Do You Love Your Job?

by Rick Damaso

Love your job? Chances are if you work in UX, you do.
My recent trip to UXPA 2014 offered me more than the opportunity try authentic Fish & Chips. It gave me great insights to the UX industry and as it turns out, great perspective on the people that make up the industry. Perhaps the most interesting aspect was the consistently, inconsistent career & educational backgrounds of UX professionals. After nearly a dozen conversations that described incredibly diverse paths to their current role, I decided this warranted a closer look. After some digging it turns out that not only are UX professionals incredibly diverse in their educational backgrounds, but their career satisfaction ratings were noticeably high¹. In order to understand why our colleagues were rating their job satisfaction so highly, I decided to first look at the characteristics of successful researchers. I wondered how current growth within the industry and optimism on future developments within their profession shaped their feelings towards their job.
In order to answer these questions I first looked at the qualities that make up professional UX research associate.  I asked participants at UXPA2014, employees within Key Lime Interactive and colleagues across the industry to chip in. I received some pretty interesting opinions. Most success stories were based on educational backgrounds. Some of the responses described researchers as having “solid computer programming skills, a background in Anthropology or Psychology and some exposure to Human Factors training.”
To test the validity of these statements, and in true UX fashion, I conducted some ethnographic studies on some unsuspecting colleagues and UXPA2014 delegates. Knowing their education background and comparing it to the “suggested educational paths” would allow me to determine if it was their training or other inherent qualities that make great researchers. It turns out that only about half of the participants I observed were trained in the previously mentioned disciplines. So what was the common thread between the greater population? It seems that at the heart of almost all UX professionals lies a naturally inquisitive spirit, the willingness to pursue a career of lifelong learning and excellent communication skills.
Armed with this information I wondered how such a diverse group of men and women would describe their job satisfaction. Would they express optimism towards the future of their industry? According to a study conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group, UX professionals rank their job satisfaction a 5.4² on a Likert scale. They also ranked pay/benefits satisfaction as a 5.2³. But does earnings truly correlate to higher job satisfaction? Harvard Business Review author Tomas C. Premuzic argues that “there is less than a 2% overlap between individuals pay and pay satisfaction”⁴.  This leads us to infer that job satisfaction and satisfaction of pay are independent of each other. So what other factors could be driving the overall satisfaction from such a diverse pool of workers? Nielsen researchers noted that after polling over 1,000 UX professionals, the core activities of a UX researcher included: presenting solutions/concepts, persuading others and critically analyzing tasks or activities, which strongly correlates to the qualities observed during my impromptu ethnographic study.
As a whole, the UX industry finds itself in a period of tremendous growth. With more than half of all UX professionals living in the United States⁵, other markets will soon look to qualified professionals for expertise and guidance. So ask yourself this, do you feel well-rewarded and highly valued? Do you see your work as being intrinsically good for humanity? Do you enjoy being engaged and being able to use many of your skills on a daily basis? Then smile, you are probably a UX professional.
1. Nielsen, Jakob, and Susan Farrell. “User Experience Careers.” User Experience Careers. 2013. Web.
2. Nielsen, Jakob, and Susan Farrell. “User Experience Careers.” User Experience Careers. 2013. Web.
3. Nielsen, Jakob, and Susan Farrell. “User Experience Careers.” User Experience Careers. 2013. Web.
4. Chamorro-Premuzic, Tomas. “Does Money Really Affect Motivation? A Review of the Research.” Does Money Really Affect Motivation. Harvard Business Review, 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 28 Aug. 2014.
5. Nielsen, Jakob, and Susan Farrell. “User Experience Careers.” User Experience Careers. 2013. Web.

Political candidates are now supplementing their ‘get out & vote’ efforts with mobile apps

by Kathleen Henning
A few years ago Apple taught us that “there’s an app for that.” As apps have grown more and more pervasive in our society, we’ve learned a lot about them here at KLI. We’ve discovered that while people like the convenience of apps, there is a limit to how many they will keep or use. Now that a mobile site can be comparable (if not better) in scope and abilities, it’s much tougher to convince a user to download an app. Just like traditional B2C arrangements, political candidates have one goal in mind with their marketing/PR efforts: drive engagement and ultimately win top of mind placement with their constituents.
Given their rise in popularity, we decided to take a closer look at the drivers of user downloads, how these app makers can better their user experience, and how they can create the kind of personal experience that will win votes.
On a candidate app, users want two main things:
1) Information about the candidate
2)How can they get involved?
Information should be comprehensive but not exhaustive. Use bullet points on the position pages. Consider using timelines for candidate bios. Break up long blocks of text with bold headers. Keep the focus on relevant items to the candidacy as much as possible. The Obama campaign, in both elections, mastered the art of grassroots organizing via an app. The focus of their online content was always to make it easy to organize for the campaign, whether online or offline. They used the Dashboard tool to integrate all of the different volunteering options, users’ social networks, and provide events and opportunities via geolocation.
Exclusive content can be another selling point for apps. When Mitt Romney’s campaign announced his choice of VP using the Mitt’s VP app, the campaign saw over 200,000 app downloads within 48 hours (unfortunately the media beat them to the punch.)  In 2008, the Obama campaign had a similar problem when it announced the choice of Joe Biden via text message after the story had already hit the media. The takeaway here could be that high-profile exclusives might be too much to promise for an app. Speed to market is always a challenge.
However, there are a variety of smaller exclusives that contemporary technology could easily provide for greater voter engagement. Apps could offer a live chat feature with the candidates or their team to discuss breaking news, hot debate questions, or upcoming campaign trail stops. The key would be to have responses arrive in real time allowing individuals the opportunity to communicate. Apps could launch contests where users submit debate questions and discuss them among their party affiliates. Using this conversational platform, candidates can enable personal interaction while campaigning, whether they are trying to garner user support or better communicate their positions on contentious issues of the day.
At the end of the day, if your users can’t use the app, it doesn’t matter what cool features it has or how much content it possesses. Usability is king! It needs to work. It can’t take up too much space on users’ phones. It has to be easy and logical to navigate. There should be available offline content for transit and on the go scenarios, like keeping tracking user data while the app is live. If there’s content that many are accessing, see if you can add to it. If there are menu labels they find confusing, find out what would work for them. A user isn’t going to be inspired to vote via app use if they won’t or can’t use the app.