10 UX Tools I Couldn’t Live Without: Oct 2014 Version

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SolidifyApp – Mega simple prototyping/click tracking tool for desktop and mobile usability testing.

UXRecorder – Mobile usability testing app (Create a native prototype in SolidifyApp and run it through UXRecorder = Magical).

Silverback App – Mac usability testing.

Trello – Organize all the things.

Skitch – Fab for UX reviews.

Balsamiq – Best collaborative wire framing tool on the market.

TargetProcess – Track Design/Development/QA progress and burndown.

GoToMeeting – Design collaboration via video chat/recording sessions & screen sharing with Audio.

Google Analytics – Analyze how your clients are using your product, look for pain points, adjust UX accordingly.

InVisionApp – Hi res desktop and mobile prototyping.

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Chanel Handbag Website: UX Fail (Disappearing Nav & Seizure Worthy Rotating Images)

I have a handbag addiction. It’s a problem. Last night I tried to check out Chanel’s Fall & Winter line, and absolutely couldn’t believe the website. It’s a UX & Design nightmare.

The navigation is wretched and believe it or not these images all rotate. It just about gave me a seizure looking at it. I added some pink arrows to show the nav, since it’s pretty much completely impossible to find otherwise.

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To see the rotating images in action, check this out: http://www.chanel.com/en_US/fashion/products/handbags.html

I get the concept… but it turned out looking like a discount warehouse website, not a site that makes me want to drop 4k on a handbag.

Making your site nav disappear in maniacally rotating images = UX Fail.

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Sheetz UX Fail: What Exactly Are You Trying To Dry?

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I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that the people who installed this hand dryer didn’t MEAN for it to become a tush dryer. When you stand in front of the sink to wash your hands wearing a purse, it activates the motion sensor and blasts your backside with hot air.

It’s kind of like the seat warmer in your car, except weirder because it’s very unexpected.

Sorry Sheetz, I’ve got to label this a UX Fail.

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Stop Asking For Photo Access During The App Install Process!

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So when iOS8 came out, I had to clear a boatload of misc apps and photos and such to install the over the air update. (I realize I could have plugged in and done it through iTunes, but deleting 8654 apps sounded like less of a hassle at the time.)

I deleted Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, then reinstalled them once my phone finished updating.

Twitter! How could you?!
During the reinstall process I discovered a shocking truth. One of my most used apps, Twitter, STILL asks for photo access immediately after install! And it still feels shady and invasive. I immediately said no, even though I upload pictures to Twitter pretty much daily.

UX Fail
It’s a definite UX fail, which bums me out because they made some really fab enhancements this release. I’m loving being able to click on sender faces to open their profiles in the messages area. It’s a beautiful UX change. I’m loving the new profile look and feel too.

Kudos LinkedIn and Facebook
LinkedIn and Facebook both did the right thing, and waited to ask for photo access until I actually wanted to add a photo to a post. At that point it’s just a natural feeling part of the upload flow.

“You want to add a photo? No prob, just give me access to your photos so we can get this done.”

“Of course app that doesn’t seem shady and invasive, I obviously have to give you access to complete the task I want to finish. I’m invested in the process, and the request feels natural.”

Twitter: Now Jump Through Hoops Because Our Install Process Was Shady
Since Twitter was all sketchy at install, when I finally did want to post a picture I got that annoying message telling me I’d need to go through the 92 step process required to enable it.

UX Pros: Take A Stand
As UX pros, can we all just agree that asking for photo access during install is just generally obnoxious? It creates a negative initial user experience and creates a feeling of brand distrust right off the bat.

Small details like privacy setting request flows can have a big impact on brand trust. Stop making your brand seem seem untrustworthy by fixing your on-boarding experiences!

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You have a mobile native app! Great! But why?!

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Brands I shop at very occasionally keep spamming me with their announcements about their new improved native phone apps.

Some of them are actually kind of cool. SweetFrog has an app that contains games for kids, and a frequent shopper QR code. You pay, they scan your app’s QR code and they give you credit for your purchase. A certain number of purchases = free ice cream. Who doesn’t love free ice cream? The app is a total win.

Another app I couldn’t live without: Mobile Banking. How did I ever survive life before I could cash a check using my phone?! Driving to the bank is so 4 years ago. If a bank does’t have a solid mobile banking native app, I refuse to do business with them. A responsive website isn’t enough for me because I check my account daily (thank you identity theft incident for making me paranoid) and a native app is more convenient/feels more secure to me.

Walmart has their new app that contains their price catcher thing, which actually proved to be kind of helpful during back to school time. You scan your receipt, they compare your purchases to local sales at other stores, if they are charging more, they credit you the difference. Why is this helpful? As a parent, I didn’t have to go to 982374 different stores to save 20 bucks on school supplies. I threw them all in my cart, scanned my receipt and got my savings 3 days later.

Now lets talk about native apps that don’t make sense to me. Once a year at Christmas time I hit our slightly lame mall and buy a bunch of stuff for my family.  I’m not going to download the native GAP app to shop there once every Christmas. I’m not going to download the AE app because I buy a gift card there once a year for my sister. I’m not even remotely invested enough in these brands to download their native apps. That’s space that I could be filling with pictures and videos of my kiddo and my puppy.

