#UX #Designer waste of money for #Clients

How do you design experience UXD?

You can design a framework or architecture but the experience in UX is in someone’s mind and in their emotions, if you design people experience its a crime against humanity

UX research or UX analysis all make lots of sense but UX design does not, but the real point here is the breaking of the UX process in to sections. The practice of breaking the process is clearly done by people who don’t understand it.

I keep meeting UX researchers who are excited that I am recruiting UX people, but to me not being able to do the full process creates too many limitations on them as viable UX people. Apart from the obvious inability to pass critical information at role breaks;

why should my clients pay for limited people when one component when a holistic UX person can cover the whole process?

UX facilitation and research is the fun part and everyone wants to do it, analysis is quite complex if it happens at all, but converting the concepts from the analysis into features and behaviour is the critical component.

Defining the interactive framework and delivering it through wireframes or interactive modelling is an architectural activity as it relates to creating multiple routes that enable different kinds of users to acquire information, products or services. UX does not do graphic design, get a Graphic Designer (this is a highly skilled role separate from UX) for that and avoid anyone who says they can do both because they are divergent mental models to they won’t be highly skilled in both.

experience cannot be designed you can only open access points to having an experience

Experience is personal to the user, so UX Designers do not exist.

Ignorance is Common

The term UX designer UXD comes from a basic ignorance of what UX is and does,

UX is a scientific process not a design one

The other foolish thing clients and recruiters ask for is a portfolio, in effect asking people to breach NDA contracts by keeping copies of other clients work and their sharing it with potential competitors, really not smart at all.

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#Getting into #User #Experience Part 2

Doing user experience

The first step in user experience needs to be the recognition that every problem is different and will require a separate solution. Because if they are not, then every business is the same which they are clearly not.

In effect there is no quick fix or standard solution method but rather there is an armoury of methods each with associated risks, limitations and plus points. Anyone offering a standardise method for user experience without flexibility should be ask to leave as they about to cost you a fortune.

I have worked with very well known agencies who are unable to get their clients to understand the importance of user experience – research, testing and design as they focus on the design component without proper understanding that it is only one part of a three stage process. The reason that clients give for not paying for research and testing is the assumption that user experience people a such great experts that they can do their job in total isolation from the business and the end users. Maybe ‘Super User Experience Person’ does exist but I doubt it, more importantly users change.

Some process steps for user experience

This process list is based on personal experience and is open to reduction or extension based upon just how savvy the client is and how must they really want to be successful rather than just being seen to be doing something.

PART A
1. Understand the problem (better to appear to be stupid, than to actually be so) UX reserves the right to ask stupid question to avoid doing stupid things.
When trying to find out what the problem is try to get an associative answer, what else that they see is it like.
What other businesses and systems are they similar to them? What works for these other people?
What insights do the clients have to the problem and where do they want to end up?
What are their perceived expectations and what are the levels they see as Resolution, Gain or Advantage.
Don’t skew or try to influence the client in what’s wrong or imply the solution is simple (that’s just rude).

2. Do research find out what the problem means, don’t assume that your understanding is the correct one.
Language is fascinating in how it drives understanding, but understanding is also a derivative of culture and personal experience. If you grew up in the same family, house and town as your client you would have many cultural touch points in understanding ‘what things really mean’. But you may still be wrong as you can’t see through someone else’s eyes or fully understand their motivation without taliking to them.

3. Analyse of research with an open mind, again don’t fix the results to fit an easy answer. To analyse research in any area you need to define expected or hoped for results and outliers that reflect a diverse perspective. Combining and noting these variants enable a true view of the research that does not hide inconvenient perspectives.

I come across a lot of trite analysis with recommendations that reads as though the practitioner has not done any research at all.

For example the client wants to assure users that they are important to them. A trite recommendation is to;

  • Enable users to complete a feedback form

Well that just tells the user the company quite insecure and most people unless they have a problem won’t respond.

How about providing;

  • Confirmations
  • Expected timelines
  • Tracking

These are things that assure users that their issues are important to the company and therefore they are also.

