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Creating simple usability tests with IntuitionHQ

Posted by john on August 20th, 2012

A website usability audit can be a great marketing tool

Everyone wants to be billing their clients and I’m sure thinking up some good ways to justify this is a major occupation. Well we here at IntuitionHQ have a solution: consider a usability audit of a client’s website that includes a few simple suggestions on how to improve the usability of their website.

So where are the billable hours coming from? Not too many are going to come from the usability testing itself. IntuitionHQ makes usability testing incredibly easy. Within a few minutes you can create a number of tests on the usability of a website and send it to a group of respondents. Results are compiled instantly and you can gain immediate insights from the usability test. Usability testing will highlight your web development skills and is a great marketing opportunity for you to leverage implementing the improvements to your clients website.

Here is our guide to a usability audit that is easy to put together, easy to interpret, will give you billable hours and some great reasons to pick up even more work from your client. Don’t forget that your client and their website visitors are the ultimate beneficiaries, as Amazon’s much fabled $300 million dollar button proves.

Step 1: Spend a few minutes analysing the website

Websites have differing functions. An ecommerce site should make it easy  to register, navigate, and purchase goods and services. A traditional store may need to build a community while it provides simple advice of location and purpose. Most companies want to give customers information to avoid costly call centre calls.

Whatever the purpose, look for a few obvious things on the website that look a little dated. Usability thinking has come on hugely in the last few years and a website more than 3 years old will need few tweaks. For some really useful insight on how to get started check out these 7 great tips for writing usability questions

Step 2: Develop some easy website usability tests

Did you know that people are much more likely to click on a contact button with a picture of a person on it? This has been widely tested in usability studies and you can prove it to your client with an easy usability test run using IntuitionHQ:

Does the website have a main picture in the website? You can run a quick A/B preference test on whether the current picture is preferred or an alternative:

A simple example we ran was on whether the cat or dog was cuter:

If a website requires a specific task of visitors, then testing how long it takes visitors to accomplish this task compared to an improved design can show how website usability can be improved.

In the example below, the respondents are shown either the website on the left or the right. They are asked where to click to find the blog and IntuitionHQ automatically times how long it takes for respondents to click on the blog button. You can see that the respondents shown the website on the right found the blog button almost twice as fast as those shown the website on the left.

Conclusion

Taking the initiative and proactively using a usability audit on a customer website will provide a great marketing opportunity for you.  You’ll be able to engage them on a range of ways you can improve their website with the benefits sure to follow for their website users.

 

 

We talk user experience with Craig Tomlin

Posted by Jacob Creech on April 4th, 2012

In today’s interview we’re going to talk with Craig Tomlin, one of the 3000 Certified Usability Analysts (CUA) in the world.  Craig is a very active blogger and has written dozens of blog posts about usability.

Craig is an incredibly experienced usability expert, he’s vice-president of one of the largest independent search-driven marketing companies in the United States and has headed up some really impressive user experience projects.

So who better to explain usability than Craig.

The interview

Would you give a brief introduction about you?
I’ve been in the online marketing and user experience space for over 15 years now. I started waaaay back in the days before there was a Google, or a Yahoo, or Mobile, and “broadband” meant you had the latest tool, a 56k dial up modem!  I’ve done web marketing, redesign or user experience projects for big and small companies over the years, including Blue Cross, Countrywide Home Loans, Disney, Kodak, Prudential Insurance and many more. I like to say that I’ve become quite good at what I do because I’ve learned from ‘experience,’ in other words I’ve made just about every mistake you could make and have learned what not to do!

As one of only 3,000 CUAs in the world, how did you initially get involved with usability?
Being a Certified Usability Analyst was a big deal for me because way back when I received my CUA there were very few courses focused on usability and user experience design that I could take. Most of the courses back then were PhD tracks, and were either focused on psychology, or on engineering.

HCI* had been around a long time, but with a full-time job I found it difficult to get a Masters and then Doctorate in HCI. I knew I needed education in UX and usability because I learned quickly that website design is far more than just a pretty website with brochureware. To create a successful web experience, you must know who’s trying to use the site, what critical tasks website visitors have, their “mental model” and much more.

