The following are my notes from UX Scotland.

The conference was just incredible.  Pinpoint accurate scheduling, magnificent organization, WONDERFUL people, and, in comparison with other conferences I’ve attended, lots of *useful* presentations.


I have directly implemented much of what I learned in the month since the conference.

Here are my notes!
You can also check out my slides at http://www.slideshare.net/uxandrew



#1 Jeff Gothelf

Better Product Definition with Lean UX & Design Thinking

A)     “Vanity Metrics” = doesn’t explain the “why”, just shows success without basis of understanding.  Stakeholders love to see that their product is improving, but without knowing *why* it is improving, the metrics don’t really show success.

B)      Requirements = Assumptions

  1. What you “know” is really what you “believe”
  2. When you “build” you are really “testing”

i.      Ask Your Team:

  1. Who is our customer?
  2. How to solve pain points?
  3. Which features are important (USP)?
  4. What is the business model?

C)      “Nail it and scale it” – Do it right, then expand

D)     Product Roadmaps = list of questions, not a list of features


#2 James Offer

“Play & Engage: Practical Gamification”

A)     Scvngr – Dynamic Gaming & Challenges http://www.scvngr.com/

  1. Feedback Loops encourage interaction; this is why people love parallax effects

B)      www.ismytwitterpasswordsafe.com

  1. “game” to teach by doing
  2. Interactivity can also be quick and simple
  3. Yes/no style websites offer single-servings of info
  4. www.dailymail.co.uk/stats

C)      Explore/Story Mode in data visualization

  1. Flow chart = explore
  2. Quiz style = story
  3. Gov.uk > Milwaukee Police website

#3 Martin Belam

“Designing the Bottom Half of the Internet”

A)     Building a news community generates a lot of anger/hatred

  1. Not conducive to conversation
  2. Commenting can both spark interactivity and ruin websites

B)      Top half of the internet (writers) look down on the lower half (commenters), which makes the relationship between writers/commenters antagonistic.

C)      Creating a community breaks the mold and allows commenters a certain power to balance the uneven relationship between writers/commenters


#4 Chui Chui Tan

A)     Asian eco-system in mobile development is growing but not in the Western Style

B)      Translation builds trust because it crosses the cultural divide and brings personalization BUT translation is an all-or-nothing type of thing.  Translating only part of a site/app leads to anger and resentment (NOTE: I couldn’t agree more…when I see websites that are only partially translated to English I am disappointed as a user)

C)      Devices are different in Asia and usage is too

  1. Dual SIM cards are prominent
  2. Collectivism > Individualism in Asia
  3. Asians pay closer attention to context while Americans see details

D)     Asians type with fewer mistakes but typing takes a longer time.

E)      Monetization of Kakaotalk is really fascinating. http://sgentrepreneurs.com/2012/12/25/kakao-kakaotalk/

#5 Alexander Baxevanis

“How to Work Well with Developers”

A)     We know more about how a building is built than about software creation.

B)      Store (model), Display (view), Interact (controller), Communicate = basis of software creation

C)      Reusability is critical to software development



#6 Giles Colburne

“Out of Context”

A)     Close but not perfect isn’t good enough to trust apps based on context.  If you try to measure context, measure multiple streams.

B)      “What We Talk About When We Talk About Context” –Paul Dorish article

C)      Grammar affects HCI

  1. Grounding communication = reaching mutual belief
  2. Conversational analysis
  3. Pre-sequences

D)     Context is less important than relevance – It matters less *where* I am than how relevant it is to me.

#7 Bonny Colville-Hyde

“How to Make Your First UX Comic/Storyboard”

A)     Visualization (showing) creates empathy by removing abstraction.

B)      Sketching > Accurate Drawings ; Let people make their own assumptions and read in to things more deeply by drawing things that are more sketchy and less detailed.

C)      People accept what they see more than what they read.


#8 Kate Ho

“Designing for Multi-User, Multi-Touch Interactions”

A)     Multi-touch devices enable interactive play and make the virtual part of the “real” experience (especially in gaming); co-operation

B)      B) Fingle app for iPad (www.fingleforipad.com )

  1. Slice for iPad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiEi9WTRMCc
  2. Singing Fingers  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCYA7N-vdZA

C)      Seven Principles for Multi-Touch Multi-Interaction

  1. Design without Orientation
  2. Restrict Global Actions
  3. Design for Broad Gestures
  4. Design interactions for short periods of time
  5. Match reaction times and speed
  6. Use gestures sparingly
  7. Find ways to create shared experiences







Head Mounted Displays

Head mounted displays aren’t new but they do offer a new way to access old materials.https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1d/Virtual-Boy-Set.png/472px-Virtual-Boy-Set.png

I can remember dying to get a VirtualBoy from my parents when I was a kid.  The VirtualBoy, made by Nintendo, had a porthole you could stick your face in to (this was very uncomfortable) and look at a quasi-3D display in a red spectrum.  It was cool, but it wasn’t practical.

