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Lego Star Wars x Beatles x Abbey Rd ©Daniel Cheung

🎶
Dear, I fear we’re facing a problem

I love you no longer, I know
And maybe there is something that I can do
To make me do
🎶

Qui suis-je ?

Je m’appelle Nicolas et cela fait 19 ans que je travaille dans le digital. Juste au cas où vous vous poseriez la question: oui, j’ai eu ma première offre d’emploi quand l’une de mes villes favorites, NYC, perdait ses 2 plus grands buildings…
J’ai commencé ma carrière en tant que graphiste, qui est loin d’être un terme dégradant, et je m’occupais principalement de skinner des sites qui promouvaient des campagnes marketing ou des sorties de films ; j’animais des bannières de publicité (vous vous souvenez de cette bannière 360x60 en gif ?) et il m’arrivait également de faire du print. Plus je faisais des maquettes, plus je me rendais compte que je m’intéressais plus à l’architecture de l’information et à la cohérence du service pour lequel je travaillais : AOL. Grâce à un manager visionnaire et qui plus est le meilleur mentor que j’ai eu de toute ma carrière, l’équipe Design a pu monter en compétence et s’orienter vers l’expérience utilisateur (UX). En gros, nous faisions des wireframes du service web et WAP (l’ancêtre du web mobile) d’AOL, de la UI, parfois des tests utilisateurs et quelque chose qui se rapprochait de ce que l’on appelle maintenant un “Design system”. Oui, en 2006, afin d’harmoniser les portails AOL au niveau Européen, nous avons construit et développé tous les “organismes” (anciennement appelés “modules”) afin de créer une cohérence entre toutes les chaînes AOL et cela nous a donné plus de flexibilité afin d’en sortir des nouvelles plus vite. Vous savez probablement ce qu’il s’est passé ensuite : AOL a coulé et l’équipe Design française a été remerciée. …


A moins que vous ayez vécu dans un monde parallèle pendant ces dernières années, vous n’êtes sûrement pas passé à côté du titre d’UX Designer. Très populaire dans les années 2010, il est encore couramment utilisé dans l’industrie du digital. D’ailleurs, j’ai occupé ce poste pendant quelques années sans trop me poser de questions à l’époque, certainement par manque de maturité. Alors pourquoi voudrais-je m’en débarasser ?

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Commençons par la base : que signifie UX ?

UX = Expérience Utilisateur

“Et alors ?” me diriez-vous… Eh bien, avant que “Expérience Utilisateur” désigne un métier, une méthodologie ou bien une partie d’un processus de conception, l’expérience utilisateur signifiait tout simplement l’expérience qu’avait une personne avec un produit ou un service. …


Smiling man and woman both sitting on sofa both looking at a computer
Smiling man and woman both sitting on sofa both looking at a computer

For the past few years, I’ve worked alongside product managers in order to provide the best possible vision for a product that customers love and one that moves the company forward. Believe me, it hasn’t been a smooth process. We had to work hard at understanding each other’s job and how we can work together to become complementary. So, how exactly can these two work together?

Before going any further, let’s see what these two roles consist of.

The Product Manager

From my experience, the Product Manager (a.k.a. PM) is responsible for setting the vision of a product and leading the cross-functional team that is in charge of improving it. It is an important organizational role. Like Ben Horowitz said, the Product Manager can be seen as the “CEO of the product”. Of course, the term “CEO” doesn’t mean he gains some kind of authority on the team. “CEO” in this case, should be seen as the person who will set the strategic goals, define the success of the product and build its roadmap, be responsible for the outcome of the product by defining its key features, and last but not least, help motivate the team. To fulfill this role, the Product Manager should have an understanding of 3 main needs: business, technology and user experience (UX).
That doesn’t mean a Product Manager should master all of these. In my opinion, he should be experienced and be passionate about at least one, and be able to talk about the 2 others with practitioners. …


Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years, you surely came across the UX designer role. Widely popular in the 2010s, it is still commonly used in the digital industry. But what does it consist of exactly?

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Starting with the basics: what does UX mean?

UX = User Experience

“So what?” you may think out loud… Well, before “user experience” was adopted in a job title, as a methodology or just as a part of a process, “user experience” simply meant a user’s experience as in a person experiencing a product or a service. End of story.

The term “user experience design” came up in the early 90s when Don Norman joined Apple for defining all that UX is, making him the first person to bear UX in his job title.

“I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design graphics, the interface, the physical interaction and the manual.” …


Quelle serait ma vie aujourd’hui ?
Une question que je me suis souvent posée quand le doute m’envahissait.

