Business


People who want to learn Axure often message us and ask what is the fastest and easiest way to book our live, remote training by the hour? This training is done webinar-style (screen sharing and dial-in) but is completely private. It’s one-on-one if there’s one of you… or we can train your team.

Use our online appointment scheduling system

Our online calendar is a super-smart system that knows when our free time is and what types of appointments you can drop into that time.

You can also buy a block of time by clicking on View Products/Packages at the top left of the calendar page. That will let you pre-pay for a certain number of hours. Pay once, then just use your package code to schedule each time.

If you just want to book a single block of time for any reason, just choose it. The system will charge you accordingly during checkout.

Step 1: Choose the type of appointment you want

Listed right there on the page are different types of appointments, their duration, and the cost.

Book phone consultation time (free), individual Axure training (for one person), or team Axure training. The list is longer than the above screen shot.

As soon as you make that choice, our system checks for dates and times when we can handle that appointment. Be sure to adjust things for your time zone so that there are no appointment surprises later!

Step 2: Book lots of times at once

Want one appointment? Choose “continue” after selecting your time.

Want to book lots of appointment times? Choose “recurring.” You’ll then get to pick a recurring time (like every Monday at 6:30pm) or you can pick any other time to add to your basket.

Step 3: Pay for your time

Did you previously buy a package? Redeem the time you pre-paid by entering the code you were given when you bought the package.

Or pay as you go. We take credit cards.

It’s easy!

It’s probably easier than we made it look here but why not walk through it so you know your options. 🙂

Our system will remind you 2 hours before the appointment. Both your confirmation and reminder emails will have links to change your appointment if you need to pick another time.

With our appointment system, you can handle the booking without us going back and forth with “when are you free” “oh I can’t make it then” “how about this time” “well how about this time.” Pick any time you see open.

Thanks and train ya soon!

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It has been nearly a year since my blog post about my awful experience in Kent State’s “MS of UX Design” program. I wanted to update you on what’s happened since then, in no particular order.

People have come out of the woodwork to thank me. Many people told me they had similar experiences, which is sad but validating, not that I needed validation.

One guy tried to belittle and minimize me while telling me he was empathetic and also wasn’t so sure about the program. OK, weirdo.

I get emails like this.

Just saw your post on Kent State – I had a similar horrible experience. I wish I had seen this post before taking the introductory courses – what a waste of my and my employer’s money!

I just started that program myself, and am definitely experiencing some of the things you had mentioned. I was curious on your advice for someone looking to completely switch careers into UX. I’m currently in the [non-UX] field and was excited about this program, but definitely am feeling like the fundamentals are lacking thus far and feel a little lost with some of the assignments because of it. I want to make sure that at the end of the program I am prepared for and capable of obtaining a job in UX.

Heartbreaking. People expect a certain level of quality not only from a known, accredited university but also from a Masters degree.

I was told that there were some staffing changes there and they are changing the program, but based on the full set of updates I received, I would continue to have no faith in this program or department at all. That’s my opinion. Yours may vary.

How can I tell if a degree will get me what I want?

Many of the people writing to me are transitioning into UX. They want to learn all the fundamentals, core concepts, approaches, and certainly everything they’d need to get that entry level job. They want to graduate with a strong and impressive portfolio.

1. How many classes are spent on actual design that will end up in your portfolio? Last I checked, the Kent State Masters degree was going to spend a few weeks on design out of a 2-year degree. That is NOT ENOUGH to learn about design or build a strong portfolio.

Remember that (good) UX job interviews will ask you to explain the thinking, approach, and methods behind portfolio pieces. You don’t just show them. You explain if not defend them. I have even been in interviews where someone looked at an old portfolio piece and asked if I would do that project differently now and what I would do differently.

2. What core fundamentals are you being taught? Will you be taught User-Centered Design (UCD)? Gestalt Theories of Perception? Read job listings in UX. See what they are asking for. Does your program cover those well and deep enough that you can tell a potential employer you get it and do it?

