Like Ron Swanson, my recommendation is essentially a guarantee. These are amazing UX resources to help you understand the field of user experience and beyond.
A bit of everything: UX, UI and Front-End Engineering
A List Apart explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on web standards and best practices.
Great resource for front-end development tips and tricks.
All levels: If you are interested in learning about UX, I recommend starting here. The articles are succinct and readable while requiring little to no prior knowledge of UX to understand. You’ll walk away happy and inspired.
All levels: If I could receive one — and only one — email newsletter, I’d pick Sarah Doody‘s UX Newsletter. Each Friday, she curates an amazing selection of articles, design inspiration and the occasional product giveaway. And move over, Oprah! One of my favorite things is Sarah’s product reviews and recommendations on everything from thoughtfully-designed makeup packing to a company using iPhones and 3-D printing to create custom running shoe inserts.
Beginner to Intermediate: UX Booth is a great place to dig in and learn more about UX. The content is well-organized and beautifully written. Each week features a new article from top designers who hope to make the web a better place.
Advanced: One of the least attractive sites I’ve ever seen but it’s jam-packed with valuable content particularly on user research, information architecture and cognitive psychology.
Advanced: User Interface Engineering is a research, training, and consulting firm lead by usability expert, Jared M. Spool. When I get tired of reading, I head over to their podcast which is worth a listen.
Dashboard Design & Data Visualization
In the world of “Big Data”, microblogging and constant connectivness, information overload, or “cognitive overload” as neuroscientists call it, is becoming problem. Because our brain digests visual information in as little as 13 milliseconds, significantly faster than we process written content, it is increasingly more important to focus on well-designed and thoughtful visualizations in order to make an impact for our users.
Data visualization and what I call “dashboard design” (the design of understanding what users want to see and when. What information is most important to doing his or her job effectively? What would be the wow moment for this customer? What information is extraneous and can be hidden?
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte
Tufte is one of the leaders in data viz today. Of all his book, this is my favorite and contains examples of great visualizations, history and modern to use as inspiration.
Software fails, all the time. It’s the nature of the bugs to creep in and sites to break. Lack of communication
Interesting to me, 4 of the 11 common reasons why software failed were UX-related and, with an experience UX designer on board, potentially avoidable. I wrote about this before and I always push for UX to be incorporated as soon as possible into product development.
Design Thinking is a process to solve problems by putting end-users at the center of the process. The goal is to create useful products that fit the needs of the user, not the other way around. The process is a bit messier (you better love Post-it Notes) than the more traditional analytical and more linear approach to problem solving, but in my experience it yields more interesting and powerful results.
If you have an issue in your business that is human-centered and need help articulating the problem and then the solution, Design Thinking is worth exploring.
Human Centered Design Toolkit
IDEO’s free toolkit to get you started
Creative Confidence by Tom Kelly and David Kelly
A question I get asked a lot: “What tools should I use to design?” My answer: Honestly, whatever you want. If there is a prototyping tool out there, chances are I’ve probably used it. But, there is nothing quite like sitting down with a notebook sketching out ideas, discarding them, until I find a combination of features and interactions that feel right.
To bring your ideas to life more completely, of course there’s Photoshop (it’s what I learned on after all) but overall, I recommend Sketch. This vector based program is great for everything from wireframing and prototyping to icon creation and UI design. Plus, its only $99. Win/win.
Also, for Mac users Keynote ($19.99) provides a fantastic, easy-to-use tool for everyone from UX beginners to experts to start mocking up an app design. A few years ago I would have never used Keynote for anything design-related. But, I was won over by the simplicity and ease-of-use for quick iterations during the wireframe phase.
Whenever I am asked to design a mobile app, I go straight to proto.io to prototype. The application allows non-coders to create some slick animations. The only major drawback is there is a steep learning curve so creating them may take quite a bit of time.
Not only is Invision App a wonderful product for designers to collaborate and test, they also have a world-class customer experience. For both web and mobile projects, I’ll upload my static design files to Invision to quickly bring my app to life.
I absolutely LOVE user testing. I use testing in all sorts of ways to both help understanding the needs and wants of users during the earlier phases of the design and to validate (and often disprove) my original assumptions.
When I was first getting started my friend, designer and UX Researcher, Katherine Kendall shared a few of these resources with me that proved invaluable once I was thrown into the user test gauntlet.
What is I only have an idea but no or little product to test?
Even if you are 100 percent confident the idea for your product is greatest thing since Uber, you need to user test all along the way of turning your dream into a reality. It’s better to start before you have invested too much time and money but it’s never too late to start testing.
Without having user base established (and I’m not talking about your family and friends, because hopefully they are already your biggest fans), locking down users to test with may be tricky (It’s always tricky, even if you have thousands of users). This is where the wild and exciting world of guerrilla testing comes in. Buy a stack of gift cards and head down to your nearest coffee shop, park, music festival or metro stop (or somewhere else where your target users hang). Then the fun stuff can start!
I have a product to test, what next?
Intercom is an excellent way to segment and communicate with your users through their in app messaging. You can also see in real time, who is using your site so you can hit them with a message right when they are thinking of you. This may seen a little invasive (it does to me) so the key is to not abuse this power. Luckily, Intercom makes it easy to see a previous conversation history to ensure you don’t become a pesky waiter hovering over the table and contact the same people too often.
If you already have a product built, one of the greatest and most time consuming challenges is finding users to interview. Ethnio helps solve this problem by recruiting and screening them directly through you site.
Very few out-of-the-box solutions will solve all of your problems so you may need to try a few before finding a good fit. In fact, I’ve seen some tools may lead to more questions than answers. If you know what to look for, overall the following products do a great job of helping you understand your user’s behavior:
If you already have a working application, I’ve been a huge fan of Mixpanel’s ability to turn complex data and customer funnels into something understandable.