Where Do Design and Business Strategy Meet? Design Thinking

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Design is a logical art. It’s the thought process behind the first mark on a page. It’s empathy applied systematically. It’s creative through abductive reasoning.

In other words, designers are no strangers to strategy. Yet even designers themselves forget that the world of design is much larger than mockups and prototypes. This “capital D” conception of design is often referred to as “design thinking,” a problem-solving framework that can be applied across any number of problem domains and at any scale.

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How to Create a Smart Home Product People Actually Want to Use

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For all the hype around the Internet of Things, most people are still content to control their homes manually. A recent Gartner survey found that they don’t mind getting up to adjust the temperature or turn off the lights, and 58 percent of respondents actually prefer the idea of standalone devices to connected ones.

If you’re scratching your head, you’re not alone. If having a connected home makes life easier, why are consumers so skeptical? Who wouldn’t want to control their lights or blinds right from the couch?

IoT’s UX issue

The trouble is that not all household IoT devices make consumers’ lives easier. Before the smart home of the future can become the standard, that needs to change.

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UX Writing: The Case for User-Centric Language

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If I asked you what is one of the biggest problems on websites today, I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t say it has anything to do with words.

But what if I told you it does?

Let’s talk about user-centric language.

One research group describes the usability problems that result from something as simple as using the wrong words on websites:

“Writers often use the language they are most familiar with when describing offerings on websites, without realizing that those terms are unknown to their readers. Unfortunately, site visitors often don’t understand those company- or industry-specific words and phrases.”

In fact, a repeated challenge on websites is that words (“terminology”) and even how the content is organized (“content structure”) reflects the organization’s internal understanding of their own products and services, rather than an external user’s understanding of that company’s products and services.

This problem happens frequently, rearing its ugly head when:

  • companies use feature-laden language to describe their products and services instead of talking about how these products and features benefit customers;
  • websites use nomenclature on navigation menus that’s recognized by internal audiences but not external ones; and
  • navigation menus use an audience-based navigation scheme—confusing, because not all users on your website know or realize what audience they fall into—rather than a task-based one.

When there’s limited time to do UX research, examining the language on your website can be a last priority. But no website—or digital product—can meet its goals without considering whether the language in its interface is user-centric.

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Now That We’ve Captcha’d Your Attention…

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[Article edited on May 31, 2018, to clarify that PlayCaptcha and Funcaptcha are separate solutions, unrelated to each other.]

The other night I listened to my friend swear his way through the online purchasing process for concert tickets. He knew who he wanted to see, how many tickets he wanted, and his budget. All was going well until he got to a point in the journey that kept tripping him up, and the longer it went on the more frustrated he became.

As UX practitioners, these are the types of experiences we try to avoid; we would never knowingly place an obstacle in a user journey that would cause such frustration. In the end, he managed to purchase the tickets but not without some undue stress caused by not being able to read the distorted text in a plain old captcha.

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