Authors Posts by Craig Tomlin

Craig Tomlin

177 POSTS 74 COMMENTS
I've been improving revenue with online marketing, usability & conversion optimization for start-ups, small businesses and Fortune 500 firms since 1996. I'm a Certified Usability Analyst and multi-award winning marketer. Contact me for website usability testing and audits!

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Interview with Hannes Robier, Founder of World Usability Congress

An interview with Hannes Robier, Founder of World Usability Congress and CEO of Youspi, a UX consulting and training firm located in Graz, Austria. 

Hannes-Robier-Interview-UsefulUsability-SqMy friend Hannes Robier is a remarkable man. He founded and is CEO of a UX consulting and training firm, Youspi. He also founded the World Usability Congress, an international conference dedicated to UX, usability and related interaction design fields that has grown in attendance every year and attracts renowned speakers and audiences from around the world.

And, in his ‘spare’ time he is the non-paid President of the Research Lab for Interaction and Experience Labx, dedicated to the scientific exploration of new ways for customers and companies to engage with each other.

As I have predicted regarding the future of UX, Europe and Central Europe continue to grow in the UX field, and some of that growth can directly be attributed to Hannes and his work.

What is your background and education?

After earning my high school degree, I was dedicated to work within the area of Design. Back then, I didn’t yet know anything about Usability and User Experience.

Thus, I started to study Information Design at the University of Applied Sciences FH JOANNEUM in Graz, Austria. One small part of their curriculum was Usability and after my first into the topic, I was hooked and knew that my future professional endeavours would be within the Usability world.

What got you interested in usability and user experience?

At our first session at FH JOANNEUM we had to redesign the interaction concept for a video recorder. To me, it was incredibly impressive to see how much room for improvement there actually was and I instantly found the idea of making products better very enticing.

What is your profession and what products or projects are you currently working on?

Hannes-Robier-from-UsefulUsabilityI am UX designer.

In addition to that, I am the unsalaried President of the Research Lab for Interaction and Experience Labx.

My team and I are working within different areas to redesign various products. We are mostly working in an B2B environment so 90% of our projects are actually secret. Some of the companies we work for comprise local international companies like Magna Steyr, AVL, RedBull and others. On top of that, we are also working with startups to develop new innovative products in the area of medical, IoT or eCommerce.

What do you do for World Usability Congress and how did you start it?

I am the chairman and organizer of the World Usability Congress. To me, top priorities in the preparation phase include finding top-notch expert speakers that can add value and insights for our attendees, as well as finding sponsors. Creating memorable experiences throughout the entire Congress is my passion and my job.

We started in 2007 with the first World Usability Day in Austria. At the first event we had 30 attendees, but I already had the vision to organize an international UX congress, transgressing borders and attracting both attendees and speakers from all over the world. Back then, my Usability Professor was laughing at the idea of staging an international UX congress in Graz. Now, things have become real.

In your own words, what makes “an Experience” (User Experience)

To me, an Experience is a moment, a product, a conversation or the like that you remember and that you will talk about! An Experience always surpasses your expectations and therefore becomes memorable.

What do look most forward to at World Usability Congress?

I most look forward to meeting all the fantastic people – both attendees and speakers – at WUC and to discussing UX and potential joint projects with them. It is the perfect mash-up of expert speakers and visitors from various industries, as well as exciting side events and numerous networking opportunities around that makes the event such an amazing experience!

What’s your all-time favourite book? Why? (private or business)

It is a German book called “The New Toughness Training for Sports” by James E. Loehr which is all about mental power and certainly not only applicable in sports. It provides guidelines as to how to achieve your targets and visions and has formed an essential part of my life.

Thank you Hannes!

A big ‘Thank You’ to Hannes for taking the time for this interview. Hannes and others like him are a driving force in bringing better UX and design to Europe and the world. If you’ve not had the chance yet to attend the World Usability Congress, I hope you’ll put it high on your list for must-attend conferences. And who knows, maybe you’ll get a chance to meet Hannes in person, and learn more about how he’s been a driving force in promoting good user experiences world-wide.

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AR vs VR and the UX Future. Which one will become the dominant UX? 5 UX experts provide their thoughts on which will win, and why.

AR versus VR and the future of UX is a hot topic if the recent SxSW conference and trade show are any indicator. Why? Because AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) are a bold new way for people to interact with systems, be they virtual, real-world or both. As I look into the UX future with my somewhat cloudy crystal ball, I am confident of one thing: one of them will eventually become the dominant UX we all use.

But which one? And why?

Watch the AR vs VR video to learn which one I picked, and why.

Bonus: 5 UX Experts on AR vs VR

In addition to my thoughts, I’ve asked 5 UX experts to provide their perspective on what the AR vs VR future may hold. Read on to learn which one they think will win in the AR vs VR competition, and why they think the dominant UX of the future will be their pick.

I’m thinking this is the beginning of a very big shift in Human Computer Interaction, and that AR will become THE way we interact with systems, information and data in the next 5-10 years. AR and VR were all over SXSW this year, and I think that signals the shift that will eventually occur.

But what do YOU think? Am I nuts? Will AR / VR take off or just be some minor gaming wondertoy like Rock Band?

5 UX Experts and AR vs VR

Daniel-Szuc-Photo-171x200-from-UsefulUsabilityDaniel Szuc: Dan is the co-founder of ApogeeHK, a top-notch design and UX firm in Asia. He’s a co-author of the book “Global UX” and was founder of UX Hong Kong.

“My assumption is that AR and VR are “toys for boys” as pushed by tech companies in search of a need or the next big thing.

Also consider what else needs to fall into place for AR and VR to be more useful? e.g. data visualization, data overlays, data that matches a contextual need better? For example, what needed to happen for Smart phones to become popular and not just for the rich?

Open to learning about use cases where AR and VR are making a real difference (gaming seems to be one).”

Andrew-Mayfield-CEO-Optimal-Workshop-from-UsefulUsabilityAndrew Mayfield: Andrew is CEO of the UX tools and services firm Optimal Workshop. Optimal Workshop provides click testing, question tests, tree sorts and more tools for capturing qualitative data.

“I think you’re correct (in that AR will win), though I haven’t given a huge amount of thought to how it’ll play out. So, just for fun, lemme riff right off the cuff: I think the enclosed VR goggles will be somewhat short-lived / limited to specialised interactions. I imagine that they’ll demonstrate just how much more immersive an experience could be though if the ‘computer’ was able to control/understand/fiddle with everything we can ‘see’.

So Microsoft’s holo thing seems like a nice, less game-oriented step. AR in general makes a LOT of sense to me intuitively.

We all google everything we want to know. We generally seem relatively comfortable using our phones as universal remote controls. We’re very likely to enjoy a scenario where we can get useful metadata and/or manipulate more ordinary things in our environments remotely, whether it be across the room or further afield.

In combination with intelligent voice recognition and specialist applications, AR / VR seems to have great potential for exploring vast data to me.

The feeling of being ‘in it’, like how a researcher likes to put all manner of things on every wall of a room and just stand in the middle of it to let it eek through their pores until it makes sense. That feeling is what a good AR / VR experience might evoke, that even a 27″ retina monitor never will.

It certainly has a fad-ish feel to it. And it’s not at all new. But it is a lot more awesome than before.”

Toby-Biddle-UsefulUsabilityToby Biddle: Toby is the CEO of the UX firm Loop11.  Loop11 is an umoderated testing tool that enables research of your own or other websites with no downloads.

“As someone who gets motion sickness at the mere idea of VR I’ve always been skeptical as to where it will end up.

That being said I’ve had many friends communicate the engaging nature of VR even when the display and refresh rates are poor. My belief is that VR, and to a lesser extent AR, will extend already existing areas of consumer use.

We already use Google Earth/Maps to see foreign locations, we watch performances on YouTube, and plugin our earbuds to relax and meditate. I see VR extending all of these elements into more immersive experiences.

This view is probably coupled more with developments in 360-degree video than is it is in creating entirely new environments.

So while I don’t see us spending all of our time in virtual environments, I can definitely see it replacing existing behaviour in the near future.”

Jan-Jursa-Photo-150x175-UsefulUsabilityJan Jursa: Jan is co-founder of the German IA Summit, MOBX Conference, MEDLove Summit and Editor in Chief of “UX Stories.” He tweets voraciously at @IATV.

“So far I have not experienced a VR scenario that really convinced me. But I am sure it will be pretty good by the time my children surprise me with a one-way ticket to a nursing home. And that’s totally something I am looking forward to already!

On my Christiania-Bike I have this sticker: AFK. Because that’s what I am when I am riding my bicycle. Away from keyboard. But do I need a way to augment my reality? Well, perhaps. If everybody has it, I certainly don’t wanna be the one left out to dry. I want to have my own Jane (see: “Speaker for the Dead,” written by Orson Scott Card).

On the other hand: reality? We have several of those in my household–and they seem to be very different. Let me ask you one question: did the trees in the Garden of Eden have growth rings or not?

AR or VR? Right now I am more excited about Facebook’s new Chatbots. They will be all over the place by this time next year.

So you kids out there reading this… I have this advice for you: take it easy and do what Facebook does. And stop reading this Responsive Web Design book. The web is dying. Look at your home screen. There’s 50 apps and not one browser in sight. Read up on Chatbots and get creative.”

Ritvij-Guatam-UsefulUsabilityRitvij Gautam: Ritvij is the CEO of TryMyUI, a remote unmoderated usability testing tool that enables recording of tests with actual users of your website or app.

“I am optimistic about devices like the revamped Facebook Oculus. The Hololens demo at E3 blew my mind too. VR/AR will gain its first foot hold in gaming. It had already started with the wave of motion sensors (Wii, Kinect, etc).

In my opinion AR will gain real world applicability sooner than VR. VR still has to get a lot smaller, more compact and make sense practically before people will start buying it as a standard consumer tech good.

A good lesson on how not to make AR take off can be found in the reception of Google Glass. It was a good tool but without a well scoped out field for applicability.

Slowly rolling out AR/VR tech from field to field, Gaming and Education for examples, will give us a directional push so that people will build for AR with a purpose and it will gain more traction. This will allow us to explore the potential and limitations of the technology in controlled sub-markets that are extremely receptive and prone to adopting the new tech.”

Conclusion: AR vs VR and UX Future

AR vs VR and UX Future is a debate that may continue on, but one thing is clear, technology will continue to push the boundaries of human/computer interaction. Whether the winner is AR (Augmented Reality) like I and several of our UX experts think, or VR (Virtual Reality) or even potentially some new hybrid design that doesn’t even exist yet, our interactions will change.

But what do you think?

Do you think AR will win? Or are you picking VR? Add your thoughts to the comments below!

For more information on AR vs VR:

The Future of UX and UI – This article and video provides a live demo recorded at SXSW of the new AR tool created by Meta.

The Future of UX and UI

The future of UX and UI is here, now. How do I know? Because I’ve seen it at a SXSW event. And it is very amazing, see why!

The Future of UX and UI is here, now!

The future of UX and UI you say? Absolutely, and it’s here right now!

If you’ve seen the movie Iron Man, then you know what I’m talking about. Picture a UX and UI where you can manipulate the interface with just your hands, virtually, in 3D space, and anywhere you happen to be.

Say goodbye to your cumbersome and unergonomic keyboards! Move your bulky monitors to a role of only supporting you Netflix habit! Kiss those wires and power cords that used to disgrace any respectful back of an office desk goodbye! And mice? Toss that wireless or wired mouse away for good!

Hello using your hands with augmented reality coupled with virtual reality.

And the best news? That future is here, now. I know this because I have seen it at a recent SXSW 2016 talk given by pioneers Meron Gribetz, CEO and inventor of Meta and Jayse Hansen, the designer responsible for bringing us the Iron Man interface.

Watch my video to learn more about the Future of UX and UI, and why I’m so excited that it’s here!

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Speaking at World Usability Congress 2016 is an honor!

World Usability Congress 2016 Craig Tomlin I’ll be speaking at World Usability Congress 2016 and I’m very excited about that! I’ll be giving two presentations at this year’s congress. My first talk will be on combining UX behavioral data with usability data to get a much more comprehensive view into the user experience of a website. With this comprehensive view, it is much easier to make better informed decisions on what and how to optimize a website.

My second presentation is a workshop on how to conduct a usability test. This how-to usability test session has been a crowd favorite at other conferences and UX meetups and I’m sure will be another one here.

This year, the WUC2016 will be held in October at Graz, Austria.

I’m excited to be speaking at World Usability Congress for several reasons:

First, this event and others I mentioned in my 2016 UX predictions post is I believe one of the meaningful cross-roads of the rapidly increasing UX cross-pollination between the US, Europe and other parts of the globe. Attendees will be coming from all over Europe and beyond. This promotes the sharing of ideas, best practices and interactivity between diverse groups of UX professionals.

Second, I enjoy speaking about one of my favorite subjects, UX Research. My presentation will be a good one: combining the behavioral data that comes from analytics programs such as Google Analytics with performance-based data coming from usability tests. By combining behavioral data with usability data you obtain much more comprehensive, what I refer to as a 360 degree view of your user experience.

I like to think about it like this:

I will spend time during my presentation explaining how to find the behavioral and performance-based usability testing data, analyze that data, and use the analysis to improve the user experience of any website.

Third and most importantly, I’m excited because I enjoy having a chance to meet the other UX attendees at the conference. It’s very enjoyable and educational to spend time with the other attendees and presenters. Conferences offer the opportunity to learn from others and their unique perspectives and experiences. It’s always enjoyable to chat with other UX fans about what experiences and skills they bring to the collective UX brotherhood. I always learn something new and interesting in the hallway conversations and casual meetups with attendees.

I look forward to meeting as many attendees as possible during World Usability Congress 2016. I hope you will register to attend and that I’ll have the chance to meet you there as well!

 

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UX Predictions for 2016 from yours truly and 6 UX gurus

UX Predictions 2016 UsefulUsabilityUX Predictions again? Didn’t we just do this?

Yes, believe it or not a whole year has gone by since the last time we prognosticated on the elusive to see future. And sure enough, it’s that time of year again. Time for the annual UX Predictions from yours truly and from a host of UX gurus. Learn what we think the future has in store for UX and usability.

And importantly, if you agree or disagree or think we missed something be sure to leave YOUR predictions in the comments at the bottom of this article! Enjoy!

Craig’s UX Predictions for 2016:

  1. Further expansion of Central/Eastern Europe UX Entrepreneurs. Lots of coding is outsourced there already and this will increase in 2016. Well attended gatherings like MOBX, World Usability Congress and others are already a sign this is happening and will continue to gain steam.
  2. In-App mobile usability testing will become the norm. Many vendors are already offering it, and DIY models exist (such as lookback.io). As engagement continues to increase on mobile versus desktop devices, UX research of mobile will become the norm.
  3. Assimilation of UX expertise in Product teams will increase. Hiring for UX designers and researchers in large and mid sized firms has been on the increase. More and more businesses understand that including UX as part of an agile approach to product development and product optimization are key.
  4. New UX vendors will be entering the market in increasing numbers, as the cost to develop new online UX research apps and the ability to generate growth and scale number of users increases. Consider some of the more recent entries like UserBob, UserBrain, UXCam, UXGofer, UserSnap and plenty more. In my opinion, this is just the beginning of a much larger wave of customized UX research solutions coming soon to a mobile device or desktop (or wearable!) near you.
  5. Investors will get wise to this expanding UX research tools marketplace and will increase their activity in existing and new UX tools and services. The recent announcement of the UserZoom $34M round of funding is an example that savvy investors see UX tools as a viable business. I’m also betting that M&A activity will slightly increase as the market matures, although M&A may pick up speed in future years once maturity in this space kicks in.

UX Predictions for 2016 from 6 UX Gurus –

RichGuntherColor-125x171-UsefulUsabilityRich Gunther: Former President of the UXPA, Principle and Co-Owner of Ovo Studios

“I think that UX will continue to expand and mature in Latin America.

The same growth pattern that we saw across Asia about 10 years ago is happening again in places like Ecuador, Mexico, and Argentina.

UX has already caught on pretty strongly in Brazil and Venezuela, but it’s now expanding to other countries in South and Central America.

The local presence of UXPA and IxDA chapters, some great regional conferences, and an issue of UX Magazine published entirely in Spanish are all signs of this trend.”

Daniel-Szuc-Photo-171x200-from-UsefulUsabilityDaniel Szuc: Dan is the co-founder of Apogee, a top-notch design and UX firm in Asia. He’s a co-author of the book “Global UX” and was founder of UX Hong Kong.

“A prediction or perhaps more of a wish, that business will continue to see the importance of sustainable ways of making and this will translate to this idea that time is a valuable resource as are resources in general.

This means that there will be greater care taken on why people and teams are working on products and services to begin with before we decide to inject monies into these ideas or to allocate budgets for the sake of winning budgets the next year or how reward systems need to be readjusted to move away from simply a deliverables mindset.

So perhaps this implies that business will need to get better at understanding the people they design for and to find creative and continuous ways, in the spirit of continuous learning, to get to that deeper understanding of people over time that help uncover assumptions, bias, motivations, behaviors and habits.

This is not about quantified self or machine generated analytics alone. A component of this will be examining how teams work together and the necessary skills to make teams work well as part of answering more questions to help determine value and focus on more of the right things that move us away from consumer mindsets and more to quality of life.So, how do we continue to promote the idea of “being human” and encouraging empathic enquiry.”

Jan-Jursa-Photo-150x175-UsefulUsabilityJan Jursa: Jan is co-founder of the German IA Summit, MOBX Conference, MEDLove Summit and Editor in Chief of “UX Stories.” He tweets voraciously at @IATV.

“As User Experience becomes more and more recognized as a relevant performance metric by the upper management, design professionals gain influence over strategic business decisions.

This creates the opportunity for HCD experts to leapfrog project managers on corporate ladders and become involved in the core process of marketing and innovation, which of course is: understanding user needs.

The ability to deeply understand problems customers face on a daily basis will push the practice of conceptualizing unmet market needs from an idea-based approach to a problem-based approach.”

 

Ritvij-Guatam-UsefulUsabilityRitvij Gautam: Ritvij is the CEO of TryMyUI, a remote unmoderated usability testing tool that enables recording of tests with actual users of your website or app.

“My big prediction for UX in 2016 is that there will be a move to decentralize the role of the user researcher. I mean to say, while this role will still exist, it will no longer be the only person who interacts with usability testing data and interprets it, they will be a manager who weighs team insights against the UX roadmap.

This will be because of the realization that studying the behavior of your target demographic user on your product does a lot more than help you optimize your user experience. As Dan correctly pointed out, It gives you a window into the proclivities, motivations, biases and desires of your economic buyer.

With the very same usability testing data, a product manager can think up new features for the product, a developer can re-create a certain product bug or notice and rectify inefficient code, a designer can notice and fix pain points.

More importantly, the impact of this data will be relevant to people outside of product. It will be relevant to the VP of Sales, as a convoluted/unusable sales or e-commerce flow will tell him what UX changes can potentially increase his bottom line. Advertisers will make sure that Ads augment, not detract, from the user experience (Facebook’s mobile app install ads are an example of this already happening).

Basically UX will be relevant to a whole team and won’t be viewed as a product only concern.”

Dave-Garr-UsefulUsabilityDave Garr: Co-Founder of UserTesting and the only person that I’m aware of that ever won a Webby award for a marriage proposal.

“A/B testing will be influenced more by user testing:

Websites with a lot of traffic can finish A/B tests in a week. So their biggest limiting factor is identifying — and designing — new variations that will crush the control. Usability testing is one of the best ways to identify the biggest problems on your site (or mobile app). Once you’ve gained that insight, your new variation can fix that problem.

Imagine that you decide to start a restaurant. The good news: 100 people come to your restaurant every day. The bad news: only 3 of them stay and eat. 97 of them walk in, look around, look at the menu, and leave. What would you do? After a few days of this, you’d probably ask some of those who are walking out the door: “Hey, why are you leaving?” And maybe you’d hear similar themes, such as “You don’t have a gluten-free dish.” And, based on what they said, you’d work on fixing that.

Now imagine that you start a website. If your website is like the average ecommerce website, only 3% of the people that come to your website buy anything. But how do you find out why the other 97% are leaving? It’s harder. You can’t grab them and ask, “Hey, why are you leaving?”

But user testing lets you do that. You can intercept actual visitors who are live on your site and you can see and hear them explain where they’re frustrated and why they’d leave your site. Now that you’ve identified a major problem, you can design a variation to fix that problem, and then you can A/B test it to validate that the fix worked.”

Toby-Biddle-UsefulUsabilityToby Biddle: Toby is the CEO of Loop11, a set of UX research tools designed to address the multiple data needs of researchers and designers.

“1. The hamburger won’t go away anytime soon.

There has been a lot of research suggesting that the hamburger menu is unintuitive and confusing, such as in this article and this one. There has even been one article that explained Why It’s Totally Okay to Use a Hamburger Icon. None of this research is conclusive, so I don’t expect this issue to go away anytime soon. What I expect to see is a greater proliferation and acceptance of the hamburger menu across both mobile sites and also desktop sites as people become more and more used to seeing it.

2. Growth of customer experience as a business strategy

Business strategy and customer experience haven’t always been on the same page. In fact, until fairly recently, they weren’t even in the same room. But things are changing. Strategy as a design discipline has taken its rightful place alongside senior executives, making good customer experience a strategic business advantage. While, in some ways, aspects of this trend have been around for many years now, the culmination of (senior) hiring, influence, decision making, acquisitions, market positioning, process adoption, and other fundamental indicators of the importance of CX to a company’s business model and strategy have never been higher. It is a great a time to be in CX.

3. UX testing budgets surge

Budgets to test interfaces and experiences will continue to grow as companies try to provide one customer experience across multiple screens and devices.”

Conclusion: UX Predictions for 2016 from yours truly and 6 UX gurus

So that’s the list of UX Predictions for 2016 from my and six UX gurus. What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or think something important is missing?

Make sure you leave YOUR predictions in the comments!

PS – Here’s last year’s predictions, so what do you think, how’d we do?

7 More Controversial Usability and UX Predictions for 2015

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons license courtesy @kevinv033