Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 07:09  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX
There’s one major reason why designing for embedded devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) is challenging: there are few common design aspects shared across devices. No similar operating system platform or interactive modality, for instance.  User experience design for embedded devices is a vast frontier because there is a very open landscape with only a few settlements that are quickly evolving. Unlike designing for desktop computers or the web, anything from a growing family of possible technologies can be thrown at you, the designer. A device might feature physical buttons combined…
Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - 09:52  •  By Brandon Desormeaux  •  UX Design
“I will be there at home and then go to the gym and then I will send you the link to the video of the guy who was the guy.” This masterpiece was written by a robot — specifically, through the “top suggestions” in my SMS app. (I sent it to a friend without context. They are still rather confused). The message does not remotely reflect what I would type to someone. I don’t say “I will be there at home.” The last gym I went to was a jungle gym. And I don’t know who this “guy” is. Let’s face it, some things are better done by a human. Don’t get me wrong, automation isn’t all bad. It can…
Tuesday, August 14, 2018 - 08:46  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX Design, natural user interface (NUI), Graphical User Interface (GUI)
In the near future the majority of user experiences will be NUIs. I was at a user experience presentation about augmented reality. At the end of an interesting talk, as audience members were gathering belongings and checking phones, the person sitting beside me turns and says, “I don’t know. I prefer my GUI” while gesturing at his phone. I suppressed my design nerdiness to correct him, but in my head I was exclaiming “Technically, that’s not a GUI, it’s a NUI!” I know the gist of what he was saying was, “I like having a visual interface.” That’s ok. People use the term GUI — or graphical…
Tuesday, July 17, 2018 - 13:48  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX Design, design leadership
Short answer: usually. But it’s worth it. Here’s why. A friend of mine, who works in a field completely unrelated to new technology, recently asked me whether the advent of simple digital products and voice interaction would make the profession of user experience (UX) design obsolete. Clearly, he was assuming that a simple-appearing product indicates a simple design process. His is not a completely surprising question. Simple and elegant user experiences do appear to be effortless to achieve. The irony is that simple, elegant products often require more design effort than less-streamlined…
Monday, July 2, 2018 - 12:23  •  By Brandon Desormeaux  •  UX Design
At a previous job, my boss brought her four-year-old son to the office. He immediately thought I was the coolest person in the world. It could be my keen fashion sense or the fact that I was the only male in the office (#feminism). But it was probably because he is four and clearly hasn’t met enough people. Regardless, this development meant that I would end up playing babysitter and doing kid activities — not something I had originally looked forward to. But little did I know when he first “outside-voiced” that he wanted to color, it would be a transformative experience. If you’ve never…
Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 14:18  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX Design, design leadership, product design
We’ve become accustomed to minimalist design in app and web design. But with the Internet of Things (IoT), the trend in user experience (UX) design is toward even more extreme minimalism, at least on consumer side. Consider a few of the most well-known IoT products out there – FitBit, Nest Thermostat, Amazon Echo. They all have very simple interfaces, paired down to the most basic and necessary elements. The Rise of Super Minimalism Minimal UX design style gained momentum in the mid-2000s. This style is characterized by simplicity, clarity and functionality of every element with nothing…
Tuesday, June 5, 2018 - 10:25  •  By Brandon Desormeaux  •  UX Design
Yes. Ok, perhaps I should elaborate. If you were to pick any user experience (UX) blog right now and run a search, you’ll see one word repeated ad nauseum: empathy. This makes complete sense, as empathy really does get at the heart of what a UX designer does. (Although “empathy” in this sense relates to the user, clients are users as well, and in my opinion, the most important since they are the ones signing off on your design). Problem is, we often devalue or overlook the client’s opinion in defense of our own — which is the opposite of empathy! This all reminds me of my many years…
Friday, May 18, 2018 - 07:39  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, design leadership
Last week I implored you to include your stakeholders in the creative process in terms of UX design. Now I’m going to share proven ways to actually do that. Stakeholders can offer designers invaluable insight on a project, but often it’s tough to get them to speak in-depth to share their knowledge. Still, it's worth the effort to get them to share because their input can lead to a more effective design solution because you’ll understand thoroughly the problem you’re solving. It’s up to you to facilitate the right kinds of conversations to get stakeholders to address the nitty…
Friday, May 18, 2018 - 07:37  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, design leadership
Stakeholders — the people or groups with the power to affect (or are affected by) your project — often have valuable opinions and insight that can positively impact the design of the user experience (UX) on your project. Perhaps they’re domain experts in the subject area relevant to your project. Or the business owners who control project funding. Whether they’re innovators who champion your project or simply users who benefit from your design, their participation in the creative process can elevate your project’s success. Here’s why you should consider co-creating your next project with…
Friday, May 18, 2018 - 07:24  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, design leadership
