UX : Who the Hell does what? (part 1)

UX who does what?

I’ve been a UX practitioner, evangelist and campaigner for over a decade now and it’s often been an up hill struggle to make more traditional management teams accept its critical importance and competitive advantage, however, in the last year or two I’ve watched it’s acceptance accelerate at an amazing pace, propelled by business case after business case (though I’d argue that common sense should require no business case).

But now that everyone seems to recognise the importance of UX, we hit the next hurdle: We’re seeing a lot of confusion over UX roles: who does what, where the UX expert’s responsibilities (and skills) start and end and which UX job title this comes under, and this is becoming a bigger and bigger problem, leading to confusion from the employer as to what type of practitioner they need and confusion from the practitioner as to how they should title their skills. It doesn’t help the recruiters in the middle either, as they have to match two together correctly some how.

Below is a list of just some of the more common UX role titles that I hear thrown around in the market place at the moment, and a rough description of their responsibilities. Continue reading


Why user-centric UX is so important

“User-Centric” is not a buzzword. Its really important. It should seem obvious that making your digital experience as empathetic to your user’s needs as possible will result in the greatest business goal conversions, be that sales, signups, awareness or something else…but mostly sales 😉

If you get it right you’ll leave your competitors in the dust. Of course if your competitors get it right they’ll leave you in the dust. However there are a lot digital experiences out there that still don’t take a user-centric approach, so a significant window of opportunity remains.

Naturally you should employ UX best practices to deliver this, but good UX is not to be confused with a good user-centric solution.

Good UX ensures you deliver your solution in an intuitive and simple manner, removing inconvenience and inefficiency from the experience, distilling it to it’s essence and rationalising it’s capabilities. Continue reading


The O/N Windows – Will you lead or do you follow?

 

Opportunity Necessity lifecycle chart

This chart does generalise a little, as every technology develops differently and has an inception-to-release timescale that is unique to it, however, it represents the relative position and timing of the different phases, especially the Opportunity and Necessity windows in any successful, important technology. You will notice that the Hype Cycle is both effected by and effects the O/N windows. The chart also ends deliberately prematurely and fails to show the continuing growth of the Necessity window, which, with important technologies, grows exponentially to dwarf this part of the chart.

 

For a relatively short time during the lifecycle of inception, development, alpha/beta testing and final release of a technology (software or hardware), there is a window of opportunity for us as technologists. Here I will use the example of a single technology, however, in real life an existing technology often goes into an additional window of opportunity due to the creation of another, newer, symbiotic technology coming into it’s own window of opportunity. No one technology is the solution to everything. It’s how we combine new and existing technologies to solve existing problems that creates innovation. That’s why things like Big data and Public APIs are filled with such exciting potential (but that’s another post). Continue reading


Kinect – the next step in HCI

With Microsofts launch of the highly anticipated Kinect interface comes much excitement from the development world occupied by us….well let’s be honest, geeks. But hey, Geeks are the new jocks in todays tech driven world. We make shit happen. Don’t believe me? Within 3 hours of the Kinect being sold it had been hacked and here’s just a few of the initial results. Already I can see LOTS of possibilities.

As soon as I’m back from LA I’m going to be opening up one of these babies and experimenting with it myself.

By the way, this is my first trip to California and for the life of me I cannot figure out why everyone doesn’t live here. The streets are palm tree lined. It’s clean, friendly (at least compared to London), it’s 26 degrees C in November, sunny, beautiful and the beaches and the mountains are less than an hour away. Time to relocate I think.


Love 3D building projection or just love Vienna?

Personally we love both.

On the evening of Monday 8th November the Vienna Tourist Board will be presenting a 3D building projection experience at the Imagination building in Store Street just round the corner from Tottenham Court Road. If you’ve never been to one of these then you will be in for an amazing experience. Essentially a 3D laser measurement and model are made of the entire building to be projected on to and then the display movie(s) and experience are rendered to make maximum use of the building’s architecture. We don’t know what the Vienna Tourist Board will be showing exactly but for more details on the event click here. Some of these building projections are totally mind blowing! You may not even believe that they are just projections.

If you want to see a couple of awesome examples then go here

BBC Radio 1 presenter, Reggie Yates will also be there to meet and greet and even if you don’t like the 3D, who could not love Vienna? A place where Cafe culture is the norm, women are beautiful and moustaches are still status symbols.  A most incredibly beautiful city dripping with class, culture and history. The Vienna Tourist Board want to show us how Vienna is today, how it combines the old with the new. No, we don’t work for them, we’ve just lived over there so we know how beautiful it is 🙂 – come along and see for yourself.


Adobe sponsored Poker Tournament – PokerCoder 8

PokerCoder 8 is running on the evening of Tuesday 13th July. If you’re a developer or designer who uses Adobe products professionally and you’d like a go at poker for free, then get along to the PokerCoder site and read up on the event and then register but do it quick as places go really fast for this event.

Adobe lay on the drink and the prizes. There’s no entry fee and the only thing you’ll pay for all night is your food if you want some. The games are not played for money and the dealers are used to beginners and give tutorial help during the evening. It’s a great opportunity to learn poker with no risk and surrounded by friends and colleagues. It’s also a great opportunity to meet you peers, potential employers or potential employees (and you’ll get the chance to see how they operate under pressure).


HTML5 vs Flash: The Real Question

I read an article on Gizmodo which intelligently and articulately analyzed the claim that HTML5 was a Flash killer. They quoted many research sources and spoke of many real world industry imperatives, ultimately leading to a very honest and pragmatic conclusion. I was very impressed to read such a cogent comparison and analysis and I firmly recommend that if you are a Flash developer who’s worried about your future, you have a read of this and put your mind at rest.

But for me, Ny Quil crystalised the triviality of the threat to Flash in one question : “The real question is this: will HTML5 make it easier or harder for me to get porn?”


BBC announce new iPlayer

Being heavily involved in the IPTV sector we have to say that the continual improvements in the BBC’s iPlayer are very welcome. They are in a unique non-profit requirement position to make products which are simply excellent and not constrained by insane client deadlines, unrealistic budgets or any sort of commercial RoI requirement. Bundle this with the BBC’s approach to using the best people and technology partners in the industry to produce their visionary solutions and what you have is an incredible recipe for world leading, technically excellent solutions. This alone is reason enough for paying your TV licence fee.

The new player which was announced today, will have a number of improvements including:

Simple

  • Cleaner user experience, with three discovery areas
  • –Sliding drawers: Featured, For you, Most popular, Friends
    –TV Channels: TV listings page, showing what’s on now
    –Categories: browse by genre and sub-genre

  • Separate TV & Radio
  • –No longer grouped together, easier to browse
    –Radio console
    –Pop-up console runs while you browse

  • Channel-hop whilst watching live
  • –Quick links in viewing window, one-click to flip between channels

  • BBC iPlayer Desktop
  • –Download favourites in advance to save time
    –Easier to watch favourite programmes offline

  • Improved viewing experience
  • –Fewer buttons
    –Larger screen
    –Higher quality video

Personal

  • Favourites
  • –Tell BBC iPlayer what you like, and it will line programmes up in a convenient playlist
    –New programmes, expiring programmes and unwatched programmes are flagged so it’s easier to keep track

  • Improved recommendations based on what you watch and listen to
  • –Stored in local cookies, or via BBC iD
    –Families can log in through separate IDs: individual experiences through the same machine
    –Improved programme alerts delivered via email, so you don’t miss a thing

  • Roam with BBC iD
  • –Log in to store preferences, so you pick up where you left off on another computer

  • Customisable EPG
  • –List your favourite channels and stations

Connected

  • Connect with Facebook
  • –Post content directly to your wall to recommend and share with friends

  • Sync with Twitter
  • –Auto-tweet to recommend and pass links to friends

  • Live chat with friends using Windows Live Messenger
  • –Log in to Windows Live Messenger through BBC iPlayer
    –Forward links to others online: watch on-demand at the same time
    –Comment live on programmes as they air


Build an App in a week

Join Adobe platform evangelists for how to build an interactive application from start to finish in just one week. Use Flash Catalyst CS5 to create user interactions and states based on visual design from Ilustrator CS5 and Photoshop CS5. Leverage Flex 4 and Flash Builder 4 to connect to PHP and Java backends. Work with Flash Professional CS5 and Device Central to develop mobile versions that use the latest Flash Player 10.1 device APIs. Create desktop versions in AIR that go beyond the browser. And finally, incorporate social and collaboration capabilities with LiveCycle Collaboration Services and Flash Player 10.1 P2P APIs. See the full schedule below:

June 7th – 12:00 – 13:00 GMT Erase the Designer to Developer gap: Adding interactions to your design with Serge Jespers

June 7th – 15:00 – 16:00 GMT Connecting your design to PHP services with Mihai Corlan

June 8th – 12:00 – 13:00 GMT Connecting a web application to a J2EE backend using Flash Builder 4 with Michael Chaize 

June 8th – 15:00 – 16:00 GMT Working with Flash CS5 components in your Flash Builder 4 project with Mike Jones

June 9th – 12:00 – 13:00 GMT Going multi-user with P2P in Flash Player 10.1 with Tom Krcha

June 9th – 15:00 – 16:00 GMT Developing multi-user applications with LiveCycle services with Tom Krcha

June 10th – 12:00 – 13:00 GMT Bringing web Applications to the desktop with AIR 2.0 with Piotr Walczyscyn 

Jun 10th – 15:00 – 16:00 GMT Code once and run on multiple mobile devices with Mark Doherty 

Learn more and register today.


Internet World show Earls Court OMG!

In the immortal words of Bart Simpson “I didn’t think it was possible, but this actually sucked AND blew at the same time”.

Internet World 2010 report

The Internet World show is no longer all that the internet can be, it’s a big pitch fest for Marketers, SEOs, CMSs and eCommerce payment vendors with a pinch of development consultancies thrown in for good luck and most of them were the off the shelf kind. This show used to be for the Internet professional. There is no sign of that any more. I learned literally nothing, well, except for ‘don’t go to the Internet World show if the internet is your profession’. Where’s the innovation? Where’s the niche / specialist vendors?