Category Archives: Education

How do you stay on top of things?

How do you stay on top of things?

Ahhh the golden interview questions that I am sure every UX designer has heard at least once.

  • Where do you go for resources?
  • What Websites do you visit to learn more?
  • What tutorials or other resources do you use to learn a new software or service?
  • How do you stay on top of the latest trends?
  • What software are you using for (fill in the blank)?
  • What is your “best practice” for (fill in the blank)?

Yes, we have all asked these questions, or heard them asked, or wanted to sleep but could not because these questions are bouncing around in our heads.

So I would like to open this post up for discussion. Because I feel like I am wounding about these types of questions all of the time. I want answers. Can you provide some of the answers to the above questions? Or do you have a resource that might answer them? I know I don’t get a lot of traffic on this blog, but if you do swing by and feel like chatting about this topic, I would be forever grateful.

Now: Let’s talk!

BigD Conference: Demo tips

Ken Tabor shares his tips on how to over come imposter syndrome and give a presentation to peers.

He used emojis to illustrate a story with humor

  • Be authentic
  • Open your mind
  • Be a servant to your community

Why speak publically? So many good reasons:

  • Influence
  • Advance your career
  • Teach others go to events for free
  • Meet new people
  • Learn more

1. Point of view

  • Don’t measure yourself up to an imaginary gauge

2. Preparation

  •  People worry about preparing
  • This leads to procrastination

3. Presenting

  • People are worried about others judging them and things going wrong

Over come your worries, fear and doubt

  1. Find your voice
  2. Sharpen your understanding
  3. Give knowledge to others
  • Be authentic and smash the idea that your point of view is not valid or good
  • Don’t wait for your opinion to be fully formed
  • You don’t have to be a subject matter expert
  • Think about your skills and experience that you can show others
  • Pass your expertise to the next generation
  • Find a crowd that doesn’t know
  • People are open to learning because we must to survive
  • Write down all of the things you know – brainstorm
  • Delete the things that you hate
  • Keep the ones you think that others would want to know
  • Keep topics that would work at a conference lanyard.com for conferences
  • Write a great title
  • Write a great description
  • Drop names of other speeches
  • Put in skills and credentials
  • Add something personal and fun so the person can bond with you

Submission Checklist

  • Title
  • Description
  • Personal bio
  • Speaking history
  • Blog, twitter, apps, websites
  • Headshot
  • Video sample
  • All stuff is reusable and you can build off what you have created
  • Always be writing
  • Give yourself time to write and don’t creativity
  • iAwriter is a not frills word processing program to help you write. It eliminates all the distractions of MS Word
  • Trello is good place to organize projects and notes
  • Create a custom design (for your slides) so it has a unique look
  • Examples: speakerdesk.com slideshare.net

Practice

  • You can even practice in front of an empty room
  • Make sure you are speaking out loud
  • You need an idea of pacing
  • Check out the room before you speak
  • Be open. If you are rejected for a talk, do a workshop. Just do anything.
  • Speak to Teach. Present to learn.
  • Start with a story
  • Take us on a journey
  • Don’t thank organizers
  • Don’t give bio
  • Don’t say you are nervous
  • Your audience wants to learn from you and they want to succeed.
  • Square breathing technique: inhale/exhale for 4 seconds. This will help calm your nerves.
  • Look at Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk for body language
  • Our behavior can drive our beliefs.
  • You’re empowered to be awesome, so show them that you are.
  • Use cheat mode/ speaker notes in software to help you remember what you want to say.
  • Make everyone around you feel better.
  • It may seem strange, but give away “trade secrets” or share what you know.

BigD Conference: Research in UX

Design thinking and UX research go hand in hand with Jennifer Blatz, UX Designer and User experience researcher.Design thinking

  • Consumer insights and rapid prototyping
  • Quickly get beyond assumptions to know if we are building the right product
  • Get beyond assumptions that can block effective solutions
  • Good design is a competitive advantage.
  • Understanding your user is the competitive edge

Discovery phase of User Research

Stakeholder and customer interviews

Business Model Canvas

  • Trends in tech and social
  • Efficiency >> Value
  • You can compare your business to another competitor or benchmark in each box

Value Proposition Canvas

  • Products and Services
  • Gain Creator
  • Pain Remover
  • Understand the customer profile
  • Pain reliever – already exists
  • Gain creator – something new
  • Compare value map and client profile to see where they align

Journey Map

  • Visualize your research
  • Done create one just to make one
  • Tailor it to the project you are working on
  • Usually it is printed out so you can see and discuss
  • Put the timeline of the vision across the journey
  • What are the patterns you are seeing? Use those as quotes
  • Thinking, feeling, doing
  • List the opportunities: ways the process can be improved

Story mapping

  • At the end of the discovery phase
  • More concreate about what we are creating
  • What are the jobs and tasks that people have to do
  • You can use the story map to guide your agile sprints

Growth hacker

  • Marketer / front end coder / hacker
  • Run a/b tests
  • Create versions that can be quickly tested and changed

Usability Testing

  • Do this to understand why people use or don’t like your site or service
  • Get a better understanding of their behaviors
  • We need to understand who we are building for.
  • We need to be cure that we are creating value for that user.

 

BigD Conference: Visualizing User Feedback

Jennifer Blatz UX design treemap data visualization
A treemap is a visualization method I learned about as part of Big Design Conference talks.

