About Elaine Heinzman

At heart, Elaine's role is that of professional storyteller. She helps identify the most important information and how best to present it for clients and Matrix Group alike. She entered journalism at age 12 with her middle-school paper, earned a double-major degree in print journalism and American studies from the University of Miami, spent years in the magazine industry, and was a producer with NPR for nine years. Elaine is passionate about storytelling in all forms – she's gleefully medium- and platform-agnostic – and about mentoring the next generation of journalists. Fun fact: She's in a local women's parkour group, which helped her learn how to run up an 8-foot wall.

User Experience in the Face of Trauma

I’m a very lucky person. I haven’t experienced anything that would qualify as a major traumatic event, and my life isn’t generally a series of inconveniences. Plenty of other people don’t have that kind of good fortune. And since I’m in the business of user experience (UX), I want to use this blog post to explore something I learned about at a recent UXCamp event that I attended: the less frequently considered usability strategy called trauma-informed UX.

Trauma-informed UX most immediately affects people during or after a traumatic experience, but also during a relapse. These are users who come to an organization because they need help dealing with trauma, including:

  • Survivors.
  • Patients living with a serious disease or injury.
  • The loved ones of survivors and patients.

The main secondary audiences include:

  • The greater communities that these survivors and patients will return to.
  • Medical, law-enforcement, legal and social-services workers serving survivor and patient and populations.
  • Donors and financial entities that provide support to these workers.

Trauma-informed UX also should consider those who’ve previously experienced a traumatic encounter with an organization that was supposed to help them. A straightforward example would be a crime survivor who’s had a negative interaction with their local police department or emergency room. A less-obvious example that The Marshall Project recently wrote about: juveniles once held in California detention facilities.

In an online survey, California’s state and community corrections board asked formerly incarcerated children and their families how the state could improve juvenile detention. In addition to “the childishly predictable [comments] — I didn’t get the bunk I wanted; they punished us all as a group,” survey respondents provided thoughtful and detailed recommendations including “more vegetables, more dental care…, [and] an easier system for sending academic transcripts from school to jail and back.”

I love that corrections officials asked for feedback from their users so the state could better serve these families and their communities. Individual interviews are my preferred UX research tool, though in this case, it would have been too expensive and time-consuming to do interviews.

Regardless of the tool you use to get user feedback, with a trauma-informed UX process, there are additional and more delicate considerations that you must address:

  • Are you dealing with a user population that needs to worry about physical or digital surveillance?
  • Can you streamline the experience to give traumatized users more control of the time they spend dealing with your organization?
  • Is a website, an app, or an SMS-based experience the best way to serve users who are concerned about surveillance and time?
  • What legal requirements must your organization meet? This can include patient confidentiality or client anonymity.

While you’re doing user research for a project that will serve users affected by trauma, or getting user feedback after the project launch, focus on speaking to those who already have healed they’ll be more open to sharing their experiences because they’re not currently living the through the trauma.

What other nuanced usability considerations have you come across?

3 Last-Minute Holiday Tech Gifts

We acknowledge that it’s late in the gift-buying game, so if you procrastinated on your shopping for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and/or Three Kings Day, Matrix Group has got you covered with three options for the gadget geek in your life.

Nixplay Iris digital picture frame

The Nixplay Iris is a sleek, high-resolution digital picture frame that you can update from your smartphone. It connects to Dropbox as well as the major social-media and photo-gallery platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Picasa, Flickr).

If your parents love to see the most current photos of their grandkids, you can use the Nixplay Mobile app to update the images they see on their Iris. Bonus: Click the Nixplay link above for a voucher code to get free delivery in time for the holidays.

 

Nonda ZUS phone charger and car locator

The Nonda ZUS looks more like something out of the new Star Wars film than a phone charger, but it has another, even better superpower: It automatically saves your car’s location whenever you park.

Are you the kind of person who can’t remember where you left your car? Use the ZUS app to find your vehicle, and connect your phone to the ZUS so your phone can recharge. 

Rocketbook WaveThe Rocketbook Wave is a traditional spiral-bound notebook with some pretty unconventional twists. It comes with a Pilot FriXion pen, which you use like a regular pen to take notes (and which you can buy in office-supply stores everywhere). The Rocketbook app lets you scan those notes and upload them to whichever cloud service you use (Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, Evernote).

The coolest part: When the Rocketbook Wave is filled up, you microwave it to clear out all the pages and use the notebook over and over.

