Jun
26

On Our Radar: Precious Humans

Source: A List Apart

Molly Holzschlag is a great educator, tough fighter, and vital friend of what folks are now calling “the open web,” and she needs our help.

Molly Holzchlag and Jeffrey Zeldman

Molly Holzchlag and Jeffrey Zeldman.

She took over as project leader when I left The Web Standards Project in 2002. In that role, Molly did hugely important (and often thanklessly unheralded) work bringing improved compliance, plus a renewed respect for web standards, to some famously intractable browser companies. She also directed The Web Standards Project’s important and multi-dimensional educational outreach effort.

Between those efforts, her two decades of public speaking, and the dozens of web development books she has written, Molly has contributed meaningfully to the foundational thinking and understanding of tens of thousands of web developers, designers, and engineers. If you don’t know her name and her work, you don’t fully understand this industry.

Molly has been diagnosed with chronic pancytopenia, a life-threatening blood disorder, and her insurance is about to disappear. She’ll need the support of friends and strangers to afford lifesaving blood treatments and medications. Pray for her, chant for her, help her if you can. —Jeffrey Zeldman, founder and publisher

Your weekend reading

  1. I’m a big fan of the Library of Congress Flickr feed (mostly for the old-timey photographs of the type that Shorpy cleans up and posts) and recently they’ve been posting old graphic posters from the collection. Like this poster for a 1938 photography exhibition in New York City. The description for each piece links back to the Library of Congress, where they often have very high-resolution images available to download. —Mike Pick, creative director and designer
  2. This week, Wired talked up new startup Doxa, which aims to use an “OKCupid-like” algorithm to match women with tech companies where they’re likely to thrive. It’s an interesting approach to getting beyond “diversity” percentages, and it’s nice to see Wired lead with the truth: “Tech has a diversity problem.” But I was more convinced by Danilo Campos’s take: that “shoving underrepresented people into the existing startup order”—even using smart algorithms—won’t make those organizations actually ready to support diverse employees. “If you’re serving at a place where no one in leadership understands your needs, getting accommodation for those needs can become challenging—or even alienating, when you’re misunderstood,” he writes. In other words, crunching survey data to help women find a better fit might be nice, but real change happens when leadership teams are as diverse as the people they’re trying to hire. —Sara Wachter-Boettcher, editor-in-chief
  3. Richard Rutter has Kickstarted a book he’s writing on web typography. I remember first reading an article Richard wrote for us on the topic back in 2007, and this book has been in the works since before then. Richard lives and breathes this stuff: he helped set up Fontdeck, and has also run several installations of Ampersand Conference. I have a feeling this book is going to be the canonical reference on web typography for years to come. —Anna Debenham, technical editor
  4. I was doing some reading on SVG this week for a project we’re working on. I came across Jake Giltsoff‘s SVG on the Web, a single-purpose site outlining the use of the SVG format. Giltsoff went into quite a bit of depth, addressing the use of SVG as an image type from a development perspective, and responsive approaches to using the format. It’s a bookmark-worthy resource for in-depth or at-a-glance referencing. —Erin Lynch, production manager
  5. I was privileged to hear Leslie Jensen-Inman speak last week, and she explained how adding a single question to the daily stand-ups at Center Centre has helped the team create an environment that is enthusiastically supportive of ongoing learning. “What is the most important thing I learned since the last time we met and how will what I learned change the way I approach things in the future?” In Leslie’s Meet for Learning, she goes into more detail about the ways this open-ended question has changed their work culture for the better. —Aaron Parkening, project manager

Overheard in ALA Slack

“I watched a chipmunk suck water out of my friend’s Camelback at the Grand Canyon.”

Your Friday gif

A glitchy image of a screen that says “Learn to Use the Internet, Level 2”


Read the full article

Jun
25

Rian van der Merwe on A View from a Different Valley: Unsuck the Enterprise

Source: A List Apart

There’s something strangely appealing about trying to make enterprise software not universally despised. I guess I believe in a utopian vision where enterprise software is useful, usable, and (gasp!) enjoyable.

But until we get there, I think we can all agree that enterprise software mostly still sucks. And I think it sucks mainly for two reasons:

  1. A lack of empathy for end users.
  2. Too much legacy.

The lack of empathy issue is an understandable outcome of the process. See, we have this piece of software that we sell to company leaders, who care about things like control, configurability, compliance, and how many features the thing has. But the piece of software is mostly used by people who have very different needs.

The people who use the software every day only care about one thing: getting stuff done effectively. And if they can’t do that, a really ugly death spiral happens. As more people realize they can’t get anything done with the software, fewer people want to use it, until eventually no one uses it anymore.

