Triangle User Experience Professionals Association (TriUXPA)

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  • 06 Jun 2017 7:45 AM | Heather Young (Administrator)

    The Triangle UXPA 2017-18 board election results are in! Meet the executive council officers: 

    President Julie Grundy
    Treasurer Rajiv Ramarajan  
    Membership & Sponsorship Lauren Hirsch
    Student Memberships Shaade Oliveros-Tavares
    Professional Events Andrew Wirtanen &
    Joe Bond
    Community Events Michelle Chin &
    Mary Fran Thompson
    Book Clubs Willamina O'Keeffe & 
    Nate Kacirek
    Webinars
    Beth Fowler
    Marketing & Communications
    Social Media
    Bendte Fagge
    Heather Young
    Past President Susan Tacker

    Learn about the executive council offices.

    Become a member of Triangle UXPA.

  • 24 Mar 2017 10:44 AM | La Tosca Goodwin (Administrator)

    In order to better serve our growing number of mentees, we recently started an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on our Mentorship Slack channel. Mentees are able to submit topics they are interested in learning more about, and then a mentor commits to an hour on Fridays. These mentors monitor the channel and answer any questions thrown at them about the particular topic of interest. The wealth of knowledge that has been shared is great and the participants have expressed it is a valuable series. Well we thought, "why keep all this great information to the confines of the Slack-verse?" So, periodically, we will create a post highlighting the nuggets of wisdom. I mean, cause really it's stuff every UX professional can benefit from.

    On February 3, 2017, we held an AMA about deliverables. Our mentor on-board was Audrey Bryson, UX Designer for Extron Electronics. Below you will find her write up based on our Slack conversation. Enjoy!


    AMA content

    by Audrey Bryson:

    Sketches:

    Sketches are the most appropriate for getting ideas out of your brain and onto paper. They are perfect for brainstorming by yourself or within a group.  The quality of sketches (straightness of lines, colors, alignment, etc) does not matter. The only thing that matters is if you are able to effectively communicate your ideas.

    Sketches are usually not shown to stakeholders unless you are showing proof that you thought of a lot of ideas before you settled on a higher quality wireframe to show them. Sketches are also a great way to show thought process in a portfolio.

    Medium: Paper, pencil, pen, white board, dry erase markers, etch a sketch, etc.


    Source: https://www.kooslooijesteijn.net/

    Wireframes:

    Wireframes are usually a more polished version of a sketch. They indicate the general structure of  website/application, and the positioning of all of the elements. If you're having trouble describing what a wireframe is, and what its purpose is to a stakeholder, you can tell them it's similar to a template, and provides a preview of a possible final product.

    Wireframes can be sketched by hand or created using a digital tool such as Balsamiq, Axure, Sketch, Adobe Illustrator, etc. It is best to keep color, images, or other high fidelity elements out of wireframes. They are a good way to think abstractly about the needs of a web product or application.  I recommend if you show a wireframe to a client, make sure your lines are straight,  but also make sure it doesn't look too complete, the point of a wireframe is to show ideas in a low fidelity manner.

    Medium: sketched by hand or created using a digital tool such as Balsamiq, Axure, Sketch, Adobe Illustrator, etc.


    Source: https://support.balsamiq.com/tutorials/responsivedesign/

    Workflow:

    Workflow for the most part is synonymous with a user task flow. Creating a separate workflow from the visual design is essential to keeping the focus on the tasks rather than the product. Workflows are driven by user goals, and the interaction designer needs to think about each step in the process to achieve that goal. It’s helpful good to include alternative paths, or what a failed path looks like, as well as a successful path.

    Workflows can be written in a paragraph form, in a numbered list, or in a flow chart. Your audience will determine what is most appropriate. With a numbered or written format you can easily get locked in to a linear flow, which is not always appropriate. Decision making and branching is a little easier to convey with a flow chart.

