Why did I start Street UX Inc.? My mentor was Donna Moore, Kansas City’s unknown World Toymaker, and my mother.

Why did I start Street UX Inc.? My mentor was Donna Moore, Kansas City’s unknown World Toymaker, and my mother.

That’s how Donna Moore became the Worlds toymaker. For many years, she ran the plush lines in the Kansas City office for Determined Productions, traveling to San Francisco, New York, France, Japan, Korea, and all over the globe. She became one of Connie’s best friends. She would come home with stories that were so fun to hear. She is a fantastic story teller. She often broke through female vs. male boundaries all over the globe. She would prance into all male executive board rooms, who only allowed the woman to bring the snacks and coffee. She would insist the ladies stay in the room, and she would start sewing magically on her vintage, singer, foot pedal, sewing machine. 

Five Ways You’re Already a UX Expert

You and I have something in common. We both work in user experience.

Maybe you don’t call yourself a UX designer, but I guarantee we do the same job. User experience isn’t a tech title. It’s actually a business term, coined way back in the 1990s. Silicon Valley types adopted the lingo, and now it's the way of life. And we learned all of this by watching you.

User experience is the way a customer interacts with a product. It’s a way to measure the efficacy of something like a retail space, a website or an app. That’s why we research, design, develop, code and test with the end user in mind.

But, that’s nothing new to you. Here are five ways you’re already the best UX expert of all.

1. You know your customer, right?

Whether it’s keeping abreast of market trends or conducting a focus group, you take time to understand your target demographic. This is the first step in user experience: defining who your user is. I’m sure you could rattle off all kinds of facts about your ideal customer, let's make sure you can rattle off the facts about your actual customers. When I start a project, I make sure I can do the same. I find that guessing is a bad idea.

 

Once I worked for a sports retailer who thought they did their homework based off of in-store retail sales. They figured that their online demographic was mostly male with an average to below average salary, so they said my designs were too …. “fancy” for these fellas. I said, "Prove it. "So I was charged with implementing Core-Metric Software and we did some serious analytics. Well, guess what? Not only was our core demographic female, but they were earning an above-average monthly income. BOOOOOM! I was correct, and as for my fancy designs ... they stayed. Sales skyrocketed. 

2. You care about your customer.

You have impeccable customer service (= actual people) … I just know it. You understand that your customer service team is a great resource for measured success. You’re wise enough to see that bad service can kill any sale, no matter how great your product. That’s why you treat your customers well, and make customer satisfaction the biggest and best part of your business. I know that you are monitoring user experience and constantly adjusting for the best outcome, just like I do with the products I build. If a user has a negative experience with your website, that’s poor customer service. It’s my job to make sure the culture you’ve created extends online. In other words, I want to make sure a bad website doesn’t cost you sales, but drives your sales. 

Quick Tip #1: (which you already know) Your customer service departments have the answers about where you should go in the future, based on the comments and suggestions they receive. So, listen carefully to them; they are the voice of your customer."

Quick Tip #2: (you do this already) Your customer service is your greatest asset, those teams get hammered. So, treat them well, and train them all. They are not second fiddle, they are the leaders of the orchestra.

Which leads me to …

 


3. You ask your customer for feedback.

How many times do you send out a survey, requesting client opinions? Do you encourage them to write reviews on Yelp, Facebook or Google? Almost every business wants feedback, because that’s how you know if you’re succeeding. If you can’t measure it (“Does a bear s*** in the woods?”). Here is the AMAZING part of our new world, we know for certain that a bear does S*** in the woods. Why? Someone finally analyzed it, and documented it, and they even took pictures (they made posters for goodness sake). Link to proof (may contain adult humor and profanity). So who wants to wonder if your product is thriving when we can find out for sure? Feedback, both good and bad, is what I thrive on to enhance your company's productivity online. This is why I test and measure my work against user response. If what I build is working for your customers and or prospects, then I’m working for you. So just, uh ... bear that in mind.

Quick Tip #3: Don't make customer service teams the dung beetles, cleaning up after your bears. Listening to and acting on customer feedback will greatly reduce customer service calls, which reduces cost to your business. This gives your customer service teams more time to focus on new business strategy and sales.

4. You’re strategic about your space.

No matter the size of your business, you probably spent a lot of time and money designing your office. After all, it’s important to send the right message when clients or business partners walk in the door. If you have a retail location, it’s even more crucial. Making sure the merchandise is laid out intuitively, efficiently, and in an eye-catching way will help boost your sales. Exactly like a website or app, which nobody wants to fumble around trying to navigate. Your online presence is also part of your integrity and should reflect your strength as a business. This happens with great structure & design, all while keeping your user in mind. What are they doing when they come to your space? What do you want them to do? What should they remember?

5. You’re conscious of your brand (hopefully).

It’s impossible to be in business today without using the word “brand” at least once a week. Trendy or not, the concept of brand is helpful, because it’s all about your unique presence in the marketplace. (Not just your logo, as some people mistakenly think.) You make decisions based on brand consistency, or because you want more brand equity. A UX designer like me will always approach a project for the same reasons. We create digital products that know your users next move through testing & analytics. We take the time to understand what makes you stand out, and then we create digital products to reflect and enhance your image.  

So, you see? User Experience is actually a huge part of your job. Now, if you need any marketing, coding or design work that keeps all of your User Experiences flowing in the same, simple direction, then I’m your (wo)man.

I will help you reduce the amount of dung beetles necessary to run your business. 

Beth Moore began designing websites and creating user expereinces before they were cool. She became Creative Director for an interactive agency at age 22, and has managed multiple facets of the development + design + user experience process. Beth is President and Founder of Street UX Design House, a full-service online product development shop, web design & marketing house for the digital age. Learn more at www.streetux.com.

Who Moved My Signage? A UX Tail?

About 15 years ago, this book became really popular. It was called Who Moved My Cheese, and was all about the virtues of “going with the flow” in a chaotic corporate environment. The book teaches you ways to be flexible, relevant and be “okay” with change. In order to grow mentally, everyone should always be learning and forcing themselves to adapt. The online user is coming along, but you still have to be careful in just how quickly you make them adapt. So this cheese theory is great, but when it comes to everyday UX, remaining calm can come into question. That is, once you decide to “Move the Cheese”.

As for me I’m all for remaining chill when it comes to shifting cheese around, but this philosophy does not always apply to your customer. As a UX designer, I will always caution against moving their cheese (at least moving it too far). Unless your business model is some kind of cat-and-mouse game where you want to keep them running in circles. Which would be weird, but could possibly make for a good video game.

Once again, I’d like to use a real-life example to demonstrate how USER EXPERIENCE DESIGN IS EVERYWHERE. (I put that in caps because it’s a VERY IMPORTANT THING.) Your business relies on user experience to succeed. At all times. Where you put your customer’s “cheese” will determine whether or not this person 1.) makes a purchase and/or 2.) becomes a repeat buyer/visitor.

Let’s say I walk into Home Depot, or Lowe’s, or a big hardware store. This is actually a true story, by the way. I’m a designer and I often leverage my UX skills for home improvement. In this particular case, let’s say I’ve ordered something and need to pick it up at the store.

I walk in, and I see a sign for “Customer Service” (that is one big slice of cheddar cheese) in front of me. “Customer Service” logically seems like a safe blanket statement for all things related to me, the customer. There’s a rectangular island, with two sides facing outward to the store, each with a couple of lines. Again, I scan the signage above and below my head to make sure I am in the right place, there’s nothing specific, so I feel satisfied with my quick decision. So, I wait in the closest line, because it’s short and I’m in a hurry. When I get up to the front, I say I’m here to pick up an order. I am not fumbling for my ticket, or order number, I am prepared. The look on the teller's face tells me that they do not carry the right answer. I can only imagine what my east coast roots and facial expressions look like as my pulse rate rises. There is no dilly-dallying on the east coast, but that is not the case in the mid-west.

“I’m sorry,” says the sales associate. “This line is for returns only. You’ll have to go stand over there.” She points to the other side of the island, which is very crowded and not labeled. So even though I was truly prepared, they were not. They were not prepared to give me my order, & they were not prepared to help me no matter what. They scooted me along to the next isle.