4. Get validation
5. Compose concepts
6. Create buy-in

PART B
7. Define the audience (actors)
8. Create personas
8.1 Research
9. Define critical tasks
9.1 Research
10. Define key pathways
10.1 Main pathway
10.2 Alternative pathways
10.3 Failure pathways
10.4 Build sitemap (iterative process)
10.5 Select pages / interactions / responses that will be wireframed

PART C
11. Set the tone of voice
11.1 Type of language
11.2 Level of formality
11.3 Use of jargon, brand identity or subject specific words
11.4 Content style
11.4.1 Meta standards
11.4.2 Content object model
11.5 SEO if web based

12: Wireframes (iterative process)
12.1 Selection of type and method of production
12.1 Wireframe Concepts
12.1.1 User testing
12.2 Wireframe sketches – Client sign off
12.3 Wireframe prototypes
12.3.1 User testing – Client review
12.4 Wireframe and Visual design integration (template definition)

13. Functional specification and analytics specification – Pass to development

PART D
14. Usability Test plan
15. Accessibility Test plan
16. Functional and Content Test plan

17. Testing handover with participant screening document
18. Review testing results

PART E
19. Modify labels,  interactions and structure in line with findings

PART F to Z and A
20. Done, until …..
21. Check interactions based upon analytics and more user testing.
22. Offer enhancements to clients.

Related

with an open mind, again don’t fix the results to fit an easy answer. To analyse research in any area you need to define expected or hoped for results and outliers that reflect a diverse perspective. Combining and noting these variants enable a true view of the research that does not hide inconvenient perspectives.

I come across a lot of trite analysis with recommendations that reads as though the practitioner has not done any research at all.

For example the client wants to assure users that they are important to them. A trite recommendation is to;

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#User #Experience #UX #Process

Process thinking in User Experience (UX)

The first step in user experience needs to be the recognition that every problem is different and will require a separate solution. Because if they are not, then every business is the same which they are clearly not.

In effect there is no quick fix or single standard method but rather there is an armoury of methods each with associated risks, limitations and plus points. Anyone offering a standardise method without flexibility should be asked to leave as they about to cost you a fortune.

Karl Smith User Experience Research Testing 200711

Offering user experience services is a bit like dungeons and dragons in that you role your 12 sided dice and hope the business does not throw some trolls at you.

I have worked with very well known agencies who are unable to get their clients to understand the importance of user experience – research, testing and solutions as they focus on the solutions component without proper understanding that it is only one part of a three stage process. The reason that clients give for not paying for research and testing is the assumption that user experience people a such great experts that they can do their job in total isolation from the business and the end users.Maybe ‘Super User Experience Person’ does exist but I doubt it, most importantly users change over time, in what they want and mean by their actions.

Some process steps for user experience

This process list is based on personal experience and is open to reduction or extension based upon just how savvy the client is and how much they really want to be successful rather than just being seen to be doing something.

Understand the problem (concurrent with 2.)

  1. Do research
  2. Analyse research
  3. Get validation of what has been discovered by Target Users and Stakeholders

Define the audience (actors) this is the detail level the Target Users

  1. Create personas a tool used by the entire project team BA’s, PM’s and Developers to be acquainted with who will use the systemResearch persona types, activities, attitudes etc.
  2. Define critical tasks Research tasks ecosystem and review engagement strategy
  3. Define key pathways Main pathway
  4. Alternative pathways
  5. Failure pathways

Compose concepts

  1. Create buy-in with Stakeholders

Set the tone of voice

  1. Type of language
  2. Level of formality
  3. Use of jargon, brand identity or subject specific words
  4. Content style
  5. Meta standards
  6. Content object model
  7. SEO if web based

Wireframes

  1. Selection of type & method
  2. Wireframe Concepts
  3. User testing of Wireframe Concepts
  4. Wireframe sketches

Client sign off

Wireframe prototypes

  1. User testing of Wireframe prototypes

Client review

Wireframe & Visual design integration (prior to this point the use of high fidelity images are counter productive)

Functional specification & analytics specification

  1. Instruct development
  2. Usability Test plan
  3. Accessibility Test plan
  4. Functional & Content Test plan

Testing with participant screening document

  1. Review testing results
  2. Modify labels, interactions & structure in line with findings

Done, until …..