3 Must-Haves for Creating Content That Counts

4 reasons why content mattersI love content in all its forms and formats: Video, audio, animation, news articles, op-ed pieces, how-to columns, tweets, Facebook Messenger, and so on. And I love working with clients to help them surface the best of their content, from the newest publications to trusty standbys that members always need to access.

Along with Matrix Group CEO and Chief Troublemaker Joanna Pineda, I recently co-presented a webinar about content marketing. Content is so crucial to connecting people to your organization and brand that we wanted to share a quick-hits list for those who didn’t attend the webinar.

  1. Insight sets you apart.We talk to a lot of website and mobile-app users across industries, from longtime association members to disgruntled former members. These users keep telling us that they want insight: Insight into the future of their particular industry, into how the industry interacts with consumers, and into trends currently affecting your organization and industry, including legislative and market forces. You can best serve your members if you provide them with regular, thoughtful analysis to help them learn, grow their businesses, and stay out of trouble.
  2. Video gets people’s, and platforms’, attention. Inc. reports that people are 85% more likely to make a purchase after viewing a video about the product, and posts with images get 650% higher engagement than text-only posts. About two-thirds of U.S. adults are on Facebook, where image- and video-focused posts appear more prominently. So there’s no excuse not to incorporate more video into your content strategy. It’s as simple as shooting a 30- to 60-second how-to video or interview with a conference attendee on your smartphone. Also make sure to post plenty of member photos on Facebook, and tag the people in them.
  3. Plan it out. You need an editorial calendar to produce and publish content throughout the year. You can establish content themes by month or by quarter, depending on how much content your organization is able to create. If your industry or organization publishes a trade magazine, you can follow that editorial calendar.The content schedule also depends on what I call “the best talkers”: These are employees and members within your organization, along with your industry’s leaders, who are knowledgeable, opinionated, and skilled at explaining things in an engaging and easy-to-understand manner. Get those people to blog, shoot video, or record podcasts for you. If they don’t have time to do so, interview them and ghost-write a piece for them.

When interacting with your organization, members want to know: “What’s in it for me?” Your website content answers that question by showcasing what you know and why it matters. It reinforces your mission to members, and to the search engines they rely on to find your site. Content allows you to demonstrate why your organization helps members and the industry do better and be better.

What tips and tricks do you have for creating content? Where do you feel you need help with your content strategy? Tell us here or talk to us on Twitter (@matrixgroup).

World Usability Day 2016 is All About Sustainability

World Usability Day logo

www.worldusabilityday.org

The intersection of sustainability and user experience (UX) is where you’ll find the theme for 2016’s World Usability Day: Sustainable, or green, UX. Green UX involves creating the best experience for people in ways that make the most efficient, environmentally friendly use of products, services, and processes.

The WUD 2016 sustainability theme dovetails with the public and private sectors’ work on 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Established last year, those SDGs include benchmarks to be met by the year 2030 “to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.”

Regardless of scale, any kind of UX work has to be rooted in user-centered design. This means getting into your users’ environment, daily routines, and thought processes in order to provide practical, viable solutions to their problems. Effective green UX should make eco-friendly behavior easier and more affordable to incorporate into your life. It’s better living through recycling, reuse, and redesign.

So how do we unite these UX principles with these green/sustainable ideals? It’s a complex question, but here are a few thoughts:

  1. Make it easy for the disadvantaged to get a seat at the table of policy decisions, especially when outsiders are tempted to prescribe their own remedies. Those living in the communities of need know what they need best and have a greater understanding of their communities’ habits, knowledge, and biases. This insider knowledge about problems on the ground lets these populations determine what solutions and ideas are possible – and sustainable.
  2. Make it easy for those affected to be informed. This could mean mobile campaigns that engage the Opera-only users in Central Africa, for instance, or campaigns based on SMS technology or messaging apps. Focusing on available and commonly used technology makes it easier to educate communities about the policy decisions that affect them. What about ways for those users to speak up? They need to know about public meetings and online surveys, as well as ballot measures and pilot programs, that give them a voice.
  3. See how far you can push ideas and technology in a green or sustainable direction that, in turn, doesn’t make it harder for people to use what you create. This is crucial among populations that, say, rely on fossil fuels or mining for their livelihoods and to provide energy to their communities.

These three points only scratch the surface, and that’s what WUD2016 is about – discovering the meaning of sustainable UX and learning how stakeholders and makers can work together on real-world applications of sustainable UX practices.

Check out this database for global World Usability Day events and other info about how to get involved in bringing usability practices into your work.

Have any ideas of how the user experience can go green? Share here or mention us on Twitter (@matrixgroup) and be sure to use #wud2016.