UI/UX Posts

Web Performance Is User Experience

Efforts to optimize your site have an effect on the entire experience for your users

Think about how you search for things on the web. How quick are you to close a tab and go to the next search engine result if a site takes too long to load? Now consider doing that on your phone while waiting in line for your coffee order–you have even less time, so your expectations for a site to load quickly are even higher.

Web performance is user experience. Fast page load time builds trust in your site; it yields more returning visitors, more users choosing your site over a competitor’s site, and more people trusting your brand. Users expect pages to load in two seconds, and after three seconds, up to 40% of users will abandon your site. Similar results have been noted by major sites like Amazon, who found that 100 milliseconds of additional page load time decreased sales by one percent, and Google, who lost 20% of revenue and traffic due to half a second increase in page load time. Akamai has also reported that 75% of online shoppers who experience an issue such as freezing, crashing, taking too long to load, or having a convoluted checkout process will not buy from that site.

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Improve Mobile UX with iBeacons

Enable indoor location services with Bluetooth Low Energy alerts

In the last couple of months, iBeacon is making a lot of noise. iBeacons are small wireless sensors placed inside any physical space that transmit data to your phone using Bluetooth Low Energy (also known as Bluetooth 4.0 and Bluetooth Smart). Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), iBeacon opens up new opportunities by creating a beacon around regions so your app can be alerted when users enter them. Apple quietly rolled out the iBeacons framework as part of iOS 7, but lots of iBeacon manufacturers (Estimote, Roximity Beacons, Adomalay, Kontact etc.) are already emerging. It is going to play an important role in several areas.

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Accessibility: Why I Hate Checklists

A truly accessible website is both accessible and usable

Every time I give a talk about making accessible websites, I get the following question:

“What checklist do you use to make sure a site is accessible?”

My response always surprises them:

“I don’t use a list.”

Why not? There are so many lists out there that I could be using! Practically every US government agency has a checklist published on their site, and several non-government sites offer checklists of their own. With so many free resources, why do I ignore checklists?

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Knowing and Understanding Your Audience

Measuring impact and changing behavior

I had the opportunity to sit down with Laura Klein (@lauraklein) and talk about the importance of creating effective user experiences. Laura is a UX expert and consultant. She stresses the need to figure out what works by talking to users and determining what works through usability testing. She’s also author of O’Reilly Media’s UX for Lean Startups: Faster, Smarter User Experience Research and Design. It hit home when Laura told me, “If people aren’t getting it, you’re probably doing it wrong.”

Key highlights include:

  • How to figure out what works, so you can avoid a poor user experience. [Discussed at 0:19]
  • It’s important to avoid porting a traditional process to a new product and service. Instead you need to think about how to design a new and natural experience. [Discussed at 2:16]
  • Think about context when designing new processes. [Discussed at 2:37]
  • The first step in creating a successful UX is knowing and understanding your audience. [Discussed at 3:49]
  • Using these principles beyond web sites. In all good UX applications, the goal is not to notice the interface. [Discussed at 5:16]
  • It’s critical to observe people, so you’re not assuming a knowledge base. [Discussed at 7:35]
  • The importance of A/B Testing. And how design is not an art; it’s trying to solve a problem. [Discussed at 9:54]
  • How the build, measure, learn lean methodology fits with UX design. It’s all about measuring the impact and changing behavior. [Discussed at 11:11]
  • You can view the full interview here:

    Related:

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Getting Started with Interactive Data Visualizations

Sourcing, Cleaning, and Processing Data to Create Interactive Data Visualizations for the Web

I recently sat down with Scott Murray (@alignedleft), Assistant Professor of Design at the University of San Francisco and Code Artist, to talk about creating interactive data visualizations. He’s also author of O’Reilly Media’s Interactive Data Visualization for the Web: An Introduction to Designing with D3. Scott and I discuss obtaining a clean data set, planning, consistency, accuracy, format issues, and the tools you should consider.

