by: Christine Swartzendruber, Chief Technology Officer
We’re sometimes overly concerned about how we’re coming across to other developers or user experience analysts. We should be much more concerned with how we communicate to our end user. The common denominator is our target audience.
Whether we’re reporting research results, writing a research plan, showing off a new design, or drafting a specification, keep it simple. Communicate our key points efficiently, using minimal jargon. End users don’t understand complex development terms.
Read, Read, Read
Keeping up with all there is to read is hard, but it’s important that you keep up to date with the latest news about design, user experience, usability, product management, technology, mobility, and more.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is by using an RSS reader—Web-based or desktop, whatever works for you—and bookmark and tag relentlessly. After a few weeks, once you’ve built up a nice backlog of reading, schedule some time for yourself. At least once a month, reserve some time for an hour of strolling through your bookmarks and tags, reviewing what you’ve filed away. Open up a notepad—either a virtual notepad or a real one—and just crank out a raw dump of the main takeaways from each article. If you’re doing it electronically, don’t forget to note the sources of your takeaways. Just grab the URL and paste it beneath them.
If you do this for 3 or 4 months, you’ll get smarter and be a better UX practitioner. Don’t forget to share your gleanings. Not only is this a good way to consolidate your knowledge, it’s a good way to spark discussions in your professional community.
Pick A New UX Tool And Experiment With It
To grow in UX practice, download or browse to a new tool and play around with it. You may not put it into regular rotation, but it’ll get you thinking and looking at your practice a bit differently. A great place to start is on the UX Mastery site, 100+ Awesome Tools for UX Designers… http://uxmastery.com/resources/tools/
Hold A UX Stand-down and Operational Review
Take a day where all you do is look at what you do, what you produce, and how you deliver your services. It might help for you to pose some form of the following questions to yourself, regarding every aspect of your operation:
•Is this activity or process still meeting the need for which it was originally designed?
•If it isn’t, why not?
•If it is, can you meet that need in a better, faster, or stronger way?
•Are you performing any activities or processes that don’t meet any of your organization’s needs? (And can you stop doing them right now?)
•Are there new needs your current activities and processes are not satisfying?
Answer Simple Questions About Your App or Site
Spend some time analyzing your project and ask yourself these simple questions…
• Do people want to use this app?
• Do people know how to use it?
• Who is the target audience for this app?
• Does this app work?
• How will people use this app?
• What enhancements should I make, and in what order?
Follow Some of The Most Basic Rules of UX
•Be consistent. Pick a design style and stick with it. Every page should be a minor variation on a theme.
•Never use more than 3 colors on your website. One neutral (gray, pale blue, pale yellow), one accent (any bright color) and one bold (white, black). Do the same for your living room.
•Use less colors if you use more images in your web design. It will make the images pop.
•Don’t use flashing anything.
•Don’t use dark backgrounds for text.
•All websites must be responsive.
•If you make everything big, bold and loud, then nothing will stand out.
•Use more white space – it will make everything easier to read and less intimidating.
•Text should be #000, #333 or #666. Anything else is too light to read.
•Headers should be graduated in size, with H1 the largest size and H6 the smallest
•Use images. Nobody likes to see a whole screen full of text.
•Use at most 2 font types. Helvetica should be one of them.
•Underlines are only for links. Book titles should be italicized.
•Don’t use splash pages.
•Make your pages scanable by using heading, subheadings and spaces between blocks of text.
•Use images with people in your website. They’re friendlier and more compelling than those generic, stock-art photos.
•Identify the section at the top of the screen. E.g. Contact Us
•Don’t center align all your text.
These are just some of the many things you can do to get started with good UX practices. There are a number of other great resources available to help you improve.