10 Things Only UXers Say

User Experience - Rosetta

Every profession has its acronyms that need to be explained to outsiders. First of all, what the heck is a “UXer” anyway? UX means User Experience, but what does that mean? It’s really about User Experience Design (UXD). People who work in UXD are those who do everything in their power to make computer user interfaces user friendly. They think about what users go through, how to make things easier for users and generally, how to make users’ experiences better.

Does what UXers say matter? No, not really… but, it can be fun to see behind the curtain of someone else’s profession. For instance, I learned long ago (from my MD brother) that surgeons listen to music (even heavy metal) while cutting folks open. Actually, a non-UXer could gain a lot from the following list; it’s a window into a discipline that’s been around much longer than you might think.

I did a brief survey of Rosetta UXers, asking them to name 10 things they say that “regular people” wouldn’t understand. They gave me WAY more than 10, so here is my top ten list, with brief explanations, followed by a longer list, with less detail―you may want to Google some of those!

  1. Wireframe – It’s not made of hangers, and it’s not for hanging pictures, but it IS an image or set of images that display the functional elements of a website or page. A wireframe helps when planning a site’s structure and functionality. Yawn…
  2. Hamburger Nav – That familiar navigation menu icon, usually comprised of three horizontal bars and set in a top corner of a mobile interface, is called a “hamburger” by UXers because it has layers, just like your favorite restaurant menu item.
  3. Heuristics – I like this one a lot, but should admit that heuristics and heuristic studies were around long, long before computers. The term comes from the Greek word that means “find,” or “discover.” Heuristics refer to experience-based techniques for solving problems by putting experts in the shoes of regular users of anything from hammers to surgical tools. For UXers, the most famous set of heuristics comes from the Nielsen Norman Group, authored in the early 90’s. There are ten:
    1. Visibility of system status
    2. Match between system and the real world
    3. User control and freedom
    4. Consistency and standards
    5. Error prevention
    6. Recognition rather than recall
    7. Flexibility and efficiency of use
    8. Aesthetic and minimalist design
    9. Help users recognize, diagnose and recover from errors
    10. Help documentation
  4. What’s the context? – Yeah, lots of people working normal jobs might ask the same thing, but I’m pretty sure UXers ask this more times a day than normal people like you would ask in a week at least. It’s “contextual inquiry,” and I am personally obsessed with it! I’m always asking my daughters contextual questions.
  5. The Fold – This is a big one! The “fold” is a term from the ancient days of newspapers. These paper-based marketing tools were folded, usually, to make the archaic processes of printing and delivery easier. Nowadays, the fold is about 600 pixels down from the top of a computer screen. So, elements set “above the fold” are above 600 pixels, while those below… you get it, are “below the fold.” Thousands of tests are done with the fold in mind. Do users click more often above the fold? Do they care about below the fold or do they scroll? What about that area right above the fold? Some research has shown this is actually the most-likely area to trigger site interactions, so if you place elements there, conversions might go up.
  6. Call to Action (C2A or CTA for short, or “button” for everyone else) – The biggest argument we UXers have on this one is how to pluralize it. My answer is: “calls to action,” and I’m right! While it may happen to be a button, a call to action is much more than that; it’s a message meant to activate human behavior in one way or another. A button with the label “Submit” may be right for some circumstances, but other times you might want to label it “Sign Me Up!” or “Download Now.”
  7. Bodystorming – This is a technique of physically experiencing a situation in order to derive new ideas. It requires setting up an experience, complete with necessary artifacts and people―and physically testing it. Google it and you’ll find that UXers use this term most often, but it’s also a physical therapy technique.
  8. Wilty-Wilt (WYLTIWLT) – This nice little UXer acronym means “Would You Like To?/I Would Like To.” Wilty-Wilt describes questions you’d ask users if you’re testing what type of button you need. Would I like to click a button that says “Submit”? Usually not, but I understand context deems reality. So, I would like to click “Submit” if I’m turning something in, but not when I’m buying something. In that case, I’d like to click “Complete Purchase” or something similar.
  9. Megamenu – Coders (programmers, developers or whatever you want to call them) probably know this one, too. When you hover your mouse over an element in main navigation and an expanded interface appears, that’s a megamenu. These are very common and expected by savvy Internet users. The drop down often groups related topics or products into categories.
  10. Test Early, Test Often – As a user researcher myself, I have a certain affinity for this one, which UXers say a lot. But, just because they say it, does that mean they do it? The fact is, testing is an absolute necessity for a UXer. How can we possibly understand users’ experiences without observing them in as natural an environment as possible? To learn more about how we do user testing at Rosetta, see this article from our User Research Team.

So, for fun, here’s a list of more terms used by UXers, but you’ll have to get definitions on your own for these!

  • Let the developers figure it out
  • Greeking
  • Gooey (GUI)
  • Prototyping
  • Responsive Deign
  • Why, why, why, why, then why?
  • Know the user. Know you are not the user!
  • Tapworthy
  • Architecting/Architected
  • Megafooter
  • Affordance to scroll
  • But what’s the strategy?
  • Do you want something people can use, or something people want to use?
  • Down-and-dirty testing
  • Paper prototype
  • Reframe the problem
  • Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should
  • Do you really think people want to share (insert B2B Whitepaper, CEO Bio, etc.) on Facebook?
  • I’m sorry but your primary user group is not ‘everyone’
  • Without research, it’s fine art, not design
  • Guerilla testing/5-second test
  • HECA (it’s a HE + CA pronounced, Heekaa)
  • Thumb-sized/Finger-sized
  • Responsive 12-column grid
  • Axure

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