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Top usability findings 2010

Jeff Sauro has complied a list of top 10 research-based usability findings of the year 2010. Here's a sample of the five most interesting:

- Users are able to self-report around half of the problems that can be found during moderated usability tests

- Usability accounts for at least 30% of customer loyalty

- Ratings of website usability after only 5 seconds are the same as those after 10 minutes.

- 10% of paid participants in remote user research will cheat

- Usability problems are almost 10-times more common on business applications than on websites


  • Top 10 Research-Based Usability Findings of 2010 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 12, 2011

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See also: Usability testing (71)  Cost-justification and ROI (28)  Research (130) 



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 (120)  Usability testing (71)  Personas (19)  The design process (24)  Primers (14) 



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)  Usability testing (71)  Prototyping and wireframing (120) 



How teams make design decisions

Over the last few years, UIE has been studying what strategies teams use to inform design. They discovered that there are five common decision styles:

- Unintended design: one on the team pays attention to design

- Self Design: the team design with themselves as the target users

- Genius Design: the team draws on previous research experience

- Activity-Focused Design: the team base their decisions on research of users' activities

- User-Focused Design: the team informs designs on in-depth user research that goes beyond activities by investigating the goals, needs, and contexts of the users.

UIE found that the most effective teams are skilled in all the styles and capable choosing the right style in the right situation.


  • 5 Design Decision Styles. What's Yours? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 22, 2009

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See also: The design process (24) 



The top 8 mistakes in usability

According to Mark Hurst, these are the eight major mistakes that companies make when investing in the usability of their website:

- Not conducting any customer research
- Making decisions based on made-up user profiles
- Conducting the wrong type of research
- Using predefined tasks in usability tests
- Not inviting stakeholders to attend usability tests
- Not prioritizing findings from usability tests
- Not relating research to business objectives
- Missing the larger strategic picture


  • The top 8 mistakes in usability (and companies investing in it) Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 21, 2008

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See also: Usability testing (71) 



Statistical significance in usability test and surveys

Statistical significance revolves around having enough participants to make our findings valid.

In this episode of the Usability Tools Podcast, Jared Spool talks about:

- What statistical significance mean
- How many people it takes to produce reliable results
- How usability tests require many fewer participants than surveys because they are behavioural and not attitudinal
- How to gather enough data from research


  • Usability Tools Podcast: Statistical Significance Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 23, 2007

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See also: Usability testing (71)  Audio and video (48)  Interviews (30) 



How to prioritize product features

If you got lots of ideas for product features, how do you decide which ones to prioritize?

Adam Polansky suggests using his Faceted Feature Analysis, which ranks features according to their business value, technical ease of implementation, and value for the users. In this way, all points of views are fairly considered and project requirements are not included or excluded simply because one person yelled louder than the others.


  • Faceted Feature Analysis Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - July 15, 2007

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Don't rely on interaction designers

According to Jakob Nielsen, having a good interaction designer doesn't eliminate the need for a systematic usability process. It's true that you're better off hiring a good designer over a bad one. But it's wrong to rely solely on the genius of a designer for several reasons:

- It's hard to get hold of a top 100 interaction designer
- Even superb designers can have bad ideas
- Usability tests provide empirical data on which ideas work and which don't
- User research provides insight into what customers need
- Even a very good design can be improved though iterative design and testing


  • The Myth of the Genius Designer Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 29, 2007

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See also: The design process (24)  Usability testing (71) 



Do we need user research?

Current thinking in user-centered design prescribes that all projects should include initial user research. To Dan Saffer, this is a false dogma. Lots of projects, such as the Mac OS X, have turned out fine without any research at all.

According to Dan Saffer, we should only use design research when:

1. We don't know the subject area well
2. The project is based in a culture different to our own
3. We don't know who the users are
4. The product is one we'd never use ourselves
5. The product contains features for specific types of users
6. We need inspiration
7. We need empathy
8. We don't have much design expertise

These guidelines could apply to every design project. But the point is that we should "...stop thinking of it as a necessary approach to design and start thinking of it as just a helpful tool."


  • Research Is a Method, Not a Methodology Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 18, 2007

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Is user-centred design working?

Donna Maurer has published a presentation and recordings of her talk "User centred design: Is it working?"

Here are some interesting (and quite provoking) points from her presentation:

- Lot's of clients are not satisfied with what they get from usability specialists. The work they do is shallow and the clients are left with the hard stuff that they meant to hire out.

- We have to stop selling usability. It doesn't have a value proposition. Usability is a quality aspect. Not a deliverable.

- A lot of the successful websites don't do traditional user research and usability testing. Their model is more about putting something out, see what happens, and modify it if needed.

- We have to stop designing by testing and focus less on user-centred and more on design

- Jakob Nielsen's stuff should be removed from the galaxy. All his rules lure people into a feeling that you can just get these rules and get it right.


  • Donna Maurer's talk User centred design: is it working Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 02, 2006 - via Usability In The News

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See also: Talks and presentations (18)  Audio and video (48)  Usability testing (71) 

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