How to Get People to Fill Out Your Damn UX Surveys

how-to-get-people-to-fill-out-your-damn-ux-surveys

Surveys are a staple of research work. If you’re a UX Designer working on a product (especially a new one), it’s likely at some point you’ll have to craft a survey. I think surveys are great – they can help you gain insights quickly from many people, often for cheap free.

But surveys are only as useful as the number of people who fill them out. The more data you collect, the more you’re able to parse out meaningful patterns.

All too commonly, this is what happens when a novice asks their friends to take a survey…

oh-hell-no-cat-ux

Why does this happen? It’s due to a lack of survey etiquette.

SURVEY ETIQUETTE

The surveys that get little to no responses always make the same mistake…they don’t give potential respondents enough information about the survey itself.

How do you react when you see a post that says “Hey fill out this survey for me please?” My guess is that you’re not jumping out of your chair out of the kindness of your heart to do a survey.

When you think about it, seeing a request like this doesn’t feel too different from advertisement or spam.

Conversely, increasing a potential respondent’s trust can drastically help you get more survey responses. If you just remember one thing from this post, it should be this question:

What information can I provide about my survey to increase trust, and therefore get more responses?

Fortunately, all this requires is some extra effort and information, which we can resolve with a simple template:

The Template for Asking People to Fill Out Your Damn Survey


> Self Intro


If asking strangers or a broader audience, be sure to give a quick blurb of who you are. It can be as simple as your name and/or job title.

Example: Hi Redditors, I’m Oz – author of the UX Blog UXBeginner.com. 

> State the purpose

Tell people what the survey is for. What are you trying to accomplish? How does this survey help you make a decision or move forward with an initiative?

Example: I’m working on creating more useful, UX-driven content for readers like you.

Note that I’m not asking for people to fill out a survey yet.

> Make the request

Time to shine! Ask for the audience’s help, but with some context.

Example: In order to get a sense of what my readers enjoy, would you please fill out this short, 1 minute survey?

Survey link: goo.gl/random

Note that the above link is not real. You can shorten links using services like Google’s URL Shortener or Bit.ly

> Tell them about the survey

How long will the survey take? Is the survey anonymous? Will the audience get to see results?

Example: The survey only contains 7 questions and takes less than 45 seconds to fill out. All responses are anonymous, unless you choose to include your email for followup. After you fill out the survey, you also get to see everyone else’s (anonymous) results about what they’d like to read on the blog! 

> Thanks + other relevant info

In addition to giving your thanks, you can reiterate how this survey will help you, when you need responses by, or even how curious audience members can reach out to you.

Example: I’m aiming to get all responses in by next week (Mon 10/17). Your survey results will help me write better articles relevant to you. If you have any questions/suggestions on the survey itself, please comment below. Thank you!

Survey link: goo.gl/random

Notice that I ended my message with another link to my survey, just in case people missed it. Again, the above link is not real.

 

Bring it all together

In a fictional example, I’ll demonstrate how I might ask a group of strangers (from Reddit) to fill out my survey:

Hi Redditors, I’m Oz – author of the UX Blog UXBeginner.com. I’m working on creating more useful, UX-driven content for readers like you. 

In order to get a sense of what my readers enjoy, would you please fill out this short, 1-minute survey?

Survey link: goo.gl/random

The survey only contains 7 questions and takes less than 45 seconds to fill out. All responses are anonymous, unless you choose to include your email for followup. After you fill out the survey, you also get to see everyone else’s (anonymous) results about what they’d like to read on the blog! 

I’m aiming to get responses in by next week (Mon 10/17).Your survey results will help me write better articles relevant to you. If you have any questions/suggestions on the survey itself, please comment below. Thank you!

Survey link: goo.gl/random

Where to Post Your Surveys? 

At this point you’re armed with a template that should convert more people to fill our your surveys. Now, where to post your survey?

Besides posting to personal networks from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, one gem I’ve found is a subreddit called r/SampleSize.

r/SampleSize is a place where you can freely post your surveys. Before posting, you must create a free Reddit account and follow the community’s posting rules.

If you find another community where surveys can be posted for free, please comment!

Axure’s Ridiculously Useful, but Overlooked Features

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A UXB member recently asked…”How do you make links in Sketch?” The simple answer is you can’t. Due to the popularity of Photoshop and Sketch – which are dedicated UI design tools – prototyping tools like Axure get overlooked.

If Photoshop is the reigning queen of design software, then Sketch is the new hot girl in town. And Axure…is Ugly Betty.

Though the packaging isn’t as “sexy” as Sketch or PS, don’t be fooled. Graphic designers often ignore Axure because it’s not a high fidelity tool, but most overlook how incredibly fast and powerful Axure can be as a rapid prototyping tool.

There are many good UX and design tools coming out every week. But Axure is the closest thing to a true UX tool I’ve used.

In this article, I will uncover the gems in Axure that make designing much faster than other programs.

By the time you’re reading you’ll smack your head and think “My god, why doesn’t all design software do that?”

TEXT ON ANY OBJECT

In Axure, you can drag (almost) any widget onto your design canvas, and type text directly on that object. In almost any other design software, if you want to make a button, you have to create the button shape independently from the text, then align them.

UX-Beginner-Axure-Typing-On-Objects-V3

Yes, you can still do things the old way in Axure, but once you get used to having your text and shapes associated as one combined element, it’s hard to go back.

BOUNDING BOXES

Another annoying factor in other design software is when the bounding box is larger than the actual length of your text.

In Axure, all you have to do is double click on that thang and the bounding box snaps the the width or height of your text:

UX-Beginner-Axure-Text-Bounds-V3

SELECTING OBJECTS IS EASIER 

I love selecting in contained mode. In Axure, this options allows you the ability to only select objects that are completely contained within your drag area :

UX-Beginner-Axure-Selection-Modes-V5

By default, Axure’s selection method is set to Intersected Mode which behaves exactly like Sketch and Photoshop – whatever objects that touch the bounds of your drag area will be selected.

In contrast, Contained Mode is insanely useful when you have many objects placed close together in a design. This saves you time from having to unselecting as many objects as you would have to in Intersected Mode.

MAKE FLOW DIAGRAMS FAST

Speaking of the selection modes, in Axure there’s a “connected” mode. This allows you to make flow diagrams and get this – your lines move with the objects you attach them to. 

UX-Beginner-Axure-Connector-Mode-Flow-Diagram-V2

Forget about manually reconnecting your lines with each box in a diagram (something you’d have to do in AI, PS or Sketch). Just turn on connected mode and use Axure’s flow shapes.

QUICK INTERACTIONS

In most graphic design programs, you have to manually create a separate graphic element to demonstrate states like mouse hover, selected, disabled, etc.

That gets annoying and forces your prototypes into a linear path, e.g. linking assets like button-state-inactive.jpg and button-state-active.jpg in Invision.

In Axure, you can make these states on the fly:

UX-Beginner-Axure-Quick-Interactions

YEA SON! So much faster.

FORMAT PAINTER (INSANELY USEFUL TOOL)

Yes, Axure already has Masters and Text Styles like the other programs. But what if you wanted to copy a style on the fly and apply it to any other object?

Even better – what if you wanted to apply specific styling from one object and apply it to as many other objects as you wanted?

You can do this with Axure’s Format Painter:

UX-Beginner-Axure-Format-Painter-V2

What about Quick Interactions? You can copy and paste these interactions – such as mouse hover states – onto any other widget:

UX-Beginner-Axure-Format-Painter-Interaction-Styles-Mind-Blown-V2

When I discovered this tool my mind was blown.

DYNAMIC PANELS 

Axure’s true strength comes in with the use of dynamic panels to prototype interactions.

Below is an example of how a dynamic panel, when previewed in the browser, can be interacted with:

UX-Beginner-Axure-Dynamic-Panel-V2

There can be an entire series of posts dedicated to how Dynamic Panels work, but you can see just how fast prototyping can be in Axure, instead of creating a dozen different image assets to demonstrate the same thing.

QUICK ANNOTATIONS 

Let’s say you want to send your design to someone else, but want to give some context to what’s going on. Axure provides a quick way to add annotations:

UX-Beginner-Axure-Annotations

Quick annotations help with collaboration and understanding, especially if you’re working on a complex design/interaction.

SHARING + PREVIEWING DESIGNS

Preview is straightforward, just previews your design in the browser.

Afterwards, anyone with a licensed copy of Axure can use Axshare, a design hosting service, for free:

UX-Beginner-Axure-Share-Preview-Link

 

Sending Axure links for your coworkers to play with your design is a dream. So much faster than going back and forth in email chains and uploading images.

AXURE, AN IMPERFECT LOVE 

I’ve professed my love for Axure. But I also know it’s not perfect. Let’s keep it real – no design tool is.

With that said, I don’t use Axure when I need to…

  • edit photos (cropping, image effects, filters etc)
  • work with resizeable vector graphics, like design an icon or visual assets that need to be resized
  • design in super high fidelity detail magnify (Axure only zooms in 400% zoom)
  • When someone just needs PSDs/Standard design files. Unfortunately many shops are adamant about sticking within the Adobe Suite, and nothing else.

BUT, having Axure on both Mac and Windows helps a ton. As popular as Sketch is (don’t get me wrong, I love Sketch), it’s limited to Macs only. Good luck sending those on Windows machines.

OK, I admit it – it’s unfair to compare Axure to Photoshop or Sketch. By now you probably realize that Axure is a powerful prototyping tool, and Photoshop and Sketch still have their place.

Just like strong UX Designers have a T-shaped skillset, Axure is strong generalist with the speciality of rapid prototyping. If you haven’t tried Axure yet, it’s well worth a second look.

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Complete Guide to UX Resumes + 3 Free Templates

Complete-Guide-to-UX-Resumes-Free-Template-Logo

The resume has been around for some 500+ years now, thanks to Leonardo da Vinci.

Today there are more subtleties and challenges around the resume than ever. We’re talking file formats, resume types and the relevance of applicant tracking systems (ATS)…just to name a few.

For the UX Beginner, there’s an added expectation that resumes not only get the job done, but provide a good experience while communicating an applicant’s background. This is a complete guide on how to do that. This guide is split into six sections:

  • Section 1: Goal of the Resume
  • Section 2: Start with a Plain Text Resume
  • Section 3: Essential Elements of the UX Resume
  • Section 4: Designing Your Resume
  • Section 5: Before You Send Your Resume
  • Section 6: Free UX Resume Template

Section 1: Goal of the Resume

The goal of the resume is to communicate your work experience so that employers have a high level summary of who you are and quickly evaluate if you have the right background for the job.

In fact, knowing what a resume is in relation to two other application pieces – the cover letter and portfolio – will help create a lean resume that doesn’t try to do too much at once:

UX-Beginner-UX-Resumes_Template_Cover_Letter_Portfolio

Example: if you catch yourself writing a long personal summary and don’t have enough space for the rest of your resume, save that for your cover letter. Think high-level and concise.

Next, let’s dive into what you should do before starting to write your resume.

Section 2: Start with a Plain Text Resume

Before you jump into Microsoft Word, I’d avoid any headaches and start writing in a plain text (.TXT) file. (Don’t worry, we’re still going to design a beautiful resume at the end).

When applying for jobs online (and sometimes you have to go through this formality even if someone can pass on your resume), resume-parsers present an obstacle to jump over. Resume parsers like simple. They don’t do well with fancy formatting.

Your goal is to have the parsers fully accept your resume, read it, and pick up keywords. This is why you go with something simple like a .TXT file.  This approach is very handy for job portals that let you paste your resume:

UX-Resume-Parser-Paste

Benefits of plain text:

  • machines can scan and read it easily
  • you can copy and paste the text between applications without worrying about formatting issues (very important, as you will see soon)
  • Most programs can save documents as .TXT file, including Word and Google Docs.
  • helps you focus on putting the content first

Section 3: Essential Elements of the UX Resume

Regardless of the profession, there are essential elements that every resume should have. Some of them are obvious, some of them not-so-obvious.

Contact Details: 

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Number
  • Link to Portfolio
  • Optional: Social media accounts. Include only if you have stuff you want potential employers to see

Summary (Optional, but recommended)

Write a short summary that tells employers who you are and how you relate to UX. This is a good place to show your passion about design. Here’s a good one:

UX-Resume-Summary-Example

Select to see Jim Silverman’s Resume

 

Experience:

This is arguably the most important part of your resume that UX Beginners should dedicate the most time to. It’s worth clarifying that experience is any professional work that relates to the job you’re applying to.

There’s no need to limit yourself to actual corporate jobs per se. This is especially true if you’re transitioning from another career.

If you volunteered for Taproot Foundation and did a major information architecture project for a client, that’s way more relevant than prioritizing something like “Financial Analyst” at the top of your experience section, even if the latter is more of a “real job.”

