The Association of Computing Machinery Logo, published to "Content Strategy Best Practices in Technical Communication" and "Balancing User Advocacy and Organizational Accountability"

My newest article, Designing boater advocacy: A Lean UX mobile app project to increase emergency response accountability, is currently available in the proceedings of the 39th ACM International Conference on Design of Communication. In the article, Suzan Flanagan, Jack Labriola, and I explore a workflow for mobile UX design in the context of a research project to design a boater safety app. We present a new approach to mobile UX that balances user advocacy with organizational accountability.

Why Should We Care About User Advocacy and Organizational Accountability?

User advocacy is becoming increasingly important in the UX world as devices multiply every year. What works for one user on one device will often not work for another on a different device. Add to that the fact that organizations must launch applications that are financially solvent, as well as accountable to their users, and you have an increasingly complex landscape for UX design, especially in the mobile world.

Based on an ongoing UX research project into the development of a grant-funded mobile safety application for recreational boaters, this paper details a workflow for aligning user advocacy with organizational accountability. Essentially, boating safety regulations have not been updated since the 1970s due to successful lobbying by boating manufacturers. Meanwhile, numerous boating safety concerns and associated incidents go unreported each year. User research into this context has taught us that recreational boaters most want a mobile application that will help them enjoy their boating trips while remaining safe. State agencies most want to locate boaters who are in distress without having to launch costly, and often ineffective, searches over large areas. Based on a review of best practices from amassed literature, as well as our own analysis of user interviews with 141 stakeholders obtained during an NSF grant devoted to this purpose, we will discuss a Lean UX workflow for mobile application development that balances user goals with organizational accountability.

What Does a Lean UX Workflow for Mobile Application Development that Balances User Goals with Organizational Accountability Look Like?

  1. Discover: Mobile UX must start with a deep dive into the core goals and pain points of real, live users.
  2. Advocate: Organizational goals must then be balanced with user goals so that the two become aligned.
  3. Account: Specific design goals must be developed that ensure organizational accountability to user goals.
  4. Prototype: Because mobile experiences are all so different and are focused on select groups of users, early prototypes help align user goals and pain points with affordances.
  5. Test: These affordances should then be tested as prospective features by providing a series of simple actions that test users can take via the prototype app.
  6. Refine: This entire process must be iterated until the application is a valid expression of user goals and organizational accountability systems.

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Cite The Article (APA)

Getto, G., Flanagan, S., & Labriola, J. (2021). Designing boater advocacy: A Lean UX mobile app project to increase emergency response accountability. Proceedings of the 39th ACM International Conference on Design of Communication, 118-127.