All Posts in academic term

September 14, 2017 - Comments Off on User Journey Map

User Journey Map

Word: User Journey Map

Definition: A map or diagram that illustrates the story of how a user experiences and interacts with a product or company. The story can be a small portion of the experience or an all-encompassing overview in order to provide insights into the user's thoughts, feelings, and motivations.

Thought: User journeys are helpful to many people within a company, but the key takeaways for UX practitioners include uncovering pain points, understanding the user's unique perspective, and providing insight into user's decision making.

There is no formula for a user journey map. They can take any format you like, so long as it is simple and readable. This could be a timeline, an infographic, or a storyboard - just to name a few.

Word of warning, user journeys should be created from research and gathered information from users. This is not a free-form art class. No one is interested in your thoughts or feelings here.

Below is an example of one that I did a while back for reference. Don't judge it too harshly.

Question: Are we at a point yet where this tool is universally accepted by teams outside of design or, are UXers still barring the heavy-lift in selling the importance of these documents to stakeholders?

August 31, 2017 - Comments Off on Signifier


Word: Signifier

Definition: A signal that communicates appropriate behavior to a person and where an action should take place.

Reference: Don Norman explains the subtle difference between signifiers and affordances in his book, "The Design of Everyday Things". He amended the book in later editions because while the design community took fondly to the term affordance, Norman believed it was being improperly used (based on his definition).

Thoughts: Touch screens afford to touch... but as to where and how to touch, this is a signifier. 

August 28, 2017 - Comments Off on Affordance


Word: Affordance

Definition: The properties of an object that determine what actions are possible. For sake of an everyday example (no pun intended, Mr. Norman), a hinged door affords pushing or pulling.

Reference: The term was originally invented by the psychologist J. J. Gibson to refer to physical possibilities by properties of an object and was famously (in our design world bubble at least) articulated by Don Norman in his game changing book "The Design of Everyday Things." Norman thoughtfully writes,

"An affordance is a relationship between the properties of an object  and the capabilities of the agent that determine just how that object could possibly be used."

Thoughts: Take note, affordances are all around you! But don't get this confused with signifiers.