How users hold their mobile devices

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Voice calls occupied 22% of the users, while 18.9% were engaged in passive activities—most listening to audio and some watching a video. We considered interactions to be voice calls only if users were holding their phone to their ear, so we undoubtedly counted some calls as apparent passive use.

The users who we observed touching their phone’s screens or buttons held their phones in three basic ways:

  • one handed—49%
  • cradled—36%
  • two handed—15%

While most of the people that we observed touching their screen used one hand, very large numbers also used other methods. Even the least-used case, two-handed use, is large enough that you should consider it during design.

Read the full article at UXmatters: How Do Users Really Hold Mobile Devices?

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Your website has two faces – one talks to humans, one talks to machines

When a user interface—intended for human consumption—reflects too much of a system’s internals in its design and language, it’s likely to confuse the people who use it. But at the same time, if data doesn’t conform to a specific structure, it’s likely to confuse the machines that need to use it—so we can’t ignore system requirements, either.

People and machines parse information in fundamentally different ways. We need to find a way to balance the needs of both.

Read more: Your Website has Two Faces at ALA

UX in three points

UX is a fancy name put onto practical things by consultants so they can charge for them. In practice there are three main points.

First, there is the matter of knowing what is common to all people. How the brain works, how the eyes scan, how people tick, what makes a screen understandable and so on. Principles of clarity apply regardless of what the domain is. Tufte’s principles for example apply here.

Second, you need to know what is special about your users. It’s not their brains or perception – that’s the same in everybody. What makes your users different are their habits and the job they are trying to do. You need to understand their purpose for using your product, how they talk about it, their points of reference and so on. Technically this is called ‘domain knowledge’. It’s most useful to think about the jobs individual users are trying to do.

Lastly you need empathy, the ability to see these points from the user’s perspective. You have to see it through their eyes in order to make the right decisions. You can use friendship as an example. You usually know what your friends like or don’t like. So try to become friends with your users. If that’s too hard, make friends with someone else in the same role.

Source: http://www.netmagazine.com/interviews/ryan-singer-user-experience

Can you make good design for people if you’re a lousy person yourself?

Interesting article on “being human” as a UX designer.

I’ve encountered UX people who didn’t strike me as particularly good humans, consequently lowering my trust as a client in their ability to engineer experiences that would appeal to humans. If you’re not a nice person, can you really design what is essentially an avatar of what your audience should see as a nice person?

Orson Welles and Harlan Ellison were/are known for being huge a-holes to work with, but on the ‘customer facing’ side, they’ve produced some astounding works of art. Maybe there’s a base level of good UX that everyone is capable of – stock common sense principles you get in any textbook – and it only gets better from there depending on how well you think critically and apply those principles to the problem at hand.

Personally, I want to believe that being a decent human being translates to putting out decent work. Even if we can’t be so magnanimous and noble, maybe the effort that goes in can’t help but lend itself to empathic, thoughtful solutions. But that’s just my little dream.

Maybe you don’t need to be a cool guy to make cool stuff – but I’m sure it’s more fun to work with someone who can do both. 😉

MoodWall… and moods in general

This video is ridiculous and I don’t even like Harry Potter. But it made me laugh. YouTube’sMoodWall delivers.

You can read some sciencey thoughts about MoodWall at the Humintell blog – what stuck for me was the distinction between emotions and mood:

[Dr. Matsumoto, Humintell’s director] defines emotions as immediate, automatic, and involuntary reactions to events that are important to us. Moods, on the other hand, are states of mind that may make us more predisposed to having a certain emotional response.

For example, being in an irritable mood may make a person more predisposed to becoming angry more easily.

Thinking back to last week’s post on voice and tone, I wonder how empathic design & writing can help us understand moods better for those situations where we wish toinfluence a user’s mood and emotions. When is it productive to use happy talk, and when should you get to the point? How could a brochure site turn a skeptic into a buyer?

Many things to wonder. 🙂

Designing good UX for old people

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“We’ll use your site, but first we have to trust you.”

http://uxmag.com/articles/simple-and-secure-sites-keep-boomers-happy

UX Mag offers quick tips on how to design appropriate web user experience for the growing Baby Boomer market.

Key takeaways:

  • Educate your Boomer user before asking them to dive in.
  • Be reassuring – remind them how secure your site is, offer a heads up of what sort of information they’ll be expected to give – be nice, hold their hand.
  • Clear, simple, fairly static design is best – give lots of margin for shaky-handed, tired-eyed error.
  • Big text

When cool goes mainstream and becomes less cool

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Do you guys remember Airwalk, the skate shoe that was all the rage when we were kids?

Through ’95 and ’96, Airwalk created a shoe epidemic by staying close to what their customers wanted, then channeling their understanding into innovative products and creative, appealing advertising. But things took a turn once they got big and neglected the core stuff – what their customers actually wanted – that earned them their fame.

In case you can’t be bothered reading, the key takeaway is that it pays to keep our users at the heart of our decisions – whether designing products, websites, campaigns, brands or tools.

For those interested, this is the story of Airwalk’s decline:

The Airwalk epidemic did not last. In 1997, the company’s sales began to falter… In critical locations, [they] failed to supply enough product for the back-to-school season… [and] began to lose that cutting-edge sensibility that it had traded on for so long.

“When Airwalk started, the product was directional and inventive. The shoes were very forward,” said Chad Farmer [creative director at Airwalk’s ad agency, Lambesis]. “We maintained the trendsetter focus on the marketing. but the product began to slip. The company began to listen more and more to the sales staff and the product started to get that homogenized, mainstream look…”

Lambesis’ strategy was based on translating Innovator shoes for the Majority. But suddenly Airwalk wasn’t an Innovator shoe anymore. “We made another, critical mistake,” Lee Smith, the former president of Airwalk says. “We had a segmentation strategy, where the small, independent core skate shops – the three hundred boutiques around the country who really created us – had a certain product line that was exclusive to them. They didn’t want us to be in the mall. So… we segmented our product.” … The [Innovator customers] always got to wear a different, more exclusive shoe than everyone else. The mainstream customer had the satisfaction of wearing the same brand as the cool kids.

But then, at the height of its success, Airwalk … stopped giving the specialty shops their own shoes. “That’s when the trendsetters started to get a disregard for the brand,” says Farmer. “They started to go to their boutiques where they got their cool stuff, and they realized that everyone else could get the very same shoes at J C Penney.” The epidemic was over.

Smith says, “Cool brands treat people well, and we didn’t. I had personally promised some of those little shops that we would give them a special product, then we changed our minds. When we became bigger, that’s when we should have paid more attention to the details and kept a good buzz going, so when people said you guys are sellouts, you guys went mainstream, you suck, we could have said, you know what, we don’t. We had this little jewel of a brand, and little by little we sold that off into the mainstream, and once we had sold it all… so what? You buy a pair of our shoes. Why would you ever buy another?”

Abridged excerpt from The Tipping Point (p. 213-215) by Malcolm Gladwell.

Picture from Ninetiestalgia: October 2010.

Better prototyping makes UX design less annoying in Agile development

True to life good advice or finely crafted advertorial for fourth generation prototyping tools? You decide.

Key points:

Prototyping is an ideal means of defining the requirements for an agile sprint, during which the development team transforms the prototype into working code.

…feeding a good prototype into each sprint means the UCD activity for a sprint must begin far in advance of that sprint—typically, at least three sprints ahead. Problems arise when a sprint’s prototypes don’t arrive on time, and the production line has to stop.

Sadly, many organizations … have very inefficient prototyping practices.

The solution is to move to … a fourth-generation prototyping tool (to) seamlessly handle all aspects of the prototyping activity, enable everyone to use the same software tools, provide support for multiple platforms, allow designers to embed specifications in prototypes (and) support multiuser prototyping.