3. Ask for detailed information about courses, especially intro courses. When I took the Kent State classes, the intro class was week 1, what are some jobs in UX. Week 2, let’s write up a proposal and plan to do research on a fake project. Wait, what? That’s not even step one of UCD. If it looks like an intro class is dumping you right into pseudo real life deliverables without fundamentals, concepts, and approaches, get out of there.

4. Who are the faculty and who designed the courses? At Kent, nearly everybody there was/is a UX researcher. So a bunch of researchers created a Masters in UX Design that has nearly no design and, guess what, LOTS of classes on research.

Also check if faculty are full time or not. At Kent State, I had trouble getting the attention of people in the department because they were also UX research consultants/practitioners and were sometimes unavailable to do that work. Sure, I want teachers who do (and don’t just teach), but I’d want them to be available and have teaching as a priority.

5. Mentoring and networking. I found that Kent State not only offered me no mentoring but when I offered to mentor my classmates, I was told that was inappropriate. I was told the department would consider administrative action against me if I tried to mentor my classmates. Beware of petty power struggles passed off as administrative rules. Look for schools with strong alum networks, good personal attention, and if you’re new to UX, a school that sets you up for mentoring right away.

Don’t be fooled by claims like, “Lots of our grads got good jobs after taking our degree,” or anything like that. Anybody can say that. That doesn’t tell us enough. Were those people already in UX? How much help did the school give in finding or securing that job?

Off the top of my head, those are just a few things I would suggest you dig deeply into.

Who do I recommend?

I continue to recommend General Assembly. It’s a sort of trade school in various cities plus some online programs. Their UX certificate takes just a few months. It’s not cheap. But I have seen many people get entry level jobs after taking that.

You end up with portfolio pieces and good foundational understanding of certain aspects of UX. While I like the idea of teaching at General Assembly, I don’t work there and gain nothing from suggesting them.

You do not need a 4 yr or grad degree unless you are looking to be a researcher. Most research managers I know like to see candidates have a Masters related to UX research or even an MBA. But if you are looking at other areas of UX including IA and interaction design, you may not need a university degree for that.

When I am interviewing candidates, I am looking more at their natural talent, approach, thinking, decisions, shifts, and ideas more than where they went to school.

Good luck to all of you no matter what path you choose or which certificate or degree you attempt to get!

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It’s experiment time! Roll up yer sleeves. Here I am again trying to make sense of Facebook.

Over on our glorious Ptype Facebook page, we post a few things now and then we hope will be of interest to UX practitioners. But we notice that Facebook rarely shows them to you.

As I’m writing this, our page has 219 fans aka Likes, but most of our posts are seen by 5 people. How can we get more of our posts seen?

Here is the experiment

I posted text only with a URL link about our upcoming Axure workshops. That post looked like this:

5 people saw it over the last 5 days since it was posted. Sad trombone.

Then I posted this one a couple of days later. Nearly identical text. No URL link. And a photo of Eve, my dearly departed cat. Sweetest funniest cat ever. My thinking? People love cat pictures!

But more importantly, will Facebook show this to more people because it has a photo?

YES. 64 people were shown this over the course of the 24 hours it’s been online.

That’s quite a difference. Thank you, Eve.

Yeah. 2.2% of my audience shown the post without the picture. 29.2% of my audience shown the same info with a picture.

Lesson learned: every post I hope people will see gets a picture.

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A LinkedIn connection shared a link to a site she thought was interesting. OK, I’ll bite. I head over to the site.

I can’t see any page without signing up or logging in. There is a popup blocking my every move. No matter how many times I reload the page or what page I click on in the half a second before it comes up, I get the overlay.

And it’s not your traditional lightbox… where clicking outside of it makes it go away. I was hoping for that because it has NO CLOSE BUTTON.

