We’re currently growing our User Experience team at OpenRoad. This is always an exciting process as it’s great to see the different perspectives that each potential candidate brings. One of our favourite interview questions is “What makes a great UX practitioner?” The responses are as varied as the candidates themselves.
There are many different UX programs at local schools and no end of great books and websites that focus on the skills that people working in user experience need. Websites and higher education can teach people how to create wireframes, design an IA, and conduct a usability study. These foundational elements are important, but we feel that to really achieve success there are other “soft” skills that help define great UX people.
Empathy for the user. Good UX people are able to understand the pain that users feel when using systems, and why those pain points exist. They uncover people’s motivations and goals. Good UX people want to solve these problems. The solutions that are then provided address those pain points.
Not all users are the same – good UX practitioners can extract requirements from people in a natural manner. The best observational research and interviews happen when the people don’t know they are being observed or interviewed. A good UX practitioner is able to put people at ease, not be intimidating and be natural.
Advocate for the user
UX team members are the voice of the user back in the office. This means working with business, technical and visual design team members to help collectively design features that balance the needs of all stakeholders. Being able to communicate the true user need in a concise manner is important to ensure the user needs are not forgotten. Sometimes this means pushing back on ideas, and often it means getting creative to come up with solutions that balance many different requirements. The key role of the UX person is to ensure that the overall solution has not lost sight of the user problem that it was meant to solve.
If you’ve got these skills, we’d love to talk to you!
The web analytics practice involves more than reporting on what happened, it’s about distilling valuable insights and turning them into strategic action plans. The Certified Web Analyst (CWA) program seeks to recognize these forward-thinking analysts, with a standardized professional designation.
We are proud to announce that Bryan Robertson, our Analytics and Performance Measurement Practice Lead, is now one of 136 Certified Web Analysts worldwide and one of only three in Vancouver, BC.
Launched in 2010 by the Digital Analytics Association, the Certified Web Analyst designation is relatively new. Candidates must meet education and industry experience thresholds before applying to write the exam, which has only 50% pass rate. Equipped with over 16 years of experience in the internet industry, and a B.A. in Communications, Bryan recently wrote his exam on the Microsoft campus, in Redmond, WA.
Following his exam, Bryan took in the Seattle Predictive Analytics Symposium. Featuring keynote speakers from Microsoft and Adobe, and a theme of “Moving up from Reporting”, the symposium sought to move beyond simple storytelling, and accurately predict “how” and “what’s next”. Key areas of discussion included predictive marketing, media-mix modeling, real-time reporting, segmentation and data visualization.
This is our final part of our look at converting your website to Responsive Design series, using our site as an example.
- Part 1: choosing a Framework and deciding on an implementation path.
- Part 2: converting your code to use Foundation framework.
- Part 3: becoming responsive.
Today in Part 4, we look at some tips and tools in going responsive, as well as summarize our thoughts and conclusions of the process of converting our site to a Responsive Design.
As UX Designers, we are naturally attuned to identify usability wins and fails, along with their sources. These are by no means limited to our digital experiences, but apply to our real-world experiences as well. Our recent adventures to the Nielsen Norman Group Usability Week, a week-long workshop style conference held across the world several times throughout the year, provided some great examples of good usability and service design (I mean, they DO research and practice usability!), but also some insight into areas for improvement. Let’s see how a usability conference fared in its usability!
Partnership delivers exclusive digital download content for EA titles
In the spring of 2012, OpenRoad embarked on a creating a website to market a partnership between Electronic Arts’ Global Media Solutions and ConAgra, the manufacturer of the popular jerky snackfood Slim Jim. Together they created a program to allow consumers to take coupon codes from marked Slim Jim products and redeem them for instant win sweepstakes and EA “in-game” prizes.
The “Every Code Wins” promotion provides consumers with the ability to receive digital content available for redemption within EA games. The game titles for this 18-month program include Origin store discounts, NFS Most Wanted, MOH Warfighter, and DeadSpace 3. 142 million unique product coupon codes were created and sent for packaging and are now shipping to retail outlets throughout the USA.
As the technical implementation vendor chosen to architect, build, and test the EA Portal application, OpenRoad coordinated a wide range of parties in making Every Code Wins a reality.
Working closely with the talented folks at Tris3ct and promotions.com, OpenRoad developed and iterated on the initial user flows, provided the site IA and Wireframes for both desktop and mobile versions, designed and implemented a new technology platform, elicited and constructed a custom KPI reporting dashboard and then built, tested and deployed the application.
OpenRoad was also tasked with load test planning and execution to meet EA’s high availability 4SPR standards as well as passing Red Team security compliance for EA user account integration. The site will handle upwards of 300,000 redemptions per day and can be scaled to accommodate peak loads at game launch. Over the next 18 months OpenRoad will be managing 3rd party codes that grant the user in game content.
One of the main project challenges overcome was coordination between all the team members, suppliers, and vendors. With over 20 parties involved, project management and constant communication was key to the successful launch of this project.
“With a 241 percent increase in U.S. gamers between 2008 and 2011 , we know that gaming is huge, especially among Slim Jim fans,” said Daniel Marple, brand director, ConAgra Foods. “Gaming and Slim Jim already go hand in hand, so partnering with EA not only gives players more of their favorite snack but also delivers on what gamers want most – exclusive access that enhances their experience and gives them an edge over their competition.”
