other hybrid vehicles change driving behavior by providing feedback that shows drivers how their actions affect their gas mileage. Some people view this as a positive effect, while others, who are annoyed by slow Prius drivers, view it negatively.

What causes Prius drivers to change their behavior? I believe that it’s the feedback that the Prius’s Multi-Information Display provides to drivers. This display consists of several screens, showing the current gas mileage, average gas mileage over various periods of time, and whether the gas or electric motor is currently powering the car. In this column, I’ll discuss the Prius’s information displays, in terms of the effects they have on drivers, the usefulness of the information that they provide, and the effectiveness of their design. Read moreRead More>

By Anindya Sengupta

Published: July 7, 2014

“Agile methodology—more specifically Scrum—is an increasingly popular approach to increasing the speed of software development while maintaining flexibility.”

Agile methodology—more specifically Scrum—is an increasingly popular approach to increasing the speed of software development while maintaining flexibility. Scrum works well when an entire team is collocated. Real-time communication happens between team members during daily Scrum meetings. But assume part of a team is operating in a different role, from a different location. Sound challenging? In this article, I’ll try to answer some common questions about user experience and Scrum by exploring the challenges a Development team faced when working with a separate UX team on a Scrum project. I’ll also provide recommendations for UX teams that are part of a Scrum team.

While the information in this article reflects my experience working with my clients, confidentiality prevents my discussing specific situations, so I’ll instead present a scenario that is based on some challenging situations that I’ve actually encountered in my work. This scenario resembles real situations from a very successful project on which the UX team was not colocated with the rest of the Scrum team. I hope this article will be useful to both UX professionals and software developers working on Scrum projects. Read moreRead More>

Review by Ritch Macefield

Published: July 7, 2014

Authors: Ezra Schwartz and Elizabeth Srail

“In Prototyping Essentials with Axure, the authors, Ezra Schwartz and Elizabeth Srail, provide comprehensive information about using Axure to prototype user interfaces.”

In Prototyping Essentials with Axure, the authors, Ezra Schwartz and Elizabeth Srail, provide comprehensive information about using Axure to prototype user interfaces.

As for all of my book reviews, I began by looking at the pedigree of the book’s authors and other contributors. Schwartz is a heavyweight UX professional and strategist, as well as a leading figure in the Axure community. He wrote the first-ever book on Axure and founded AxureWorld.org—an excellent, not-for-profit resource for the Axure community. I am less familiar with Srail’s work, but what I do know leads me to believe that she is also an accomplished UX professional and Axure expert. Read moreRead More>