For more projects that would be relevant in the experience section, read 5 Hidden Sources of UX Portfolio Projects. Remember, the name of the game here is relevance.

Next, make sure to include:

  • Name of company/project
  • Your title (role) in the company/project
  • Duration of project / time at company
  • Concise statements on what you did

The most straightforward, reliable way to communicate that last bullet point – what you did – is to use a results-oriented approach. Answer the question: what did you do and what was the result?

Lead the e-commerce redesign of Fortune 500 client, resulting in a projected $1 million in extra annual revenue.

Think highlights and results, instead of generalized information:

Good-UX-Resume-Experience-Example

Select to see Susan Lin’s Resume

Skills:

The skills section of your resume should be a straightforward list of, well, your skills. This section is mostly for resume parsers to pick up on your keywords, so you do want to get this right.

Fortunately, the keywords to use are often given to you. Take the job description you’re applying for, pull the keywords that relate to you, and use them in your skills section.

Here’s a snippet from a job description:

UX-Resume-Job-Description

Based off of the above job description, the skills you should list are: Photoshop, Illustrator, Usability Testing, Prototyping. Other good skills to include are user research, sitemaps, user flows, information architecture, HTML and CSS. Read every job description carefully and tailor your skills section accordingly.

Sidenote: Our increasingly visual culture has led to the popularity of “skill bars” and “skill infographics” such as this one:

UX-Resume-Skills-Bar

The simple answer: not necessary. It doesn’t add much substance to your resume. If a company is interested in you, they will refer to your work experience. If they are specifically interested in your skills, then this will come up in the first interview anyway. But if you must, here’s a better approach (because it’s more descriptive):

UX-Resume-Skills-Good-Example

Select to see Jim Silverman’s Resume

Education

Education is not necessarily a must-have item on your resume depending on your work experience. A Senior Interaction Designer with 10+ years experience and a ton of previous jobs has already communicated her expertise in the field. A new grad, on the other hand, is better off listing her Dual Degree in Marketing and Design.

If it’s relevant and it helps, show it off. More examples:

One individual might have just graduated with an MS in Human-Computer Interaction, so she should definitely put that down.

But someone else (me) who has a degree in Economics might put down Cal State Fullerton UX Certificate, UCLA UX Course, and General Assembly’s UX Program instead.

Awards and Recognition

Definitely include any awards and recognition you’ve received, because it’s a testament from other parties that you have great design skills.  Simple as that.

Section 4: Designing Your Resume

Now for the fun part. You’re going to take all that previous work and turn it into a designed resume that’s easy on human eyes. This resume, compared to plain text, is meant for human consumption and to give hiring managers a positive first impression. Let’s walk through exactly how to do that.

Build with a vector tool 

Use Illustrator, Sketch, Omnigraffle or whatever vector tool at your disposal. This is because vectors are scalable, so if you decide to resize your icons and such, it’d be no sweat. Vector tools tend to give you much better control over typography and alignment.

Make it easy to read

  • Use white space. Don’t try to cram a bunch of information together. Let your design breathe
  • Line-length: keep it between 50-60 characters. Read more from the Baymard Institute
  • Visual Hierarchy: Section titles should be consistent, as should spacing between different elements & blocks of text.

Emphasize the most important information

Again, most important information should be your experience. Make sure that this content sits front and center, and is not distracted by other less important elements

A Couple More Design Tips:

  • Pick 1 or 2 fonts.
  • Don’t use Times New Roman or Comic Sans. Also avoid script or fancy/illustrative fonts.
  • If using 2 fonts, use a thoughtful Google Font pairing
  • Use color sparingly (1 or 2). It’s okay if your resume is completely done in shades of gray.

Section 5: Before Pressing Send

Before you send this off, remember these quick tips:

  • Get a friend to read over your resume to catch any typos and grammatical errors
  • Have someone do a “6-second test” on your resume. What do they remember? What was their general impression from reading your resume? (also take note what they didn’t see)
  • Output in PDF. This is the best file format for presentation.
    Absolutely do not send your resume as an image file like PNG or JPG, or files meant to be edited like .PS files.
  • Name your PDF with your name in it.
    “FirstName_LastName_UX_Resume.pdf”

On that last note, I’m surprised to hear from recruiter friends that they get a ton of resumes named “Resume.pdf,” which doesn’t help candidates stand out.

