Understanding your customers' experience and the impact of your marketing activity (on and offline) should be a priority for 2013. If you're committed to improving the user experience and getting value for money out of your marketing expenditure then plan to measure.
Sunday, 30 December 2012
Monday, 24 December 2012
A couple of articles for those trying to establish a culture of UX within their organisation. 'UX for the masses' blog is written by an in-house UX lead, focusing on the challenges he faces.
Thursday, 20 December 2012
An excellent series of articles by Paul Boag in which he basically outlines what his design agency does (and what most don't) through a sort-of tutorial and fake case study. A great primer on digital strategy development.
Thursday, 6 December 2012
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Paul Boag explores the real reasons why projects don't deliver and websites turn bad - people and politics. Thankfully he also provides great suggestions to help overcome these problems.
Friday, 23 November 2012
No matter how great your website design, no matter how usable the interface, no matter how well organised the IA - if your content management system is a beast your editors will suffer and with it, ultimately your website. Karen McGrane provides advice on how to address this.
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Just received my copy of Karen McGrane's new book: Content Strategy for Mobile. Only it's not really about mobile as such. But as she says - "holistic enterprise content strategy" doesn't have quite the same ring.
Friday, 9 November 2012
The importance of good copywriting and appreciating user reading behaviour can be overlooked in the process of interface design. These articles from Baymard Institute make some good (and well referenced) points on headline writing, line length and help text.
Saturday, 27 October 2012
Taking the "don't do what I did" approach, this article lists 10 things to avoid as you work to improve the user experience of your website or product.
I've pulled together some excellent materials that identify the challenges around thinking back from the user interacting with the organisation online, through the content, and back to the root - the content management system and the people who use it.
Sunday, 21 October 2012
I've been working on a set of IA (information architecture) principles for the University, and in the process digging around for rules-of-thumb against which a site can be measured. Inevitably, Lou Rosenfeld has good advice, but I've also turned up a really well-considered, well-researched guide.
Gerry McGovern has been talking about the long neck for long time - the small number of top tasks that dominate website usage. Here, Jeff Sauro talks about how common the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule) really is.
Saturday, 20 October 2012
It's world usability day on Thursday 8 November, and once again Edinburgh usability company User Vision are hosting an open house with lots of free sessions and activities.
Nomensa (a digital experience design and strategy agency) have produced a white paper titled “Enhancing the university submission experience”. While their survey and user research reveals trends I’ve also seen in my own research at Edinburgh, I found their recommendations perhaps a bit simplistic and overlooked the complex nature of higher education institutions.
Friday, 5 October 2012
Giles Colborne of cxpartners gave a great presentation to the UXPA Scotland this week. He talked about the implications of being distracted, and how designers need to be responsible and concious of context of use.
Friday, 28 September 2012
There's a really interesting sounding session happening next week in Edinburgh - Driven to distraction: a presentation by Giles Colborne from cxpartners. It's the latest event put on by UXPA Scotland (was the Scottish UPA).
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Delia Rusu writes for uxmatters.com about why you don't need a title to be a UX professional. While some of her examples are tied to her profession as a technical writer, there are some useful points for anyone trying to prioritise the user experience within their work.
I'm really enjoying a book at the moment - Communicating the User Experience - which takes the reader through a series of techniques, working towards a user centred website or application. Best of all the resources from the book are freely available.
Reading a brief and spot-on post by Paul Boag (Invest in people and not just technology) set me off reflecting on our situation at the University of Edinburgh. I also did a bit of digging deeper into articles on web governance and how if organisations are really going to have online reputations that match where they are offline, organisationally things really need to change.
Monday, 10 September 2012
I've noticed a few blog posts doing the rounds in the past week highlighting some fantastic guerilla art. Tweaking London Tube signs with hilarious consequences. What struck me is the number of people who just won't be noticing them.
If your online shopping experience happened in real life... This nice little 2 minute video sketch created by Google to promote Analytics raised a smile. Or was it a grimace?
Sunday, 2 September 2012
A new study conducted by Google and research partners reveals how we conduct online tasks across platforms, beginning on one device but completing on another.
Friday, 31 August 2012
A couple of articles that make the case very strongly that the internet (and especially social media) has killed the effectiveness of marketing and advertising. Managing customer experience is becoming central to effective business management.
If the publishing rules and permissions that dictate what you can do in your web content management system (a.k.a. workflow) really bug you this article probably won't make you feel any better. But it is a great primer for how to go about designing good workflow.
Two thirds of the 600m+ customer contacts received by English local councils each year are now coming in through online and digital channels, according to research conducted by sector IT specialists SocITM.
A quick primer on why you should pay attention to your web pages' meta description tags. For your key pages at least. Why? After all search engines don't give this information much attention when ranking...
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
Some inspirational articles and stories about how and why you should strive for simplicity with your website, resisting the urge to add more content and more links. Learn how to steer your managers and committees rather than trying to please everyone all the time.
Sunday, 26 August 2012
A great article in which David Hamill likens a website visitor's experience to that of someone reading signs on a motorway. Includes a corking video of what would happen if marketing departments designed road signs.
A great article that every marketing department should read. How sticking rigidly to brand guidelines on the company website can sometimes damage the brand.
A write up of a UX workshop run by Caroline Jarrett and Francis Rowland on how to get usability problems fixed. This follows on from a survey by Caroline and Steve Krug on why usability issues often go unfixed.
Thursday, 26 July 2012
I ran a pilot session at the University of Edinburgh yesterday with the aim of pulling together colleagues with an interest in user experience. My intro slides are available on Slideshare.
A presentation by the founder of foodspotting.com in which she goes through how she turned her concept into reality by communicating her vision of the user experience.
Friday, 20 July 2012
This month's Scottish Usability Professionals Association event is titled: "The Role of Persuasion, Emotion and Trust in Customer Journeys" and is happening on 26 July 2012 at 6.30.
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
I ran a workshop at last month's IWMW 2012 conference on how we manage the University of Edinburgh's corporate CMS, our challenges and where we're looking to in the future. The initial presentation led into a couple of activities and some great discussion among the 30+ higher education web managers who came along.
Saturday, 14 July 2012
Too much choice confuses. It can paralyse. Matt Klawitter shares his experience working on US university website redesigns, the research that informed and backed up decisions, and the culture that continues to resist a drive for greater simplicity.
This article was written for user experience professionals to encourage them to cut out the jargon. But actually, it's also a great outline of the most common techniques for everyone in plain English.
Thursday, 12 July 2012
Content strategy is something everyone involved with information-driven websites should care about. And content is an intrinsic part of the user experience on university websites. Kristina Halvorson's article explains and connects the two disciplines - content strategy and user experience.
An interesting summary of a report on UK Government ICT strategy and where they need to up their game. Seemed to me to be the same story I've encountered in 10+ years of public sector web management.
Sunday, 24 June 2012
Friday, 22 June 2012
How do you maintain the coherency of your homepage, while keeping stakeholders happy? Paul Boag explains an activity he uses to focus the minds of the group all making demands for homepage real estate.
Thursday, 21 June 2012
I ran a workshop this week at IWMW 2012 which was hosted here at the University of Edinburgh. In it I went through some user centred design techniques I've used on a range of projects.
Monday, 18 June 2012
I've never had a tremendous amount of success integrating the findings of card sorts into ongoing developments, but have come across one or two services that have been great to use.
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
You'd think it would be a no-brainer to do something about serious usability problems when they're uncovered. But in some instances things that cause problems for users time and again, affecting business performance go untouched. Why? Caroline Jarrett and Steve Krug's presentation explains.
Thursday, 31 May 2012
Jeff Sauro presents his approach to remote user testing, combining tracking and recording tools to great effect. The webinar includes a case study which is a great way to illustrate his approach.
A nice piece in which Jeff Sauro recounts a study he conducted with users of 59 websites, and quantifies the high cost to the business when users fail in their tasks on a website.
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
A short and well referenced piece that outlines what content strategy is, including a very helpful diagram illustrating the relationships between the various disciplines of website development.
Sara Wachter-Boettcher in conversation on the College Web Editor website, talking about topics her forthcoming book Content Everywhere, and the challenges facing the HE community.
