Alfonso de la Nuez On The Role Of User Research In The Future

Alfonso de la Nuez started in the field of usability with his small services company in Spain and ended up in California co-founding the user research software firm UserZoom. Last year UserZoom customers conducted more than 12,000 user research projects.

In this episode of the Human Tech podcast we talk with Alfonso, the CEO of UserZoom, about the current state and likely future of user research and testing, what makes user research successful inside a large enterprise, and much more.

You can check out UserZoom here, and you can email Alfonso at alfonso@userzoom.com


Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

Mistakes People Make With Personas, And Why You Should Care

Logo for HumanTech podcastCreating personas before you design a product seems quaint and old-fashioned these days. In this Human Tech podcast episode we get UX-nerdy and talk about why we still think personas can be useful, how they help you design, and the mistakes that people make when they create personas.


Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

The ROI of User Experience

Logo for HumanTech podcastHow do you know if the work you are doing to improve the user experience of your product is worth the time and the effort? One of our most popular webinar topics is how to calculate the return on investment (ROI) of User Experience. So we decided to talk about it on this latest episode of the Human Tech podcast


HumanTech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

Why We Still Love User Testing

Logo for HumanTech podcastUser Testing as a way to get feedback from people about a product is still going strong. In this episode Susan quizzes Guthrie about the what and how of user testing, and talks about some of her fun and more memorable moments of the hundreds of tests she’s conducted.


HumanTech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

Updated Free Online Course: User Experience Fundamentals

At The Team W we’ve updated our free User Experience Fundamentals online video course. This latest version of the course has been filmed in our new studio. We’ve expanded and updated the content. The video clip below will give you an idea of what’s in the course.

You can get details on the course, preview some lessons, and/or register for the free course at our online video course website.  To see the catalog of all of our online video courses, go to the main catalog page. 

Top 10 Favorite UX And Usability Books

It’s been over a year since I wrote my last Top 10 book list for Usability and UX, so I decided it’s time to update the list.

Since I’m limiting the list here to 10, chances are high you have a favorite that I’ve not included. Let me know what your favorites are in the comments.

I have an Amazon affiliate account, so I’ve linked to the books on Amazon if you are interested in purchasing, or even just getting more info.

The list below is in no particular order:

1. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. This is a newer edition of the book. Steve is such a great writer (and an all round great guy!). He has a way of cutting through all the chatter and clutter and bringing out the essence of a topic. If you are going to get one book for your team to introduce them to human-centered design thinking, then this should be the book.

2. Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug is the other necessary book if you are doing usability testing. And you ARE doing usability testing, right? This book will teach you everything you need to know about how to plan and conduct a user test of your product.

3. Forms That Work by Caroline Jarrett and Gerry Gaffney. If you are designing anything that has a form: a web page, web app, software application, mobile app, or even a paper form, you must read this book. It’s practical and also conceptual — my favorite book on form design.

4. The User Experience Team of One by Leah Buley. I don’t agree with this title. Because this is a great book even if you are a UX team of 10! This is the best book I’ve found that walks you through processes, deliverables, and what you need to do in a very clear and readable way. Not ponderous. A really hands-on book.

5. Communicating the User Experience: A Practical Guide for Creating Useful UX Documentation by Richard Caddick and Steve Cable. In an era where many are calling for “lean UX”, and the end of the formal deliverable, I am going to be so bold as to say that there are many times and situations when you should create deliverables for communicating your user experience work, and luckily this book will show you how to do that. It’s practical and innovative at the same time. A must-read for practitioners who have to create deliverables for their projects.

6. Smashing UX Design: Foundations for designing online user experiences by Jesmond Allen and James Chudley. This book has everything. It will walk you through the idea of user centered design, teach you the details of how to do everything (stakeholder research, user research, wireframing, prototyping, user test, etc etc,) and then will show you how they did it with case studies. A great book for the UX practitioner, whether new or experienced.

7. Client Centric Web Design by Paul Boag. Have you ever had your design or UX project blow up? Misunderstandings with clients? Then you need to read this book. Paul takes the point of view of the client, not just the user. This book has critical advice for anyone who works on web design/UX design projects for clients. Unless you are only designing your own personal website, you need to read this book. It’s not available on Amazon, just through his site.

8. Measuring the User Experience by Tom Tullis and Bill Albert. Need metrics? Need numbers to back up your impressions? This is the go to book for everything measurable about the user experience. Really thorough and detailed.

9. Quantifying the User Experience: Practical statistics for user research by Jeff Sauro and James Lewis. The word “statistics” scares a lot of people. I love statistics, but I understand that many others don’t. Whether you love ’em or not, you should read this book. If you are friends with stats then you’ll enjoy the book. And if you’re not you really NEED to read it! Don’t be afraid. Jeff Sauro is a master at getting people to understand the why and how of stats for user experience.

10. UX For Lean Startups by Laura Klein. I have a lot to say about Lean UX. I’m a fan, but I also think there are misconceptions about what it means, where it comes from, how it’s different from “not lean” UX. I’ll leave you find out all my opinions in my Lean UX Workshop course! Let’s just say you should know about Lean UX. And this is the best book to learn it from.

 

Which makes 11!

(You might also be interested in my top 10 Psychology books to read.)

What are your favorites?

Obstacles To User Experience Success

Have you ever been the User Experience point person on a product team and found yourself explaining over and over again what it is you are actually doing? Working with a team that doesn’t “get” user experience is one of the obstacles to creating a great user experience.

I talk about that obstacle plus a few more, as well as what to do about them, in this video. It’s one lesson in my latest course course called “An Introduction To User Experience”. And the entire course is FREE.

Even if you are an experienced UX professional you might enjoy this video and the whole course.

In the video I talk about three obstacles:

  • Working with a team that doesn’t “get” what UX is
  • Being a UX team of One
  • Not having a high level advocate in the organization

What do you think? Have you experienced these obstacles? More? Others?

If you know someone who needs to learn about UX, what it is and why it’s important, point them to the free course on our TeamW Courses page!

New In-Person Courses

Picture of colored pencilsThere is something about September that makes us all want to sharpen our pencils and learn something new. And so we are very excited to announce the launch of 4 brand new in-person classes that we are offering in Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis, Edgar WI, and Washington DC. I’m teaching some of them, but we also have some of the BEST and most experienced instructors teaching some as well.

One-day courses:

  • Don’t Guess: Test! The Why, What, and How of User Testing (Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, Washington DC)
  • How to Design Intuitive and Usable Products Through User Research (St. Louis, San Francisco, Washington DC)
  • The Science of Persuasive and Engaging Design (Chicago and San Francisco) (

3-day Workshop:  Weinschenk Behavioral Science Workshop (Edgar, WI)

You can see a list of all the courses, dates, instructors, and locations at the Weinschenk Institute website, and link to detailed outlines.

To celebrate the course launch I’m writing a series of blog posts to highlight each course.

So here are 3 reasons why I’m excited about the Don’t Guess: Test! The Why, What, and How of User Testing course:

1) We’re partnering with UserTesting.com and they are going to provide us with FREE tests to use in the class, as well as giving every participant 3 FREE User Test Coupons to use after the class when you go back to your office to apply what you’ve learned.

2) With the free in-class test, you will conduct an actual user test during the course. You will decide what to test, who to test, write the test scenario and tasks, conduct the test, and watch the video.

3) Always wondered what to test? In this course you will learn how to write a usability specification and use that to guide you in deciding who to test, what to test, and what the success criteria should be. And you can use these usability specifications not only in user testing, but also in design.

The “Don’t Guess: Test!” course is intensive, hands-on interactive, and fun.

Text me at 847-909-5946 or send me an email at susan@theteamw.com by September 30, 2013, and I will give you a code to use during registration that will get you 25% off the course fee.

In the next post I’ll talk about the How to Design Intuitive and Usable Products Through User Research course.

Is UX a “Rose by any other name?”

roseI’m going to be somewhat honest here: I’m no “spring chicken”. I don’t know if I’m prepared to tell you exactly how old I am, but here’s a story that will give you some hints: When I was in graduate school I had to file a formal appeal with the dean of the graduate school in order to get approval to create and submit my dissertation on a computer rather than typing on a typewriter. That hadn’t been done before and they weren’t sure it would be allowed (they did allow it).

Suffice it to say that I’ve had a long career in my “field”. But even after all this time I, and many others, are still struggling with what the field is, what it is called, and how to describe what we do. You’d think we’d have had it figured out by now, but we apparently haven’t.

So what is it that I do anyway? I use psychology and brain science to predict and direct behavior. A lot of my history has to do with designing the interactions between people and technology. Because I’ve been in the field so long I pre-date the term “user experience”. In fact, I pre-date many terms, including: usability, user friendly, user-centered design. The term I, and many others, tend  to use most often is “user experience” but many object to the term “user”.  And ask 10 “user experience professionals” what they do and they will tell you 10 different things.

Jim Jacoby has a post at the admci website with a great video of Peter Merholz speaking at a conference about what user experience really is, and what the work really is. I don’t agree with everything Peter says, but it is a thought-provoking video, and it got me thinking not only what user experience people do, but about the term “user experience”.

I’d like to use a different term to describe what I do, but I’m not sure what that would be.

Customer experience doesn’t work because a lot of the experiences I am designing aren’t for customers. They might be for employees, or visitors. Is a museum visitor really a “customer”? I know the employees at Wal-Mart aren’t “customers”. And people going to their government website to do self-service are not really customers either. I’ve designed for all of these audiences, so “customer” doesn’t really work.

Then I thought perhaps I’d just describe it as “Experience Design” or “Behavioral Design”. But that brings us into the thorny area of what “design” means. Is it visual design? Interaction design? And sometimes I’m not even designing. I’m evaluating, or strategizing what the experience should or should not be. But the terms “Experience Strategy” or “Behavorial Strategy” seem just as bad as “User Experience”.

A rose by any other name is still a rose?

What do you think? How do you describe and name it?

 

 

What’s The Best Way To Train User Experience Professionals?

 

Woman standing in front of a blackboard with question marks

What’s the best way to get knowledge and skills to be a user experience professional? Can you learn it all on the job? Is there a role for education and classes? If there is, what kind of classes?

Should you try and get a college degree? (There are very few undergraduate schools, that actually have a degree in user experience. Some have some classes, and maybe a concentration, but few have a degree. Should you get an undergraduate degree in something else — anything related — and then get a master’s in HCI (Human-Computer Interaction).

What about short courses? Should you take a week or two of training from a vendor? Or take some online training classes?

I’ve been thinking about this question for many years. I’ve offered “industry training” (i.e., a week-long class), and I’ve offered mentoring programs. I recently taught a semester long class as an Adjunct Professor at University of Wisconsin. And the Weinschenk Institute has online video courses you can take to learn about user experience and user-centered-design topics.

So when my colleague Jim Jacoby (founder of Manifest Digital in Chicago) told me the other day that his new venture was The School for Digital Craftsmanship, I asked him to tell me more. And then after he told me about the user experience/user-centered design “school” he has started, I suggested we do a podcast interview about it.

Below you will find the 23 minute podcast interview.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on this link

Here are some of the topics we cover:

  • How a shortage of user experience/user-centered design professionals in his agency led him to start the School for Digital Craftsmanship
  • The idea of a “trade” school education for the field, that combines classroom study with practical experience
  • The first flagship courses that start this July (2013). They are 10 weeks long and meet a few nights a week, starting in Chicago and St. Louis.
  • What the application process is like, and what the experience will be like to attend.

As of this writing there are 12 spots still open for the classes starting in July, so if you are interested go to the School’s website: admci.org for more information.

What do you think? What’s the best way for people to get the education they need to do UX/UCD work?