Are you scooting your customers to the next website? Are you as prepared as your customer so you can give them what they need? Are you ready to make that sale, or are you losing half of your customers? How many customers do you turn away due to a poorly thought-out User Experience?

So, back to me...I’ve only been in the store 15 minutes and I’m pissed.

After standing in the new “correct” line for about 20 more minutes, I finally secure my purchase and haul it out to my vehicle. PLUS, no one offered to carry out this huge purchase for me, and I am all of 4 ft & 11.5 inches. Double whammy! Also, now I’m running late to pick up my kids. Why was I made to wait in line unnecessarily, simply because the store had poor signage? Am I going to go to a different store next time I need something like this? I mean, would it have taken much effort to label one side of the Customer Service desk as “Returns Only?” 

This would have taken consideration for user experience. As a business owner, you need to ask yourself, “What kind of cheese would you want, and where do you want it to be ... if you were your own customer?”. So grab that mouse by the tail, and follow it. Be one with your mouse. We need them to feel as if they were born with the cheese, because that is how easy it was to get the cheese.

I think I am getting a little too cheesy.

Obviously, you don’t want anyone to feel frustrated with your product or service. Signage may seem like a small thing. In fact, it’s probably quite easy to forget--unless you understand how important UX really is, and USER EXPERIENCE DESIGN (or lack there of) IS EVERYWHERE.

When I design anything, I make sure the “signage” is present and easy to read. Navigation is intuitive. Copy is clear. Interface is clean and simple. Nobody is wasting time with unnecessary clicks. And I ask the customers where they want the cheese, and we decide what kind of cheese is best for the larger 80% of your customer base. BTW, there is always going to be that 20% who prefer blue cheese (you can’t change that, & they want steak with it too).

In other words, I make sure you don’t frustrate the majority of your customers. And that’s always a good policy, 80/20. Keep the directional signage pointing straight to the cheese, and don’t move it before they arrive, because once they reach for it, BAM! … you’ve trapped that mouse with your great customer service. You have ensnared their business forever, and that sounds like a nice piece of fancy cheese to me.


Beth Moore began designing websites and creating user expereinces before they were cool. She became Creative Director for an interactive agency at age 22, and has managed multiple facets of the development + design + user experience process. Beth is President and Founder of Street UX Design House, a full-service online product development shop, web design & marketing house for the digital age. Learn more at www.streetux.com.

 

Four Reasons You Need More than a Website

Four Reasons You Need More than a Website

The days of “I just need a website” are over. But if you’re looking to ramp up your online presence, you’re still going to need a ride. We are excellent mechanics; we know how to fill up your car, and we can find all the latest detours on the information superhighway. And if you need a website, we can get you into the online vehicle of your dreams. We promise a smooth, easy drive.

 

Beth Moore began designing websites before they were cool. She became Creative Director for an interactive agency at age 22, and has managed multiple facets of the development + design + user experience process. Beth is President and Founder of Street UX Design House, a full-service marketing and design house for the digital age. Learn more at www.streetux.com.

 

User Experience: A Kitchen Story, the perceived experience

Working in product development has been an eye opening experience. A rewarding job is one where constant growth and opportunity presents itself, and product development has been my favorite, hands down. Often times I search for others in my field for shop talk and social gatherings. I like to inject myself into circles of great people who teach young kids User Experience. CAPS Northland in Kansas City is one of those places and also HackEDkc. These local organizations foster the growth of young minds.

Recently I gave a talk at Liberty high schools Hackathon, HackEDkc. I was desperately trying to figure out how to teach these younger students, in one hour, how to see and understand User Experience. Then show them how to build their story, you know....to WIN the Hackathon.

