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The 7 deadly sins of digital user experience

(Tech News) User experience is now understood to be a huge factor in a digital brand’s success, so what are the 7 deadly sins every brand should avoid?

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First impressions are everything

“You only get one chance to make a good first impression,” notes Thelton McMillian, Founder & CEO of Comrade, adding that this notion is especially true in today’s digital world.

McMillian states, “Companies must design user experiences for web and mobile that are seamless, relevant and keep customers coming back for more. However, in the race to design smart capabilities, many businesses commit one or more ‘deadly sins’ – damaging that crucial first impression compromising future growth.”

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In his own words below, McMillian offers the 7 deadly sins of digital user experience and suggests ways to avoid them.

1. Lust

It’s easy to lust over design and fall prey to “shiny objects;” however, we cannot lead with a solution or feature without first understanding the problem. Set design principles upfront to ensure judicious decision-making – and always stay true to what’s best for the user while considering their chosen context of use.

2. Gluttony

Over-indulgence often manifests itself in the design process as the dreaded “feature creep.” Projects that start with a clear focus and reasonable scope can quickly find their UX suffering as new features and content are added. One of the best defenses against gluttony is to embrace the “mobile first” approach to product design. Don’t do something just because you can. Place the user at the center and set aside personal preferences to prioritize features and content that will best enhance the user experience.

3. Greed

This is also a sin of excess, but in this case its focus is on material wealth. The challenge of quantifying the return on investment of a good user experience results in UX often sitting low on the list of priorities. But the market caps of companies like Apple, Amazon and Uber are clear indications of the value that user experience brings to a brand. Focus your efforts on building a culture of design and customer-centered thinking in your organization. Make UX the focus of everyone in your business.

4. Sloth

Laziness at any step of the software development lifecycle can lead to usability issues or broken interactions…often, companies release products without fully taking into account the importance of quality assurance and usability testing. The diversity of device types, screen sizes and technologies means you must never stop testing – continue to validate your UX design to ensure you have a full understanding of how your product or website functions.

5. Wrath

Don’t ignore the wrath of your users. Listen to them, be emphatic and trust that their behavior should inform your design decisions regardless of your personal intuition or preference. Understanding the frustrations your customers have with your brand is the first step in fixing your UX.

6. Envy

Influence from others can result in poor user experiences when applied to your own design challenge. It can also stifle your ability to push boundaries. While it’s perfectly acceptable to be influenced by others, find your own groove, differentiate your experience from competitors and use what you’ve seen as inspiration to push boundaries and innovate.

7. Pride

Don’t be too proud of your decisions that you don’t consider making changes in response to an ever-evolving market. Don’t think you’ve designed something that’s foolproof – you can always optimize. There is no such thing as a finished product.

The takeaway

McMillian concludes, “With a better understanding of common missteps, businesses will be better poised to deliver the type of digital user experiences that customers have come to expect. By partnering with experts in the field, companies can further ensure they’re avoiding design sins that could cost them users…and potentially, their business.”

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. The Storyographer

    August 19, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Nailed it. And with a clever twist on a timeless literary classic. Well played, sir.

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Tech News

The semantic argument of the phrase ‘Full Stack’

(TECH NEWS) As the tech industry knows, being able to classify your job qualifications is paramount.

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Semantics

A new debate is emerging in the web development world and it’s not about which framework is best, or which language is most marketable.

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In fact the debate isn’t a matter of code, it’s a matter of words.

It’s Not Just About Experience Level

“Full Stack Developer” is the title developers both new and old often use to describe themselves. According to a Stack Overflow developer survey touted as the “most comprehensive developer survey conducted” the title is among the top five respondents used to describe themselves.

However, not everyone thinks newer developers should adopt the title.

It would be easy to distill the debate to a matter of experience level, veterans earned the “full stack” title, while newer programmers haven’t. However, there’s way more layers to this debate.

What Exactly is Full Stack

First of all, a simple google search reveals several different definitions of “full stack.” There’s general consensus when it comes to the high-level definition. CodeUp sums up this definition, “The term full stack means developers who are comfortable working with both back-end and front-end technologies.”

When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of what exactly falls under back-end and front-end, there’s some disagreement.

Mastery level also matters, but again there’s disagreement over what’s acceptable. In one camp, are the proficiency pushers who require not only a breadth of understanding, but also a depth of understanding in multiple areas.

In this camp, it’s not just good enough to have exposure to SQL, one must have proficiency in SQL.

In the other camp, are the generalist. They also require a breadth of knowledge, but are happy with a basic familiarity of each stack element. When it comes to debating whether newer developers should adopt the full stack title, the lack of clarity on what full stack means in the first place is a major stumbling block.

Why Full Stack?

Besides clarifying the what behind “full stack” some folks are also clarifying the why. According to Indeed’s job trends, the number of postings and searches matching “full stack developer” on average has trended upwards since 2012 . The title’s popularity causes some to believe that new developers are adopting the title as a buzzword with no real care put into understanding what “full stack” means.