Often, clients — project owners that come to us seeking user experience (UX) design expertise — have “pre-designed” their project to some extent before our kickoff meeting. This can be very helpful and we encourage it. It means they’ve already done a lot of thinking on their project so it’s easy to get the ball rolling. But this eagerness can be a double-edged sword. The problem is, if the project owner is convinced their approach is the correct direction, they’ll likely have little patience for the UX question-and-answer sessions typical at the start of every project. Plus, the project…
Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 08:36  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, design leadership
In user experience (UX) design, friction is understood to mean interactions that limit a person from achieving his or her goals in a digital interface in an easy and intuitive manner. For instance, say you’re buying something online. You want to edit your purchase right before the Confirmation screen but the website doesn’t seem to have an Edit or Back link so you bomb out and start your purchase over again. Friction is undesirable because it can cause users to abandon tasks or even eliminate a whole product from their suite of apps. Frictionless interaction has recently become a popular…
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 14:48  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX, product development, Agile
According to Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, you have just 30 seconds to capture someone’s attention. In terms of IoT devices, and mobile and desktop applications, that all-important first impression is driven by effective user experience (UX) design. Great UX makes a device or app appealing and easy to use. So, of course spending time on UX should be a priority when bringing that device or app to life. Right? Yes, but… Problem is, UX takes time. Often, that’s time stolen from software development, which is always the most complex aspect — the long pole — of any project. And that’s…
Friday, January 5, 2018 - 13:42  •  By Prashant Iyer  •  UX, Usability Testing, product design
Usability testing refers to the practice of evaluating a feature, product or service by testing it with representative users. From a user experience (UX) standpoint, this process helps designers understand whether the “product” — a software application’s user interface, for instance — is user-friendly. During a test, participants will try to complete typical tasks while observers watch, listen and take notes. The goal is to identify any usability problems, collect qualitative and quantitative data and determine the participant's level of satisfaction with the product. Ultimately, this data…
Thursday, December 21, 2017 - 13:33  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, design leadership, best practices
Using design best practices ensures your user experience (UX) design and development process is focused and efficient. These four best practices — ensuring visibility of the process, following logical steps, taking ownership of work, and communicating effectively — are a must for any successful UX team. Successful Collaboration Requires a Plan Team collaboration is always a challenge, both within a UX team itself and between UX designers, engineers and stakeholders. To be sure, you need effective working practices to achieve good outcomes. Process methodologies…
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 13:58  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, design leadership
You start a new design project. Quickly, you need to make some big decisions about the strategy, overall concept, information architecture and layout templates. And you have to follow up by making even more decisions. What interaction patterns will you use? What elements should have animations? What are the best colors and fonts for this project? These major decisions provide the foundation for your mockups and a spec. Since development has now begun, or is about to, you’re home free, right? Not so fast. As the designer, there are still a lot of smaller “micro” decisions you  need to…
Monday, October 2, 2017 - 11:00  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, design leadership
How do you keep stakeholders informed and included during a user experience (UX) design process? Short answer: Be generous with representations — sketches, mockups and prototypes — right from day one of the design process. Yes, that’s right. I’m telling you that, in the context of tight budgets and short deadlines, you should be generous with your skills and talents as a designer or developer. Rich representations are one of the hallmarks of an intelligent and successful design process. And, the surprising thing is that it can save your project from going over budget and past deadlines, by…
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - 07:56  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  ROI of UX Design, UX, UX Design
Thinking of building a new product, say a connected device or application? When a project is in the planning stage, one of the budgetary decisions revolves around the amount of time to allocate to design — specifically UX design — versus the time spent on software development.  Developers typically argue, often vehemently, that the lion’s share of the schedule should be dedicated to coding. Why? Because most software projects take longer than initially projected. Developers want the cushion of extra time just in case. But it is important to ask why these projects take longer than…
Monday, August 7, 2017 - 12:59  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, UI
People love beautiful things. Earthshaking information, right? What’s significant is that our appreciation extends beyond our conscious behavior. Over a decade ago, usability expert Don Norman made the argument in his book Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things that “attractive things work better.” What he was really saying, with clever word omissions, is that by human perceptions, attractive things appear to work better. Is this true? Probably. Imagine you’re examining a new product. You likely believe that if the developers paid great attention to detail on its…
Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 12:17  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX, Usability
The software industry is moving at a faster pace every day and the bar for quality has never been higher. When I graduated from college in 1989 a guy working in his garage could create a best-selling game. Today, that would take as many people working together as to create the average summer blockbuster movie. Why? Because expectations are so much higher. Today’s savvy consumer will quickly become dissatisfied with poor usability and move onto a competitor’s application. So you need to develop rapidly while maintaining the superior level of quality your customers expect.   How do you…
Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 10:43  •  By Scott Lozier  •  gamification, interactive games, trade shows, web
Have you ever watched the DVD extras where you get a peek at how a film was made? See a camera on a dolly moving in synch with the actors as they walk down the street? Or glimpse the behind-the-scenes process as a make-up artist transforms a regular guy into a cyborg? That’s what this blog is about. Ok, maybe no cyborgs. But, I will give you a backstage look at how my team created a custom interactive game for medical device company Boston Scientific. About the Game Boston Scientific wanted to showcase one of its products at an industry trade show, using a game format to engage…
Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 08:49  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX Design, UX design team
User experience (UX) designers and developers are different types of thinkers and approach the same problems from different vantage points. That can be a good thing if designers and developers can find synergy as they solve problems for users. Fortunately, over the past few decades both groups have become radically better attuned to the user. The awareness, knowledge, and research of users has increased steadily since the mid-century birth of the modern computer. Today, both designers and developers take humans more seriously in the equation of human/machine interaction. Still, there’s…
Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - 14:10  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX Design, IoT, medical device
For connected IoT devices — including smart home and medical devices — to be truly transformative they need to deliver a well-designed and intuitive user experience. Running. It’s my thing. My favorite form of exercise. A way to clear my head. Usually, running loves me as much as I love it. But not always. On a rainy day a few months back, while training indoors for a road race, I got into an altercation with a treadmill. Treadmill 1. Meniscus 0. Fast forward to April when I finally gave into the pain and went under the knife. My recovery had me couch-bound with just my Norwegian Elkhund…
Friday, April 14, 2017 - 11:54  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, design thinking, design leadership
As a lead designer in our company, I evangelize design thinking and model the behavior of a design thinker. As a career designer, it’s tough for me to not apply design thinking to everything I do. So when our sales team asks me to support the pre-sales process on a prospective customer project, I am as usual in design thinking mode. I’ve found it has a positive impact. Our own customers know that ICS is excellent at engineering as well as UX design, but they may not realize that we are actively applying design thinking to try to make our services and products, including our sales process,…
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 11:32  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX
Participants in ICS’ recent webinar UX Design for Software Engineers posed so many interesting questions I couldn’t get to all of them in my first post so I’m tackling a few more here. If you missed the webinar, you can watch it on demand here. What are some good UX tools? That is a very broad question since it covers many aspects of the UX process, and tools can range from the tried and true (pencil and paper) to the technical and sophisticated (eye tracking techniques). Like most UX designers today, we use the Adobe Suite for much of our visual design work. As far as specific design tools…
Friday, March 3, 2017 - 15:09  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, design thinking
I would posit that there are two types of workers: those who are mission driven and those who are not. Mission-driven workers care about the outcome of their work and make an effort to understand and track its impact. The latter group enjoys doing the work they have chosen to do but don’t wonder about its impact. I fall into the former type. As a UX designer, my personal mission is to design products that are highly useable and well loved. In my effort to make good products, I pay close attention to users. Really close attention, listening carefully to what they do with and say about their…
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 11:39  •  By Jim Connolly  •  UX, UX Design
People are impatient and distracted. You’re probably scrolling through your Instagram while reading this blog. Or replying to your boss’ email. Or ordering sushi. Point is, you’re busy and don’t have time to waste navigating hard-to-use sites, apps or touchscreens. Neither do the users you design for. That’s why when designing presentations for large-format touchscreens, your goal should be to make the user understand immediately how to navigate. If the interface requires instructions, it is too complicated. Cleverly conveying interactivity is key. The Role of Design Affordance Donald…
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 09:06  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX, UX Design
Participants in ICS’ recent webinar UX Design for Software Engineers posed a slew of interesting questions. I'm tackling a few here. Look for an upcoming blog with answers to even more of your UX-themed questions. You recommended designing for 80% of users but isn't that a lowest-common-denominator approach? Won't a UI designed for a 65-year-old frustrate a 20-year-old digital native, for example? This is a question designers wrestle with often. Like all technical problems, there are a lot of "it depends on..." parts to answer this. You have to consider many aspects of your…
Tuesday, February 7, 2017 - 08:33  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, design thinking
As a designer I love to create highly usable, beautiful interfaces. In fact, design thinking pervades every aspect of my work life. Empathy, sustainability, effectiveness and aesthetics are parameters that inspire any activity that I take part in, whether it’s managing staff, preparing proposals or contributing to business strategy. When people talk about design-centric or design-driven companies, they’re referring to businesses that apply design thinking throughout their operations. Why would a company want to do that? (Cue sucking sound of money flying out the window.) Because it can…