Category Archives: Articles

The Importance of a Focused User Experience Strategy

The Importance of a Focused User Experience Strategy

An important aspect of user-centered design is identifying a strategy for how you will support an experience that  addresses user needs and business goals.  It is critical to remember that you need to focus your website’s strategy based on experiences that are relevant and valuable in context of the services your organization provides.

A fictional case study illustrating the need for a focused strategy

For example, let’s say you are a startup company that aims to help make food shopping easier.

Through user research, you may identify many user needs that may feed into your website’s experience. Your research may reveal the complexity things that people need to think about in context of food shopping including cost, nutritional value, meal planning, likes and dislikes, organic vs not organic, and sales happening that week.  You may also discover things relating to the actual experience of food shopping such as trying to get things done fast when you’re in a hurry, how difficult it can be to get shopping done when you have kids running around, the lure of impulse purchasing, and trying to find everything within the store.  People may also tell you about the reasons why they go food shopping such as to prepare family meals, make something for a bake sale, or party planning.

All of these findings may generate a wide variety of ideas about what type of experience your site could support.  The question becomes, how are you going to best take your research findings and turn them into an effective strategy?

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Eyetracking Metrics for Usability Studies

Eyetracking Metrics for Usability Studies

Eyetracking has been a heavily debated subject within the field of User Experience Design and in particular within the Usability community.  Some argue that eye fixations don’t necessarily equal attention or understanding, and question whether eyetracking should be used to support traditional usability findings.  However, the other side argues that when eye tracking data is used in conjuction with traditional usability techniques, it can provide deep insight into where participants look during a task which can help us determine why usability issues are present within an interface.

If you’re interested in reading more about the various arguments regarding eye tracking’s use in usability studies, take a look at these great articles:
Assuming you’ve bought into the value that eyetracking can bring to usability studies, the rest of this post will explore the specific eyetracking metrics you can use to best support usability findings.
How I Discovered User Experience Design and Why I’m Still Here

How I Discovered User Experience Design and Why I’m Still Here

User Experience is a relatively new field.  I’d be hard pressed to find someone who grew up saying “I want to be a User Experience Designer!”  Everyone has their own stories about how they first got into UX, and they’re always fascinating to hear. It seems as though most people in this field happen upon it as an evolution of another career, through a library science, psychology, design, or other UX-related degree, or out of serendipitous discovery.  My story is a mix of the latter two.

I’ll tell my story as a way of helping you remember your reasons for getting into this field and why you stay in it despite its challenges.

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Making a User Experience Strategy Tangible

Making a User Experience Strategy Tangible

User Experience Design begins with the definition of a user experience strategy, or a shared holistic vision for what a product or service will be from the end user’s perspective.  Before a design team can start creating a product or service’s interface and defining specific capabilities, the team needs to evaluate ideas to determine what will meet both user and business goals most effectively.  Defining a user experience strategy up front is critical to making sure that all design decisions map back to a vision that is supported by research and that has defined success criteria.

Read more to understand the elements of a UX strategy, why it’s important to make the strategy tangible, and some techniques to create a tangible UX strategy.

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Facebook Privacy Settings Redesign Concept – Part 2

Facebook Privacy Settings Redesign Concept – Part 2


Update: Check out the October 11, 2010 follow-up to this article: “Fortune.com revisits some of my ideas in light of the introduction of Facebook Groups


In Part 1 of this series, I introduced a design project I contributed to for Fortune.com.  Fortune asked several User Experience Designers how they would redesign Facebook’s privacy settings to address recent outcries over privacy concerns on the social networking site.  You can view the final article here. Part 1 focused on the first few phases of the process I went through to define a strategic direction for the redesign.

I identified the two primary privacy problems facing Facebook today as the unwanted public disclosure of information and the difficult management of social networks.  The strategy proposed to address these issues focused around three key themes:

  1. Increase visibility of privacy information by placing it in context of user interactions
  2. Assure users that information they disclose is being disclosed to the intended audience
  3. Improve clarity around privacy settings

This post focuses on the process I went through to progress from many rough ideas to a single refined solution.

  1. Start with Research
  2. Define the Problem
  3. Craft a Strategy
  4. Sketch, Sketch, and Sketch Some More
  5. Narrow Down Ideas and Wireframe
  6. Apply a Visual Design

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Facebook Privacy Settings Redesign Concept – Part 1

Facebook Privacy Settings Redesign Concept – Part 1


Update: Check out the October 11, 2010 follow-up to this article: “Fortune.com revisits some of my ideas in light of the introduction of Facebook Groups


There has been a lot of discussion recently about Facebook and privacy. Users are angry, upset, and concerned that Facebook is exposing their private information without their consent.

JP Mangalindan from Fortune.com recently contacted me and asked me and several other User Experience professionals and designers how we would redesign Facebook’s privacy settings (if you want to jump ahead and see the end result, view his article here).  I then started working on what turned out to be an incredibly challenging design problem.  I quickly learned that creating a safe and secure environment on the popular social network while still accomplishing Facebook’s desire to increase information sharing is easier said than done.

The challenges include needing to thoroughly understand the current privacy concerns, what needs user have to address these concerns, and how to design an interface that not only puts a new face on the current system, but addresses deeper issues with how privacy is integrated into the user experience.

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