Tag Archives: Usability

Then: I don’t care how it looks, just ship it! Now: Ship quality, or your product is dead in the water.

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“I don’t care that it looks like trash, just ship it!”

Ok… let’s chat about this, like rational adults.

Back in days of old, when no one cared about UX at all, users just wanted a product that worked most of the time. This was the case because typically there was only one product on the market that did what they needed it to do, so this attitude was fine. Folks continued to buy relatively lame products, because they didn’t have a choice. In fact, it was an industry standard to just shove things out the door regardless of quality. It didn’t have to look good, it didn’t have to be very usable, it just had to kind of work.

Fast forward to the present. UX is the foundation of product design, and the industry is moving at break neck speed. You can no longer afford to ship a garbage release, because it gets easier every day for users to migrate to a new, better executed product.

Innovation doesn’t just mean creating something brand new, it can mean making something that already exists more extraordinary. Why did I mention this mid article? If your product releases are shipping half baked, a company that is more agile than you are is going to sweep in and clean out your customer base. By the time you catch up and fix your mistakes it will be too late. The other company will have moved on to adding even newer, more fabulous features, and you’ll be eating their dust. (If you can even afford their dust at that point.)

It’s 2015. You can no longer ship trash. If features in your upcoming release are a hot mess, YANK THEM FROM THE RELEASE. Give yourself time to clean them up, and pull them into the next release.

The general public is not going to put up with ancient product release attitudes anymore. If you want to stay in business, get on board with the quality comes first mentality.

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UX Win: Amazon Fire HD Packaging

So my kiddo entered this international festival singing contest (record a song, send it to the festival selection committee, 16 finalists are picked, then they narrow it down to 3).

She won 3rd place! I was mega pumped for her. What exactly does this have to do with UX?

Today, an Amazon Fire HD magically showed up at our doorstep. We had no idea that 3rd place came with fun tech perks!

So the Fire arrived, she freaked and started opening it. Then something MAGICAL happened.

A ray of light shone down from heaven on the box. Amazon has PERFECTED the art of keeping parents and kids from accidentally amputating fingers while trying to get their packages open! The UX was so epic, in fact, that I made her stop mid tear to take this pic!

Her response? “Only you would stop to take a picture of this, mom… but it is great UX.”

Ah the joys of raising a tech loving kid who gets me. I will cherish this exchange and recall it 2 years from now when she hits her teens and is embarrassed to be seen with me. 😉

Thank you Amazon for rocking my UX world with your killer packaging (and de-packaging) setup. It caused unexpected delight all over the place here tonight.

It was also a fab reminder to always pay attention to the little big details. Positive experiences with your brand can start way before a user even touches or downloads your product. Take advantage of every single touch point, no matter how small, to make your brand shine. Paying attention to little tiny details can make a great big impact.

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Windows 10 Is Looking Considerably Less Horrifying Than Windows 8

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The title says it all.

Windows 10 is looking considerably less horrifying than its Windows 8 predecessor.

There’s a great overview of the new OS here: http://www.cnet.com/products/microsoft-windows-10/.

The live tiles have been integrated in a less obtrusive way, through the Start Menu. The interaction flows are a lot more fluid, as opposed to the “2 completely different systems smashed together awkwardly” feeling that came from Windows 8.

Overall, I think it’s a definite UX improvement on many levels.

Also, the upgrade will be free to anyone running Windows 7 or higher.

The Pre-Windows 8 fans will feel like they’re back in their comfortable Windows OS wheelhouses.

I’m a definite Apple fan girl, and while Windows 10 doesn’t come close to being as fabulous as my beloved Mac OS, it’s definitely a step in the right direction for Microsoft.

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Top 11 UX & Design Tools of 2014

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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 = Fabulous).

Silverback App – Mac usability testing.

Slack – Completely streamline all of your team communications. It’s kind of magical.

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.

NotableApp – Great tool for detailed collaborative UX reviews.

Bonus Tool:

Spotify – Great music gets the creative juices flowing!

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Quality Product Design: Don’t Give Me What I Want… Solve My Problem.

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After being in the industry for years, I’ve discovered 2 important things:

A. Product Designers and UX Pros think differently than other humans.
B. Really skilled Product Designers and UX Pros see problems that need to be solved, not features that need to be added.

When a client steps forward and asks for a feature request, rather than saying, “Sure! Let me just toss that in here!” an experienced product designer says, “That is great feedback! Can you explain how you would apply that feature, and how it would improve your experience?”

Sometimes you come across companies who have a strong focus on integrating client feedback, but their products eventually implode and become so feature laden that they sink.  There are ways to integrate feature requests and take a user centered approach without destroying your product.

1. Listen to feedback clients throw your way with an interpretive ear, and don’t be afraid to dig deeper to identify underlying problems.

Listen beyond the words your clients are saying and the features they’re requesting, and get to the root of the problems they are trying to solve.

2. Sometimes feature requests are actually usability issues in disguise. 

We’ve had several situations where a client requested a new feature, and after some digging and discussion we discovered that an area of our product would solve the problem with some minor tweaking. There was just a usability stumbling block getting in their way.

3. Sometimes the product features clients request are actually new product offerings in disguise. 

“I wish the product would do this. If you’d add these features, I could use this to do Y.” All client feedback doesn’t have to be fed into a primary product, when the problems that need to be solved could be handled with a separate product with a laser focus. Bloating your flagship product with a million features will lead to client frustration. Creating a new product that solves a client problem with ease = gold.

4. Focus your energy on hearing the users’ needs not the users’ wants. 

“I want to be able to do this task more quickly” could really mean, “The feature I need to access needs to be in a more prominent position on the screen.” Or, it could mean, “The feature I need to access should be a standalone solution because it is part of my daily workflow and digging through a bloated product to find it is killing my experience.”

5. More features do not equal a better product. 

Products in their purest, simplest form, are a thing of beauty. Any designer in the world can create a product and snap a million features on top of it, and around it and under it. It takes a skilled product designer & UX pro team to pare down a product to its simplest form, until it’s a clean, elegant, easy to use solution.

So basically what I’m saying is, listen to your clients. Respond to your client needs. But don’t just give them what they ask for… solve their problems.

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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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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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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.

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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