user research archives

An excellent article from Louis Rosenfeld: Stop Redesigning And Start Tuning Your Site Instead. You and your key stakeholders need to read this.

posted by ted 16 hours ago

“We’ve found the most successful teams are those that spend as much time in each iteration measuring their designs as they do implementing it.”
Jared Spool, in an interesting article on making agile iterations… agile! I have found the situation he describes over and over again—agile teams organizing a series of sprints, but never really iterating. They are basically doing waterfall planning, just on very short timescales. This article gives direction on how to get out of that rut. And no surprise, it relies on robust design and user research processes.

posted by ted on Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012

Check out the World Usability Day Bundle on UXPunk. Big savings on some good research and design tools.

posted by ted on Wednesday, Nov 09, 2011

An article describing a recent “true intent” study for 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 and what their biggest problems were. A very informative activity. Some of the high-level results are also reported there, with permission.

posted by ted on Wednesday, Nov 09, 2011

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.

posted by ted on Monday, Oct 24, 2011

Three Questions NOT to Ask

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):

Thanks Jared—good reminders.

posted by ted on Wednesday, Aug 18, 2010

Fugitives and Users

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.

posted by jbarron on Thursday, Feb 11, 2010

“Turn off your internal problem-solver and just listen to people.”
Indi Young explaining her genius approach to usability in the lastest A List Apart

posted by sam on Monday, Oct 13, 2008