Context is key for effective UX Design

When designing for UX, it’s the hidden factors that determine whether you solve a problem, or create a new one.

I recently read UX Researcher Sam Ladner’s commentary on why Cortana doesn’t work at work. She argues that the virtual assistant would have far less utility in the workspace, despite Microsoft’s intentions. As she explains, it’s a matter of context:

First, Cortana will make more “boundary work” for office workers. The mere act of trying to keep your private life private at work is turns out to be, well, work. Recent research has found that keeping work and life private actually causes cognitive overload. If people use Cortana as intended, she is poised to make that much worse.

Second, Cortana demands office workers treat their workplaces as if they were kings and queens, instead of pawns and rooks. Voice interactions require workers to own their workspace, something that we know they do not do. Typical workers share their workspaces with others, and because we are apt social animals, we tend to comply with unwritten rules of workplace etiquette. [Emphasis mine.]

In short, many of us will be uncomfortable blurting instructions to a desk-side robot.

Daily problems

This had me thinking about all the moments in my life where, due to context, I didn’t use a product as intended.

Here’s one example: on my way to a restaurant for lunch, I found an app that would let me order my food in advance so that I could bypass the line. Sounds like a fine idea! But this brought up a slew of questions — in a busy restaurant at noon, where do I pick up the food? It wasn’t clear. How long would it take? This also wasn’t clear. Should I insert myself at the front of the line and demand my meal? What if the cashiers are busy with other customers? Will I inconvenience the staff and annoy the waiting patrons?

The anxiety about the process of ordering in advance was worse than had I chosen to wait in line. Which in the end, is exactly what I did.

Later on, after the trauma had worn off, I decided to try ordering a coffee through a local shop’s app. This experience was better. The app gave me a time for pickup as well as an exact location (an exterior window) where my coffee would be waiting. No ambiguity. The designers understood the implications of a chaotic café and designed around it.

Professional problems

In 2016, I was part of the team that designed the new FreshBooks iOS app. From the start, we knew we had to better understand how our users — freelancers and small business owners—used mobile to run their businesses.

Through interviews, we learned that mobile helped our users plan their day, set reminders and check payments. What surprised us was that many were reluctant to use mobile while in the presence of their clients.

The reason was simple: using mobile implied distraction. For example, put yourself in the shoes of a wedding planner. You’re with a new client, and you’re working out an itemized list of services that will turn into a quote.

What tool do you use, the mobile app that will let you enter a quote straight into the system and send it to your client immediately; or your notebook, crammed with post-its and to-do lists, within which you’ll scrawl the list out in pen?

We found that many would choose the latter. When using mobile, how does the client know you’re not answering another client’s email? Or texting your mother? Or playing Dots?

The notebook, meanwhile, announces “I’m focused on you.” This is the same reason why many people prefer to write in a notebook in a meeting, or when conducting interviews.

Perception is reality

As humans, context has great implications on our behaviour. Environmental and social factors don’t just impact our own perception. They affect how we’re perceived by others as well as how we feel we’re perceived by others. This can be a strong motivator.

This is especially true when we’re worried about negative perception. We’ll do anything to avoid it. When ordering food, I was anxious about looking like a pushy jerk. So I decided to wait. When working with clients, small business owners worried about appearing distracted and disrespectful. So they optimized perception over productivity. In the case of Cortana, knowledge workers may feel judged by their peers when barking out to-do lists. So they may choose not to use it.

What can we do?

Designing around context is a hard problem. Context varies moment to moment. Every human comes with their unique set of anxieties and apprehensions. It’s not enough to predict these hidden factors from behind our desks. As designers, we need to experience our user’s context first hand.

This means getting out of the office and seeing the world through the eyes of who we’re designing for. Becoming skilled in the subtle art of observation. Understanding what solutions our users are “hiring” and “firing” throughout their daily lives.

These are skills that take time to build, and may be intimidating to many of us. It certainly was to me. But take the plunge. When you come back from your first field visit, invigorated and surprised, you’ll know it was worth it.

Because one thing’s for certain—whether it’s eating lunch, pleasing a client, or working with a virtual assistant, context is key.

Sponsored By: West Palm Beach SEO

Also See: WebDesign499

Am I Ready for My First Job as a Developer?

Search… “web developer” AND “html” AND “css” AND “javascript” AND “angular.js”

Scan the results. Hmmm.

