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UXmatters

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1.
#37814

Abundance of Choice and Its Effect on Decision Making

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.

Roller, Colleen. UXmatters (2010). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>User Experience

2.
#37840

Accessibility First—for a Better User Experience for All

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?

Quesenbery, Whitney. UXmatters (2010). Articles>Accessibility>User Experience

3.
#37402

Achieving and Balancing Consistency in User Interface Design

The Principle of Least Astonishment, in shorthand, encompasses what we, as designers, must achieve to ensure consistency in our designs. Consistency is a fundamental design principle for usable user interfaces. But the thing that astonishes me is that it’s actually necessary to explain this principle. Surprise implies the unexpected. Of course, users want the response to a given action to be what they expect; otherwise, they would have done something else. In user interactions, the unexpected is pretty much the same as the unwanted. Surprise usually implies something bad rather than something positive—unless users already have such dismally low expectations of their software that they might think, Wow! It worked. I’m so astonished.

Zuschlag, Michael. UXmatters (2010). Articles>User Interface>Usability

4.
#37175

Achieving Design Focus: An Approach to Design Workshops

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.

Szuc, Daniel and Josephine Wong. UXmatters (2010). Articles>Collaboration>Content Strategy>User Experience

5.
#37592

Aligning UX Issues’ Levels of Severity with Business Objectives

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.

Sherman, Paul J. UXmatters (2010). Articles>User Experience>Assessment>Business Case

6.
#37621

Aligning UX Issues’ Levels of Severity with Business Objectives

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.

Sherman, Paul J. UXmatters (2010). Articles>User Experience>Usability>Assessment

7.
#34326

Analysis, Plus Synthesis: Turning Data into Insights

In this article, I will outline an approach to gleaning insights from primary qualitative research data. This article is not a how-to for creating the design tools that are often the outputs of primary qualitative user research—such as personas, mental models, or user scenarios. Instead, it identifies an approach to generating overarching insights, regardless of the design tool you want to create.

Ellerby, Lindsay. UXmatters (2009). Articles>User Centered Design>Interviewing>Research

8.
#28905

The Anatomy of a Help File: An Iterative Approach

This article presents an approach to Help file design that focuses on creating a task-centered user experience and accommodates an iterative development strategy. This methodology allows the introduction of user assistance into early test phases--not only getting earlier validation for its accuracy, but also supporting quality assurance testing by serving as the test scripts for interactions with the user interface. This approach can also be a self-contained strategy--that is, one that allows an iterative approach to user assistance development even if the rest of product development operates on a waterfall model.

Hughes, Michael A. UXmatters (2007). Articles>Documentation>Methods>Help

9.
#35647

Anonymous Cowards, Avatars, and the Zeitgeist: Personal Identity in Flux: Part I

Governments and large organizations, with legal and administrative concerns like taxation and security typically address the practical aspects of identity we experience on a daily basis—issuing IDs and credentials and deciding the mechanisms for their verification. This division of responsibilities for defining and executing the construct of personal identity is nearly as old as the mind/body schism at the heart of Western culture.

Lamantia, Joe. UXmatters (2009). Articles>Web Design>Privacy>Social Networking

10.
#33720

Antipatterns

Using patterns has become a well-known design practice and is also considered best practice in the software development community. While UX teams can and should constantly promote best practice, we can also approach tackling poor design practice from the other side: antipatterns. Antipatterns are approaches to common problems that might appear obvious, but are less than optimal in practice.

Hornsby, Peter. UXmatters (2009). Articles>Web Design>User Interface

11.
#28682

Applied Empathy: A Design Framework for Meeting Human Needs and Desires

The design community keeps making a lot of noise about designing for people/users/customers. However, while this notion is well-intentioned and even conceptually correct, I find much of it boils down to empty rhetoric. What exactly are we doing? More user research? More usability testing? Certainly these are valid approaches to finding out about people's needs, but they're only a small part of an optimal solution. Are we using hollow tasks and tools like personas and scenarios? Those approaches typically take design farther away from the people for whom we are designing products rather than closer. How about focusing on usability and the user experience? That gets at only part of the issue and tends to come from the perspective of the product--as opposed to the more universal needs and desires of actual people.

Knemeyer, Dirk. UXmatters (2006). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods

12.
#28663

Applying Color Theory to Digital Displays

For backgrounds behind text, use solid, contrasting colors, and avoid the use of textures and patterns, which can make letterforms difficult to distinguish or even illegible. Choose combinations of text color and background color with care. Value contrast between body text and its background color should be a minimum of about eighty percent.

Gabriel-Petit, Pabini. UXmatters (2007). Design>User Interface>Accessibility>Color

13.
#37924

Approaches to User Research When Designing for Children

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?

Naranjo-Bock, Catalina. UXmatters (2011). Articles>User Experience>Methods>Children

14.
#34468

Architecting User Assistance Topics for Reuse: Case Examples in DITA

In this column, I’ll review what user assistance architects mean by reuse and what its benefits can be. I’ll then describe some different scenarios for reuse and offer guidelines that user assistance architects and information developers can follow. My examples show how DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) can be an effective reuse framework. But the principles I discuss go beyond DITA, and you can apply them to any structured information framework or toolset.

Hughes, Michael A. UXmatters (2009). Articles>Content Management>Documentation>DITA

15.
#32781

Artists, Not Assholes

My key point in this column is that we need to support, defend, and promote our artisans, or artists, and we need to eliminate the assholes from our organizations. In practice, I see a lot of managers who do not support their artisans—their greatest performers—but hold onto and even reward their assholes. In the end, an organization that rewards the wrong people can destroy its effectiveness and drive the most talented people out.

Nieters, Jim. UXmatters (2008). Careers>Management>Advice

16.
#37884

Asking Questions About Internet Behavior :: UXmatters

What are we to do if we really need, during usability testing, to get some sort of handle on Internet experience? Perhaps for comparison across usability test sessions or for measuring progress in some way?

Jarrett, Caroline. UXmatters (2011). Articles>Usability>Testing>Methods

17.
#37943

Assume an Amorphous User

There are a couple of models that can guide us in dealing with negative scenarios—meaning scenarios that deviate from the happy path and result in user failure. One model, negative scenario testing, comes from quality assurance; the other, negative case analysis, from qualitative research.

Hughes, Michael A. UXmatters (2011). Articles>Usability>User Centered Design>Personas

18.
#28675

The Atmosphere at Interaction Frontiers 2006

Interaction Frontiers 2006 was a great experience, with some margin for improvement. I'm sure next year's Interaction Frontiers will be even bigger and better.

Bellocchio, Giovanni. UXmatters (2006). Articles>User Interface>User Experience

19.
#29508

An Audience of One: Creating Products for Very Small Workgroups

As creators of digital user experiences, we must transform complex workflows and tasks into useful applications. Experts have written much about the UX design process as it applies to broad audiences, industry-specific vertical markets, and large corporate user groups. However, as our evolving information economy continues to encourage greater and greater specialization of job roles, there is an increased need for customized applications--digital systems that only a select few people will ever use.

Follett, Jonathan. UXmatters (2007). Design>User Interface>Collaboration

20.
#28897

Audio and the User Experience

Audio signals also help us interact with our environment. Some of these signals are designed: We wake to the buzz of the alarm clock, answer the ringing telephone, and race to the kitchen when the shrill beep of the smoke alarm warns us that dinner is burning on the stove. Other audio signals are not deliberately designed, but help us nonetheless. For instance, we may know the proper sound of the central air conditioning starting, the gentle hum of the PC fan, or the noise of the refrigerator. So, when these systems go awry, we notice it immediately--something doesn't sound right. Likewise, an excellent mechanic might be able to tell what is wrong with a car engine just by listening to it run.

Follett, Jonathan. UXmatters (2007). Design>User Centered Design>User Experience>Audio

21.
#38786

Augmented Cognition: A Future for UX?

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.

Hornsby, Peter. UXmatters (2013). Articles>User Experience>Mobile

22.
#37687

Barriers to Adoption and How to Uncover Them

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.

Madrigal, Demetrius and Bryan McClain. UXmatters (2010). Articles>User Experience

23.
#37885

Barriers to Holistic Design Solutions

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.

Rohrer, Christian. UXmatters (2011). Articles>User Experience>Workplace

24.
#35096

Best Practices for Designing Faceted Search Filters

Recently, Office Depot redesigned their search user interface, adding attribute-based filtering and creating a more dynamic, interactive user experience. Unfortunately, Office Depot’s interaction design misses some key points, making their new search user interface less usable and, therefore, less effective. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the Office Depot site presents us with an excellent case study for demonstrating some of the important best practices for designing filters for faceted search results.

Nudelman, Greg. UXmatters (2009). Articles>Web Design>Search>Usability

25.
#36074

Review: Beyond Anecdotes: HCI 2009 Tutorial Review

Given the choice, how many people would swap a gloriously sunny Saturday in Cambridge, England, for a 7-hour long tutorial about—wait for it—qualitative user research and analysis methods? Yet thirty odd people did just that, electing to closet themselves in one of the nicer rooms at Churchill College to listen to what UCD researcher David Siegel had to say. This tutorial turned out to be a highly motivating, fast-paced, and anecdote-rich journey through the process of designing and analyzing qualitative field work in a user-centered design (UCD) context.

Muscat, Richard A. UXmatters (2009). Articles>Reviews>Human Computer Interaction

 
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