Tag Archives: Usability

UX, Third Place? Really!

True story.  Quite a few years ago, a radio station in California had a Jack Benny sound alike contest.  Jack Benny called in and won third place.Third place is about the best that the UX designer can hope to achieve in defining the user experience at most companies,  behind the product manager and lead developer.  More often that not, third place goes to marketing, followed by the agile scrum master, DBA, QA, and others down to the very newest developer on the team.
In terms of real impact, the UX designer usually comes in about seventh.  Is that how it is at your company?
For years, no one cared about UX.  Now that UX is popular, Everyone seems to know  what it is and how to do it.  A UX designer may feel like a chef entering an already crowded kitchen.
Getting a word in edgewise among all the “experts’ can be tough.  You  can resort to being and asshole, but is that really in the job description?
I know its a crazy idea, but it just crossed my mind, why not let Experience Designers design the experience?   I know its nuts. Completely unorthodox, but maybe we should give it a try.
All together in your best Jack Benny voice, “Well!” :-/


Experience Design Icon

XD Steel Icon

This is a gift to my group at my day job.  Experience Design “XD” is the name we are known by in a culture that gets it.  Usability is the target, yes, but it is the target’s edge. In 2012 the center is an awesome experience.  That is our mantra.

A little side note about XD in place of UX

The term “User Experience” happened when we realized that creating a User Interface (UI) is not the goal, but the means. The user experience is the goal.  In that title, “User experience, or UX, needing to explicitly include the word “user” is actually baggage leftover from the days when an “interface” without that distinction of user interface was assumed to be something connecting different parts of a system.

Ironically, interface was a purely technical term that borrowed the word “face” from the human context and metaphorically applied it to mechanical or virtual elements.  The coining of the term “User interface” was actually borrowing the term back to describe a human element as one side of the connection. That usage grew so much that the word interface alone has now come to more often mean the user interface.

The word ‘experience’ has no such baggage. There is no history of any part of the system besides the user having an “experience”. So making such a distinction is unnecessary.  So, since we know that we most definitely are not referring to a part of the system having an experience, do we really need to even say “user” anymore?  And if there is someone else, another person or group of people, that is impacted by what we do besides the “user”, well okay.  It’s still an experience isn’t it? And that is what we are designing isn’t it?

So then, just “experience”.  Yes, it sounds a little Hendrix-esque. And that’s okay too.

– roger

– Music in the short video is by Zuriel Merek

What year is this?

Ya know, when I was three years old, I knew how to watch TV.  Now its a struggle.  I’m a technology guy and I can’t figure out the stupid menus on this TimeWarner DVR.

I have conducted enough analysis to determine that the primary usability problem stems from the odd mixture of on-screen menus, which are incomplete, sort of randomly dependand upon unorthodox controls on the remote. Who came up with this stuff?  And what was their basis for this design soluttion (if you can call it that?)

Certainly, I’m not the first person to complain?  Do they have a clue?  how do they stay in business delivering crap like this?  I’m going to ask my question (that I ask when I feel things are not what they ought to be).  “What year is this?”

Mature & Lean UX

In the past, I have worn the hats of designer, or usability tester, and at times both. Its the both that brings the critics.

The real problem with usability testing my own designs is not the lack of objectivity.  Trust me, no one wants the honest truth about what works or not more than this designer in the quest for the best solution possible.  I believe the objectivity concern results from a combination of scientific folklore and the legacy of immature pedestrian designers from the past who couldn’t handle the truth.  A true professional knows the appeal of “being right” cannot come before the desire to “get it right”.

The real challenge facing me is that having just learned great insights in the lab, I must now choose between stopping to document and explain what was learned for others to understand or dig into applying it to design.

Trying to do both will cause delay and may diminish the timely effectiveness of having done the exercise. Ultimately, it is the design that we are creating that takes priority.  So, documenting will have to wait for someday.  Hopefully, no one will ask, where’s my report.  If they do, I’ll show them my better design and say “here it is”.

– roger

About Click n’ Learn

Do people who “Click here” really “Learn More”?

Someone recently asked if “Click Here” was necessary or helpful or if it just made people feel stupid. It seemed inevitable that the discussion would eventually grow to Learn More.

I don’t recall seeing many real buttons on physical objects in the real world saying “click here”, though I suppose it’s theoretically possible that some maybe could benefit from it, it’s generally not done and nobody seems to miss it. Physical properties offer enough self-identification implying, “Hey I’m a button. Push me” that such obvious instructions are rare enough to stir remembrances of Alice in Wonderland.

However, I disagree that such a thing makes people feel stupid. More likely, it makes users conclude that the UI and its designers are stupid, ultimately reflecting badly upon the brand experience.

What really makes people feel stupid, and then generally angry, is a UI that lacks affordances at all or a clear explanation as to what it is, how it operates, what it is doing right now, have I accomplished or not what I intended, and what in the world am I doing here using this piece of crap anyway?

Now, If I take this dissusion into the abstract realm of clicking and learning, implying that  people who explore information, following its interconnections with other information, do learn more than people who do not, there is a lot more that can be said. In fact a lot more has been said and is available on line, which means a lot more  clicking and a lot more learning.

Now the moment of truth when I ask, Did you learn more by clicking here?

–       roger