I am at a dead end. The message here is:

Sign Up Or Leave

Let’s take a look at that home page (click to enlarge).

I still see this from time to time. A marketing person (never a UX person) says, “If we give them no choice but to sign up, they’ll sign up!”

I just got here. I don’t know what your company does. You won’t let me find out. I can’t click any links. I can’t even get to “How It Works” because your overlay won’t go away. Does that mean the “How It Works” page is only for people who’ve already signed up? Do you imagine that people will go through those steps, agree to unread terms, and I bet end up on at least one email list without knowing what your company DOES?

Some might. I guess I could go get a temporary, burner email address and give you fake sign-ups.

I closed the browser window.

That doesn’t help marketing either.

Marketing doesn’t want fake sign-ups. They want real people they can market to.

Marketing also usually wants people who are interested. If you put 10,000 mostly-disinterested, forced-to-register people on the mailing list and 20 open the emails, you will appear to be failing. If you make 10,000 people sign up to your site and you sell 20 things, it will look like you are failing.

If 100 truly interested people sign up and join the mailing list and 20 of them open emails or buy something, now this looks like it could have legs. That’s 20%… because you marketed to truly interested people.

Bad data on home page bounces

This company might see a lot of home page bounces when they check their analytics. People come to the home page and then they leave right away without seeing other pages.

Will the people reading those analytics understand that it’s probably because we visitors had an obstacle? We COULDN’T get anywhere else without signing up and we decided not to make that level of commitment yet.

Will the people reading those analytics think that the home page just isn’t grabbing people enough? And send UX and UI people to keep redesigning it? I hope not. I honestly have no opinion on the home page yet because I couldn’t experience it. A popup blocked me the whole time.

Drop the fantasies of the big database

The big database of uninterested people won’t get your company very far, especially in a world where people want to hear about “adoption” and “conversion.”

If people don’t look at your individual offerings, if they don’t buy them, you’re going to know. People will wonder why you’re not converting, especially with all those people hitting your home page or signing up. They signed up… why aren’t they buying? Oh, we MADE them sign up.

Improve the UX

Give me a way to close that popup. Let me explore your site. If your offering is compelling, I will WANT to sign up. You won’t have to force me to do it. You won’t have to make it an obstacle. I’ll be looking in the header for a “SIGN UP” call to action button.

Make me want to sign up because you’re so great. Don’t make me sign up before I even know what you do.

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Clicking around nothing in particular recently, I found a list of something like 11 things Baristas want you to know. Here was number 7:

ScreenHunter_232 Apr. 22 11.46

It says, “If you asked for decaf, I gave you decaf. You don’t need to ask me repeatedly. I am not out to get you.”

And I’m not out to piss you off when I ask you repeatedly.

I have a caffeine allergy. It’s one of those allergies where I can have a little of something, but if I go above a certain threshold, that allergy is 100% ON. I can have about as much caffeine as you’d find in a can of Coke, about 40mg, in a day. Or I can have a little dark chocolate. Or some decaf coffee or espresso.

One thing I definitely can’t have would be regular coffee. Certainly not regular espresso. That will be very bad. That would be like 4x what I can handle and I won’t even see it coming.

If I go over my threshold, I get a basilar migraine for about 12 hours. Nothing cures it or makes it go away other than time. I have to wait it out. So it’s best to stay under that threshold. And since I was diagnosed in 1984, I’ve gotten very good at knowing where that line is.

I love decaf coffee. Love the taste of it. Don’t want to give it up because baristas have made me sick three times in 15 years.

You’re not out to get me, but you’re human. You might make a mistake.

I evidently DO need to ask repeatedly because in the last 15 years, Starbucks baristas have:

  • Given me caffeine 3 times no matter how many times I checked if it was decaf and told them I have an allergy. They deserve a special rung of hell.
  • Remade my drink (various baristas in various locations) because when I double-checked, they suddenly weren’t sure if they had pulled a decaf shot or not. Grateful to them!