    Medium: Paragraphs, numbered lists can be created in any text editor. Flow charts commonly created in Adobe illustrator, Balsamiq, Axure, Sketch


    Source: http://deanbirkett.name/work/watch.html

    Wireflow:

    Wireflows combine wireframes and taskflows to create a more contextual way of showing user interaction throughout an application.  This deliverable is generally easier for stakeholders to understand. Wireflows can be low or high fidelity. Unless you have an existing visual design, low fidelity is recommended to save time.

    Medium: Wireflows can be created on paper or digital medium. Most designers tend to use programs like Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, Axure to create wireflows.

    Source: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/wireflows/

    Prototypes Lo-Fidelity:

    Prototypes are good for testing, handing off to developers, or describing micro-interactions and showing how  they will work in your design.

    If time, resources and budgetary concerns are short, paper prototyping is the way to go. Essentially this is just sketching or printing out physical versions of your design and presenting it to your audience. To show interaction, have the user "click" or "tap" on an area of the prototype and then flip the page to show an interaction such as a drop-down menu or a new screen.

    Medium: paper, pencils, stencils, printed out wireflows.


    Source: http://usabilitygeek.com/paper-prototyping-as-a-usability-testing-technique/

    Prototypes – High Fidelity:

    High Fidelity prototypes are what you want to test with users, and present to stakeholders before you ship a final product. Ideally testing a fully operational prototype would happen before the end of the design cycle to allow the development team to reflect on the results and make changes before actually sending products into the real world. But as user professionals know this is not always the case.

    High Fidelity is also good because it can tell you about user's general attitudes about a product. Color, interactions, animations, affect the satisfaction and usability of a product too, so if you can test those elements do it. You don't even need to include a question in your usability script about their thoughts about the visual design, your participants will just offer it up!

    Finally going for high fidelity and getting as close to the real thing is important because you are likely to uncover other issues that were originally outside the scope of your design. You can get away with murder in sketches and designs, but when it comes to implementation that is a whole other animal.  Maybe you're linking to a youtube video, but the ads that appear are overly distracting to your users. Maybe you're designing a mobile site, and it isn't until you test it on a phone outside that you realize the contrast isn't high enough. Small things like that can make or break a product.

    Medium: UX designers can create high fidelity and interactive designs in axure, invision, indesign, or even in html/css/javascript/php (any coding language). It's up to you to determine what is best for your team.


    Source: https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-design/how-to/wireframe-low-high-prototype.html

  • 16 Feb 2017 10:52 AM | Heather Young (Administrator)

    The Executive Council of  the Triangle User Experience Professionals Association (Triangle UXPA) and the leaders of the Ladies That UX-Durham (LTUX DUR) professional organization recently asked us to conduct a survey of local UX professionals. The goal of the survey was to determine salary levels and demographics of UX professionals in the Triangle area.

    We received 146 responses from the launch of the survey on 9/2/16 until it closed on 10/19/16. This is a response rate of approximately 7.8%, based on the number of members in both Triangle UXPA and LTUX DUR. The survey was open, though not directed to, the public. Therefore, there may be  responses by UX professionals who are not in either organization.

    Check the survey – Triangle UX Salary Survey.pdf

  • 14 Nov 2016 1:19 PM | Heather Young (Administrator)

    Happy 10th anniversary, Triangle UXPA.

    We've come a long way since our inception in 2006 as TriUPA. Take a look at our history to see how we've grown!




    TriUXPA_History.pdf

  • 07 Oct 2016 8:35 AM | La Tosca Goodwin (Administrator)

    Mentoring is very similar to coaching. Like any sports coach worth his whistle and stopwatch, the goal of a mentor is to pass on knowledge and wisdom that they have gleaned from personal and professional experiences. Equipped with this foundation, the next generation can build on it to further their craft.

    Sometimes, though the hardest thing is getting started with mentoring. It can all start, however, with a simple conversation.


