UX Thinking: It’s Contagious!

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This past weekend my daughter and I walked into a restaurant and they had a napkin dispenser on the counter.

When you tried to pull out a napkin, about 45 more came out with it.

After attempting to use it for a second time with the same irritating result, my daughter looked up and said very seriously, “You need to take a picture of this for your blog.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because the UX is horrible!” She replied. “It would be so easy to fix! They just need to make it work more like a tissue box!”

I’m deeming that a parenting win.

UX thinking is contagious, and family members are especially susceptible!

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.

Bonus Tool:

Spotify – Great music gets the creative juices flowing!

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.

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!

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.

Epic Usability Fail: Pull! Open! But not this door, the other one.

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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.

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

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!

Poorly Executed Mobile Web Apps: Destroyers Of UX

IMG_0333.JPG You know what fills me with instant rage and just about gives me a nervous twitch? When I’m Googling the daylights out of something, and then, like a ray of light shining down from heaven, a link to exactly what I need from a reliable source appears on the screen.

I do an internal happy dance, click the link and am redirected to some mega lame, poorly executed mobile web app that hardly contains ANY content, let alone the content that I really need! And then, in tiny letters at the bottom of the garbage mobile web app screen, there is a link to the desktop site.

“No! I do not want to go to your freaking desktop site to re-search for something that I already found! And now I hate you and your brand!”

This phenomenon is especially frustrating when I’m trying to buy something online. The result? I go back to the search results page and click the next link. I do NOT click through to the desktop site and search again.

One person not buying due to garbage mobile UX? No big deal. For a major retailer, thousands of online shoppers getting frustrated and going to a competitor site with a better mobile experience? It’s a huge deal, and the lost revenue dollar signs escalate exceptionally quickly.

If your company moves to a mobile web app experience, keep a CLOSE eye on your conversion rates. I’m far from alone in my intense hatred for search redirects to lame mobile web experiences.

Can we all just agree that it’s absolutely horrible UX and that it really needs to stop? Right now? Today? /end rant

How to Build An Amazing In-House Product Design Team

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While conversing with some of my UX pro peers recently, I discovered that in-house design teams at software companies are extremely varied in make up. Some places have great team dynamics and others really don’t. At my company Schoolwires, we have a completely awesome Design & Innovation team with members that work incredibly well together, not only from a personality stance, but from a combined powerhouse of skills stance. So today, I’m going to focus on answering  the question:

What does it take to create a killer in-house Design and Innovation team?

1.      An Incredibly Innovative Vice President

At my company we have a VP of Product Design and Innovation who is one of the most contagiously creative, innovative people I have ever met. You go into what should be a mundane meeting with him, and come out feeling inspired every single time. He also has a vision of the future of technology that reaches out decades. He’s always thinking about the next next, with his finger on the pulse of the latest and greatest apps and software and technology trends.

2.      A UX Manager Who Thinks in Wireframes and Dreams Code

Our Manager of User Experience literally thinks in wireframes and dreams code. She hears a concept and immediately starts brainstorming the wireframes in her mind. She is incredibly talented, and has a background in code, so she not only pictures design in her mind, she knows how to MAKE the things she envisions. She’s also a mobile developing/designing genius. Cap that off with being a phenomenal, supportive manager and you’ve got Sara.

3.     Three Creative UX Architects Who Love to Design

We have three fantastic architects on our team who really enjoy designing. Our architects do the data layer/api/business layer work for all of our projects, but they also lead designs and create wireframes at times.They are able to tell us at a glance if what we hope can happen is actually feasible. If we had to wait until our designs were passed off to development to find that information out, we’d end up with hours and hours of additional rework time. Don, Heather and Craig are the key to keeping us agile.

4.     Two Extremely Talented UX Designers 

Our UX designers are fantastic.

Danelle makes our CMS interface and our mobile apps look like works of art, and can kick out gorgeous high res mockups on a dime! She is constantly looking for the latest and greatest design tricks and tips, and brings fresh ideas and concepts to our products on a regular basis to ensure positive user experiences.

Kelly is an epic interaction designer. She comes up with new innovative ways to make our products even more interesting and user friendly! She focuses on a user centered design approach to ensure that our latest features and product enhancements will positively impact the lives of our clients.

5.      A Content Strategist With A Background in Psychology

Our Content Strategist & UX Editor Jennifer loves conducting user research & usability testing regularly, writing user friendly microcopy to ensure consistent voice and tone,  reviewing and collaborating on designs to ensure usability, analyzing product statistics to identify trends, and discovering all the ways we can make our clients lives easier through design.

The 8 of us work together exceptionally well because we work in an environment that supports open sharing of ideas. We all have the utmost respect for one another, and our leadership team has made it clear that every member of the team is valued, as are their opinions.

It’s also accepted team wide that no one is perfect, nor are they expected to be. Sometimes we’re right, and sometimes we’re wrong but the safe environment for sharing both good and bad ideas leads to incredible collaboration and ultimately stronger, more innovative, user friendly products.

You don’t have to go freelance to love your job! Our department is living proof that in-house design team utopia does exist.

Google Analytics Free: Your Data Is Fake (But It’s OK)

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I recently discovered that users of Google Analytics Free don’t always fully understand what they’re seeing when they log into their dashboards. They think they’re looking at their actual, honest to goodness data. So let’s clear some things up:

1. Your data is fake.
“What are you talking about! It’s not fake, there are graphs!” Your data is sampled. In some situations it’s still statistically significant. In fact, in most cases it is, so don’t panic yet.

2. Want access to your real unsampled data? Fork over $150,000.
For major corporations it’s pocket change. For the average person with a small site, your sampled data is still statistically significant, so it’s no big deal. If you’re a start up company who is still poor but is experiencing rapid growth, you’re out of luck. Break out your wallet.

3. If your company is expecting/experiencing rapid growth & has set up a bunch of custom events, of the four leading analytics companies, Google Analytics Premium is by FAR the cheapest.
If you hit 5 billion events per month, Google Analytics Premium bumps up to a flat rate of $220k. Adobe Analytics jumps up around $7.4 MILLION dollars per year. That is not a typo, it’s a legit quote. If you’re scaling crazy fast and need quality data, Google Analytics Premium is your friend from a financial perspective.

4. Unsampled, pure data is freaking expensive.
It just is. If you really need it, surrounded by a UI that isn’t terrible, be prepared to shell out some serious cash.

5. I previously mentioned that sampled data is statistically significant for most companies, so who cares about whether data is sampled or not?
CMS companies in particular need to care. Let’s say a company has global analytics tracking. They may have 4 huge clients (3 million events, 2.5, 2, and 1 million events per month) a handful of 100k – 250k events-per-month clients and so on into tiny client land.

Google samples the daylights out of your data. The higher the number of monthly events, the worse your sampling rate becomes.

From a global tracking perspective looking at high level metrics, sampling is no big deal. However, if a 100k events-per-month client calls and requests a report about mobile device traffic to their primary domain, you’re statistically SOL. You can pull the report, but the drill down data will be garbage due to the crazy sampling rate.

The worst sampling rate I’ve come across in Google Analytics Free was .02%, but you get what you pay for.

The moral of this story:
For small sites and small businesses Google Analytics Free is a viable option. Your data is “fake”, but still statistically significant.

If you’re a rapidly growing business with a pile of domains being tracked under one account, eat the cost and upgrade to Google Analytics Premium. From a scalability perspective it’s the cheapest option, and you can pull unsampled reports to obtain accurate data all day long if you want to.