I’m going to ask repeatedly. Please learn to not take that personally.

I once asked a barista in an airport if she were sure she was giving me decaf. She snidely said, “I CAN read.” OK, I bet you can read. But anybody can make a mistake.

Please work WITH me. Please be understanding. If I ask that much, it must be important to me. I know you’re not out to get me. But I also know that it’s human to grab the wrong thing. We’re all capable of it.

Thank you.

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I can’t believe this is still a thing. Based on the request to renew the license of my FTP software, it still is a thing.

ScreenHunter_214 Apr. 18 11.43

This email is coming from an unmonitored account or so says the copy. Yet when I hit reply, the email went to sales@.

That’s the right thing to do… though they do need to update their form email to say you can hit reply if you need help.

Every email you send should allow replies.

The reply doesn’t have to go to the same person, department, or mailing list that sent the email to the recipient. But if people naturally hit reply, let that email go SOMEWHERE where it gets attention.

Perhaps that reply generates a support ticket. Perhaps it goes to a real person or team. But it shouldn’t go nowhere.

And we shouldn’t even message people anything that sounds like they won’t be able to easily get service or support. Need help? Hit reply. Make it easy for them.

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When I do public speaking, a question I get nearly every time goes something like this:

I’m an entry/mid-level UX practitioner at a small/large/famous company. It looks like nobody outside of the UX team is thinking about our users and personas. How do I get the developers/artists/product managers to be more user-centered?

My standard answer isn’t good news, sorry.

First, I’m so sorry that you are working somewhere where you are seeing one or more teams literally not care about the user. Maybe they care only or heavily-primarily about business needs or just shipping it no matter how easy it is or isn’t to use.

Second, if you are entry or mid-level in the company, it’s not your job to get entire teams or departments on board with anything. Step 1, release yourself from the expectation that you can or should be able to get that buy-in.

It’s normally top down.

Someone a few levels above you decided that it’s more important to release software quickly. Or make it pretty on the assumption that well-visually-designed is really all it needs.

This is the job of the Head or Director of UX. If your company doesn’t have one of those, that’s also a sign that the company doesn’t really buy into UX… at least not as its own specialized thing. If lower level UX people answer to an artist, creative director (without a UX background), product manager, or engineer, this is a potential sign that UX isn’t really respected at this organization.

If there is a Head or Director, that person needs to be working with other teams and departments to make sure people understand what UX does, why it’s not something you circumvent, and why focusing on the users should be the top priority.

Again, this isn’t your job. There is no magic thing I can say that will make all the non-UX product managers stop thinking that UX research is a waste of time and money. This has to come from someone with the right level of authority who can command respect as a subject matter expert.

Perhaps a workplace mismatch?

That’s a tough environment in which to be someone whose entire job is to think of the user first. I find many UX practitioners give us and quit that environment. And if you choose that too, all of us in the UX world would understand.

There are companies out there who get UX, prize it, take it seriously, and don’t need convincing that UX is something special, meaningful, and worth the time and money. You might be happier working there.

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Sometimes you end up in an argument. Sometimes you know you are headed into an argument. I once got a great piece of advice that has helped me, so I’m sharing it.

During my nasty divorce in 2003, my lawyer and I went to meet with the other side in his lawyer’s office. The meeting was a lot of nonsensical yelling, which is what I was used to from my then-husband.

One instance of their crazy-pantsing was when they were yelling about much money I should be making as a “webmaster,” which was a server admin job I didn’t qualify for then or now. But they were still sure I should be making 6 figures as a webmaster, so they wanted alimony in line with what they thought I should be making. I asked them to define what a webmaster was and then explain how my skills fit that. They sputtered and couldn’t do either, which lead to more familiar nonsensical yelling.

On our way to the car, I said to my lawyer, “I think that went pretty well!”