In short, a buyer-focused product strategy builds for features and timelines. A user-focused product strategy builds for the Job-to-be-Done. Those are very different things.

Second, there’s too much legacy that drags large corporations down. There are waterfall processes masquerading as “agile,” well-established and well-defended functional silos, and many layers of bureaucracy. The result is something Jon Kolko sums up well in “Dysfunctional Products Come from Dysfunctional Organizations”:

The dysfunction in the organization becomes the dysfunction in the product, and that gets passed on to the customers.

How can we unsuck this predicament? Four things have helped me, and continue to help me as we make this transition toward designing in leaner, more empathetic ways.

Show the business value of design

The 2014 Design Value Index report just came out, and it showed something quite compelling about design-led companies:

The Design Value Index (DVI), a market capitalization-weighted index comprised of design-driven companies, shows … 10-year returns of 219% over that of the … S&P 500 from 2004 – 2014.?

Good Design Drives Shareholder Value

From “Good Design Drives Shareholder Value” by Jeneanne Rae

So we know design-led companies make more money. But is it also possible for design to save on development costs?


This chart is based on data from the book Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach, and it shows how much cheaper it is to make changes to software before or during development. This quote from Marty Cagan also makes the point really well:

Instead of using one prototyper for a few weeks, [many companies] use the full engineering team for full release cycles to build the software that is then QA’ed and deployed into production systems. This is why it typically takes so many companies three or more releases over one to two years to get something usable and useful. They are using the engineering organization to build a very, very expensive prototype, and they use their live customers as unwitting test subjects.

This is a way to tie user-centered design to both revenue increase and cost reduction. That’s an essential (and compelling) combination to get people to take design and user empathy seriously.

Shrink user-centered design to fit

The biggest reservation that teams at enterprise software companies usually have about research and user experience work is that it takes too long and costs too much. Our job is to show teams that we can still get enormous value from UX methods, even if the budget is relatively small.

That’s the beauty of user-centered design: it shrinks to fit. Can’t do an ethnographic study? Do some phone interviews. Can’t build out a full HTML prototype? Make a clickable prototype in Axure, or heck, make a paper sketch. Can’t do a full usability study? Go to Starbucks Stumptown¹ and ask someone if you can buy them a coffee in exchange for some feedback:

<!–

Big budget Medium budget Small budget
Explore Ethnographic study Phone interviews Ask a friend
Prototype HTML Clickable prototype Paper sketch
User testing Formal usability testing RITE Show someone at a coffee shop

–>

Turn sales into a product design function

This is a big one. I’ve seen enough animosity between sales teams and product teams to last a lifetime. And both sides usually have legitimate points.

Product teams usually complain that the sales team sells stuff that doesn’t exist in the product—and even worse, promises release dates—which means they have no flexibility to base their roadmaps on user feedback and strategic direction.

Sales teams usually complain that product teams don’t see them as partners, and ignore their feedback constantly. This is a huge mistake, because sales teams often know the product’s capabilities and shortcomings the best of anyone in the organization. They should absolutely be part of the development process.

How do you do this? What’s worked for me is to provide a framework that allows both teams to speak a common language. For me, that framework, is Jobs-to-be-Done, and more specifically, the Product Forces Framework.

Product forces diagram, based on jobstobedone.org

For someone to move from their existing behavior (a product they’re currently using) to new behavior (switching to a new product), there are two types of forces at work: progress-making forces, and progress-hindering forces.

Progress-making forces move people from their existing behavior to the new behavior, and consist of the push of the current situation (things they’re not happy with in the current product) and the pull of the new idea (things that sound appealing about the new product).

Progress-hindering forces hold people back from switching to new behavior. They consist of allegiance to the current behavior (things they really like about the current product) and the anxiety of the new solution (worries about learning curves and not being able to accomplish their goals with the new solution).

For someone to switch from an existing product to a new product, the progress-making forces have to be stronger than the progress-hindering forces. This might seem obvious, but applying this model to your product planning can inject an extremely healthy dose of reality. Is the product really that much better than a current solution? What does the new product have to do to overcome people’s allegiance to what they’re currently using?

This is not only a very good sales strategy, it’s also a good way to gather product feedback and come to agreement on what will make the product better (and help it sell better!).

As for putting a stop to selling features that don’t exist yet… I’ll be honest, that can take some time. But the more the sales team and the product team collaborate (keep reading for more on that) and have a common language, the better this will get as well. There is hope.

Break down silos through collaboration

“Collaboration” has become a pretty overused word, and it’s now difficult to know exactly what we mean by it. So let’s be clear: just because you sat in a meeting with a different team doesn’t mean you collaborated. Collaboration, to me, means that you made something together. There is always some output during collaboration—from a solid idea that a designer can go work on, to personas that everyone worked on together, to piles of sticky notes that eventually become a customer journey map.

