Transitioning to UX

One of the best questions to get to know a fellow UX-er is “what was your major?” The answers are often unexpected, and tell you more about the person you’re speaking with, as well as more about the field of UX.

My answer, of course, is theater. For most people, this sounds like the exception to the rule. But there is no content strategy major. Not even a major that “most” content strategists studied in college.

Everyone finds their own way to UX. My story is just one example, one possible journey. Continue Reading


Live from Big Design: Agile and the Elusive Big Picture

Agile and the Elusive Big Picture: How Storymapping Brings UX into the Agile Framework, by Elisa Miller

big-design-logo-300x126Where do user stories come from? Elisa read User Story Mapping, by Jeff Patton, and went to find everything else he read. She felt that it helps get developers out of the weeds. It’s not difficult, but it’s really useful to do story mapping to understand the big picture for agile.

A story map is a way of connecting user stories and organizing them. Continue Reading


Live from Big Design: Don’t Make a Journey Map

Don’t Make a Journey Map, by Shahrzad Samadzadeh

big-design-logo-300x126This is not an aspirational talk, or a formula to follow. It is a review of common journey map archetypes.

When Sha figured out that she could make a journey map based on needs and findings, she realized they could be really useful! However, after working on Adaptive Path’s guide to Experience mapping, she was hired to “make a journey map.” She was no longer a designer, just a journey mapper. Journey maps aren’t a good end goal, they’re a tool. Continue Reading


Journey Maps for Content Strategy

When we talk about “strategy” it can mean a lot of different things:

  • Creating a set of plans for creating and promoting content over time
  • Setting up a plan for a content migration and content governance
  • Defining the content touch points for a user’s experience with an application or site

The first two fall clearly under the guise of “content strategy.” But the third falls in that nebulous “user experience.” Let’s explore the value of a content strategist on a UX project, specifically when it comes to identifying audience touch points. Continue Reading


Should We Use Video?

Following a handful of stakeholder meetings, one of my coworkers recently gave me a heads up that we should concentrate our content creation around videos. I was a little surprised to hear that, since we hadn’t spoken to end-users yet. As we discussed the situation, it became clear that these were the main reasons the client felt we should focus on video content:

  • Their team had already invested a lot of money in videos.
  • It’s easier to track user engagement on videos than for articles, because you can see both the number of views and how far into the video they watched.
  • Someone high up in the organization had expressed the strong opinion that videos are more fun than other forms of content.

None of these are good reasons. Continue Reading


Live from UXPABoston: Designing for Behavior Change

Designing for Behavior Change: New Models, New Directions, Panel

UXPAQ: What are we talking about when we talk about behavior change?

A’s: Helping people to form habits and behavior that is beneficial to the person. We want to create something sustainable, and also do something ethical and improves peoples lives. There’s literature and theory about social psychology in UX about helping to change people’s behavior  in a way that’s productive and beneficial to them.

When we talk about behavior change models, we mean the ways that people have identified to change behavior. Most of the models are agnostic – not specific to any one behavior. If they weren’t agnostic, then you’d never be able to learn them all. Instead, these are ways to use historical research (from Skinner/Pavlov up to Nir Eyal and BJ Fogg) for best practices that help people do something, even if they don’t act in the exact right way the model suggests.

These models are as much explanations of why people behave the way they behave as ways to help them change.

Q: How does this work in real life, with actual techniques?

A: One term used often is “practice.” That how behaviors become engrained over time. The question becomes: can we allow success to be the thing that sustains, and turns external motivation into intrinsic?

You start with information: are the people educated in what about this is good for them? Then motivation: do they want to do it? Then skill: do they know how to do it?

You also look at how to shift from extrinsic motivation (money, gifts, prizes), in intrinsic – what are their intrinsic motivators? Are they social, or success-based, or something else?

You also need to figure out the connection between what’s done in the app and what happens outside the app. If the goal is to get the person to fill their prescriptions, how do we get from doing something in the app to actually filling their prescription?

In other words, you start with a model, but when the user starts to be “non compliant” with the model, switch to techniques to understand how to help them.

Q: As a designer, how do you identify what might go wrong?

A: I go through a sort of rolodex of key terms, like motivation and other common issues. There’s no one best model. It pushes you beyond where you typically go.

We also need to know to be realistic about the adoption rate, given what we know.

Bonus: Resources!

An overview of influential behavior change theories

  • Learning Theories, BF Skinner; Ivan Pavlov
  • Health Belief Model, Irwin Rosenstock
  • Social Cognitive Theory, Albert Bandura
  • Transtheoretical Model, James Prochaska & Carlo DiClemente
  • Information/Motivation/Behavioral Skills Model, Jeffrey Fisher & William Fisher
  • Fogg Method, B.J. Fogg
  • Hooked Model, Nir Eyal



Live from UXPA: Sartre and the lab monkey

Sartre and the lab monkey: What philosophy and neuroscience can teach us about UX, by Manuel Ebert

UXPAThe hammer is just a thing in the outside world.

When I pick up the hammer, I think of it as part of my hand. I don’t think of my hand manipulating the hammer, I think of the hammer hitting the nail into the wall. Same when I use a pen to write. Ready-at-hand. (Heidegger)

Affordances: the seat of a chair affords us to sit on it.

In other words, we’re all natural-born cyborgs. We incorporate objects into our movement – it’s what defines us as a species. Continue Reading


Live from UXPA: Wear your words: wearables & speech design Kristen Deveau

Wear your words: wearables & speech design, by Kristen Deveau

UXPANuance Communications (where Kristen works) works with speech capability.

Today she’ll be talking about:

  • Speech capability within wearable devices
  • Speech as one of many solutions

Form factors – how do we interact with different devices? Start by thinking about tablets and phones (handset screens). They have screens. Wearables, however, have very small or even no screens. Continue Reading


Live from JBoye: Raising the Bar on Customer Experience

jboyeRaising the Bar on Customer Experience, by Scott Liewehr

A customer journey is a series of steps a customer goes through, including multiple touch points and actions. There are multiple journeys across a customer lifecycle. We need to improve the lifecycle.

Customer service

  • Think of a barber shop: it gets better every time, the more they get to know you, and that builds loyalty
  • A customer is a constituent, employee, prospect, member, student, patient, donor, etc
  • What is it?
    • Key business differentiator
    • Highly personal (one person hates an airline, another loves it) based on individual experiences
  • What is it not?
    • Technology (there’s no magic bullet)
    • Personalization
    • Easy
    • Monumentally difficult Continue Reading

One Chance to Make a First Impression

“Brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” -Jeff Bezos (Amazon)

The first interview at a new company is the only time, as a new (prospective) employee, that you get to make a first impression. But more importantly, it’s the only time the company has an opportunity to make a first impression on you. As a freelancer, I’ve had many “first impression” experiences, and they’ve nearly always served as precursors to my experience with the company itself.

  • The company that consistently called 2-3 days later than they said they would was just as thoughtless when employees were sick or needed to schedule a meeting around a doctor’s appointment.
  • The company that was ready to start my interview 5 minutes early (leaving me without the extra time I’d been banking on to get a quiet moment!) was shockingly punctual, but also cared more about timeliness than preparedness.
  • The team that made a point of asking thoughtful questions and discussing UX design in general during the interview kicked off my first day with productive, interesting meetings that both brought me up to speed on projects and made use of the time by giving the other team members a new set of eyes (mine) to run ideas by.

Food for thought.