Another good class I took as part of the Big D Conference was presented by Eva Kaniasty, the founder of Red Pill UX, and a research and design consultancy.

The role of the UX researcher is an important one. We, as UX researchers, need to design our research studies for analysis. Obviously when we perform a story, we are trying to gather important data. This data we gain in our research efforts need to be analyzed and our findings need to be communicated to others. We need to think about how to visualize our research.

Get your stakeholders to empathize with their customers and users. One way to do this is to take photos of the real people using the product. Don’t use fancy stock photography with posed fake models. Use your smartphone and take pictures of people using the product. And take more pictures of the person, sort of posed, to use as your persona image. This makes the persona more realistic and will provide the opportunity for your stakeholders to see the real person behind the persona.

I learned about the website UI Faces where you can go and get more “realistic” photos that are free to use in your personas or other needs. Granted, I checked this site out, and there’s a lot of avatars from people I follow on Twitter. But hey, your customer probably does not follow them and therefore they won’t recognize the images. So go ahead and check out the site to see if it needs your image needs for personas.

The problem with personas today is that many people just make them up. They don’t generate them using interview data or base them on real users. People often create personas based on “ideal” customers which is not accurate. Be sure that when you create personas, create them based on real research. Also make sure that they represent real people and customers, not ideal ones.

Additional notes from this talk

  • Pie charts are poor visualization tools much of the time.
  • Icons can be used to visualize data, but don’t over use them.
  • After you have a research session, write a quick summary right afterwards so you don’t forget the important details. The longer you wait, the more you will forget.
  • Videos are time consuming and become outdated quickly.
  • Quotes can be very powerful and easier to generate than video clips.
  • Look for patterns in your data.
  • Don’t use a word cloud to summarize data.
  • Word clouds are hard to read, noisy and the colors used can be confusing, portraying a confusing hierarchy.
  • A treemap shows the frequency of terms used in a combined bar chart.
  • Make any color coding meaningful and explain what it means.
  • Test with color blindness tools to make sure that color can be seen.
  • Do no over aggregate that data. That happens when you smooth and combine data together too much. When this happens, the data can lose its meaning. Don’t combine much because if you do, you can lose where the problems are.
  • Use words instead of illustrating with a bunch of repetitive icons.
  • Don’t use statistics for something subjective like severity ratings.
  • For “Ease of Use” ratings, use a bar chart, not a pie chart.
  • Stars are not good to rate the severity of something. People think more stars means “good” and that is the opposite mental model for the severity rating scale.
  • Dot voting is good to give everyone a chance to vote and it surfaces up the problems that need addressing first. The most votes wins!

Top visualization mistakes

  • Implying statistical significance
  • Over aggregation
  • Comparing apples and oranges
  • Leaving out context

BigD Conference: Design for Real Life

indifference-jennifer-blatz

The keynote speech of the first day was given by Sara Wachter-Boettcher. The topic covered designing to avoid biases and exclusion. It was really interesting and inspiring. Here are a few highlight from her speech:

  • Think about how your app or message could make the user feel alienated or as if they don’t belong in some way.
  • Make sure the voice of your product does not push people out or make them feel like they are not part of the “crowd.”
  • When a person has to choose his/her race, think about how that makes him/her feel. What if they don’t identify with the choices? What if they are more than one race? Making a person choose a race could make them feel “flattened” and generic. This is especially true if they do not identify with the categories you have presented.
  • Security questions are not for everyone. Some people have never had a pet. Some people went to many schools and don’t know how they should answer. Let people create their own security questions that they can identify with.
  • We are used to defining our audience and we think it’s easy to do. We see what is “normal” or “like me” in the media and TV. We forget how diverse the world is.
  • We must own up to our biases and consciously work past them.
  • Stress cases normalizes the unexpected.
  • Talk like a human and add some delight. But delight might not always be appropriate. You can fail to see what could go wrong when you decide to add delight.
  • If you are not asking yourself “How could this design/text hurt or exclude someone?” you are not thinking about it enough.

 

Big Design Conference

I met many great folks and learned a lot oat the Big Design Conference in Dallas.
I met many great folks and learned a lot at the Big Design Conference in Dallas.

I was happy to find out that there is a regional UX design conference here in Dallas. My worry was that I would not be able to  find good local events once I left Los Angels. I stand corrected. I attended the Big Design Conference at it was really worth my time and energy. I met a lot of great folks, expanded my UX network, and learned a lot about the UX community here in Dallas and the surrounding area.

For my next few posts, I am going to share some of my notes of the talks I attended during the conference. I hope that more slide decks and notes will be shared from the classes I could not attend. There were so many great options. I had a tough time choosing which courses to take.

Wingspan Art project completion

Wingspan Arts Website Audit Report

As my project with Wingspan Arts comes to a close, I am pleased to  share the results of my Website Audit.

What did I do? I volunteered to perform a Website Audit through Catchafire. For those who don’t know, Catchafire is a website that allows professionals to give back to the community. The professional who volunteers will use his/her skills, be that UX Design, Web development, Graphic design, Marketing and other creative fields. They are providing their exercise to an organization that needs help, and saves that organization sums of money.

What is in a website Audit? A Website Audit report that includes:

  • Outline of Organization’s goals for the website
  • Feedback on current website’s layout, user functionality, visual design, content and other features
  • Recommendations for improvements to help achieve Organization’s desired goals

After I completed the project, I got a wonderful and very lovely review from Rachel, who was my parter in this projects and the representative for Wingspan Arts.

