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A fable of user-centered design

David Travis has written a booklet that, in a narrative style, tells the fable of a young man's journey as he discovers the secrets of user-centered design.

From the designers that our bright young man meets on his journey, he learns what user-centered design is and how early and continual focus on users and their task, empirical measurement of user behavior and iterative design are the corner stones of user-centered design.

Great for reading aloud for your kids.


  • Download the booklet Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 25, 2009 - via Putting people first

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See also: Prototyping and wireframing (119)  User research (23)  Personas (19)  The design process (24)  Primers (14) 



Jakob Nielsen interview by Webdesigner Depot

Webdesigner Depot has been lucky to get an interview with Jakob Nielsen himself.

Among other things, they talk about:

- How recruiting representative users is the only place you shouldn't skimp in a usability test everything else is negotiable and can be done on the cheap.
- That even though some studies have found that many don't use breadcrumbs, Jakob finds them useful because they are lightweight design elements, harmless to those not using them.
- That it's ok with Jakob that designers make hard-to-use artistic websites when they don't serve a utilitarian purpose.


  • Interview with Web Usability Guru, Jakob Nielsen Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 28, 2009

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See also: Interviews (30)  Navigation (63) 



Top 10 UX myths

With a little help from his twitter friends, Keith Lang has complied a list of top 10 User Experience Design myths:

- If the Design is a Good One, You Don't Need to Test It
- People Don't Change
- Design to Avoid Clicks
- UX Design Stops at the Edges of the Product
- If you Have Great Search, You Don't Need Great Information Architecture
- Can't Decide? Make it a Preference
- Design Always with Implementation in Mind
- People Know What They Like
- People Read
- The Design Has to be Original


  • Top UX Myths Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 26, 2009

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See also: Simplicity vs. capability (7)  Information architecture (15) 



Review of online usability testing service

Konigi has a review of the online usability testing service UserTesting. It outlines how the service works, its advantages and disadvantages. The main advantages are time and money savings. The main disadvantages are that you are at the mercy of the service to follow through with your screening request and that you cannot ask follow up questions during the test sessions.


  • Review of Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - July 23, 2009

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See also: Tools (106) 



How to make Agile and UX work in harmony

Agile development and user experience design are polar opposites when it comes to the way they approach the development process. Agile is about getting on with actual development from the get go, while user experience designers prefer to spend time up-front to make sure that the design is right before it's put into production.

In this two part article, Jeff Patton gives advice on how to make the two get along. It's basically about having the designers work ahead of the developers in a separate track where they do some focused up-front research, create low-fidelity prototypes in collaboration with the developers, test them with users, and fix the errors right away.


  • 12 Best Practices for UX in an Agile Environment - Part 1 Open link in new window
  • 12 Best Practices for UX in an Agile Environment - Part 2 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 01, 2009

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See also: The design process (24)  User research (23)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 



How removing a button can make you $300,000,000 a year

In this article, Jared Spool tells a story of how his company helped an e-commerce site increase purchases by 45%.

The site lost lots of purchases because the required customer registration frustrated people. Usability tests showed that they resented having to register and repeat customers couldn't remember their account login.

The designers fixed the problem simply. They took away the Register button and made customer registration optional. With an increased sale of $300,000,000 the first year, the client was happy.


  • The $300 Million Button Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 15, 2009

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See also: Cases and Examples (28)  E-commerce (27)  Shopping Carts (9)  Forms (30)  Cost-justification and ROI (27) 



iPhone usability research

Bill Westerman from Create With Context has posted a slide deck covering their research on iPhone usability.

In their research, they found that "take-up of interactions - even when these were consistent across applications - was often quite slow. And even 'expert' users were not aware of the ins-and-outs of every interaction - for example, our 'expert' participants didn't know the two-finger single tap to zoom out on Google Maps."

In the slide deck, Bill Westerman walks through their findings and gives eight rules of thumb for designing better iPhone apps.


Henrik Olsen - November 12, 2008

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See also: Research (129)  Tips and guidelines (95) 



How to get the most out of your usability budget

In times of financial crisis, Userfocus' top 10 list of getting the most out for your usability budget comes handy:

1. Fix the basics by focusing on the main goals that the users are trying to achieve
2. Learn to love paper prototyping
3. Test with fewer users
4. Shelve the 1-way mirror
5. Embrace remote testing
6. Get out of the office and you will find users everywhere
7. Eradicate pre-test bloopers with expert reviews
8. Create your own participant pool instead of hiring expensive recruiting agencies
9. Skip the pointless tests where there isn't time to fix problems anyway
10. Train your designers and engineers in the basics of usability


  • Credit-Crunch Usability: 10 ways to maximise your usability budget Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 16, 2008

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See also: Prototyping and wireframing (119)  Expert reviews (11) 



How to design realistic usability tests

Isabelle Peyrichoux has written an article on how to design usability test that rely less on making test participants role-play.

"When participants are better able to relate to a task, content, or data you are showing them, you'll get richer and more reliable insights that will help you to better evaluate and improve your product."

Isabelle Peyrichoux gives these guidelines on how to design realist tests:
- Recruit passionate users
- Have participants perform realistic tasks
- Test using content that's meaningful to participants
- Ask probing questions about content participants are passionate about
- Investigate participants' interest in the content
- Adapt to each participant on the fly


  • When Role Playing Doesn't Work: Seven Guidelines for Grounding Usability Testing in Participants' Real Lives Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 08, 2008

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ISO standard for usability of everyday products

ISO has released a new standard for developing and testing the usability of everyday products, such as ticket machines, mobile phones and digital cameras. The standard outlines a five step process for design teams to follow and methods for testing the outcome of this process.


  • Article about the ISO standard by David Travis Open link in new window
  • The ISO standard Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 11, 2008 - via Via the product usability weblog

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See also: Guidelines and Standards (15) 

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