Saturday, 14 December 2013

User experience & customer experience - is there a difference?

In an excellent discussion piece for, Jon Innes considers user experience and customer experience. Is it the same thing, or are there differences? The article prompted me to think again about my university's current student experience enhancement project.

Responsive design is a content management issue

Responsive design - a single design that changes to suit the size of the screen - is an increasingly adopted approach. Karen McGrane explains why this is a content issue first and foremost, and shares a few anecdotes.

Improve your usability test scenarios

Jeff Sauro talks us through seven key considerations when writing scenarios for tasks in usability testing studies.

Navigational challenges of large sites

Paul Boag, writing in Smashing Magazine, talks about the challenges of implementing navigation on really big sites. He considers a range of solutions, drawing on examples including university websites.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Higher education personas

I've been using personas on website and CMS development projects for about 5 years now. It's still a fledgeling technique at the University of Edinburgh, so I thought I'd try and find out if personas were being used by other UK universities.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Ginny Reddish on content strategy

Ginny Reddish, author of the book on web writing - Letting Go of the Words - presented at a content strategy conference in London earlier this year. Her slides are available via her website.

Inline links - challenging to the reader and the writer

We don't advocate inline links on our University website. In fact, the corporate content management system won't allow them. There's a fair bit of debate on the topic of links appearing within the flow of a paragraph but no writing I've seen seems to focus on the web editor.

Monday, 4 November 2013

World usability day event at User Vision Edinburgh 14 Nov

World Usability Day is fast approaching and once again, those generous people at User Vision are running a free event to celebrate.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Simple & Usable - a 5 year old's view

I've been reading a great book: 'Simple and Usable' by Giles Colborne. I'd put it up there with Steve Krug's 'Don't Make Me Think'. It really is that good. What follows is a conversation with my 5 year old son about the book.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Simple and usable - snippets from the book

I've recently finished and really enjoyed a book by Giles Colborne - Simple and Usable. So much so, I'd probably recommend this as a good read for anyone, right up there with Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think. A few snippets I jotted down when reading to help me keep in mind...

People - the biggest challenge in content management

I had a flick through a slide deck by content strategist and author Sara Wachter-Boettcher the other day. A couple of quotes really stood out for me and set me reflecting on the major CMS project we're working on right now.

Putting service design ahead of the politics

The "fiasco" around the US public health service website and President Obama's announcement about it has prompted quite a lot of articles and opinions. In among the doom and gloom and politics, there were some good nuggets for those of us involved in public sector web development.

Complexity impedes website performance

Too many organisations lose sight of the fact that their website should be a self service enabler (or maybe they never got it in the first place). Adding more services and more content just provides more opportunities for the visitor to take a wrong turn.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Red Routes - David Travis explains what's really important on your website

David Travis of talks about what really matters on your website. He likens these customer journeys to the major arteries of London - the red routes.

Customer service is about reverse marketing, says Gerry McGovern

An interesting take on the power of customer service from Gerry McGovern. He talks about reverse marketing - where the customer's activity searching or using social media provides insight into what they care about. 

Excellent prototyping intro

I've just come across an excellent article on prototyping at Smashing Magazine. Combining principles with solid examples and an overview of tools available, it's probably the best overview piece I've read.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Nielsen on dangers of challenging navigation

A recent article on Jakob Nielsen's site talks about the dangers of challenging navigation. The conclusions drawn from user research observations are interesting, but I feel they're only covering half the issue.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Content modelling resources

We're in the process of planning a new corporate content management system and I'm determined to give our website content the attention it deserves. This has driven me to read up on content modelling, push out to a group of colleagues and begin the journey. These articles & presentations have proved really helpful in getting things going...

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Content planning for responsive websites

A presentation by's Georgy Cohen looking at the challenges to content being presented by the trend towards responsive website designs. Includes lots of examples of responsive designs around US universities.

Balsamiq mock up inspiration from "champions"

Balsamiq is a great mockup tool - it's quick and simple to use. The Balsamiq champions blog is a series of articles by people who have put it to good use. Worth a look if you prototype (or are wondering why you should) - even if you use a tool other than Balsamiq.

The case for Plain English on higher ed websites

Plain English and reading scores are sometimes considered irrelevant for higher education websites. Georgy Cohen explains why intellectual snobbery and sloppy copy can't be allowed to persist on university websites.

Conversion copy case studies

If you write web content, this article is worth a look - even if you're not in the business of creating conversion copy. The list of examples just shows the value of reviewing your copy - ideally testing with end users. The impact of a few apparently subtle changes can be enormous.

Good copy is essential for a great user experience

While copy may seem like small details of a design, great copy is the backbone of successful product experiences. David Simon has written a great article illustrating his point with lots of great examples from websites and applications.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Prototyping and UX challenges with agile development

An excellent series of articles by Ritch Macefield in which he discusses challenges faced by agile teams looking to efficiently build user centred design processes into their work and makes the case for more sophisticated prototyping software.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

UX Scotland 2013 - slides, resources & write up

The UX Scotland conference took place 20 & 21 June here in Edinburgh and I was lucky enough to go along. Lots of great resources from the sessions are now online, and I've summarised a few notes I jotted as I listened.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Big content strategy challenges from Rahel Bailie

At last week's UXPA Scotland session, we were lucky enough to have author and content strategist Rahel Anne Bailie. Her talk prompted a bit of food-for-thought for me, and highlighted a few resources and bits of follow up reading.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Steve Krug talks agile UX

Steve Krug gives a presentation to a group of developers for Outsystems. Video and slides are available, along with Outsystems' short eBook on usability rules for developers.

