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Winning stakeholder support in user-centred design

User-centred design professionals pay special attention to one type of stakeholders


  • The article Understanding Organizational Stakeholders for Design Success Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 07, 2004

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See also: Implementing user-centred design (9) 



Personas a la Microsoft

In the article Personas: Practice and Theory, John Pruitt and Jonathan Grundin share their experience gained by using personas in two Microsoft projects. They describe and illustrate their use of personas and outline a psychological theory that explains why personas are more engaging than other methods that tries to explore users' needs.

According to the authors, personas is a powerful complement to other usability methods, which can help a team focus attention on its target audience and their work context. It can aid in design and development decisions, and make assumptions about the target audience and decision-making criteria more explicit.


Henrik Olsen - June 02, 2004

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See also: Personas (19) 



Design pays off big time

Evidence for the link between shareholder return and investment in design has been scarce and anecdotal. An analysis of the British stock market has shown that companies that invest effectively in design, have outperformed the rest of the stock marked by 200%.


  • The article The Impact of Design on Stock Market Performance Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 04, 2004

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See also: Cost-justification and ROI (27) 



Card sorting: the definitive guide

Card sorting is a user-centred method for finding patterns in how people categorize information. It can be used to generate structures for information and suggestions for navigation and wording. Here is the "definitive guide" by Donna Maurer and Todd Warfel.


  • The article Card sorting: a definitive guide Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 28, 2004

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See also: Card sorting (13) 



Usability basics

This article from the magazine IEEE Software is a nice introduction to usability, which covers core usability principles and common design techniques.


Henrik Olsen - April 21, 2004

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See also: Primers (14)  The design process (24) 



Toolkit for creating personas

George Olsen has developed a persona toolkit, which can help you build detailed profiles of users, their relations to a product (e.g. a website), and the context in which they use a product. The toolkit is pretty extensive, but intended to be based on a pick-and-choose approach.

George Olsen also gives advice on how to collect information. Ideally, personas should be based on interviewing and direct observation, but you can also get useful information from alternative sources, such as domain experts, research, and artefacts that reveal information about the users' context.


Henrik Olsen - April 04, 2004

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See also: Tools (106)  Personas (19) 



Use Cases and interaction design

Use cases are widely used in large projects to capture the functional requirements of software systems. The Q2 2004 issue of GUUUI looks at how uses cases can serve as a powerful tool for brainstorming workflows and bridging the gaps between design and development.


Henrik Olsen - April 01, 2004

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See also: GUUUI articles (11)  Use Cases (3)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 



Bridging use cases and interaction design

Use cases are widely used during the analysis phase of a project to model user requirements. In the hands of interaction designers, use cases can be a powerful tool to guide interface design. But use cases was originally developed to support the design of software components, and are often used in a way that is not well suited for supporting interaction design.

In this reprint from the book Object-Modeling and User Interface Design, Larry L. Constantine and Lucy A. D. Lockwood suggest an approach to use cases, which forms a more solid bridge between requirements analysis and interaction design, and between design and implementation.


  • The book chapter Structure and Style in Use Cases for User Interface Design Open link in new window
  • The book at Open link in new window
  • The book at Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 13, 2004

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See also: Use Cases (3)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 



Field Studies: The Best Tool to Discover User Needs

"The most valuable asset of a successful design team is the information they have about their users. When teams have the right information, the job of designing a powerful, intuitive, easy-to-use interface becomes tremendously easier. When they don't, every little design decision becomes a struggle."

Techniques such as focus groups, usability tests, and surveys are valuable, but according to Jared M. Spool from UIE, the most powerful tool in the toolbox is field studies. While it might be the most expensive technique to use, it has contributed to some of the most innovative designs.

With field studies, the team gets immersed in the environment of their users and allows them to observe critical "unspeakable" details. It eliminates guesswork and opinion wars, by providing the designers with a deep understanding of the users context, terminology, and processes.


  • The article Field Studies: The Best Tool to Discover User Needs Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 07, 2004

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See also: User research (23) 



How to measure a website's value

How does one measure how well a website communicates the value of its offerings? Jared M. Spool from UIE has come up with a variant of usability testing called Inherent Value Testing. It goes something like this:

1. Recruit a minimum of six loyal users and six inexperienced users, who meet the target profile.
2. Start with the experienced group and ask them to give you a tour of the site and share the features they use and like the best.
3. Bring in your new users and let them work through the same scenarios as the experienced users, find out which pages they visit, what they like and what the don't like about the site
4. Compare the results and find out whether the site revealed the same benefits for the new users as those you heard form the experienced users.

Observing experienced users will tell you which offerings people appreciate, while observing new users will tell you which precious offerings that people fail to spot.


  • The article Inherent Value Testing Open link in new window
  • The article Conducting Inherent Value Testing Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 29, 2004

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See also: Usability testing (68) 


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