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Jakob Nielsen, Don Norman, Tog, and colleagues: usability advocates offering evidence-based user experience (UX) research, training, consulting.

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Stakeholder Analysis for UX Projects

Summary: UX professionals often work hard to convince stakeholders to support UX research and design efforts. Recognizing who your key stakeholders are and how they impact your work is the first step to building fruitful stakeholder relationships.

Ever had a stakeholder shut down your project or block UX-design efforts? This frustrating situation may be avoided. A significant part of UX involves working with and alongside stakeholders. In particular, in organizations with low UX maturity, UX professionals have to constantly evangelize to stakeholders about their work, why it matters, and why they should be allowed to continue doing it! While we’ve written before that it’s a good idea to collaborate with stakeholders and to invite them to observe research, stakeholder analysis offers a structured approach to stakeholder management.

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International Usability Testing: Why You Need It

Summary: User testing in different countries helps identify culturally specific usability issues. Testing correctly and at the right time will help you thrive in a new market.

Designing for global audiences with different cultural backgrounds can be challenging.

To thrive in an international market, sites must go beyond translation and localization and gain first-hand data on how your users in your markets interact with your products. Even though the main usability guidelines stay the same across countries, testing with international audiences can reveal usability problems specific to those cultures. There are two main reasons to test with international users:

  1. International users may interact with your products differently or rely on specific features more heavily than local audiences.
  2. Mental models and how people interact with technology or organizations can vary from country to country.
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Design Systems 101

Summary: A design system is a set of standards to manage design at scale by reducing redundancy while creating a shared language and visual consistency across different pages and channels.

As UI design has evolved over the years, the scale and speed at which UI screens must be created has also increased. Not only are there millions of applications and billions of websites (with more created each year), but each of those apps and websites might have hundreds or thousands of pages (or screens). With this drastic expansion comes a dire need for organizations to streamline design work. So, many design teams leverage robust design systems to manage designs at scale.

Definition: A design system is a complete set of standards intended to manage design at scale using reusable components and patterns.

Why Use a Design System?

Design systems, when implemented well, can provide a lot of benefits to a design team:

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10 Best Intranets of 2021: What Makes Them Great

Summary: The 2021 Intranet Design Annual winning teams exhibited a capacity to swiftly pivot, as well as compassion and empathy for employees.

It’s with great pleasure that we announce the organizations with the 10 best-designed intranets for 2021. They are:

  • Baker Hughes (US), a leading energy-technology company
  • Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. (Hong Kong), one of the world’s largest international airlines with scheduled passenger and cargo services to more than 190 destinations in more than 60 countries, including codeshares and joint ventures
  • Commonwealth Care Alliance, Inc. (US), a not-for-profit, community-based healthcare organization
  • ConocoPhillips (US), one of the world’s largest independent energy- exploration and -production (E&P) companies
  • Deutsche Vermögensberatung AG (DVAG), Germany’s largest financial consultancy
  • Johnson & Johnson (US), the world’s largest healthcare company
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UXers and Product Managers Both Say Others Intrude on Their Work

Summary: A survey of 372 UX and PM professionals shows that duplicative work is frequent and generates confusion and inefficiency.

Our Research

To understand how user experience professionals (UX) and product managers (PM) see their roles and how the roles relate to one another, we conducted a survey aimed at answering these questions: 

  1. Do other roles overstep on the work of PM and UX, and, if so, how often?
  2. Which roles overlap with PM and UX?
  3. Why does duplicative work happen?
  4. What are the effects of work overlap?
  5. Who do PM and UX think is responsible for which activities and deliverables?
  6. Who holds the power at the organization?

The first four questions are discussed in this article. A companion article covers the last two.

Read the article (6 min read)
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Sticky Headers: 5 Ways to Make Them Better

Summary: Persistent headers can be useful to users if they are unobtrusive, high-contrast, minimally animated, and fit user needs.

Definition

Sticky headers (or persistent headers) are a common pattern for keeping the header of a website or app in the same place on the screen while the user scrolls down the page. A version of this pattern is the partially sticky header, which (re)appears at the top of the page as soon as the user starts scrolling up.

When done appropriately, sticky headers allow users to quickly access the navigation, search, and utility-navigation elements without scrolling up to the top of the page. They increase the discoverability of the elements in the header and the chance that users will take advantage of them. 

Accenture’s desktop site uses a sticky header containing the site navigation, search, and utility navigation. The header stays in place while the user scrolls.
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Users Love Change: Combatting a UX Myth

Summary: Frequent major redesigns and changes throughout the interface support user’s need to learn and adapt to new situations.

One myth in the world of user experience is that users hate change. The basis of this argument is that users don’t like to learn new things. For existing users of your product, changing the interface causes them to relearn how to use it, which takes time and effort. This argument assumes that users’ time and effort are wasted and fails to acknowledge an inherent human need: to learn and adapt. During the Paleolithic Era, our cavemen and cavewomen ancestors sought out new experiences and adapted to many new scenarios. Without their knowledge and adaptation skills, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

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Scenario Mapping: Design Ideation Using Personas

Summary: Persona-based scenarios can be leveraged to influence design through guided brainstorming workshops called scenario-mapping workshops.

In general, the word ‘scenario’ refers to a sequence of actions or events. UX professionals use scenarios in a variety of situations, the two most notable ones being usability testing (task scenarios) and ideation of new design ideas. In this article, we explore the latter UX use of scenarios.

Scenarios used for ideation are brief stories about a person using your product or service to complete a specific task. They provide your design team with useful context and common ground as it attempts to come up with design solutions.

The Anatomy of a Scenario

Scenarios are usually centered around one task that is key to your product and includes 5 elements:

  1. an actor
  2. a motivator
  3. an intention or intent
  4. an action
  5. a resolution
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The Search Before the Search: Keyword Foraging

Summary: When users don’t know what keywords they need, they must do extra work to determine what their desired item or concept is called.