Usability test facilitator help from Steve Krug

Steve Krug has long had a load of resources related to his excellent book 'Rocket Surgery Made Easy' freely available online. He's just added a nice extra resource to help you with user testing facilitation.

User experience comics workshop

UX comics - no, not comedians, but a sequential series of pictures communicating a story or experience. I attended a workshop on the topic today at the UX Scotland conference.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The future of content management - Karen McGrane

Content strategist Karen McGrane gives an hour long presentation on where she sees web content consumption going and the challenges this presents to web publishers. To be fair, it's not just the future - these are the challenges we're facing right now and have been for a good while.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Micro content - it's the little things that matter

Well crafted web pages or great features in an app will be undermined if the micro content associated with it isn't right. The little snippets of teaser text, form labels and help text give users confidence and encourage deeper engagement.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Top tasks vary by medium - McGovern

Gerry McGovern presents an overview of his research for Cisco highlighting that your target audience is likely to have a different set of top tasks depending on how they engage with you.

Mobile in Higher Ed survey results 2013

We all know use of mobile touchscreen devices is on the rise, but little is written specifically about the university sector. Karine Joly has repeated her annual survey of US Higher Ed web managers to provide a summary of analytics data and colleges' approach to accommodating these visitors.

Collaborative user research recording

If you've ever done user testing, you'll know that one of the most onerous aspects is reporting on findings. And then getting stakeholders to read them. This collaborative recording approach - including a spreadsheet template - could well be worth a try.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Confab Content Strategy Conference write up

Gutted that I couldn't go to the London content strategy conference, Confab 2013 as it has a number of sessions with authors, thinkers and speakers I admire. Thankfully, Martin Belam has written blog posts to summarise each session.

Monday, 1 April 2013

The cost of adding

Gerry McGovern writes about the hidden costs of adding content and features. It's easier and in our nature to look to add rather than remove, but we rarely think about the implications.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Some UX myths debunked

Frank Guo explains why 3 commonly held 'rules' of usable websites aren't true for

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Calls to action tips

What's a call to action? It's the reason a web page exists. The thing you want your reader to do next.  This presentation provides 20 do's and don'ts, covering a range of graphical and editorial considerations.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

UX Apprentice - a beginner's tutorial

A nice resource from the Basamiq people that takes you through the fundamentals of user experience design quickly and simply.

Search enhancement - invest in people

Gerry McGovern writes about search, inspired by a New York Times article. The point? No matter how smart technology gets, the best search experience needs human involvement.

UX presentation for CIM

This week I had the pleasure of presenting at a Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) conference in Edinburgh. My presentation? "Marketing is dead, long live user experience!" (I didn't get lynched).

Friday, 15 March 2013

Today's top web design & UX mistakes

A couple of articles with one thing in common - mistakes being made today on websites again and again. One focusing on user experience and one on web design boo-boos.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

How organisations stifle good design

An excellent opinion piece by Leisa Reichelt on the challenges faced by designers. Not tricky design problems though. Organisations, politics, ego and immovable complex processes. Sound familiar?

Customer journey mapping resources for better UX

Leisa Reichelt, a user experience consultant, sells her services and at the same time does a great job of succinctly explaining what a customer journey map is and why it should be important to you.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Boag on social media

An excellent article on how we're not making the most of social media and not providing the experience between networks and our websites that our users want. And this ultimately is to the detriment of our business.

Intro to finding your website's tone & voice

An excellent article explaining the difference between tone and voice, explaining why it's important to your website and helping you get started.

Omni channel experience management

UX consultants Webcredible released a report last year analysing the performance of ten UK high street retailers against what it calls 'omni channel' experience criteria. Many companies have strategies for particular communications and commerce channels - online, mobile, in-store etc. Webcredible class omni-channel as the customer experience across channels.

The hidden costs in devolved content management

An interesting article reporting on the annual Society of IT Management (SocITM) review of local government websites and calling into question the cost-effectiveness of devolved web publishing. Something that Gerry McGovern has been saying for a long time and a point equally valid in the higher education sector.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Responsive design strategy

Jared Spool has written a really nice article pulling together the key considerations when devising a strategy to achieve a responsive design - a site layout and content structure approach that adapts according to the device your website visitor is using.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

UX conference Edinburgh June 2013

Looks like there is going to be a user experience (UX) conference held in Edinburgh this summer

Monday, 21 January 2013

CIM HE conference Edinburgh March 2013

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Higher Education Interest Group annual conference is being held in Edinburgh this March. I'm presenting on the totally uncontroversial topic: "Marketing is dead, long live user experience" (UX).

UX & senior management awareness

It seems that (at last) user experience (UX) is beginning to appear on the agenda and in the vocabulary of senior managers. A couple of articles I read recently illustrate the gulf between the corporate and public sectors.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

UX-usability event Edinburgh 29 January

This month's UXPA Scotland session on 29 January sounds interesting - a case study in healthcare technology highlighting the difference between usability and user experience.

Web writing quick tips videos

Five short videos on improving your web writing, with a focus on higher education.

Lean UX case study

An interesting read - one consultant's experience of integrating user experience design techniques into a development process for a start up business.