Tag Archive for: kent

Reflection: Week #1 – User Journeys and Site Maps

Well, I’m back at the blogging again. Just a quick update on things since we last spoke:

  • I’m in my final semester of school at the Kent State UXD program.
  • I’m at a new job; I started as a Senior UX Researcher at HubSpot in mid-January
  • I’ll be blogging weekly reflections for my last full course, Interaction Design.

This course focuses on creating a mobile application for parents/guardians to manage their children’s lunch money account. The first week of the class focused on taking the information presented in two supplied personas and an application specifications document to create User Journeys and a “Site” (probably more apt to say “application”) Map. More details on the specifications and personas can be found at the respective links (PDF).

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Reflection #7 – Selling Usability

Note: This is the last post I will be writing for Usability II at KSU. I’m not sure if there will be any blogging for future classes, but this experience has certainly got me in a writing mood…

One of the biggest problems the UX industry faces is buy-in. You’d think that after over 25 years of widespread use (and I know the idea of UX has been around for longer, but really it’s proliferation didn’t begin until workplace computing took off) that the benefits and advantages of thinking about your customers would be apparent by now. But depending on where you are working and who you are working with, you could face resistance, ignorance, or downright hostility to a simple idea. And so just having passion for my work is not enough, because the passion can come off as arrogance. That’s why a finer touch is required, and it’s something that I have struggled with for a while even though I worked in places that “embraced the customer.” You will always have to convince someone, you will always need to evangelize, and you must always consider how you approach things.

The first thing to consider is that you are talking to people who do not necessarily have any knowledge of UX… but they know business and money. Now I don’t have a business background, but I know that they work I have done has had incremental impact on revenue, customer retention, and long-term value. Presenting these facts, these outputs can really have an effect on important people who are looking at the bottom line. They don’t want to know what my process is (yet), they just want to know why it’s good for the company and how it can be done with little to no investment.

And sometimes it’s more of a political game. Being blinded by passion and the need to debate my position doesn’t help my cause when you are grappling with egos and diplomatic struggles for budget and glory. So sometimes it’s best to cut your losses and just listen. Seriously, just stop what you normally do in that situation and listen to the person who disagrees to the point where you can completely understand what they are saying and, in due time, turn it back around on them to WOW them with the results you can bring. I’ll leave you with this excerpt from the end of a chapter in “Selling Usability: User Experience Infiltration Tactics” by John S. Rhodes…


I love this field. I don’t know where it’s going to take me. But I do know I want to make an impact. We’ll see how things shake out.


Reflection #4 – Mobile Research Case Study

As technology advances per Moore’s Law, the number of devices that people use will grow which will introduce more variability in screen resolution/size, processing power, and more. The problem becomes as mobile and tablet users increase, these people will expect to do more on these (sometimes) underpowered devices, including access your website. I have been lucky enough to help spearhead mobile research at Vistaprint as they set on a project to redesign their mobile experience. This post will cover everything from requirements building to conducting actual testing on an in-production site in our lab as we worked on this project.

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Reflection #2 – Moderated vs. Unmoderated

For the first three weeks of this course, we are focusing on remote usability. This week, the objective was to learn more about the differences between moderated and unmoderated research tools and techniques. Again, Nate Bolt’s “Remote Research” is a particularly helpful resource in listing out the methodologies and services you could use to conduct both types of research. To learn more about one unmoderated research tool, we were tasked with conducting a Loop11 study on a website of our choice.

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Reflection #1 – Remote vs. In-Person Usability

[Note: After 7 weeks of Usability I at Kent State, it’s time for Usability II. I’m starting the reflection count over again. Hope you enjoy!]

For the first week of Usability II, we learned all about the pros and cons of remote usability testing vs. in-person sessions. Nate Bolt’s Remote Research gives a great overview of the practice, as well as the details to effectively run a remote study. I have quite a bit of experience determining what methodology to use, and advocating for which would be best for a given study; from my very first experience doing research in college to my current job, I have been convincing stakeholders to use one or both methods for almost 5 years.

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Reflection #6 – Analyze and Report

This, the final week of class, was all about analyzing data and reporting out findings to the team of stakeholders. To me, this is the most arduous and complicated part of the usability process. If I had the choice, I’d pull a Steve Krug and not write a report. Instead, I’d make sure all of the important business owners were involved in the research process from the beginning watching all of the sessions to see the insights for themselves. Then, I’d walk these people through the site and mention the major findings and suggestions for improvements, followed up with an email highlighting these talking points. Alas, this does not work unless you’ve written a book.

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Reflection #5 – Moderation

This week, I was given a script and told to moderate a usability study. This is my favorite part of the whole research process: actually getting to talk to a user and watch them use the product. It’s the culmination of all of the prework and meetings, and because of that I make sure usability is a true event for me, my team, and the team I am working with. The assignment didn’t require that I write a script, but I did need to moderate and record a sessions with an actual user investigating the Papa John’s website and ordering experience.

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Reflection #4 – Qual. and Quant. Metrics

This week’s assignment was all about the difference between qualitative and quantitative usability metrics. When do you use one over the other? What works better? What about subjective vs. objective measurements? And what are the benefits and limitations of each of the different methods for a given scenario? In Jakob Nielsen’s article on usability metrics, he mentions that qualitative measures provide more bang for the buck at understanding the low hanging usability fruit. But the investment in quantitative metrics can be beneficial in its use to track progress across iterations.

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Reflection #3 – “Thank & Terminate”

This week our assignment was to create a screener script with qualification questions, and a moderator’s guide with tasks and scenarios. It was perfect for me, because I was working on the same sort of things for a project I am doing at work. The interesting thing about this assignment was we worked in groups to source our questions and tasks.

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Reflection #2 – Formative vs. Summative Testing

This week our assignment was to, using the medium of our choice, convince the CEO and CTO of a fictional pizza delivery company what type of usability method they should use as they build a new website before Super Bowl Sunday. Basically, should Papa John and Dom Inos decide to do multiple tests as they develop their site and before they release it to the public? Or, should they opt to do a study at the end of development/after the site has been released to the world? Any testing is better than no testing, but… I would prefer the formative approach.

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