Userfocus Usability Newsletter, March 2014

Welcome to the March edition of the Userfocus usability and user experience newsletter!

Message from the Editor

I'm putting together this month's newsletter while working in Delhi, India. I find Delhi the most difficult-to-use city I've ever visited. I have no idea how to travel around the city by public transport and to travel by foot is to take your life in your hands. I find it chaotic and confusing.

Despite this, Delhi is a place I think every designer and developer should visit at least once. And the reason for that is because the city reminds me of a quotation I heard from US radio host, Clifton Fadiman. He said, "When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable."

Moving so totally outside my comfort zone helps me empathise with the people who have to use the technology I help design day-to-day. It helps me realise that the systems we ask people to use are not always designed to make people comfortable. These systems are often designed to make their own people — developers and designers — comfortable. We need to work on that.

Meanwhile… This month's article is on the 'observer effect' in usability testing. I hope you find it useful.

David Travis

Feature article: A little known factor that could have a big effect on your next usability test

Usability testing is widely accepted as the de facto method for finding usability problems with a user interface. However, test sessions can suffer from a significant observer effect. This article describes some of the evidence for the observer effect along with some suggestions for ameliorating it. Read the article in full: A little known factor that could have a big effect on your next usability test.

What we’re reading

Some interesting usability-related articles that got our attention over the last month:

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Web Usability: An Introduction to User Experience, May 12-13, London.

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User Experience quotation of the month

“I've been amazed at how often those outside the discipline of design assume that what designers do is decoration. Good design is problem solving.” — Jeffery Veen.

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