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.
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.
It's sometimes said that usability professionals are good at finding problems, but not quite as good at coming up with creative solutions. This article describes a creativity technique called SCAMPER that will help you effortlessly generate dozens of design solutions to any usability problem you identify.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Discount usability techniques are a great way to eradicate usability problems. But they can never answer the question, "How usable is this system?" We blow the dust off some techniques commonly used in the early days of usability testing to see if they can provide an answer.
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