Welcome to the September edition of the Userfocus usability newsletter.
- Message from the Editor
- Feature article: The 1-page usability test plan
- What we're reading
- Online training in user experience
- Upcoming training courses
- User experience quotation of the month
My mother came to visit at the week-end. I tell you this not because I'm trying to move our relationship to the next level but because it illustrates a problem you might have had in the past. She's nearly 84, a bit frail physically, but still intellectually sharp. It's therefore always been a bit of a disappointment to me that I've not been able to explain to her what I do for a living. This concept of the "elevator pitch": well, I could never find one that would work for my mum.
In the past, I've tried various options. "I design new technology," I once said. This even made me yawn -- and I also heard my internal voice disagreeing: "No, you don't. That's way to broad. Be more specific." Another time, I tried, "I design web sites," and immediately flinched: when did I become a web designer? What about the physical products you've worked on? Or the desktop software you've had a hand in? Or the interactive voice response system you tested? Changing tack, I once tried, "I design stuff that's easy to use, like Apple," but immediately felt guilty since every product is a team creation and here I was claiming ownership of the entire product.
So this week-end I was amused when my mum said, "I know what you do". OK, let's hear it, I thought.
"You're a psychologist. You read people's minds."
Everyone with a qualification in psychology will be familiar with this. Introduce yourself as a psychologist and the next words you'll hear are: "Are you psychoanalysing me?" So I wasn't surprised. She got my standard response:
"I'm not that kind of psychologist," I said.
"OK, then," she said. "You read the minds of customers. You tell companies what their customers are thinking."
Maybe she had been listening after all. "I read the minds of customers". I think that's a very good summary of the work I do.
I'm now looking forward to being in an elevator with a few senior managers of a company I'm consulting with. As we strike up a conversation between floors, and they ask me what I do, I'll say: "I read your customers' minds."
At least no-one will yawn.
One of the key techniques we have in our toolbox for reading customers' minds is the usability test. This month I've written about a new way of creating a concise usability test plan. I hope you find it useful..
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? Read the article in full: The 1-page usability test plan.
Some interesting usability-related articles that got our attention over the last month:
- What UX concepts and practices do (some) UX practitioners wish would just go away?
- Designing User Interfaces for your mother.
- Stats & UX: How to use stats when you have a small sample size.
- "The UX industry is physically incapable of using eyetracking in the most appropriate way".
- Sign #1 that you're out of touch with your customers: the logo redesign. Exhibit 1 & Exhibit 2.
- UX specialists are hot commodities.
- Need to interview users? This article contains several links to useful resources.
Like these? Want more? Follow us on Twitter.
We have two online training courses in user experience. They are priced at $199 but newsletter subscribers can save money on each one by using these links:
- Online UX User Experience training. Normal price: $199. Price for newsletter subscribers: $149 with coupon code SUBSCRIBER.
- How to carry out a usability expert review. Normal price: $199. Price for newsletter subscribers: $149 with coupon code SUBSCRIBER.
Web Usability: An Introduction to User Experience, Sept 23-24, London.
This web usability training course will give you hands-on practice in all the key areas of usability, from identifying your customers through to usability testing your web site with them. 2 places remaining. More information about this training course: Web Usability: An Introduction to User Experience.
“Because every person knows what he likes, every person thinks he is an expert on user interfaces.” — Paul Heckel.