All of that coming of course from understanding and applying user research and design best practices. The CUA courses and certification helped provide me that of training. But I fully recognize that the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know! It’s an ever expanding subject.

* Human Computer Interaction

As vice president of Apogee Results you have studied, tested and honed the art of influencing people’s behavior. Which steps would you recommend to bulletproof an UX strategy?
The answer is somewhat simple, yet hard to execute: “know your users.” Strategy comes from identifying goals, both the goals of the business and the goals of the users. Good websites (or applications or devices) meet and hopefully beat users’ expectations and needs.  A successful UX strategy comes from applying those goals and expectations to a design based on:

  • Using a unique understanding of who will be interacting with the experience
  • Identifying what their tasks and expectations are
  • Fully leveraging their mental map
  • Evaluating their domain expertise

Good UX strategy fully uses that understanding to deliver an experience that meets, or hopefully beats, those expectations.

On your blog usefulusability.com you address several usability topics.  What do you think is currently a hot trend that UX practitioners should be aware of?
Without a doubt the next hot trend we all must come to grips with when dealing with UX is understanding that “user experience” does not mean just “web site experience” or “mobile experience” or “phone experience” or “store experience.”  Separately, these are all experiences, that’s true, but sadly most companies design each experience in a vacuum, seldom putting together the holistic understanding of how users actually interact with Brands. But put them all together, and they represent the real “user experience,” which can be called the Brand Experience.

What’s a Brand Experience? Think about a person who wishes to purchase a car. She may go to several websites to evaluate prospective car brands. She may go into a showroom to test drive a couple cars. She may ask friends on Facebook or other social sites about their opinions. She may evaluate features of cars on her smart phone multiple times. Eventually she will go to the finalist car lot and interact with the dealer to purchase her car. Given that she has interactions that transcend any single experience, why would we design the user experience she has with the website without consideration of the other critical interactions she will have during her process of purchasing a car?

Good Brands, and good UX designers, understand the holistic nature of user experience and include multiple interaction points in their thought process as they develop their UX strategy. I think that’s the next big thing in UX.

Can you tell us the difference between market segmentation and persona development?
Most marketing organizations in firms have a good sense of creating target markets based on market segmentation. They may use clustering to identify like-groups or set of prospects based on various data. The data is typically not task-specific, it may range from geographic information (all people living in New Zealand) to demographic (all people older than 30 years) to psychographic (all people who intend to purchase in less than 6 months). This data can then create a market segment that marketers can use to try to reach the intended audience (all people living in New Zealand, over age 30, who intend to purchase in less than 6 months).

Personas however are quite different. I like to think of a Persona as a fictional representation of a typical user, in which the common element that defines the Persona is a critical task (or tasks). Personas have names, they have faces, they have a story and a critical task. And Personas have the ability to be used broadly across an enterprise for purposes other than designing a website or mobile user experience. A good Persona, if done well, can be used to make design decisions across the holistic Brand Experience. For more information about Personas see my Useful Usability post on the Forrester report of Personas.

How can two, three, four or even five user profiles represent the entire user community?
This is a common question I receive from developers and those in I.T. I believe they confuse Personas with Use Cases. The most common question is; “If you’ve identified four Personas, does that mean I need four different websites?” The short answer is: Yes, and no.

Yes, in theory it would be great to have a website experience aligned directly to the needs of each Persona. However, often this is not possible from either a business or Brand standpoint.  So, one website has to fill the needs of all Personas.

But how? The answer is by making sure you address at least the initial critical task that each Persona is seeking on your home page and other pertinent pages. One website, if the information architecture and related navigation systems are set up correctly, can handle each of the needs of multiple Personas.

What do you think?

We want to thank Craig again for making time to answer our questions. His ideas on focussing more on the holistic understanding of how users interact with brands are definitely insightful and something we should be aware of as UX designers.

What do you think?  Do you use personas to represent your entire user community?  Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below, on Twitter @IntuitionHQ or at Facebook.com/IntuitionHQ.

