Taking Research out of the Lab

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To date, usability testing has been largely confined to usability labs. This ensures a controlled environment where users can interact with products or designs and researchers can field questions. The downside of this is not being able to get the context of use of what you are testing. But a recent project for a life science organization cemented the idea that taking user research out of the usability lab yields the best results.

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Focus on Usage Maturity: Part II

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Meet Users Where They Are, Draw Them Deeper In

If we want users to remain our users, we ought to entice them deeper into our design ecosystem.

Attempts to extend or expand users’ usage, frequently results in designs complicated by added features, and functions. My user experience research has informed digital and physical designs often with an emphasis on correcting the usability of such complexities. Users interact with the things we design at varying levels of usage maturity. Usage maturity is a measure of users’ comfort and familiarity with, and degree of use of a product, process, or place. 

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Information Architecture Expert Panel – Part One

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The Structure of Complexity

With the 2020 events for World IA Day (est. 2012) and the IA Conference (est. as IA Summit in 2000) approaching, the team here at Boxes and Arrows is taking this opportunity to highlight the importance of Information Architecture (IA). We reached out to some pillars of the IA community to ask them for their thoughts on, where information architecture is today, and where it’s going. Their response was so enthusiastic that we will be breaking this into multiple posts.

My thanks to the generosity of Abby Covert, Peter Morville, Jorge Arango, Donna Spencer, Madonnalisa Chan, Dan Klyn, Andy Fitzgerald, Grace Lau, Dan Brown, Andrew Hinton, Lou Rosenfeld, and Boxes and Arrows patron saint, Christina Wodtke. The time and insights they provided to bring this post together are very appreciated.

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An Out of the Box Rebranding

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Just before the 2020 new year, we decided it was a good time to refresh the Boxes and Arrows brand identity, a time to start a fresh decade with a fresh logo. And, after a few weeks at the drawing board, we’re liking the results. 

To us, the new, dynamic, and pleasingly symmetrical icon—a box made of arrows—represents the emerging dimensions of information spaces, greater interconnected continuity between people, and an ever-expanding collection of knowledge which we hope to bring to our readers. 

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Focus on Usage Maturity: Part I

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Designing for All Users by Starting at the Beginning

Far too often, products are designed to meet the needs of the typical user. As a user experience researcher, I’m always cautious about defining the “typical user” for any of the digital or physical products I work on. My UX research has included work on business processes, websites, services, software platforms, digital games, physical products,  and physical properties.

I prefer to use a usage maturity matrix and design to meet the range of functional priorities of our users.

  • Usage maturity is a measure of users’ comfort and familiarity with and degree of use of a product.
  • A usage maturity matrix defines the functional priorities at each level of usage maturity.
  • The matrix lists beginning, proficient, and advanced level functional priorities and can expand to include novice and expert levels to account for greater complexity.
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_ pause _

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In the spring of 2002, Christina Wodtke and David Bloxom had a three-buck-chuck infused afternoon and came up with Boxes and Arrows.

That kid is now 17 and, like a teenager heading off to college, Boxes and Arrows — and, more importantly, its staff of three — is going to take a little time to think about things to come. This means migrating our hosting, adopting a new look, and optimizing our content, along with solving any technical issues of the past.

We’ll be back in January 2020, ready for adulting and ready to make everyone proud.

Don’t Send Personal Messages Through LinkedIn (Unless You Want People to Hate You)

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Looking through my parents’ storage boxes, I found letters that my mother and father sent one another prior to my existence. This unfathomable world was decades away from mobile phones, public internet connectivity, and social networking. Along with explanations of humorous or ordinary everyday episodes and proclamations of love, the letters included doodles, crossed out words, and long postscriptums. I don’t know if my mother or father ever dabbed some perfume on their letters hoping to evoke butterflies in the other’s stomach; it would not have been out of place.

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Design Leadership for Introverts

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How introverted designers and design leaders can operate successfully in a world where the extrovert ideal is desired.

Introduction

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.

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The Lessons Learned Running User Research Interviews

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In the world of user research, no idea is a bad idea.

If you have an idea for a great piece of research, act on it. In fact, your first epiphany is the seed from which all great things will grow. Your idea will eventually shape your hypothesis—your very best idea. This is your proposed explanation based on your current and limited evidence, paving the way from your starting point.

The investigation to follow is where your user research comes in.

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How to Improve the User Journey on Your Website

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From the moment a user lands on your website until they either leave or convert into a customer, a series of steps lead them from one point to another. Buyer personas represent your typical customer and help address pain points your customers have as well as predicting actions specific audiences might take. About 63 percent of marketers use buyer personas when creating content.

From my experience, here are some steps to help improve your user’s journey once you develop your target audience’s unique buyer persona.

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