Summary: Outside-In design organizations live and breathe user experience. The main differentiator between a technology driven organization and a Human Centered design approach is in decision-making. With Outside-In, design, business and technology decisions are gathered, validated, measured and infused into the Sales, Marketing, Business and Technology fabric. This post (in 2 parts, see part 1 here) explores those key organizational behaviors we've discovered and worked with for over 15 years. We've included to-do items for managers to action these insights.
Summary: Outside-In design organizations live and breathe user experience. The main differentiator between a technology driven organization and a Human Centered design approach is in decision-making. With Outside-In design, business and technology decisions are gathered, validated, measured and infused into the Sales, Marketing, Business and Technology fabric. This post (in 2 parts) explores those key organizational behaviors we've discovered and worked with for over 15 years. We've included to-do items for managers to action these insights.
PART 1: (1-6)
1. Gather Evidence and Data
Why it is important: Evidence based design means that opinions are grounded in customer insights, specifically behavior captured and interpreted by trained UX professionals. Data informs design. Whether conversion optimization or efficiency improvement, you can not run on assumption any longer.
Summary: Prototyping is a valuable sketching process involved in generating UX/UI. It saves you time, saves you confusion and helps you visualize quickly and cheaply. Here are 50 reasons why prototyping is critical to do. These benefits point to the need to develop a company culture of prototyping.
1. Prototyping saves you meeting time: Without visual sketching, UI's are discussed ad-nauseum without a "shared picture", you end up talking about a UI instead of ideating a new solution.
2. Sketching is easier to socialize. Quick sketches, no matter how crude, are great ways to quickly commuinicate.
3. Prototypes help imagine new solutions.
4. Ideas are easier to scrap, change or re-consider with "low effort" prototypes.
5. Prototypes help you plan.
6. Prototypes help you test your design ideas with users.
Summary: Most persona development efforts are self-sabotaging because of one reason: a lack of good user research. The good news is this can be quickly turned around with an incredible impact on your software project and your overall organization's return on investment. This article explores why and how you can salvage your personas once and for all.
Personas as Garbage, but why?
Many organizations use personas. Personas are the fun customer sketches that software development teams use to prioritize user needs. However most persona efforts are junk, owing to the origins of data used to inspire personas. We know several product managers who don't "believe" in personas.
Summary: User Research is best performed early on and instead of simply validating your requirements, can help shape them.
Clarification: By user research we will discuss Field Studies, not user testing (also referred to as user research). While we're on terminology, Field Studies are also referred to as Ethnography or Ethnographic Field Studies.
Knowing what to do with your user research opportunity is important. The field study is a critical component of UX Design. It is often left out of most people's mental model (conceptions) about UX Design. User experience has two faces: Usability (ease of use) and Desirability (needs and wants). User research can help surface patterns, triggers, motivations and new innovations.
Let's explore how, when and why to make the most of User Research through common misconceptions.
Common misconceptions about User Research
Summary: UX Practitioners, and more importantly stakeholders must avoid making the mistake of over-generalizing or incorrectly observing user test sessions. Since the purpose of usability testing is to create informed design decisions, this is not a trivial issue. Poor (biased) observations are rampant. Let's fix this now!
Avoiding These User Testing Observation Traps...
Observing a usability test seems straight forward: watch and form an opinion. It is that simple, but if you are not careful of the way your mind works, you can end up with the wrong set of take-aways-- a potential disaster to what otherwise could be a rich learning experience. Here are the main things you need to avoid and be aware of, to get the most from your observations:
Summary: Emotion is not to be underestimated in human decision-making, as recent US elections and Twitter's analysis of election tweets show. In the same way candidates with the strongest emotional appeals get voters attention, so do designs. Emotion is important to confront in a design, but also should be measured and used as a tool to gain deeper user engagement.
As this analysis from Twitter shows, Trump won emotion. Politically he utilized all emotion (good and bad) to attract attention to his "fix America" message. His use of emotion attracted many voters, unpredicted by US media polls. So what does this mean for your user experience?
Summary: Good user experience design is imperative for smoother adoption of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR). The UX focus of wow-factor experiences for VR/AR/MR must include careful attention to design of presence, narrative, engagement and emotion.
Virtual Reality (VR) offers an immersive experience requiring a HMD (Head Mounted Display). The software is powered on a mobile phone or from a new VR-optimized PC. Users feel like they are "there" and the experience is in first person. Note: You have to experience this to realize how profound of a shift it is. First person user experience can change perception in fundamentally profound ways.
Summary: Hiring the wrong UX designer or UX agency can cost you, not only in your delivery but also in your confidence to benefit from the latest in UX leadership and ROI. Making the right hire is critical, but first you have to be able to spot weakness which is difficult if you are new to the subject of UX hiring.
Characteristics of the Wrong Hire
In our experience of working with clients who complain of being burned by low quality UX firms, we've noticed some patterns over the past 15 years.
Summary: Doing regular, phased or iterative usability testing gives you the benefit to gain additional validation on design direction. It's primary function is to protect usability quality as designs progress or get distorted by internal constraints. Regular testing can help you establish maturity or UX culture and can teach you the important UX skill of user advocacy.