Category Archives: Articles

Quality Assurance as Applied to User Experience Design

Quality Assurance as Applied to User Experience Design

Quality Assurance (QA) is a critical part of any web or application development project.  QA helps to verify that a project has met the project’s requirements and technical specifications without bugs or other defects.  The aim is to identify issues prior to product launch.  Most QA initiatives focus on following predefined test cases, which meticulously outline required functionality by stating an input and expected response.  In order for QA to be successful, requirements must be clearly articulated and changes must be communicated effectively.

As User Experience professionals, we often rely on our QA teams to help verify that a design works as intended during development.  However, it should not be assumed that traditional QA can validate that your product is facilitating the desired user experience.  QA is very effective at identifying technical implementation issues (e.g. system errors, incorrect calculations, etc.) and often issues with front-end design implementation (e.g. CSS misalignment, cross browser differences, etc.). However, most QA processes do not focus on the quality of the user experience in regards to usability, affordances, findability, content clarity, or appropriate placements of items within the experience.  Nor should they.  The quality of the User Experience needs to be evaluated separately from technical quality assurance.

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Using Multiple Data Sources and Insights to Aid Design

Using Multiple Data Sources and Insights to Aid Design

Often when we think of using data to influence our designs, we think of “data” in a very narrow way.  When trying to identify opportunities or support our design decisions with evidence, some gravitate solely towards web analytics or conversion data, others only to research findings in lab studies.  Some shy away from the thought of “data-driven design” (usually with the exception of qualitative research) in fear that our UX expertise can be overwritten by automated experimentation and optimization. However, data that you gather shouldn’t be treated in isolation and it doesn’t have to be seen as an opposing force to design.  When used properly, multiple data sources can be joined together to generate powerful insights that will help us make our products and services better.

How Organizations Can Best Support Beginner UX Designers

How Organizations Can Best Support Beginner UX Designers

There are many resources available for beginner UX designers to learn about the field on their own. In particular, Whitney Hess’ blog post series “So you wanna be a User Experience Designer” (part 1) (part 2) outlines a fantastic list of books, blogs, events, organizations, lists, workshops, conferences, and education references that can help those new to the field learn the ropes.

While being a self-starter and educating yourself is a huge step in the right direction, beginner UX Designers need support from their organizations in order to be most successful.  There are several steps organizations can take to guide and encourage those new to the field.

Facilitating Collaboration Between Visual Designers and Other UX Roles

Facilitating Collaboration Between Visual Designers and Other UX Roles

In some organizations, “User Experience” is a treated differently from “Visual Design” (or “Creative”) and there is a distinct separation between the teams.  In others, Visual Designers are an integrated part of the User Experience team.  Regardless of team structure, however, there is often a pattern of UX deliverables such as wireframes or basic prototypes being handed off to Visual Designers to “skin,” or as some unfortunately call it, “make things pretty,” with little or no further involvement from the rest of the UX team.

There are some common problems with this approach:

  • Information Architects and Interaction Designers feel they lose influence over the design process once it’s in the hands of a Visual Designer
  • Visual Designers don’t feel they are involved early enough in the process to understand design inputs or to influence what goes into a given design
  • There’s an inherent disconnect between the knowledge that went into wireframes/prototypes and what is translated over to the Visual Designer
  • Design decisions are often seen as subjective as opposed to grounded in research and analysis

There are several techniques that members of the “big D” Design team (including all UX roles/responsibilities) can use to better collaborate to make sure the end design best represents an optimal user experience and is grounded in input from the entire team.

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Challenging Conventional Assumptions About User Experience Design

Challenging Conventional Assumptions About User Experience Design

A common misconception that many organizations have about User Experience Designers is that our value comes solely in the form of our design artifacts or research deliverables.  Many see UX as a step in the process where we create wireframes, conduct usability testing, build prototypes, or make site maps.  Often we do this after being handed business requirements, and then we hand off our solutions to a visual designer or developer to complete the process. While all of these activities and artifacts are certainly a large part of our work, we need to challenge our organizations to think of us as more than the sum of our deliverables.

This article explores the way in which UX Designers can provide an increased level of thought leadership within organizations.

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50 Sketching Resources for User Experience Designers

50 Sketching Resources for User Experience Designers

Sketching is a critical part of the User Experience Design process.  Sketching allows us to explore ideas and iterate on concepts quickly and easily before creating detailed mockups.  Below is a roundup of many different sketching articles, tools, templates, presentations, videos, books, and examples to help User Experience Designers learn more about sketching and how it benefits UX design.

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