Writing for Web: Research-Based Guidelines

strunk-voice-bu2From http://guidelines.usability.gov and a few other sources…

“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”

-William Strunk Jr., in Elements of Style


  1. Make First Sentences Descriptive
  2. Limit the Number of Words and Sentences
  3. Use Active Voice
  4. Avoid Jargon
  5. Use Familiar Words
  6. Use Mixed Case with Prose
  7. Make Action Sequences Clear
  8. Define Acronyms and Abbreviations
  9. Use Abbreviations Sparingly
  10. Write Instructions in the Affirmative
  11. Limit Prose Text on Navigation Pages

Continue reading Writing for Web: Research-Based Guidelines

A guide to Writing Effective User Stories

user_story_calloutsWhat is a User Story?

In an agile organization, the User Story replaces traditional requirement documentation. While traditional requirements like functional or user interface specifications try to be as detailed as possible, User Stories break down the business requirements into the smallest piece of business value that a development team can deliver within an iteration.

That said, there is an art to writing effective user stories and UX designers cannot simply rename their User Interface Specifications to User Stories. Use the following guidelines to

Continue reading A guide to Writing Effective User Stories

Agile UX – Sketching and Scrum

Last Import - 09“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” That was the advice of Arthur BrisbaneEditor The Syracuse Post Standard March 28, 1911. Despite originally referring to newsprint, the adage still holds true in the digital age.

Sketching for understanding” is an efficient and effective way to gather tons of ideas in a short period of time while cultivating shared understanding across agile teams.With the right structure and active participation, sketching with Scrum teams can really pay dividends throughout the release life cycle.

Use the following guide to help plan and facilitate your next agile sketching session. Continue reading Agile UX – Sketching and Scrum

Agile UX – Collaborative Chartering

080508_EyeAlthough many businesses follow agile practices, they don’t realize the true benefits of an agile culture and unwittingly fall into routine at the expense of collaboration.

A good UX Designer can help get a team back on track by establishing a shared vision or “Collaborative Charter”. Created with any agile team, the charter can do the following:

  • Identify direction and purpose
  • Build loyalty through involvement
  • Inspire enthusiasm and encourage commitment
  • Set standards of excellence that reflects high ideals and a sense of integrity
  • Bring meaning to the work
  • Mobilize the team to action

Use the following guide to plan and run effective Collaborative Charter workshops…
Continue reading Agile UX – Collaborative Chartering

The Agile Product Owner

cropped-superpo2 2The role of product owner was born of the scaled agile framework. Product owner is a role, not a title, and the responsibilities for the role vary.

In “The Scrum Papers: Nut, Bolts, and Origins of an Agile Framework“, author Jeff Sutherland emphasizes the product owners’ main responsibility of ensuring Return on Investment (ROI) for a given product feature:

“The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing return on investment (ROI) by identifying product features, translating these into a prioritized list, deciding which should be at the top of the list for the next Sprint, and continually re-prioritizing and refining the list.”

Continue reading The Agile Product Owner

Listen Up! (and have better interviews)

listening-earDo you ever find yourself drifting off while conducting interviews? Are you having trouble remembering what an interviewee said during a conversation? Are you busy thinking of your response or opinion before the other person has finished speaking?

If this describes you, your hearing may be fine but your listening needs work. To get more out of  interviews and conversations, you’ll need to work on becoming an “active listener”.


To be an active listener, you’ll need to clear your mind, focus, ask questions, reflect, and paraphrase throughout the conversation. Here are 12 helpful tips to follow the next time Continue reading Listen Up! (and have better interviews)

Design for value and connect with customers

value With the increasing importance of the product experience as a competitive differentiation, designers need to think about making value connections with their customers. Designing for value requires discipline. Using successful measures of value opportunity will help designers get there.


Originally introduced in 2001 by Craig M. Vogel, Jonathan Cagan, and recently cited in the International Encyclopedia of Ergonomics and Human Factors, Value Opportunities provide th

e best opportunity to connect with customers in a deeper more meaningful way. Continue reading Design for value and connect with customers

User Interface Design – The Key to Consistently Providing Superior Customer Experience

pdma-bresslerOn April 3, 2013, I sat on a panel for a special program, sponsored by the PDMA and the Bresslergroup. The program included students from Philadelphia University Masters in Industrial Design program as well as software engineers and product design leaders from around the Philadelphia region.

The program focussed on emerging trends shaping user interface design process with the industrial design process. The panel was moderated by Rob Tannen, Ph.D, Director of Research and Interface Design at the Bresslergroup.

I included a brief summary of the topics we covered below…

Rob: How do you determine which features and content to deliver on various devices?  Should the goal be to provide full functionality across all platforms? Continue reading User Interface Design – The Key to Consistently Providing Superior Customer Experience