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41

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? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 16, 2005

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Emotional design (10)  Visual design (19)  Research (129) 


 

42

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 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 13, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Research (129)  User research (23) 


 

43

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% Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 17, 2005 - via Dey Alexander

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Cases and Examples (28)  Cost-justification and ROI (27)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 


 

44

Eyetracking as a supplement to traditional usability tests

SURL have studied how eyetracking can be used to supplement traditional usability tests. They found that eyetracking 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 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 02, 2005

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See also: Research (129)  Web page design (40)  Eye-tracking (14) 


 

45

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? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 17, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Research (129)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 


 

46

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 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 08, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Prototyping and wireframing (119) 


 

47

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 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 25, 2005

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48

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 Open link in new window
  • Review of Morae Recorder Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 09, 2005

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Tools (106) 


 

49

Tips on moderating open-ended usability tests

Listening labs is Mark Hurst open-ended version of the traditional think-aloud test. He has put together some tips on how to moderate a open-ended test.

Some highlights:
- Don't write out specific tasks before the test, since the test should be based on where, how, and why people will use the site
- Don't lead the user in any way
- Act only on the lead of the user
- Avoid opinion-based questions
- Avoid conditional or theoretical "if" questions since they won't spotlight users' real-world actions
- Keep the user in "use mode", and avoid "critique mode"

Links:

  • The article Four Words to Improve User Research Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 25, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Tips and guidelines (95) 


 

50

Usability Test Data Logger

The Usability Test Data Logger is an Excel spreadsheet developed by Todd Zazelenchuk, which can be used to collect, analyse, and present results of usability tests. It allows you to measure task completion rates, analyse questionnaire data, and summarise participant comments. It automatically generates charts and includes a timer to measure task completion times.

Links:

  • The Usability Test Data Logger Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 17, 2004 - via Column Two

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Tools (106) 


 

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