OpenRoad bridges the user experience gap of traditional tolling websites
The Port Mann Bridge / Highway 1 Project is the largest transportation infrastructure initiative in British Columbia’s history. OpenRoad is proud to announce our prime contractor role in the launch of the Port Mann Highway 1 Bridge Tolling website www.treo.ca.
About the Project:
As the lead digital vendor for the Transportation Investment Corporation we provided the strategy, user experience design, software development and implementation in an electronic tolling system roll-out from global tolling infrastructure provider CS-America.
Road tolling, while commonly used to pay for highway and road infrastructure throughout the world, is relatively new to the metro Vancouver region, and as such, many citizens have never driven on a toll highway or across a tolled bridge. With new RFID-based technology, open road tolling (yes, we found the name somewhat ironic) allows for the collection of tolls without the use of toll booths.
The electronic registration to set up a tolling account with the toll operator, request an RFID tag, and then manage your tolling transactions and account through the Web has typically been delivered by the same large engineering and infrastructure providers who provide the tolling hardware and RFID recognition software.
Unfortunately, the user experience of these web-based tolling account systems is typically lack-luster. In a comparative review of tolling websites from around the world, many were found to be confusing, time consuming and frustrating to use, making a somewhat undesirable mandatory task (paying a toll) even more painful.
Given the increased channel preference of the web and combined with the lack of a toll booth or any person or physical interaction with the tolls while driving, the realization was clear: for many, the experience of the website will be the experience of the tolling service.
OpenRoad created a customized solution for the website and mobile interfaces that significantly exceeded registration targets. We believe the TReO service to be a great example of how the public sector can innovate by providing a compelling and highly usable service experience, while at the same time meeting their goals of reducing channel costs and coordinating large amounts of transactions with citizens.
- Phase 1: The first phase of the TReO tolling site launched on September 12, 2012. Within 1 month of launch, TI Corporation reported that over 100,000 decal registrations had been processed.
- Phase 2: TI Corp had set an original goal of 250,000 registrations by November 30, 2012 with a 60% online self-service rate. Working with OpenRoad, they were able to achieve 550,000 registrations by the November target date with an impressive 80% of these registrations taking place online
- 1 Year After Launch: As of the IBTTA’s 81st Annual Meeting in Vancouver in September 2013, the one year anniversary of the registration period commencing, over 1.4M decals were in circulation; 1.1M local vehicles and 300,000 out-of-province and rental fleet. 80% of daily commutes over the bridge are made by registered TReO customers, and of those drivers, 90% have provided TI Corp with a form of pre-authorized credit or debit information.
OpenRoad, in partnership with the TI Corp, were also selected as the winners of the 2013 BCTIA Adoption of Technology Award for innovating in the BC technology sector and developing a solution that significantly improved the productivity, competitiveness, or profitability of the customers company.
OpenRoad is proud to be the Global Industry Partner for User Experience at the Wavefront Acceleration Centre, a federally-funded mobile commercialization center located in Vancouver aimed to help foster mobile innovation, R&D, and product development. With our partnership, we’ve been working with Wavefront members to iterate and improve their mobile solutions concepts (applications and web-based) through UX design coaching and usability evaluations.
To help educate members on the benefits of adopting a user-centred design approach throughout the design process, OpenRoad provides seminars on mobile strategy, UI design principles, and usability best practices.
In the first of our series Converting your Website to Responsive Design: Part 1, we examined how modifying your existing site to use a Responsive Design can be a more suitable way to “go mobile” rather than create a separate mobile-only version.
Last time, in Converting your Website to Responsive Part 2, we examined how to convert your existing code to use the responsive front-end framework Foundation.
Today in Part 3, we’ll focus on becoming responsive, optimizing that code for display on a variety of browser and mobile screen widths.
Part 4: development tips and tools.
Step 4: Becoming Responsive
Once you’ve implemented the Foundation framework, your site has already become responsive! By default, Foundation’s grid system collapses to stack all columns on top of each other on small mobile devices and small screen widths. If you used the Foundation navigation or tab components, these will also collapse to a mobile view.
You can test this yourself even without a mobile device by using your web browser and resizing the window to a mobile-like width.
If we take a look at our newly responsive site viewed on an iPhone in the landscape mode, we’ll see it now looks like this:
As technical support engineer for ThoughtFarmer, David’s goal is to keep our 100% Client Support Satisfaction rating. This includes installations, upgrades, as well as troubleshooting and optimizing.
Prior to OpenRoad and ThoughtFarmer David worked in the agriculture industry focusing on traffic and logistics, as well as administration. David has a degree in Business Administration, and a diploma in Information Technology Management.
David’s enjoys outdoor activities such as snowboarding and cycling. He’s also an avid gamer who enjoys pwning n00bs in Guild Wars 2.
This post is Part II at our look at converting your website to use Responsive Design. In the previous post on Converting your Website to Responsive Design Part 1, we examined how modifying your existing site to use a Responsive Design can be a more suitable way to “go mobile” rather than create a separate mobile-only version. We also investigated how to choose a front-end web framework for your Responsive Design, and we looked at the pros and cons of updating existing code versus starting from scratch.