Technology changes at the speed of light. Just when a shopping experience is updated for the latest craze, something new arrives on the scene and uproots the way people shop online. Even though this happens all the time, some design trends can give hints at how the landscape of eCommerce changes from year to year. Paying attention to these improvements allows us to stay on top of consumer needs and make educated guesses about where and when the next big thing happens.
The number of people shopping online increases massively every year, especially in 2020 during the global pandemic. Online retailers can expect increased orders, and stores not yet online should get their websites up and running to meet this demand.
Continue reading Design is Changing Shopping (for the Better)
How introverted designers and design leaders can operate successfully in a world where the extrovert ideal is desired.
In Susan Cain’s 2012 Ted Talk, “The Power of Introverts,” she said that we live in a world where the extrovert ideal is desired. As a leader in design, this certainly feels true for me.
When people paint a picture of what a leader looks like, it often looks like this: A leader commands the center of attention. A leader is outgoing, talkative, and dominant. A leader is able to deliver charismatic speeches, rallying large audiences at a drop of a hat. A leader is the ultimate salesman; people hang onto their every word, waiting for their next one with bated breath.
Continue reading Design Leadership for Introverts
My story of discovering, first-hand, how important psychological safety is to teams pinning their innovation hopes on frameworks like design thinking.
I sat up from the exercise mat I was lying on and pushed myself off the gym floor. I hustled over to the window sill where my jacket, water bottle, and phone sat. I anxiously fumbled to unlock my phone and to tap the rewind button on the audio book, Dare to Lead, I was listening to so I could hear the last part once more.
The author, Brené Brown, was reciting a thought she always imparts to the leadership teams she coaches at the very start of their engagements.
Continue reading Somewhere Between Vulnerability and Design Thinking
I am a firm believer that success starts with the statement of work (SOW). An appropriate and attainable SOW determines whether my team of UX designers and researchers get the time and activities we require to fully understand a client’s needs and fashion a suitable solution.
Regrettably, we often work within overly prescriptive SOWs that dictate a solution before we have a chance to understand the problem. One reason projects are poorly scoped is our clients’ discomfort with ambiguity. Clients understandably want to know what they are getting for their investment: Who will be on the team? What will they deliver? How will they deliver it? How long will it take?
Continue reading Trusting the Process
Back in the mid-90s, as the personal computer was booming, I was just your fairly average tween with a Skip-It™. I spent my summers in the California sunshine counting: 100, 208, 300, 986, always aching to get to 1,000. While my parents worked long past sunset, I played on the sidewalk of my parents’ company, Design Matters. Before it was a podcast, Design Matters—one of the first agencies in the San Francisco Bay area—was my personal experience with design. My parents were early web designers who rode the dot-com boom back when the area was still ripe with possibility.
This sounds idyllic, but I’m here to tell you from a child’s perspective: It was many long nights for my parents, and there were waves of regular tension. Although their success did come, it was far from certain, and it certainly wasn’t easy. I overheard many unpleasant conversations as my parents grappled with all the messy stuff that comes with building a ragtag team in a field that was neither well understood nor yet defined.
Continue reading Biased by Design
Like a superhero created when the contents of two beakers accidentally combine, a powerful hybrid has emerged in the software development world: the user champion.
In this origin story, the beakers would be labeled “agile” and “user experience (UX)” because the user champion borrows some of the best ideas from both disciplines. From agile, it takes the idea of the product owner (or in this case, product champion). From UX, it takes a conviction in the value of user feedback.
This role of user champion may be the distinctive product of a distinctive design process—our shop focuses on highly knowledgeable, highly engaged business users—but it seems to have broader application.
As you might expect, the hybrid reflects its components. Continue reading It’s a Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s a User Champion
I cannot count how many large-scale projects my team has been a part of where we’re scrambling last-minute to take care of some seemingly small but integral task necessary for launch. I’ve talked to others in the web design and marketing industry; my team is not alone in this launch frenzy. But does that make this odd ritual okay or even acceptable?
The risk when things are missed prior to launch
The worst case scenario? Once live, a project stakeholder notices the missteps and calls out the project team, damaging trust, credibility, and ultimately the relationship.
Continue reading User-Centered Design Is Everyone’s Responsibility: A Launch Checklist
Email unsubscribe is one of the most dreadful things for any email marketer. After all the hard work you put into a campaign, it is particularly annoying to get your emails unsubscribed.
According to Mailjet, if your unsubscribe rate is below 1%, you are said to be within the industry norm. However, emails sent to new lists—to subscribers who have not received an email from you before—are not included in this calculation because they usually have more unsubscribes. Your industry also influences the number of unsubscribes you get. An agreeable unsubscribe rate is below 0.5%, and you should work on creating better emails if your unsubscribe rate exceeds that.
Continue reading Unveiling the Specifics of ‘Unsubscribe’ for Email Marketers
As I watched the app go live in across the various app stores I felt exhausted.
The steps leading up to the launch had been intense, involving multiple stakeholders, scores of different user personas, and innumerable iteration cycles spread across a multitude of design teams. We shipped the project on time and shared high-fives all around, but after the dust had settled, I realized how truly tired each step of this project had made me.
After the launch, I was all UX’ed out. Even the sight of a Post-It note felt exhausting. Attributing the fatigue to creative block, I planned to take a few days off to recharge. But because my version of “recharge” also means “process everything,” I also decided to write an article for creatives about how to deal with this kind of block.
Continue reading How to Avoid UX Burnout
I blacked out when he said he wanted to underline text so that the site looked more interactive. I couldn’t hear him anymore because of the internal dialogue reinforcing my superiority. “He doesn’t think of the user. He only cares about sales. What kind of stupid idea is that? A really, really stupid one. What happens when someone tries to click the underlined text? Nothing? Awesome plan.”
I was stuck in the room for another 15 minutes, so I decided to play a game called “in what universe is this a good idea?”
Continue reading Panda’s Guide to User Experience