Archives For Experience Design

I was noodling this idea early last year, and shared it with a local Austin company that deals in ratings for retailers. They nodded and said, yeah, yeah, we are already going to do that, it is nothing new. But I guess I am not shopping at the right places, because I have yet to experience this type of personalization while shopping for clothes online.

The problem in shopping for clothes online- I don’t want to see all the merchandise in a stores, just the clothes/lingerie/swimwear that will look great on me. If the store knew my measurements (they can collect it at account creation time or when I leave a review), and the measurements of other reviewers, they could just show me clothes that were highly rated by other women with my shape. This concept isn’t new, Netflix built an empire on it, but why hasn’t it extended to other e-tailers?

For example, when I land on AnnTaylor.com, it should show me 5 shirts and 5 pants that are perfect for me with a big “Add All to Cart” button. Throw in some matching shoes and accessories and I just dropped $1k in 5 minutes. Done! Happy retailer, happy shopper.

Oh, and make sure to follow up with an email when new items are rated highly by my same shaped peeps- odds are good you’ll hook me for another purchase or two.

Who’s going to do this first? Gap, Nordstrom’s Victoria’s Secret, David’s Bridal, anyone game to beta test this and watch the revenue spike? I’d be happy to help with the UX design.

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at the Mobile UX Summit along with Josh Clark, Brad Frost and some other inspirational guys. My talk was a case study of Silvercar, a start-up we led the UX design for last year. The talk explores how and why we took a Mobile First approach to the design part of the project. It also illustrates the process and deliverables for each stage in a cross-channel UX design project. 

I’m going to re-record and post the audio as well in the next week.

In the name of research, I spent 6+ weeks away from my Android and used a Windows 8 phone. Last time I tried this in 2011, it was a huge failure. The hardware was faulty, the app selection tiny, and I couldn’t take any screenshots.

Things have improved, and this stint with the Windows 8 Phone wasn’t too bad. But the apps in general are about 2 years behind in design maturity compared to android and iOs apps.

That said, I did find some exceptional apps that I wanted to share with fellow mobile designers & developers:

CocktailFlow

CocktailFlow_menu

CocktailFlow_search

CocktailFlow_search_results

CocktailFlow_recipe

CocktailFlow_community

CocktailFlow_similar

CocktailFlow_MyBar

CocktailFlow_cabinate_mixers

Why is this a great Windows Phone App?

CocktailFlow follows the spirit of the UX guidelines for Windows while incorporating some unique design elements like the visual representation of My Liquor Cabinet.

Available here

Brit + Co

BritBRITCO_browse_tiles

BRITCO_

BRITCO_article

BRITCO_drilldown

BRITCO_health

BRITCO_hot

BRITCO_share

Why is this a great Windows Phone App?

Like many content sites, Brit + Co has a deep hierarchy, which can be a challenge to create a clear navigation strategy for. But they have perfectly implemented the structure and navigation recommend for Windows Phone Apps. Get familiar up on the design guidelines here.

Available here

Maluuba

Maluuba_restaurants

Maluuba_explore

Maluuba_myday

Maluuba_restaurant

Maluuba_set_alarm

Maluuta_reminders

maluuba_calendar

Maluuba_search

Why is this a great Windows Phone App?

Maluuba is an example of a productivity tool (versus a content application like Brit +Co) that has done a fantastic job implementing the structure and navigation recommend for Windows Phone Apps.

Available here

NewEgg

NewEgg_home

NewEgg_item_added_to_cart

NewEgg_Guided_Search

NewEgg_price_filter

NewEgg_advanced_search

NewEgg_comparison

NewEgg_results_filtered

NewEgg_sort

Why is this a great Windows Phone App?

This is hands down the best Windows retail application. Everything from the shopping cart to the guided search and advanced search are well designed both from a IA and IX perspective. They also offer a nice “compare” feature. Amazon and other retailers who are struggling with the new Windows guidelines should consider redesigning their application with NewEgg as a model.

Available here

SkyScanner

skyscanner_mobile_web

skyscanner_select_destination

skyscanner_search

skyscanner_departure_times

skyscanner_filters_more

skyscanner_results

skyscanner_overview

skyscanner_filters

skyscanner_select_flights

Skyscanner_booking

Why is this a great Windows Phone App?

