UIEtips: Becoming a UX Unicorn in 5 Easy Steps

Jared Spool

April 2nd, 2014

Lately there’s all this talk of UX unicorns. Have you found them? Are you trying to nurture them? Are you hoping to be one? Research shows there’s a strong correlation between UX Unicorns and the UX skills they acquire and hone.  Read about the five ways you can become a UX unicorn.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

We call them unicorns because they are supposed to be mythical creatures-something that doesn’t exist in the real world. That’s how the nickname came about.

Yet, over the past couple of years, we’ve started meeting people who fit the description of a UX unicorn. They are very real and they are amongst us. We know because we’ve met and studied several dozen of these multi-skilled designers over the past two years.

Where do you begin to develop these skills? Well, one resource is UIE’s All You Can Learn, a library of all things UX. Just create your account, and over 160 seminars will be at your fingertips.

Read the article Becoming a UX Unicorn in 5 Easy Steps.

How do you branch out beyond your existing core skills? Tell us about it below.

UIEtips: Why Lean UX?

Jared Spool

March 26th, 2014

In today’s UIEtips, we reprint an article on the debate and discussion surrounding Lean UX. Some have seen it as a condemnation of extensive documentation while others have said it’s a rebranding of techniques they’ve been practicing for years. In this excerpt from Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience, authors Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden lay out their rationale for why Lean UX is something new and why it’s important now.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Working in software, designers faced new challenges. We had to figure out the grammar of this new medium, and as we did, we saw new specialties such as interaction design and information architecture emerge. But the process by which designers practiced remained largely unchanged. We still designed products in great detail in advance, because we still had to deal with a “manufacturing” process: our work had to be duplicated onto floppy disks and CDs, which were then distributed to market in exactly the same way that physical goods were distributed. The cost of getting it wrong remained high.

Read the article Why Lean UX?.

If you want a learning-focused process that rallies your entire team around continuous research-and more effective design outcomes-then join us for Josh Seiden’s April 3 virtual seminar, Lean UX: Forming & Testing Hypotheses.

How have you implemented Lean UX in your organization?  Tell us about it below.

UIE’s All You can Learn, a library of the skills and techniques you need to create great design

Adam Churchill

March 25th, 2014

When design teams think about their project work, part of that process is identifying skills that the entire team will need, or techniques and abilities that one or more contributor may need to “bump up.”  It’s all here.  You now have at your fingertips an extensive collection of the best thinkers, showing you how to do things new and different—things you can immediately bring to your work.

Creating over 160 presentations on all things UX in a library that works well for designers took some time.  But that was absolutely time well spent. We’re excited about All You Can Learn, the topics and experts we’ve gathered for you there, and hope you’ll see it as the resource we intend.  

Once you create your account, you’ll have access to content when you need it, with the option to build a watch list for viewing on your schedule.  

We’ve got great things planned, both in content we’ll add for you and how All You Can Learn can help you do your job.  We hope you’ll be part of the ride. 

Sharron Rush and Whitney Quesenbery – Accessibility Easy Checks

Sean Carmichael

March 20th, 2014


[ Transcript Available ]

A Podcast for Everyone artwork

If you’ve just been put in charge of making a site or app works for everyone, the most daunting step might just be the first one. Sure, there are standards, but sometimes they raise more questions than they answer.

What you need is an easy way to get started. And Easy Checks may be just what you need.
Sharron Rush heads the Easy Checks project at the Web Accessibility Initiative. These simple steps help you get an idea of whether a site meets some of the basics for good accessibility, without any special technology or tools. She joins Whitney Quesenbery for this episode of A Podcast for Everyone to answer some of these questions.

  • What are the Easy Checks, and why are they needed?
  • Can anyone use the Easy Checks? Is there special equipment needed?
  • What’s the best way for a project team to get started with accessibility?
  • How do usability and accessibility fit together when you are evaluating a web site?

Sharron Rush has been an advocate, a learner, and a teacher of accessible technology for 15 years. She is Executive Director of Knowbility and an Invited Expert to the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative where she co-chairs the Education and Outreach Working Group, which wrote the Easy Checks.

Resources mentioned in this podcast:
Easy Checks – A First Review of Web Accessibility
Knowbility’s Access U
Web Accessibility Initiative

Recorded: February, 2014
[ Subscribe to our podcast via Use iTunes to subscribe to UIE's RSS feed. ←This link will launch the iTunes application.]
[ Subscribe with other podcast applications.]

