An excellent article from Louis Rosenfeld: Stop Redesigning And Start Tuning Your Site Instead. You and your key stakeholders need to read this.
Check out the World Usability Day Bundle on UXPunk. Big savings on some good research and design tools.
An article describing a recent “true intent” study for LDS.org was just posted on LDSTech. It describes how we created an affinity diagram out of over 800 freeform survey responses to help discover why people came to LDS.org and what their biggest problems were. A very informative activity. Some of the high-level results are also reported there, with permission.
Although short on details (he wants you to buy his full reports after all), this post summarizing an updated e-commerce usability report by Nielsen/Norman is worth reading if you’re building an e-commerce site.
In helping a colleague prepare for a usability test, I found Jared Spool’s latest UIE Tips article timely and totally in synch with my own experience. Three questions NOT to ask during user research (paraphrased and embellished):
- Don’t ask about the future. People don’t know what they would really do in hypothetical scenarios—even highly realistic ones.
- Don’t ask how they’d design a feature. They either won’t know or won’t have good rationale. They know their process and to a degree they know their problems—focus on that, not their proposed solutions.
- Don’t provide a (supposed) answer to your own question (“Did you do X because Y?”). Leading questions may be a staple of political pollsters, but they yield biased results. Don’t feed them reasons out of your own experience or assumptions—let them provide their own.
Thanks Jared—good reminders.
A friend of mine hunts down dangerous fugitives for a living.
Bill is a U.S. Marshall and is very good at what he does. A few months ago, I saw him walking with a bandage on his hand. Curious, I asked him what happened. Maybe he cut it doing some yard work? “Well”, he said, ”I had to smash through a car window to pull out a fugitive who tried to escape.” “Really?” I replied, “The worst injuries I get at work are a slight cramp in my pinky from too many mouse clicks.”
Bill and I go to the range every once in a while and shoot the breeze (no pun intended). I enjoy picking his brain as I like the Chuck Norris-esque of his job and am sure he pulls out a roundhouse kick from time to time. I asked him about what helps track these guys down. Without giving detail, he explained the importance of research. Bill spends more time learning about the fugitive, their habits, family, their likes, dislikes, etc… than anything. The more information he has, the easier it is to anticipate their next move.
How many times have you had a client approach you with the need for X as soon as possible and it needs to “look good”? Only after asking them who will be using it and what the site’s objectives are do they even think about it.
The problem is, they want results and research doesn’t come in a shiny package. It is up to us as designers to persuade them to understand its importance… even if that means a roundhouse kick (Disclaimer: Don’t actually roundhouse kick a client, however, if needs be, show a picture of yourself doing a roundhouse kick so they understand).
With that said, Bill could spend all his time researching and never catch anyone if he never went to work. The key is to gather a comfortable amount of user research so we have a clear focus before embarking on our designs.
Just like Bill and his hopeless fugitives, the more we know about our users, the better we can anticipate their next move.