I don’t mean to brag (oh, yes I do) but I had a great weekend. I was gaining a lot of momentum in all aspects of my life. I’m on fire right now and I love it. There is a lot to share and I have articles in drafting. If you’re subscribed to my blog via email, be on the lookout for them this week. You won’t be disappointed, I promise. This morning, I was delighted to finally wake up to cool breezes coming through my window. Give me a nice, chilly day and I’ll gladly wake up.

1. The Secret to Long-Term Customer Loyalty Is an Easy Return Policy
By Maria Haggerty from Entrepreneur
I live for easy return policies. If a company doesn’t have one, then I don’t shop with them. I understand how costly and inefficient this can get for the business but I’m sure it’s not worth sacrificing the well-earned customer loyalty. Some of my personal favorites are Zappos, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales. I also recently learned that at JackRabbit, a sporting goods store specifically for runners, customers can test out running shoes and return them within thirty days. Now, this is what a good user experience is all about.

2. 10 Practical Tips for Increasing the Impact of Your Research Insights
By Mike Katz from Boxes and Arrows
It’s one thing to do user research but it’s another to translate those insights into ways to make positive change. Even though the importance of research is understood by those doing it, Mike provides ten pieces of valuable and practical advice on how to maximize the impact of findings. I especially resonated with the sixth point on how the end is just the beginning. User research may validate an idea or help pick up the problematic aspects in the design but it really is just the beginning in terms of the process. Designing UX itself is an iterative process so the research needs to mirror that.

3. Understand the Social Needs for Accessibility in UX Design
By Ruby Zheng from Interaction Design Foundation
Accessibility in design is incredibly important but I don’t think enough people pay attention to it. This is a well-researched and detailed article on helping designers understand the needs of persons with disabilities and provides us with the framework to build empathy for them. I also learned that there are many levels of accessibility involved in design and we, as designers, need to seek wisdom in order to cater to that. Ruby goes into a lot of detail on guidelines to design for accessibility and provides abundant examples.

4. Four Things Learned from a Design Critique with Facebook
By Jon Lee from Medium – uxdesign.cc
First of all, I find it pretty cool how Facebook’s design team allows people to engage with them in a critique session. Jon’s takeaways from his experience were powerful and it made me realize that oftentimes, we overlook things that should be the most obvious. He even says so himself as, “[having a solid foundation is] the most obvious things that we unintentionally undervalue.” This piece definitely encouraged me to seek out opportunities like this where powerhouse design teams critique your work. Daunting, but well worth it.

5. A Brand New Way to Practice Your Presentations (Really!)
By Brad Phillips from Mr. Media Training
I was so delighted to receive the newsletter with this article. Virtual reality is on everyone’s radars now and it’s great to see what people are doing with it. This piece in particular discusses a new product called VirtualSpeech that allows you to create various realistic environments and settings (such as an auditorium or an interview) to practice presenting. I find this to be a brilliant use of VR and can imagine communication professionals integrating this product into their practice.

6. What Great Listeners Actually Do
By Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman from Harvard Business Review
Listening is more than shutting up. This article delves into the true meaning of being a great listener. I especially appreciate the point, “good listening included interactions that build a person’s self-esteem.” As a user researcher, I would probably spend more time listening than any other activity and making users feel comfortable as they share their ideas and opinions requires me to build that person’s self-esteem. My ultimate takeaway is that becoming a good listener requires more than just practice. One must continue to expand his or her heart to fully commit to being the best listener.

Just the other day, I finally bought myself a copy of Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think.” I can’t believe I didn’t get this sooner. Everything I need to know about user experience and design is summarized concisely in this book. It’s incredibly engaging as well and I have a difficult time putting it down. Also, I’ve been feeling like my life is attracting more and more positive energy. I’m surrounded by vibrant people who motivate and encourage me, which fuels me to give it my best. This is a beautiful feeling and I only want it to get stronger!

Cheers,

Riri