We live in a search-driven digital world, which is great as long as you know the keywords you need. But what happens when you don’t?

When users want to find an item or a piece of information and they don’t know what it’s called, they face a difficult problem. Sometimes in our research, we see users engage in keyword foraging.

In keyword foraging, a user conducts a preliminary search (usually in a web search engine like Google) to determine the right keywords for her information need.

Think of keyword foraging as the search before the search: one or more preliminary queries to help the user formulate her actual query.

These tend to occur when the user:

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Applying UX Principles to the Visual Design of Graphical Artifacts: The Case of the Heuristics Posters

Summary: We made the 10 heuristics’ posters easy to read and understand by iterating through multiple versions and improving each based on user-centered principles and methods.

The 10 usability heuristics for user-interface design were created by Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich 26 years ago and still ring true today. In 2020, we set out to update the presentation of the heuristics, adding explanation, examples, and related links. This update included the creation of a set of visual posters.

In this article, we discuss how we used methods that are usually employed for UI design, like wireframing, iterative design, and user testing, to create and improve static artifacts: the posters for the 10 heuristics.

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Modify Your Design for Global Audiences: Crosscultural UX Design

Summary: Crosscultural design adaptations range from translation to localization. Researching general and contextual cultural differences helps you decide what type of design changes you should make.

When brands and organizations seek growth by expanding into a global market, they may find that their digital products are not as popular as in the domestic market.

Beyond marketing factors, one frequent cause is that their websites and apps are initially developed for and tested within a local demographical profile. What has been working well for that domestic group may not make any sense to people from a different cultural background. This is why designers must modify the products for a global audience and test with that target audience to validate the modifications.

Two Types of Adaptation

For digital products with crosscultural audiences speaking different languages, there are two adaptation approaches:

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A Framework for CX Transformation: How to Operationalize CX at Scale

Summary: To deliver high-quality omnichannel experiences, companies must develop an operational ecosystem that enables crossfunctional collaboration and quick reaction to customers’ needs.

CX transformation is the transformation of an organization’s values, structures, operations, technology, and culture to mature its CX capabilities by creating an environment able to operate with a focus on the customer and deliver high-quality CX at scale. 

Many organizations today struggle to achieve CX transformation. In this article, we present a high-level framework to guide organizations to transform and operationalize CX work. This framework outlines 4 key areas within the organization where change must happen. These focus areas are: 

  • Company’s vision and strategy
  • Employees
  • Operations
  • Technology 

We found these focus areas can be transformed by using several approaches to change, based on: 

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Asset Mapping for Experience Consistency

Summary: Asset maps display and organize the screens and elements users encounter along workflows and journeys. They provide a systematic way of analyzing the consistency of an organization’s experience across channels.

Consistency is essential for a great omnichannel user experience. When interactions look, feel, and function similarly across channels, not only is user effort reduced, but users’ trust and confidence are bolstered.

To make an experience consistent, teams first need to catalog the interactions and assets that users engage with along their workflows and journeys. An effective tool for analyzing consistency across channels is an asset map.

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Getting Started with Journey Mapping: 27 Tips from Practitioners

Summary: Set yourself up for journey-mapping success by educating yourself on the basics, defining objectives, building a crossfunctional team, collaborating on the map, and optimizing your presentation.

Journey maps visualize the process that a user goes through to accomplish a goal. They provide a holistic view of the customer experience, highlighting both positive and negative moments from the user’s point-of-view.

Leading a journey-mapping initiative is no small challenge. It takes product knowledge and research savvy, along with project- and stakeholder-management skills. To learn about journey mapping in practice, we surveyed more than 300 UX professionals on their journey-mapping experiences. Within that group, 206 respondents shared advice for people creating a journey map for the first time. In this article, we’ve consolidated the advice into 27 tips relevant not only to those getting started with journey mapping, but to all practitioners who want to learn from their peers’ knowledge. We grouped these into 6 categories: learning about journey mapping, defining goals, gathering and conducting research, collaborating on the map, visualizing and communicating the journey, and bonus words of encouragement.

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Why Does a Design Look Good?

Summary: Visually aesthetic designs use consistent typography, establish a clear hierarchy, utilize a refined color palette, and align to a grid.

Visual details like fonts, colors, and alignment create a usable experience and express brand traits (such as friendliness or reliability).

It’s easy to look at a design and notice it looks good. It’s often much harder to pinpoint why it looks good. In this article we analyze three user-interface designs and discuss the visual-design principles that make them attractive. 

Example 1: Typography and Spacing

Our first example is from Medium.com. This design utilizes a grid, white space, and a typographic system to create a comfortable, yet beautiful reading experience.

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Writing an Effective Guide for a UX Interview

Summary: Preparing a guide for a user interview ensures that topics relevant to your research questions are covered, and that the interview captures in-depth information about people’s lives and needs.

In the discovery phase of product development, user interviews are often used to capture important information about users: their backgrounds, beliefs, motivations, desires, or needs. Typically, the interviews carried out at this stage are semistructured (referred to as “depth interviews” by market researchers) — they generally have a predefined structure, but also allow the interviewer the flexibility to follow up on significant statements made by participants.

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Livestream Ecommerce: What We Can Learn from China

Summary: Livestreams allow users to see products in detail and get their questions answered in real time. They can be integrated in ecommerce websites and on social-networking apps.

Livestream ecommerce is a business model in which retailers, influencers, or celebrities sell products and services via online video streaming where the presenter demonstrates and discusses the offering and answers audience questions in real-time. A livestream session could take place on an ecommerce website or on a social media platform. It can be store or brand-specific; influencers can also host livestream events promoting items from various vendors.

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