• 24 Jul 2012 10:23 PM | Andrew Wirtanen

    John Dozier and Christian Manzella (

    John Dozier and Christian Manzella,

    As one of the Event Directors for the Triangle UXPA this year, I’ve learned that there is a little bit of magic that goes into each event.

    The event was born when one of our Advisory Board members recommended reaching out to our neighbors in Charlotte, specifically Lowe’s Home Improvement. Looking at my LinkedIn, I recognized that I was connected to a UX Researcher at Lowe’s (John Dozier). I reached out to John and, to my surprise, an event was born.

    On Wednesday, June 20, 2012, approximately 30 Triangle UXPA’ers filled the Training Room at Railinc. John Dozier and Christian Manzella (Sr. User Experience Architect Manager) led a fascinating talk about the UX process. The Experience Group for was revitalized about two years, which led to the creation of specialized groups, including UX research. Today, the UX process is much more mature; introduced a Chief Customer Officer on the Executive Management team in April 2012.

    The Experience Group at consists of many job titles, including:

    • Visual Designers
    • Interaction Designer
    • Content Strategists
    • Copywriters
    • Content Editors
    • Front-End Developers
    • User Experience Architects
    • User Experience Researchers

    The Experience Group primarily uses an Agile-like methodology. has three layers of Agile: Strategy, Planning, and Development. The Strategy layer is for brainstorming/discovery and should have very few time constraints. The Planning layer is where ideas are refined and documented. The Development layer is when the output of the Planning layer gets coded.

    John and Christian covered a variety of topics. Here are some of my favorite nuggets:

    • If using Agile, consider an Agile coach. Ask if they have experience with UX (if they don’t, then you may not have the right coach).
    • Make your workspace collaborative. Remove tall cubicle walls and add whiteboards, paper, post-its, and markers.
    • Stick wireframes on the wall to encourage feedback from introverts.
    • Adobe Test & Target and UserZoom are used regularly for Adobe Test & Target supports multivariate and A/B testing. UserZoom is for unmoderated remote usability testing.
    • Realize that not everything will get coded and not everything gets shipped. It’s ok!
    • Send as many of your employees to UX conferences as possible. Do not send only managers that are not doing any research or design.  But it is still important for management to be tied into the UX community so that they can provide support when it is needed.
    • “Always advocate for the user” (this is one of the Experience Group’s guiding principles).

    As of writing this, still has job opportunities listed on the Triangle UX Job Board. All job opportunities are in Mooresville, NC, approximately 20 miles north of Charlotte – check out 

    Andrew WirtanenAndrew Wirtanen is 2012 Director of Events for the Triangle UXPA. He is a User Experience Specialist at Atlantic BT in Raleigh, where he focuses on usability engineering, interaction design, and information architecture. Follow him on Google+ and at @awirtanen

  • 22 Jul 2012 8:42 PM | Deleted user


    The Fortune TellerDon’t you wish you had a fortune teller on your UX design team? Someone who predicts how your product will grow and thrive, or whether it will wither and die. You can have this – we’re called content strategists.
    When I think of user experience design, I traditionally think of interaction design, visual design, usability, and development. It’s time to make room for content strategy within the umbrella of user experience design. And not just because we’re a charming lot on the whole. We bring the gift of the prophecy.

    The Long View

    A content strategist brings the perspective of the long view to a design project – not just how the product looks, works, and reads at the launch, but how it needs to grow over the years. That’s the prophetic aspect of the role.
    I define content strategy as planning for the creation and maintenance of content. Within UX design, this translates to thinking about everything from what kind of templates will be needed to how content on the home page will be populated. You don’t want to design something that’s going to wither on the vine as soon as its launched because nobody thought about how the next headline will get created.
    In some organizations, content creators rarely get a seat at the table during the design process. I’ve always advocated for a content presence at all stages of design. We are the ones who will populate and maintain the content within the final product.
    We can help translate user and business goals into content requirements, content templates, and maintenance plans that think about the future.
    If content strategy isn’t a part of your process, you’re missing vital input about how the content on the site – the stuff that keeps users coming to a site – will work within a design.

    A Bridge

    Content strategists often serve as a bridge between UX and marketing, too. We need to understand the needs and goals of both groups. While UX is representing user needs, marketing focuses on how to communicate business goals.
    A content strategist can help translate how marketing needs get implemented in a user-friendly and sustainable way. This is the difference between a site that is built to integrate marketing campaigns and one that is full of one-off pages that take a lot of time and never get used again. 

    Your Take

    Content strategy is an evolving field. What’s your take on the role of content strategy in user experience design? Leave a comment to tell me how content strategists work with your team.
    Michael GowanMichael Gowan is a content strategist, writer, and editor based in Carrboro, North Carolina. His skills for content prophecy are available for hire. Follow him on Twitter @zebgowan. 

  • 17 Jul 2012 4:50 PM | Jacob Geib-Rosch

    The Durham Meetup @ Viget Labs

    Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski was the chosen inaugural book for the Triangle UXPA Book Club. Several Triangle UXPA members met to discuss what they'd like to read and agreed that even though the work we all did focused primarily on desktop and web applications, mobile is the future. Having read a few of the A Book Apart series previously, we  decided to see what they had to say about mobile.

    To organize all this, I thought I'd try to keep things simple and run the group at, which would give us the ability to run simple, informal events and online discussions in case people had questions in between sessions.

    What I didn’t expect was such a strong response from so many people who weren’t already in Triangle UXPA but were on Meetup. 53 people joined before the first meet-up, with 11 attending the Durham session and another 6 attending in Raleigh. No-one really used the discussion forums prior to the sessions, but Meetup allowed us to reach a new group and run polls on books.

    The Durham discussion was held at Viget Labs on Thursday, June 21st and hosted by the ever-gracious Todd Moy. The Raleigh group met a week later at the Main Library at NCSU and was hosted by Triangle UXPA's own Adam Rogers. Both discussions brought an interesting discussion of mobile and our experiences with it. In general though, the book itself was a higher-level overview of the whole topic of mobile rather than a discussion of why mobile should indeed be first. It combined a few intro chapters about the importance of mobile, then launched into some of the particulars of general mobile usability. While it did touch on the benefits of beginning from a pared-down mobile starting point, it lacked concrete examples of how sites benefited from this approach. We pretty much agreed that it left us ready to read the Responsive Web Design book from the Book Apart series.

    The good news was that what we lacked from the reading was more than made up for by the discussions. Both discussions were lively and insightful. At the Durham meet-up, one of the members brought in an impressive paper prototype of a mobile UI with various icons and buttons cut out and he explained how having the physical representation of just how small a mobile surface is really helpful when he meets with clients. In Raleigh, Adam discussed how NCSU is using mobile to run a scavenger hunt that helps introduce students to the main library during orientation. The result is a much more engaging experience than simply walking around as a librarian takes you on a tour.

    Both sessions discussed options for the next book, and 17 members contributed to the poll. The winner, with 11 votes, was Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter. Seems like the club has decided to give the A Book Apart series another shot. Having already started it myself, I am fairly certain both the book and discussion will be well worth it. Keep your eyes peeled for more details to come.

    - Jake Geib-Rosch
  • 02 Jul 2012 11:52 PM | Deleted user

    I wanted to give the Membership, Sponsors and Friends of the Triangle User Experience Professionals Association a mid-year update on the activities and accomplishments of the first half of 2012 and provide a glimpse into second half of 2012.


    A lot has happened in the first half:

    • Our Name has Changed.  The Triangle Usability Professionals Association (UPA) is now called the Triangle User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA). This change does not affect membership or sponsorship privileges or fees. It simply makes our professional organization more relevant in the shift in market focus from usability to total user experience. This is happening now primarily due to the acceleration of consumer driven IT both outside and now inside the enterprise.
    • Increased Membership. Our active membership continues to grow, approaching 300.
    • Improved Financial Strength. Our bank balance and, therefore, the financial stability and viability of our organization is at an all time high.
    • Evening Webinars now Available. User Interface Engineering (UIE) granted us permission to rebroadcast their live Virtual Seminar Series, normally broadcast live Tuesdays 1:30-3 p.m., enabling us to prescreen and select the best webinars, with our membership input, on the days and times that work best for our membership. We will continue to host some broadcasts live. The overall result has been more than doubling the attendance at these webinars.
    • Launched the Triangle UXPA Book Club. The book club had its first book review events in Durham and then Raleigh in June discussing the book Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski. The club was launched through the online social media “Meetup” and has attracted over 50 registrations, mostly UX/UI practitioners not currently engaged with the Triangle UXPA, which has extended our reach into the broader UX community.
    • Consolidated 3 Operational Applications. We replaced 1) the membership management &  payments processing application, 2) the website & events management application, and 3) the email marketing & communications application with a single integrated system. We then migrated all membership, sponsor, contact, event and historical information from the old applications to the new system. The new integrated cloud-based SaaS system is now fully operational and has lowered our overall monthly data processing costs.
    • Simplified Event Logistics. Capstrat graciously agreed to host most of our evening events and SAS to host most of our daytime or larger evening events, simplifying event logistics and providing a more predictable positive event experience for our members.
    • New Sponsor. Atlantic BT became our newest sponsor of the Triangle UXPA in June.
    • Student and Academic Memberships. A Student Membership fee was introduced in June at half that of the standard membership ($15). UIE webinars remain free for students. The Academic Professional Membership was set at the Standard Membership fee ($30).

    A lot more is coming in the second half:

    • Carol Barnum Workshop: UX Tune-Up July 18. Carol is an award-winning author and speaker and has published six books. Her newest book is Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set … Test! She has been an invited speaker at conferences around the world. Carol is a founding editorial board member of JUS (Journal of Usability Studies), an STC Fellow, a Rainey Award recipient for Excellence in Research, and a Gould Award recipient for Excellence in Teaching Technical Communication. The Triangle UXPA  offers this workshop to our membership at a 70% discount off the standard rates, but register by Thursday July 12, before the rate goes up.
    • Guest Lecture: Affordances and their Importance to UX Practitioners July 26 (Co-Sponsored with Bloomberg).  With several decades in the business, Rex Hartson and Pardha Pyla know a lot about user experience. In fact, this talk is based on a chapter in their recent publication, The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience. This new book is a comprehensive, practical field guide to understanding, assimilating, and applying the complete interaction design discipline. Rex and Pardha will discuss the different kinds of affordances and how they help in designing for a quality user experience. Anyone interested in designing a quality interaction user experience should attend.
    • Designing for the iPad. Panel Discussion with local experts on their experiences and plans for designing for the iPad September 13. This should be a great community event.
    • Tomer Sharon (Google) Workshop: Silver Bullets for Getting Buy-in for UX Research October 17. This half-day workshop provides strategies and tools for getting stakeholder buy-in for UX research. During the workshop we will learn tried and tested techniques, hear success and failure stories, practice and role play, and share insights with other workshop attendees. Registration is not yet open for this event. More details to come.
    • World Usability Day 2012: Usability of Financial Systems November 8. We are working on an exciting presentation with one of our local leading financial institutions. More details to come.
    • Jeff Gothelf Workshop: Lean UX: Getting out of the Deliverables Business November 15. This is a full-day workshop. User experience (UX) web design has traditionally been a deliverables-based practice, defined by wireframes, site maps, flow diagrams, content inventories, taxonomies, and mockups. But that tradition is not the best way to serve the user. In this workshop, you’ll learn that UX is about the experience, not the deliverables, and that as a UX designer you need to focus on the user and not the documentation. By applying a set of lean design practices and principles, you’ll learn how to keep the user’s needs first and foremost. Registration is not yet open for this event. More details to come.
    • UIE Virtual Seminars. One webinar will be presented each month through the end of the year.
    • Triangle UXPA Sponsor Drive.  In August, we will begin a sponsorship drive to enlist additional local companies and organization to sponsor the Triangle User Experience Professionals Association. If you or your company/organization would like to become a sponsor of the Triangle chapter of the UXPA and take advantage of the sponsorship benefits, please contact Mona Singh or Don Sugar at

    I want to take this opportunity to also thank the members of the 2012 Triangle UXPA Executive Council for making this all possible. We are an all volunteer organization with regular full-time day jobs.

