User research is a lean-forward activity: you have to remain actively engaged. It's very different from watching TV: a lean-back, passive activity.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
UX books have to serve many purposes. Here are three lists aimed at making people enthusiastic, giving them practical how-to advice, and teaching them the research skills they will need.
Online testing can give you fast feedback for very little financial outlay. The results might be less trustworthy than face-to-face sessions, but the technique fits well as a complementary tool.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Cost-effective, quick research techniques don't always inspire confidence in your data. Perform many small incremental studies to build reliability over time.
Don't be shy - run studies of your competitors' products to learn how well their software supports users' tasks.
Monday, November 7, 2011
You kicked off the project with a Design Thinking session. Now you've started development, run fast, cheap tests to stay user-focused.
Your team decides they need to "run a study." They don't know what that means, and they are relying on you to set it up. That's a good problem to have. Use this cheat sheet to help you out.
Stepping through your UI and asking two deceptively simple questions at each stage can give you great insights into the problems your users will face.
Check your product is following simple rules of interface design. It's fast and finds potential UI issues before your users do.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Spend just one week to get the information you need to build your product right first time. Use these techniques to plan your sprints or even to work out what product to bring to market.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. He's working frantically to find the next sketch to show to the study participant. He might even be drawing it as we wait.
The cheapest, fastest way to mock up your interfaces is with pen and paper. The creation process involves the whole team, and the unfinished feel means you're less attached to any one idea.
It's hard to create a good survey. Even if you can write non-biased questions, it is the ones that you don't think of that will get you into trouble. Make survey results actionable by focusing on behavior, not speculation.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Design validation is not a phase, it's a continuous part of the process. Testing your designs tests your assumptions and lets you make quick course corrections.
It's hard to uncover behavioral qualities during a focus group session, so the technique suffers from "what I say isn't what I do" syndrome.
"The user" is a nebulous term. Everyone on the team has a different picture in their head when they say those words. Thumbnail personas use site visit data to focus the whole team on the same key individuals.
"Turn that frown upside-down" - Take the pain points that you discovered in your user research and re-write them as positive experiences for your customers. These scenarios provide you with new product ideas.
Get everyone on the team involved in interface design and be prepared to be surprised with the creativity you unleash. You are guaranteed to uncover better design ideas than if you did it all yourself.
Quickly turn a pile of site visit observations into a visual story about users' tasks and pain points. Use experience maps - affinity diagrams on steroids.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The way to create good study questions is to work out what you want to be able to say before you even think about the methods you'll use to find the answer.