Mobile Twin Cities – UX – Communicating with Developers

pureBrigitte Dahlberg made a wonderful presentation on communicating with developers for a diverse audience of developers and curious people from the business side, including two marketers ūüėČ ¬†Even a couple of lawyers were in the audience; the lawyers gave surprisingly insightful overview of the NDA. ¬†Overall, it was a lovely meeting of Mobile Twin Cities (even from a marketer’s perspective ūüôā ).

A few points from the presentation:

US professionals – a bridge between business and developers.

User journey (how the product is used). It should normally be done before agile sprints, but could be done in the middle.

Screen flow (Site map). Do not concentrate only on current users – as you want MORE users.

Wireframes (wireframes are not a design… it is wireframes ūüėČ ).


Mobile wireframing: show the keyboard on the wireframe or not?  Better to show, as otherwise, developers will make assumptions.

Design: sometimes, a designer can design something impossible to build.  Do not get approval for the design before developer review.

watchWhat to do with weareables?  We still do not know how weareables will be used Рeverybody is experimenting.

Wireframing for responsive/adaptive – need to have a wireframe for each break point.

Tools of the trade (prototyping): – allows to create prototypes of websites and apps without coding

axure – free trial available

balsamiq – free tool (as far as I understand)


UXPA – Contextual Inquiries: Planning, Conducting, and Analyzing Data

inquiryThe event gave very insightful overview of contextual inquiries process Рand a few interesting examples.  We also went through a contextual inquiry process of laundromats Рwhat was not only useful, but very entertaining.

Contextual inquiry itself seem to have a sizable field of expertise and significant interest in the UX community.

4 main principles of contextual inquiry:

  • Contact (the researcher need to be close to the subject – to be able to observe the task)
  • Partnership (considering the researcher as an “apprentice” learning what subject is doing)
  • Interpretation
  • Focus

In many cases, people expect to “explain” what they do rather than show it. ¬†Explanation can “hide” important details. ¬†If you want to learn about software it is important to watch people . ¬†For example, screen sharing session can hide the reliance on notes for passwords, etc.

If a certain task is the focus of the research it is good to say: “can you set aside this type of work for us to see?”

It is a good idea to ask “show me what you have to do today.”

After the observation which takes about 2 hours, a 2 hour interpretation session takes place.  This session should include at least one designer, one developer, and definitely the product manager to assure buy-in into the resulting recommendations and insights.  Developers are usually excited to be involved.

Interesting: persona example with variety of characteristics specific for the group studied for the specific task.  Characteristics of the group prevalent or not prevalent in this persona marked in a distinct color.


A “workflow” diagram can be also one of the deliverables of contextual inquiry.


Mobile Twin Cities – Metrics Driven UX

nativexRob Weber from Native X presented a very insightful overview of  Metrics Driven UX used in the computer games.  As a person who does not play games, it was interesting to see how principles and metrics in computer games similar to a typical b-to-b lead generation effort.  The subject is the same Рhuman being.

UX Design Principles:

  • Association (is your game character in front of the bar or in front of the church?)
  • Color and contrast
  • Eyes and gaze direction (eyes attract attention)
  • Movement and animation (a little bit OK, too much results in decrease in conversion)
  • Lines and encapsulation (very dear to a b-to-b marketer’s heart ūüėČ )
  • Native design (making sure the game looks like it is native part of the device)


Just as in b-to-b marketing, limited time and additional incentive helps conversion.


Interesting point: 30% of people never go to the app (a game!!) after downloading it. ¬†It is important to encourage the first game… Emphasis is given to “on-boarding” – teaching people how to play and making the process of learning easy and entertaining (part of the game).

Angry Bird tutorial – looks like a game itself and very easy to use.


In-game ads (promoting download of another game) can be align to the emotion of the moment: if the character died, the ad is different comparing to the situation when the character is winning.

Symbols help as action buttons compared to text. ¬†Interesting, would it work in b-to-b? ¬†Even if there is a possibility that literacy level of the b-to-b audience is higher… ¬†we all are still human ūüėČ

Game promotions sometimes place price on the button (obviously, not a good idea).

Games: more time is spent in mobile apps than mobile web.  In many cases, game developers gave up on HTML5 because of performance issues.

Successful games use minimalistic design. ¬†In general “it is more important what you cut out of your app than live in your app.”

Curious: in the East, strategy games represent 30% Р40% of the market, in the West only 10%.  Strategy games is a premium product for which people are willing to pay more.

Speaker mentioned App Loyalty by Application Category¬† (rather sad to see business apps not as popular as we would wish…)



UXPA – Lean UX and Iterative Design

uxpa-logoI start to like this format of a social/unconference more and more. ¬†Plus, the food at this event was excellent second year in the row! ¬†ūüôā

Lean UX.  

Objective is to keep the project moving rather than concentrate on a “good-looking wire-frame.” ¬†Smashing Magazine article has a good explanation of Lean UX.

One of the companies had a “harmony team” to¬†introduce uniform branding and other standards.

iPad usability testing includes “viewability” – making sure that it is easy to see, find, and interpret elements of the application. When the background is black, the iPad surface functions as a mirror and people are complaining about “looking at myself” during the application use.

Medial device manufacturer Рimplantable devices are becoming a commodity.  The manufacturer is differentiating on the experience of using the device Рexperience of the patient and the physician.  If the device is easier to use based on the convenient of the patient app and ease of data interpretation by the physician, the product is more valuable.

Regulated industries (health care, etc.) are required to test their applications on the “important mistakes” – to assure that critical functionality is not misunderstood by the user.