Key highlights include:

  • While we all have access to multiple data sources both public and private, how to ensure you have good clean data? [Discussed at 0:19]
  • Learn about the importance of consistency and format issues when creating your data visualizations. [Discussed at 1:40]
  • Using tools and scripts to clean your data. [Discussed at 2:39]
  • How to determine what’s interesting in your data and identifying the story by using both exploratory phase and explanatory review phases. [Discussed at 3:53]
  • Scott talks about how to obtain visual honesty. [Discussed at 5:52]
  • When designing your visualizations, how to avoid being accidentally dishonest. [Discussed at 7:21]
  • How to create your own toolset to meet your needs and match your skills. [Discussed at 9:02]
  • Learn about adding interactivity to make your message more powerful and valuable. [Discussed at 11:11]
  • You can view the full interview here:

    Related:

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What Developers Can Learn from Healthcare.gov

Remember, even a failure can serve as an example of what not to do

The first highly visible component of the Affordable Health Care Act launched this week, in the form of the healthcare.gov site. Theoretically, it allows citizens, who live in any of the states that have chosen not to implement their own portal, to get quotes and sign up for coverage.

I say theoretically because I’ve been trying to get a quote out of it since it launched on Tuesday, and I’m still trying. Every time I think I’ve gotten past the last glitch, a new one shows up further down the line. While it’s easy to write it off as yet another example of how the government (under any administration) seems to be incapable of delivering large software projects, there are some specific lessons that developers can take away.

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Don’t Allow Behaviors. Encourage Them!

Increase your product engagement by telling users what to do.

As a consultant, I’ve talked to a lot of startups who have “social” products. You could tell that the products were “social” because they had comment sections and sharing icons that let people post to Pinterest or Facebook.

Of course, one of the things that the founders complain about is that too few users are actually making comments or sharing or doing anything remotely social with the product.

There’s a very simple reason for this: the founders have added features to their product that allow users to be social rather than encouraging them to be social.

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Purposeful Design Principles for Behavior Change

How to design products and services that help users change behavior

Steve Wendel (@sawendel) is the Principal Scientist at HelloWallet where he develops applications that help users take control of their finances. He’s also currently writing Designing for Behavior Change. I recently sat down to talk with Steve about the importance of testing and iteration, role of psychology, and resources and tools.

Key highlights include:

  • Describing the general principles of designing for behavior change. [Discussed at 0:16]
  • When we get it wrong, how to turn it around. [Discussed at 2:12]
  • Good examples of products and services. [Discussed at 4:45]
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Four Qualities of Successful In-House Innovation Teams

Considering the "two pizza" team

One of the most common questions I get about applying lean ideas to product design and development is, “How can I make this happen in my organization?” Between entrenched corporate silos and existing team management structures, it can seem impossible for these ideas to take root in large companies. Over the course of a series of blog posts, I thought I’d share a few tactics I’ve used and have seen work with other teams to help get you started. In this first post in the series, I’d like to talk about how to structure your teams.

As much as who you hire, structuring your teams effectively is key to a lean team’s success. Many companies see the individual disciplines in their product development organization as service providers—internal agencies. The business reaches out to these agencies (engineering, UX/design, product management, et al.), expresses a need for staffing and the discipline lead provides the resources based on expertise, availability, and project fit. It sounds like a reasonable and efficient way to staff a project and to that extent it is—however, our goal should not be to simply staff a project but to build a team.

When building your team, focus on the following four criteria to maximize their chances for success:

1. Small

Keeping your team small means everyone on the team knows each other—on a first name basis. It’s easier to manage a small team. It’s simpler for the team members to know who to go to when they need something specific. It’s easier to keep track of work accomplished and work left to do.
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Human-Centered Design May Be What Makes Your App Stand Out

OSCON 2013 Speaker Series

Tony Santos, (@tsmuse) is a User Experience Lead at Mozilla and OSCON 2013 Speaker. We talk about Human-Centered Design and how it can make all the difference.

NOTE: If you are interested in attending OSCON to check out Tony’s talk or the many other cool sessions, click over to the OSCON website where you can use the discount code OS13PROG to get 20% your registration fee.

Key highlights include:

  • Defining human-centered design. [Discussed at 0:20]
  • Hey Developers, Want your app, software, or product to be a success? Then you need to care about this, seriously. [Discussed at 1:05]
  • So, what do users actually want? [Discussed at 2:10]
  • Some (user) research is better than no (user) research. [Discussed at 3:03]
  • Open source sort of abides by human-centered design by its very nature, but can do even better. [Discussed at 4:01]
  • A human-centered design success story. [Discussed at 6:26]

You can view the full interview here:

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