Are younger shoppers downloading these apps and using them often? Could be.

On the flip side, I do occasionally shop on my phone at Christmas time, to avoid the crowds (since I’m kind of a hermit). If your retail site isn’t responsive, and you try to force me to download a native app to shop, I’m not buying your stuff and I’ll move along to your competitor.

Choosing between Mobile Native Apps and Responsive Web Design is a big deal for brands. One size does not fit all. Sometimes a responsive site just makes sense. Sometimes you really need to have a mobile native app. Think about your audience and how they access your brand.

If you can swing both a responsive site AND a mobile native app, and they both make sense for your target demographic, more power to you.

Is your target audience a group that will surf the app store to find you? Will they download your native app if you put a giant banner on your lame mobile web site that doesn’t contain any content? Or are they the type that will visit your site on their mobile device and expect to be able to find everything and shop without that annoying download step?

If you’re legitimately not sure which way the majority of your target audience will swing, ASK THEM. Fire off an email campaign, ask your audience which they would prefer and why. It’s a pretty big decision for your brand. If you make the wrong choice you’ll potentially be losing out on mega bucks. It’s very much worth the time to conduct some user research.

To sum things up, don’t just assume that you need a mobile native app because everyone else has one. Take a hard look at your audience and see if the investment makes sense. Obviously you HAVE to have a mobile web presence of some sort these days or you’re going to lose out on huge amounts of cash, but don’t assume it has to be a native app if it doesn’t make sense for your target audience.

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Restroom Layouts: UX Pro Nightmare Material

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My mind is continually blown by the absolutely horrible designs I witness when I walk in to restrooms in local businesses.

One restaurant has 3 sinks and one hand dryer. The hand dryer is perfectly placed on the wall in a location that requires you to stand in front of 2 of the 3 sinks to dry your hands.

Another has stall doors that swing out, so you basically have to shout a warning before you open the door so you don’t accidentally kill someone.

Another one has stall doors that swing in, but only until they smash into the toilet bowl.

I think the UX pros of the world need to unite and do pro bono work for the folks designing business restroom layouts. Seriously, it’s just pitiful.

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Women Outnumber Men In Our Product Design Team

“So wait… you have more women than men in your product design team?”

“Yep. Why do you ask?”

“Well, that’s just really unique!”

Before I attended my first conference, I legit didn’t realize that it was considered “unique” to have more women than men on a product design team. And honestly, for the longest time I didn’t even notice it.

We have 2 female mobile & web engineers/architects (one of whom is a manager & a product design genius, the other is an API addict), and 3 female product designers.

We have 3 men on our team, 2 engineers/architects & a fab VP.

Why am I mentioning this? I’m not going to go off on a weird rant about lack of opportunity for women in this industry, because I legitimately haven’t experienced it here. Our ratio of women to men is 5:3. It’s just a true statement about the gender make up of our team. Skill wise we’re nailing 100% awesome.

What I AM going to say is if you are a woman who has worked in an environment where the ratio of men to women was vastly off balance and made you uncomfortable, know that there are design teams out there that are more equally balanced, or in our case tipped the other way.  Don’t just toss out a “oh well, it’s this way everywhere,” because it’s really not at all.

Both the women and the men I work with are crazy talented and are just generally awesome human beings. More men than women or more women than men isn’t a thing here. It’s a – get the most talented group of people possible on this team to make amazing products – thing… as it should be everywhere.

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Sharpie Addiction: The Struggle Is Real

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I was just sitting in my office and picked up my purse and wondered why it was getting so heavy. I reached inside and pulled out a rainbow assortment of 11 (Yes, 11!) Sharpies.

It was like a clown car situation, they just kept coming and coming.

You know you’re a designer when…

#SharpieAddiction #TheStruggleIsReal

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Epic Usability Fail

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So this is an actual thing that exists.

Not only did they put push bars on a door you have to pull, they also put a pull sign on the door that doesn’t open, with a sign that says open in all caps, but actually tells you to open the OTHER door.

Haha It’s so severely bad that I almost hope they did it on purpose to mess with people.

You’re killing me Rite-Aid.

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Poor UX: Creator of Pain & Instant Rage

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Insert thumb and lift to open? It’s a dirty lie!

You know what happens when I need to open one of these bad boys? I poke it with my thumb and the cardboard collapses into an infuriating tent.

Then I poke it with a few other fingers, thinking one of them must be the “right” finger, until ultimately I jam one & curse (poor UX can be literally painful).

By this point I’m legitimately angry, so I grab the nearest knife and stab the box an unhealthy number of times.

Afterward I feel some remorse for taking out my unbridled rage on a box of noodles & chemically enhanced cheese sauce, but by then the damage is already done.

A detail as small as poor packaging can legit destroy an otherwise positive user experience. Every time I see a box of mac and cheese in the store, I feel annoyed. Negative user experiences leak into the subconscious and color the way people view entire brands.

Don’t let your product become the mac and cheese box of user experience, keep an eye on the little big details!

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