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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: Usability testing (68)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 



Putting yourself inside the heads of users

Amy Hoy has written a nice article on how designers can improve their designs by putting themselves in the shoes of users. One of her techniques is to start the design process by creating a flowchart of what might happen inside the head of users as they attempt to complete some kind of task. In the article, she takes a look at how well two browser firms support users' decision-making process.

Hilarious quote from the article: "The phrase "user experience" is quite a mouthful. Even the acronym is kinda scary: UX, UXP, or sometimes UXD (D for "design"). It pretty much looks and sounds like the noise you make when you puke [...] (UXP! Hello again, dinner!)"


  • Product pages: so much suck, so easy to fix Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 03, 2008

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See also: Landing pages (5)  Home pages (9) 



Free usability reviews of web sites

The site is an interesting concept. Submit a site and get the participants' views on your usability questions.


  • Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 11, 2007 - via DigitalWeb

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See also: Tools (106) 



Interview with Rolf Molich: Usability test are not suitable for finding usability problems

The UPA Voice has an interview with Rolf Molich, a Danish usability expert, who is best known for his comparative studies of usability teams evaluating the same products (the CUE-studies).

The most important finding of his studies is that different teams report very different results. For example, in a study involving nine professional usability teams testing Hotmail, only 25% of the usability problems reported where the same.

So where does this leave usability testing?

"Its most important role is to make people understand the need for the prevention of usability problems." "But the method is much too expensive to eradicate all usability problems or even just all serious usability problems."

Instead we should prevent usability problems in the first place. Rolf recommends that development teams follow basic usability rules, such as the heuristics he and Jakob Nielsen have developed.


  • The interview with Rolf Molich Open link in new window
  • More about the CUE-studies Open link in new window
  • Rolf and Jakob's usability heuristics Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 06, 2007 - via Column Two

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See also: Cost-justification and ROI (27)  Usability testing (68) 



Navigation Stress Test

The idea behind Keith Instone's Navigation Stress Test is to ask about some basic concerns users often have upon arriving at web pages:

- Where am I?
- What's here?
- Where can I go?

Randomly pick out low-level pages from the site you want to test, pretend you are entering the site for the first time at this page, and try to answer the questions. In Keith's article you'll find detailed instructions on how to perform the test.


  • The article Navigation Stress Test Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 22, 2003

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How experts evaluate web sites' credibility

In parallel with Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab's study of how average people evaluate web sites' credibility, Sliced Bread Design and Comsumer WebWatch conducted a study of how industry experts rate credibility of the very same sites. The results showed that experts were far less concerned about visual appeal and more about the quality of a site's information.

The comparative studies suggest that while people without deep knowledge and personal interest in a site will judge it by its visual design, people involved in a site's professional domain are more concerned about the quality and accuracy of the content.


Henrik Olsen - March 19, 2003

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See also: Research (129)  Credibility, Trust and Privacy (6) 



How to run a design critique

A very clear and useful breakdown of how to approach and manage a small team critique of a design, both initially and later in the project life cycle. By Scott Berkun of UIweb, January 2003. Below is some other notable content on the UIweb site.


  • #23 - How to run a design critique Open link in new window
  • UIweb Open link in new window
  • INTERACTIONARY - Sports for design training and team building Open link in new window
  • INTERACTIONARY - Sports for design training and team building Open link in new window
  • Column #21: Designing on both sides of your brain Open link in new window

ben hyde - January 22, 2003

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Usability Gurus ranted

Charles L. Mauro rants the "Guru approach" to usability consulting:

"Often the usability Guru approach takes the form of a well-orchestrated exorcism. Beating the bad usability spirits out of the web site by a constant and highly negative critique of the current site and of course by association the development team. The ferocity of such exorcisms is sometimes directly related to the size of the consulting fee: the higher the fee the more aggressive the critique."


Henrik Olsen - January 21, 2003

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See also: Cost-justification and ROI (27) 



Usability applied to life

Why not take you own medicine and make your life more usable. Chad Lundgren


  • Chad Lundgren's life heuristics Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 13, 2002

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See also: Misc humor (8) 



Oversimplifying complex problems

Standing in front of clients and colleagues and be expected to provide instant solutions to complex problems is something many in our practice have experienced. But relying on expert's statements is not the way to go. In George Olsen's opinion, too many gurus are promoting oversimplified and absolutist ideas in order to promote themselves as the ones with the answers.

Being a totally relativistic and declare "It depends!" won't work either. "There are no easy answers. But


  • The article (Over)simple Answers for Simple Minds Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 07, 2002

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See also: Tips and guidelines (95) 

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