This is no easy task, User Experience is everywhere...isn't it? How do you wrap this up so that these students can retain and understand user experience, then watch out for it. Personally, I am haunted in my every move.... watching, surveying the land, studying architecture, looking at patterns in sidewalks, analyzing the buttons on my clothes and having disdain for the way my shoes constantly come untied....there has to be a solution for this. BUT the real question is, should I be opening the minds of these young people to my constant user experience life, subjecting them to the torture I endure everyday of over stimulation and judgment of places, objects and online experiences?.....YES! Ha Ha Ha (evil laugh)

One of the things I find most interesting is all the noise in my peripheral vision, I see things out of the corner of my eye all the time. When I am at the sink in my home, I can reach up to the right because, I know ... without looking, that my drinking glasses are there. That is damn good user experience if you ask me. If it wasn't for my peripheral vision, I would probably forget I had kids. They run fast. So now I realize that I need to add that into the equation of the speech or it won't be whole.

How do you explain that so much of my job is understanding what the users aren't directly viewing? ...That peripheral vision may be the dominant view and that their central vision, isn't the only possible task in view. It's what the users aren't focused on...that is what is hard to draw attention too. We don't want to impede into anyone's work space unless absolutely necessary, but we don't want them to ignore the tools on the outside edges of the page or the room. For obvious reasons, I used a Kitchen analogy! Ha ha ha ha. That is where the soda is, that is where the cookies are, and I know that everyone hangs out in the kitchen. It becomes a central location for most family traffic. I figured this was a great place to start with hungry students.

In your kitchen, you have your work space (cutting board, stove, sink). You have your hidden tools (things you use every day) like forks, knives, spoons, pots & pans, all tucked away until you need them, in your peripheral vision. Most importantly, there is a pull knob that indicates that I can open this container. If I plan it correctly, I will have the right tools for the surface that I am working, in the closest container.

Why is placement so important?

You are not the only one who uses this space.

I went to a friend’s house, well really just an acquaintance. She was having a big party. She flitted by and I said, "Hey Shelley (I changed her name for her safety), can I grab a glass and get a drink?" She said, "Sure, help yourself." She was off, not to be found. So I logically opened the cabinet by the right of the sink. YIKES, that one was full of medical prescriptions. Then I opened the next cabinet and then the next. I was starting to feel like a snoop, I was totally uncomfortable (which is unusual for me). I couldn't find Shelley to get the answer....Where exactly are the glasses? So I gave up. I felt icky digging through her personal stuff, and now I am stuck feeling icky and thirsty. Shelley's user experience stinks. She desperately needs a redesign of her work space.

Why is placement of tools and actions so important when working in design and product development?

I was cooking multiple items for dinner one day, I had all four burners occupied. There was a lot going on around me so I set the spoon I was using on the stove. I was chopping veggies on one side and preparing spices on the other side. I went to grab my spoon and I was immediately burned. My hand was blistering quickly. The problem was, I had too much in my central vision and not enough space to work properly. I did not have a proper place to set my spoon. Oh boy was I mad, I was frustrated, burnt, I still had to finish my task, and serve my guests. Does this hurt the relationship between myself and my kitchen?...Maybe, Maybe not, but when your guests ask you what that wonderful smell is, you'll tell them ... but you will also tell them that you burnt your hand. More than likely you will relay that total experience. This will perpetuate that negative experience, so now, it's been passed it on to the guests. Out of those 7 potential guests, you can probably count on 5 of them telling the story to someone else.... and so on and so on. This is the same in online product development, if you burn your users, it may not leave a scar, but they will tell their story, this ends up hurting your company’s reputation. For me, this burn didn't stop me from cooking, I need this user experience every day to make dinner, but I maybe on the search for a larger kitchen.

I want my guests to come to my house, only remembering how easy and fun it was, and possibly remembering the apple pie. That is what I want them to talk about when they leave, my secret apple pie recipe ... of which, I only give to my close friends (users).

I am certainly not saying that I have all the answers to a perfect kitchen, but I strive for it every day when I work in Online Product Development. You must create great surroundings, give your guests their perceived experience. Put the glasses in the cabinet on the right of the sink. Most people are right handed. If you don't have a cabinet there, build one.

Also, it's good to have an apple pie handy

Beth Moore began designing websites and creating user expereinces before they were cool. She became Creative Director for an interactive agency at age 22, and has managed multiple facets of the development + design + user experience process. Beth is President and Founder of Street UX Design House, a full-service online product development shop, web design & marketing house for the digital age. Learn more at www.streetux.com.