Comme le titre le suggère, je fais partie de ces bacheliers qui ont échoué en fin de parcours. Dans mon cas, j’ai envie de dire « doublement échoué ». Comme si une fois ne suffisait pas, j’ai retenté le coup une seconde fois, essentiellement pour faire plaisir à mes parents et suivre la voie « normale ». Quelle erreur ! J’aurais dû taper du poing sur la table et expliquer à mes parents ce que je ressentais au plus profond de moi : ce bout de papier n’allait pas me servir pour ce que voulais faire, à savoir une école d’art. …


Two years ago, I left Sydney to go on a 2 months trip which took me back to Paris. On my way to the airport, my iPhone almost lost his “touch” feature… Bummer… No Google Maps, no Uber, no TripAdvisor, no everything… One thought crossed my mind : “What am I going to do without a phone?”. Desperate for a miracle, my angry finger ripped the home button long enough in order to wake a forgotten Siri up… Suddenly, (limited) options were still available after all.

Is voice the new hand?

As I hadn’t used Siri that much, I had to see what it was capable of. Lucky me, examples popped up on my screen as I didn’t ask for anything. I began to explore its potential and learn how to talk to her/him but I realised it was kinda limited, especially in the countries I have visited. Of course, I could do the basic things like:
- Sending emails and messages to friends and family
- Make some Facetime calls
- See where I was on a map and ask for direction
- Find out if I needed an umbrella
- Find out currency rate
As it was set up in my mother tongue (French), I have been able to talk to her/him like I could have talked to someone, maybe some kind of servant I admit, in order to help me. But as I was on a trip, I still needed other things from my phone like:
- Play my playlist on Spotify
- Grab a cab on Uber (that is now possible)
- Reviews of hotels and restaurants I could find on TripAdvisor
- And many more things like finding a place on Airbnb, booking airplane tickets or even searching for specific information any city guide would provide.
I realised that voice input allowed me to give commands very quickly for any straightforward actions. No need to search for the app on my phone or go through a menu to accomplish my task. But in other cases, “complex” ones, I still needed my screen as the voice command was only the first step of a task. In my case : Siri could find great places in cities in response to my command but I still needed to tap on my screen to check them or compare them. …


A funnier and efficient research form. Co-written with Eric Nouri

Since a few months, we’re discovering research forms quite unconventional… Instead of being presented with text fields to fill, they are displayed in a narrative way. Some googling later, we cannot find a proper adjective to name this specific research modus operandi. So let’s name it “Mad Libs Search”!

Mad Libs is a wordplay in which the player must complete a sentence with holes to build a story.

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How it’s applied on the web

Mad Libs isn’t at its first try. In 2008, Jeremy Keith created one of the first Mad Libs forms for Huffduffer, his music sharing website. Instead of clicking into a field or a drop-down menu, the user just had to click into empty space and write some text. …


Messages, emails, social networks, news, entertainment, sports… We are surrounded by notifications… How can we get the most out of them?

If you think about it, our everyday tasks are distracted by notifications most of the time. They allow us to know everything we’d like to know with a single glance. With the rise of smartwatches : it will be even worse. How can we get the most out of our notifications?

First: what is a notification?

A notification is a message pushed on our device and displayed outside of the application’s user interface. It is basically a message displaying a text message, an email or content from social networks, e-commerce, news, entertainment or sports websites. Notifications became part of our lives since the introduction of iOS3 in 2009. Now, iOS and Android allow some actions like the ability to reply to an email, text back, comment something on Facebook or even respond to a tweet without opening the app. …


Client: “what about the home page?” — Me: “Do we need one?”

Recently, I have worked for big clients on their product and at a point of the project, they all had this same question: “what about the home page?”. Here was my answer for most of them: “Do we need one?” Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say the home page was useless, but its concept has evolved lately.

How this happened?

The home page has long been regarded as the most important page of a website. That’s why it had the spotlight during the design process. But this is not the case anymore, the way users browse and research have changed dramatically, more customers go directly to specific pages of your website. For example, when users perform a search on google, they have a precise goal: they are not typing “Leica” but “Specifications of the Leica D-lux 6” so they get closer to the place they want to. The traffic can be driven by social websites as well. …


Adaptive Web Design

Two approaches that both address the same issue: optimise the user experience across different devices

Lately, I’ve come more and more face to face with this question: “which solution do we have to choose between a responsive website and an adaptive website?”. It’s time to clarify that. Before introducing these two solutions, we can already say that they attempt to optimise the user experience across different devices.

Responsive Web Design (a.k.a. RWD)

Responsive design works on the principle of flexibility. A single fluid design based on flexible grids, media queries and responsive images is used to create a website that is compatible with all terminals.

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Responsive Web Design (RWD)

Pros

  • The content is the same across all devices, it’s not necessary to review or adapt it. With the help of CSS and HTML 5, it is readable, accessible, consistent across all devices. …

About

Nicolas El Azzi

French Design Lead working @ippontech Paris. Previously worked @napoleonagency @CBAMyWealth (Sydney) @axance @aol

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