In Search of Strategic Relevance for UX Teams By Jim Nieters and Laurie Pattison Published: October 6, 2008 “What … are the most salient factors in getting you to the strategy table?” In my last column, I talked about what it takes to be a successful first-time people manager—hopefully debunking some common myths. After reading that column, a number of people pointed out that they have a larger challenge: How can they make UX strategically relevant within their companies? that Richard Anderson facilitated, in which I participated.  Since I’ve been talking with a colleague from Oracle about this topic over the last month, it seemed appropriate for us to collaborate on this installment of my Management Matters column. Although our UX management peers have shared many tactics with us that have made their groups more strategically relevant, we’re presenting just a few here. “What does it mean to be strategically relevant? What does it mean to be strategically relevant? Executive Sponsorship Organizational Structure 1. 2.
The Dribbblisation of Design Only one of these weather apps is attempting to solve the real problem. There are divergent things happening in the product and interaction design community. On one hand, we have some amazing pieces of writing from the likes of Ryan Singer and Julie Zhuo, moving our craft forward. On the other hand, we have a growing number of people posting and discussing their work on Dribbble, the aggregated results of which are moving our craft backwards. This post is not about Dribbble itself, it’s about what the community on Dribbble value. I’ll use the term ‘product design’ throughout, but I’m including UX and interaction design when I do. “Looks awesome!” In the last year I’ve reviewed a lot of product design work from job applicants, at Facebook and now at Intercom, and I’ve noticed a worrying pattern. Much of the product design work from job applicants I’ve seen recently has been superficial, created with one eye towards Dribbble. The most important product design work is usually the ugliest
Need Game Mechanics? I'm a fairly competitive person. I like to win. And thanks to many hours spent in front of the screen, I find myself pretty motivated when I see an opportunity to "level up." But that being said, I still question the rush lately to add "game mechanics" to every new product and experience. As we've written before, the arguments for doing so are compelling. Game mechanics can be fun and rewarding. But does the addition of levels, leader-boards, and virtual trophies necessarily lead to a better user experience? In a recent blog post titled, "Why You Should NOT Integrate Game Mechanics Into Your Service," Gaurav Mishra, CEO of 2020Social points to the ways in which the pressure to add points and badges can obscure some of the other important considerations when developing an application or service. You don't want any game mechanics you implement to distract your users away from your core service. Have good core content. What do you think?
Approaching Data with a Beginner’s Mind In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few. - Shunryu Suzuki Recently, I was asked for my opinion on a project in which a UX team was trying to represent complex relationships using a specific type of data visualization. I asked whether that type of visualization was the best way to represent the relationships, and why that particular approach had been chosen. The answer: a designer “liked it.” The Japanese term shoshin, or “beginner’s mind,” describes the mindset of a novice—full of openness, enthusiasm, and fresh perspectives in learning something new. Some Beginner’s Questions Is something important because you measure it, or is it measured because it's important? Here are a few types of questions of various kinds of people who work with data, and those who design visualization displays, might consider for each stage of the basic data lifecycle: Data at the Seams Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical. - Yogi Berra
Frictionless Design Choices No one wants friction in their products. Everyone works to reduce it. Yet it sneaks in everywhere. We collectively praise a service, app, or design that masterfully reduces friction. Frictionless and minimalism are related but not necessarily the same. A design can be minimal but still have a great deal of friction. Minimalist design is about reducing the surface area of an experience. When debating a design choice, feature addition, or product direction it can help to clarify whether a point of view originates from a perspective of keeping things minimal or reducing friction. Product managers need to choose features to add. Therefore the real design challenge is not simply maintaining minimalism, but enhancing a product without adding more friction. When you look back you will be amazed at how the surface area of the product has expanded and how your view of minimalism has changed. There’s an additional design challenge. Low-Friction Design Patterns Stick with changes you make.
Social Interaction Design by Adrian Chan: What's there to like? Facebook’s recent F8 announcements concerning the Like button, connected pages, and Open Graph api have resurrected some discussion around social objects. I wrote last week about social objects from a theoretical perspective, and want to clarify a few top-line points that I think are worth consideration, particularly given Facebook’s apparent semantic and social search strategies. There are two approaches to social objects. One is theoretical, and one is practical. I will only touch on the theory of social objects briefly here, focusing instead on a few practical implications of an object-centric theory. In Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol from a Web Developer’s Perspective, Dare Obasanjo does a nice job of recapitulating one view of social objects relevant to Facebook Likes. The Social Object, in a nutshell, is the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else. In this view, the object structures relations and is the reason for communication.
Social Seen The opinions which we hold of one another, our relations with friends and kinsfolk are in no sense permanent, save in appearance, but are as eternally fluid as the sea itself. - Marcel Proust Whether it’s a Fortune 500 Company, a knitting circle, or a terrorist cell, anytime a group interacts, a complex and constantly shifting set of social relationships and behavioral patterns emerge. Some of these interconnections may be apparent, but others are not. Who are the experts, connectors, influencers, proliferators, obstructionists, implementers, and other types of members in the group? Emerging social network analysis and visualization techniques can fundamentally change the way we see our relationships with others. The Big Picture Irrespective of our conscious convictions, each of us, without exceptions, being a particle of the general mass is somewhere attached to, colored by, or even undermined by the spirit which goes through the mass. - Carl Jung Untangling Hairballs Network Graph
UI, UX: Who Does What? A Designer's Guide To The Tech Industry Design is a rather broad and vague term. When someone says "I'm a designer," it is not immediately clear what they actually do day to day. There are a number of different responsibilities encompassed by the umbrella term designer. Design-related roles exist in a range of areas from industrial design (cars, furniture) to print (magazines, other publications) to tech (websites, mobile apps). Let's attempt to distill what each of these titles really mean within the context of the tech industry. UX Designer (User Experience Designer) UX designers are primarily concerned with how the product feels. "Define interaction models, user task flows, and UI specifications. -Experience Designer job description at Twitter Deliverables: Wireframes of screens, storyboards, sitemap Tools of the trade: Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator, Fireworks, InVision You might hear them say this in the wild: "We should show users the 'Thank You' page once they have finished signing up." UI Designer (User Interface Designer)
CityVille Explained [In the first of a two-part series, design veteran Tadhg Kelly draws from his What Games Are blog to explain the rise to power of Zynga's massively successful social game CityVille. (UPDATE: Part 2 now posted.)] Check out the latest Appdata graph for Zynga's Cityville - that's right, it now has nearly 70 million monthly active users, and the Facebook game only launched in early December. I know what many of you are thinking: How does Zynga keep doing this? At the Getting Social event at BAFTA (In London) a few days ago, this was the question that everyone was asking. And yet here comes CityVille, another Zynga game that looks quite a lot like other developers' games, they waltz in, do their thing, and boom! It's not just Zynga. At the same time that Ubisoft have managed to scrape together 1.2 million users for their CSI: Crime City title, another game more generically named Crime City (no relation) has acquired 6.4m users, with no brand at all. You can also visit other player's cities.