Language as the gateway to the mind.
“Think-aloud protocols are one of the classic methods often taught in universities for training UX designers and researchers. Although previous research reported how these protocols were used in industry, the findings were typically based on the practices of a small number of professionals in specific geographic regions or on studies conducted years ago. As UX practices continuously evolve to address new challenges emerging in industry, it is important to understand the challenges faced by current UX practitioners around the world when using think-aloud protocols. Such an understanding is beneficial for UX professionals to reflect on and learn from the UX community’s practices. It is also invaluable for academic researchers and educators to understand the challenges faced by professionals when carrying out the protocols in a wide range of practical contexts and to better explore methods to address these challenges. We conducted an international survey study with UX professionals in various sized companies around the world. We found that think-aloud protocols are widely and almost equally used in controlled lab studies and remote usability testing; concurrent protocols are more popular than retrospective protocols. Most UX practitioners probe participants during test sessions, explicitly request them to verbalize particular types of content, and do not administer practice sessions. The findings also offer insights on practices and challenges in analyzing think-aloud sessions. In sum, UX practitioners often deal with the tension between validity and efficiency in their analysis and demand better fast-paced and reliable analysis methods than merely reviewing observation notes or session recordings.”
Mingming Fan, Serina Shi, and Khai N. Truong ~ UXPA Journal 15.2 ★
Paper against pixels, hence scrolling.
“This paper details a usability evaluation of scrolling techniques on Web sites. The scrolling methods evaluated were normal scrolling (with default pagination), infinite scrolling, infinite scrolling with a load more button and infinite scrolling with pagination. The four scrolling types were evaluated in the context of tasks that involved either serendipitous type tasks or goal-oriented type tasks. The evaluation was principally about the raw’ performance and participant perceptions. This is because it was felt that the greatest gap in knowledge concerned these aspects. The evaluation was done by means of an experiment and the data collected was statistically analysed. The results were mixed in nature, where no single scrolling method stood out as being the most usable.”
Sushil Sharma and Dr. Pietro Murano ~ First Monday 25.3
Scaling-up is not always easy.
“We already had a comprehensive UX process that included user research, product definition, and iterative usability testing. We had always felt that by following our UX process we would have discovered and fixed all important usability issues so a product should be ready to ship at the end of our process. We reported UX progress metrics that were based on the number of usability studies completed and their outcomes. Apparently, this wasn’t a very effective way to communicate. So what metric(s) would be better to describe the level of product readiness from a usability perspective? Initially, we thought about this “challenge” as a way to communicate a product’s usability growth. Eventually, we started using the term ‘usability maturity’.”
Angela Huenerfauth a.k.a. /angelahuenerfauth and David Teller a.k.a. /david-teller ~ UXPA Magazine ★
Page turning versus scrolling. Except for snippets.
“While modern webpages tend to be long and include negative space, and users may be more inclined to scroll than in the past, people still spend most of their viewing time in the top part of a page. Content prioritization is a key step in your content-planning process. Strong visual signifiers can sometimes entice users to scroll and discover content below the fold. To determine the ideal page length, test with real users, and keep in mind that very long pages increase the risk of losing the attention of your customers.”
Therese Fessenden a.k.a. /tbfessenden | @TBFessenden ~ Nielsen Norman Group ★
Tada! design or not.
“Radical redesigns are best tested using an A/B experiment, while multivariate tests indicate how various UI elements interact with each other and support incremental improvements to a design.”
Aurora Harley a.k.a. @aurorararara ~ Nielsen Norman Group ★
You need both types of testing to get (some) insights.
“Both these complementary types of user research play important roles in an iterative design cycle. Qualitative research informs the design process; quantitative research provides a basis for benchmarking programs and ROI calculations.”
Raluca Budiu a.k.a. /ralucabudiu | @rbudiu ~ Nielsen Norman Group ★
Good old usability testing for brand new technologies.
“The philosophy behind usability testing for speech-enabled systems is shared with general usability practices, but many usability practitioners have little or no experience testing speech interfaces, and the specific techniques required for collecting valid and reliable data are not widely understood. Spoken language and conversation have a number of properties that should influence the methods used to test speech user interfaces.”
Susan L. Hura a.k.a. /susan-hura | @SpeechUsability ~ Journal of Usability Studies 12.4 ★
Some real research provides sound results.
“In this paper, we report on a use case study involving 70 participants. They first took part in user/laboratory tests and then were asked to evaluate their experience with the two systems (perceived UX) by filling out an AttrakDiff scale and a UX needs fulfillment questionnaire. We conducted post-test interviews to better understand participants’ experiences. We analyzed how the participants’ perceived UX depends on quantitative (e.g., task completion time, task sequence, level of familiarity with the system) and qualitative aspects (think aloud, debriefing interviews) within the laboratory context.”
Carine Lallemand a.k.a. /carinelallemand | @Carilall and Vincent Koenig a.k.a. /vincent-koenig ~ Journal of Usability Studies 12.3 ★
How team work is determined by its context.
“Sometimes people create conflicts during a project that only serve to get in the way of making meaningful things together. Or in other words, unnecessary and petty battles make work not fun and not productive. But why would people create such conflict? Perhaps a project was plagued by one, all, or some of the following factors: requirements were not collected or understood clearly, the core of the offering was not defined properly, there was too much distance between the customer and the project goals, too much money had been spent already for the project to fail, or it could be as simple as people just not knowing how to get along. All of these factors can make an environment of fear and uncertainty that prevents people from working together to create wonderful products and services. What elements of a project should we all be thinking about to help bring people together to make meaningful things together?”
Daniel Szuc and Josephine Wong ~ Journal for usability studies ★
Just lure them into new content territories.
“Users can think they see the entire web page, although additional content exists off-screen. Designers must help users discover all relevant information.”
Kim Flaherty a.k.a. /kimflahertyux ~ Nielsen Norman Group ★
Have we left N=5?
“UX researchers and other project stakeholders often fervently debate the number of participants that are necessary for usability studies. At the core of this debate is often the tension between the usability professional’s desire for the best possible study and the business team’s desire to reduce time and expense.”
Janet M. Six a.k.a. /janetmsix | @JanetMSix and Ritch Macefield a.k.a. /dr-ritch-macefield | @Ax_Stream ~ UXmatters ★
Your self image is never the same as the worlds perception of you. Even if it’s your professional image.
“This research investigates the ways usability/user experience professionals describe themselves for different audiences and across multiple digital platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter, portfolio websites, and business websites. By analyzing the digital identities of over 40 usability/user experience professionals, this article presents quantitative and qualitative pictures of how usability and user experience is being described in digital spaces. This article highlights broad patterns and specific tactics being implemented by four types of usability/user experience professionals and gives recommendations for how these tactics can be modified and applied for other usability/user experience professionals attempting to create professional identities in digital spaces.”
(Rebecca Zantjer and Laura Gonzales ~ Journal of Usability Studies August 2015) ★
There comes a time that web design will be part of art history. As a design movement in the early 21st century.
“Many of today’s most popular design trends are influenced by minimalism. This web design movement began in the early 2000s, but borrows its philosophy from earlier movements in the fields of fine art and human–computer interaction.”
(Kate Meyer ~ Nielsen Norman Group) ★
Look-and-feel designers: “Look at how great our usability lab is. All our products and services have great usability.”
“In this editorial, I focus on the inherent conflict of interest that design agencies have when they are responsible for evaluating their own design work, what can be done to mitigate this problem, and the implications for the UX community. I define a design agency as a consulting firm that is hired to design (from a visual and interactive perspective) digital products.”
(Bill Albert ~ Journal of Usability Studies) ★
It’s still task-oriented. So, usability therefore. Quite something else than omni-channel or multi-device. Word, words, words. A rose is a rose is a rose.
“Multitasking involves being able to rapidly switch between different apps and to combine multiple sources of information. Small mobile screens limit users’ ability to see content from different apps at the same time, so current operating-system support for multitasking focuses mostly on switching between different apps. This increases users’ memory load, so mobile designers must help users compare and rapidly retrieve recent items.”
(Raluca Budiu ~ Nielsen Norman Group) ★
Is there or isn’t there such a thing as The Fold?
“What appears at the top of the page vs. what’s hidden will always influence the user experience—regardless of screen size. The average difference in how users treat info above vs. below the fold is 84%.”
(Amy Schade ~ Nielsen Norman Group) ★
Know your professional history. Moving from HCI to UX into a steep valley or ravine.
“In this editorial, I advocate a new form of interactive community publication (…) to respond to new creative emphases within human-focused interaction design practices and research. I have called this CLUF (creatively led user foci), pronounced like the Northern English word clough, meaning a steep valley or ravine. The realities of reflective creative practices are that we can always probe further and explore more as we work down through layers of design practice. CLUF would support a much needed online community of practice around systematic rigorous exploration of creative UX.”
(Gilbert Cockton ~ Journal of Usability Studies Volume 10, Issue 1, November 2014)
And there are so much more. Myths and misconceptions also apply to design, designers and De$ign.
“Usability testing has been around so long that it’s the most well-known and most frequently practiced user research method. So I find it amazing that there are still so many misconceptions about usability testing. In this column, I’ll debunk the most common myths and misconceptions that I’ve encountered over the years.”
(Jim Ross a.k.a. @anotheruxguy ~ UXmatters)
Look in the mirror, not to the other.
“Before you redesign your site, make sure that you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your current design. Garner design ideas and alternatives by studying your competitors. The focus of competitive tests is not to crown a winner, but to gain deeper insight into why design elements work or fail so we can make informed decisions moving forward.”
(Hoa Loranger ~ Nielsen Norman Group)
Usability being a characteristic of a product in use. UX being a mental state of a person with a product in and after use.
“I’m a big fan of usability testing. It’s a useful tool, and one that all UX designers should have in their toolbox. But we need to see usability testing in a broader context and consider its strengths and limitations.”
(Peter Hornsby ~ UXmatters)