Many companies think of themselves as user focused but this judgement is often based on anecdotal or biased data. To truly deliver a superior customer experience, companies need to progress through four stages of maturity, finally arriving at a point where feedback is not simply welcomed or solicited — but demanded.
The Usability Test Plan is a critical document to help you manage and organise a usability test. But it can sometimes appear too documentation-heavy in agile environments. What would a usability test plan look like if it was re-envisioned as a single page?
Most new products fail within the first few months after launch. This article describes 10 critical thinking tools that can be used to flag concerns about the project you are working on. These rules can be used by all team members to help save — or in some cases, kill off — struggling projects.
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.
Making user experience happen within an organisation requires development teams to start involving users. This can be a difficult prospect for teams who have not engaged with users in the past. Here are 10 suggestions to help you make that first all-important contact with users.
To be an effective representative of both the user and the designer, and to help steer decision-making, usability practitioners must find a way to influence retailers of consumer products. That means building a new partnership with marketing.
It won’t have escaped your notice that despite many companies investing in user experience, everyday consumer products still have the ability to frustrate the living daylights out of people. I argue this is because marketing teams, influenced by big retailers, unwittingly block the design team’s view of the end user.
What's the difference between information architecture, interaction design, visual design and usability engineering? I argue that each of these areas is critical in a design project but that they need to be co-ordinated by a User Experience Designer to ensure the end user's experience is a satisfying one.
Without a clear understanding of a research problem one cannot expect customer or user research to deliver useful findings. Here are five things you can do to help better define a research problem and sharpen your research question.
Heard these before? ‘Market research uses hundreds of people. How come you can get answers with just 5?’ ‘Our product is aimed at everyone, so we can use ourselves as users.’ ‘Users don‘t know what they want’ ‘Apple doesn‘t do user research so why should we?’ ‘Our agency does all of this for us.’ Here's how to successfully counter each of these objections.
In ‘The Lean Startup’, Eric Ries describes a design process to help manage risk when developing new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This article describes three established user experience techniques we can use to support this design process: narrative storyboarding; paper prototyping; and the Wizard of Oz.
Most of the work on user experience (UX) competency focuses on an individual’s ability to show evidence of technical skills. But technical skill is just one sphere of expertise required by UX practitioners. A fully-rounded UX practitioner also needs competence in two additional spheres of practice: process and marketing.
User experience metrics are measures that help you assess how your design stacks up against the needs of your customers and the needs of your business. Lab-based methods of collecting UX metrics are too slow and expensive to be part of most design projects, especially those using agile methodologies. But with online usability testing tools, regular user experience benchmarking is now cheap and quick to carry out.
The parallels between good research and good detective work are striking. In this article we take a close look at what user experience researchers can learn from the investigative methods used by detectives. And, in the spirit of all the best detective stories, we draw an important conclusion: if you want to become a better researcher you should learn to think like a detective.
Trying to recruit a single individual with all of the skills needed to create great user experiences is like trying to hire a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci. A better strategy is to build a multidisciplinary team with people specialised in the following areas: Management, Research, Information Architecture, Information Design, Visual Design, Technical Writing and Prototyping.
In spite of a proliferation of books, articles and blogs explaining how to measure usability, few companies seem to put their usability metrics to good use. In this article we show how you can link the numbers from usability tests to the numbers that steer business decisions — and in the process, influence your company's busines
Many design teams launch into development without a shared vision of the user experience. Without this shared vision, the team lacks direction, challenge and focus. This article describes 3 ways to develop a user experience vision: telling a short story; drawing a cartoon showing the experience; and creating a video to illustrate the future.
We're increasingly asked by organisations for advice on building a user experience competency. Our advice is to start at the top and get the right person for that first critical leadership role. User experience leaders demonstrate 3 core competencies: they understand research; they follow user experience methods and standards; and they are great communicators.
Do you spend so much time firefighting that you forget to think about your career? January is as good a time as any to think about improving your career prospects so here are some tips to help you get more from your job — or even get a better job. Presented as 12 bite-sized, monthly activities, do just one a month and watch your career take off this year.
Follow a young man's journey as he discovers the three secrets of user-centred design. After reading this 40-page fable, you'll understand the framework of user-centred design and know how to apply it to your own design project. It's a small book that has big results.
When trying to communicate the process of user centred design to senior managers it helps to convey the idea as concisely as possible. This infographic conveys the various steps and phases of user centred design on a single page.
There’s no shortage of software that will record videos from usability tests, but how do you put the clips together in a way that will convince management and the design team to take action on your results? Our solution is to use the rule of 5: Create 5 separate highlights videos each focusing on one usability issue, with each issue comprising 5 clips and with each video lasting 5 minutes or less.
Two measures commonly taken in a usability test — success rate and time on task — are the critical numbers you need to prove the benefits of almost any potential design change. These values can be re-expressed in the language that managers understand: the expected financial benefit.
We're often told that senior managers don't have the time to read a detailed report describing the findings from a usability test. This means our thoroughly argued, carefully analysed and clearly presented 60-page report could have no effect on improving the product or changing the culture. How can we better engage managers with our data?
It's easy to get caught up in the promise of new technologies and lose sight of the fundamental issues that make a product successful. By listening to the questions venture capitalists pose when reviewing new products we can develop a checklist to assess the viability of a new product idea.
Until usability gets embedded in the processes of your company, you'll probably find you need to justify the investment. Fortunately, usability initiatives deliver a major return on investment: it's not unusual for usability projects to return benefits of 5-10 times their cost in the first year alone.
Before you can implement a usability initiative in your organisation, you'll need to convince your manager it's worthwhile. The obvious approach is to use a cost-benefit argument, but experience shows that this approach often fails because many managers find the data unconvincing. An alternative approach is to tailor your argument based on your manager's MBTI personality type. This approach generates many different ideas for selling usability within your organisation and is much more persuasive.
Trying to embed usability in an organisation needs more than persuasive, logical arguments. You also need to appeal to managers' emotions and political ambitions. This article describes five successful strategies that we've seen work in companies large and small.
This Excel spreadsheet provides a test to help you measure the "customer-centredness" of your organisation.
These stencils will help you communicate user-centered design activities and proposals to clients and development teams.
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