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Brain Bites: 2 Minute Insights

A surprising moment of persuasion

There are clear principles we can refer to when designing a ‘persuasive’ experience. The way we enact these principles, however, depends upon our imagination and ingenuity. I am always looking for good examples to add to Bunnyfoot’s Design for Persuasion course and recently I found one that surprised me. Not because it is so novel, but because I had been interacting with it for some time without realising what was actually happening.


What is UX Strategy?

26th March 2019
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As UX matures as a discipline, awareness within organisations of its importance and usefulness is growing. This brings both opportunities and risks.

On one hand, UX may be seen by senior decision makers as fundamental to creating competitive advantage for the business. This gives UX teams the chance to shine and deliver great value for their organisation and its customers. Conversely, this opportunity means UX teams sticking their heads above the parapet and putting themselves in the firing line, highlighting the need to demonstrate their worth.


Applying User-Centred Design To Your Career

12th November 2018
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I was speaking with a friend recently about the difficulties she’s having when it comes to deciding what the next step in her career should be. She’s gained a lot of transferable experience and skills from the jobs she has previously held but hasn’t yet found a role that she wants to build into a career.

There were two key problems my friend and I discussed: Firstly, she didn’t really know which role(s) she was most suited to, and secondly, of the jobs that were seemingly appropriate, which one should she go for?


Using Chatbots to Triage Live Chat Customer Needs

24th October 2018
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Conversational interfaces (voice assistants and chatbots) have not lived up to their launch hype, due to how hard it is to design and build conversations which obey the subtle nuances of human communication and language.

However, these technologies – when they are implemented knowing their limitations – are still valuable when designing multi-channel experiences. We’ve user tested chatbots which have been designed to answer simple questions where possible, and to gather all the information a live chat agent will need to answer more complex ones.

A well-designed chatbot can effectively triage or sort customers, helping some immediately and reducing the time that an agent needs to deal with others.


Are Casinos The Best Example of Dark UX Patterns At Work?

The other day, I was watching one of Louis Theroux’s old documentaries, called Gambling in Las Vegas. Theroux has tackled grittier topics throughout his career, but nevertheless, seeing people in the throes of a gambling addiction – a retired doctor claims she’s spent over $7 million in 10 years at the Las Vegas Hilton casino – isn’t easy viewing.

But the thing that interested me the most was the insight into how Vegas casinos (well, casinos anywhere) are specifically designed to keep people interacting with them as much as possible – even when it’s not in the customer’s interest.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because the definition of ‘dark patterns’ in UX is eerily similar.


The ‘Perfect’ is the Enemy of the ‘Good’ (and other Lessons from Rolf Molich)

8th October 2018
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A couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting Rolf Molich, a UX and usability pioneer who has been in the industry since 1984, at two events here in the UK. Rolf kicked off with a talk about ‘Ethical Dilemmas in User Experience’ at UX Sheffield (which we sponsor) followed by a slot at our very own half-day workshop, ‘What “Good” Looks Like in Usability Testing’.

At both events, Rolf was speaking in front of nearly 100 people – from some of the UK’s biggest brands – addressing and debating the key issues within UX and usability today.

Here are a couple of the most interesting topics that were discussed over the two days…


What Do Michelin-Starred Restaurants Have In Common With User-Centred Design?

The goal of user-centred design is to elevate products and services to create high-quality experiences for those who interact with them. Businesses are increasingly recognising that they can no longer look at users as transactions and are now focusing on delivering great service at every touchpoint.

From working as both a sommelier in a Michelin-starred restaurant and as a UX designer, I’ve thought a lot about how these experiences relate. When considering what is ‘good’ service, Michelin-starred restaurants set the benchmark. They are defined by their service and exude the traditional notions of what excellent service means.

As it turns out, many of the principles of hospitality are universal and translate well to those working in user-centred design…


The Biases That Shape Us (Even When We Don’t Know It)

In my previous blog, I talked about why creating an emotional experience through design is so important to a product/site/app’s success. But if you think about it, it’s odd that this is the case; we humans like to think we’re rational beings, superior to our animal counterparts; when we make decisions – to buy a BMW over a Tesla, to get our coffee from Costa instead of Starbucks – we make them objectively, based on logic – not instinct or emotion.

But… that’s rarely the case.


In UX, ‘Functional’ Doesn’t Cut It; Experiences Need to Be Emotional

A while ago, I noticed a post on Twitter that said, “a user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not very good”. Now, that’s obviously true; if your users have to spend their valuable time figuring out what your website (for example) is trying to tell or sell them or how the interface works – it’s (probably) not very good.

But in terms of user experiences, it’s no longer enough to just be usable; products, sites and services have to be enjoyable – people have to want to use them for them to be a success.


The Art of Moderation in UX

6th August 2018
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Good research is hard to do; it takes a lot of knowledge and skill to correctly plan and execute a research project, no matter what field you’re in.

One of the most crucial stages of any research study is data collection. The old saying ‘rubbish in = rubbish out’ is particularly true here, because no amount of analysis will deliver the insights you need if you’ve collected insufficient amounts or the wrong type of data (or both!).

When it comes to UX, getting the necessary data to create great experiences often involves observing and speaking with people who represent key user groups. Typically, this means performing user testing, in-depth interviews or focus groups. Given the time and effort it takes to plan and run these activities, you need to be confident that the person you’re relying on to conduct the research sessions knows what they’re doing.


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