    Triangle UXPA’s First Meet and Greet for Mentorship Program

    We recently had a meet and greet event for the Triangle UXPA’s mentorship program. Using the Beverage User Interface (BUI) platform, we kept it casual and informal. The idea was to help facilitate that initial encounter between mentor and mentee. We had a great turnout with 34 people attending.

    One of our mentors had this to say, “The meet and greet was a much more organic and comfortable way to connect mentors and mentees. As a mentor, I was able to get a better sense of what the mentees want and need, and I think a lot of the mentees felt that this informal setting was an easier way to break the ice and find a mentor with whom they have good chemistry,” Courtney Hall, Sr. UX Designer at Extron Electronics.

    What Can You Expect from the Program?

    You can expect exactly what you are willing to put into it.

    We started the night off with a short presentation on what people should expect to give and get from the program. Some highlights:

    #1 Concern of Mentors: “Do I have anything to offer?”

    The short answer is “Yes.”

    Some of the hesitation and apprehension I hear a lot from prospective mentors is that they don’t know enough to mentor. That is a major misconception. If you currently work or have worked in the UX field in a professional capacity—at any level—you have something to offer.

    "At first, I thought that I didn’t have anything to offer and that my level of knowledge was nothing special.  After talking with people, I realized that I may not have all the answers, but I do have something to offer and can help people with what I do know," said Don Church, UX Designer at Extron Electronics.

    Everyone can agree that being mentored is a good thing, but there is considerable convincing needed sometimes to get folks involved as a mentor. So, why mentor?

    • Enriching lives and careers
    • Passing on knowledge to help the next generation
    • You learn as you teach. Sometimes holes can be revealed in your own professional development as you teach your craft to others.
    • The teacher can also become the student. As a seasoned professional, you will have the expertise and experience that can only happen from actually just doing it—whatever it is. But those being mentored can sometimes offer young eyes, fresh ideas and new technologies to your toolbox.

    Some helpful hints to be a successful mentor:

    • Set real expectations for your time commitment and the type of help you are willing to offer upfront.
    • Give honest but helpful feedback. Make sure to treat your mentees as colleagues not underlings.
    • Help guide them in the journey toward their goals by paying attention to deficiencies in their basic skill set needed to succeed as a UX professional.
    • Be knowledgeable, but vulnerable. If there is something you don’t know—admit it and then be resourceful.

    #1 Question from Mentees: “How do I get started?”

    Answer: Reach out to a mentor.

    Mentees, the best advice to you is to start making connections.  The Meet and Greet was just one way to network. In addition to our list of available mentors, the Triangle UXPA also holds events all time and these are great ways to meet potential mentors. Remember though, it’s up to you to make the initial contact.


    When you do reach out here are some suggestions to make it go smoother:

    • Do your research and know what you want out of the relationship. “What is UX?” is not a good question to lead with.
    • Set realistic goals—what is the end game? Do you want to land your dream job? Are you looking to learn more before making a transition?
    • Make sure you find the right fit—a mentor who can commit the amount of time you need, and who has the skills you are interested in.
    • Be willing to put in the time and effort to make this successful for you.
    • Be willing to receive honest and helpful feedback.

    A Couple Success Stories with the Program So Far – This could be you!

    Joe and Andrew

    “Mentorship relationships often depend on the level of motivation – especially of the mentee,” said Andrew Wirtanen, Lead Product Designer at Citrix. “Joe immersed himself in the UX literature I gave him to read. That was the primary reason he was able to kick start his UX career.”

    In Joe’s case, his mentors simply guided his path and he took the initiative to barrel ahead. Joe is now able to pass on his knowledge and experience as a mentor himself.

    Crystal and Lucas

    Crystal Ibke is currently being mentored by Lucas Brauer, Interaction Designer. “It's been great working with Crystal, and I cannot say enough about how smart and competent she already is as a UX designer,” Lucas said.

    “We are working on the redesign of a website for a Duke and UNC student org called The Bridge. We have done persona development, stakeholder and user interviews, usability testing on an older version of the site (which is no longer live), and more,” he said.

    The design team for this project includes Crystal, and two developers that recently graduated from the Iron Yard code academy in Durham.

    So How Can We Make the Mentorship Experience Even Better?

    It wouldn’t be a group of UX folks if we weren’t always looking for ways to improve our experience. Here is a list of some suggestions from attendees:

    • A forum to practice presenting and discussing deliverables
    • A way to spread the wealth of knowledge and expertise in our mentor pool—not just limit the experience to a one-on-one relationship
    • Slack channel for mentees and mentors
    • More group project opportunities
    • Mentor forum or message board

    What are your thoughts? Leave us a comment.


  • 20 Sep 2016 11:38 AM | Chad Haefele (Administrator)

    Headshot of Cory Lebson"User Experience" as a label is a broad umbrella, and it often doesn't accurately describe the work we do or serve a purpose in recruiting for jobs. Cory Lebson, author of The UX Careers Handbook, spoke with our members last week about how to carve out your own piece of the UX Cheesecake.

    Cory wrote a blog post all about the cheesecake metaphor and just why he chose to use it as a cover image for his book. Each type of cheesecake has its own flavor, but there's still commonalities linking them together. And while each type of User Experience work requires unique skills, there's still a common basis that we all share.

    UX involves three broad categories of work:

    • Designing stuff (like Interaction Design, Information Architecture, and Visual Design)
    • Evaluating stuff (like User Research, Accessibility, and Human Factors)
    • Strategizing about stuff (like UX Strategy, Content Strategy, and Customer Experience)

    Those tasks and skills are applied in lots of different ways. You might be primarily a user researcher or information architect, focused in on your own preferred slice of the cheesecake. And each role within UX work has unique degrees of designing, evaluating, and strategizing. 

    "Career advancement comes not from throwing it all out there, but saying I'm an expert at this." - Cory Lebson

    Nobody can be experts in all of these areas. Cory put this in very concrete terms: If you start out by billing yourself as a UX Unicorn, master of all slices of the cheesecake, then nobody knows just which slice you're truly an expert at and you might get passed you over for a specialist job. It's very possible to become that unicorn someday, but it's important to start a career by focusing in one area. Build that expertise and then someday later think about branching out.

    Telling Your Story

    It's important to have your resume and portfolio tell your story and show your strengths. Which of the slices are your specialty? Make sure your story matches the job description you're applying for.

    But your story goes beyond just the job application itself. Cory said that employers will obviously Google applicants, and it's important to control your brand in what pops up.  He suggested Googling yourself to check if the results tell a story of the work you do. If you say you're a User Researcher or other specialist, your web presence better back it up. 

    Cory emphasized controlling:Cory Lebson speaking to TriUXPA members.

    But your brand alone won't get you that dream job. 

    Steps to help manage your search process:

    • Tell your network you're looking
    • Post your job search on social media
    • Go to UX events and network
    • Check out online job boards
    • Create a custom job board feed to stay current on listings
    During discussion at the end, an attendee asked about the usefulness and quality of an education via a UX bootcamp. Cory replied that "Doing a bootcamp is a good thing," but emphasized that it's also important to supplement a bootcamp with outside work. You should also do your research on the bootcamp in question, and see what slices of the cheesecake they're strongest in. Do they align with your interests and career goals?

    How do you think Cory's insights will impact your next job search? Does his advice and experience fit with your own?

    Thanks to Cory for spending some time with us, and to everyone who attended. We hope to see you next time!

    (Event photo by Andrew Wirtanen)

     

     


  • 01 Aug 2016 10:25 AM | Heather Young (Administrator)

    With UX being recognized more frequently as important by everyone in the organization, we find ourselves spending more time justifying our designs, and how we approach explaining our work can make or break our success in doing so.

    Some of us know this first hand because we've created really great work only for clients to not like them (and sometimes *really* not like them). We blame ourselves for not conveying all the details, or not spending enough time advocating for the user, or not facilitating the right conversation with the right client. Knowing how to lead these conversations is a skill of any good designer.