Jennifer Blatz UX website audit for Wingspan Arts after completing the Catchafire project.
My professional review from Wingspan Arts after completing the Catchafire project.

You can read my entire Wingspan Arts Professional Review on the Catchafire website.

Components of the report (download entire report Wingspan Arts Website Audit Summary)

  • Mission statement alternatives (shortening suggestions)
  • Google analytics
  • Surveys (interviews) with stakeholders and users (parents)
  • Userflow
  • User goals
  • Competitive benchmarking
  • Content audit and text review
  • Design analysis and consistency
  • Social media presence and activity
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the site
  • Information architecture and proposal of new taxonomy (navigation)
  • Footer proposal
  • Recommendations for improvements
  • Wireframes (to share with the developer)

What I gained from the project

  • Pride in helping a community center in need
  • Exercising professional “muscles” that I don’t get to “flex” on a regular basis at my current job
  • Learned more about my UX process
  • Working remotely and coordinating meeting and data
  • Synthesizing survey results
  • Content analysis of the current websites (yes they have 2!)
  • Creating a full report summarizing all findings and recommendations
  • Feelings of accomplishment that I hoped someone else out, and used my professional skills to do so.

I encourage you to check out Catchafire as well and volunteer your time. They have opportunities that can take as little as an hour, or as much as a few weeks.

 

 

 

Global Service Jam 2016

Global Service Jam Los Angeles logo

I am happy to report surviving another Global Service Jam. So what is global service jam? Is it some sort of cook off? Are you making jam? What does service have to do with it?

The Global Service Jam is a non-profit volunteer activity organized by an informal network of service design afficinados, who all share a common passion for growing the field of service design and customer experience.

Jennifer Blatz, UX Designer, attended Global Service Jam in Los Angeles.

The website goes on the say

As a participant in the Global service jam, you will work through a whole design process in one weekend. Whether you are experienced or completely new to the field, you won’t just be talking about service design, you will be working with others on developing concrete ideas and designs which could become real.

Furthermore:

  • You will learn more about a design-based approach to problems, and about sustainability.
  • You will pick up a load of new ideas and work practices.
  • You will meet a lot of cool people at all levels of experience.
  • Your work and ideas will be reviewed by your peers, and presented to the world, where they can be seen by potential customers or employers, or people who could make them real.
  • You will design something that may become a real business.
  • You might get rich and famous.
  • You will certainly have a blast.
Working on a storyboard with team members, Jennifer Blatz, UX Designer, attended Global Service Jam in Los Angeles.
Working on a storyboard with team members, Jennifer Blatz, UX Designer, attended Global Service Jam in Los Angeles.

And have a blast I did! It is exhilarating, exhausting, energizing and exciting. I get to participate in activities I don’t normally get to at work. I get to collaborate with complete strangers, who become friends through a weekend of intense team work. I get to flex some UX muscle, and keep skills sharp. I get to explore new ideas and learn about new skills like Service Design Blueprint and Business Modal Canvas. I know it might seem crazy to give up an entire weekend for an activity like this. But I think it is fun and I am always up for a challenge.

WIAD 2016

WIAD World Information Architecture Day Los Angeles 2016 attended by Jennifer Blatz, UX designerToday, I attended my third WIAD or World Information Architecture Day, established by IAI Information Architect Institute.  A couple of years ago, I acted as Project Manager for Los Angeles’ WIAD. So ai map to see that the torch has been carried and this event is back in the Los Angeles community. It’s a great opportunity to hear some of the industry’s well regarded IA experts, to meet other great people in the field, and hopefully to get fired up and inspired. What is WIAD? According to the website:

World Information Architecture Day 2016 is a one-day annual celebration of this phenomenon. Hosted in dozens of locations across the world by local organizers on February 20th, we focus on telling stories of information being architected by everyone from teachers to business owners; technologists to artists; designers to product managers.

With representation from all over the world, we believe that the power of similarity and the beauty of difference between stories will inspire those who work in information architecture, as well as those who may be new to it. We aim to teach, share, and have fun — all through the lens of Information Architecture (IA).

I would like to share some of my notes and highlights from today’s fabulous event.

  • If you’ve ever wondered where you are on a website, than that is an issue of IA.
  • An aspect of “play studio” is to pick a behavior and design for it.
  • Shift from a designer to a facilitator.
  • Research is becoming more collaborative.
  • Design work is not precious. So it’s good to work on low fidelity objects to keep that true.
  • Design work is not about ornamentation, it is about implmentation.
  • Think about creative solutions rather than what requirements are supposed to be delivered.
  • Designers need to be more collaborative and not worry about people (who are not designers) stepping on their toes and entering their “craft.”
  • Put the work out early to get user feedback, knowing it is an iterative process.
  • Try creating ad hoc personas when you don’ have time to create full-fledged personas.
  • Know your audience. This is so often forgotten. Keep in mind what your user’s current needs and behaviors are. Don’t lose site of who you are designing for.
  • Know when it is appropriate to work with an established design pattern and not reinvent the wheel.
  • Take the information you have gathered in research and shake things up when you need something different.