Check interactions based upon analytics and more user testing

Offer enhancements to clients

Some people will look at this list and think it takes years, depending on the project complexity it can take days or weeks for simple web or mobile applications and only months on complex software systems.

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#Getting #User #Experience #UX to work with #Clients

Setting the scene for user experience to work

I have over the last few months had several rants about people claiming to be involved in user experience who are not regardless of their job titles.

I came across a great blog post by Whitney Hess (I don’t want to steal her traffic so here is just a link) about what shows your not a user experience person, but I though maybe I should point to what does show your are one to get some balance here.

Training clients what to expect

Does your client know what they want, this sounds obvious, but user experience is unlike a purely functional activity (asking developers to make sign in work), most clients just want better, but don’t know how to quantify better. This is not the time to set KPI’s except in the broadest terms, but clients do need to know where they ARE in a quantifiable way, ‘things are bad now and we want better‘ is not a good starting point.

What things, set against what standards or targets based upon what business or research rules (who wrote them and why) are BAD and what level of better is better, just to get a transaction, getting a reuse or becoming friend for life type of BETTER?

If you don’t set your clients expectations in a realistic manner they will come up with unrealistic expectations that you will never be able to meet. But to do that you’ll need a starting point, mid point and end point, that uses your clients own language and the only way to establish these things is through research.

Does your client understand that user experience involves thinking as well as making things?

User experience is not a headless chicken activity, involving lots of running around, thousands of meetings about meetings, it requires complex thought and strategy. I like many other user experience people find going for a walk while thinking about the complex interactive and logic of use in the initial part of a project very useful, either that or people can watch my head explode.

User experience is not a production exercise;

  • User experience leads
  • User experience finds out
  • User experience tests
  • User experience communicates

so trying to cost plan it or manage it in the same way as development does not work very well.

Does your client understand that there is a set of formal methods that will make the user experience work?

For some reason everyone focuses on wireframes. Wireframes are of the least importance in user experience and are the culmination (after a lot of versions) of the user experience research. Wireframes are low quality pictures for the most part (or should be, prototypes are something else) and should be as sketchy as possible to allow stakeholders to focus on signing off the interactions rather than focusing on pixel level graphics and colour.

I have previously mentioned about the avoidance of research by clients on the bases that they cannot see its value in the final deliverable. This stems from clients being misinformed by business journals (I have read some great howlers by highly reputable journals) and sales people not understanding that the user experience research is the deliverable and that wireframes or functional specifications are the communication tool.

Related

Author Links

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#Lies damn lies and #user #experience

User experience has in recent years become the greatest area of fraud and theft in business. Because the output documents appear simple huge numbers of people without any formal knowledge of what goes into them are having a go.

Be careful of Fakes

Avoid designers, look for Architects and Consultants, with an MSc and good client references (but not a portfolio) which can be viewed on LinkedIn.

The most common request for people involved in user experience is to produce wireframes (low fidelity pictures) a task that a child could do.

Wireframes should be the container document for standards, insights into target audience expectations, business KPI’s and brand values.

Ignorance in UX can be costly

The real problem is that recruiters and clients don’t know what they should be getting for their money.

A good indicator that someone is ignorant is a request for a portfolio. A portfolio is a set of images that express the capability of a designer involved in architecture, graphics, fashion design etc, but it is not relevant for UX. The reason it’s not relevant is that the complex ideas within wireframes need an expert to review and validate them against standards.

People who want to see a Portfolio are incompetent

If the interviewer does not know the standards, frankly they deserve to be fleeced, it’s like employing a plumber to represent your interests in court instead of a solicitor because they can make a good argument. The action of the argument is not important, even if there are lots of buzz words included because legal matters like usability matters are complex interrelated sets of rules and dependencies.

So unless an expert does the review the activity is pointless, a secondary but probably more damaging problem is ownership, rights and breach of contract.

Wireframes contain information on “How it Works” not “How it Looks”

How something works is the inventive element and belongs to the client. If clients are not protecting their Intellectual Property in UX, they really should be quite aggressive about it, but all contracts have a provision for this protection asking to see UX work from clients is a breach of contract and breach of IP.

Asking people to show a UX portfolio is asking people to breach their contracts.

If you or your team require training on interviewing UX people please contact me.

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