Archive Page 3

UX *IS* all about the Technology

Well, ok – not really – but the idea i’d like to explore with this provocative title is that the U in UX, standing for User and being rooted in HCI and digital history as it is, means that UX is a term and discipline that is concerned with those human experiences that have a significant digital aspect to them.

Whitney Hess’ excellent article 10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design includes a quote from Bill DeRouchey, director of interaction design at Ziba Design, “User experience design is not limited to the confines of the computer. It doesn’t even need a screen”. Whitney herself then says, “Really, a user experience designer could help to improve a person’s experience with just about anything — a doorknob, a faucet, a shopping cart. We just don’t typically refer to the people using those things as “users,” but they are”.

Well, we could refer to someone using a light-switch or a doorknob as a “user”, but we don’t, and when was the last time someone designing a doorknob referred to themselves as a User Experience Designer?

Now if we drop “User” and just referred to “Experience Design” we could make a case for this being a discipline that transcends mediums – think Disney imagineers for example.

Thinking about the human experience is not the exclusive domain of UX, other design disciplines like Architecture, Landscape Design, and Industrial Design to name just a few, have been doing it for decades or centuries. UX is simply applying that thinking to experiences where there is a significant digital element.

P.S. I forgot to mention that it was this article in UX Magazine that prompted me to write this.

Is Letter-writing becoming a lost art?

This afternoon I did a letter-writing exercise with my 7-year old son as part of his Phonics/Spelling curriculum. It taught correct usage and formatting of the Header, Greeting, Body, Closing and Signature. Now i’m all in favor of learning the basics of many things and getting a good foundational education – but I started to wonder if it would be at all relevant to him in 14 or 15 years when he’s looking for (or working in) his first job. Will anyone write physical & formal letters anymore, or is letter-writing slowly becoming a lost art?

The Characteristics of UX at the IA Summit

Last weekend I showed the Characteristics of User Experience poster at the IA Summit in Phoenix. Included are a couple of characteristic name changes, a new characteristic – “responsiveness” and a new “grocery shopping” full example. Here’s the PDF (this is the full-size poster).

Making a small boy very, very happy

A big thank-you to those of you who sang Happy Birthday to my son Alex during my talk at the IA Summit this weekend.  He was thrilled to see it and asks to watch it constantly.  You made a small boy (and a big one) very happy.

P.S. Adam, Alex and Abby are the names of my three kids and I now know an @AdamTheIA and an @Abby_the_IA (who is completely awesome, #justsayin). So i’m on the lookout for an @AlexTheIA to complete the set!

Experience Strategy: Dealing with a UX mid-life crisis

Here’s the presentation that I gave at Adaptive Path’s Mx conference and that Rob Weening and I gave at the IA Summit. The summit version had a couple of extra slides in it so thats the version i’ve used below, the audio is also from the summit.

Ok, so apparently Slideshare is now broken for some embeds (among many other things) so try this direct link.

The worst “alternate language” directions ever

This afternoon I opened a science kit that my 7 year old received for his birthday and saw, quite possibly, the worst designed (if you can even call it “designed”) set of alternate language directions ever.  So bad that I felt compelled to share them here.

Has Wegmans lost that loving feeling?

I love Wegmans. Its the grocery store to top all grocery stores. I even take visitors from the UK to the one in Allentown to marvel at their selection of fish, meat and baked goods (my mum and dad in particular love looking around it). I’ve always had one criticism of the Allentown store though – while its a very nice brick building – it’s a few years old and is always very crowded, the aisles are quite narrow and the store has a somewhat haphazard layout. So I was very excited when they opened a new store in Collegeville, just 20 minutes away (and another one is planned right next to my work in Valley Forge).

When I went to the Collegeville store yesterday though, I was actually a little disappointed. Oh the food is just as good i’m sure, but as I was shopping I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was bothering me, then it hit me as I was leaving … you see the new store feels much bigger, there’s more room in the aisles, its a big, square, modern building (steel with a brick face i’m sure) with a high roof, its layout is very straightforward – no little corners with specialty food hidden away – and I found that I was missing the crowded aisles, the pleasant surprise upon rounding a corner and finding an unexpected section of international food, the lower ceiling and more intimate decor. In fact, on reflection the new building felt a bit like an (albeit nice) warehouse, and I really don’t think that’s the image Wegmans is going for. Be careful Wegmans, think about your overall experience … a lot of people don’t go to your stores just to buy nice food, they go for the experience!

I’m in love with my MFD

mfdIts not often that I fall in love with a piece of technology, especially office equipment! However, I recently fell head over heels with something we’ve just introduced at work. A while ago our photocopiers were replaced with newer models – but when it happened they behaved the same – just dumb copiers (although I do like the automatic stapling!). A couple of weeks ago though, they enabled them as fully functional Multifunctional Devices (MFD) – I can now print from my computer to a single print queue and then go to any MFD in the company, swipe my ID card and get my printouts (collated and stapled!) – duplex, full color (great quality!) and 11×17 as well. I love this! Wow I need to get out more.

Fishing for Users

Here’s a quick UX analogy that resurfaced at work today (I think I first used it a year or two ago). “Don’t use the fishing net with small holes first, you might catch the dolphins by mistake.”

Lets say you have two sets of users – the “experts” who don’t want help and just want the data, and the “beginners” who need help, but might not realize it. You want to satisfy them both on the same page with (a) the data and (b) some help – which of the two – (a) or (b) do you put in the most prominent position on the page?

Of course there are no absolutes in UX design, but if the beginners are the dolphins and the data is the small net, putting the data in the most prominent position will satisfy your experts but will also catch your beginners who think they want it. However, if you put your big net (the help) first, it’ll catch the dolphins (beginners) and let the experts who know they don’t want it through to get to the data.


Ok, I decided to create a new blog, to explore this idea of the Characteristics of UX and to provide case studies and examples (the first case study is up now). If you have ideas or suggestions for examples that you’d like me to explore, check it out and leave me a comment! (oh and I created a twitter account too).