Marketing approach to the application can be different – marketers might want to make sure that the data is presented to make a specific impression on the person who is viewing the data.

Approach to business owners: “You want to do […] – sketch it!” ¬†Helps with definition of the outcome (what may not be clearly specified).

Iterative Design

Different stages of iterations:

  1. Self-iterative (the designer is making different versions of the same design)
  2. Opinion-based iterative (the designer asks other people what they think)
  3. Science-based iterative (planning budget, testing)

“Humans want to be supportive” – give more than one option to chose from; showing only one option can result with “liking” of the only option available to please the¬†test administrator.

Testing: important question to ask is not a particular scenario, but rather “What can you do on this web page?” ¬†If the person can not find what is the objective of the page, there is a problem.

Testing: let users to set success metrics “What the system like that should allow you to do?”

Testing process:

  1. Test the concept before doing anything
  2. Articulation test (prototype or wireframe)
  3. Colors, etc. behavior
  4. Beta test (what developers did not get right from the first try)
  5. Post launch (ask and fine-tune)

If only one test can be done, articulation (wierframe test) is the most important.

careerCareer-management tips from the UX professionals portfolio review

  • Evaluate “competing” resumes/portfolio in your geographic region
  • Find the resumes/portfolios of the person who has the “next job” to plan for needed projects/training
  • Update your resume/portfolio every year as a part of personal “annual evaluation” ¬†and also do “competitor” or “next job” research every year

If your own “annual review” does not show progress… ¬†acknowledge and address it.

Excellent event… did I mention food?




UXPA – Lean UX

topAs usually, interesting event that showed something new and unexpected.

HealthPartners adapted Lean UX as a response to the development shift to agile, and the approach helped the organization to move from documentation focus to result focus in UX design.  The process became more collaborative at the same time.

“Increasing collaboration and decreasing documentation”

Interesting, one of the UX teams in HealthPartners consists of 4 UX designers, 7 front-end developers, 1 visual designer, and a supervisor.  This team works with others, including back-end developers, content specialists, marketing, and project managers.

A great article on Lean UX in Smashing Magazine has a good explanation of the process.


One of the most eye-opening parts of the presentation was the evolution of the style guide HealthPartners used. ¬†The “old” version is very familiar to many organizations that use it.


The new version, however, gives a useful interface where each element can be found easily and code for this element can be copied.


UXPA – Collaborating with Clients during Research and Design

uxpa-logoThis unusual (and very informative!) event-tour took place at the offices of Eaton Golden Рa local User Experience consulting firm.  We toured the lab and listened to a couple of presentations on collaborative research and design.

EG-4The office is located in a very beautiful place – a “garden” area of Bloomington most of us did not know existed. ¬†The office is also filled with many beautiful and unique decorative items, which probably aid creativity. ¬†I thought eh colorful bud lighting feature in the lab area was particularly unique.

A few points from the event:

  • The usability lab was deliberately designed to be a beautiful room with natural light and view of a secret Bloomington “garden” – typically, most labs are hidden in the dark and can create a rater depressing impression of a “solitary confinement” where the research participant is expected to work on web tasks.


  • The usability lab also has additional screens in the viewing area behind the mirror, which are synchronized with the monitor of the participant and his/her activity. ¬†This arrangement allows each observer to follow the activities on the screen.
  • EG-3Interesting point on eye-tracking – it is not that beneficial for transactional web sites. ¬†Eye tracking setup also requires calibration that can be distorted by person’s movements or just a glance to the researcher. ¬†General usability research, when the participant navigates the web site trying to perform different tasks and explains his or her actions to the researcher seem to be sufficient.
  • The company’s approach is “not to prove or disprove, but to improve.” ¬†Customer’s objective must be reasonable for qualitative research method; if the customer is asking a question requiring statistical validation, the qualitative research would not be useful. ¬†Qualitative research answers the question”Why?” ¬†rather than finding which color of the button is more effective (the territory of A/B split testing).
  • The company is trying to help optimize the user experience, to take the client on the next step of the web site/tool, that currently exists. ¬†To accomplish that, one of the most important conditions is understanding constraints – political or technical – in advance of the project. ¬†It is possible to work around the constraints if they are known in advance.
  • EG-2Ideal “customers” for the project are the people who actually work on the site, know the current product, and can make needed changes in the future. ¬†Higher-level management commissioning the research may not have sufficient involvement in the project to be the effective partner in the research and design phases.
  • The purpose of the research also need to be understood; if the goal is to make changes quickly, the report can take one form, if the objective is to use the research results to request funding for the future site overhaul, the report will take different form.
  • Recommendation: only do as much research as actionable. ¬†If resources will be available in the future, the research will need to wait also.
  • Observation: what a typical client thinks user objectives are often are not user objectives. ¬†
  • Analysis is a “team sport” – clients participation helps to understand some elements of the behavior that might escape the researcher due to lack of intimate understanding of the industry.
  • Prototype scathing: low-fidelity scathing avoids a situation when the “suggested prototype” wins only because it looks better than other ideas – the person or a group had an opportunity to spend more time on the prototype creation.
  • Another interesting point of prototyping/scathing: ¬†marking with one color what on the page needs to be de-emphasized and marking with another color what needs to be emphasized. ¬†Interesting! ¬†My guess, this is an excellent approach to resolve feature battles…. ūüėČ

EatonGolden maintains a blog with quite interesting information and offers email subscription to the posts. ¬†I subscribed ūüôā