UXperts Weigh In: Designs We Love, July Edition

For Adobe.com, July 27, 2018

I love to hike, but I hate hiking apps. Too often, excess functionality and data combine in a poor UX that makes finding and exploring new trails more grueling than the hike itself. Inexplicably, most hiking apps suffer the most when taken offline. When access to cloud data disappears, their functionality goes with it.

Enter Hiking Project, made by REI Co-op. From Andorra to Vietnam — and everywhere in between — Hiking Project has information on a staggering 38,936 trails, totaling 147,881 miles of trails all over the world.

Read more at Adobe.com


For UXMastery.com, February 6 2018

Solo UXer

Landing a job as a company’s only user experience pro is an amazing opportunity. It means having the ability to shape and guide the design of an entire organisation. As a UX team of one, you’re part of a small group of pros at the coal face of an entire organisation’s design strategy.

Leading an organisation from this role is also a major challenge. It’s hard work implementing a UX focus in a company where none exists. There will be battles against corporate biases, conflicting business needs, and results-driven culture.

In such a difficult position, how can a UXer go about creating a culture of great user experience?

Read “How to Survive As Your Comapny’s Solo UXer”


3 Non-UX Design Subreddits UXers Need to Read

For LostMegaBites.com

Even this goldfish thinks you should be reading these subreddits.
Even this goldfish thinks you should be reading these subreddits.

My name is Doug, and I have a reddit problem.

Spoiler alert for those unfamiliar with the site: to put it frankly, reddit is addicting.   I long ago fell prey to its allure.  My /u/DenverUXer account is setup to provide me with a stream of tailored, interesting content of UX design subreddits catered specifically to my tastes.

Buried in my subscription lists are my true favorite daily treats: the unwittingly-UX-related gems that don’t realize they’re about the user experience design.

I’m sure to read through these every day, and you should, too.

Read “3 Non-UX Design Subreddits UXers Need to Read”


The Hotel of Doom: The World’s Worst Building and Its Valuable UX Gift

For UXMas.com, December 15, 2017

The Ryugyong Hotel looms over Pyongyang, North Korea. The 105-story building has been under construction since 1987, and is considered the world’s tallest unfinished building. Image by Roman Harak, used with a Creative Commons license.
The Ryugyong Hotel looms over Pyongyang, North Korea. The 105-story building has been under construction since 1987, and is considered the world’s tallest unfinished building. Image by Roman Harak, used with a Creative Commons license.

In the heart of the world’s most secretive dictatorship, a mysteriously abandoned hotel the size of Chicago’s John Hancock Tower has spent 30 years lurking over the capital city like an evil Christmas tree.

That’s the draw of the Ryugyong Hotel – the never-opened, daunting, deserted monolith in the heart of Pyongyang, North Korea. An Esquire magazine article dubbed it not “just the worst designed building in the world—it’s the worst-built building, too.”

Nicknamed “The Hotel of Doom,” it has a design only an evil overlord could love—and a gift for UXers everywhere.

Read “The Hotel of Doom: The World’s Worst Building and Its Valuable UX Gift” at UXMas.com


Why UX Professionals Must Be Good Communicators

For UXMastery.com, July 11, 2017

I zealously guard my Red Swingline, and for good reason. It's my most important communication tool.
I zealously guard my Red Swingline, and for good reason. It’s my most important communication tool.

I use my red Swingline stapler every day, though I can’t recall actually stapling anything in years.

The colour of the stapler is no coincidence, as my first encounter with a red Swingline was the cult classic Office Space. In the movie, Milton Waddams defends his prized piece of office equipment from theft and destruction at the hands of unscrupulous coworkers.

For Milton and millions of office workers worldwide, the red Swingline has become a symbol of those pieces of our work life for which we would, if ignored, set the world on fire.

My stapler’s daily use is as a reminder that everyone has red-stapler issues in their work life, and that a failure to communicate on those issues could have dire, unforeseen consequences.

It’s an important reminder, to be sure. Our placement in our company’s organization and workflow means that communicating as a UX professional is both imperative and, at times, extremely difficult.

Here are a few important lessons to learn to help avoid those red-stapler situations.

Read “Why UX Professionals Must Be Good Communicators” at UXMastery.com


Kids’ UX: Why Childhood Experience Design is a Growing Art

For LostMegaBites.com

While many websites can ignore kids’ UX, some websites must rely on it.
While many websites can ignore kids’ UX, some websites must rely on it.

Most of what we know about the psychology of HCI (human-computer interaction) and human learning principles is based around studies conducted on college students.

This is one of the primary complaints about the study of psychology in general. We have mountains of data pertaining to 18-25-year olds. Much of what’s been studied has varying applications to either the psychology of older adults or children. And very little about kids’ UX has been studied.

Read “Kids’ UX: Why Childhood Experience Design is a Growing Art” at LostMegaBites.com


Homework Sucks: Why At-Home Design Challenges Are Useless

For LostMegaBites.com

Desk with papers
I’ve always had a good concept of work-life balance; my potential employer should, too.

It’s no secret that I Love UXMastery.com. I spend a lot of time at the forums there, and many of my UX-related posts originate from my responses to topics posted by others over there.

Today I was reading through one post in particular from a new-to-UX professional who was challenged to complete an at-home design task as part of a job interview. Here’s how the candidate, misaif20, described the process:

“…This was a UX designer full time position at a saas company, their product was a recruitment software. I applied, the recruiter called and said that my profile was selected and explained me that there would be three phases : 1. Phone interview 2. Design Task (Which is given a time frame of 3 days) 3. Onsite interview with the hiring manager where I had to present the task and talk about design and UX decisions I took.

“Phone interview: Was good and the manager informed me that I have to focus on explaining more of a psychological approach. The recruiter got back to me saying that I had passed the first round of the interview.

“Design Task (To be performed at home) : As you can see in the document the task was given to me and was informed that I can work on the task for 3 days and send the links to the recruiter/manager via email. I did the task and got a reply from the hiring manager that I have unfortunately failed in the task.”

On the UXMastery forums, misaif20 was only asking for feedback on what was wrong with his design. From what I could tell, he did a solid job working with limited information to come up with a valid response.

This post, however, is not about his design or response. It’s about the fundamental flaws in this type of interview process.

To put it blatantly, take-home interview challenges for UX designers suck.

To understand why, we need to have a good understanding of what makes a UX designer truly good at what they do. To be an effective UX professional, one needs a very particular set of base skills – and take-home design challenges test for almost none of these.

Read “Homework Sucks: Why At-Home Design Challenges are Useless” at LostMegaBites.com


When Are Ageless, Genderless User Personas Effective?

For LostMegaBites.com

In a world trending towards equalities, recognizing differences in our target audiences still matters.
In a world trending towards equalities, recognizing differences in our target audiences still matters.

On the web, everyone is equal.

This is a problem, especially for those of us engaged in the business of writing user personas.

It should be no secret by this point that the how-to of creating user personas is still up in the air.  There is a modicum of agreement that personas should be based around the analytics gathered on the website in question.  How treat data in comparison and contrasts with your target audience, and how to synthesize that comparison into user personas, is still widely up for debate.

So where do we start when it comes to building user personas?

Read “When Are Ageless, Genderless User Personas Effective?” at LostMegaBites.com


Stepping Up Your Game: Improving Your Skills on a Daily Basis

For LostMegaBites.com

You don't need to bury yourself under books to learn more about UX.
You don’t need to bury yourself under books to learn more about UX.

I have always been a Boy Scout at heart (and, since the age of 18, an Eagle Scout in real life).  The motto of “Be Prepared” has always spoken to me.

In my day-to-day life, being prepared has been key to my success, be it church league softball, making it through the airport quickly, or advancing my UX career.

Lately, I’ve been putting a lot of effort into advancing the latter.

I get a tremendous amount of good out of establishing a daily practice of self improvement. Being relatively new to UX myself, I constantly feel like I have a lot to learn. Imposter syndrome has always been a particular bane of mine, especially when staring a new job in a new field. In a career that’s ever changing and evolving, keeping up with the fluctuating best practices and research can be challenging as well.

By spending a bit of time each day working to make myself a better UX’er, I’ve found that I’ve been able to slay all of these proverbial dragons.

Read “Stepping Up Your Game: Improving Your Skills on a Daily Basis” at LostMegaBites.com


5 UX Design Trends from Smashing Conference San Francisco

For UXMastery.com, April 25, 2017

I loved the conference, and the conference loved me back by shouting me out on their main screen.
I loved the conference, and the conference loved me back by shouting me out on their main screen.

San Francisco is design. Seemingly everything about the city—from the simple elegance of Coit Tower looking down on the city to the distant beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge—is a masterclass in beauty and form.

It’s no surprise then that Smashing Magazine chose one of the city’s most beautiful and noted locales, the Palace of Fine Arts, to hold one of its conferences this year.

Smashing Conference San Francisco 2017 was full of amazing speakers and concepts that could benefit all UX designers. Here are five of the key trends from the conference.

Read “5 UX Design Trends from Smashing Conference San Francisco” at UXMastery.com