This kind of collaboration is especially important in the enterprise, where a designer’s role is often mostly about facilitation.

There are several techniques to encourage real product collaboration:

  • Product discovery aligns teams on the user needs, business goals, and core competencies of the organization. It then goes through a process of divergent thinking (trying as many options as possible to solve a problem) and convergent thinking (narrowing down to the best options). The process also lets a team build consensus about the most important things to work on. For more, see my A List Apart article “Usable yet Useless: Why Every Business Needs Product Discovery.”
  • Design studio gives teams an opportunity to try a wide variety of design options, and come to an agreement on the best solution to go with. It uses the entire team to iterate quickly to a hypothesis that can be prototyped and tested with users. For more on how to run a design studio, see Design Studio Workshop: Adding Up the Benefits.
  • User research might seem like a solitary sport, but it’s not. Taking team members along on field visits and usability testing gives them a real sense of how users interact with the product. It also has the power to make them depressed about how difficult something is to use. But most people break through that really quickly, and move on to solving the problem effectively.

If I can further summarize a way to bring empathy-driven design to an enterprise, here are the methods that I try to communicate to teams I work with:

  1. Show them why it’s important.
  2. Show them it’s not going to make their lives difficult.
  3. Give them a framework that covers the whole product.
  4. Make them part of the process.

So if you’re someone who works in enterprise software, come a bit closer—I need to tell you something…

I know the work can be difficult. I know there are an infinite number of factors involved in getting product live, and sometimes what gets launched isn’t what you had in mind. I know there are sleepless nights about this sometimes. But don’t give up. Don’t think that enterprise design has to be boring or tasteless. With a little bit of effort and a lot of tenacity, it’s possible to create great enterprise product. We need you to make it happen, though. Who else is going to do it?

Footnotes

  • 1. Gotta represent Portland!


Read the full article

Jun
23

Designing with Analytics

Source: UXMatters

By Pamela Pavliscak

Published: June 22, 2015

“The best thing about analytics is that they can show us what people do on their own. The worst thing is that analytics don’t tell us much about context, motivations, and intent.”

When we think of analytics, we think of marketing campaigns and funnel optimization. Analytics can seem a little overwhelming, with so many charts and lots of new features. How can we use analytics for design insights?

The best thing about analytics is that they can show us what people do on their own. The worst thing is that analytics don’t tell us much about context, motivations, and intent. Like any kind of data, there are limitations. But that doesn’t mean analytics aren’t useful. Working with analytics is about knowing where to look and learning which questions you can reasonably ask.
Designing with Analytics

Jun
23

User Interface Design Flaw Cause of Ford Recall | User Research: How Much Is Enough?

Source: UXMatters

By Janet M. Six

Published: June 22, 2015

Send your questions to Ask UXmatters and get answers from some of the top professionals in UX.

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts discusses how serious UI design flaws can still happen in today’s world of better UX design.

Imagine that you’re driving your luxury car down the road when your front-seat passenger decides to change the radio station, and all of a sudden your car unexpectedly shuts down and comes to a screeching halt. This is exactly what happened to at least one owner of a 2015 Lincoln MKC. How did this happen? The location of the Engine Start/Stop button was where the driver or a passenger could inadvertently hit it. In this day and age of better UX design, how could this design have made it to market? Could usability testing have prevented this?

For our second topic, our panel discusses how to determine whether you’ve completed sufficient user research. How do you know when you’ve completed enough user research to inform product design? Is it a certain number of participants? A certain amount of time? Are we ever truly finished with user research?
User Interface Design Flaw Cause of Ford Recall | User Research: How Much Is Enough?

Jun
23

Designing Great Customer Services

Source: UXMatters

By Laura Keller

Published: June 22, 2015

“When an organization is a service organization—that is, their revenue and business model center on offering a service to their customers—the customer service experience has a direct correlation with the success of that organization.”

In December of 2014, I wrote a column for UXmatters titled “Designing Great Organizational Services.” It focused on the services a company offers through departments such as Human Resources, Finance, and Information Technology. As service designers, we often forget that these types of services exist. While, as employees, we interact with such services every day, only recently have companies begun to care about employees’ experiences using these services. This has, in turn, made them top of mind for service designers.