    President: Richard Phelps

    Secretary/Treasurer: Don Sugar

    Event Director: Andrew Wirtanen

    Event Director: Adam Rogers

    MarCom Director: Cindy McCracken

    MarCom Director: Dorian Van Gorder

    Membership Director: Mona Singh

    Social Director: Jake Geib-Rosch

    We are currently recruiting for an additional Event Director, given all the events in the planning stage for the balance of 2012 and beyond. If you are interested, please contact me directly and get to meet with the leaders of the Triangle UX community.


    If you have any feedback, comments, inputs or suggestions for the Triangle UXPA please contact me.


    Richard  Phelps, Ph.D.

    President, Triangle User Experience Professionals Association


  • 30 May 2012 11:25 AM | Deleted user
    April 26th marked the kickoff of the TriUPA Community Event series, with a great interactive presentation by multiple speakers focused on prototyping tools.  More than 40 members and guests were in attendance.   We held the event at Atlantic BT near Crabtree Mall.  The event was a great success.  The evening began in typical TriUPA fashion with a half hour of networking and a light dinner.

    Tools and presenters included:
    • Omnigraffle: Todd Moy
    • InDesign: Jon Howarth
    • ProtoShare: Rick Phelps
    • Axure: Andrew Wirtanen
    • Balsamiq Mockups: Colin Butler
    • CSS/HTML/JavaScript: Adrian Pomilio
    We followed this with brief 5 minute presentations by each of the speakers about their particular favorite prototyping tool.  After the series of short presentations, we broke out into 6 separate session at Atlantic BT where attendees could move freely between the simultaneous sessions to see the prototyping tools in action,  watch ad hoc demos, and ask questions from each of the presenters.  The format allowed attendees to freely roam between demos, and stay for as little or long as they wanted.

    The evening closed with a raffle giveaway.  Our thanks to Axure, ProtoShare and Balsamiq for their donations.  We gave away one license to Axure RP Pro 6.0 (worth $589), one license to ProtoShare 6.2 Business Edition (worth $590),  and several licenses to Balsamiq Mockups for Desktop (worth $79).

    Several members noted they wanted to make this an annual event. It was great to actually see all the tools and their different areas of focus on the prototyping process!
  • 14 Apr 2012 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    In his "Telling the Right Stories with Data Visualizations" webinar, Noah Iliinsky shared a lot of great tips for making effective visualizations. Here are a few:

    • Find Iliinsky's chart about using visual encodings on his blog,

    • Try these sources for data for practicing visualizations:,, and

    • Tableau is a great tool for visual analytics that has good defaults. You can quickly iterate on graphics in Tableau. There's a free version, tableau public, but it can't be stored locally. Tableau only works in Windows, however.
    • Omnigraffle is great for diagrams, charts and hierarchies.

    • When you're not sure what story your data shows, seek trends, gaps and outliers, and explore.

    • Selecting the correct axes for displaying data is critical, and most people don't spend enough time on it.

  • 13 Apr 2012 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    TriUPA kicked off the TriUPA UX Book Club last Tuesday! At our inaugural meeting we had fried pickled okra (yum) and decided that we'd focus on books that had subject matter with practical application, but that weren't too technical. Since it's our first go, we settled on Luke Wrobkewski's "Mobile First" book (

    The Book Apart series tends to be well-written, interesting and short, so we're not biting off more than we can chew for our first book. We're planning on meeting up in a couple of months to discuss the book, and maybe even again after that to discuss some of what we've been able to do with what we've learned!

    Our kickoff meeting was a big success and we're looking forward to more folks joining in as they're interested. Go to with your inquiries and ideas, and to sign up for more information. You can also keep an eye on and @triupa on twitter, or contact me undefined Jake undefined at or @JacobGeibRosch on twitter.