With the recent advance in HMD’s (esp. Google Glass) and a friend’s purchase of Oculus Rift I think it is an important thing to note that people are starting to wear hardware more and more and this means that the realm of user experience design is changing.  The flat screen and keyboard/mouse-combo aren’t the only ways to display and manipulate the internet.  HMD’s could allow for augmented reality.

Augmented reality already exists but it’s expensive and has been underutilized because it isn’t comfortable for the user.  In many cases, augmented reality has been used for a publicity stunt and the advertising was based on user reaction rather than user implementation and usage.  HMD’s however could create a cheaper world for augmented reality which opens up an enormous door for advertising and for adding a third dimension to everyday internet use.

In the world of UX we must keep our ears to the streets about new software, but this cannot be in place of considering new hardware.  Because hardware is slower to be adopted it means we have more time to consider its use and design.  HMD’s have been around for a long time so there is a library of information on their use (for good and bad).  Because this could represent the next big break toward future user interaction, it’s important to attune ourselves toward their use and their design.


For the first time at UXAndrew.com I’m featuring a guest by Danielle Arad, UX Designer at Walkme.com

This is an interesting article and sure to spark some feedback!


Making the First Visit to an Online Service a Success

Many businesses are having hard time WOW-ing their users on their first visit. However, with the right user experience tips and tools, this shouldn’t be a chore anymore. What site owners really have to do is to take a deep dive into their users’ brain, and see what triggers their attention and what does not. In this article we are going to detail a few of the UX techniques that capture users’ attention right from the first time and which keeps them intrigued to find out more; but first, let’s take a look at the challenge.

The Challenge

According to Steven Ma, UX designer at Amazon, most website owners think that the lack of control on the end platform is one of the biggest challenges they face. Websites indeed live in an environment where operating systems, browsers, and standards are always transforming and evolving. What this means is that when designing a website, the owner should take into consideration the way in which users will access it, and thus include plugins, 3rd party scripts, assisting technology, and so on, in regard to the user’s needs. All these elements can help create a good first impression, but only if they are used in a certain order and in direction to a few key elements.

How to Make the First Online Visit a Success?

Even though a websites’ success is given by the quality of traffic that it gains, a poorly designed webpage will certainly do no justice to a business owner. Thus, UX designers should keep in mind a few points when concluding the website’s user interaction:

1. Design for All Platforms

As Steven Ma states, those who recognize the merits of this permanently evolving landscape will be the first ones to gain an edge over the other designers. The first experience of the users has to be a highly memorable one, and thus, designers have to create a highly responsive and triggering environment. “Responsive web design can be a good start, but it’s only scratching the surface literally” says Ma.

Therefore, in order to amaze users from their first visit on your site, you have to not only design with the platforms in mind, but also with the browsers and operating systems used by the audience. Different navigation tools can lead to different results, and thus it’s imperative to seek the satisfaction of each of your websites’ users. This can be achieved only through testing and implementation.

2. Create a Clear Message

“Refine your message. Refine it more. Pound on it until your knuckles start to bleed”, says Idan Gazit, Django core designer. Of course, those who reach your website should be perfectly aware of your page’s purpose and how can it help them achieve their initial objective. In the absence of this, the bounce rate will be extremely high, as users will not be aware of your site’s real purpose. A perfect example comes to mind: some websites out there fail to state a proper sub-title quote to show the site’s purpose. This, in combination with an ambiguous home page design, can really induce error for plenty of users who arrive on that site.

Furthermore, after a detailed discussion with Tal Florentin, UX Specialist, he states that “an online service website should always tell me what it offers and what’s in it for me. What it offers should cover the first 6 seconds, where the user asks where he came to and if this is the place he wanted. Assuming we won this one, the next challenge is to show an immediate value and close it with a fitting call to action. The call to action should always show a value and offer a good ROI. It should show the user that the value he is going to get is bigger than the effort required on his side.” This can’t be closer to the truth, as if the user fails to perceive where he landed, he is most definitely going to leave right on the spot.

3. Focus on the Main Actions

As Adi Mazor Kario of Wizard UI Consulting asserts, you should focus on the actions that you wish your users to pursue. Your users should always be aware of the methods that they can use to achieve their purpose. They should be aware at all times of the places where their actions will lead to. At the same time, it’s important for them to know how to get to their desired result quickly and effortlessly. The more time they’re required to pay for reaching their objective, the higher are the chances for them to leave. Thus, your site should literally “scream” towards them, telling them what to do next.

4. Create a Clear Orientation & Navigation Model

Mazor Kario further suggests to design a clear orientation and navigation model. For making the website easier to navigate, you can use plenty of techniques including breadcrumbs (referring to a navigation control that shows you where you are at any point in the structure of the site). Breadcrumbs, crumbs in literal translation, are named after Hansel and Gretel crumbs strewn behind them not to be lost in the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. You can also use a single-sided column view, in order to make users’ navigation easier and more intuitive. Tools that specialize in this niche of website navigation have recently become ever-more popular. WalkMe, for example, allows website owners to create simple navigation flows on their website in order to guide their users every step of the way, toward task completion.

