LinkedIn recently agreed to pay $13 million in a class action lawsuit that ultimately resulted from bad design. The short explanation is that LinkedIn sent emails on behalf of users who did not agree to send them. Unfortunately, misleading design like this is seen all too frequently. It even has a name — dark pattern UX, carefully and intentionally designed to trick users into doing things they don’t really want to do.
Last March, I received and accepted an offer to work at Viget, a highly regarded digital agency, as their first full-time UX Apprentice. Now that the summer is drawing to a close, I can confidently say that I’m a much better UX designer now than I was 10 weeks ago. I worked on client and personal projects, expanded my skillset through professional development, and received direct mentorship from Viget’s UX Director. So, to wrap up my apprenticeship, I want to reflect on my experience here at Viget and highlight some of the various aspects that made it so wonderful.
A design studio is a group brainstorming session where participants sketch, share, and iterate in order to explore various design directions and come up with new ideas.
Usually, design studios are held at the start of a project. In my case, however, my mentor suggested that I hold one during a transitional phase in my summer project. I was shifting mediums from a somewhat static text document to an interactive web app, and wanted to get some fresh perspectives and energy.
My Viget colleagues were eager to help out, and I managed to put together a diverse team spanning design, development, business development, and user experience across our different offices. This added a challenge—running a design studio remotely—but the result was well worth it. I couldn't have asked for a better group.
Today I want to share five things that helped our remote design studio run as well as it would have in-person.
Six months ago, Kelly Kirkpatrick of SOSventures reached out to me about redesigning the website of MATHletes, Ireland's premier maths competition in conjunction with Khan Academy. Over the following weeks and months, I worked with Kelly to define requirements, understand the needs and wants of those using the site, and design the site in an intentional, user-centered way. I'm pleased to say that mathletes.ie is finally up and running.
Usability testing is a powerful research method that assesses people's actual behavior, not just their self-reported actions. Well-designed usability tests can help researchers understand the effectiveness of a product, but poorly designed tests can yield unhelpful or even misguided insights.
Before putting any sort of test in front of users, it is important to know what you as a researcher want to know about your product. That way you can design a test that will provide the type of insights that you need.
Last week one of my colleagues challenged our UX team at Viget to put ourselves in our users’ shoes by taking a usability test. I went ahead and took 30 tests, all on the rapid-fire testing site UsabilityHub.com. My takeaways from that 30-minute session are as follows: