What I read this week #15

Happy July, everyone! Is it already halfway into 2016? I have six months left to complete seven more races in my 9+1 journey and a million other things to accomplish. As I get older, I prioritize on increasing the ROI (return on investment) with my time, money and efforts to get results that are in line with what I want in life. I’m getting better at eliminating people and activities that exhaust me and drain my resources while pursuing those that deliver value. This weekend was great in terms of seeing friends, catching up on Coursera work, organizing my digital life and proceeding with drafts of articles sitting idly in my Google Drive. Now go and dig into this week’s batch of articles.

1. How Can UX Design Make Sense of Big Data?
By Hannah Atkin from General Assembly Blog
Big data is something I have been intimidated by but after reading this article, I’m fascinated by it. As a future UX practitioner, I understand that taking a lot of data and packaging it in a way that makes sense for all stakeholders to create a phenomenal experience is critical. I was especially blown away by the section that talks about predicting users needs. I thought about how remarkable it would be if retailers used more complex algorithms to identify my needs and creating a frighteningly personalized experience. That’s borderline creepy but also not impossible to imagine in the coming years.

2. Why Designers Should Be A Little More Shameless
By John Brownlee from Co.Design
I found this to be a refreshing read. I like how his shamelessness is comparable to what luxury brands do. It’s absolutely true, though. This article gave me a lot of ridiculous ideas about what I could do. Whether I will actually turn them into reality is questionable. A couple of my friends jokingly talk about the random apps they will develop or stupid products they would sell. I’m just imagining what would happen if those ideas turned into something real just by allowing myself to set aside my sense of shame.

3. Calculating the value of UX research
By Jennifer Winter from User Testing Blog
I could sink my teeth into articles like this. My immediate ideal work situation is to be with a company where UX research is at the forefront because the most powerful stakeholders understand how it directly correlates to revenue. People that run businesses who assume they know what their users want is quite possibly the most dangerous thing because almost always it’s never true. A business might not do terribly but if UX research is at the core, a business could be doing exponentially better.

4. 7 ways to prepare for cross-cultural usability testing
By Luke Chambers from UX Mastery
It is painfully difficult to remove assumptions about people and cultures, yet it is crucial to do so when performing cross-cultural usability testing. I’ve been fortunate enough to be exposed to a variety of cultures through travel and interacting with people from different countries and the biggest lesson in dealing with that is to be naive with everything. This article provides a list of great starter guidelines but I would definitely love to see the author delve into this further.

5. The “Yes, And…” Approach To Managing Audience Questions
Brad Phillips from Mr. Media Training
I’m delighted to be introducing an article from this blog. I’ve been following Brad for almost five years and found some of the juiciest tips on communicating well and interviewing elegantly here. Although this article focuses on answering questions for an audience, this technique can be applied to any situation. This method is also a design thinking-centric approach and I like that it allows the speaker to please the listener while simultaneously contributing his/her own ideas.

6. Why a Clock Widget Is Easier for Picking Time
By Anthony from UX Movement
After featuring an article from the same blog last week, I found this one and found it to be a good follow up on an alternative to the disliked select menus. I have never seen a clock widget but would love to play around and see if it’s something I find more enjoyable to use. Inputting time is something everyone does multiple times during the day. If this redesign could make that experience more enjoyable and efficient, then it’s something I support. The author makes several good points about how calendar widgets are already a thing and I would be interested in seeing how they actually perform.

7. Open-Ended vs. Closed-Ended Questions in User Research
By Susan Farrell from Nielson Norman Group
I love user interviews. Talking to different people about their habits and past behaviors always fascinate me because it makes me realize that people have different approaches to things than we think they do. This is an excellent article on asking open-ended questions to gather fruitful data, which will benefit the design. There are a lot of fantastic examples of transforming a close-ended question into an open-ended question so that we don’t limit the user from providing insightful answers.

8. 5 Simple UX Principles to Guide Your Product Design
By Clark Wimberly from InVision Blog
This was an excellent set of principles to use when evaluating your own designs. Since UX design takes it far past the interface, it’s important to consider the whole of the product and this article does a great job setting those guidelines. This piece was incredibly well-written and I found it to be easy to understand. I especially appreciate the writer talking about how a product should be trustworthy and honest because even in 2016, I come across designs that aren’t and it genuinely upsets me. I’ll just have to become a designer that creates valuable and honest products.

Before I started actively blogging, I wasn’t sure how I would constantly put out content. However, I find that the more I churn out ideas onto paper, the easier it becomes. I have this segment to make sure I write something at least once a week and then over forty drafts of articles waiting to be published. Some are nearly done while others are bare, unstructured ideas of things I want to talk about. I also started caring less about perfecting it but instead, publishing it when I’m content. My writing is never going to be perfect anyway and if I don’t take risks, I’ll never get better.




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