    WIAD World Information Architecture Day Los Angeles 2016 attended by Jennifer Blatz, UX designerWIAD World Information Architecture Day Los Angeles 2016 attended by Jennifer Blatz, UX designerWIAD World Information Architecture Day Los Angeles 2016 attended by Jennifer Blatz, UX designer
    WIAD World Information Architecture Day Los Angeles 2016.
  • Some corporations appreciate hiring people who will rock the boat and provide a diverse outlook to the company. Get hired to make a change in the corporate structure as well as the product that you will build.
  • Some companies will avoid innovation because of risk. This leads to fast following.
  • Tell the story | Develop the culture | Be the voice of the customer.
  • Innovation requires atriculation.
  • When you work on a design solution, what will people think, feel, do and become?
  • UX designers have great skills like: inter-discipline, like people, empathy and listen to others.
  • Think like a founder, not a designer.
  • Designers inherit problems, founders define them.
  • Design THE business, not for it.
  • Do you expect the world to anticipate your needs? Because you should.
  • The problem you have been given is not the right problem. Discover the right problem.
  • Every designer should have some skill in leadership.
  • What motivates a designer is a frustration with the world and a desire to improve it.
  • As a designer, you see something better.
  • Consider delivery mechanisms that extend your core experience.
  • Leverage what people love, address what they don’t.

WIAD 2016 attended by Jennifer Blatz, UX designer.

Complexity is not the problem
Ambiguity is
Simplicity does not solve ambiguity
Clarity does

Happy 2016 — Goal setting for the new year

2016 UX design resolutions for Jennifer Blatz

We are comfortably in the new year, 2016, and I am glad you have made the journey so far. I guess that people make goals for the new year huh? Here’s my to-do list:

Learn programs

  • Axure
  • Sketch

Improve coding skills

  • Learn javascript, at least the basics
  • Refresh my knowledge about CSS and HTML

Read books

  • “Information Architecture” aka the Polar Bear book
  • “Design of Everyday Things”
  • “Checklist Manifesto”
  • “How to Get People to do Stuff”

Keep learning

  • Start another “100 Days of Learning” journal, but expand it for the entire year
  • Review the “Learning Stuff” journal from last year

Write blog posts

  • I am shooting to post 30 blog posts in 2016

Join a side project

  • I would love to join another project. If you know of any short term projects that need a UX designer, please let me know.

Build out portfolio

  • Improve the content of my portfolio by introducing new clips
  • Present my acquired knowledge illustrating my software proficiency

Ok just 29 more blog posts for 2016. Thanks for reading.

Wrapping up 2015 with 100 Days+ of learning

100 days of learning UX design notebook Jennifer Blatz

As you know from my previous post, “100 Days of Learning Stuff,” I set up a challenge for myself to learn something new every day for 100 consistent days. My goal was a success, and I continued the learning experience through the rest of the year.

Looking back at my book today, I am pleased with myself for taking a bit of time to take note and learn a few things along this year’s journey. Some of the topics included in my UX journal include:

  • Several “Golden Rules” lists for UX
  • Numerous definitions of key terms and concepts
  • Great UX quotes
  • Laws like Hick’s Law and Fitt’s Law
  • Principles and steps
  • Abbreviations and methods

And a lot more. I am going to set a goal to create a new UX notebook for 2016. I encourage you to develop a journaling method for yourself and keep on learning in the New Year.

I hope 2015 was great for you. And best of luck in 2016.

Continuing education

Interaction Design Course participants
Interaction Design Course participants

As professionals, we always need to be learning. The times have passed that we can just coast through our careers.

I recently attended an Interaction Course presented by CooperU in Los Angeles. They are often offering classes only at their facility in San Francisco. So I was excited to attend this workshop and to learn to new skills.

What did I like the most?
  • Getting some time off of work
  • Engaging in new activities
  • Jump starting the brain and creative processes
  • Meeting new people

What did I dislike the most?

  • It only lasting 3 days. I could have learned more.
  • Some exercises seemed too “on the surface” and I would have liked to have the chance to dig deeper or try the exercise again on a different topic for more practice.
  • It seemed very “Cooper” focused and I am not sure there would be time to apply some of these tactics in the real-world agile environment.

What surprised me the most?

  • How quickly the time would fly by in the breakout session.
  • People were other disciplines besides UX design.
  • Lunch was not provided as part of the admission fee. (It would have been a good opportunity to have break out sessions on other topics.
  • How exhausted mentally I was by the end of the third day. I guess I was really giving my brain a workout.

Don’t waste a moment. Take advantage and learn.

Jennifer Blatz UX design always learning
Even on casual encounters, like an Uber right home, take advantage of meeting a new person and learn something.

When riding home one evening in the back of an Uber car, I took advantage of a situation. Sure, I could have sit back quietly and enjoyed the ride in silence. The driver did not have the radio on, so it could have been a peaceful ride.

Instead, I decide to make the ride a bit more interesting. Don’t worry, I was not going to engage in anything illegal. I decided to engage the driver in a conversation. Gasp! Talk to a stranger in Los Angeles? What? Who does that??? Well, I do.

You see, I am a gal from the Midwest. People from that part of the world are not afraid to engage in a conversation. In fact, this art form was eloquently taught to me by my father. I can recall on several instances the following circumstance: I am in a long line for an amusement park ride. My dad is waiting for me outside the ride on a bench until I am finished. By the time I get back from the ride, my dad has had a long chat with the person sitting next to him on that bench. I didn’t even notice the person when I started to get on the ride.

So what was happening here? My dad was a very smart man, and knew that having a conversation would help pass the waiting time. He didn’t want to read a book because he liked to people watch. These were the days before smart phones. So he wold strike up a chat with a complete stranger.

