Are We Taking the “U” Out of UX?

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What is a UX designer?

I recently saw a great ad for a senior UX specialist from MathWorks. Some excerpts:

  • Work with the development team to follow a user-centered design approach as you work collaboratively to brainstorm and design innovative solutions to complex problems.
  • Make recommendations to team members about which usability methods to use to answer their questions about users and design directions based on projects’ needs, goals, and constraints.
  • Work closely with team members to conduct user research, identify pain points, develop user profiles, and create task lists.
  • Collaborate on paper and functional prototypes.
  • Run usability tests, conduct interviews and site visits, organize surveys, and perform other usability assessments you think are appropriate.

It outlines exactly what I would expect in a UX job. We learn everything we can about a project from stakeholders and competitive products, find ways to research what users want and need, evaluate those needs with stakeholders, modify the project plan, and create solutions which are validated with users before finalizing the product.

But when I was looking for a new gig, that was the exception. Many of the job descriptions I saw asked for a wide array of UX skills, with some even asking for more than listed above. But it seemed that they really wanted a visual designer who could prototype.

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Case Study: How to Build a Digital User Experience Monitoring System

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Most software user experience and product management teams have similar questions: How do users feel about our products? How is our product experience changing over time? How do users feel about a recent change we’ve made in the product?

Our user experience (UX) and product teams are no different, so we set up a system that provides an ongoing stream of data that answers these questions and does much more.

In this case study, we describe our user experience monitoring system at Qualtrics.[1] With data collected through this system, we are able to monitor the overall UX of our software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, share dashboards and reports with stakeholders, and send automated messages to individuals and groups based on key performance indicators. This system complements our existing traditional UX research initiatives (such as interviewing, surveying, usability evaluations, and reviewing telemetry data) with an actionable stream of high quality user experience data collected with very little ongoing effort from our team.

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Tying in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to Your Brand’s Digital Presence

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Just as you had mastered SEO, social media, and original content, along come platforms that threaten to disrupt all previous branding experiences.

According to a survey by Greenlight Insights, 53% of respondents said they would be more inclined to purchase from a brand that used virtual reality compared to one that did not.

Although we are now relatively more familiar with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), it is still quite a challenge to understand how to design effective brand experiences with them.

You don’t want to invest in technology for it only to be a gimmick that does not significantly bolster your branding activities. And yet, there is the pressure to not get left behind while everyone else seems to be using cutting edge technology.

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Understanding the Value of Workarounds

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As I stare down the tiny leaf-shaped fruit well of my yogurt container, I stop to think, why can’t I ever get ALL of the fruit from this little reservoir?

There is always some fruit left over. My spoon is too wide to reach the corners. After trying other options in the silverware drawer, a closer look at the back of my spoon reveals the solution; the small and narrow curve of the spoon handle turns out to be a perfect fit to fulfill my fruity yogurt need! Using the handle of the spoon to dig out the fruit bits from my yogurt container is a great example of a workaround—an unintended solution to a problem.

That’s what this article is about: Workarounds as not just solutions but also as opportunities to innovate on an existing solution. How can we identify workarounds and assess their value in order to come up with an even better solution?

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How to Use Gamification in Mobile Apps: A Case Study

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Gamification, or the addition of game-like elements to anything that isn’t a game, pops up all over the design world.

In my last post for Boxes and Arrows, I focused specifically on gamification in mobile app onboarding. The moment when users first open your app is critical to the app’s success, and you can use gamification as a tool to get a new user through the learning curve.

But gamification doesn’t just fit with onboarding. It’s possible to apply gamification to any part of app design, or even design an entire app—that is not a mobile gaming application—around it.

I’ll examine Forest, a productivity app, as a case study of gamification embedded so deeply into an app’s framework that gamification becomes the entire reason to use the app in the first place.

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