Android Programmer Dan Kim from Basecamp warns, “Just don’t fall back to labeling yourself with a bullshit buzzword that everyone else uses.”

For others, adopting the full stack title is a matter of mindset. As Web developer Christian Maioli over at TechBeacon writes: “To me, a full stack developer is someone who has the curiosity and drive to test the limits of a technology and understand how each piece works generally in various scenarios. Having this mindset will give developers more value and more power in dealing with new situations.”

In both cases, understanding why a new developer adopts the full stack title is connected to understanding whether they’re overselling their skills and how valuable their skills are to a potential employer.

Beyond Job Titles

Finally, this debate about whether new developers should use the “full stack” title brings up the need for alternative methods of measuring proficiency. This need isn’t limited to the web development world, as technology innovates job titles become convoluted.

A job title won’t be the most reliable way to communicate what you bring to a job or what you expect.Click To Tweet

Quantifying what you’ve accomplished in the past, along with what tools you used will be critical in a time where job titles aren’t trusted.

This story was first published here on April 7, 2017.

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Tech News

We’ve all seen job listings for UX writers, but what exactly is UX writing?

(TECH NEWS) We seeing UX writer titles pop up and while UX writing is not technically new, there are new availabilities popping up.

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The work of a UX writer is something you come across everyday. Whether you’re hailing an Uber or browsing Spotify for that one Drake song, your overall user experience is affected by the words you read at each touchpoint.

A UX writer facilitates a smooth interaction between user and product at each of these touchpoints through carefully chosen words.

Some of the most common touchpoints UX writers work on are interface copy, emails and notifications. It doesn’t sound like the most thrilling stuff, but imagine using your favorite apps without all the thoughtful confirmation messages we take for granted. Take Eat24’s food delivery app, instead of a boring loading visual, users get a witty message like “smoking salmon” or “slurping noodles.”

Eat24’s app has UX writing that works because it’s engaging.

Xfinity’s mobile app provides a pleasant user experience by being intuitive. Shows that are available on your phone are clearly labeled under “Available Out of Home.” I’m bummed that Law & Order: SVU isn’t available, but thanks to thoughtful UX writing at least I knew that sad fact ahead of time.

Regardless of where you find a UX writer’s work, there are three traits an effective UX writer must have. Excellent communication skills is a must. The ability to empathize with the user is on almost every job post.

But from my own experience working with UX teams, I’d argue for the ability to advocate as the most important skill.

UX writers may have a very specialized mission, but they typically work within a greater UX design team. In larger companies some UX writers even work with a smaller team of fellow writers. Decisions aren’t made in isolation. You can be the wittiest writer, with a design decision based on obsessive user research, but if you can’t advocate for those decisions then what’s the point?

I mentioned several soft skills, but that doesn’t mean aspiring UX writers can’t benefit from developing a few specific tech skills. While the field doesn’t require a background in web development, UX writers often collaborate with engineering teams. Learning some basic web development principles such as responsive design can help writers create a better user experience across all devices. In a world of rapid prototyping, I’d also suggest learning a few prototyping apps. Several are free to try and super intuitive.

Now that the UX in front of writer no longer intimidates you, go check out ADJ, The American Genius’ Facebook Group for Austin digital job seekers and employers. User centered design isn’t going anywhere and with everyone getting into the automation game, you can expect even more opportunities in UX writing.

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Tech News

Loopy is the new easy tool that helps explain hard ideas

(TECH NEWS) Loopy is a tool that can revolutionize how we explain anything from personal ideas to business complexities.

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In a world filled with complex systems, Loopy serves as a tool for people to take their time understanding them.

The tool allows users to create interactive simulations to help people explain their ways of thinking.

Loopy has found a way for people to interact with simulations without complicated code or overused drag and drop. You can create your own or collaborate with other simulations already made on the site.

It is a great way to challenge yourself while learning how each system works.

Loopy encourages you to ask hypothetical questions to better understand the systems. The model consists of circles and arrows to remain uncomplicated. When you remix or interact with simulations that were made by other users, it is as if you are having a conversation via the simulations. Loopy describes this as “talking in systems” which makes the entire experience more impactful.

Though Loopy can be used as a fun way to exercise your brain, it also has practical implications. For instance, simulations can be embedded into blog posts, live lectures and presentations. You can also develop videos to further explain complex ideas.

This is especially useful for businesses who want to simplify their models when communicating with investors and consumers.

Simulations can be a fun way to illustrate your thoughts and support your ideas. Businesses can use Loopy to create collaborative activities for their employees to mess around with as well.

The best part is that anyone can try it out for free. On their site, you can develop your own simulations or adjust ones that have already been made.

At its core, Loopy is simulation software.

However, their goal is to give everyone the tools that they need to understand complex systems. This goes for both the creators and the viewers, who are all a part of the process.

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