Read the rest of this entry »

Lean UX: Forming & Testing Hypotheses

Adam Churchill

March 20th, 2014

Join us for our next Virtual Seminar, Lean UX Forming Testing Hypotheses.  Its happening Thursday, April 3. 

It’s easy to talk about features. Fun, even. But easy and fun doesn’t always translate to functional, profitable, or sustainable.

That’s where Lean UX comes in—it reframes a typical design process from one driven by deliverables to one driven by data, instead. Josh Seiden has been there, done that—and he’s going to show us how to change our thinking, too.

You’ll Learn how to

  • Start with a hypothesis instead of requirements
  • Write a typical hypothesis
  • Go from hypothesis to experiment
  • Avoid common testing pitfalls

If you want a learning-focused process that rallies your entire team around continuous research—and more effective design outcomes—then don’t miss Josh’s seminar.


UIEtips: New Rule – Every Desktop Design Has To Go Finger-Friendly, Part 2

Jared Spool

March 19th, 2014

In this week’s UIEtips, we offer part 2 of Josh Clark’s article New Rule: Every Desktop Design Has To Go Finger-Friendly. In it, Josh reminds us that ideally the web is a platform that can be accessed from any device, no matter what its input or output method. For now, that means opening up all desktop layouts for easy finger-tapping.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

For most of its short history, web-design practice has focused on the visual-on screen size. It’s not yet in our industry’s DNA to consider physicality and environment in our layouts. That’s why many are still surprised at the idea that they can’t just use their legacy desktop layout on iPad, even though the screen size is the same. The layout looks good, sure, but that rarely means it’s also finger-friendly.

The rise of the hybrids means touch is no longer the sole province of phones and tablets. It’s arrived on desktops and laptops, too. Most desktop website layouts, however, are not optimized for touch. They challenge our clumsy fingers and thumbs with small touch targets for links and menus, or they lean on hover interactions that can’t be triggered by touch at all. Few sites place primary navigation in easy reach of the thumb zone for either tablets or hybrids; they favor cursor-friendly screen-top navigation instead.

Read the article New Rule: Every Desktop Design Has To Go Finger-Friendly, Part 2.

If you want to convert your mouse-focused desktop sites into mobile layouts with touch-friendly screens, than watch Josh’s virtual seminar, Designing Touch-Friendly Interfaces. It’s now part of UIE’s All You Can Learn, the place to watch, listen, and learn from the world’s best instructors.

How do you ensure your designs can be accessed from any device? Tell us about it below.

UXIM: $300 off for groups of 3 or more

Lauren Cramer

March 18th, 2014

Boost your team’s morale and effectiveness

Teams are moving away from siloed activities. Effective teams now learn more from users, design products faster, and communicate more holistically within their group. Flexibility and collaboration are key traits to successful teams, but these skills aren’t always easy to master.

That’s why the workshops at the UX Immersion Mobile Conference in Denver, CO, April 7-9 are all about helping teams get practical approaches to:

  • Organizing the timelines and deliverables on responsive web design projects
  • Conducting usability research, include remote testing, for the entire team to partake in
  • Using Atomic Design so your team can make flexible, adaptive UIs
  • Coding prototypes to help communicate your design ideas better
  • Adapting your existing content into packages that work with your team and users
  • Ensuring your team is doing mobile-first responsive web design

Get the details on these workshops

That list doesn’t even include the 6 featured talks and 2 keynotes on Day 2 of the conference. THERE IS SO MUCH TO LEARN.

Send 3 or More and Each Person Gets $300 Off

To encourage team building, we’re giving each person $300 off when you register 3 or more people. You’ll pay just $1,689 for each person. Besides the discount, your team will also receive the video and audio recordings for all of the Tuesday talks to share with your entire organization.

With just 55 spots left before the conference sells out, you’ll need to act fast. Save your seat today.

Wanted: Amazing Web Developer Intern

Adam Churchill

March 12th, 2014

We’re looking for an amazing Web Developer Intern for a paid, 4-month internship. It starts in May 2014 in our offices just north of Boston.

Fast forward four months…

We’d like to thank you for doing a fantastic job as our 2014 Summer Web Developer Intern. You’ve excelled at maintaining, editing, and documenting our stable of web properties. You created all of our outbound HTML emails in your time at UIE, and managed those campaigns through our email service provider.

Your site development skills are top-notch, as you worked closely with our web team to improve a new online subscription program. You worked your magical HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript/jQuery skills to get our next version closer to what our users want. You updated it with new content in our ExpressionEngine-based Content Management System and, because of you, this new program has been a huge a success.

To top it off, you’ve even helped us mine some useful data from multiple databases for our Director of Marketing.

Thanks for your energy and enthusiasm during your internship. We know you’ll succeed at your future ventures.

Now back to today…

If you’d like this to be your story, send us:

1) Your resume
2) A half-page write up of your most significant web development accomplishment

While we’re less concerned with your skills and qualifications, we won’t compromise on your ability to deliver team results. We’ll be back to you in 48 hours if you can follow these simple directions and have what it takes to achieve something special.

You might even want to check out our sites— http://uie.com, http://uxim14.uie.com/, http://aycl.uie.com/ —for some insight into what we’re doing. We think you’ll be excited by where we are today and the challenge to get us where we’re going.

You will work in our North Andover offices. (Sorry, we don’t hire remote employees, or those not already in the United States.) We’ll provide all the equipment you need, including Apple hardware and Mac software to bring out the best in your talents and skills.

We’d like this internship to begin in early May, with the ideal individual working 30 to 40 hours per week, but offer flexibility to the right candidate.

Send your resume and write-up to: WebDevInternJob@uie.com

or: Adam Churchill / Director, Online Products / User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike Street, Suite 102 North Andover, MA 01845

Laying Out the Costs to Your Boss for You to Attend the UX Immersion Mobile Conference

Lauren Cramer

March 12th, 2014

There are likely two main pieces of information your boss needs to decide whether or not to send you to the UX Immersion 2013 Mobile Conference (in Denver, CO April 7-9). Cost and benefits.

In this second post of our 2 part series, we’ll cover cost. The first post covers the benefits of attending.

There’s no way around it, conferences can be expensive. You need to consider more than just the registration fee when presenting the costs to your boss.

Breakdown of prices

We summarize this information in a table at the bottom.

Registration – The current price is $1,989. But if you use the promotion code BLOG300 you’ll get a $300 discount. The next price jump goes to $2,289 starting March 15. (Depending on the circumstance, we’ve been known to give greater discounts. Contact us at events@uie.com)

Hotel arrangements – We’ve secured a special group rate of $179.00/night plus tax at the Denver Marriott City Center hotel. This is the conference hotel, so by staying here, you’ll avoid daily transportation costs.

There are other hotels in the surrounding area at various prices. Explore additional options at Hotels.com or Orbitz.com. Be aware that hotel rooms booked on these sites may not refund you if you cancel. To keep your cost down, you’ll want to find a hotel within walking distance of the Marriott.

Flights – Flight cost varies depending on day of week, location, and number of stops. Flying out of a major hub typically gives you more airlines, times, and non-stop options. However, non-stop flights are often more expensive.

Save yourself money by looking into flights that have a stop. If possible, look at flights that have you leaving on a Saturday. Often flights and hotels are cheaper when there’s a Saturday night stay involved. You may actually save yourself money by coming a day early, and Denver is a fun city to explore.

Do your homework and use sites like Hipmunk or Kayak to compare flights.

Transportation to and from Denver airport – Taxi and shuttle service are the main ways to go to and from the Denver airport. Going by taxi will cost the most with the estimated cost of $45-$55 each way. Super Shuttle rate is $23 each way but does make several stops. Explore your transportation options at the Denver airport site.

Food – Your conference registration includes breakfast all three days, mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack and beverage breaks, lunch on Tuesday, and a reception with food on Tuesday evening. You’re on your own for lunch on Monday and Wednesday plus all your dinners during the conference.

Expect to spend an average of $8-12 for lunch and $12-20 for dinner.

Summary of expenses

Here’s a chart with your average expenses. The hotel cost is for the Denver Marriott City Center.

East Coast Mid-West West Coast
Conference Fee (with promo code BLOG and sign up by 3/14) $1,689 $1,689 $1,689
Hotel Cost (3 nights and tax) $613 $613 $613
Flight (average) $500 $275 $275
Taxi to and from airport $110 $110 $110
Food $80 $80 $80
Total $2,992 $2,767 $2,767


Ideas to save on some expenses

There are a few ways to save some money.

1. Book your flight ASAP. The closer you get to the date of the conference, the higher the flight costs. Look for one stop options to lower the cost.

