User experience design is a subset of the field of experience design which pertains to the creation of the architecture and interaction models which impact a user's perception of a device or system. The scope of the field is directed at affecting 'all aspects of the user’s interaction with the product: how it is perceived, learned, and used.'
It isn’t often that one has the opportunity to create a course about user experience, let alone an entire sequence of user experience courses. Jason Withrow's opportunity forced him to examine his perceptions of the user experience industry.
In user experience design, there is a growing emphasis on starting projects by creating robust descriptions of the prospective users. Through contextual inquiry and persona development we gain insight into people’s needs; ascertain their desires; and illuminate their behavior, wishes, hopes and dreams. But in an attempt to create archetypal descriptions of people, the specificity of the environments people inhabit are often times diminished—research is conducted across broad cross-sections of markets to ensure that common experiences are identified and explored.
The common wisdom is that we now live in the age of information; the freedom and access we have to data is unprecedented in history; and the efficiency and convenience of online commerce, research, and communication has already transformed our lives for the better. While this is true, of course, our excitement should be tempered by a few realizations.
We propose a case study outlining our efforts to create a user experience culture at a mid-sized financial services company. Four years ago there were no web application interface standards, only individual software engineers without usability backgrounds, working in different areas of the company. Every application looked and behaved differently!
Style guides are a great way to ensure user experience consistency when developing an application and a way to communicate user experience standards across an organization. They can be application specific, platform specific, and may encompass enterprise-wide standards. A style guide can help make the development of user interfaces more efficient and help ensure good user interface design practices.
While producing a new deliverable to improve the out-of-the-box experience for a major software product, the team of writers, graphic designers, human factors engineers, and marketers responsible for the deliverable faced many challenges and overcame many obstacles. Anyone involved in the production of such a deliverable will learn from a discussion of the problems we faced and the approaches we took to solving them. This discussion will be particularly relevant for anyone creating such a deliverable for the first time.
Documentation and package design play a major role in customer satisfaction. The author tested three sets of wordless documentation by building pieces of furniture from three different manufacturers. While the construction methods, packaging, and wordless documentation methods were on the surface very similar, small differences had a significant impact on the usability of the instructions and the overall customer satisfaction with the documentation and the product. Decisions that were handled differently included visual verification of parts, whether or not extra hardware was provided and how it was provided, the appropriateness of the hardware, the quality of the hardware, the need for additional tools, and the care evidenced in packaging and labeling of parts. From these experiences, she makes recommendations for enhancing customer satisfaction that apply not just to wordless documentation, but to other consumer products.
Excellent customer service isn’t something we’re all born with. It’s learned. Yes, you’ll meet people who really stand out and make you feel great for having done business with them, but you’ll meet a lot more that just do their job and get by.
We've learned that using a web site is a progressive process. Each user transitions from one stage to the next, as they work to accomplish their goal. The most pronounced transitions we've seen are on e-commerce sites. When we watch shoppers focusing on buying a product, we can clearly see each stage and when the transitions fail or succeed. By understanding the stages and how they work, we can learn a lot about building better sites.
Dan Saffer is a man with strong opinions, varied interests, and quite possibly, a distaste for the term “User Experience.” Mind you, Saffer is far from “anti-usability.” His track record as an Experience Design Director at Adaptive Path, a founder/principal of design consultancy Kicker Studio, and the writer of Designing Gestural Interfaces, should put paid to that. He merely feels the term, when applied to an industry, bites off more than it can chew.
In last month’s column, we talked about ways to include users in the design process by employing Subject-Matter Experts (SMEs). While it is always advisable to understand the user perspective, there are certain dangers that are associated with an overreliance on user input. As we’ve mentioned in the past, improperly conducted user research can be a liability that could lead you down the wrong path. These kinds of mistakes are extremely costly and easily avoidable. The trick is to know where the pitfalls lie and ensure that you navigate them properly. This month, we’ll talk about ways to be a critical consumer of user research.
Data, in many different forms, is changing how we think about ourselves and the world. And, for better or worse, it is definitely changing our experience with technology—from great new mobile apps that we can use to monitor our health to incremental improvements on our favorite Web sites to those annoying ads that follow us everywhere. In my column, I’ll describe how to use different types and sources of data to create better user experiences and how to achieve some balance—so data isn’t driving decisions.
I've been thinking a lot about metadata recently, but not from the standpoint of XML or programming or helping to organize and index data. My interest is in the future of content ownership, delivery, and value. I see a future for media that looks very different from the media of today. The germ of this idea actually came from my experiences with online movie rentals.
Because of limited awareness around Deafness and accessibility in the web community, it seems plausible to many of us that good captioning will fix it all. It won’t. Before we can enhance the user experience for all deaf people, we must understand that the needs of deaf, hard of hearing, and big-D Deaf users are often very different.
The principles of decision architecture, although often subtle, are also very powerful. This is why decision architecture is such an important discipline to include within the practice of UX design.
For the most part, we create Web sites to get users to do something—for example, to make a purchase, donate to a cause, or sign up for our service. It is our expectation that users will make decisions about how to proceed. But are we designing for optimal decision making by users?
Fidelity is the degree of exactness to which a model reproduces the real thing. How much fidelity is enough? The greater the fidelity, the more likely it is that someone will understand your design intent. The more real something looks and feels, the more likely it is that you’ll receive actionable feedback to validate your design or inform your next iteration. Theoretically, one could gradually increase the fidelity of a model until it’s indistinguishable from the actual product. However, that’s not a practical approach in most situations.
Despite all the talk about data-informed design, there is not much agreement on what data really means for a product or service’s user experience. That might be because teams don’t yet have a shared language for talking about data, or because access to data is uneven or siloed, or perhaps because team members have different goals for the use of data.
As we explore what social technologies can offer and the boundaries they can cross—boundaries that had confined the traditional Web—UX professionals must now take up a new design challenge. We must address the changing needs for social media and facilitate users’ taking better advantage of everything social media has to offer.
My job right now as the UX architect on the project is to translate these high level requirements into scenarios and the starts of stories so that my Engineering cohorts can estimate the various features. So with apologies to my technical writer friends, I have embarked on creating a design that will make it easy for SMEs, who have insight about how to get value out of our portal and services, to pass that insight along. I want it to be easy for the SME to post, and easy for the user to get to it.
From Tivo to Porsche to an ice cream scoop, The UX luminaries of Want Magazine_001 make no bones about the products and services they love. Take a look at what surprises and delights the experts about both the usual suspects and some unexpected choices.
Emotion is one of the strongest differentiators in user experience namely because it triggers unconscious responses to a product, website, environment or interface. Our feelings strongly influence our perceptions and often frame how we think about or refer to our experiences at a later date.
Irish companies that use design are more successful than those that do not. Why are companies that use design more successful than those that do not? We don’t fully know why – yet – but the research tells us that companies using design are less risk averse and more likely to be developing new products and services. It also tells us they’re less likely to be competing on the basis of price. It suggests that they’re growing and succeeding because they’re innovating and moving. They’re not waiting on the challenges of the global economy, they’re using design to meet them head on.