Not only did a conversation like this pass the time, he also learned something. And that is what I am trying to promote here. Instead of looking down and checking your smart phone, strike up a conversation with a stranger. What was so magical about the conversations my dad would have with strangers is what he learned about the other person. He would say things like, “That guy lived just a couple of blocks down from where I grew up in New York. And our parents when to the same social hall for dances and parties.” Or he would say, “The lady I sent next to on my flight is the inventor of body glitter.”

What do you do to learn more? Just start a conversation. I know this is not easy for some people. Striking up a conversation with a complete stranger can be terrifying. But if you want to be a UX designer, you have to break out of your shell and learn how to be comfortable in a conversation with others. It’s ok, the (probably) won’t bite.

  • Start the conversation small, maybe make a comment about the weather or the current surroundings.
  • Or ask a generic question about something you “seem like” you need assistance with like the time the the store is closing or do they if know….
  • Maybe you can make a comment out the phone they are looking at. Ask, “Oh is that the new iPhone? Do you like it?” People love to talk about their gadgets.
  • Gage the person’s reaction, if they give you a short answer, they might not want to chat. See how negative they seem.
  • If they ask you a question back, it’s a good sign they might want to have a conversation.
  • If a person is reading a book or has earphones on, this is a sign  they might not want to talk to you. But if they are just gazing at their phone, they are probably just killing time.
  • Don’t get too personal. But it’s ok to ask what they do for a living and what they do in that type of job.
  • Just remember that people love talking about themselves, and the point of this exercise is to learn, so let the person do a majority of the talking.
  • Be brave, learn to read others and be safe.
  • But most importantly have fun and embrace the opportunity to learn from every experience.

 

Checklist for Designing Mobile Input Fields

The Nielsen/Norman group recently published Checklist for Designing Mobile Input Fields featuring a quick reference of what you should review when designing for mobile.

A Checklist for Designing Mobile Input Fields via Jennifer Blatz UX design
Credit Nielsen Norman Group

 

 

 

Text version of checklist of 14 guidelines to follow for mobile input field UX

Should it be there at all

  • Is this field absolutely necessary?

Description

  • Is the label above it? (Not inside, not below)
  • Is the field marked as required (*) or optional?
  • Have you removed any placeholder from inside the field?

Visibility

  • Is the field big enough so that most possible field values are visible?
  • Is the field visible in both orientations when the keyboard is displayed?

Filling it in for the user

  • Do you have any good defaults for this field?
  • Any history available?
  • Frequently used values?
  • Can you use the phone features (camera, GPS, voice, contacts ) to populate it?
  • Can you compute it for the user based on other info (e.g., state based on zip code, coupon field)?

Typing

  • Do you support copy & paste into the field?
  • What is the right keyboard for this field?
  • Can you make suggestions/autocomplete based on the first letters typed?
  • Do not autocorrect for names, addresses and email addresses.
  • Do you allow typos or abbreviations?
  • Do you allow users to enter it in whatever format they like? (e.g., phone numbers credit cards)
  • You can autoformat it for them.

User research: measuring information

User research measuring quantity vs. quality Jennifer Blatz UX design
Author/Copyright holder: Nielsen Norman Group.

When conducting user research, there are a variety of methods to acquire valuable data. This chart, courtesy of the Nielson Norman Group, illustrates the ranges that your research can measure.

Let’s break this down to the extreme ranges of this chart.

Behavioral

Ethnographic research is a fine example of behavioral research. This is where the researcher goes in to the user’s natural environment and observes the user in the user’s normal and regular context.

Attitudinal

Surveys and Interviews are some ways to see what the user says they would or would not do something. Often users will give answers they think the research wants to hear or what they think is the “correct” answer. The key here is that the user might actually believe what they are saying is true. But in fact, when the researcher actually observes the behavior, what the user has said might not be accurate.

Qualitative

One-on-one interviews and ethnographic research are a couple of great ways to get qualitative research information. The researcher can devote individual time to the user, and really get deep information about them. This takes time, and therefore can be difficult to accomplish in mass quantities. But submersing yourself in the users world will provide much more in-depth information than more quantitative research methods.

Quantitative

Surveys accomplish quantitative research very well. Especially with the plethora of online survey tools (many of them are free), one can easily send out a survey to hundreds, if not thousands of participants and gather a large amount of data. This data can then be accumulated to show trends, make charts and post results of several people. However, this research method does not provide individual insight and appreciation that a more qualitative research will provide.

All in all, there are many research methods that a UX researcher has at his or her disposal. They key is to know which research method is best for the type of information he or she is seeking. Also, many of research methods fall within the middle ranges of this chart, and not at the extremes. I encourage you to use a variety of research methods in your next UX project.

 

Prototyping canvas explanation

This graphic is part of the Prototyping class I am taking offered for FREE at iversity.com. I find this simple chart, that a person would fill out, is a good exercise in really getting your thoughts out on paper. I am finding that it is helpful to actually get the idea out of your head, and force yourself to get the ideas out on paper. And it is great to really push yourself to come up with more than one idea. Go for it! And use the chart below to explore the reasons and products you will need for your next prototype.

