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Topic: User Experience

What do the people who use your website actually want? Making web content accessible. Designing and testing interfaces and the systems that support them. Talking to users and considering real-world use cases. Testing on the cheap. Design, architecture, research, benchmarking, usability, analytics, studies, interviews, surveys, focus groups.

  • Color Accessibility Workflows

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    Color is a powerful tool that allows for an almost infinite array of design options. Yet when applying color to our work, we can have a “myopic” viewpoint that puts us, rather than our audience, front and center. Author Geri Coady discusses some solid color considerations we can make for our audiences in this excerpt from her new book, Color Accessibility Workflows, available from A Book Apart.

  • Fait Accompli: Agentive Tech Is Here

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    Artificial Intelligence is an extremely hot topic. The process in which everyday devices become more aware of our needs and “learn” to adapt to those needs will play a big part in the future of user experience. In this excerpt from Designing Agentive Technology, AI That Works for People Chris Noessel, examines agentive technology and how it works in behalf of the user.

  • User Research When You Can’t Talk to Your Users

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    User research is about understanding people. But how can we do that when frontline methods of research aren’t an option? Jon Peterson offers up several “outside the box” methods for getting to know users when access and funding is limited.

  • I Don’t Need Help

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    People assume help will be there when they need it. They don’t want to wait and they don’t want to have to ask. As Neha Singh explains, designers must accept these basic human traits and develop sites accordingly. There’s no design so intuitive that it doesn’t need a help function, and there’s no complex help app so engaging that it will hold user interest.

  • A Dao of Product Design

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    What the world needs now is not more emotionally fragile, harried, and uncertain people. Deeply consider the potential effect your product has on users, and how that effect can cause ripples in society. Faruk Ateş urges us to make sure our user experience fosters civility and emotional well-being, because our products don’t exist in a vacuum.

  • Awaken the Champion A/B Tester Within

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    Athletes capture and analyze data to optimize their performance. A/B testing can produce winners the same way: with data that goes beyond best guesses via behavioral analysis to extract deeper insights.

  • Let Emotion Be Your Guide

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    There is no separate digital experience for human emotions. In the realm of feelings, it’s all real life. Hana Schank and Jana Sedivy learned from their surprising and transformative encounters with users of a hospital website that you gain deeper insights when you let emotion take the wheel once in a while.

  • Why We Should All Be Data Literate

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    Design to the data. That’s the mantra of modern, research-driven web designers. But blindly accepting statistics and studies at face value is delusional at best, irresponsible at worst. Former journalist and current design specialist Dan Turner says be a skeptic. And don’t let fear of math, or innumeracy, stop you from running the numbers. Unexamined data can lead to costly mistakes. (Hint: Tripling your page views doesn’t mean much if you started with one visitor.)

  • Resurrecting Dead Personas

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    You spent a lot of time and money putting a human face on your market research. You created a dream-user and pledged to design with this persona in mind. But something happened. Now, your user persona is dying a lingering death. Meg Dickey-Kurdziolek explains that user personas—those darlings of user-centered design—require care and feeding to remain vital, and valid.

  • Adapting to Input

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    The rise of mobile devices made us confront the reality that we can’t control the size of the viewport, and we adapted. Now it’s time to face up to another reality: web input modes are proliferating and we have no control over which ones a user has and prefers. Seasoned developer Jason Grigsby has some advice on adapting to the way the web is now.

  • Never Show A Design You Haven’t Tested On Users

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    User testing doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming—and it should never be skipped entirely if you don’t have “permission” to do it. Injecting real feedback early and often affects how we design our work, communicate, and even present concepts to the client. Testing should be a habit, even when it doesn’t seem possible. It just requires a little ingenuity.

  • OOUX: A Foundation for Interaction Design

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    Pivoting smoothly from action to action is all well and good, but when interactions seem abstract to users, a sense of context is probably missing. In this follow-up to Object-Oriented UX, Sophia Voychehovski takes us from big-picture OOUX frameworks to confidently targeting actions that meet the needs of users.

  • Looking for “Trouble”

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    Venting isn’t exactly an innocent activity. Rolling our eyes at a struggling client—no matter how justified we may think we are—hints at a skewed sense of entitlement. It means we’ve forgotten that our experience working with others reflects their experience working with us. Orr Shtuhl shares how the team at Blenderbox changed their “venting culture” to proactively hunt for subtle flags of distress and take responsibility for their clients’ side of the experience.

  • The User’s Journey

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    We’re hardwired to respond to stories—to parse them, to invent them, to translate our world into landscapes and characters. Applying a twist to “narrative architecture,” Donna Lichaw deconstructs how we weave stories into our products. The real trick, she says, is to do more than tell stories; it’s to design our products to be the story.

  • Design for Real Life

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    We say we’re crafting personas to fit the needs of “real” people—yet we easily revert to abstractions when raw emotions enter the picture. Common human experiences aren’t “edge” cases; we don’t get to dismiss what seems uncomfortable or different to us. In this excerpt from Design for Real Life, Eric Meyer and Sara Wachter-Boettcher take on the elephant in the room—the tendency to look the other way.

  • Design for Real Life: An Interview with Sara Wachter-Boettcher

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    Good intentions can easily blind us to bad ideas—accidentally awful outcomes that alienate and distress our users. It’s time to take a hard look at our processes, to recognize and work through our biases toward idealized users in ideal situations. In this interview with managing editor Mica McPheeters, Sara Wachter-Boettcher talks about what she learned while writing Design for Real Life.

  • Web Animation Past, Present, and Future

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    Despite the rise and fall of Flash on the web, designing with animation has fiercely stirred us for decades. And yet nothing compares to its latest surge of evolution. Rachel Nabors lays out the array of tools and techniques that are fundamentally reframing our ideas about animation, and looks ahead to see where this path is taking us.

  • Designing the Conversational UI

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    In the second of a two-part series, Matty Mariansky turns to the practical aspects of designing conversational interfaces. He discusses some of the challenges that he and his team encountered along the way and offers guidelines for translating specific design patterns into a conversational form. These guidelines are loose principles rather than hard-and-fast rules; best practices for designing conversations will form, break, and form again. It’s an exciting time to be a pioneer.

  • All Talk and No Buttons: The Conversational UI

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    Conversational interfaces have been around for a while, but they’ve only recently begun to spread into the mainstream. The entire field of visual interface design—everything we know about placing controls, handling mouse and touch interaction, even picking colors—will be affected by the switch to conversational form, or will go away altogether. In the first of two parts, Matty Mariansky sketches out a road map for this brave new world.

  • Validating Product Ideas

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    In this excerpt from Validating Product Ideas, Tomer Sharon provides a treasure chest of fundamentals, step-by-step guidance, and concrete tactical advice for interviewing users. It’s for product developers who want to get up to speed or get a solid grounding in the techniques of lean user research, and for anyone who needs to understand their customers but doesn’t have a researcher on staff.