2. Use Super Shuttle for transportation to and from the airport. Use the extra money you save towards food.

3. Share a hotel room

4. Be sure to register with the promotion code BLOG300 and save the $300.00. And register by March 15 before the rate increase.

Read part 1 – Explaining the Benefits of Attending the UX Immersion Mobile Conference to your Boss.

Explaining the Benefits of Attending the UX Immersion Mobile Conference to your Boss

Lauren Cramer

March 12th, 2014

Convincing your boss to spend $1,800-$3,000 to send you to the UX Immersion Mobile Conference is no easy task. Your boss wants to understand how it benefits the organization, team and you.

In part 1 of of our 2 part series, you’ll learn how to explain the benefits of attending the UX Immersion Mobile Conference to your boss. Part 2 – Laying Out the Costs to Your Boss for You to Attend the UX Immersion Mobile Conference details the costs associated with the conference.

Understand what your boss wants

Before you present anything, find out what information your boss needs to say, “yes, you must go to this conference.” Often at the top of the list is cost and benefits to the company. Dive deeper – ask what they mean by benefiting the company. Is your boss asking to see:

  1. How you’ll solve a specific pain point within your organization?
  2. How the material you learn will help finish up a current project?
  3. How this new information is shared with the rest of the team?
  4. How your new-found mobile UX knowledge saves the company from hiring someone to do a specific task or skill?
  5. Will you bring in a new skill set that the company is lacking?
  6. How are you adding to the basic UX knowledge of the team?

Addressing Your Design Needs

Only you know which workshops will address your most pressing design needs. The UX Immersion workshop descriptions lay out what you’ll learn during the day, the practical take-aways you’ll get, and how to implement the new processes and techniques you’ll learn.

Explore the workshops that fit your training and design needs. Find 3-5 points within the workshop description that addresses the 6 questions above.

For example, after attending Cyd Harrell’s workshop on Conducting Usability Research for Mobile Apps you’ll:

  1. Learn how to design a mobile-specific research plan.
  2. Start collecting user data with mobile devices.
  3. Conduct user interviews on-the-go.
  4. Add mobile research to your process.

Each workshop description has a section on what you’ll learn and you can copy the bullets from there.

Training others

One of the best methods to reinforce a new skill is to train someone else. We call it the “watch one, do one, show one method.”

In the daylong workshops, you’ll learn by “watching” and “doing.” Then, once you’re back in the office, you’ll “show one” by teaching the rest of the team the fabulous material from the workshops.

To help with the sharing/showing, you’ll receive audio and video recordings of the short talks plus all the materials from every workshop and talk. These items are included as part of your registration.

Increasing your value to the organization

Most organizations care about and invest in their employees. They look for ways increase your skills and provide the tools necessary to succeed. Amping up your mobile UX knowledge makes you a better designer and a more valuable and productive employee.

Conferences are an opportunity for you to glean best practices and network with others facing the same challenges. You’ll gain more than you can get from simply reading articles or books.

In Summary, Provide a Benefits Worksheet

It’s difficult to put an exact figure on the ROI for attending the UX Immersion Mobile Conference. Your boss will want something that quickly quantifies benefits and shows what the costs are. Here’s an example.

Conference Expenses
Conference fee with promo code BLOG300 $1,689
Hotel costs $613
Flight $275
Transportation to and from airport $110
Food $80
Total $2,767
Organization’s Benefits Specific need, and how the conference addresses that need
Get the latest mobile UX techniques Through the two workshops and 5 talks I attend, I’ll hear about the latest trends, research, methods, and techniques around mobile UX design
Learn what others are doing in the UX field This conference has several opportunities to network with peers and the speakers. It’s a great environment to find out how others have addressed similar issues we’ve come across. The speakers are approachable and open to discussion.
Improve individual and team design skills I’ll do a lunch and learn on the various workshops and sessions I attend so the team gets the key take-aways I acquired at the conference. Additionally, the conference provides recordings from the short talks and all the materials from every session. These can be used by everyone within the organization.
Solve a current design problem We’ve talked about how to incorporate more mobile UX research into our designs and a need to incorporate responsive design. There are 2 workshops that directly cover these areas. With this information we can move forward at a quicker pace to complete the projects.
Eliminate the need to hire outside UX personnel Many of the sessions and workshops address the missing skills needed to solve some of the issues we’re having. By boosting our skill set it may eliminate the need to hire outside to fulfill these needs.

As an added incentive, tell your boss you can save $300 if you register by March 15 with the promotion code BLOG300.