 

Interview with Brad Frost

Posted by Jacob Creech on March 28th, 2012

Does your site look great on mobile devices? Is it usable on mobile? Increasingly mobile devices are replacing our computers for daily tasks, and because of this web design and development is evolving further.

Since Ethan Marcotte published his article in 2011 about responsive web design, we’ve entered a new phase in web design for mobile. Some might see responsive web design as just another trend, but here at IntuitionHQ we believe it’s more than just a trend, we believe responsive web design might just become one of the most important changes to web design in 2012.

But what does responsive web design really mean?  Time to ask an expert in this field – Brad Frost.  We first spoke with Brad a few months ago after reading his posts about responsive design and usability on his blog.

Brad’s a very busy guy, aside from writing for A List Apart and his blog, doing interviews with IntuitionHQ and thenextweb, he’s also one of the speakers at the upcoming Mobilism conference on May 10th in Amsterdam!

We think his views on responsive web design offer great insight on this new trend.  So let’s talk responsive web design.

The interview

Could you give a brief introduction about you?
I’m a mobile web strategist and front-end designer at R/GA in New York. I’ve been focusing on creating mobile-optimized websites for a few years now and spend a great deal of time learning and talking about what goes into good mobile web experiences. I made a website that tries to make sense of this stuff. I’m also a musician (primarily a bass player) and an artist. I live in Brooklyn with my wonderful wife. She’s just as busy as I am.

What is the biggest usability challenge for the mobile web?
I think the biggest challenge for the mobile web is achieving content parity. For a long time the default mentality was that mobile users don’t want everything desktop users want. As a result, important content would get arbitrarily lopped off and mobile users were penalized for how they happened to be accessing the web. The biggest challenge then becomes to deliver a full experience while being mindful of the many constraints the mobile environment creates.

Can you tell us a bit more about responsive web design?
Ethan Marcotte coined the term “responsive web design” and he broke it down to three components: fluid grids, flexible media and media queries.  However it’s evolved into something much bigger than that. It’s become a language with which to talk about designing beyond a singular screen size and context.

Before the term “responsive web design” was around, my colleague Jack Bishop and I were using the term “adaptive web design” as a way to talk about how an experience adapts to device features and browser capabilities. As it turns out, at the same time Aaron Gustafson was writing a book titled Adaptive Web Design, which dives deep into the concepts of progressive enhancement. And that’s what a lot of this is about, just applying those concepts to more contexts.

What does responsive design mean for the future web?
It’s becoming increasingly challenging to create and maintain separate experiences for different contexts. You turn your head for a second and BOOM—there’s fifteen new mobile devices announced—all with different screen sizes, form factors, browsers and more. Because devices, browsers and capabilities are such moving targets, we need to find solid ground to stand on.  That means focusing on creating flexible foundations that provide a good user experience to a number of different contexts. So instead of maintaining multiple websites that all essentially do the same thing, we’re trying to create smarter websites that have the power to go more places.

Looking down the road it becomes even harder to predict what’s coming down the pipes. Technology is constantly building on itself and we have to deal with the breakneck speed of innovation. Anyone who claims to know what the landscape is going to be like in five years is full of it. The fact that the future is so impossible to predict is why it becomes incredibly important to design experiences that are compatible with more scenarios—present and future.

What are some of the pitfalls responsive design is faced with?
There are plenty of pitfalls and challenges that responsive design faces. First, I think that responsive web design is viewed as a panacea for mobile design by a lot of people. It’s not and it never claimed to be. Creating contextually-aware experiences requires a hell of a lot more than just adjusting layout. Sure, it’s a piece of the puzzle, but there’s other things that need addressed. User goals can change dramatically based on context, so serving up a one-size-fits-all experience to mobile users runs the very real risk of not giving the user what they need.

For example, a blog’s content is to make a readable experience for as many screens as possible, but what about an e-commerce website?  A user could be at home on a laptop trying to buy a product, but what about a mobile user? Sure, they could be at home on the couch trying to buy the product too, but they could just as well be at the mall looking at the physical product and are trying to read reviews and compare prices. For that user, the “add to cart” button isn’t as important as quick and easy access to price, ratings and reviews. I feel that these are the things we need to consider when designing adaptive experiences. Ask yourself “Why might this mobile user be visiting this site right now? What are they trying to do and what can I do to help them?”

Another big challenge is performance. I mentioned before how we shouldn’t arbitrarily lop off content for mobile users. Well, responsive design fixes that problem (unless you’re using display: none; to hide content for small screens, which you shouldn’t be doing), but it can create big performance issues. Forcing mobile users to download a ton of scripts, media and content just doesn’t make a good experience. That’s why we advocate mobile-first responsive web design, which entails tackling the constraints of the mobile environment first then build up a core experience from there. Conditionally introduce heavier media and scripts when the scenario can accommodate them, instead of trying to cram a desktop site into a mobile-sized screen.

There’s a lot more challenges to responsive design as well: it’s costs more money to produce up front, it requires rethinking the design process, it’s hard to create truly great mobile experiences without compromising the larger screen experiences and vice-versa, etc.  There’s a lot of challenges, but that’s not a good reason to shy away from adaptive design. We just need to tackle these issues head on and collaborate to figure this stuff out. Because the other options simply don’t scale.

How do you approach the actual design when developing a responsive website?
Get designs into the browser as soon as possible. That’s not to say that you can’t use Photoshop or static wireframes, it’s just that those things don’t paint a realistic picture of how things will adapt.  We’ve traditionally followed a waterfall process, but you simply can’t do that for adaptive experiences.

Typically we map out the experience in wireframes and articulate where the experience will split based on the capabilities of the device/browser (for example, here’s how the carousel looks on non-touch devices, but here’s how the interaction changes when touch gestures are supported).

From there we’ll create a working prototype while the visual design team is in Photoshop creating the general look and feel. By the time the visual team has the look and feel in a good spot, the prototype team has the basic site architecture built. The prototype team starts implementing the look and feel while the visual team moves forward with the rest of the design. From there it becomes a series of iterations and back-and-forth between all the designers. The visual team is one step ahead of the prototype team, who’s focused on implementing the previous round of visual designs. It’s not this cut-and-dry though, because the prototype greatly influences the visual design and lots of things often need revisited. It’s all about back-and-forth.

Three things make a responsive process work: collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. It requires everyone being on board with the approach, tackling problems and being willing to revisit designs in order to make them work. This is much different than the traditional waterfall process, where developers working at the end of the line are left with a lot of the burden of figuring out how to make static designs work.

Does responsive design influence content?
Absolutely. All of a sudden, our content needs to be relevant to a whole lot more contexts. We need to be a lot more considerate about how we handle content hierarchy, media and interactions across a ton of screens and scenarios.

Are images still legible on mobile screens? Is there text in the images and is it still readable? Is the image a landscape image whose subject matter becomes tiny on a small screen? Data visualization is currently a hot trend right now, and whenever I fire up these massive JPEGS on my phone I can barely make out any of the text and charts.

Sara Wachter-Boettcher beautifully articulated the challenges of content hierarchy in her post Responsive-ready content. She demonstrates how it’s natural to want to throw sidebar content underneath the main page info, but that it doesn’t necessarily make sense in all circumstances. How layout breaks can very much influence how the user receives the information, so we need to be thoughtful with regards to content hierarchy.

I think the best way to deal with all of this is again to start mobile-first and make sure that all the content on the page is relevant. The less moving parts we have to deal with, the better. Mobile is a great excuse to clean house and gut the bullshit. We have a tendency to fill space with something, anything, if we have the chance. Thankfully we don’t have that luxury on these mobile screens so we’re forced to make some hard decisions. Once that exercise is done, then think of how to take advantage of extra space as it becomes available.

As one of the undersigned on Future friendly, can you tell us a bit more about the idea behind the site?
The idea behind the site is that the future is unpredictable, so we need to be more considerate of this change as we create web experiences. We shouldn’t bemoan the fact that there’s more connected devices we need to care about, but rather we should embrace this diversity and use it as an opportunity to reach more people.

The fact that no one knows what’s around the corner is why the site is intentionally ambiguous. When we all of came together, we realized that there’s no silver bullet to these problems.  We gave some ways people can think differently in order to become more future friendly, but again, these aren’t prescriptive solutions. It was made more to capture a notion than to say “do this or else!” Ultimately, it’s just there to get people to be considerate and to get more brains working on these hard issues.

