'usability tools' posts
Do you use a smartphone to access important information and services on-the-go? If so, you are not alone: New Zealand is in the midst of a mobile revolution. In a 2012 study, Google estimated that 44% of New Zealanders access the internet using some type of smart phone (http://goo.gl/fYM4o) and this number is only projected to increase.
Have you moved from viewing your smartphone as a gadget for entertainment and communication? Is it now an indispensable tool in your everyday activities? If so, you are part of a growing population of smartphone users that is savvier and more demanding of your mobile experience.
The smartphone revolution presents many challenges and benefits in the world of commerce. Banks epitomize just how difficult it is for large organisations to balance the needs of consumers with security concerns in the mobile environment. They must build user-friendly apps (to attract users) that are robust (to keep users) and secure (to protect users). They simply can’t afford to work by trial-and-error. Read more »
With every user-testing project we do, we encourage stakeholders and project-team members to come along and observe the testing sessions.
And while some are very enthusiastic on the uptake, many never make it to any of the sessions. Excuses like: “I don’t have time”, “I’ll read the report later”, “I’ll watch the recordings”, “You can debrief me on the findings later” and “User testing is your job” seem to be all too common.
Is that so bad? Well, yes, and here’s why:
Observers get the full picture. To some degree, user tests are like soap operas – you won’t get the full picture if you see only one or two episodes. People are unique and you will learn something new from every user you observe. Watching several sessions gives you the chance to uncover trends and patterns, rather than individual comments or isolated incidents.
Observers get it straight from the horse’s mouth. A report will always be a second-hand account, somebody else’s perspective on what they observed. Watching a user test live will give you the insights from your perspective and the motivation to change things. Read more »
Getting people to participate in your online survey is like getting a first date.
No matter whether your users are newbies or long-time customers, their willingness to engage with you on a closer level and share their personal details and opinions with you may vary. Read more »
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Where’s Wally…? I used to spend ages looking for him, didn’t you too?
It would start as a fun game: Sure, I’ll find him in no time, it can’t be that hard! But after searching for a while, it could get pretty frustrating: You KNEW he was there, somewhere on that jam-packed beach. You even knew what he looked like, with his trademark red-striped shirt, hat and his nerdy glasses. Still, it would sometimes take ages and make your eyes burn to finally single him out. Read more »
Card sorting is a well-established technique for figuring out how to classify and label information so that it’s easier to find. It’s a great way to gather insights about the nature of the content and your users’ mental models.
However, while card sorting can help generate an information architecture (IA), it doesn’t guarantee that content is easy to find on your website. Card sorting helps figure out ‘what should go together,’ but the results from a card sort usually require substantial massaging to form an IA and that IA still needs to be proven to work. Read more »
We are getting more and more requests to help clients make sense of their Google Analytics data. Google Analytics is a powerful tool but in our experience there are some common misunderstandings about what it can and can’t do. Read more »
Suppose you’re designing (or redesigning) the overall structure of a website. You’ve come up with a new structure – depending on the coffee, you may have come up with two or three. But are they good? Which one is best? And are they better than the old structure? Until recently, there wasn’t a quick way to find out, short of building the site and testing it after the fact. Read more »
Back in 2004 we were doing a card sorting project for a banking client, and really needed to be able to slice-and-dice the data in ways that existing tools didn’t support. We didn’t find anything that could do what we wanted, so we ended up building our own Flash-based card sorting tool over a weekend.
Three hectic years later, we finally ended up releasing a public beta of our card sorting tool to the world. It had gone through a lot more testing and revisions by that stage, and several thousand participants had completed card sorts for our clients. We thought it was pretty useful but we weren’t sure if anyone else would think so. Read more »
In the second of In the second of our Thought Leader series Sam Ng catches up with Donna Maurer from Australian company MaadMob. Donna is an acknowledged leader in the field of information architecture and is currently writing a book on card sorting. Here’s what they discussed:
Sam: So Donna, many of our readers would have heard of you before but, for those who don’t know you, how would you describe what you do and how you’ve come to achieve celebrity status with regard to card sorting?
Donna: I work as a freelance information architect and interaction designer. I usually work on big websites, intranets and business application – either organising all the content (that’s the information architect bit) or designing the pages, interfaces and way things work (that’s the interaction designer bit). Read more »