He said calmly, “In my 35+ years of being a lawyer, that was THE worst meeting I’ve ever been in.” I asked how he could tell. He said the other side wasn’t interested in any facts or information we had. They just wanted to stick to their ideas and beliefs, even if we could prove those wrong. He said you really only want to bother with meetings and discussions when there is a chance of compromise… or the other side is at least open to learn something new.

And that’s true of any debate or argument.

I think about the crazy situations I sometimes end up on Facebook when some friend-of-a-friend decides I’m Hitler because of how I vote or what I eat. Is it really worth arguing with that person? Does he or she want to learn new things about politics or me?

Asking yourself these questions in times of confrontation can really help get you grounded again. Accusations and crazy talk can unhinge any of us and make us want to bark back. But especially in business situations, we have to be more mindful in our approach. It takes practice.

In personal situations, this advice is really helpful. A stranger online who just told me I need to respect and appreciate him for how long he’s been in the industry? Well, let’s step back before we reply and think about what is really going on here. I don’t think he’s looking for facts, info, or for me to re-clarify my opinion.

In fact, he’s not asking me about my opinion at all. I think he’s telling me incorrectly what my opinion was and how I have that opinion.

Breathe!

Is he asking questions?

That’s one way to know when you’re in one of these situations. Is the other person asking questions? If you are hearing questions like, “What do you think?” or “Can you please clarify this?” or “What information do you have about this?” then you might be lucky. You might have someone with a somewhat open mind who could be open to information other than what he or she was already believing.

But zero questions is often a good sign that the other person is sure about his or her beliefs or ideas. Not open to anything you might want to share or explain. Which means don’t go there.

Don’t bother. You will spend meaningless energy not-enlightening anybody. Don’t explain it again. They don’t care. And that’s OK. They are allowed to not care. But know that and move on.

There are UX questions we can ask in business situations.

When the argumentative person in the meeting who really wants it her way starts in again with how all the customers will want the feature she came up with the way she envisions it, it’s easy to want to go to battle. I remain calm and just ask her how she knows that. Does she have UX research that supports those hypotheses.

Either way, that ends the fight. Either she has good user research that supports what she’s saying. Or she doesn’t, at which point you can say something neutral like, “We should do some user research to validate your hypothesis before we design, build, and implement these features.” Who can disagree with that? 🙂

“That’s an interesting idea. We should investigate that more.” You’re being neutral-to-positive but also saying we’re not going to run and do that (without validation).

“I’ll make a note of that and run it by the team.” I won’t be the one to tell you the idea stinks. I will make sure you feel heard and listened to. Maybe when I tell the team your idea, they will have an improvement on it that will still help you feel like it was your idea. 🙂

In conclusion…

Watch for people who aren’t asking questions… and don’t answer the questions they’re not asking. You will have to find another way around. Lean on research and data as much as you can (in business) so that it’s not about any one person’s ideas or feelings.

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For years, we used RegOnline. We finally decided to switch once we found a vendor that had a system that was faster, easier, more user friendly, and more modern. That new vendor is TicketSpice.

TicketSpice comes in a few other flavors… they have similar systems for crowd funding, registration for races, and registration for conferences/retreats. This review is of just the TicketSpice product. Can’t speak to what the other versions might do but you can see their family of products here.

They’re undercharging.

Let me lead with that. All they take is 99 cents per registration. That’s it!

I set up their system to charge cards through my Stripe account. So I lose whatever Stripe charges me to process the card. But TicketSpice isn’t in there taking anything for credit cards. Plug in one of a handful of supported gateways and GO.

While RegOnline’s $3.95 per registration was totally reasonable, they were taking nearly 5% to charge the card. I should have set up my own gateway with them. I would have paid less and gotten my money much faster. RegOnline pays you once a month. 🙁

But I left for other reasons. RegOnline’s system looked outdated. Some people registering commented on that. I can’t afford to be a UX chick giving people a less-than-great user experience. Setting up events took a LOT of time because conditional logic was buried many clicks deep and in separate spots for each command.