Any favorite sites or resources you’d like to share with us?
There’s no shortage of great resources out there, and I’ve been doing what I can to collect them on my Mobile Web Best Practices resources site. I also think Twitter is such an invaluable tool for all this. There’s tons of wonderful people willing to share their experience, thoughts and resources. The collective conversation and collaboration that happens on a daily basis is essential to making sense of these really big challenges. It’s really exciting to listen and participate.

What do you think?

Our thanks go to Brad for his time and insights.  We will be keeping an eye out for his upcoming speaking event at Mobilism.

We believe responsive design is a new and exciting trend we all need to be aware of.  With the growth of different mobile devices, we can no longer design for just one or two different mobile devices.

What do you think about responsive design?  Do you have any interesting insights to share? Feel free to let us know what you think about responsive design in the comments below, on Twitter @IntuitionHQ or at Facebook.com/IntuitionHQ.

 

A quick guide to IntuitionHQ

Posted by Kirstin on February 22nd, 2012

We’ve talked a lot about why you should undertake usability and user experience testing and what to consider when doing so, but we thought it was about time we gave you a quick guide to getting started with IntuitionHQ and how to set up a website usability test using IntuitionHQ .

One of our aims when we built IntuitionHQ was ensuring that the tool itself made it straightforward to set up a usability test, we hope you agree that we’ve made it as simple and intuitive as we can.

Step 1: Log into your account on IntuitionHQ

Sign into your account by clicking on the right top corner ‘Login here’.

Complete your signup details and click  ’Login’.

IntuitionHQ login form

Step 2: Setting up your test

Once you’ve logged in to IntuitionHQ you’ll be directed to the dashboard. The dashboard displays 3 tables; Published projects, Draft projects and Finished projects. Tests are referred to as projects throughout the site. You can revisit the dashboard at any time via the navigation if you need to reference any of these categories.  Now though, we’re going to set up a new project.  Click the New project button:

IntuitionHQ dashboard

You’ll be presented with a screen showing a form to complete with information about your project:

IntuitionHQ adding a new project

 

Enter a name for the project (the name will display on the resulting published test). The name will auto populate the completion of the test url in the next box, you can change this if you wish, this will form the unique url for your test and will be the web address you send to testers. The introduction field is already populated with generic text that can be edited using the WYSIWG editor. Similarly the Thank you message is also pre populated and editable.

Step 3: Entering questions and screenshots

Once you’ve set up your project you’ll be directed to the Project overview screen.You can add screenshots and tasks in any order you wish. For example you may want to enter all your screenshots first then write the associated tasks. However if you already have a good idea of the text for your tasks you can add a question and a screenshot at the same time.

Click Add task, write your task in the Question for task box and then either choose an existing screenshot (if you have already uploaded screenshots these will show in a dropdown) or upload one from your computer by clicking Choose file.  Then either save and return to the project overview screen or click Save & new task to go directly to a new task screen.

IntuitionHQ add a task and upload a screenshot
 

Save your task or add another task to your project by clicking Save & New Task:

IntuitionHQ add the task by clicking on 'save' OR 'save & new task'

 

If you choose to Save and & new task a blank Question for task screen will display. If you select Save you will be directed to the Project overview> Tasks screen.

IntuitionHQ project overview

 

You can edit both tasks and screenshots from the project overview screen by clicking the Edit button beside the item you want to change. Similarly you can also delete a task or screenshot by clicking the delete button beside the item in the Project overview.

Step 4: Preview and publish

Preview and publish options are on the top right of the Project overview screen:

 

 

Previewing your project will allow you to see the test as your testers will see it.  You can then go back and edit any questions that you feel need amendments.

Once you are happy that the test is ready to go live – click Publish, a screen giving you the option to promote the test via Facebook will appear. If you choose to promote the test via Facebook you will be directed to log into Facebook.



If you don’t want to promote via Facebook at this stage uncheck the Publish on facebook box, you will be directed back to the Project overview screen where you will see a success message. Your test is now live and anyone who has the URL can now see it.

