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Beautiful Data by Toby Segaran, Jeff Hammerbacher

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Chapter 2. The Beautiful People: Keeping Users in Mind When Designing Data Collection Methods

Jonathan Follett

Matthew Holm

Introduction: User Empathy Is the New Black

ALWAYS KEEP THE WANTS AND NEEDS OF YOUR AUDIENCE IN MIND. THIS PRINCIPLE, WHICH GUIDES THE FIELD known as user experience (UX) design, seems painfully obvious—enough to elicit a roll of the eyes from any professional creating new, innovative digital technologies or improving upon already existing systems. "Yes! Of course there's a person using the product!"

But, while the benefits of following a user-centered design process can be great—like increased product usability and customer satisfaction, and reduced 800-number service calls—this deceptively simple advice is not always followed, especially when it comes to collecting data.

What Is UX?

UX is an emerging, multidisciplinary field focused on designing products and services that people can easily understand and use. Its primary concern is making systems adapt to and serve the user, rather than the other way around. (See Figure 2-1.) UX professionals can include practitioners and researchers in visual design, interaction design, information architecture, user interface design, and usability. And the field, which is strongly related to human factors and computer-human interaction, draws upon ethnography and psychology as well: UX professionals operate as user advocates. Generally, UX design techniques are applied to desktop and web-distributed software, although proponents ...

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