Issues in the UX field

The primary issue you will see in the UX field is the need for UX professionals to not only have to be skilled in UX but also in selling the need for UX. Did you notice that through out Rocket Surgery Made Easy and the “what is UX video” I posted, most of the information is orientated toward why UX is useful and should be embraced. Best stated by my UX professor, “people don’t see how important UX is to the bottom-line”.

Patrick, a classmate of mine expanded upon this by saying,

This phenomena brings about a paradox in which there is a struggle to make progress in the field because,  the very people that we have to convince that there is value in UX are the ones dictating the structure of our education. Our field its then directly influenced by them. With a system like this in place, how do you make progression in this field?

We covered this subject, among many others, today in class.

By the end of class we had a whole list of questions to answer.

  1. How do you find out more about how one can attain and utilize a UX skill set if UX is not their primary job responsibility?
  2. How would prospective employers quantify the “nonacademic attributes: intrinsic qualities” (pg. 76) they’re looking for? Other than listing your soft skills is there a recommended way to document them?
  3. The report mentions being a great communicator as a plus. What are some good methods by which a person can improve their communication skills and what kinds of communication skills are especially useful in the UX field?
  4. In the report it is stated that many times a career path in usability is not always clear.  Are career paths becoming more available?
  5. Do you foresee a day where a UX professional will be in a better position to be heading towards a management career path in a company?
  6. What steps are collegiate business programs taking to incorporate UX practices and skill sets into their programs?
  7. Are their entry level positions in UX where one is primarily involved in User testing?  And if so,  how does one train, locate and attain such a position?
  8. Only six respondents have done work in the field of robotics. Why isn’t robotics a larger field yet? Have movies like Blade Runner and I, Robot scared people away from the desire for humanoid robotics?
  9. How badly can an idiotic user screw up testing?
  10. A lot of UX jobs are self-employed if some one hires you as a UX tester what are the typical deliverables?
  11. How can I mold my work  experiences (examples from the military,  as a professional in the trades who did troubleshooting)  that may seem unrelated, appear useful and valuable to employers?
Let these questions sit in the back of your mind a while…We intend to work out answers in the near future, so stay tuned.

Rocket Surgery Made Easy – Looking back

Today is the day I had to finish Krug’s “Rocket Surgery Made Easy” by, but if you follow my blog you know I finished it months ago. In the spirit of being knowledgeable and well prepared I am going to look back at the book this morning. As mentioned by Joe Seeber, each time you look at a book you are a different person that will take away new things…

By the end of the first chapter when I initially read the book I wrote down, “I am a bit weary of the journey I am about to take; how will it change me and my approaches toward developing sites? I feel like I need to take this book “with a grain of sand” so to speak. ” Now however I swear by the book, and could not recommend enough that you read it! It is certainty the goto guide to user experience testing, capitalizing on simplicity and use of  accessible tools.

Early in the book there is a link to a demo video of a UX test being done and throughout the rest of the book it is broken apart into modular parts. It becomes clear watching the video that UX is easy, and if a handful of rules are followed there is no way to really mess things up!

That being said, the first rule given was to simply do the testing and not make a big deal of it, “A morning a month, that’s all we ask” was the Krug left to embody this concept. Before the book ever said how to test it said test, test, test, and test some more!

I was excited both the first and second time reading the book to get to the actual testing. We of course started with the basics by looking at who we would be testing with and what we would be testing for. It turns out that about 3 people (any 3) and a few specific goals of the site should be used each testing cycle, embracing a broad range of people as well as web site goals.

At this point the book provided an amazing resource, a check list to help you prepare for testing and be sure it runs smoothly. A whole chapter was dedicated to this subject, rightfully so.

On the note of check-lists the book worked its way into performing the actual test which was recommended to have just as much (more!) structure as our prep. Each test participant should feel welcome and encouraged to share during testing, getting them to and keeping them in that state of being is the administrator’s job.  These responsibilities were best summed up by Krug in 4 bullet points

  1. You’re trying to get them to externalize their thought process
  2. You’re trying to not influence them
  3. You will say the same few things over and over
  4. You have ethical responsibilities (respect them, and know there limits)

On top of testing there comes a responsibility to make a difference by fixing what you learned was not working. Before this comes you need  the support and collaboration from your team.  This means you need to get them in and see the test, understand what should be taken away from it and then…

Do the least you can do.

Fix things, but don’t kill yourself by making it a huge project. Just get it done! This is the whole approach that the book took to every aspect of UX, embrace it!

The book ends by looking at how to ensure your work does not go to waste, basic management of goals, tasks, and coworkers mostly…


I am excited to do some really UX testing in the next few weeks and share how it goes with you!

