User Experience Article Roundup – Alternative User Research and Growing as a Designer

In this edition of User Experience Article Roundup: free user research alternatives, inspiration from a subway map, what happens when robots sound human, and more.

Cheap and free under-the-radar alternatives to field visits

It’s vital to understand your users, particularly when it comes to the context in which they use your product. Site visits with users (ethnography and contextual inquiry) are a great way to accomplish this.

But what if you are not given time or resources to do site visits? David Travis offers up some “under the radar” user research alternatives you can do on your own, quickly and cheaply.

DO Make Me Think

There may be a time and place in your application to intentionally make the user slow down and consider what they are doing. In fact, the negative consequences of “oversimplifying” important workflows might be huge.

What London’s Underground Map Can Teach You About Design

Sometimes you have to know when to turn a map into a diagram, so to speak.

So you’re the only designer at your company

It’s common for startups to have only one designer on staff. If that’s you, this article offers you “a guide to surviving—and prospering—as a one-person design team.”

A 25-Step Program for Becoming a Great Designer

Good generalized advice for being a good designer, presented as 25 “steps”. You may have already internalized some of these principles, but revisiting good ideas can be beneficial.

Google Translate as a case study for improving user experience

While the article initially looks like an advertisement for Google Translate, it’s actually a case study about testing UI designs to improve user experience.

Perhaps you can relate: your product already has the features your users want, but your users don’t seem to realize it. In this article, a UX manager at Google discusses successes and failures in refining a user interface in order to get users to notice and use features they would actually find useful.

Also, this

Page Flows

This service provides an archive of videos and screenshots capturing a variety of user flows from a number of web sites and mobile apps. The service says it aims to reduce UI designers’ research time, or to “to inspire you when you’re stuck.”

Note: There are a few free videos on the homepage, but otherwise it’s a paid service. I haven’t subscribed to it, nor can I vouch for it. Just pointing it out as a resource.

When robots sound human

Last month, Google unveiled an AI system called Google Duplex on stage at the Google I/O 2018 conference. In the presentation, two audio recordings demonstrated how an extension of Google Assistant could make phone calls and interact with (seemingly) unwitting human beings to make haircut appointments and dinner reservations.

I’ll admit that, while I found it interesting, my reaction was mostly skepticism that this functionality would actually work well and be available anytime soon. The internet, on the other hand, immediately started discussing the moral and ethical implications of Duplex.

Sure, it was interesting to witness a debate about whether Google was purposely moving toward making Blade Runner a reality. But even better, the discussion reminded me of an article from last year that thoughtfully discussed the implications of making digital assistants (particularly Amazon’s Alexa) sound more human:

The Surprising Repercussions of Making AI Assistants Sound Human

The way our digital assistants communicate with us influences what we expect from them, how we feel about them, and the way we communicate back to them. You won’t be surprised to discover there are pros and cons abound.

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