'user experience' posts

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 »

Public sector innovation. Pfft. Right?

Posted by in e-government, service design, user experience on March 16, 2012 | 1 comment

By Kris Nygren

If someone had told me last year that the most innovative initiative we would be involved with in 2012 would be conceived by ACC, I would probably have laughed it off. Yet, for the past four months we’ve been involved with ACC’s Idea Nation initiative and it’s shaping up to be one of the most courageous and creative approaches to a big, hairy problem I have ever seen. Read more »

Quotes from Webstock 2012

Posted by in conferences and events, user experience on February 23, 2012 | 1 comment

Going to Webstock is like eating breakfast. A very large breakfast. Think crispy hash browns, creamy mushrooms, plump poached eggs, grainy toast, small but perfectly formed sausages. And slow-roasted tomatoes. And hollandaise.

Of course, the trouble with so much food is the inevitable food coma that follows. So it is with Webstock 2012. My brain is stuffed full of new ideas, and I’m going to be spending the next couple of weeks waddling around, digesting what I learnt.

There were a lot of highlights: the quality of storytelling (hardly a bulletpoint in sight), the mixture of melancholy and mirth, the down-to-earthness of everyone there. Also, Kapiti black doris plum ice cream. Read more »

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