Design For Engagement Live Video event

Join me on June 5th at 12 noon EDT for a FREE live video event via Livestream.

Design for Engagement Live Website Critiques

Wed Jun 5, 2013 12:00pm  — 1:00pm EDT

Come join me in a free live online video event. I’ll be taking website suggestions from the audience and then discussing–on the spot–how to improve the persuasion and engagement of the various websites. While I’m reviewing and discussing each website, you’ll be participating through chat that all participants can see and respond to. We’ll review as many websites as we can get to 20 minutes and then we’ll have lots of time for Q&A. Email your suggestions to me (susan@theteamw) for websites you’d like to see reviewed ahead of time or put them in the comments here, and don’t miss this fun and educational opportunity.

To join the free Livestream event all you have to do is go to the Livestream event page on June 5th, at 12 noon Eastern US time. That’s it! No registration is necessary.

In the meantime, go to the event page now and you can click a link to put the event in your calendar, or follow the event for updates.

I hope you will join me, and don’t forget to submit ideas for the websites that will get the engagement critique, either here in the comments or email me at susan@theteamw.com

 

Should Technology Follow Human-To-Human Communication Rules?

What do we expect when we communicate with technology? Do we expect that the technology will communicate with us following the same rules as when we communicate with other people? The answer is yes, and I explain the implication of this in this video excerpt from my Design For Engagement online video course.

Below the video is a summary of what I discuss in the video.

When people interact with each other they follow rules and guidelines for social interaction. Here’s an example: You are sitting in a café and your friend Mark comes into the café and sees you sitting by the window. Mark comes over to you and says, “Hi, how are you doing today?” Mark expects you to interact with him, and he expects that interaction to follow a certain protocol. He expect you to look at him, in fact to look him in the eye. If your previous interactions have been positive, then he expects you to smile a little bit. Next, you are supposed to respond to him by saying something like, “I’m fine. I’m sitting outside here to enjoy the beautiful weather.” Where the conversation goes next depends on how well you know each other. If you are just casual acquaintances, he might wind down the conversation, “Well, enjoy it while you can, bye!” If you are close friends, then he might pull up a chair and engage in a longer conversation.

You both have expectations of how the interaction will go, and if either of you violates the expectations, then you will get uncomfortable. For example, what if Mark starts the conversation as above, with “Hi,how are you doing today?” but you don’t respond. What if you ignore him? Or what if you won’t look at him? What if you say back, “My sister never liked the color blue”, and stare into space. Or perhaps you give him more personal information than your relationship warrants. Any of these scenarios would make him uncomfortable. He would probably try to end the conversation as soon as possible, and likely avoid interacting with you next time the opportunity arises.

Online Interactions Have the Same Rules — The same is true of online interactions. When you go to a website or use an online application, you have assumptions about how the website will respond to you and what the interaction will be like. And many of these expectations mirror the expectations that you have for person-to-person interactions. If the website is not responsive or takes too long to load, it is like the person you are speaking to not looking at you, or ignoring you. If the website asks for personal information too soon in the flow of the interaction, that is like the other person getting too personal. If the website does not save your information from session to session, that is like the other person not recognizing you or remembering that you know each other.

Designers tend to spend a lot of time on “macro” design — layout, color, grids, navigation, as well they should, since those are important. But it is often the “micro” interactions that determine whether or not a product or website is easy to use. Can you fill in the form quickly? Does the label make sense? Is the button in the right place? Did you just get an error message that is undecipherable? Sometimes the micro interaction design doesn’t get as much time or attention, and it is very possibly the micro interactions that are defining the user experience of the product or service.

Give Me Your Opinion — What Should Be My Next Online Video Course?

QuestionMarkIn April 50 people signed up to take one of my online video courses that I offer through Udemy.com. A big thank you to those who have signed up for a course. I have enjoyed putting these together, and the feedback I’m getting is that they are helpful and that people are learning a lot by taking them.

Now I need YOUR feedback on what the next courses should be that I develop.

Currently I have these four courses:

 

Task Analysis Boot Camp Course Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Personas & Scenarios Course Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secrets of Intuitive Design Course Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designing For Engagement

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m working right now on this course:

Great Presenter

 

 

 

 

 

 

which will be ready in a few weeks.

Now the question is, what’s next?

I have a lot of ideas (in fact I have a whole list of courses in the queue, but I haven’t started them). Give me your opinion. What online video courses are you interested in taking that I should consider developing?

Write your ideas in the comments area, or send an email to susan@theteamw.com

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Top 10 Best Usability, and UX Books You Should Read

Part of the work I do is to consult, mentor and teach how to design technology products so that they better fit how people work, think, and play. The teams I work with often ask me for my ideas on the best books to read in this field. So I thought I’d update my list of favorite usability and user experience books.

There are lots of great books these days, and I’m limiting the list here to 10, so chances are 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. 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. Usable Usability: Simple Steps For Making Stuff Better by Eric Reiss. Eric combines what usability is, why it’s important, and how you do it, in one easy to read book. Give this book to anyone who needs to understand an overview of usability concepts in an interesting and practical way. Written with wit and clarity.

 

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. Card Sorting by Donna Spencer. This is a little book and just about one topic, card sorting, but it’s a great book and worth reading and having on your bookshelf if you need to learn about the user research technique of card sorting. It also has lots of great information about user research in general.

and one more bonus book: I hope you forgive me, but I’m going to recommend my own book: 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People.

Which makes 11!

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

What are your favorites?

A Podcast With Paul Boag — Author of Client Centric Web Design

Picture of Paul Boag
Paul Boag

Picture of Paul Boag

I was sitting in the audience in Newcastle, UK in April 2012, and Paul got up on the stage to talk. About 5 minutes into the talk I was sending him an email asking if he would be willing to do a podcast. That’s how good his talk was.

It may sound obvious that we need to take client needs and wants into account when we do website design, but that’s not all Paul covers in his book Client-Centric Web Design, and that’s not all we talked about during our podcast.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on this link It’s 30 minutes in length. Here’s a sampling of what we talk about:

  • The relationship between client-centric vs. user-centered design
  • How you communicate with the client affects the success of your project — what to do and not do
  • How to manage client expectations
  • Why and how collaboration with the client affects your project
  • Why limiting the number of iterations is a bad idea
  • Why clients get nervous and how to avoid it
  • Why structured feedback is critical, and how to do it
  • Why you should never ask your client “What do you think?”

If you work on web design projects of any kind, I suggest you listen to this podcast!

Here’s more info on Paul’s book, and here is Paul’s website.

 

 

 

 

Photography And The User Experience: A Podcast With James Chudley

Photo of The Brain Lady with James Chudley
James Chudley and The Brain Lady in Bristol UK for the podcast interview

What is the role of photography in the user experience of websites? James Chudley and I explore this topic in a podcast. James is the (co)-author of Smashing UX Design, a new book coming out in June of 2012.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on this link. It’s approximiately 30 minutes in length.

James and I recorded the podcast in person, at his office in Bristol, UK. In the podcast we talk about the role that photography plays in the user experience of a website. One of my favorite discussions in the podcast is how to incorporate photos into the user experience process, and about the role that the UX person could or should have when choosing photographs for a website.

In addition to the book, James also runs a great blog:

http://www.photoux.co.uk on the same topic. His twitter is @chudders

Listen to the podcast, check out the blog and the book, and let us know via comments what you think. Who chooses the photographs for the websites and projects you work on? How much time are you giving to the photos you choose?

Here’s a link for the book at Amazon: