About James Hobart

James Hobart is an internationally recognized UX (User Experience) expert based in the USA.

Are Design Sprints the Next Silver Bullet?

The Design Sprint is a trending method to speed up product design and development while reducing risk. Formalized at Google Ventures where they could quickly run a product idea through the sprint process and have a solid direction in a week vs. months. Kudos to Google Ventures, Jake Knapp and Jonathan Courtney for refining and formalizing the process and then packaging it for wider use.

As I studied the Design Sprint process and tried it with various clients, I quickly realized it was not much different than the week-long “Rapid Design” sessions we had been doing since the mid 90’s. The difference was they had formalized the process derived from Ideo and other design firms and implemented some key techniques to help reduce discussion time, solidify decisions and foster more independent thinking.

I reflected on a week-long design session in 2005 I held with NASA USA Spaceops, the folks who create the mission control systems for the Space Shuttle. They had a complex problem to solve and needed a viable solution to reduce risk with future launches. The problem was around how the launch team could certify the gimbal thrusters were working properly in the final 10 seconds of the countdown. If wrong and there was a failure, bad things could happen. On the other hand, a ton of time and money would be wasted if they flagged false-positives and scrubbed the launch.

We had a competent team of engineers and product managers that quickly aligned […]

By | September 13th, 2018|Categories: Blog, Digital Strategy|0 Comments

FINDING THE BALANCE BETWEEN USABILITY AND DATA SECURITY

A key strategy for today’s digital leader is how to provide engaging, usable interactions with customers on a variety of technology platforms while protecting the organization from data breaches and other security risks. Balancing these needs is key to a successful digital and data management strategy.

As we all know, the utmost priority in today’s security posture should be to insure maintenance of the confidentiality, integrity and availability of sensitive information in a digital environment.

Such maintenance priorities must not only occur at the highest levels of the organization, but must simultaneously be balanced against cost factors, user experience and the overall impact on the organization. Traditionally, the focus of most companies is to build expensive and elaborate firewalls around a digital property similar to a medieval castle, in order to protect sensitive information and keep unauthorized persons out. This approach, however, immediately becomes challenging and costly when one begins to secure the data at rest, in transit, and in use throughout the complex business processes that traverse many independent technologies, infrastructure layers, and geographic locations. The reality is we live in a world where key business stakeholders need increased user engagement while simultaneously demanding increase data privacy and security.

The number of data entry forms across corporate websites and intranets is growing significantly, however each form has the potential for a data intrusion attack via sql injection or other potential security threat. How do you monitor and protect each form without cluttering them up with  Captcha’s and other measures that often negatively impact user task completion rates?  Current solutions often result in slow response times, captcha popups other friction points that negatively impact task performance and the overall user experience. This often leads to low user adoption or even abandonment of the […]

By | April 9th, 2018|Categories: Blog, Digital Strategy|Tags: , |0 Comments

How Digital Strategy Moves The Revenue Needle

 

Focusing on customer experience allows your company to develop a unique value offering and differentiate yourself in a crowded market. Most companies say they already optimize for customer experience but, for many reasons, few truly deliver on this promise. Common themes I have seen are difficulty translating a new vision into an executable strategy and resistance to change within the organization.

During the past two years, we have had the opportunity to work with a visionary company in the brutally competitive travel space where companies struggle for 1% annual gains in market share. Our goal was to redefine the customer experience by identifying key factors influencing group travel, social engagement, and ultimately customer retention. We then created a new experience optimized for our vision. By merging data analytics and predictive modeling, we drove digital product design with a laser focus on key user experiences. These new experiences are now being implemented throughout the customers’ journeys to redefine the service levels, and products delivered. Initial results are promising, with the company’s revenue growing over 100% in one year, from $325 million in 2014 to $692 million in 2015.  Quite an achievement in the very competitive travel industry where margins are extremely tight and global competition is intense.

Achieving a 100% yearly growth cannot be done just by redefining a customer experience. It requires aligning stakeholders across the organization on the vision, defining specific strategies, and then delivering effectively on them. Starting by working with company leadership, we then aligned the UX (User Experience) strategy to drive key behaviors that increase customer loyalty, engagement, and conversion after identifying the key levers for increasing top-line revenue with a solid return on investment. We used the early UX wins to align the […]

By | October 2nd, 2016|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Delivering a Great UX To Mobile Enterprise Application Users

Several of our clients are deploying enterprise mobile solutions to their global workforce this year.  The pace of mobile adoption and change is accelerating much faster than what we witnessed during the adoption of web-based technologies in the late 1990’s. This phenomenon is forcing organizations to quickly adopt a mobile enterprise strategy that will have long term impacts on their users while striving to deliver true value to the business they support.    Mobile strategies will have long term consequences therefore it is important to ask key questions before finalizing your strategy.

Some critical questions to consider before finalizing your mobile strategy are:

Will you deliver native or web-based applications?

