Skip to content
Feb 7 14

Defining research questions

by Melanie St. James

Here’s a good tool to help teams gain clarity and agreement about information needs

Nov 18 13

LiRPPS: Lightweight, Research-Based Principles, Personas, and Scenarios – Part 2

by Melanie St. James

LiRPPS: Lightweight, Research-Based Principles, Personas, and Scenarios – Part 2

  • Only team members who went on at least 2 visits can work on personas
  • Research shows members who works closely with end users create better products (not just designers!)
Nov 12 13

Tufts UX process

by Melanie St. James

This is like cooking: Taking inspiration here and there to come up with something that works for us.

  1. Foundational research: Who are Tufts staff, students, faculty, researchers and other key stakeholders, what are their needs and pain points?
  2. When a project kicks-off: conduct additional user research if needed
  3. Create personas

Use Jeff Gothelf’s Lean UX principles to start up project

  1. Declare Assumptions
  2. Create hypothesis
  3. Create MVP
  4. Test hypothesis
  5. Fold new knowledge into process. Repeat.

Use  Jared Spool’s Magic Brief method and read the project brief at beginning of each meeting.

Nov 12 13

LiRPPS: Lightweight, Research-Based Principles, Personas, and Scenarios – Part 1

by Melanie St. James

LiRPPS: Lightweight, Research-Based Principles, Personas, and Scenarios – Part 1

Jared Spool suggests that within a day’s work, one can create personas, design principles, and scenarios, using foundational user research done before hand:

  • 12 half day customer visits. (2 customers per day, 2 days per week)
  • Each team member goes on 3-4 visits
  • 2 page summary of each visit, with picture of person and environment (with permission)
Nov 7 13

The Magical Short-Form Creative Brief

by Melanie St. James

By Jared M. Spool

The Magical Short-Form Creative Brief

Summary: 3/4 page creative brief, read by team members at the beginning of each design meeting.

  1. The Project Objective
  2. 1-2 Key Personas
  3. The Key Scenarios – how people will use this and why
  4. The Key Design Principles
Nov 6 13

game-features vs good ux

by Melanie St. James

I’ve been hearing a lot about gaming and how we should make some web-based systems fun. I don’t have anything against games, but what is the development cost of game-like features, and do all users want it? My guess is that no, not all users want it, and should we then provide a version without those features?

Working at an educational institution where in the past, the usability of our academic, business and marketing websites and web-enabled technologies have been at best an after-thought, I don’t need fun. I just want a pleasant, frictionless, efficient tool where I can do what I need to do, and move on.

This short video by Human Factors International:  3 Common UX Mistakes Made by Financial Institutions and How to Fix Them gets it right:

  • “What’s impressive is when a tool gets out of the way, and supports what the customers want to do”
  • And of course, good old ROI: “A good user experience increases usage, satisfaction and trust”.
May 13 13

Communicating the User Experience

by Melanie St. James

“Communicating the User Experience” book by Richard Caddick & Steve Cable.

May 1 13

Service Design, Design Thinking…

by Melanie St. James

Researching LUMA’s Human-Centered Design Framework

  • LUMA Institute:
  • Came across this blog post: Getting an Organization to Adopt Human Centered Design (aka Design Thinking): Working with LUMA,
Mar 27 13

Design Thinking

by Melanie St. James

“What is design thinking? It means stepping back from the immediate issue and taking a broader look. It requires systems thinking: realizing that any problem is part of larger whole, and that the solution is likely to require understanding the entire system. It requires deep immersion into the topic, often involving observation and analysis. Tests and frequent revisions can be components of the process. Sometimes this is done in groups: multidisciplinary teams who bring different forms of expertise to the problem. Perhaps the most important point is to move away from the problem description and take a new, broader approach.”

- Don Norman

Disclaimer: Quote taken out of context, but I like what it says.

Feb 8 12

Mobile Mantras: An Experience Design Roundtable

by Melanie St. James

The interactive agency OnetoOne in Charlestown, hosted the February UPA Boston meeting, on the topic of Mobile best practices. (Thanks for hosting. Cool digs!)

Here are some take-aways:

Mobile Strategy:

  • Think of mobile strategy first, before designing main website
  • All content needs to be there (Same as main website)
  • The focus for mobile is Context, Content (Information), and Task-Specific (Services)
  • Tom DeMarco, famed software engineer, talks about simplifying tasks, never more than 3 clicks away or 3 pages deep.
  • Search is most important


  • Order tasks to start with most frequent
  • Group by categories. Maximum 10 items by category
  • Total links per page: 10
  • Main Nav: 3 or 4 links
  • Most used features at the top
  • Have a “go to top” link at the bottom of information pages
  • Provide a back link
  • Top Aligned form fields
  • No horizontal scrolling
  • Use all available width (not columns) for links, list elements, text inputs


  • Consider the color palette in different environments (low light, bright light)
  • No to low multimedia
  • Only essential elements on home page
  • Don’t use graphics for text


  • They use Omnigraffle to create “User Journeys”
  • They like Axure as a tool


  • Test for the 4 main carriers
  • Android has the main share of market, followed by Apple
  • Check on actual devices, as performance can be an issue
  • Simulators are okay for first round of debugging (DeviceAnywhere, PerfectoMobile)

Testing Design:

  • Interface Design
  • Interaction Design
  • Information Design
  • Functional

Performance testing:

  • Performance and Stress
  • “Monkey testing”
  • Low/no network
  • Interruption testing

*For testing, they build a “sled”, a lip-stick camera mounted on a plastic frame that hangs above the mobile device.

Emerging Trends:

  • NFC will drive payment methods (Near Field Communication) “Pay with your phone”
  • Mobile ALM (Application Life-Cycle Management)
  • Private clouds for mobile testing
  • Tablets here to stay

Book recommendation:

  • Paradox of Choice