The Michelin-starred chef and restaurant troubleshooter can teach us a thing or two about providing design criticism, although some of it you may wish to avoid.
Failing to speak the user's language is an easy trap to fall into because you may not know the user's vocabulary and because technical terms often become second nature to the design team. As with much of user centred design, the secret lies in getting closer to your users so you can empathise with them.
The new year is as good a time as any to review and improve the way you work. With a good user experience now widely seen as the key attribute of many high-tech products, it makes sense to review your own products to see how you can give them that user experience edge. Here are 20 quick, simple and virtually free ideas you can apply in 2012.
When properly carried out, usability reviews are a very efficient way of finding the usability bloopers in an interface. But there are four common mistakes made by novice reviewers: failing to take the user’s perspective; using only a single reviewer, rather than collating the results from a team; using a generic set of usability principles rather than technology-specific guidelines; and lacking the experience to judge which problems are important.
Lecturing to people is a poor way to help them learn new facts. People learn better when they are actively engaged in their learning. Here's a training game that we use on one of our training courses to help people learn about usability heuristics. Why not play this game with your user experience team during your next team meeting?
Although the cognitive walkthrough gets less coverage than Nielsen’s heuristic evaluation, it’s just as effective at uncovering interaction problems. It’s also an ideal way to identify problems that users will have when they first use an interface, without training.
A typical usability test may return over 100 usability issues. How can you prioritise the issues so that the development team know which ones are the most serious? By asking just 3 questions of any usability problem, we are able to classify its severity as low, medium, serious or critical.
Although designing usable systems requires far more than simply applying guidelines, guidelines can still make a significant contribution to usability by promoting consistency and good practice. We use this list of guidelines in our consultancy work. For best results, remember to interpret the guideline in context — this requires a bit more thought but ensures you will get a lot more from your review. You can also download the guidelines as an Excel workbook.
Being frugal during economic hard times is good business practice. So how can you squeeze your usability budget and still deliver great insights? These 10 suggestions for streamlining your usability efforts explode the myth that usability is expensive and time-consuming.
Every usability professional knows that Morae is a useful tool for running a software or web usability test. But did you know you could also use it to dramatically speed up the time it takes to do a heuristic evaluation? This 'How do I…' article gives you step-by-step instructions on how to carry out an expert review with Morae, complete with explanatory screen shots.
Rather than create yet another definition of usability, we decided to take a different approach and work through the alphabet, picking one word for each letter to capture the flavour of the field. So we proudly present the A-Z of usability or usability in 26 words.
Most people that carry out usability expert reviews use Jakob Nielsen's ten usability 'heuristics'. Many of these guidelines are common sense but they are not based on substantive research. The International usability standard, BS EN-ISO 9241-110 proposes an alternative set of seven guidelines. These guidelines have the benefit of international consensus and they can be applied to any interactive system.
The concept of heuristics has a long history, spanning the fields of philosophy, law, psychology, and human-computer interaction among others. This article provides an introduction to the use of Heuristic Evaluation in HCI.
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