For intranet projects, search for ways to include unexpected delight for users

BY Prafull Mane

Jennifer Aldrich is a UX & Content Strategist at InVision, the popular prototyping, collaboration, and workflow platform. Aldrich’s interests are varied and include content strategy, design thinking, user centered design, writing, defining product voice and tone, usability testing and user research. She firmly believes that sharing knowledge is one of the most powerful ways that members of the UX community can make an impact on the world around them.
Aldrich spoke to Spadeworx about her UX prep, user research, convincing stakeholders to invest in the UX process, design thinking and how the path to being a UX professional can often be circuitous.
Q. How do you approach a project? What is your preparation process you follow before starting any project?
I honestly consider prep work part of my process. Including prep in your design time estimates and allotments will save you frustration and headaches down the line. Research is a huge first step. Chat with your target audience and deep dive to find out not just what they want, but what the underlying problems are that they’re trying to solve. If you’re creating a brand new product, don’t get hung up on what competitors offer, focus on what clients actually need. Often times competitors, especially those that have been around for a long time, get bogged down by legacy features that aren’t even useful anymore. You don’t want to do a competitive analysis and wind up working on features that are already useless. Focusing on specific problems that aren’t being addressed well currently can make your product lighter weight, easier to use and position you as a real contender in your space.
Q. It’s often hard to convince stakeholders to invest in the UX process. How do you make them see the value of good UX?
The key to getting a company to invest in the UX process if you’re working in-house or at an agency, is finding a high ranking internal sponsor. Bobby Meeks just did a great webinar with Designer Hangout that focused a lot on the topic. Don’t try to change the entire organization yourself, find a person at the top who will help advocate and evangelize the concept company wide. Once you have that buy in, other stakeholders tend to jump on board. When working with individual clients, sell the financial value. Explain that spending some time doing some user research and usability testing can save them huge amounts of money that would otherwise go to redesign. Saving cash is a big motivator for stakeholders and clients.
Q. Intranet sites often don’t get enough love when it comes to user experience. How can we make intranet sites more interesting and not just something that employees use just because they no option?
Getting a high ranking team member to sponsor it as a way to improve work culture can really help. As far as how to make them more interesting, treat them the way you would your product. Do some user research to figure out where pain points are, improve the UX, search for ways to include unexpected delight, focus on adding some content that would be interesting to internal staff members (perhaps a series of interviews about team members) etc.
Q. In terms of the UX process, how can applying the Pareto principle be useful?
Absolutely. Applying the Pareto Principle to your user research strategy can be especially beneficial. I’ve outlined a method that I used at my last startup here: https://uxmag.com/articles/pareto-principle-based-user-research
Q. What are your ways of finding pain points in any product?
To find pain points there are really 3 main discovery tools. The first is conducting user research. Get out and talk to your clients, walk them through various scenarios, ask them direct what is causing them the most pain. Next is reviewing support cases. Chatting with your support team, and analyzing case data can help you quickly identify areas of the product that need to be improved most. Thirdly, trying to use the product yourself on a daily basis can be extremely helpful in IDing major product issues. Even if the tool isn’t something that would be traditionally related to your role, learning to use it, and attempting to use it at least once a day to finish a primary task can be very eye opening. It’s one thing to hear about other people experiencing an issue, it’s another thing entirely to actually experience it yourself. It’s a very powerful motivator.
Q. Design Thinking is getting a lot of attention in recent times. Could you tell us your views on how it can be applied to various problems?
Design thinking is creating a cultural shift across organizations. In the past, design teams were siloed off within organizations. Companies are now realizing that the skills that designers use to think through and solve problems can be applied cross functionally, and as a result design has made its way to C level roles in businesses all over the world. Designers are being called on to apply their skillets to all kinds of business problems.
Q. Any tips for UX designers on how they can start thinking about sustainability more and bringing that more into their work?
Sustainability is so, so important. I’ll never forget the first time I watched Objectified. The scene that showed mountains of old tech in a landfill was burned into my mind and has stuck with me ever since. There are several areas that we tend to overlook, not intentionally, they just aren’t front of mind, in design. Focusing on sustainability is one, as is accessibility. As far as bringing it into our work, it really just requires a shift in thinking. If someone needs some convincing about designing with sustainability in mind, I’d definitely recommend having them watch the landfill scene from objectified. It’s pretty haunting.
Q. Could you tell us about how you made your way into User Experience? You have a science and psychology degree. How did that guide your work?
I took a circuitous route into the UX industry. I built my first website in the 90s and had a blast doing it. At that point it didn’t occur to me that design was something I could turn into a career, so I wound up heading to college and getting a degree in education and another in psychology. While I was finishing up my second degree, I took on a part-time job as a computer lab tech. I got to witness first hand the impact that well executed software has on the workflows and levels of productivity of members of various industries. I also got to witness the impact of poorly designed software—the loss of time and energy and high levels of frustration that it could inflict. After graduation, I wound up taking a job at a startup as a software trainer, but was eventually loaned out to the design and development department during a product overhaul project (rebuilding our entire platform on .NET). That was when I truly fell in love with product design. I was offered a job on the UX team soon after the project was completed, and had amazing mentors that helped me grow and launch my career. Pulling from a background in psychology has definitely impacted the way I perform user research and usability testing. I find the entire process and the results fascinating.
Q. We are huge InVision fans and very curious about how things work there. Could you tell us about the design process at InVision and the culture in general?
The culture here at InVision is phenomenal. We have clearer lines of communication than I’ve ever experienced in a traditional office setting and a very positive overall culture. There is much respect across teams, the leadership team is phenomenal and teams work together beautifully cross departmentally. We even have a peer recognition program that gets used very heavily each month. The employees at InVision are just fantastic.
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If more and more things became smart, we’d run out of space on our phones to install all of the apps

Scott Jenson

If more and more things became smart, we’d run out of space on our phones to install all of the apps

By Vishal Gangawane

Intro: Scott Jenson is the prime mover behind the Physical Web project at Google. The Physical Web’s ambitious aim is to create an “open approach to enable quick and seamless interactions with physical objects and locations.
Jenson is an UX expert from the time before UX as a term became commonplace. He has worked for over 25 years in the field of user interface and has worked with Apple, Symbian, Cognima, Google and Frog Design. His current stint at Google began in 2013 when he returned to the tech major to lead the Physical Web project.
Here he speaks about the Physical Web, future trends in UX, on starting up and is Apple losing its way in recent times.
1. Can you tell us what the Physical Web project is and how did you come up with the idea? How is the Physical Web different from IoT?
I noticed that every “smart device” such as a nest thermostat or a Hue Lightbulb each had their own phone application. It seemed obvious to me we were going to have a problem: if more and more things became smart, we’d run out of space on our phones to install all of the apps.The Physical Web is a user centered approach to technology, starting with the basic premise: walk into any place or in front of any device and to be able to interact with it quickly and easily.The super power of the web is interaction on demand, you can view any page in a few seconds (if done well) The Physical Web is just about making that easy in a mobile context: allowing your phone to perceive the web pages around you and letting you pick one of this with very little effort.
2. Projecting 20 years into the future, how would a typical day in our lives look like with the Physical Web in place?
I expect that much like wifi today, we’ll just expect that things will be annotated with content. Dog collars, public places, car sharing services will all let you interact with them with them easily. However, as the Physical Web becomes more common place, we expect more advances will be made with the scanners. Right now we’re taking a very conservative approach, only showing you things when you ask. Scanners will get more sophisticated finding specialized beacons (such as navigation for blind users) and allow users to interact while walking around a space.
3. You wrote Mobile apps must die back in 2011. That was the high noon of the mobile app ecosystem and your article produced a lot of reactionary response. How have your views about apps and the Physical web evolved since then?
I’ve calmed down a bit) I’m not trying to kill native apps. My point is that native apps are fine, they just aren’t practical for all use cases. Anything that is more light weight and ephemeral is a good candidate for the Physical Web.
4. What are the major barriers to mainstream adoption of the Physical Web currently? The premise seems so perfect – all our phones have browsers, so why add another layer of friction with app . I ask this even as I’m taking into account Gartner’s Hype Cycle.
There is a clear chicken/egg loop here: most deployers don’t want to try it until everyone else does. It will take a little while longer as more and more people try and experiment with it. The more it is used, the more people will be willing to try it.
5. Which company/start-up/group is doing the most promising work in terms of the Physical Web?
There are so many. Lots of beacon makers are trying things like integrating their URL shortener with their beacons. That makes deployment very fast and inexpensive. There are additional content platforms being made and just yesterday, I saw a ‘street musician app’ that turns your phone into a simple beacon that lets people around you know where to find out more about you.
6. The Physical Web project is clearly positioned at consumers. Is there any way enterprises could also use the same tech?
I would assume any company that is building a smart device (consumer or professional) would be interested in this. As we move to other transports beyond BLE (such as wifi-direct and/or mDNS) we expect more industrial use cases will be enabled.
7. Steve Jobs famously resisted allowing third party developers from making apps when the iPhone was launched. In some way, did Jobs see the possibility of the Physical Web back then?
I think we are approaching the issue from 2 very different points of view…
8. I loved your post ‘We need more Communism’. India is (or at least was until recently) in the midst of a start-up boom and the prevailing wisdom has become ‘Start your own thing’. Any words of advice to the young ‘uns here in India in the context of your post?
That post was just pointing out that we’re so encouraged to think shorter term. While I’d love to see big companies/governments invest in longer term technology plays, I also think the shareware/maker movement can literally change the world. Just don’t expect to get rich in the short term… However, anyone who does “make a dent in the universe (as Mr Jobs once said) likely won’t have to worry too much about money.
9. You were an UX specialist even before the term was invented. Tell us about your views on what the future holds for interfaces and experiences for consumers in the future.
That’s a VERY big question: we humans usually use tomorrow’s technology to solve yesterday’s tasks. It takes a while to really understand the impact of a new technology. It’s a rather chaotic system and anyone claiming they know what is going to happen is likely trying to sell you something./p>
10. You just turned your back on Macs after using them for 30 years (I got that from your blog). You have worked with Apple for many years and have seen a lot in terms of tech over the years. Has Apple lost its way post-Steve Jobs’s passing? And if it has, what is the way forward.
I wouldn’t quite say it that strongly. I feel that Apple is focusing on the iPhone and forgetting why creative professionals use laptops in the first place. We don’t want toasters, we need work benches. The latest MacBook Pros are perfectly find consumer level machines, I don’t want to imply they are bad. However, they are not flexible or powerful enough for me. So I’m trying my little experiment. I have to admit that I’m a little nervous. But you usually don’t learn anything important by playing it safe.
Recent Blogs

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An intranet that doesn’t engage will grow stale and unused…  So, design is worth that investment

An intranet that doesn’t engage will grow stale and unused… So, design is worth that investment

‘An intranet that doesn’t engage will grow stale and unused… So, design is worth th[...]
How SharePoint is changing: Behind the scenes with Adam Harmetz, Partner GPM on SharePoint and Office 365

How SharePoint is changing: Behind the scenes with Adam Harmetz, Partner GPM on SharePoint and Office 365

‘How SharePoint is changing: Behind the scenes with Adam Harmetz, Partner GPM on Share[...]
To convince clients about UX, it is  important to speak the client’s language

To convince clients about UX, it is important to speak the client’s language

SPADEWORX IDEACOMB CUSTOMER TESTIMONIALS ‘To convince [...]
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Growing in leaps and bounds

SPADEWORX IDEACOMB CUSTOMER TESTIMONIALS Growing in leaps[...]
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SpadeWorx is participating in HR Tech World Show at London on 21st and 22nd March 2017.

CULTURAL SOCIAL SPORTS SpadeWorx is participating in HR T[...]

SharePoint Framework—a Page and Part model!

SharePoint Framework—a Page and Part model!
SharePoint Framework—a Page and Part model!
By Urvashi Bhat
Recently, Microsoft announced the SharePoint Framework, which is open to all and a connected platform. It is a Page and Part model that will fully support client-side development, an easy integration with Microsoft Graphs and support for open source tooling. Even the mobile app, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, are getting revamped with the addition of new document library list experiences using the SharePoint Framework.
The redesigning has been done to give chance to SharePoint developers to work both inside and outside Microsoft. Even we can use the same technology, tools and techniques that were used earlier to build more productive experiences and apps that are responsive and ready for mobile from day one. Leverage the new JavaScript frameworks like React, Angular with this framework as it provides better performance by letting developers to clinch new heights with .NET and beyond it. You can choose the framework you want as per your needs as it has opened new opportunities in the cloud to get more aligned closely to what customers have on-premises.
This Framework will be available to existing SharePoint sites also, and you can host client-side web parts developed with new SharePoint Framework on existing SharePoint pages. The good thing about it is, it allows to extend your existing tools and solutions and take advantage of exciting open source opportunities. The SharePoint Framework adds to the existing, powerful development opportunities with SharePoint—from Full Trust Code on-premises to Office 365 add-ins—to bring a modern client-side approach to enable powerful portal experiences in SharePoint Online.
The attraction of SharePoint Framework is new and modern SharePoint Page experience that starts with the page structure. The new SharePoint user experience comes with pages that are technology independent and can be constructed with any client-side JavaScript and templating framework. This page structure will provide a number of new opportunities, with ability to host web parts, add-ins and many more. The page structure will extend SharePoint capabilities into more efficient, reliable and faster than as it is ready for mobile and responsive from day one. Over the time SharePoint is being preferred as the content and collaboration platform in part through its extensibility by expanding new opportunities for developers, whether being a master in SharePoint or a beginner.
Let’s start thinking to innovate mind boggling solutions for next generation with SharePoint framework.
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An intranet that doesn’t engage will grow stale and unused…  So, design is worth that investment

An intranet that doesn’t engage will grow stale and unused… So, design is worth that investment

‘An intranet that doesn’t engage will grow stale and unused… So, design is worth th[...]
How SharePoint is changing: Behind the scenes with Adam Harmetz, Partner GPM on SharePoint and Office 365

How SharePoint is changing: Behind the scenes with Adam Harmetz, Partner GPM on SharePoint and Office 365

‘How SharePoint is changing: Behind the scenes with Adam Harmetz, Partner GPM on Share[...]
To convince clients about UX, it is  important to speak the client’s language

To convince clients about UX, it is important to speak the client’s language

SPADEWORX IDEACOMB CUSTOMER TESTIMONIALS ‘To convince [...]
No thumbnail available

Growing in leaps and bounds

SPADEWORX IDEACOMB CUSTOMER TESTIMONIALS Growing in leaps[...]
No thumbnail available

SpadeWorx is participating in HR Tech World Show at London on 21st and 22nd March 2017.

CULTURAL SOCIAL SPORTS SpadeWorx is participating in HR T[...]

Product Engineering, formula to incorporate concept into product!

Product Engineering, formula to incorporate concept into product!
Product Engineering, formula to incorporate concept into product!
By Urvashi Bhat
I have an idea but how will I incorporate it successfully?? Here comes into the picture the process of product engineering. It’s a formula to incorporate the idea or a concept into a product. Let’s say you have a concept and want to transform it into a product. What steps you will take??
  • Do some research
  • Ask friends
  • Discuss with peers
  • Check the limitations
  • Gather the required resources
  • Start Implementing
  • These are the layman steps but if we make them structured and design then these will form the steps of product engineering. Yes not to complicate, Product Engineering is a new area where companies are spending tremendous amount so that forte of the product will not be a failure.
    Now we have idea management solutions, where we can gather the review for the concept. Once the concept is well accepted, the process to develop the product starts. Product engineering has proven very promising in the present era. It has removed the enormous amount of repetitive work by creating a standard process that entails the cost issues, resources, quality, features and other detailed points that can be involved in the lifespan of product or service.
    There are many phases which are compiled in Product Engineering. Now we have SaaS (Software as a service) that has transformed the traditional phase of delivering user specific services to a well-designed Product Engineering process. It starts with Developing then Testing and ends with Maintenance phase. The developing phase is most critical phase, if we don’t spend time on it we may end in overspending the last phase.
    Whatever be the concept it should be the practice of involving rigorous research. Ask peers, friends, clients, customers their view, just ask don’t stop. You may get a clear vision of the acceptance of concept. This gathered information can be used to create a well-structured architecture. Keep moving and design the product with the steps involved in the architecture.
    Start testing this pro-model by doing the Release Test and Quality Assurance Testing. You can also include regression and Stress Testing. Also do the performance and compatibility testing of the product in the said environment. Testing gives the conjugated report of the all the errors and bugs in the pro-model of the product. With it starts the Maintenance phase, where you start bug fixing, product enhancement and support and finding the proper solution.
    If well followed it is an interesting process and much planned way to create a remarkably distinct product. It is must to add a wow factor to the product to survive in this diverse and competitive world. As it is well said as we innovate we evolve.
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    An intranet that doesn’t engage will grow stale and unused…  So, design is worth that investment

    An intranet that doesn’t engage will grow stale and unused… So, design is worth that investment

    ‘An intranet that doesn’t engage will grow stale and unused… So, design is worth th[...]
    How SharePoint is changing: Behind the scenes with Adam Harmetz, Partner GPM on SharePoint and Office 365

    How SharePoint is changing: Behind the scenes with Adam Harmetz, Partner GPM on SharePoint and Office 365

    ‘How SharePoint is changing: Behind the scenes with Adam Harmetz, Partner GPM on Share[...]
    To convince clients about UX, it is  important to speak the client’s language

    To convince clients about UX, it is important to speak the client’s language

    SPADEWORX IDEACOMB CUSTOMER TESTIMONIALS ‘To convince [...]
    No thumbnail available

    Growing in leaps and bounds

    SPADEWORX IDEACOMB CUSTOMER TESTIMONIALS Growing in leaps[...]
    No thumbnail available

    SpadeWorx is participating in HR Tech World Show at London on 21st and 22nd March 2017.

    CULTURAL SOCIAL SPORTS SpadeWorx is participating in HR T[...]