Frank Kloos: prototyping canvas explanation

Prototyping canvas worksheet Jennifer Blatz UX design

Mission accomplished: 100 days of learning stuff

100 days of learning UX design notebook Jennifer BlatzI have learned a lot in the past 100 days

  • First, I learned that it is very difficult to write one entry on exactly every single day. So yes I did cheat a bit and write more than one entry a day to play catch-up on days that I missed. Don’t kill me.
  • Second, though many of the principles I was already familiar with, it was good for me to write them down and work harder at committing them to memory and learning.
  • Third, its rather nice to have all of these little lessons, from lists, the definitions to UX quotes all in one small UX journal.
  • Finally, now that my experimental deadline has been successfully met, I plan on continuing to full out my UX journal of learning. My notebook is less than half full, so there are plenty of other pages I can fill with valuable UX lessons and content.

Let the learning continue!

 

Information architecture heuristics by Abby_the_IA

Abby Covert Information Architecture Heuristics

Findable – Able to be located

Is it Findable?  Can users easily locate that which they are seeking?  How is findability affected across channels and devices? Are there multiple ways available to access things? How do external and internal search engines “see” what is provided?  Is information formatted with results in mind?  What is provided to make the delivered results more useful?

Accessible – Easily approached and/or entered

Is it Accessible? Can it be used via all expected Be aware that upwards of 20% or more of the channels and devices?! worldʼs population has. How resilient and consistent is it a disability. when used via “other” channels?  The internet is a public place. Does it meet the levels of place. Itʼs like building a ramp to your building, or accessibility compliance to be refusing to be  considerate of those users with disabilities.

Clear – Easily perceptible

Is it Clear?  Is it easy to understand? Is the target demographicsʼ grade and reading level being considered? Is the path to task completion obvious and free of distraction? Would a user find it easy to describe?

TOP 3 Clarity Offenses

•  Corporate underpants: When you are obviously making a navigational decision based on your organizational structure, not user decision paths.

•  Inside Baseball: When you are calling something a term that is unclear to anyone that doesnʼt work for your company.

•  Weasel Words: When you are being purposefully unclear in language to avoid making a promise or decision about process or commitment to a user.

Communicative – Talkative. informing, timely

Is it communicative?  Is the status, location and permissions of the user obvious? How is messaging used throughout? Is messaging effective for the tasks and contexts being supported? Does the navigation and messaging help establish a sense of place that is consistent and orienting across channels, contexts and tasks?

Useful – Capable of producing the desired or intended result

Is it Useful?  Is it usable? Are users able to complete the tasks that they set out to without massive frustration or abandon?  Does it serve new users as well as loyal users in ways that satisfy their needs uniquely?  Are there a few navigation options that lead where users may want to go next? Are they clearly labeled?

Credible – Worthy of confidence, reliable

Is it Credible? Is the design appropriate to the context of use and audience? Is your content updated in a timely manner? Do you use restraint with promotional content?  Is it easy to contact a real person? Is it easy to verify your credentials?  Do you have help/support content where it is needed? Especially important when asking for sensitive personal data.

Controllable – Able to adjust to a requirement

Is it Controllable? Are tasks and information a user would reasonably want to accomplish available? How well are errors anticipated and eliminated? When errors do occur, how easily can a user recover? Are features offered to allow the user to tailor information or functionality to their context? Are exits and other important controls clearly marked?

Valuable– Of great use, service and importance

Is it Valuable? Is it desirable to the target user? Does it maintain conformity with expectations throughout the interaction across channels? Can a user easily describe the value? How is success being measured? Does it contribute to the bottom line? Does it improve customer satisfaction?

Learnable – To fix in the mind, in the memory

Is it Learnable? Can it be grasped quickly? What is offered to ease the more complicated processes? Is it memorable? Is it easy to recount? Does it behave consistently enough to be predictable?!

Delightful– Greatly pleasing

Is it Delightful? What are your differentiators from other similar experiences or competitors? What cross channel ties can be explored that delight?  How are user expectations not just met but exceeded? What are you providing that is unexpected? What can you take that is now ordinary and make extraordinary?

These heuristics are provided by @Abby_The_IA

You can view the IA Heuristics by Abby Covert Slideshare deck of the presentaiton.

100 days of learning stuff

Jennifer Blatz UX design 100 days of learning

I have taken on a new task. I am challenging myself to keep a little notebook of items I learn for 100 days. The toughest thing will be remembering to enter an item every day. I sure hope I don’t miss a day. But if I do, then I will force myself to carry one until I get all 100 days — or until my notebook gets full. Whichever happens first.  I encourage you to take the same challenge. Maybe it’s a notebook of doodles, or a notebook of learning a new word every day. Encourage yourself to take a moment every day to learn.

20 Websites To Find Free High-Quality Images

Jennifer Blatz Design free stock photo sources from Hongkiat

I recently came across a valuable resource that I thought I would share with the group. “20 Websites To Find Free High-Quality Images” is an article sharing some of the latest ad greatest (?) sites to get free high resolution imagery. Though I have not perused all of the sources, this might be a good list to start with if you are looking for some images.

Thanks to Hongiat.com for all of the valuable articles. If you are not a regular reader of this blog, 2015 is a great time to start.

When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods

This post originally came for Nielsen Norman Groups website in the full article “When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods”. Here is an excerpt  from that article highlighting a comprehensive list of research methods.

Research methods chart on Jennifer Blatz UX Design

20 UX Methods in Brief

Here’s a short description of the user research methods shown in the above chart:

Usability-Lab Studies: participants are brought into a lab, one-on-one with a researcher, and given a set of scenarios that lead to tasks and usage of specific interest within a product or service.

