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Vitamin of the Week, Sheryl M. (Talent)


Sheryl M.

With years of web design and UX under her belt, Sheryl has relentless drive to take thorny creative challenges and prune them into outstanding user experiences. Her impressive client roster includes the likes of Lavalife, Proximity, Digital Cement, Idea Couture, and CTV Television Network.

She was kind enough to share with us her keen insights into the mind of the user, the benefits of great UX, and tips for anyone trying to improve the user experience of their site.

What UX project are you working on now?

I am currently working on a major American retailer's digital properties with individual microsites that focus on a few of their core products and services. It features content provided by our publishing partner and will be promoted by both our broadcasting and print partners.

What business problem are you trying to solve?

The challenge is bringing to life the retailer's philosophies in a digital space, while taking into consideration English and French Canadian cultural markets, which tend to be very different from each other.

When making recommendations to improve a product or service, how do get management buy-in?

It's all about analytics and finding the "proof in the pudding." If we can provide evidence of users engaging (or NOT engaging) with website content, tools, or functionality, it will help to justify and execute certain digital strategies, or improve these strategies to guarantee specific user behaviour or influence.

In your experience, what are the benefits of Great UX?

The result of any great UX is a change in user behaviour, whether it be user promotion of content, acquisition, or conversion of members and of course, a sale or download of a product or item.

When thinking about mobile, what are you most excited about?

I am very excited about the evolution of wearable technology. This is something that I definitely want to explore. I think we've just started to understand how users interact with their mobile device and we are at a good pace with that. But I am becoming more and more interested in wearable technology and what kind of activities people could potentially perform, such as track or self-quantify -— it could be more than just a supplement to their existing mobile devices. There is potential in creating great interfaces on these devices, such as the challenge of displaying a wealth of information on a really small screen.

Which skill do you admire most in a UX talent?

I like UX people who are not afraid to use patterns that are familiar to people. Our job is to analyze user behaviour and to create optimal solutions that improve user experience and change user behaviour. But sometimes, clients ask us to overanalyze, often creating solutions that overcomplicate a task or are "too innovative" for their current users. There is a pace in which users adopt certain changes in tasks, and radically changing a task or a routine can often lead to "site rebellion."

What’s the biggest challenge you face as a UX professional?

Companies are starting to see the importance of user experience and information architecture, but most aren’t yet willing to invest in it properly. I am finding that employers are looking to get more bang for their buck — a graphic designer that has some UX skills, a developer with user interface design, or a content manager who has some information architect experience. While I strongly feel it is important to speak the language of the functional groups you work for, I think there is a value in the skills of a person who has made it their career to specialize in UX and IA.

What's your best tip for someone trying to improve the UX of their site?

When you are designing a new tool or functionality on the site, hold the mouse of your target user and ask yourself, "What would I do?"

We’d like to thank Sheryl again for sharing her incredible knowledge with us!

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