Section 6: UX Resume Templates

If any of the above sounds time-consuming – especially designing a clean, readable resume – no worries. UXBeginner is providing all email subscribers a 3 free templates in Sketch and one in Adobe Illustrator.

Here’s a screenshot (not as high-res as PDF) of what subscribers get:

3-UX-Resume-Templates-Side-by-Side

ux-beginner-resume-template-cta-icon-grey

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UX Beginners: How to Move Beyond UX Tools

Don’t Be a UX Tool

Every craft requires its tools. Carpenters have their drill bits and utility belts. Accountants have Excel. Digital creatives have…an endless number of tools at their disposal. Because the internet.

Thus it’s no surprise that one of the top questions I get about working in UX Design is: “What tools do you use?”

I used respond by explaining the tools I use and why (which I’ll elaborate on at the end), but something never sat right with me, even if my response was well-received.

It’s not the tools that you have faith in – tools are just tools. They work, or they don’t work. It’s people you have faith in or not.Steve Jobs

New entrants to User Experience Design – myself included – are often disproportionately preoccupied with tools.

If you work in digital media, there seems to some amazing tool or shortcut coming out every day. I myself add such new tools to Instapaper when spotting good finds on Designer News or Hacker News. Correction: I hoard these new tools and resources “just in case” I’ll need them someday.

don’t chase the tools

The real issue? Obsessing over tools can often lead to obsessing over the deliverables associated with tools. It’s easy to get caught up trying to find the latest and greatest wireframing tool in order to want to create stylish wireframes. Or hunt down the best diagramming tool to make the an impressive-but-so-complex-only-you-can-read it user flows.

My mentor has had senior UX designers say to him “I just want to wireframe.”

The job is not about sitemaps. The job is not even about wireframes. Those are all part of the bigger picture of process and problem solving that goes into designing solutions. It’s called user centered + user experience design because we are attempting to solve problems and create satisfying experiences for users, and no tool can do that single handedly.

These two articles can speak far better than I on the importance of process:

If anything, just Google “UX process” or “Real-Life UX Process” to get some good readin’

so, what to do as a UXB? 

Prepare yourself as I seemingly contradict myself in this last [actionable] part of the post.

I’m not trying to discount the value of tools. In fact, some tools not only help your process, but can also change the way you design completely.

I found myself being much faster in Illustrator than Photoshop. Sketch is becoming more prominent in the design community as a replacement for Photoshop. And design-to-code tools like Macaw and Webflow may replace the need to code designs.

BUT, BUT BUT BUT…(some of you are already Googling those tools)

What’s more important is to know which tools and methodologies to use according to your situation and constraints. Need to focus just on high level concept drawings requiring little interactivity? Pop up some artboards on Illustrator. Need to show click-by-click screen interactions and animations? Start assembling dynamic panels in Axure. Oh, and before you do all this – sketch out all your ideas on paper.

Sometimes we’ll have to learn a tool from scratch because it better fits your needs or that of your company’s.

As you move on in your career, the company you work at will have different tools embedded into its design process. I work in a Windows environment right now. I’m sure sometime in my career I’ll work in a Mac-only environment. The more important thing is that we adapt to the solution that needs to be solved.

Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.George Herbert

Suggestion: don’t start by trying to learn every tool you find…in fact, Hick’s Law states:

with every additional choice, the time it will take for one to make a selection increases.
 

AKA: More choices = more complexity. AKA I can’t finish anything because I’m distracted by too many goddamn options.

Need somewhere to start? 

In accordance with Hick’s Law, I’ll recommend a few tools I use. You’ll do well with these because they are industry standard – if you’re most likely going to be required to use these on the job, why not learn them instead of the smaller, less-supported tools that might not even be around next year?

To make wireframes, sitemaps and prototypes, just start with ONE of these:

Creating & Editing Image Assets (can also be used to make wireframes/sitemaps, but not designed for those specific UX tasks)

  • Adobe Illustrator – good for creating resizeable vector images, which you really want especially for icons & objects.
  • Adobe Photoshop – often used for image-editing and effects

That’s it. If I were a completely beginner it’d just start with Axure (especially for those Windows users out there). In fact some people do all their UX work solely in Axure, and that’s fine. If you want a bit more fun, especially with creating your own symbols/artwork/pieces, explore Illustrator. 

what we covered

  • why focusing on tools is dangerous
  • the importance of process > tools
  • Tools that UXB can start with & focus on