Ethnographic Field Studies: researchers meet with and study participants in their natural environment, where they would most likely encounter the product or service in question.

Participatory Design: participants are given design elements or creative materials in order to construct their ideal experience in a concrete way that expresses what matters to them most and why.

Focus Groups: groups of 3-12 participants are lead through a discussion about a set of topics, giving verbal and written feedback through discussion and exercises.

Interviews: a researcher meets with participants one-on-one to discuss in depth what the participant thinks about the topic in question.

Eyetracking: an eyetracking device is configured to precisely measure where participants look as they perform tasks or interact naturally with websites, applications, physical products, or environments.

Usability Benchmarking: tightly scripted usability studies are performed with several participants, using precise and predetermined measures of performance.

Moderated Remote Usability Studiesusability studies conducted remotely with the use of tools such as screen-sharing software and remote control capabilities.

Unmoderated Remote Panel Studies:  a panel of trained participants who have video recording and data collection software installed on their own personal devices uses a website or product while thinking aloud, having their experience recorded for immediate playback and analysis by the researcher or company.

Concept Testing: a researcher shares an approximation of a product or service that captures the key essence (the value proposition) of a new concept or product in order to determine if it meets the needs of the target audience; it can be done one-on-one or with larger numbers of participants, and either in person or online.

Diary/Camera Studies: participants are given a mechanism (diary or camera) to record and describe aspects of their lives that are relevant to a product or service, or simply core to the target audience; diary studies are typically longitudinal and can only be done for data that is easily recorded by participants.

Customer Feedback: open-ended and/or close-ended information provided by a self-selected sample of users, often through a feedback link, button, form, or email.

Desirability Studies: participants are offered different visual-design alternatives and are expected to associate each alternative with a set of  attributes selected from a closed list; these studies can be both qualitative and quantitative.

Card Sorting: a quantitative or qualitative method that asks users to organize items into groups and assign categories to each group. This method helps create or refine the information architecture of a site by exposing users’ mental models.

Clickstream Analysis: analyzing the record of screens or pages that users clicks on and sees, as they use a site or software product; it requires the site to be instrumented properly or the application to have telemetry data collection enabled.

A/B Testing (also known as “multivariate testing,” “live testing,” or “bucket testing”): a method of scientifically testing different designs on a site by randomly assigning groups of users to interact with each of the different designs and measuring the effect of these assignments on user behavior.

Unmoderated UX Studies: a quantitative or qualitative and automated method that uses a specialized research tool to captures participant behaviors (through software installed on participant computers/browsers) and attitudes (through embedded survey questions), usually by giving participants goals or scenarios to accomplish with a site or prototype.

True-Intent Studies: a method that asks random site visitors what their goal or intention is upon entering the site, measures their subsequent behavior, and asks whether they were successful in achieving their goal upon exiting the site.

Intercept Surveys: a survey that is triggered during the use of a site or application.

Email Surveys: a survey in which participants are recruited from an email message.

I am quoted in an article at UX Beginner

“Am I Too Old For UX?”

According to the blog UX Beginner, “Yes, you are.”

But if you read the story further, entering the UX field is not really about how old you are, but rather how much experience you have. Don’t let your age intimidate you and keep your for pursuing a career in UX. Just get started today!

UX Beginner, Am I too old for UX?

Read the Entire article now:

Am I Too Old For UX?” Yes, you are. by Osbourne Chen at UX Beginner

UX Radio and Podcasts Massive Collection

UX radio retro woman

I found a great definitive list of design, tech, web and UX podcasts. I listen to a lot of podcasts on my drive to and from work, so this is going to be a great resource for people like me who like to catch up on their podcasts on their commute.  Yes some are in German, but pick the English ones if that’s your cup of tea.

UX Radio: UX-, Design-, Usability Podcasts

Some of the podcasts that I think look particularly interesting are:

 

Usability Testing for User Experience Course

When testing the Weather Channel App, I discovered a number of usability issues. Clearly, if the UX team had run some basic usability tests, a number of problems would have discovered and corrected.

Some issues I discovered:

• Make clickable items like buttons seem clickable.

• Remove ads within the feed, especially if they look like weather (editorial) content.

• Do not use ads as a background image on home page.

• Put useful information like search functionality in side drawer.

• Put more information, like a few days’ forecast on the home page.

• Use arrow indicator to notify the user to scroll down.

• Do not include every searched location in the favorites list.

• Allow user to just search a location without saving it.

• Allow users to include more than 10 locations in the favorites list.

• Clearly indicate current city with writing the city name, rather than relying on image.

• Give clues on social weather page as to what the icons mean and what will happen before a user clicks the icon.

• Make icons intuitive and less confusing and add a word them to clarify the function.

• Allow user to return to the top of page by tapping on the bar at the top of the screen.

• Move radar closer to top of feed. Or allow users to modify the order of content or remove something that does not interest them.

weather channel app usability problems
Make sure that items that are clickable in an app or website are clear to the user

UXPIN’s Guide to wireframing free book

I came across a great resource the other day that I would like to share with you. UXPIN is a paid service for wireframing websites, tablet and mobile pages online. Though UXPIN is a paid resource, they do offer several valuable and FREE resources. One resource I would like to mention now is their free ebook “The Guide to Wireframing.

UXPIN's Guide to Wireframing ebook

Some of the resources I like in particular are:

  • The pros and cons of various wireframing techniques and software
  • Provided UI patterns and resources
  • Common UI trends in today’s most-used apps

Yes, it is kind of a pain to have to provide your email to get the book sent to you. But for the UI pattern aspect alone, I think it’s worth checking out. Enjoy.

Lynda.com has great UX Tutorials

How about listening to something education while you are at work? Lynda.com has a lot of great video tutorials on a lot of subjects – like UX, web design and business. I saw this slide on one of the courses the other day and thought it was a great reminder to share. When working on a UX project, one will often go through these phases:

This illustrates the basic steps of the product development life cycle.
This illustrates the basic steps of the product development life cycle.

This particular slide was found in “Foundations of UX: Content Strategy with Patrick Nichols” and is often referred to as the product development life cycle.

Check it out. You just might learn something!

Wireframes for desktop – Hollywood Walking Tour

As part of my class project, I also had to create a wireframe for a desktop version. Though my concept really focuses on just the mobile app, I was tasked with creating a computer version that would promote the app. Below is the wireframe for this desktop website that would be promotion the app and leading viewers on where they could download the app.

Hollywood Walking Tour App Desktop ad website Jennifer Blatz Design UX
Hollywood Walking Tour App Desktop ad website

Getting excited about my next class on prototyping

I wil leb starting my next California State Fullerton class very soon. It’s called Prototyping User-Centered Design Solutions and obviously it involved prototyping. I am excited to be learning more about this great field and to hopefully gain some skills that will be applicable to a new job. Below is the text book for the class.

Prototyping: A Practitioner's Guide. Textbook for class for Jennifer Blatz UX Design
Prototyping: A Practitioner’s Guide textbook for class.

Cal State Fullerton first class

I enjoyed the first day of my first California State Fullerton Class: User-Centered Design for Web and Mobile Interfaces. Today, we learned about examining the goals of the customer and the business. In this class, we discussed four facets  of the goals for the customer and the business:

  • Purpose (Why) The reason for existence
  • Goal (What) What you want to accomplish
  • Mechanism (How) How to reach the goal
  • Metric (When/Where) Define what the accomplishment looks like

After brainstorming these possibilities, for both the customer and the business, then the UX designer can better determine a stronger justicification for creating the website or app.

After discussing the goals, we then worked on the taxonomy of the site. We brainstormed topics that could be on the website. In the class, the business we used was a small gym with five locations. We explored the topics that might be included on  the website.

IA Information Architecture for Cal State Fullerton class
IA Information Architecture for Cal State Fullerton class: User-Centered Design for Web and Mobile Interfaces.

 

d.modes from d.school

Learned about this little process on “Design Thinking” on MOOC today.

  • Empathize
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Protoype
  • Test
d.modes from d.school Empathize Define Ideate Protoype Test
d.modes from d.school: Empathize Define Ideate Protoype Test

This is one of many design process models, called the d.modes from the D.school in Stanford. It consists of five different modes

Empathize, the first mode, is about understanding people. It is the foundation of the entire design thinking process. You should try to understand and „feel“ the needs, hopes, aspirations of users, experts and stakeholders. Your thinking mode should be that of an psychologist.

Define is the second mode. Often overlooked, it makes sure the problem is understood by everybody in the team. Structure and analyze the data collected in the first phase, cluster your findings and map patterns. You focus on crafting the right questions and define what point of view you will take. Your thinking mode is that of an analyst.

The next step is called ideation. Starting from the focused position of define, it is about collecting many ideas, deliberately without judging. It allows you as a team to go beyond the obvious solutions by combining individual skills. It is about sharing stories about what could be. Think of yourself as an explorer. Des

The mode prototype is about creating a first impression. It derives from the greek protos = first and typos = impression. You can build a prototype for anything out of everything. By crafting something with your hands your brain switches into a different mode. Your thinking mode is that of a craftsman.

Test is the last mode. Get your prototypes into the real world, engage people to interact with it. Ask them and observe their behavior. Figure out what is not yet good about it and what could be improved. Your thinking mode is that of a critic.

Design theory on MOOC

I just started the online course titled “Design Thinking MOOC” and so far it’s pretty interesting. I love new courses that challenge my every-day thinking and teach me something new.

In Chapter 4 , Week 1 of “Design Thinking,” I was introduced to the Trajectory of Artificiality Theory by Krippendorff. Here is the theory illustrated below:

Trajectory of Artificiality chart
The “Trajectory of Artificiality” by Krippendorff as presented via Design Thinking MOOC on Iversity.com

Text book number 2: The Web Designer’s Roadmap

Well it’s official. I now have both text books for my “User Experience and Customer-Centered Design” certification class. I guess I’d better get off the computer and start reading my books for the course. The course lasts only three weeks, so I need to start reading ahead of time if I want to be on schedule.

The Web Designer's Roadmap
This is the second book for my CalState Fullerton course “User-Centered Design for Web and Mobile Interfaces.”

My First class textbook: ‘Mobile First’ by Luke Wroblewski

I received the first text book in the mail today for my first class at CalState Fullerton’s “User Experience and Customer-Centered Design” certificate program. I start my class in a couple of weeks, and I am very excited to be  learning a new topic. What is my first class?  User-Centered Design for Web and Mobile Interfaces.

Mobile First
‘Mobile First’ is my first text book for the CalState Fullerton User Experience certificate program I am enrolled in.