Design Hangout with Tom Greever, UX Director at Bitovi

This blog post chronicles an interview with Tom Greever, UX Director at Bitovi—a company that designs and develops web applications for all different kinds of companies. Tom just published Articulating Design Decisions, both as a book and video series with O’Reilly Media.

 

Can you tell us about your book and what you’re working on?

The the basic gist is that we, as designers, need to be better at explaining our decisions to other people (e.g. executives and managers), because, if we don’t, well, things don’t go as well. I’d argue that an articulate designer is more valuable than a super talented one who can’t talk his way out of a box. Or a room, or whatever that is. I’m currently designing a public facing web app for a non-profit that allows under resourced communities to access free legal aid

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Can People with Disabilities Use Your Website?

How do you feel when you have trouble using a website or application? When you can’t find the information you need because navigation is inconsistent or unclear? When you click a link and it doesn’t go where you expected? When you fill out a form and lose all of your data when you submit due to a minor error?

What if you clicked on that big BUY NOW button and nothing happened? In fact, what if clicking your mouse on all of the links and buttons and other interactive elements on a site didn’t work? Pretty bad website, huh? Chances are the company that wants you to BUY NOW would be all over it and a fix would come quickly.

Now imagine you are blind…or paralyzed…or imagine you broke your wrist and can’t use your mouse. People who rely on a screen reader or who can only navigate a site using the keyboard often face these challenges because many sites aren’t designed and coded to be fully accessible.

So what does it mean to have an accessible website? How do you know? Why should you care?

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How to Run an Effective True Intent Study

An effective way to assess the user experience your website offers is to understand who your users are and what tasks or goals they are trying to accomplish there. A True Intent Study helps you do just that.

What’s a true intent study?

As the name suggests, a true intent study aims at understanding a user’s objective as they browse your site. What are they there to do? And are they able to achieve it?

A true intent study helps you to:

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Why you should always prototype & user test multiple designs

5,127. That’s the number of prototypes that James Dyson claims to have created trying to perfect his bagless vacuum cleaner. Five thousand, one hundred and twenty seven. You see designing stuff is a messy business. Some ideas work out, some don’t. It’s only through a certain amount of trial and error (or in James Dyson’s case, a lot of trial and error), that you end up with a great design. This is why it’s so important to always, always prototype and user test multiple designs.

Why prototype and user test multiple designs?

Here are 10 (yes 10!) good reasons why you can’t afford not to prototype and user test multiple designs.

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The First Rule of Usability Testing: Test the Right Users

OK, so the real first rule of usability testing is, “do it.” But we can assume you already know that usability testing is important, and that you need to be doing it in order to make sure your apps and software are creating value for your users—and thus for you—as efficiently as possible.

Given that, the most important consideration when it comes to usability testing is making sure your testers can give you the information you need.

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The Power of Words in UX Research

It’s said that a picture paints a thousand words. But it’s also worth considering that a single word can evoke a powerful image. Consider, for example, what comes to mind when you encounter the word ‘gambling.’ Alternatively, consider the word ‘gaming.’ Likely, different mental images are triggered by each word. Every day, during the course of verbal and written discourse, people have a choice of words to pick from. And it turns out that which words are used can have a significant impact on how the message is received, or the question is interpreted.

Consider, for example, the following pairs of words:

  • Liberal v. progressive
  • Liquor v. spirits
  • Used v. pre-owned

Although the words in each pair are similar to each other, I suspect that each word in the pair brings to mind a slightly different mental image, along with a slightly different emotional response, as well.

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Usability test questions: does wording matter?

Interaction Designers have a tough job. Designing is hard work! It requires the ability to be simultaneously creative and analytical – not an easy thing. When I changed jobs from being an Interaction Designer to being a UX Researcher, I initially assumed I would escape the rigors of the design role. However, I quickly realized that to be a good researcher, I had to have good research design skills. To get good research outcomes, you need to design effective research studies.

I also realized that, just like in interaction design, there are multiple ways to design in order to achieve a given objective. Each design option has a set of tradeoffs – each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Indeed, I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a perfect design. But even so, a critical requirement of an effective research design is that it addresses and manages potential bias that can leak into a study and potentially skew or pollute research findings.

It’s important for UX researchers to be sensitive to the many ways that bias can affect a study, and to the extent possible, control for it. A key aspect of research design is how we craft the questions asked of research participants. It turns out that how we ask a question has critical implications for how a participant responds, and consequently, on research outcomes.

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6 common challenges in managing UX projects and how to overcome them

As of today, Ive been involved in Web and UX design for 12 years. The last three of them have been shared with my partners at Continuum, leading UX projects for a wide range of clients. Its impossible not to notice certain patterns on how user experience projects wind up, regardless of the scope, the team size or even the deadline and the budget.

These patterns, and the continuous iteration on how to better deal with them, have led us to identify some principles that pave the way to a better experience design. Well talk about them in a future post. But first, lets talk a bit about the most common problems we have faced when doing UX:

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