Before You Hire a Designer

Mike Monteiro’s contributions to UX design are wide and varied. His first book, Design is a Job inspired us in 2011, and his talk “How Designers Destroyed the World” called us to action. Now, we’re very excited to present an excerpt from his new book, You’re My Favorite Client. A few years ago, I made plans with a friend for breakfast. She was late. When she finally got there, she apologized, saying she’d been cleaning up for the housecleaner. “Why in the world would you clean up for a housecleaner?!?” I asked. “So she can actually clean, you idiot.” This made no sense to me, but I let it go. Otherwise, we would’ve argued about it for hours. About a year later, I got busy enough with work that my house looked like it could star in an episode of Hoarders, so I hired a cleaner. After a few visits, I found myself cleaning up piles and random junk so that she could get to the stuff I actually wanted her to get to. I called my friend and said, “I get why you had to clean up for the cleaner now.” “I told you you were an idiot.” (My friends are great.) The moral of this story is you can’t drop a designer into your environment and expect them to succeed. You’ve got to clearly lay out your expectations, but you also have to set the stage so your designers come in and get to the stuff you need them to do. INTRODUCING A NEW DISCIPLINE TO YOUR WORKPLACE Let’s assume you don’t have a designer on staff....

Designing Sites for Nonprofits

Search “nonprofits and website usability” and Google will spit out dozens of great posts on user experience. What it won’t give you, however, is something that many cash and resource-strapped nonprofits value even higher – advice on how to manage the site. Where well-off companies might leave site management to a content strategist or IT director, nonprofits rely on us—the UX professionals building their sites—to find alternative solutions. After many discussions with people in the nonprofit sector, I’ve learned that developers and consultants tend to focus on exciting features and intuitive user flows (as well they should), but neglect to discuss one key element with their clients: what will happen after the site launches? As a result, nonprofits waste valuable resources trying to work with sites their staff can’t manage to update or maintain. Their websites grow stagnant and unusable at a time when even the poorest of the people they serve are searching for online resources. Essentially, for small to medium-sized nonprofits (and even some small businesses), a great website is defined not by groundbreaking bells and whistles, but by the basic features many web companies overlook. In other words, in our efforts to provide an excellent end-user experience, we can’t neglect the site admin’s experience. Last August I combed through the 77 applications for Chicago Cause, a competition in which a nonprofit is chosen to receive a free new website. Flipping through the applications, I found myself getting frustrated for these organizations—many of which couldn’t do anything with their websites. Here’s a sampling of what these nonprofit directors said: “What I’d really like is to be able...

UX IRL: Syncing the Online and Offline Experience

As technology and real-life interactions converge, the digital-physical blur is transforming how people experience the world. Wearable tech like Nike FuelBand is creating a stir in the consumer market, but embedding technology in everyday products is just one aspect of the increasingly thin line between the web and “IRL” or “In Real Life.” For UX professionals, this trend calls for a fresh look at ideas of trust and authenticity, human motivation, and community building. The digital-physical blur refers to any product or service that either embeds technology into a device beyond the “typical” use case of computers, smartphones, and tablets or that feeds data from real-life interactions back into technology, improving the quality of those interactions as more data enters the system. It’s the latter scenario that interests me most: how can we merge technology and real life to create the best experiences? Many companies are beginning to explore the digital-physical blur. Facebook, for example, now offers a Nearby Friends feature, which enables users to locate Facebook friends offline using geolocation data. In this instance, online “friends” become real-world connections. Such blurring of online and offline interaction hits at what HubSpot co-founder Dharmesh Shah implied when he said, “humans crave a total experience.” Yet to provide a total experience, design and engineering teams must look for areas where technology frequently fails to account for real human interaction patterns. Among these are: Building trust Increasing motivation Creating a sense of camaraderie Luckily, “IRL” experiences excel at all three,which is why many companies are syncing digital tools with real world, offline experiences. Building trust Building trust and assessing personal compatibility are...

How to Choose a Data Management Platform

Demand-side platform (DSP) is one of the hottest media trends right now, but what most people fail to understand is that it is merely a buying mechanism. The real value lies in the data management platform (DMP), which acts as the brain that tells the DSP which ad impression to buy. In the Western ad tech ecosystem, third-party DMPs like BlueKai serve as the central nervous system that various DSPs plug in for intelligence. In some instances, many Western DSPs such as Turn will often combine their own first-party data with BlueKai's third-party data to create custom audience segments. Read more... The Chinese Way: No Third-Party DMPMore about China, Platform, Data, Third Party, and...

How to Navigate the SaaS Options Jungle

Anyone not lost in the jungle believing World War II is still raging also knows that a successful software product is the key to riches almost unimaginable. Facebook is buying a firm called WhatsApp, which employs 100 people and allows its 450 million users to bypass texting fees using IP protocols, for an ornamental $19 billion. That's billion. Breaking that number down to something the average thousandaire can relate to, it means a stadium full of nearly 40,000 individuals each with a half-million dollar portfolio for retirement. Is it any wonder there are 50 or 100 software solutions for every business niche? Read more...More about Facebook, Software, Business, B2b, and...