Copy the project link into an email, a tweet and post a link to it on Facebook in order to direct users/testers to where to take the test.

You also have the option to publish the results of the test in order to distribute a link to the results if you wish.  Click the Publish link beside ‘Results are private to show’ a live url for results:

We hope you’ve found this quick guide useful and we’d be grateful for any feedback you have on the process to create a project and publish a test in IntuitionHQ. Our next quick guide in a couple of weeks will focus on looking at test results.

 

The Ultimate Usability Resource Roundup: 60 Great Posts

Posted by Jacob Creech on September 13th, 2011

As you may or may not have noticed, we are quite prolific Twitter users here at IntuitionHQ. We love to share everything and anything related to usability and user experience, and judging from our 5000+ Twitter followers (and 700+ on our Facebook page), you’ve enjoyed reading it as well.

Thanks to our favorite Twitter tool, Buffer, we can even view analytics of all of our Tweets, and from that we’ve found our top 60 posts from the past few months.

All of these have been retweeted and clicked many times – with the most popular post garnering more than 1000 clicks thanks to a couple of (well, 30+) great retweets. We’ve also added a summary of the most popular sites at the end of the post which anyone with an interest in usability and user experience should really keep an eye on.

These post are in no particular order, but all are worth a look. Without further ado:

60 Great posts on Usability and UX

  1. The $300 Million Button
  2. A personal favorite as it shows the value of user testing

  3. How To Quantify The User Experience
  4. An interesting post because it looks at something many people think of as unquantifiable

  5. Usability Testing: What You need to Know?
  6. A great discussion of the key information you need to know in order to run successful usability tests

  7. Why Users Fill Out Forms Faster with Top Aligned Labels
  8. A great look at logic of form field layouts
    Top aligned labels - UX Movement

  9. Why Your Form Buttons Should Never Say Submit
  10. An interesting discussion on button labels

  11. What is Usability?
  12. Want to learn about usability? You should start here

  13. Personas: Putting the Focus Back on the User
  14. For anyone interested in learning about personas and user centered design, this is a great post

  15. 10 Things to Know about Usability Problems
  16. Measuring Usability is on of my favorite sites, and this post is a great example of things to remember about usability issues

  17. Website Usability Test: Gizmodo.com
  18. Another usability case study giving you a great starting point of how to run your own website usability tests

  19. Do You Know the 5 Keys to Designing Friendly Websites?
  20. 5 handy tips for designing more user friendly websites

  21. Facebook Rolls Out Privacy-Centric Design Changes
  22. An in depth examination of privacy controls on Facebook – really interesting

  23. Why Users Click Right Call to Actions More Than Left Ones
  24. If you have a call to action you want to convert on, read this post

  25. Swiss Army Knives (and web design)
  26. The Contrast Blog is always very well done, and this post is no exception. It even motivated us to do our own blog post on choosing features for your site or service
    Swiss Army Knife - The Contrast Blog

  27. Why Do Chairs Have Four Legs? The Cornerstones of Usable Websites
  28. Hard to argue with a post title like this; nice, simple tips too

  29. Why Rounded Corners are Easier on the Eyes
  30. This answers once and for all the debate about rounded corners… Right?

  31. Hotel Booking, from Start to Finish
  32. A well done examination of the entire hotel booking process

  33. Website Usability Testing: What To Test
  34. For all those wanting to know what to test on their sites or services, this post is the place to start

  35. Online banking – do we want safety over convenience?
  36. The (information) age old question – convenience vs security

  37. Wireframes are dead, long live rapid prototyping
  38. Not a rapid prototyping fan yet? Maybe this post will convince you

  39. 7 Steps to Avoiding User Adoption Problems with Site Redesigns
  40. Something a lot of sites could learn from – how to make your users not hate your redesigns

  41. Website Usability Test case study: TED.com
  42. A neat case study on usability testing looking at the TED.com site
    TED website usability review

  43. Nobody reads your dialog boxes
  44. Apparently no one likes to read on the internet – learn more about it

  45. SEO and User Experience Work Together
  46. A good way to sell people on the benefits of a good user experience – improved SEO

