the ux sisters

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When trying to design a new solution to a problem, stakeholders don’t always agree. In fact, do they ever all agree? It can be hard to get a bunch of smart people in a room and have them all converge on one solution without any argument.

Instead, harness this energy with a collaborative sketching technique called a design studio. A design studio brings teammates together to create designs through sketching, feedback, and iteration. It requires a few hours, a group of co-workers, a meaty problem, and some sketching. (I’ll explain the exact process below.)

Design studios help you create designs…

We’ve all been there. You need to get user feedback on five different things this week before a big launch. You barely have enough time to schedule the usability tests, let alone moderate them. Using a 3rd party isn’t an option.

Sometimes you don’t need 30 minutes to walk through a mockup with a user; sometimes you can’t find a time you both are free; and sometimes you just need a get hacky. Enter: the easiest usability test ever.

I’ve been relying on a new type of user research — the virtual, self-moderated user interview (now accepting more creative titles)…

A little over a year ago, I started as the first and only UX researcher at a cybersecurity startup called Barkly. I came on board part-time in January 2016 when the company was around 25 people and the product wasn’t even yet in beta, let alone launched. It’s unusual for a startup to care at all about having a full-time researcher and I was intrigued that they wanted to hire my position on the team.

Without a ton of users to research would I really have anything to do?

Not everyone had worked with a researcher before, and I was…

Being a UX researcher isn’t a one-lady show. There’s no way we can do it alone. Even though there are only two of us at HubSpot, we work with many incredibly talented people throughout the process of helping to make a new piece of software more user friendly. But for now, let’s just cover the top six.

1. The Product Manager

The product manager, or PM, is the person in charge of a particular piece of the product. They have the vision for what they’re building, are responsible for the future of that product, and generally manage the day-to-day process of how that gets…

It’s hard to get something right the first time you try it. The New England Patriots had four grueling decades before they won three Super Bowls in four years. Morgan Freeman didn’t land his first major Hollywood role until he was 52.

And this is especially true with software. It’s rare that a new feature is perfect after its first build. And when things go wrong, they can go very wrong. Launching a bad product experience can mean hordes of upset customers, lost revenue and, of course, a waste of your team’s most precious resource: time.

So to mitigate these…

When I started at my new job a year and a half ago, one of the first things I did was start a beta program. This seems relatively normal for a user researcher, except for one little thing: we didn’t have the ability to turn on beta features in our product.

You heard me. I started a beta program, with nothing to beta test. For almost a year.

At first, this seemed a bit backwards. Why have a big group of engaged, super users when you can’t even give them new things to test? …

The last time a friend told you a story, you probably were able to relate to their experience and feelings. Maybe that’s how you two became friends in the first place — because you got each other. Understanding and relating your emotions to others is called empathy, and it’s an essential part of any relationship.

Empathy is also an essential part of the product research process. It may sound touchy-feely but it’s absolutely crucial for gathering candid user feedback. The key to getting users to open up during your research is to make users as comfortable as possible. …

All good (heck — great, amazing, irreplaceable) things must come to an end. This even applies to the UXSisters’ reign at HubSpot. Well, not entirely.

I’ve wrapped up my role as a UX Researcher at HubSpot and am moving on to get user research started at Wistia — another Cambridge software company. When I announced my departure, everyone’s first question was “What will happen to the UXSisters?”

Rachel and I both sincerely believe that if anything, the UXSisters will only get stronger — being able to write about more diverse experiences and working to learn from each other.

So, don’t fret dear readers, the UXSisters are here.

Til UX do us part.

Us user researchers love to say, “test often, test always.” It’s rarely “too early” to test a design, whether it be scribbled on a napkin or a clickable mockup. If you’re ever looking to test an early stage mockup, we’ve seen huge success with including your users’ real data in the mockup. This gives you the opportunity to not only test something without having it built out and still make it easy on the user to complete the usability study.

What counts as real data?

Anything that makes the mockup relevant to the user is real data. It can be as simple as their usernames…

The HubSpot usability team loves to get feedback on apps we’re developing to make our customer’s marketing lives easier. But testing in the mobile environment presents a unique set of challenges. We recently devised a system that allows us to get much more insight from our testing sprints with real mobile users, using real apps in their natural environment — in situ — and discovered a whole new set of questions we were able to ask as a result.

The problems with most prototyping tools

In the past, we used mobile prototypes on desktop computers for mobile testing. We’ve found that this strategy gives us a…

the ux sisters

the artists formerly known as the ux sisters (rachel decker + molly wolfberg swarttz)

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