'user experience' posts

Haters gunna hate, Optimal gunna love.

Posted by in Optimal Usability, user experience on January 22, 2013 | 0 comments

by Eamon O’Rourke et al.

It’s Resolution Season again, so what better time to put our money where our mouth is and test the mettle of our UX obsessed team, than by asking what UX proclamations they made to see in the New Year?

You’d think with User Testing as a core business service we’d be dying to point out all that’s wrong in the world around us, but no, on balance it seems Optimillian’s are tired of hating and would really rather get on with making the planet a more user friendly place.

So if we’re sharing the love, what are we going to do about it?

  1. Mark says: Look beyond surface improvement and make a product or service inherently better (unless of course you have the perfect product or service, and then button placement may be everything)
  2. Trent says:  Make recommendations for change that delivers the greatest and most immediate benefit (maybe we’ll talk through improvements 11 to 253 once you’ve implemented the first ten)
  3. Amelia says: Celebrate local and global businesses that embrace user-centred design and reap the rewards (it doesn’t matter who made it, what’s important is understanding what made it so successful)   Read more »

Eftpos: Over 20 years of persistent mild confusion

Posted by in user experience, user interface on January 7, 2013 | 9 comments

Have you read an article recently about the number of Eftpos transactions over Christmas? Every other article about shopping quotes Paymark transaction statistics. No one seems to ever discuss or report the steps leading up to a transaction?

“I’ve always been a fan of EFT-POS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale) since I got my first card in 1992. But just lately I’ve been frustrated with the inconsistency of the whole customer experience.” – Trent

That’s from Optimal Usability’s third ever blog post, from 2003. Has much changed in close to 10 years since that post? Or in over 20 years since Eftpos arrived? Is it still a frustrating, inconsistent experience? Are these three simple steps…

Swipe » Select your account » Enter PIN & press enter

…always that simple?

“You’d think by now that the banks, supermarkets and retail outlets would have it sorted. But I still struggle with the simplest of tasks: how I’m supposed to present my card. Do I hand it to you? Or do I swipe it myself?” – Trent

Sound familiar? I call it the ‘Eftpos nod’. Watch as people nod up and down attempting to figure out from visual cues who is going to swipe the card. The most obvious cue is the cashier holding out their hand for your card, or simply, there’s no reader slot on the terminal. Read more »

Security vs Usability? You can have both

It’s a long way to Kyrgyzstan, especially if you’re going via New Zealand. But in the global financial system, anywhere to anywhere is just a click away.

Earlier this year, an investigation by international NGO Global Witness uncovered suspicious transactions worth billions of dollars flowing through Kyrgyzstan’s largest bank. Most of these transactions involve shell companies in Britain, Belize and New Zealand that have little or no real business activities.

In one case, money from a Kyrgyz bank account held by a New Zealand company was used to pay a German vendor on behalf of a Russian company. Why? Through the use of shell companies and a web of transactions around the world, it’s almost impossible to track down the real people and the real purpose behind these transactions. They could be avoiding taxes, laundering the proceeds of corruption or organized crime, or funding terrorism. Read more »

Quantifying the value of UX design

Posted by in business, user experience on October 17, 2012 | 0 comments

In this absorbing, interactive infographic Optimal Workshop CEO @Andrewfantastic explores quantifying the value of UX design and making the world a better place.

Time. It’s pretty precious. It’s the currency we spend to get things done. And more often than not, things end up taking more time than expected.

In celebration of World Usability Day 2012, Andrew has produced an interactive and informative infographic that illustrates how user experience (UX) designers around the world are winning back time, a most precious commodity for all of us.

Optimal Workshop is a leading vendor of online usability testing tools serving a global community of UX designers, information architects and usability researchers.

Early 2012 saw a significant milestone when an Optimal Workshop customer used the online card-sorting tool, OptimalSort, to rack up the 1,000,000th user test on Workshop’s tools.

The passing of this milestone set Andrew thinking.

“How much time is saved everyday across the world as the payback of UX design and usability testing?” Read more »

The soap opera that is user testing (or) why observers are important

With every user-testing project we do, we encourage stakeholders and project-team members to come along and observe the testing sessions.

And while some are very enthusiastic on the uptake, many never make it to any of the sessions. Excuses like: “I don’t have time”, “I’ll read the report later”, “I’ll watch the recordings”, “You can debrief me on the findings later” and “User testing is your job” seem to be all too common.

Is that so bad? Well, yes, and here’s why:

Observers get the full picture. To some degree, user tests are like soap operas – you won’t get the full picture if you see only one or two episodes. People are unique and you will learn something new from every user you observe. Watching several sessions gives you the chance to uncover trends and patterns, rather than individual comments or isolated incidents.

Observers get it straight from the horse’s mouth.  A report will always be a second-hand account, somebody else’s perspective on what they observed. Watching a user test live will give you the insights from your perspective and the motivation to change things. Read more »

The marriage of content strategy and information architecture

Posted by in content, user experience, user interface on September 18, 2012 | 0 comments

As a UX guy who’s worked in and out the web industry for about 20 years I’ve been exposed to some of the worst written web content you’re likely to see. I wrote it. Well, no one else was going to and that included the client and all of his/her colleagues.

“What are we going to put here on the homepage?”

“Oh I think Sarah’s got something.”

Except she hasn’t. So the web producer [me] hacked something together with a cheery, tongue-in-cheek tone that didn’t fit the brand nor addressed the audience as they would wish. I fully expected the client to see this awful copy and rush to replace it through the development server CMS. Except that never happened and the site went live with the howler still in place. Three years later it was still there. Read more »

Tips for co-design

“Co-design” means different things to different people. To me, it’s about  the clients, the end-users, the designers, and the developers all collaborating on a design project. Sounds easy, right?

Getting all these different people to input into a design should feel natural, but there are many pitfalls. For example, many people simply don’t have time. And if it’s not done in a structured way it can be difficult to get value from the outputs.  There are a lot of reasons not to do it, but the main reason to DO co-design is more compelling: you’ll save time and money in the long run by seeking feedback on the designs up-front.

So how do you make sure you’re getting bang for your buck?  Here are a few tips…

1. Clearly define your design problem

Co-design activities are often structured to encourage ‘out of the box’ thinking, but at some point you probably need real, practical solutions. Clearly defining the problem you’re trying to solve will help keep people on track.

Read more »

Personas at Work

Posted by in personas, user experience on August 16, 2012 | 0 comments

We invited Richard Douglass to New Zealand on a three-month secondment, after meeting him at the UXPA conference in Las Vegas earlier in the year. He has a truckload of experience, in everything from building UX teams to conducting user research. Oh, and he happens to know quite a bit about personas.
Personas are fictional characters based on both quantitative and qualitative research. Ideally, they are formed after conducting contextual enquiry interviews with users to uncover their goals and motivations for using a product, visiting a website, etc.  The primary advantage of personas is that they embody research in a memorable way that project teams can use to help guide their design decisions. Read more »

UX London 2012 vs. Service Design 2012

By Leif Roy and Trent Mankelow

In April and May, we spoke at and attended two conferences on opposite sides of the globe – UX London 2012 in London and Service Design 2012 in Melbourne. Here are our highlights.

Service Design 2012

Attended by Trent Mankelow

I liked the intimate feel of this conference. With only 120-ish people it made the whole thing feel really friendly. The local case studies and content (there was nary a mention of Apple) helped to create a “we can do this” attitude. Read more »

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