In contrast, the external-facing services that an organization offers to its customers are what designers typically envision when thinking about service design. When an organization is a service organization—that is, their revenue and business model center on offering a service to their customers—the customer service experience has a direct correlation with the success of that organization. The purest form of service organization is one that has no product. Education, cleaning, financial, hospitality, medical, transportation, and legal services are all examples of pure services. When you introduce a product into a business model, an organization becomes less of a pure service organization. For example, restaurants are a great example of service organizations that also have a product—the food they serve—at the heart of the experience. Both the service and the food have to be good for the customer to have a good overall experience.
Designing Great Customer Services

Jun
23

Perception and Regionalism Influence User Satisfaction

Source: UXMatters

By Alesha Arp and Scott Ryan-Hart

Published: June 22, 2015

“Hello, Siri … I don’t know what to do with you.”

“Can I have access to your GPS?”

“There is a direct correlation between users’ perceptions of a technology’s capabilities and their satisfaction with that technology. When user expectations exceed those capabilities, user satisfaction suffers.”

There is a direct correlation between users’ perceptions of a technology’s capabilities and their satisfaction with that technology. When user expectations exceed those capabilities, user satisfaction suffers.
Perception and Regionalism Influence User Satisfaction

Jun
23

Confessions of a Designer

Source: UXMatters

By Peter Hornsby

Published: June 22, 2015

“My responding to a Web page as a designer usually starts with mild cursing—questioning the parentage and intelligence of the person who designed the page.”

My name is Peter, and I’m a designer. This is not something I’d previously thought of as a problem—until recently, when a friend pointed out that I was looking at a Web page as a designer and not taking the time to experience it as, you know, a regular human being. Most people like to think of themselves as just regular folks, and I do, too. So I had not given any real thought to my identity as a designer before. But the signs were there for me to see if I’d paid attention to them.

My responding to a Web page as a designer usually starts with mild cursing—questioning the parentage and intelligence of the person who designed the page. Then I move on to deriding specific details—for example, the apparent lack of thought given to the labels on a form, the poor alignment of elements on a page, or the ubiquity of a Useful Links page on so many Web sites. (One day, I plan to create a page called Useless Links that is filled with similar content.) Finally, I realized—when my friend pointed this out to me—that I was experiencing the page as a designer first and a human being second. If you’re a designer, I’ll bet you’ve done the same thing on more than one occasion.
Confessions of a Designer

Jun
23

Toward a Culture of Integrated Practice

Source: UXMatters

By Michael Davis-Burchat, Daniel Szuc and Josephine Wong

Published: June 8, 2015

“For over a century, workers in most spheres … have been held captive by the idea that the division of labor is the right approach.”

Frederick Winslow Taylor was a Quaker, so was repulsed by waste. With only a stopwatch and a clipboard, he set about inventing a productivity revolution. Using modular parts made it possible for laborers to specialize, and specialists were quicker to master competencies and to produce widgets at scale. We can trace the origins of scientific management, industrial engineering, and the lifelong pursuit of efficient returns on capital to Taylor. People often refer to these ways of working as Taylorism.

To this day, many do not question Taylorism, primarily because it was the foundation of many business, engineering, and marketing texts. All of these professions built their knowledge atop the same foundation—which is as old as the Harvard Business School, making it roughly the same age as game-changing innovations like the assembly line and incandescent light bulb.
Toward a Culture of Integrated Practice

Jun
23

UX STRAT 2014, Part 3: Day 2 of the Conference

Source: UXMatters

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit and Jim Nieters

Published: June 8, 2015

“Attendees of UX STRAT 2014 reconvened at the Boulder Theater, in Boulder, Colorado, for Day 2 of the conference….”

This final part of our UX STRAT 2014 series of reviews covers Day 2 of the main conference. Attendees of UX STRAT 2014 reconvened at the Boulder Theater, in Boulder, Colorado, for Day 2 of the conference on Tuesday, September 9. Paul Bryan kicked off Day 2 with his opening remarks.
UX STRAT 2014, Part 3: Day 2 of the Conference

Jun
23

Why Enterprise Product Managers Should Choose MVEs Over MVPs

Source: UXMatters

By Michael Bamberger

Published: June 8, 2015

“The primary goal of creating a minimum viable product is not to build something, but instead to learn something.”

Lean methods are tempting to large organizations. The concept that product owners should shorten iteration cycles to optimize learning and minimize waste is certainly a valuable one. But when Steve Blank and Eric Ries put forth the now world-renowned build-measure-learn model, they did not frame it for the context of enterprise product management. Unfortunately, this has caused unforeseen problems for the otherwise prescient practitioners of this approach.

The primary goal of creating a minimum viable product is not to build something, but instead to learn something. For Ries, who was working at a startup consisting almost entirely of engineers, the easiest way to get their product in front of prospective customers was to build and launch an initial version of it. Hence, the minimum viable product, or MVP.
Why Enterprise Product Managers Should Choose MVEs Over MVPs

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