Welcome to the December edition of the Userfocus usability and user experience newsletter!
- Message from the Editor
- Spend your end-of-year budget surplus with us!
- Warning: Your web survey is a lot less reliable than you think
- From our archives: Two measures that will justify any design change
- Review of the year
- What we're reading
- User experience training courses
- User experience quotation of the month
This month I discovered that the abbreviation 'UX' has been in use for a lot longer than I thought. Long before it was co-opted to mean ‘user experience’, it was used as a shorthand during the London Blitz.
At that time, 'UX' stood for "unexploded bomb". The authorities would dig these out, tow them away and then detonate the bombs in a safe area where they could do no damage.
I was pleased to discover this factoid because I like to think of the UX researcher’s role as continually searching for (and defusing) the ‘unexploded bombs’ in a product.
To stretch the metaphor even further, those unexploded bombs may not just be faults with a product, but faults with the user research. Bad user research can mislead the design team and result in poor decision making.
I’ve written more about this in this month's article on web surveys. I hope it helps you defuse a bomb in your own product.
And since I won't be bothering your inbox again until 2018, I'd like to wish you a relaxing Christmas and a peaceful new year.
If you're in the happy but slightly awkward position of having money you need to spend before the end of the year, then we can help! We can invoice you now for user experience consulting or training that you take in 2018. Spend your budget surplus on half-a-day's consultancy through to a customised training program for your team. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Because surveys usually involve hundreds of respondents, many design teams value the findings from a survey more highly than the results from small sample usability tests, user interviews and field visits. But the results of most web surveys are biassed by coverage error and non-response error. This means surveys, like most qualitative data in user research, should be triangulated with other sources of data. Read the article in full: Warning: Your web survey is a lot less reliable than you think.
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. Read the article in full: Two measures that will justify any design change
Here's a list of the articles we published in 2017 that you may have missed.
- In January, I wrote about the 8 competencies of user experience. This includes a tool you can use to assess and develop UX Practitioners.
- February's article was a beginners’ guide to contextual interviewing. You can learn a lot from any customer conversation, such as a ‘pop up’ interview in a café or library, but you’ll learn even more by running the interview in context.
- In March, I looked at the Design Council’s Double Diamond design model in an article titled why iterative design isn’t enough to create innovative products.
- In April, Todd Zazelenchuk, Philip Hodgson and I met up at our favourite watering hole in Staffordshire to have a pub discussion on the topic of usability: is it a science?
- May's article comprised a downloadable PDF to print out and place in your workplace bathroom to encourage people to engage in UX activities.
- As the weather warmed up in June, I wrote about 10 findings from psychology that every user researcher should know.
- One challenge faced by teams new to user research is simply getting started. So in July, I wrote a practical guide to overcoming this problem.
- August's article was a follow-along workshop on User Journey Mapping.
- In September, I addressed the myth that 5 participants are all you need to get 85% of the usability problems in a system, in an article titled how to find more usability problems with fewer users.
- In October, Philip Hodgson contributed an article on user experience research and strength of evidence. How do you know if your research provides strong or weak evidence for your belief?
- And last month, I wrote about how to generate useful design solutions in an article titled minting new design ideas from usability test data.
I hope you stay with us for another 12 months of wittering!
Some interesting usability-related articles that got our attention over the last month:
- Does A/B testing lead to dark patterns?
- More evidence for the obvious always wins usability principle: bigger text is more readable text (even if it's upper case).
- $93,000: the predicted national median salary for a mid-level UX designer in 2018.
- Funkify -- a plugin for Chrome to experience the web through the eyes of disabled users.
- Automated checkouts "add to loneliness and isolation among the elderly” and make shopping a "miserable experience".
- Doing user research in agile teams.
- Using metaphors in UX design.
- The USS McCain collision was caused by a confusing user interface for the bridge's central navigation control system.
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"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." — George Bernard Shaw.
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