Responsive Design and Bruce Lee

I recently gave a presentation called “Responsive Design and Bruce Lee: Be Like Water My Friends”.

While I don’t have the time (or rights really) to reproduce the entire presentation here, I do want to pass along a few things I learned while creating the presentation and a few things I’ve learned since.

1– Bruce Lee’s Jeet Koon Do style of martial arts is based around the idea of flexibility, and so is responsive design.  Responsive design is geared for absolute flexibility and cross-device UX that matches the expectation of the user.  Flexibility, however, means mastering a wider variety of skills.  The expectations on designers to understand a wider and wider scope of information can be stimulating to some and frustrating for others.  It begs the question — Would you rather be a jack of all trades or a genius at just one specific thing?  For Jeet Koon Do masters, I’m sure the point would be to master a wide variety of styles and be flexible in implementation, but that idea doesn’t translate well to responsive design.  The crux of responsive design at present is in creating ONE singular design that is able to be implemented across a variety of screen sizes, devices, and resolutions.  In doing so, I worry that we’re forgetting about the importance of user experience even in the hopes of improving it.  How can a singular, albeit flexible, design truly match the expectations of a user regardless of what device they use?  There is much to improve in this realm.https://i2.wp.com/sites.tcs.com/insights/perspectives/wp-content/uploads/media/adaptive-web-design.png

2– Responsive design is a great design tool, but it isn’t the end of the line in design.  The methodology and work flow aren’t clearly defined, so even though responsive design has sent a mini-shockwave through the design community, it’s still a concept that is intimately connected to front end development.  While there is a push at the moment for graphic designers to become coders, I’ve yet to see any evidence that there are actually more and more people who are both amazing devs and amazing designers.  It may happen, but I don’t believe we’re there yet.  Since this is the case, it is important for a dev to explain what makes his/her life easier in terms of designing for responsive design and then allow a graphic designer’s images/text to fit in with the desires of the dev.  This is awkward, but it’s also a reality in web design.  Even though designers would probably prefer to take charge, they’re at the mercy of the dev in responsive designs.

3– Responsive templates are limited at the moment.  It’s not that you can’t make really fantastic responsive design, it’s that responsive design is built on a grid that can be limiting for designers.  Windows 8 has an entire OS built on templates, and designers have yet to reach the end of it so even though there are complaints that it is boring, there are few complaints that it is limiting.  Responsive design, however, has yet to have true breakouts that are still in a template form but also push the boundaries of creativity and maintain usability.  This is coming, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet.

Design v. Art in the Design Blogosphere

Design blogs have taken on a new persona.  Instead of imparting information, they have become showcases for design inspiration rather than learning stations.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this.  In fact, gaining inspiration by looking at the works of others can be a critical aspect of the creative process.  The problem, however, with these inspiration galleries is two-fold.  First, inspiration has an ugly side called envy.  Being envious leads to negativity and does more harm than good in the https://i0.wp.com/www.oesquema.com.br/conector/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/design.jpegcreative process.  On the best days inspiration can break the creative block suffered by many designers, but on a bad day it can stifle the process entirely.  Second, and far more important, the difference between designers and artists is that designers solve problems as their first prerogative, while artists may solve problems but it is not their first and foremost goal.

Since design is a problem solving field, looking at showcases of amazing work, no matter how inspiring, is looking at art and not at design.  Looking at the most amazing Dribbble skeumorphic icons can be inspiring, but it doesn’t show whether or not a problem was solved by using these icons.  In other words, it is hard to look at portfolios, showcases, and articles like “Twenty Awesome Free Fonts” and know whether or not a designer has solved a problem.  As a https://i0.wp.com/artseverydayliving.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Monet-blog-water-lilies-Japanese-bridge.jpgresult, designers are looking at art instead of design.  While there’s nothing wrong with this inherently, blurring the lines between design and art can have a negative impact on the design process.  When designers consider aesthetics to be more important than meeting the needs of the client or community, they have gone beyond the bounds of design.

Reading about design, however, is different than looking at design inspiration or showcases.  Design is deeply entrenched in theory.  Why do people buy a product?  Why do they click where they do?  What do colors represent in the psyche of the user?  How have different tactics been used to reach the same goals?  These types of questions are rarely answered in the quick, image-based lists of design inspiration articles.  These types of questions are answered through reading case studies, academic articles, and articles about design theory.

As a design community, we should foster the distinction between art and design and embrace both.  As part of a creative process we should encourage inspiring showcases and great looking aesthetics, but we should also make a clear differentiation between art and design.  Encouraging designers to write case studies and to explain their process is sorely lacking in design blogs.  Designers are writing great books, like the Book Apart series, yet these books aren’t getting the respect and readership they deserve.  In order to push forward the frontiers of design as a problem solving field, designers must find inspiration from problems that have been solved rather than pretty pictures.