Junior Front End Web Developer position. Essentials skills:

Understanding of responsive web design ✓

Github ✓

Strong attention to detail ✓

Eager to learn and improve skills ✓

Click Apply…

It’s the moment you’ve been working towards, but how do you know when you’re ready for your first job as a developer? You know you want it and you feel like you’ve learned so muchincluding how much more there is to learn. Embarking on a new career can feel overwhelming at times, and it’s easy to let feelings of inadequacy take over. In a field where everything continues to evolve and change, you can feel like you’ll never be ready.

But we know otherwise. You’ve been working hard, racking up Treehouse badges as you ace those quizzes and code challenges. You’ve learned the technical skills and even more importantly, along the way you’ve also learned how to learn. You’re more ready than you know, you just have to prove it to yourself first. To this end, we’ve created a helpful list so you know you’re ready to click that apply button.

“You’re more ready than you know, you just have to prove it to yourself first.”

Expectations

Job descriptions can look pretty intimidating sometimes. Bullet point after bullet point of demands for skills and knowledge that seem to be more than one job can handle. Truth be told, many times they are. All too often these are wish lists masquerading as requirements. It is so rare that a candidate will have every last item on this list, and often times when they do it’s not the job they want as there is no growth potential for them. It’s okay that a couple items on this list will stretch your skills. If you have 80% of what they’ve listed, apply! If you have 70%, apply and write an amazing cover letter!

As for years of experience, I’ve long said I’ll hire a candidate with one year of progressive experience over someone who repeated the same year 10 times. Show that you are growing and plan to continue to do so. If you’re brand new to the field and the description calls for 2 years or less, go ahead and apply! And definitely speak to relevant experience and transferable skills (problem-solving, time management, process improvement) from your previous work history.

“Show that you are growing and plan to continue to do so.”

Preparations

Before you go around clicking any old apply button, you need to define what you both need and want out of a new position. Outside of the obvious skill set, think through the industry and culture you are seeking along with benefits and professional growth. This will allow you to compare opportunities and best prepare for interviews and offers. It’s wise to limit those clicks to the jobs you really want instead of applying to anything and everything out there. So take the time to figure out what it is you want.

Of course, there are few things you need to be prepared for once you do click that apply button. One, they’re expecting a resume to go along with it (and possibly a portfolio). Have you updated it with your new skills to target the right jobs? Did you polish it up and have a friend proofread it? Do you have a cover letter ready to go with why you’re the answer to their call? This will be your first impression, go in prepared.

Second, the intent of applying is to get an interview. Is your elevator pitch polished and ready to go? Have you been practicing so you’re prepared if they call immediately? Have you been researching technical interview questions and practicing whiteboard questions just in case it’s a part of their process? The more you practice, the easier it will be to keep those nerves in check.


“Define what you both need and want out of a new position.”– Emily Schweiss
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Justifications

Not sure if your skills are job ready? If you need to build your confidence level, join a local hackathon or jump on an open source project to keep honing your craft. Put those skills to use solving actual problems. You’ll not only continue to build on them, but you’ll gain more portfolio pieces and ways to show off what you’re capable of doing.

Still not feeling confident? Pick a freelance site, any site will do, and do a search based on your skills. No, I’m not making you do freelance work if you don’t want, but do me a favor and look. Unlike job postings, these opportunities tend to be project based instead of skill based which makes it easier to picture what the work will be like. I’ll bet as you scroll through that list you’ll see several that you feel you could jump in and do. Better, I bet there’s one or two you could not only do, but would knock out of the park! There are probably even a few that you know you could figure out after some googling. What does all this mean? People want to pay you for your skills!!! Sounds an awful lot like a job, eh?

 

Start learning to code today with a free trial on Treehouse.

The post Am I Ready for My First Job as a Developer? appeared first on Treehouse Blog.

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Browser watch, February 2017

Every month, there are exciting and relevant developments in browser news that web designers and developers will want to know about. What happens with your favorite browser or one that you haven’t become familiar with (yet!) can profoundly affect the quality and output of your client work.

So without further ado, we present a new, monthly feature that tracks all the latest browser developments over the past month, so you’re always on top of what each new browser is doing.

Chrome gets 28% faster

In its quest to always update the performance of its browser, Google recently announced that page reloads within Chrome on both desktop and mobile are now 28% faster. Go on—give it a try! Maybe you’ve already noticed this improvement, but this initiative was a joint project between Google, Facebook and Mozilla. To get this done, Google engineers simply streamlined Chrome’s reload behavior, so it now just validates the main resource (as opposed to making many network requests to check if resources like images are still valid).

Apple improves its Safari Technology Preview

The experimental browser of Apple, Safari Technology Preview, received an update at the end of January that focused on fixing some bug issues as well as addressing some prior performance issues. As a result, this will impact Web Inspector, JavaScript and CSS. Only available for those developers who are running macOS Sierra, this latest iteration of STP features a bunch of patches related to enhanced JavaScript and CSS handling. General website handling was improved, too.

Opera debuts its first concept browser, called “Neon”

While not a replacement for its main Opera browser, Neon is an experiment in simplifying one’s browser experience to a handful of select tasks. With a nice design that blends into your desktop, Neon is more of a concept browser than a real replacement for any of the established browsers on the market. Nonetheless, it’s important since it gives us a glimpse of the future of browsers and what the Internet can evolve into. Some of its memorable features include newly improved, circular icons and a new take on the omnibox, which is Opera’s search feature.

Firefox makes focus available in 27 languages

Mozilla’s Firefox Focus, known as the privacy browser, is encouraging people to browse with more privacy than ever by becoming available in 27 languages for iOS. Coinciding with late-January’s International Privacy Day, this initiative is a continuation of Mozilla’s overall mission to empower users to have more control than ever over their web behavior. Some of the new languages included in this rollout include Welsh, Czech, Ukrainian and Songay. The company’s not done yet either: it plans to continue adding more languages in the future, so more people all over the world have the option of private browsing.

Latest version of Google Chrome stops Gmail support

Google confirmed that, by the end of the year, some versions of Google Chrome won’t be supporting Gmail any longer. This has natural security implications for users. In addition, users may also miss out on important bug fixes and updates. In the next few months, look for Chrome version 53 and earlier to stop support for Gmail. From February 8th onwards, Google will display a banner at the top of users’ pages (the ones who use the online portal of Chrome), urging them to upgrade before the end of 2017.

Microsoft Edge receives stellar features in Windows 10 creators’ update

Recently, Microsoft revealed what new improvements would be coming to Edge, the company’s new browser. One of the biggest changes is the greater availability of extensions. As a result, extension developers will enjoy more access to about 30% more APIs when compared to the original release. End users will therefore enjoy extensions with greater power. Microsoft is hoping that this round of new features will generate more interest in its new browser from the developer community. Since Microsoft abandoned Internet Explorer, it’s been pushing Edge as a competitor to Chrome and Firefox.

Microsoft gains market share with Edge

In welcome news for the company, Microsoft’s Edge browser seems to be gaining (if only a little) on its top competitors in the browser market. According to a NetMarketShare report, the Edge now has 5.48% of the browser market in January, which is an improvement from the 5.33% of the market it owned in December 2016. Overall, the gains for Edge look even better and promising: year-on-year, Edge has risen an impressive 178% in market share. Of course, Internet Explorer’ market share continues to free-fall while Chrome only gets stronger at almost 58% of market share in January.

Vivaldi tackles the noisy tabs problem

The Vivaldi browser already allows users to identify what offensive tab has a specific ad or video playing in the background causing unwanted sound or noise, but the new player on the browser block has decided to one-up itself and go a step further. Now, users are able to activate Vivaldi’s tab-muting feature by using their keyboards. The company has also thrown more muting-related commands into the mix, so users have unprecedented control. For example, Mute Other Tabs, Unmute All Tabs, Unmute Other Tabs, Mute All Tabs, and Mute/Unmute Tab are all new options for users.

Firefox supports new WebGL2 standard

WebGL2 is the new standard that gives developers the chance to use high-quality and dazzling 3D graphics that are made available for the first time ever on the Internet. Continuing where WebGL1 left off, this new standard empowers developers to harness accelerated rendering features that are more modern. This includes multi-sampled rendering support, expanded texturing functionality, and transform feedback. The end result benefits both developers and users alike: You’ll get to see more interesting and captivating visual content on the Internet. At a time when video content is taking up more and more bandwidth on the web, Firefox’s support for WebGL2 is timely and makes sense.

Sponsored By: WebDesign499

Also See: https://www.alignable.com/wellington-fl/webdesign499