Typically Kayak, Expedia and more recently Hipmunk have had the best mobile apps, but I was surprised to find this little gem for my Windows Phone. Love the simple booking process and the nice visualization of the pricing for selecting the legs of the flight. The only place it falls down is at the end, it redirects to the SkyScanner mobile site to book, but it doesn’t remember any of data that was just entered in the native app.

Available here

Hipstamatic Oggl

hipstamtic_filters

Hipsomatic_image

Hipsomatic_library

hipstamatic_profile

Why is this a great Windows Phone App?

I included Hipstamatic because it is a choice example of an app that deviated from the Windows Design Guide to structure their custom controls. The current guidelines do not accomodate nested or contextual tools, but Hipstamatic created an elegant, intuitive touch solution.

Available here

TOSHL

Toshl_welcome

Toshl_signup

Toshl_login

Toshl_contextual_help

Toshl_setup

Toshl_add_expense

Toshl_expense_detail

Toshl_setup_reminder

Why is this a great Windows Phone App?

Great onboarding experience for a productivity tool centered on a topic most people would rather not be dealing with (bookkeeping, bill pay, finances, ick…).

Available here

ESPN Hub

ESPNHUB

ESPNHUB_scores

ESPNHUB_gamecast

ESPNHUB_the_latest

ESPNHUB_menu

ESPNHUB_top_videos

Why is this a great Windows Phone App?

I included Espn Hub because of the way they intermingled the suggested Windows navigation structure with a custom menu control that slides out on the left. It is similar to the off canvas control seen in other OSs in apps including Path and Facebook.

Available here

HungryNow

Hungry_NowHungryNow_about

HungryNow_map_view

HungryNow_starbucks

HungryNow_starbucks_details

HungryNow_settings

Why is this a great Windows Phone App?

Hungry Now is one of the very few apps that was originally designed for the iPhone that ports quite well to Windows (and could work fine on Android and BlackBerry too). Granted it is a single screen interface so they aren’t struggling with the hierarchal challenges most other apps face, but they have designed a simple touch interface that is OS neutral.

Available here

And of course, the usual suspects: Facebook Beta, LinkedIn, Evernote, Pandora, UrbanSpoon, Amazon Fresh… Check out the presentation on Slideshare and see the rest. Even if you’re not working on a Windows app now, you might be inspired.

If I’ve missed any great ones, please share it with me and you’ll be added to a drawing for a free copy of the Mobile Design Pattern Gallery 2nd Edition.

UXApprenticeUX Apprentice is a joint project with the great folks at Balsamiq. Last year they asked me to create a resource for their millions of users who are not UX practitioners. As you’ve probably noticed, everybody uses Balsamiq now days to mockup products: developers, product owners, entrepreneurs, marketing teams, etc.

UX Apprentice is for you. We knew you didn’t have time to read the hundreds of books out there, and might not know which ones to start with even if you did have the time. So we wrote a little story, or study, of UX in practice, and added some theory and additional resources along the way.

If you have any questions or feedback you’d like to share, please let me know so we can improve this site over time.

Hiring Top UX Talent

March 9, 2013 — 3 Comments

Every company I’ve spoke with in the past 6m-1yr has mentioned that they just can’t find, much less hire, top UX talent. As one of the aforementioned “talents”, I’d like to share some advice to help companies with their recruiting efforts.

Hiring Do’s

1. Bone up on the terminology

I know there are a bunch of acronyms in the field, UX, UI, UCD, IA, IX, XD, etc.. but you wouldn’t think of just posting an add for a “Developer”, you’d take the time to specify that you want an experienced Java Developer with JSP, Spring, Soap and MVC experience. 

2. Understand the space

UX isn’t graphic design and it isn’t web design and it isn’t (just) making wireframes. An experienced UX practitioner will guide you from research to product launch. They should be part of your strategy team, not brought in at the tail end of the design phase to tidy up the wireframes. 

If you are hiring a consultant, they should want to be part of your team through  launch (and afterwards too). UX isn’t about a hand-off, it is a cornerstone of your project’s success.

3. Skip posting on the generic job boards 

Every qualified (and unqualified) designer I know is too busy to be pouring over the job boards. Reach out to leaders in the UX field and ask for recommendations. Try the UX groups on LinkedIn or the industry specific associations like the UXPA. 

4. Pursue the best fit

Since it is already a tight market, might as well shoot for the stars. If you have a big data visualization project, seek out a UX designer who is passionate about data visualization (like me). Research those designers and try to win one for your project. 

I am more likely to work with a company who takes the time to look at my portfolio before calling, just like they would expect me research their company if I was pursuing them. 

5. Request a portfolio

A UX designers portfolio might not be flashy like a creative director’s will be, but it should showcase their process and deliverables in the context of a projects success. 

6. Do due diligence

I have been suckered in by a gorgeous portfolio more times than I would like to admit, only to find out later the person was only tangentially involved in the project. I have now learned to ask these questions:

  • What role did you play in this project?
  • How long were you involved (2 of the 6 months, start to finish, still working on it)? 
  • Who else was on your team?
  • What process did you use? 
  • Can I contact your creative director, team member, manager, client, etc… for a recommendation?

7. Know the nuances

If you are creating enterprise applications, a UX designer with web site experience probably isn’t a good fit. Look for someone with enterprise and BtoB experience. Conversely if you are working on a mobile app based on community building an enterprise UX designer won’t have the background of experience you need.

There are also specific roles in the UX field, like UX researcher. This is a vital role, but don’t expect your researcher to be a top notch mobile designer too (and vise versa). I have built our my team to have complimentary skills and we pair up based on the product space, and specific project needs.

8. Take a test drive

If the candidate doesn’t have a case study in their portfolio  take a small problem that you may have already solved and ask the candidate how he would approach it as the UX designer.*

*I am not suggesting you try to get free design work as part of the interviewing process, just test the designer like you would test a programmer. 

Hiring Don’ts

And now what not to do

1. Use a recruiter that has no idea what UX is

I have dozens of examples of being contacted by a recruiter who is hiring for a high level position but doesn’t know what UX is. They either think it is something to do with development or graphic design. Hard to have a conversation with this person…

2. Use a recruiter at all

Just got an email yesterday from a company that I would love to work with, but the recruiter suggested I would be great for their UX design as a “junior designer”. Seriously? Conversation over before it even started.

3. Offer 1/2 the going rate

A major hardware company called me a couple of months ago about a UX director role. They are “re-imagining” their whole user experience from soup to nuts. I was intrigued until we discussed the $$. They were paying 1/3  of the going rate. 

4. Think the ‘X’ in UX stands for seXy

So you’ve followed all these pointers and have top talent on the phone or across the table, don’t blow it by telling them you want to design a “sexy” app. The X stands for Experience, and the U for Users. 

The only way to blow your users socks off is to talk with them , get in their heads, and craft an experience that improves their life. Unless you are in the adult entertainment business or fashion, your users are not looking for “sexy”, they  are just desperately hoping for something that makes their life easier or more enjoyable. 

5. Want to start tomorrow

Again, every qualified (and unqualified) designer I know is booked, so please, please PLAN AHEAD. Bare minimum the candidate will need two weeks to wrap up their current project, more if they are leading it. 

But even more importantly, unreasonable timelines are a red flag for any project. I am forever perplexed by companies that call me and want me to start “yesterday”. It typically means the whole project is going to be run poorly and subject to knee jerk decisions during critical phases.

Wrap Up

My recommendations are similar to many other lists already out there, just scoped to the field of UX and my own personal experiences. And remember tip #3, I’d be happy to refer you to designers who might be a good fit for your projects, so reach out to me.

Presented at the IT Leaders Forum- Executive Networks. 20 minute intro used to start a discussion on mobile strategy. Number #1 biggest mistake, not knowing what options are out there and how to pick the correct ones for your organization. Number # 2 biggest mistake- stopping there. This talk includes some great examples from retail, subscription based services, and service design, and an example of a company in the danger zone.

Earlier this month, I presented an updated talk on Mobile Strategy for Servoy. This one hour talk looks at the 3 options for a mobile strategy: Responsive Web, Mobile Optimized, and/or Native. I also explained why HTML5 is not a strategy; it is merely a technology you can use to implement any and all of these options. And we briefly discussed the three faces of Mobile First and how this methodology helps companies break out of old habits to create better customer experiences.