Samantha Silver

Recent Posts

Top 5 UX FAQs

February, 12 2021 | User Experience

While User Experience (UX) has been widely accepted and used by user/customer experience and marketing professionals, there are still many questions surrounding best practices and use-cases. For this reason, I have put together a list of the top UX FAQs to help alleviate any questions, concerns or myths surrounding user experience.

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Voice Tech + the New Normal

November, 09 2020 | Emerging Trends, Voice Technology

     In January 2020, no one anticipated that a pandemic would be the defining event of the year. However, in October, the impact and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still currently underway, especially as we see parts of the world preparing for a second lockdown. So during all of this, we ask ourselves: how can technology be used to help us through this? In regards to voice technology, one of the areas of focus for voice tech is in healthcare, and COVID-19 has only heightened that focus. Voice technology is seen as something that could potentially help reduce the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 as well as help to improve current social distancing standards.

  Aside from the increased uptick that has been seen during quarantine of increased usage in voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home, there are numerous opportunities for the way in which voice technology can be integrated to be a beneficial feature of our “new” normal. Additionally, the ability to connect to others via voice user interfaces, or even extended reality like social XR, could potentially help individuals to feel socially connected while remaining physically distant.

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A History of Voice Technology

August, 21 2020 | Emerging Trends, Voice Technology

        While many feel as though voice technology is a newer innovation. However- the study, development, and implementation of voice and speech recognition technologies has been going on for the last 70 years. This article attempts to provide an overview of the history of voice technology, and how it has developed since its creation. In 1952, the first speech recognition system designed by Bell Laboratories was known as the “Audrey” system and could only recognize single voice digits spoken aloud (source). “The machine understood digits 0-9 is speakers paused in between, though it would have to adapt to each user before it could capture their speech with reasonable accuracy” (source)

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What Are We Talking About? Voice Technology Terms You Need to Know

      Last week, we discussed the way in which voice technology has transformed from a nascent technology relegated to the world of science fiction, to something that people increasingly utilize on a day to day basis. As we delve deeper into the world of voice technology, there is a great deal of jargon and terminology to keep straight. In order to help make that task a little easier, and so you all know what we are talking about, we have created this handy guide to breakdown and help you understand the most commonly used voice technology vocabulary. 

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'More is More' -  Maximalism in UX Design

January, 29 2020 | Design, User Interface

       Last week we discussed the concept of minimalism in UX Design and the way in which the concept of “less is more” can actually improve the overall user experience through eliminating unnecessary clutter or distractions. As mentioned last week, the concept of minimalism is derived from the “Hicks Law” concept which posits that the more choices a user is presented with, the more likely they will need more time in order to make their decision. While minimalism seeks to enhance the overall user experience by transforming the UI (user interface), it is not the only design trend synonymous with this practice. Maximalism in User Experience (UX)  Design, the opposite of minimalism, seeks to enhance the user experience through transforming the user interface, but this time by utilizing a variety of different patterns, colors, designs, and visual elements in order to create a design that is prominently eye-catching.

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Facial Recognition Technology and Racial Biases

         In 2018, research reports from the ACLU emerged indicating that Amazon’s facial recognition technology had reportedly “confused” the faces of 28 congressmen with the faces of known criminals. Let’s unpack that statement. First, Amazon has been developing facial recognition technology, called Rekognition, which can provide “highly accurate facial analysis and facial recognition on images and video.” In 2018, Amazon was actively making movements towards selling this technological tool to law enforcement. The ACLU, among other organizations and individuals, were concerned with the implications of utilizing such technology.  In turn, the ACLU conducted its own study employing Rekognition facial technology. Their research uncovered that Rekognition technology was not as accurate of a facial recognition tool as had been perceived, and resulted in a large number of mismatched faces. Most importantly, the ACLU reported that Rekognition disproportionately misidentified faces of people of color- as highlighted by the 28 faces of congressmen that were misidentified as being the faces of known criminals. While Amazon and the ACLU debated over these results, the findings published by the ACLU point towards a bigger issue- in what ways are racial biases manifesting themselves in facial recognition technology and how can this cause harm to communities of color?

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Inclusivity and UXR Part 1: Revising Survey Screeners

   
     User experience seeks to be able to capture the accurate experience of the user, but it is critical to consider if we are truly being inclusive when it comes to including all users in that collective experience. Inclusivity in UX means helping to develop and/or improve products that can serve as many people as possible. It means that all users, including those with diverse characteristics, are all able to use the product and feel included in the collective user experience that is being captured surrounding a product. The reality is we are currently designing, studying and testing products that will be used by millions of people- and it is important to make sure that all potential users can feel included, and validated, in the shared user experience.

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Tips for More Effective Design Thinking Leadership

July, 08 2019 | Design, How-To

In collaboration with Mindy Eng.

       Design thinking is not a new topic here on our blog. However, many are still under the impression that design thinking is a method that can only be applied to designers or those working in product development. When in actuality, design thinking is a methodology that can be applied to basically any role or industry, but especially leadership roles. Design thinking is not just a method that can be applied to better understanding and addressing customer problems but is also an extremely valuable leadership philosophy that can help improve companies in industries everywhere.

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3 Tips to Writing Better Survey Responses


In collaboration with Annabell Ho.

     Surveys are often regarded as being easy ways of collecting large amounts of data. You put together your questions, design your survey and boom- it can be distributed and accessed online by hundreds upon thousands of participants. While it seems easy enough, there is actually a great deal of design thinking that goes into the creation of a well-designed and efficient survey. In order to make sure that once your survey goes live you generate the best possible results, there requires a hefty amount of thought, design and care that goes into the construction of a survey. A bad survey design can lead to bad data through causing participants to be unsure of how to answer questions, or not providing enough options to accurately capture the participants true experience.

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Pre-Work for Usability Studies


       
In collaboration with Jasmin Joseph.

       The goal of a user research study is to better understand users behaviors, desires, needs, frustrations and attitudes through using varying feedback and observation based research methods. Therefore, it is critical that we as researchers are able to understand and capture the user experience to the best of our ability. This relies in the researchers ability to listen, as well as the participants ability to articulate themselves. Sometimes, participants may find it difficult to think of things in the moment, or know what to tell researchers. In these instances, it could be helpful for researchers to add an extra step of “pre-work” for the participants to help ensure that the research study is able to illustrate their experience in the most accurate way possible.  

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Participant Recruitment: What Not to Do


In collaboration with Jasmin Joseph.

         Recruitment, whether it be internal or external, is a necessary part of the research process. Part of being able to carry out an effective UX research study is being able to recruit participants who are right for the study, as well as making sure to recruit enough of them. There are several articles (including our own) that provide various different tips and tricks in order to try to help the recruitment process run more smoothly and efficiently. But what about what not to do when trying to recruit participants?

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Tracking Mental Health with UX Research Methods

June, 14 2019 |

In collaboration with Nhan Vu.

        Mental health has become a topic of increased attention within recent years, with more and more emphasis being placed on practicing self-care and raising awareness for mental health issues. However, an overwhelming number of people still lack access to mental health care. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 89.3 million people in the U.S. lack access to mental health care. This article seeks to explore the potential application of various forms of UX research methods as a way of tracking one’s mental health- both through the implementation of these methods in one's own individual life as well as through the creation and design of mental health based applications. UX research methods employ a wide variety of tactics from using mood tracking to diary studies to ethnography. These methods can be applied as a way to track mental health and potentially expand the accessibility of related mental health services.

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