What happens when you look at the world through a lens of abundance? I propose that the best user experiences sit on top of an infrastructure layer of abundance. This generation of growth in the digital channel is directly attributable to abundance. Abundance means things get cheap because they are plentiful. Cheap servers, cheap software, cheap bandwidth all set the stage for great UX.
What affects decision outcomes most is the actual context in which people make decisions. All kinds of things affect decision making—the type of decision someone is making, the decision maker’s level of expertise, the number of options available, the way and order in which options are presented, and many others. This column examines how the number of available options affects the decision-making process.
What if design projects started by thinking about accessibility first? I don’t mean the basics like ALT text for graphics, following coding standards, and creating correctly structured information hierarchies. Building in accessibility at the code level is the only way to remove many of the barriers people with disabilities experience. But if our design thinking started with the idea of making a product that focuses on key tasks and is flexible, would that create a better user experience for everyone?
Empathy is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. We have an ability to imagine things the way that others see them and how it makes them feel. We don’t even have to have a disability ourselves. Accessibility is NOT a checklist. Accessibility is about usability. Accessibility is a paradigm shift. Accessibility is a personal issue.
How shall we design accessible GUIs? Which are the main problems, which are the right paths and techniques for doing this? The article is a story about an experience, about the development of an accessible GUI and an analyses of the procedures.
Stakeholders with business, design, and technology viewpoints can pull products in different design directions—sometimes without knowing how the design work fits into an overall strategy. This can leave stakeholders feeling lost and unhappy. Creating a focus around design goals and asking and answering the hard design questions as a team is an effective way of coalescing a team around one design direction. At the same time, it can create a more optimal and fun working environment.
Usability is the combination of effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which the users accomplish defined goals in a given environment. User-centered documentation matches the users' mental model, thereby helping the users find information they want quickly and easily in their hour of need. The list of documentation usability criteria is fairly subjective at this time, and various opinionated discussion groups have contributed to this. Usable documentation is based on a deep understanding of the users' tasks, and this understanding can only be gained through interviewing representative users. Applying information architecture techniques, the content within documentation should be properly chunked so that the users can assimilate the information properly. Procedural guides should have a well-defined and searchable index that enables users to connect key application terms to their correct context. User-friendly documentation is always succinct, but never at the expense of omitting critical/useful information. It should be developed using a structured process so that it starts with the big picture and gradually adds lower level of details, addressing the needs of every unique group of users. Finally, the documentation must be tested among a representative group of users, and their feedback should be incorporated to make sure that it has met all of the major usability criteria.
Over the past several years, I’ve grown increasingly dissatisfied with the vague and somewhat solipsistic nature of the gradations UX professionals typically use to describe the severity of usability issues. High, medium, and low don’t begin to sufficiently explain the potential brand and business impacts usability issues can have.
Over the past several years, I’ve grown increasingly dissatisfied with the vague and somewhat solipsistic nature of the gradations UX professionals typically use to describe the severity of usability issues. High, medium, and low don’t begin to sufficiently explain the potential brand and business impacts usability issues can have. After incrementally iterating on several existing classifications of severity, I finally decided in late 2008 to simply create some new ones, which I’ll present in this column. For lack of a better term, I call them business-aligned usability ratings.
Just because you like something you created, it doesn't mean it's any good or you have a big ego. But it can be useful to stop and ponder something you did that you particularly like--so that you can understand your own design priorities a bit better.
Children’s exposure to computing devices depends on a great variety of factors—including cultural traditions, economic power, and family values. But there is no doubt that, in general, children’s access to technological devices and interactive products has increased dramatically in recent years. We are now seeing even higher adoption of technology among children—thanks to the unpredictably intuitive interaction of youngsters with touchscreen technologies and mobile devices that they can carry everywhere and use at any time. As a result, it is important that we, as designers of interactive products, understand what is different in the development of digital applications that we’re targeting specifically for children. What are the implications for the UX design and user research methods we have traditionally followed?