    Tom Greever, author of Articulating Design Decisions (O'Reilly), visited us last week for tacos and a talk on how best to prepare, listen, and respond when it comes to explaining our design solutions for stakeholder buy-in.


    Preparation

    As with any meeting, preparing for it can help with its overall success. Tom recommended rehearsing and anticipating reactions so we are better equipped to discuss our work thoughtfully and not in a reactive rush. Our own mental preparation is important, too. We need to be prepared that we're not always going to be right and others could be. Your stakeholders may have information about the business you don't have, so check our ego at the door.

    Listening

    When it comes to listening, it's really about leveraging basic communication skills. We should be allowing others to talk, pausing before we speak, and diagnosing the real issue at hand. Often, a client might suggest something that isn't the right solution. As designers, it's our responsibility to get to the heart of the issue – what problem are they trying to solve and how can we provide a solution serves the needs of the user as well as the business. Listen to the words behind the words. One way to do this is to convert “likes” into “works” to understand the reasoning behind their suggestion. For example, it’s more impactful to hear “this dropdown works because…” instead of “I like this dropdown.".

    Responding

    Tom has an IDEAL way to respond, which includes:

    • Identifying the problem
    • Describing your solution
    • Empathizing with the user
    • Appealing to the business
    • Locking in the agreement

    Once you've identified the problem and have found common ground, it's imperative to lock in the agreement, because without it, we can't move forward. Tom offered a few examples we can use for responses based on his previous experiences. His book also has plenty of great examples that illustrate how to use the IDEAL method in realistic scenarios.

    If you joined us for this event, we'd love to know how you've used some of Tom's methods when it comes to discussing your design work. If you weren't able to join us, we hope you can make another one of our events soon!

    Author: Michelle Chin

  • 21 Jun 2016 8:09 PM | Andrew Wirtanen (Administrator)

    All Things Open is an annual conference that "explores open source, open tech, and the open web in the enterprise." It's been held each year in downtown Raleigh at the Raleigh Convention Center.

    The speaker lineup features a few UX speakers, including Rachel Nabors, Bermon Painter, and Sarah Kahn.

    Triangle UXPA members can save 15% off registration by using the code TUXPA15.

    http://allthingsopen.org/

  • 13 Jan 2016 10:02 PM | Andrew Wirtanen (Administrator)

    The first ACM SIGIR Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval (CHIIR) (pronounced “cheer”) which will take place at UNC Chapel Hill on March 13-17, 2016.

    The keynote speakers are Mark Ackerman from the University of Michigan, and Pia Borlund from the University of Copenhagen.

    Description from the CHIIR site:

    CHIIR provides a forum for the dissemination and discussion of research on the user-centered aspects of information interaction and information retrieval. CHIIR focuses on elements such as human involvement in search activities, and information seeking and use in context. The conference represents a merger of two successful past events: the Information Interaction in Context conference (IIiX) and the Human Computer Information Retrieval symposium (HCIR), which have run since 2006 and 2007 respectively.

    http://www.sigir.org/chiir2016/


  • 05 Apr 2015 6:14 PM | Andrew Wirtanen (Administrator)
    This year's Innovate Carolina one-day conference is on April 24 at UNC Charlotte. Here's the description:

    Too often, corporations develop products or services based on what they think customers want, rather than taking the time to fully understand existing needs and unmet needs. There are a range of proven techniques to discover important and unmet needs, but far too often practitioners don’t think they need to investigate needs or rely too heavily on easily obtainable secondary marketing research. These approaches lead to shallow insights and “me too” solutions that don’t interest or excite customers. 

    If you are designing, building or managing products, or considering creating a new product, service or business model, you want to know that what you launch will be valuable to potential customers, differentiated in the marketplace and meet important needs. Innovate Carolina is for you.

    Learn more and register at http://www.innovatecarolina.org/2015-conference/

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