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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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Slow UI: Pace Interaction to Increase Understanding

Summary: Overly fast interfaces are error prone and encourage users to rush through websites and other systems. Design to reduce interaction speed and increase users’ understanding and task success.

There is no doubt that the traditional emphasis on speed in user-interface design has gone overboard. Yes, there’s something to be said for fast response times and web pages that download immediately. And for decades, one of the 5 measurable quality attributes of usability has been efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?

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Remote UX Work: Guidelines and Resources

Summary: Even though in-person UX sessions are typically ideal, sometimes budget or travel restrictions necessitate remote UX work. This article presents guidelines for remote user research, UX workshops or presentations, and collaboration.

When it comes to conducting user research, presenting UX work, or collaborating with other team members or stakeholders, we know that face-to-face interaction can have a lot of advantages: It’s easier for participants to build trust and rapport in person than remotely, and attendees are likely to pay attention and be cooperative for longer.

However, we can’t always conduct UX activities face to face. Sometimes, budget or time limitations, travel restrictions, or other unforeseen circumstances make in-person sessions impossible, unaffordable, or even unsafe. In these cases, remote sessions can offer immense value in maintaining the flow of insights and ideas.

Read the article (9 min read)
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Good Abandonment on Search Results Pages

Summary: Now that people can easily find answers to their questions directly on results pages, content creators must rethink their role in providing information to their users.

Search-engine results pages (SERPs) traditionally had a straightforward purpose — they delivered links to users. If a user did not click any result from the page, it meant that the user didn’t see anything valuable and that the search algorithm had failed.

Today, user engagement on a search-results page cannot be so easily captured.

Good abandonment is when the user’s information need is successfully and entirely addressed by the search-results page, with no need to click on a result or reformulate the query.

Read the article (8 min read)
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Service Blueprinting: Fails and Fixes

Summary: The most common pain points with service blueprinting are setting expectations, determining scope, and communicating insights, according to 97 UX professionals.

In a recent survey of UX practitioners, we asked 97 practitioners about their experience with service blueprinting. This article summarizes their responses to the question What are the biggest frustrations with creating and using service blueprints? and provides strategies for addressing these difficulties.

Problem: Finding Allies and Setting Expectations

Respondents expressed frustration with obtaining organizational commitment, support, and resources for their service-blueprinting initiatives — in particular, about:

  • Navigating organizational politics
  • Justifying the need for blueprinting
  • Motivating others to contribute and care
  • Determining method and process ownership
  • Aligning on best practices and goals

Here are some steps that can help mitigate these issues:

Read the article (7 min read)
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7 Ways to Analyze a Customer-Journey Map

Summary: Evaluate your journey map to identify low and high points, failures to set expectations, unnecessary or too long steps, channel transitions, and moments of truth. Use this information to find opportunities for improving the journey.

A customer-journey map is an infographic visualization of the process that a persona segment goes through in order to accomplish a goal. Journey maps are useful in communicating the general narratives and themes uncovered by longitudinal research done to understand how a customer works toward a goal over time. 

Faux Journey Map
This journey map communicates the various steps in the process of researching, driving, and purchasing a new car. It provides a high-level narrative of the experience from the user’s perspective.
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The Discovery Phase in UX Projects

Summary: Although there can be many different instigators, roles, and activities involved in a discovery, all discoveries strive to achieve consensus on the problem to be solved and desired outcomes.

Definition: A discovery is a preliminary phase in the UX-design process that involves researching the problem space, framing the problem(s) to be solved, and gathering enough evidence and initial direction on what to do next. Discoveries do not involve testing hypotheses or solutions.

Discoveries are crucial to setting design projects off in the right direction by focusing on the right problems and, consequently, building the right thing. They are often referred to as ‘product discoveries’ (although I’m not keen on this name because it can set the expectation that this phase is about discovering requirements for a given product).

Read the article (8 min read)
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Animated GIFs in Email Are Worse Than Static Emails

Summary: On average, people have a more positive reaction to emails without animated GIFs compared to those with animated GIFs.

Email is an effective communication channel for companies to connect and maintain relationships with customers. With the growth of social-media platforms as useful customer-engagement channels, many people assume email marketing has become less relevant and effective. That’s wrong. In its annual State of Email survey, email-testing platform and marketing-research group Litmus reported that the return on investment (ROI) for email marketing is still very strong: on average, for every dollar invested, the return is $38.

Read the article (6 min read)
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Mobile Tutorials: Wasted Effort or Efficiency Boost?

Summary: Our research shows that tutorials don’t make users faster or more successful at completing tasks; on the contrary, they make them perceive the tasks as more difficult.

There are several different methods that mobile apps use to onboard new users: tutorials, interface tours, gamified onboarding, contextual help, and so on. But, do these methods work? In other words, do they have an impact on users’ performance and their success using the interface? And subsequently, is it worth the design and development effort to create these onboarding tools?

We conducted a quantitative usability test with 70 users and 4 mobile apps that used deck-of-cards tutorials as a means to onboard users. This particular type of onboarding was selected as the focus of this study due to its popularity in mobile apps.

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Tools for Remote UX Workshops

Summary: The type of workshop will dictate which tools your team should use. Ultimately, with limited time and budget, your best bet is to use a tool your team already knows how to use.

Remote workshopping can feel like a lofty undertaking. Not only do you have to hone your facilitation skills, but a digital setting presents new logistical challenges and technical considerations. A carefully selected set of tools can mitigate some of the major difficulties raised by remote workshops:

  • People aren’t wholly engaged or feel like their input does not matter.
    It’s easy to zone out during a phone conference with many people. If a workshop is not fully immersive, minds may start wandering, and participants may start multitasking instead of contributing, as email, or social media magnetically divert attention.
Read the article (6 min read)
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Foundational UX Workshop Activities

Summary: There are 7 activities that act as a foundation for every UX exercise during a workshop or collaborative team meeting. By understanding these, you can create almost any other exercise you need.

Thousands of workshop exercises exist. However, few realize at the core of each of these exercises are the same 7 foundational activities. You can combine, mix, and remix these fundamental activities to create almost any exercise needed. As a facilitator, these core activities are should be familiar tools in your back pocket.

This article outlines these 7 fundamental workshop activities, discussing how to adapt them, tips for running them, and when they are helpful:

  1. Post up
  2. Affinity diagramming
  3. Landscape mapping
  4. Forced ranking
  5. Storyboarding
  6. Role playing
  7. Playback

1. Post Up

This is the most common and fundamental workshop activity amongst the 7. It is the base of almost all workshop exercises and has the broadest application.

Read the article (9 min read)
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5 Principles of Visual-Design in UX

Summary: The principles of scale, visual hierarchy, balance, contrast, and Gestalt not only create beautiful designs, but also increase usability when applied correctly.

When looking at a visual, we can usually immediately say whether it is appealing or amiss. (Because they often play out at the visceral level in Don Norman’s model of emotional design.) However, few can verbalize why a layout is visually attractive. Graphics that take advantage of the principles of good visual design can drive engagement and increase usability.

Visual-design principles inform us how design elements such as line, shape, color, grid, or space go together to create well-rounded and thoughtful visuals.

This article defines 5 visual-design principles that impact UX:

  1. Scale
  2. Visual hierarchy
  3. Balance
  4. Contrast
  5. Gestalt
Read the article (7 min read)