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Videos are time consuming and become outdated quickly.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!
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.
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.
I cannot emphasize this enough: sketch out your ideas before jumping on to a computer and starting your design. Sketching is good for the body and it’s good for the mind. Not to mention, it’s kinda fun to live like a kid again and practice those rudimentary drawing skills. But you certainly don’t have to be a fantastic illustrator to create a good idea. If you think you can’t draw, don’t let that hold you back. I can’t draw either, as you can clearly see from my photograph at the top of this article.
To be honest, I don’t sketch enough. I have been guilty of jumping straight on to the computer, trying to come up with the best design idea as quickly as possible. But I do see great value in sketching out a few possibilities before exploring ideas on the computer.
Some of the advantages of sketching out your design solutions are:
Brain dump. Get the ideas out on paper.
Explore several idea possibilities. And build the ideas off each other. Variety and iteration are great skills in UX.
Force yourself to not settle for the first things that comes to mind.
Writing it out helps so that you are not forgetting a key component.
It gives you a prop to facilitate a discussion.
Seeing it visually on paper really is drastically different than what is in your head.
It helps you to communicate to another person by having the visual to discuss. Having the idea just in your brain could be misinterpreted.
You can refer to dismissed ideas later. You might find new inspiration or that one of your alternative ideas might actually be a better one to develop.
You can include as much or as little detail as you choose.
You can do it without electricity. If your laptop has died or the power is out, you can still be working. Your boss will love that!
Sketching makes it easy to dismiss an idea without be too emotionally or technically invested.
It helps you focus your idea, from the abstract thought in your head, to the real world scenario on the screen.
So as you can see, sketching has many advantages. I encourage your to sketch your next design solution first, without ever turning on your computer. You would be amaze how many ideas you can create if you devote a bit of time and effort. One of those second or third ideas just might become the winner. Give it a try.
Jennifer Blatz explores the world of UX through words and imagery