    About 'Mobile First':
    Our industry’s long wait for the complete, strategic guide to mobile web design is finally over. Former Yahoo! design architect and co-creator of Bagcheck Luke Wroblewski knows more about mobile experience than the rest of us, and packs all he knows into this entertaining, to-the-point guidebook. Its data-driven strategies and battle tested techniques will make you a master of mobile undefined and improve your non-mobile design, too!

  • 30 Mar 2012 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    Mobile design is still in a state of invention, and designers should embrace the unknown, said Rachel Hinman at Tuesday's UIE webinar at SAS. She talked about three emergent mobile topics: shapeshifting, a brave NUI world, and comfortable computing.


    A lot of current mobile design is basically a scaled-down version of websites, Rachel said, which is not good. People use mobile devices everywhere, not just when seated at a desk. We should think of content for mobile devices as fluid like water, and not locked into pages. To account for different contexts of use on mobile devices, research and testing should be done in the "wild" as much as possible.

    A Brave NUI World

    We are currently between GUI (graphical user interface) and NUI (natural user interface), said Rachel, a researcher, designer and a recognized thought leader in mobile user experience. In the GUI model, computers as used as a tool for efficiency. This model requires users to recognize and recall the uses for buttons and menus. By contrast, NUI designs are fluid, unmediated and organic. The content is the star. People want to touch the content itself, not a button. Experiences unfold, which has given way to new and interesting design patterns:

    * nested doll: overview to detail (think iPhone)
    * hub and spoke: always goes back to the center (flipboard app)
    * bento box: many parts that interact with each other in different ways (tripadviser, kayak)
    * filtered view: bucket of information (think eye doctor: do you like this one, or this one?)

    If a web page is an information boulder, think of turning those boulders into information pebbles and reconstructing the experience for mobile devices.

    Comfortable Computing

    Mobile devices are the gateway drugs for ubiquitous computing, Rachel said. People associate the iPad with sociability and intimacy, and often watch movies or read books on them in bed or on the couch, for example. Using tablets like the iPad is often not about getting things done. "Say goodbye to 'Done,'" Rachel said. People are interested in exploring information on devices, and we need to invent new and more human ways for users to interact with information.

    Rachel Hinman is writing a book - also called "The Mobile Frontier" - to be published this year by Rosenfeld Media. She is also a Senior Research Scientist at the Nokia Research Center in Palo Alto, California.

    Here are the slides from the webinar:

  • 03 Mar 2012 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    Thanks to all of you who took the TriUPA survey last month! The executive council has been using the results to plan its events schedule to best meet the needs of the most people. Here are a few highlights:

    • 73 TriUPA contacts responded
    • The most optimal time for TriUPA events are 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. The second best time was afternoons of the same days.
    • The top three cities for meeting were Raleigh (33%), Cary (32%) and RTP (15%)

    The top six UIE webinars were as follows:

    • Telling the Right Story with Data Visualizations and Noah Illinsky (64%)
    • The Mobile Frontier with Rachel Hinman (and in cooperation with Rosenfeld Media) (62%)
    • Designing Dashboards: The Do's, Don'ts and D'ohs with Hagan Rivers (59%)
    • The Art and Craft of User Research with Steve Portigal (57%)
    • The Design Choices You Make for Information with Brian Suda (57%)
    • Discussing Design: The Art of Critique and Adam Conner (45%)

    Please see the attached PDF for complete results.

     File Attachments
     Download file:

  • 12 Dec 2011 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    As we near the end of the year I would like to thank both the volunteers in the Executive Council and the TriUPA sponsors and members for making 2011 a fun and productive year. We sincerely hope that you benefited from the various community events and professional events. Since we are usability professionals we do like to get feedback. Please take a few minutes to give us feedback by answering a short survey.

    We have also put together an Executive Council for 2012-many thanks to all the volunteers. This year we were only able to get one person per available role so there is no ballot. The list of the Executive Council volunteer statements is attached.

    See you all next year!

    Mona Singh, Ph.D.
    President. TriUPA

    File Attachments
    Download file:
    2012 TriUPA Candidates Statements.docx

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