*if you made it through this whole post and find yourself wanting the book, I would be happy to lend it out too you!



UX – Putting it all to use!

You have seen me blogging endlessly about user experience design, today you get to see some of what that all goes toward!

I’m very excited to share with every one a project I am working on! I am fortunate enough to be a part of an extremely involved web development program at Clark College. Not only is my user experience class taught by Robert Hughes, the director of my program, but many of my other classes are taught by people who are truly working in the industry. I am taught WordPress by Lorelle VanFossen,  who helped develop WordPress itself! I learned all of my coding skills from Bruce Elgort, who owns a software company called Elguji among many other successes (to say the least). The project I am working on now has so much support that we have had the library staff and even the president of Clark College come into class and see what we are up to.

So what are we working on?

Our class is working with the library to rework their search page! A seemingly simple task that much is going into. We are not only changing the look but doing so is correlation with the movement toward  a new way of connecting users with the material they are looking for. What we do will be the face of a the libraries’ next big step to accommodate changing times and technologies. There is an article on Clark’s site covering what we are doing if your interested!

Here is what we are working with…

clark library site (looks rough)

Here is what our group envisions to be best…

our mock up of what the site should look like
*This is of course a mock-up, to be developed much further

Amongst a group of me and three other students ( including Jesse Byars) this is what we came up with. Later this week we will Continue reading

CGT 106 – My Quality Experience

Quite ironically yet understandably the first quality experience that I thought of and wanted to write about was reading the book for this class, “Rocket Surgery Made Easy”.  I love everything I am doing in school, so my idea of a good winter break was doing school work! I read and reviewed almost all of my school books.  About every day on my break was spent in a library, quiet room, any where I could find to geek out on my material. Obviously I have a great interest in all on  my classes, but the experience I had reading this book in particular really peaked my interest in both this field of work and this class. UX can only get so exciting though, the true reason I was so pleased with my experience was that it was made great due to the books (expected) amazing approach and layout.

First and foremost I was most struck by the first page of each chapter which consisted of one large colored page, the chapter number, and a short and relevant catchphrase. I had actually found this book online for half the price I got it for in the Clark book store… but when I looked at it I could not help but get excited and buy it right then and there; it was beautiful! What I found to be really awesome later on was that chapters were grouped by having different color coded themes, this included the first chapter pages, headers, and backgrounds. The use of color coding accompanied with wise referencing to information available on the internet really simplified and improved my reading experience, the color coding acting much like classes in HTML and the references acting like variables in many scripting languages (that had all been set and placed in one spot; his website). To top everything off the author capitalized on being straightforward and presenting things simply; a prime example being chapter 2 which consisted of no more than one page because that was all that was needed. Lastly I was happy to discover that simple well thought out approaches also existed in the authors approach toward UX testing. These things bundled together made for a very Quality experience.

Ch14 – Rocket Suregery Made Easy

The last chapter, “teleportation made easy”… since this man made rocket surgery easy I’m excited to read on! It is a revisit on too remote testing which was touched on briefly before. The biggest take away here was something I was thinking the whole chapter, and that is that I should not be doing remote testing until I have done plenty standard testing. Surely enough the chapter was concluded with the statement that I should do just that. I’m fairly confident that come the end of my UX class I will be able to give it a shot. Remote testing was very straightforward, I am not so much concerned that I cant do it… but that I should not.

Ch13 – Rocket Science Made Easy

This chapter was labeled, “Making sure life improves” and in it the author share the fact that more often that you would expect the testing goes to waste. People commonly walk away from testing and are both amazed with what they learned and excited to go make changes. Some times they bite off more than they can chew, don’t have proper resources, or don’t have enough support; reasons aside the site does not get fixed. So what do you do about it? The author was always sure to follow the test with an run over and list of most important fixes, pointed out the savings that come from fixes, but most importantly making the whole team and boss see and believe in testing. For my purposes I simply need to make note of what issues to expect and in time spot them happening to my self and possibly any teams I work with.

Ch12 – Rocket Surgery Made Easy

Well at this point I have fully been introduced to testing and how to do it and the rest of the book’s intent is to pass on a few wise words of advice, gained after years of experience by the author. This chapter pertained to commonly seen problems and their solutions. Before I started reading I figured common problems and solutions would consist of …well problems, but instead was only given one problem. This one problem was argued by the author to be the singular most important problem and furthermore the embodiment of all other problems. The problem was that people get lost, and remain lost. This is namely caused by a misleading, unclear, or cluttered home page. Though other issues can work along the same lines, the author urged designers to strive to have a clean lay out that is straightforward and to the point. I have personally seen this issue already, and experienced it… I will capitalize on being weary of it.