Wow, TS was fast and easy.

Building an event is truly easy. If you’ve ever built an email in a modern system like MailChimp, this will feel familiar. Choose different elements. Drag and drop them.

Capture as much information from registrants as you like. I have it collecting an email address for every registrant so that I can email updates about the workshops. That means if you are registering 4 people from your company, it will ask for 4 email addresses. I could ask for other info, but I want to make it short and easy to fill out.

ScreenHunter_225 Apr. 20 16.37

The real strength is behind-the-scenes conditional logic.

For most of our events, we have two workshops. You can choose one or both. We have early bird and regular bird pricing. We have discounts for groups of 2-4 and a larger discount for groups of 5 or more.

Typical event websites would just want to lay all of those out and make you figure out which tickets you need.

Two workshops x two pricing levels by time (early bird) x three pricing levels by group size = 12 registration possibilities.

Well, it’s way better UX to show you TWO and let all the pricing variations happen behind the scenes. And that’s what TicketSpice does. Here is some of our conditional logic, which I’ll then explain:

ScreenHunter_226 Apr. 20 16.39

OK what’s all that?

The first two “actions” control early bird pricing. If the date is before a certain date, drop the price and show a message about how you’re getting early bird pricing. If the date is after a certain date, the pricing will just be the default (regular bird). Plus hide the message about getting the early bird pricing.

Cool right? It gets cooler.

The next four actions control the group discounting. If the quantity of tickets for a class is greater than 1 but less than 5 (also know as 2 – 4), drop the price by this much. If the quantity is greater than 4 (also known as 5 or more), drop the price by this much.

The last one only shows a “total after applied coupon” if you put in a coupon code. No reason to show people their total under their total if they haven’t applied a discount code.

This allows me to make registration more brain-free for you. You don’t have to worry about choosing the right ticket to get the early bird and group discount. The system’s logic will get it all done for you without delay or you asking for certain parameters.

What’s missing?

To me, there are two things missing right now:

  1. Merge codes. When I write an email to people, let me drop in their name, the class they signed up for, and other information we know and have.
  2. Email templates that can be re-used or duplicated. I send the same email to each class but information and survey links change each time. I can’t duplicate emails. I’d like to do that since I use the same templates over and over. In fact, associate those emails with my event so that when I duplicate my event, I get my usual batch of pre and post event emails.

I have a few more things on the wish list, but they are lower priority.

Thanks to TicketSpice for being a cool, local company with nice features and super pricing. I’m underpaying you!

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We use live chat on our website. I man it (woman it?) personally. I’m happy to answer questions people have as they move around our site. Plus, if people are having trouble finding something, this helps me improve areas of the site people may find unclear.

I heard that Facebook wants you to get Messenger on your site so you can chat. But can Messenger do this?

ScreenHunter_199 Apr. 14 14.02

This is Olark, a chat system I like and use (and would recommend). When someone hits the site, I get the IP (not pictured here) and their best guess at the location.

“This is a new customer” would say something different if Olark thinks or knows this visitor has been here before.

I can see how they got to my site and what pages they’re on. Looks like someone might have questions!

I could wait to see if this person starts the live chat or emails me.

We have a chat offering in the bottom right but Olark lets me do a proactive chat. So I asked this person if I could answer any questions about our live public Axure training workshops. Yes. He/she wanted to know the pricing for the live San Francisco workshops as well as whether or not I thought someone who has been using Axure a while would get something out of it. Great questions!

We chatted a few minutes. I even managed to make this person LOL over chat, which is a fun customer service moment.

Can your live chat do that?

I don’t just need reactive chat. I want the chance to consider proactively reaching out to someone who perhaps is a return visitor, someone who perhaps looks like he is hitting a bunch of similar pages and perhaps having trouble finding the answers he wants.

Olark isn’t the only game in town but I am really liking their system. Go proactive!

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