Welcome to this special holiday edition of the Macchiato series!

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed during the holidays—so I hope you don’t lose sight of what this season is really about (for you). May you feel joy and peace now and into the new year (I hope this quick-read brings you a little holiday happiness, too)!

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  • This time of year you may find yourself spending more time with family and friends at holiday dinners and parties. While stuffing our faces with pecan pie and drinking spiked eggnog (or, if you’re Filipino—like me, eating tons of puto bumbong and bibingka) we may be asked what we do for work. Do you have a response nailed down yet? Here are some scenarios to help you get through the holiday when you answer that question and respond with, “I’m a UX designer.”
  • Can’t make it to Manhattan this holiday? Check out how Google digitized the festive displays at 18 major retail establishments: Google’s “Window Wonderland” Brings New York’s Holiday Retail Extravaganzas To The Web. It’s pretty neat to see the traditional festive window displays in New York become more immersive and fun for the masses.
  • While the holidays carry a certain air of magic, any well-designed product can be successful in a practical way—think affordance, efficiency, function, observation, story, and details. The ornament elf (who appears during the festive season) wants to share his thoughts on creating successful designs and talk to you about how to apply certain attributes listed above to your designs: This Elf Would Like a Word With You About Design.
  • Two heads are better than one. Pair Design is a free eBook that explains how pair design works at every stage of the design process. Learn how pairing two designers can help alleviate tunnel vision, produce better output efficiently, and benefit the whole team. If your team isn’t doing this already, why not try it out in 2017?

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three ux strategists collect data at computers during a user testing session at the usability lab

On the WillowTree User Experience team, we pride ourselves on making beautiful mobile experiences. Every idea, pixel, and interaction work together in concert to create something that’s both great to look at and delightful to use. That mix doesn’t just happen in a vacuum. We are always sharing our designs and ideas with each other, our partners, and with real potential users to validate the design decisions and assumptions we’re making along the way.

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  • My friend and teammate, Jesse Prehodick, offered this bit of advice in the Macchiato No. 39 extra shot, “Know your users: Don’t design what you want because you aren’t the user.” I heard it again recently from Jakob Nielsen: “You are not the user.” After delivering his keynote address at the UX Conference in London, Nielsen was asked “Why is it that [some] designers get it so wrong?” Listen to Nielsen’s response in this 2-minute clip.
  • Can You Feel Me Now? Accessible Experiments in Empathy explores techniques designers can use to develop empathy. Katy Mogal, Fitbit’s Director of Design Research and UX Research, makes the case that all of us can find ways to empathize with our users and discusses why it matters.
  • I went to the hospital this past week for a diagnostic medical imaging appointment. Looking around the space, I appreciated the use of color in the rooms and felt comforted. Finding the right colors to use in a healthcare environment can be difficult because of cultural pluralism and complexity of communication. Beyond color, however, we can still try to improve the patient experience by incorporating design thinking and design principles into the planning process and design of hospitals: How Design Thinking Turned One Hospital into a Bright and Comforting Place.
  • The previous links (especially the latter) carry a similar core message: to design products, applications, and experiences with users in mind. They reminded me of a project led by Doug Dietz, an industrial designer and GE Healthcare’s Innovation Architect. The goal of Dietz’s project was to figure out how to create a scanner experience children would love in order to alleviate their fear at the prospect of laying down inside noisy medical imaging equipment. By designing products with families and the patient journey in mind first, GE transformed the radiology and imaging departments at 27 children’s hospitals into immersive adventures for kids and their caregivers.
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“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” This might be an overused quote from the the creator of the World Wide Web himself, Tim Berners-Lee, but it’s worthy and it emphasizes the importance of accessibility and inclusivity—subjects of today’s Macchiato.

Before we go any further, I’d like to give a shout out to my colleague and friend, Jordan Dunn, who will be speaking at SXSW taking place March 10-19, 2017. If you’re going, make sure to attend his session.

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I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was filled with superb food, inspiring company, and rich gratitude. Looks like I skipped the whole month of October, but I’m back for a bit and hope to get a Macchiato delivered to you four more times before 2017—enjoy this week’s cup!

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  • I believe gratitude is a virtue and practicing it is the mark of a kind and noble soul. This time of year we are reminded to reflect on the things we value most in life. To share the spirit of gratitude, the InVision community has shared the things they are most grateful for as designers and as humans. What are you thankful for this year? What are designers thankful for?
  • How can we relate Thanksgiving with UX Design? Check out the Thanksgiving design experience—discover, define, design, and feedback—UX and Thanksgiving.
  • InVision has launched their version of Zeplin, Inspect. Inspect supports your team’s transition from design to development. I very much appreciate the team we have at WillowTree and I’m glad we can openly communicate as we work together. With tools like Zeplin and now, Inspect, collaboration and productivity are further supported when building apps. We value collaboration above all.
  • With the festive season approaching, is your website all decked-up and stacked for record breaking sales? Prepare your e-Commerce Website for the Holiday Season.
  • Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is these five design books. Love, Your Favorite Designer. Here are 5 Books Every Designer Needs courtesy of Jennifer Aldrich, UX & Content Strategist at InVision. Thanks Jennifer!
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I’d like to start by saying I fully admit it’s kind of funny to be reading a blog post written by a recruiter about counteroffers. It’s comical, of course, and only natural that a recruiter would be biased—especially if we’ve made you a job offer. Conflict of interest aside, though, I’ve seen a lot of counteroffers in my career as a recruiter and even have my own story to share. What I’d like to offer you is some advice on considerations to make if you find yourself in a counter-offer situation. Read the full article here.

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Our user-centered focus is paramount here at WillowTree. What good is an app, after all, if it doesn’t serve and delight its users? That’s why our testing process is designed with a series of user checkpoints. We want to make sure we’re delivering a product that results in satisfaction and smiles.

As some of our clients are targeting a very specific audience, it’s not always easy to get our designs in front of the right people. From doctors to celebrities, expecting mothers to selfie-loving teens—we have a spectrum of users who use a spectrum of technologies. That’s why we’ve collected an assortment of tools to help with the hurdles of user testing: recruiting participants, setting up tasks, reviewing videos, coding user feedback, and compiling clips into reels for clients—it can be a lot of work!
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Welcome to the second post in our series on chatbots and emotional intelligence. Last week, in Part One: Shortcuts to Chatbot Emotional Intelligence, we covered why it’s important to have a user-centered design and strategy process in place before you dive into creating conversational flows for your bot. Today, we’ll discuss five user-centered design considerations that can help you breathe life into your chatbot.

Chatbot Design Focus One: Usefulness

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Building something that’s going to be useful should be our top concern. We don’t want to go building Skynet, do we? No, we want to build Johnny Five! Because Johnny Five is our friend and wants to help us.

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  • The Leading Strand is an initiative to bridge art and science that pairs academic researchers with design professionals to create visual representations of scientific breakthroughs. Here’s what happens when neuroscientists and designers team up to explain science.
  • Unfortunately, the language of human-computer interaction falls short for upper-limb amputees. To solve this issue, David Kaltenbach, Lucas Rex, and Maximilian Mahal created Shortcut. It is a wearable designed to translate sensory muscular impulses to the phantom hand into contactless and intuitive computer control.
  • When will drug companies create user-centered innovations that improve the lives of patients instead of their bottom line? The Sad State of Product Design and Innovation in Healthcare. What are your thoughts on this issue?
  • There are plenty of wearables designed to help you live a healthier and better life. With so many options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here is a nice curated list of the top choices when it comes to health wearables and trackers – Top 10 Healthcare Wearables For A Healthy Lifestyle.
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Chatbots have been getting a lot of press recently with Slack, Facebook, and Microsoft embracing the technology. But many of the bots released on these platforms are like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz – they’ve got no heart. Here’s how a user-centered design process can lend a heart to your chatbot, and why that’s important.

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  • I included a link to The Dark Side of UX in a past Macchiato. I’d like to remind everyone that we should not be doing this when we design and we should also point out these patterns when we see them. “A Dark Pattern is a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things…” Dark Patterns do not have the user’s interests in mind. As designers, we need to take a stance against this; check out the pattern library where you can find the companies that use these dark forces. If you spot any, please submit to Dark Patterns.
  • When you think of a designer, ask yourself if this person is people-centered. Because a good designer keeps users in mind. Being people-centered is just one attribute you should look for in a designer. Fred Beecher, UX thought leader and Director of UX at The Nerdery, poses some questions for you to think about when you’re searching for that top UX designer: Identifying UX Talent.
  • How do we value design? How much is good design worth? The US Supreme Court will decide in a case that pits Apple against Samsung. This article brings up some food for thought: If the court reduces the damages, will it reduce the worth we attribute to design? Could it encourage copying?
  • Get a Thick Skin. Living with Criticism. In a world filled with criticism from others, gather strength because you’re going to need it in the design field. A designer’s job is one of the few that’s open to committee discussion. My takeaways from this read: Never take anything personally, defend your design decisions, and there are…
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Co-Author
Caroline Hompe

Standards for how to conduct a usability test are fairly easy to find these days. Tech agencies and product companies are becoming well-versed in a variety of user-centered research methods, from traditional user interviews and ethnographic observation to the more new and specific such as card sorting and tree-testing.

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