Tag 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: 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

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

Researching new topics: Medical travel sheet

Travel sheet UX research and discovery by Jennifer Blatz
Master lists like this can help people remember conditions they might otherwise forget in a medical examination.

Travel sheets are a traditional medical document used by doctors as a sort of a check list of conditions. It’s a quick way to mark items that a patient may or may not have.

What do I know about medical exam travel sheets? Absolutely nothing! But that is a great start for any UX Designer. You don’t have to be an expert on your subject so start researching. In fact, the less you know can work to your advantage. Approaching a topic from a completely new and innocent perspective allows you to empathize how someone else who is new to the subject will be introduced. You have fresh eyes, less bias and a lack of knowledge to jump ahead of yourself.

So if you don’t know a lot about a topic then get started on learning. Use the web to research what others have said on the same topic. I don’t have to tell you the wealth of resources there are online. Also, talk to your stakeholders and clients to learn from they. they know their subject, and they should not be afraid to share this valuable information with you.

Jennifer Blatz UX Design travel sheet research for medical ERM project
Travel sheets may not be the prettiest thing to look at. But they have a strong function in the medical field when assessing patients.

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.

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.

sketching mobile interfaces

Though I never used to be of the “school” of sketching out my designs, I am finding that sketching out a few alternative ideas to a mobile or tablet interface is helping me explore some alternatives. Maybe it is because I am so comfortable designing in print, that I can just crate the layout in my head and execute the layout immediately. Mobile is a bit more foreign and new to me, so it is helpful to explore possibilities. Plus, with the ways that mobile and tablet are interactive and involve swiping and motion, they come with their own set of rules. The learning curve for interaction design is quite different than traditional print design.

Sketching for mobile
Sketching for mobile allows me to explore possibilities.

The Experience Economy

On Design Thinking on MOOC today, students were introduced the the evolution of the the Economy. See the graphic below:

The Experience Economy (according to B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore)
The Experience Economy (according to B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore)

Joseph Pine and James Gilmore suggested in their book ‘the Experience Economy’, that the economic value creation in developed countries went from an agrarian economy, to an industrial economy, to a service economy, to an experience economy.

The agrarian economy is mainly concerned with producing and dealing with commodities. Extracting natural resources is here the major economic driver. The value creation in the industrial economy is based on the production of goods. When the goods market is saturated the next level of value creation is the service economy, which refers to an increased importance on the delivery of services. And last but not least there is the experience economy, where the experience becomes a significant economical differentiator.

The reason could be seen in a natural evolution, that as soon as basic needs are met, humans seem to strive for improvement and development.

Ethnographic research? Sure!

For the Hollywood Walking Tour app I am now developing, I thought it would be a great idea to go to one of Hollywood’s biggest tourist traps, I mean spots. I spent a couple of hours observing tourists and talking to them about their traveling experience. Specifically, I wanted to see how people navigated the streets (Did they use a map or guide book? Or were they just wandering aimlessly?) and find out how they researched their trip to Hollywood. Here are some observations I made:

Ethnography tourist in Hollywood 2014

Site map for Hollywood walking tour app

I am working through some Information Architecture (IA) for my Cal State Fullerton class. For the app in development, the Hollywood Walking Tour, I need to organize the interface and interactions. Here is a first draft of the IA:

Information architecture for Hollywood Walking Tour App
First level Information architecture for Hollywood Walking Tour App.

More organized site map

Though I don’t feel like this is complete, this was the site map I turned in for the Web and App design class. I think this structure is a good start, but I wonder how it will evolve as I really start wire framing the interface and performing the usability tests. Until then, we will take every step in the process.

Site map for Hollywood Walking Tour App
Site map for Hollywood Walking Tour App.

Customer Goals vs. business goals

This is a portion of my first assignment for the Cal State Fullerton User-Centered Design for Web and Mobile Interfaces class. The charts here correspond to my chosen class project: A Hollywood Walking Tour App. I can’t seem to find a good and FREE walking tour app. So I thought about creating one myself.

The charts here discuss what the goals of the business are and what the customer goals would be. Though these charts are not perfect, their are a good first draft for the project.

Business Goals for Hollywood Walking Tour app

Customer Goals for Hollywood Walking Tour app
Business and Customer Goals for Hollywood Walking Tour app

 

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 in one word?

I am now watching week 2 of Design Thinking on MOOC viewable on iversity.org. One of the interviewees said something very intruiging:

  • Question: What is Design in ONE word?
  • Answer: Freedom.

Now this is a very interesting answer isn’t it?

Design is so complex, and so difficult to define with just one word. Some might say design is “art” or “creativity.”  Others might say it is “communication” or “planning.” But to think of Design in terms of Freedom is a very interesting approach indeed. There’s some food for thought.

Design thinking week two on MOOC through iversity.org
Design thinking week two on MOOC through iversity.org.

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.