Sunday, 27 May 2012
A great (short) paper which is free to download from UK usability company Foolproof which is making the business case for customer experience management.
A good infographic is immediate and accessible and has a message. Sometimes a relatively complex one. This article presents a range of examples from US colleges - some better than others but all worthy of a look to inspire you one way or another.
While I don't think many in HE really 'get' social media yet - it's still just another way to push stuff out rather than engage - this short article has a few challenges that made me think about why we should be engaging via these newer channels.
I'm reading a very enjoyable book right now - Undercover User Experience Design by Ceynnydd Bowles and James Box. A great quote from it - something I do, but I always enjoy coming across someone expressing something so much better that I can...
Lou Rosenfeld outlines how you can improve your website and keep improving it. It doesn't involve new technology or a new design. It involves your users and your business requirements. And it's wonderfully simple.
Wednesday, 2 May 2012
Monday, 30 April 2012
Usability expert Jakob Nielsen recently wrote an article summarising his recommendations for mobile website, which prompted quite a degree of anger in the design community. So much so that he responded to some of the feedback via an interview in .net magazine.
Sunday, 22 April 2012
Saturday, 21 April 2012
A couple of articles that go through why your customer experience should be at the top of your agenda. 'Customer experience' is an increasingly popular term these days, but you could just as easily say 'target audience experience' or 'student experience'.
Monday, 16 April 2012
The next session run by the Scottish Usability Professionals Association will be on developing web accessibility guidelines and a web accessibility culture.
Edinburgh usability consultants User Vision are running another of their free breakfast briefing sessions on Thursday 26 April. This time the topic is Information Architecture.
Saturday, 14 April 2012
I contributed to the 4th edition of Jakob Nielsen's Usability Return on Investment report, getting a site licensed copy for the University in the process.
Thursday, 5 April 2012
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Sunday, 18 March 2012
A great (if long and detailed!) piece about how if you don't understand the motivations of all stakeholders in a project, you're unlikely to deliver a great user experience.
A couple of items from usability company Webcredible, who seem to be giving a lot of attention to how big brands deal with customer service across the board - in person, the website, email and all the social media channels people are using these days. Not directly relevant to higher education but a word of caution to all of us spreading our engagement wider.
Thursday, 8 March 2012
Last month I went to a great breakfast briefing session hosted by Edinburgh usability company User Vision on collaborative design.
Edinburgh usability company User Vision are running a free breakfast session on rapid prototyping on 15th March 2012.
Sunday, 26 February 2012
A great article by Jonathan Kahn for A List Apart, in which he discusses the problems in CMS design that arise from not thinking enough about the nature of the content or the skills, processes and time of website editors.
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
A great article on how to get the best out of Frequently Asked Questions. Author Stephen Gracey is pretty up front about the fact that he doesn't like them (a man after my own heart) but his article is pretty balanced and well referenced.
Saturday, 18 February 2012
A really interesting piece from David Travis who reflects on what he feels it takes to be a successful user experience consultant. Most of us will never be (and possibly don't want to be) a UX consultant, but I think this article is useful for the budding amateur and the jack-of-all-trades.
A couple of really interesting conversations about trends in searching and navigation behaviour. One of the interviewees is Peter Morville, co-author of the seminal Information Architecture for the WWW (otherwise known as the Polar Bear Book).
Persona expert Kim Goodwin talks about scenarios - the stories we place our personas in. To effectively make use of personas, we need to be able to get stakeholders to engage with them. And the best way to do that is to tell stories.
Jared Spool interviews forms expert Luke Wroblewski covering a load of common questions about what makes forms easier or harder to use. It's a follow up to a paid seminar, but even without seeing this, there's a lot of good advice for anyone creating web forms.
Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Everyone on the same wavelength is probably one of the biggest factors in a successful project. Working together on activities is a great way to get common consensus and shared vision. In this article Jared Spool discusses a few ways in which you can do this.
Monday, 30 January 2012
Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Jared Spool discusses the dangers involved in creating personas with little or no user engagement. There comes a point where the persona creation exercise is simply a process of creative writing and therefore virtually useless.