Many of our clients started out in the mobile space creating “Proof of concept” mobile apps (usually IOS) to prove they could build and deploy an iPhone app.    They quickly found that the process of hand coding even a simple application and deploying it was much more costly and time consuming than was originally planned. The good news is most users embraced the new mobile app and asked for more functionality and more support on a wide variety of devices.  Budgeting project costs became challenging and they needed to choose a limited deployment or choose a different strategy. With the evolution of HTML-5 many companies are revisiting the native vs. web-based mobile application decision and opting to deploy with HTML-5 and responsive design frameworks.  This approach offers many features previously only available in native applications with much broader deployment options and the ability to customize the UX for individual devices using CSS3 and MediaQuery detects to deliver a responsive mobile design optimized for each device and platform.

What devices will you support?

As I mentioned above, many companies hoped for an […]

By | September 23rd, 2012|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Usability Tools Update

Usability Update: USEFUL TOOLS and Websites >>>

Here’s some new articles and Web 2.0 sites you may find useful:

Web 2.0 Social Networks – Viral loops distilled

Looking for multi-touch demos and an Open Source SDK?

Want some practical tips on dealing with color blindness?

Easy online forms using Ajax

Want To Make Your Web Forms More Usable?

Upcoming 1 Hour Webinar – Dec 16th, 2016- $129
With the convergence of Windows and the Web is upon us we have the opportunity to dramatically improve Web Form Usability with Ajax and make significant gains in user efficiency and lower training and support costs. Learn how to deliver the best of the web and the best of the desktop experience when it comes to interactive web-based forms.

By | June 23rd, 2009|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Enterprise Mashups and collaboration that works…

I’ll be speaking next week at a new conference here in the US. It’s called Jboye and is focused on delivering practical enterprise solutions for collaboration and knowledge management in a vendor neutral environment. I’ve been speaking for 3 years at the sister conference in Aarhus, Denmark and have found it to be very focused, useful and insightful. Even if you can’t make it this year, I’d put in on your list for next year and I’ll keep things updated on my experience this year at the conference.

In the meantime, you may want to check out these enterprise solutions that seem to be getting traction:
Jackbe – Enterprise mashup solution. Sweetspot is a mashup layer that connects your web services in a secure, scalable framework.
Backbase – Enterprise Web 2.0 portal solution that actually delivers an easy to modify user experience.
zAgile – Open source Enterprise Semantic Wiki’s – Has the potential to actually create usable knowledge across the enterprise.
By | May 2nd, 2009|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Useful Web 2.0 Sites / Improving Form Usability

Here’s a few tools and Web 2.0 sites you may find useful: Web 2.0 Travel site – Driven by User Generated Content:
http://www.uptake.com Trying to create a cross-device Mobile Phone Application?
http://www.phonegap.com Want to test your Website on hundreds of browser combinations?
http://browsershots.org/ Want To Make Your Web Forms More Usable?

Upcoming 1 Hour Webinar – May 14th, 2009- $129
With the convergence of Windows and the Web is upon us we have the opportunity to dramatically improve Web Form Usability with Ajax and make significant gains in user efficiency and lower training and support costs. Learn how to deliver the best of the web and the best of the desktop experience when it comes to interactive web-based forms.
https://www.classicsys.com/css06/cfm/webinar.cfm?courseid=11

By | April 28th, 2009|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard

A little New Year’s humor on taking the one-click, one-button approach a bit too far.

By | January 6th, 2009|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Danish Design, Corporate Wikis and Enterprise Usability

I just returned from my third year of speaking on Usability at the Jboye08 conference in Aarhus Denmark.  With each annual visit, I enjoy meeting up with old colleagues and getting a different perspective on software design issues than I normally see at the conferences in the USA.   Something about surrounding yourself in the simple, yet elegant style of Danish design for a week is both refreshing and inspiring. We were able to hear from the co-inventor of the Web (Robert Cailliau) and his perspective on the innovations that occurred at CERN in Switzerland and the subsequent nurturing of innovation to bring it to mainstream reality. Several speakers representing global companies in Europe shared actual real world examples of true enterprise Wikis and Social Networks that are actually working and taking hold across the enterprise.   I was able to share some specific Usability insight on improving Form Usabilityand Advanced UI Desgin that was well received by the conference participants.  Heading home through my connection in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, I was reminded of the great signage making it one of the most usable international airline hubs …and of course those clever men’s bathrooms with the ‘Fly in the toilet ’ to take advantage of men’s natural instinct to aim for a target and thus improve user performance of this necessary biological goal.

By | November 9th, 2008|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Google Chrome Browser Targets Key Web 2.0 Usability Issues

The release of the new Google Chrome browser may provide a big boost in usability for those embracing advanced Web application design.  Our early take on the browser highlights a few key things to consider:

Designed for web applications, not web pages
This has been a thorny issue for several of our clients deploying high volume transactional applications on the web.  Things are great at 8am but as the day progresses the browser cannot seem to manage the DOM model and the browser gets unstable after several hours.  Try it yourself with a large Gmail account and you’ll see how things get dicey as your day progresses.

Each tab is a separate process
This will go a long way to create a more stable enterprise platform for web applications. Just the fact that one URL can no longer crash all other open pages (tabs) will be a huge win in the enterprise.

Using Google Gears leverages the desktop
Now you get a great infrastructure (Google Gears) to manage client-side persistent data without having to create your own framework.  This is bundled with robust garbage collection / memory management to deliver speedy desktop performance.

Go ahead…try it out and let us know how it performs with your robust Web 2.0 applications!

By | September 2nd, 2008|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments