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1

Online video interview with Jakob Nielsen

DevSource has published a nice 8-minute online video interview featuring Dr. Jakob Nielsen.

Nielsen addresses a wide range of topics, such as proper attitude for programmers, the importance of prototyping in design, and the reasons why PDF, Flash, and local search engines can hurt more than they help.

Links:

  • Online video interview with Jakob Nielsen

Henrik Olsen - March 17, 2006 - via WebWord

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See also: Interviews (10)  Search (24)  Prototyping and wireframing (32) 


 

2

Avoid making wrong conclusions from user analysis

According to Jared Spool, many teams rush the process from user observations to design recommendations. They are so anxious to fix things that they end up making the wrong conclusions and fixing the wrong things.

To make solid recommendations we should state all the alternative inferences we can for the observations we make, collect enough data to prove or disprove a given inference, compare multiple types of data sources, and construct quick prototypes to test our recommendations.

Links:

  • The Road to Recommendation

Henrik Olsen - January 10, 2006

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3

Usability is more important that aesthetics in the long run

The October 2005 newsletter from HFI is a discussion of how beauty can influence users' overall impression of a product and how to measure the product-emotion relationship.

The newsletter mentions a study by M. Hassenzahl where a MP3 application was evaluated with a variety of different visual designs. They study showed that:
- When participants only looked at the MP3 player, the overall rating of the product was based on its perceived beauty and anticipated usability
- When participants were allowed to use the player, the overall rating of the product was more influenced by participants' experience of using the product

The study suggests that the emotional aspects of a design are important in attracting customers in the first place. However, when the product is judged through usage over time, usability is what matters most.

Links:

  • Is Beauty the new usability attribute?

Henrik Olsen - November 16, 2005

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See also: Visual design (14)  Research (93) 


 

4

Demographics is not critical when recruiting study participants

When recruiting participants for usability testing, field research and the like, candidates experience and behaviour is more important than demographics.

According to Jared Spool, studies of user experience professionals have shown that successful teams have learnt that candidates' previous experience and how they will behave in the study is more important than where they live, how old they are, and how much they earn. You don't need to have someone who is in your target audience. You only need someone who behaves like people in your audience group and is comfortable with the study situation.

Links:

  • Putting Perfect Participants in Every Session

Henrik Olsen - November 13, 2005

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See also: Research (93)  Requirement Analysis (12) 


 

5

User-centred design cuts support calls by 90%

Here's a great case on how prototyping and early involvement of users pays off. Because McAfee made user interface design of their ProtectionPilot a prime directive, they ended up with a great product and received approximately one-tenth of the support calls that the company would expect.

The article lists 23 tips gleaned from McAfee and their design team.

Links:

  • Clean, cutting-edge UI design cuts McAfee's support calls by 90%

Henrik Olsen - October 17, 2005 - via Dey Alexander

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See also: Cases and Examples (12)  Cost-justification and ROI (19)  Prototyping and wireframing (32) 


 

6

Eye-tracking as a supplement to traditional usability tests

SURL have studied how eye-tracking can be used to supplement traditional usability tests. They found that eye-tracking data can be used to better understand how users search the interface for a target and what areas of a page are eye-catching, informative, frequently ignored and distracting.

The study is based on a test of three toy e-commerce sites, which is described in detail in the article.

Links:

  • The article Hotspots and Hyperlinks: Using Eye-tracking to Supplement Usability Testing

Henrik Olsen - August 02, 2005

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See also: Eye-tracking (7)  Web page design (23)  Research (93) 


 

7

Fidelity and media is irrelevant in usability tests

An experiment by Group for User Interface Research has shown that low- and high-fidelity prototypes in both computer and paper media are equally good at uncovering usability issues.

The results support the idea of using low-fidelity prototyping techniques for design and testing. But development teams can choose whatever medium and level of fidelity they consider appropriate, since medium and fidelity has no effect on the quality of usability tests.

Links:

  • The article High or Low Fidelity, Paper or Computer?

Henrik Olsen - May 17, 2005

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See also: Prototyping and wireframing (32)  Research (93) 


 

8

Prototyping for user testing

There are several important factors to consider when you are planning to do prototyping for user testing. In this article from July 2002, Chris Farnum explains how to make the right choice about fidelity, level of interactivity and the medium for your test.

"In theory, low-fidelity sketches are also a time-saver, but this really depends on your point of view. Personally, I like to draw diagrams and wireframes in Visio where I can revise and move things around without erasing and redrawing."

"In the grand tradition of Goldilocks, I find myself drawn to the middle approach. A medium-fidelity approach tends to include some visual design and a level of detail somewhere between high and low fidelity."

"You can mix these three variables (fidelity, interactivity and medium) in many different combinations. The exact combination you choose should match the goals you determine for your testing."

Links:

  • The article What an IA Should Know About Prototypes for User-Testing

Henrik Olsen - May 08, 2005

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See also: Prototyping and wireframing (32) 


 

9

Formal vs. informal usability reports

Formal reports are the most common way of documenting usability studies, but according to Jakob Nielsen informal reports are faster to produce and are often a better choice.

"You can maximize user interface quality by conducting many rounds of testing as part of an iterative design process. To move rapidly and conduct the most tests within a given time frame and budget, informal reports are the best option."

Links:

  • The article Formal Usability Reports vs. Quick Findings

Henrik Olsen - April 25, 2005

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10

Test review of Morae

NetworkWorldFusion has tested Morae, a software tool for usability analysis from TechSmith that records video and audio of the users along with system data (e.g. mouse clicks, keystrokes, web page changes). Their overall rating is "very good".

Pros:
- Affordable
- Annotates collected data indicating web page changes, mouse clicks, keystrokes, text data appearing on screen, and window events such as opening and closing applications

Cons:
- Remote monitoring and management capabilities could be improved
- Captured data can get quite large (in the gigabyte range)
- Only supports Windows and prefers Internet Explorer

Links:

  • More about Morae at TechSmith.com
  • Review of Morae Recorder

Henrik Olsen - February 09, 2005

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See also: Tools (51) 


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