3 New Year Resolutions for Digital Professionals

In 2015 Digital Professionals who want to improve online experiences should (1) beware of
blindly implementing Best Practice, (2) be prepared to champion a User-First approach and
(3) set their team an Exposure KPI.

During December I asked the Digital Professionals I know: “What are you going to do differently in 2015 to improve your customers’ digital experiences?”. Even though there was a mix of experience levels (from seasoned UX Professionals to those new to UX in 2014) and with a fairly diverse set of job titles (such as Marketing Manager, User Researcher, E-commerce Director and Product Manager) popular themes emerged that I have grouped into three New Year Resolutions.

1. I will not blindly implement Best Practice

The rapid rise of SmartPhones and Tablets drove many Digital Professionals to reach for emerging Best Practice as the answer to the challenges posed by mobile device browsing in 2014. However, too often that Best Practice was blindly followed or, worse, viewed as a goal in itself.

hamburger menuOne of the best examples of “blindly” following Best Practice is the popularity of the Hamburger Menu icon. Most Web Designers will describe it as a “commonly understood icon” which it is. Amongst the people they know. And work with. Take it into the “normal” World and things are quite different – implementing a button with the word “Menu” can trump the three line Hamburger Menu Best Practice as “Hamburger vs Menu: The Final AB Test” clearly demonstrates.

There are many more examples – watch the clip below to see how a Responsive Site fails to convert this SmartPhone visitor as he can not Zoom in on what he is buying.

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Mobile Usability Report 2014 – Fat Face product image

None of the people I spoke to argued that they’ll be ignoring Best Practice in 2015, but that they will be starting 2015 not slavishly following it.

2. I will champion a User-First Mentality

This Resolution was expressed in many different forms, but is nicely summed up by Stuart McMillan Deputy Head of E-commerce at Schuh:

pen pic stuart mcmillan“In 2015 I will continue to challenge the status quo, where functionality has been designed from a systems-first instead of a user-first perspective.”


Previously the clarion call of Usability Practitioners, a User-First approach is becoming main-streamed as other disciplines become responsible for online experiences and the business-case is more widely accepted.

While some of the Digital Professionals I spoke to were frustrated that their organisations continued to put technology ahead of customers’ real needs they felt that effort spent championing Users-First in 2015 would not be wasted – admitting the culture would not change over night, but that “chipping away” would yield results.

3. I will set my team an Exposure KPI

Pizza Express logoAs early as 2011 Jared Spool suggested Exposure to Users is a silver bullet of web design – “It’s from the direct exposure to the users that we see the improvements in the design.” And since then we have seen the likes of the UK Government’s GDS set exposure goals for staff as well as the emergence of less formal techniques such as “Pizza Fridays” (where staff members get a free lunch in the Boardroom while they watch UX videos).

Several of the Digital Professionals I spoke to are seriously considering setting, or are about to set, a User Exposure KPI for their teams. Some even suggested that it is not possible to put Users-First without exposing colleagues to Users.

So, the third and final New Year Resolution is to set Team User Exposure goals, measured in hours. You can start with informal weekly Pizza Fridays (watching UX videos in the Boardroom) and then move on to something more formal. Jakob Nielsen’s suggested annual exposure hour goals were cited as a good starting point (since they take into account different types of jobs and seniority).

So, what are you going to do?

Please leave a comment below with your 2015 New Year Resolutions (or follow this link to the latest UX Jobs if it’s time to see if the grass really is greener).

No Responses to “3 New Year Resolutions for Digital Professionals

  • I like the not blindly following beat practices bit. I also think another one, similarly, should be not blindly following what competitors are doing. Just because your competitors are doing it does not mean you have to also. A good resource for best practice are those blogs that fully test and research everything before deeming it as “recommended” inc Baymard and Neilsen (aka the guru)

  • michael.huntginton@tlgbrands.com
    4 years ago

    Agreed on the competitors point.

  • michael.huntginton@tlgbrands.com
    4 years ago

    Agreed on the competitors point.

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