What started out as something people did via e-mail and bookmark-sharing services like Delicious, is now moving to Facebook, Twitter, and other social broadcasting services. It is just so much more efficient to share a link once with all your friends and followers than to send it to each one individually.
Through the designs we create, we have the ability to directly influence another person’s behavior. The ethical implications of this are important and not easily definable. I was interested in ethics before I ever considered becoming a designer, but the lessons I learned while studying philosophy impacts the way I view my designs. In nature, our goal is a good one. We strive to help others by improving the interactions that define their life. This drives us to create and innovate new ways of interacting with old concepts. The question remains, do we have the right to influence another person? Further, are there guiding principles we can follow that can keep us on the moral path? The answers to these questions rests on the shoulders of the whole community, not a single person or group.
Guidelines are statements of direction. They’re about looking to the future and what you want to incorporate in the design. Guidelines are aspirational. Heuristics challenge a design with questions. The purpose of heuristics is to provide a way to “test” a design in the absence of data and primary observation by making an inspection. Heuristics are about enforcement. Both guidelines and heuristics are typically broad and interpretable. They’re built to apply to nearly any interface. But they come into play at different points in a design project.
There is no single best way to have users sign up for an account online, because there are too many variables to be considered for this aspect of the user experience. Varying factors can include security, purpose of the account, understanding of the user at the time of signup, what information they must have ready and what they will have to do next, among other things. So to point to a cool new site – even a competitor’s – and say “I want a one-field signup process like that!” does not necessarily serve your needs or your user’s. In fact, there is an awesome site I recommend to people that suffers greatly from a confusing signup process because they tried to simplify it too much.
Augmented cognition is about understanding the state of a user’s brain and using that understanding to manage the user’s interaction with a computer. For example, if a user were receiving too much information in image form to process it effectively, you might trigger an audio alert to ensure that he responds to another pressing matter. In this way, the user avoids becoming overloaded with information and is in a better position to act appropriately.
Kathy Sierra is the author of many successful books, including the award winning Head First series with Bert Bates. She’s an in-demand conference speaker, trainer, programmer, and the founder of the online community JavaRanch. In this interview, she and Nicky Bleiel discuss her new book, Badass: Making Users Awesome.
Adoption is key to the success of products and services. When clients come to us to evaluate a concept, prototype, or completed product, the evaluation really boils down to one fundamental question: Will people use it? We think of adoption as continuous use throughout a product’s expected lifecycle. Thus, adoption is different from purchase behavior, which does not take a product’s actual usage into account. In evaluating products, we emphasize adoption over purchase behavior because adoption tends to lead to other important user behaviors such as customer loyalty, future purchases, and customers’ becoming brand advocates. In our experience, there are four factors that directly affect adoption: perceived value, confidence, accessibility, and trust. By understanding and assessing each of these factors, you can gain insight into how to maximize adoption.
What keeps us, as UX professionals, from really solving problems holistically and designing total-system solutions that deeply meet our target users’ needs? At least three barriers to this holy grail of UX design endeavors seem pervasive in corporate environments: 1. We are rarely asked to provide holistic solutions. 2. We don’t understand the big picture. 3. Companies just are not set up to deliver holistic solutions.
Your customers are the reason your company exists: serving and retaining them is essential. Results from a recent JD Power retail banking satisfaction study show that poor customer service is the most common reason why customers switched banks in 2010. Of respondents, 37% who changed their primary bank did so because of poor customer service at their previous bank. If you don’t recognize the value of your customers, they leave. If you treat them with compassion and respect, you can inspire their loyalty.
We hear from creative professionals who are leading the way in this relatively new world of combining the craft of storytelling with user experience. We’ll also see how storytelling can be applied to more than just interactive experiences: we find it in everything from packaging to architecture.
Agile has a relatively short history in the broader view of software development. Integration of User Experience into Agile has an even shorter history with relatively few stories of overwhelming success. Over the last eighteen months, we at TheLadders have had some successes—and some failures—in our foray into a post-waterfall way of developing elegant, efficient and sophisticated consumer-facing software. This is our story.