  47. 7 Tips for a More Engaging Website
  48. Helpful tips on how to improve engagement on your website

  49. How Users Read on the Web – Hint: They don’t
  50. Jakob Nielsen on how users read on the internet; evidently not very much

  51. Some UX Lessons I’ve Learned From Offline Experiences
  52. I really like this post; lessons we can apply online from offline experiences

  53. 4 forgotten principles of usability testing
  54. Handy tips you should bear in mind whenever you are running usability tests

  55. Creating a Usable Contact Form
  56. Want your users to contact you? Make a contact form they can use

  57. Usability versus composability
  58. User friendly vs programmer friendly software

  59. Bing vs Google: A Usability Face-Off
  60. A neat look at Google vs Bing in terms of usability. The verdict? Closer than you might think
    Bing vs Google website usability test

  61. Only five users?
  62. Looking back at the idea of 5 users for usability testing, and the law of diminishing returns (which is different with online/remote testing tools)

  63. Things Web Designers Do That People Love
  64. Want to make people love you? Here are some simple tips

  65. 8 Ways your Landing Page Design is Sabotaging your Click-Thru Rate
  66. Unbounce are landing page experts, and this is a great look at improving landing pages

  67. Another 10 UX mistakes to avoid
  68. 10 common UX mistakes you need to watch out for

  69. An interesting look at UX design
  70. A brief insight to the dark side of UX design – who knew?

  71. Why Users Fill Out Forms Faster with Unified Text Fields
  72. How unified text fields make for a better user experience

  73. Five Low-Hanging UX Tips
  74. 5 simple UX tips anyone can work on

  75. A CRAP way to improve usability
  76. Great examples and explanation of the principles of CRAP

  77. 10 Absentee UX Features on Top e-Commerce Sites
  78. Must read post for anyone involved with e-commerce

  79. The Newspaper User Experience
  80. I really like this post on the design of News sites on the internet, and makes you reconsider why things are the way they are
    The Newspaper UX

  81. A Few Notes from Usability Testing: Video Tutorials Get Watched, Text Gets Skipped
  82. We’ve already learnt that people don’t read, but apparently people do watch videos

  83. Web Accessibility, Usability and SEO
  84. How improving your website’s accessibility can also help with SEO – interesting post

  85. Designing Web Application Interfaces from a User Experience Standpoint
  86. Great post with well illustrated examples on improving user experience on the web

  87. (More) Useful Web Usability Testing Tools
  88. A huge roundup of super-useful usability testing tools

  89. Why the password “this is fun” is 10 times more secure than “J4fS!2″
  90. I love this – complexity and security are not equal

  91. 10 Usability Nightmares You Should Be Aware Of
  92. Learn from others mistakes so you don’t make them yourself

  93. 12 Website Usability Testing Myths
  94. 12 common myths about website usability testing, and why they are wrong

  95. Love the diagram – Have you tried talking to them?
  96. Great post on the UX designer as the man in the middle
    The UX designer as the man in the middle - The Contrast Blog

  97. 7 Usability Principles to Make Your Website More Engaging
  98. The original video on website engagement – check it out

  99. The Difference & Relationship Between Usability & User Experience
  100. Curious to know more about usability and UX? This post is a great start

  101. Form Design And The Fallacy Of The Required Field
  102. Required form fields and users – a look at the interaction

  103. Usability Testing: Usability testing is HOT
  104. Awesome post on why usability testing is so important, and so addictive

  105. A/B Testing and Preference Testing for Usability
  106. A useful comparison between different types of usability tests

  107. Useful Wireframing and Prototyping Tools – Roundup
  108. If you’ve ever done or been interested in wireframing and prototyping, you’ll probably want to check this list out

  109. iPad Usability Test: iReddit
  110. A great example of testing on the iPad, in this case looking at the iReddit app

  111. Why you shouldn’t make users register before checkout
  112. Yes, just yes

  113. If Architects Had To Work Like Web Designers
  114. Dear Mr. Architect: Please design and build me a house. I am not quite sure of what I need, so you should use your discretion. My house should have somewhere between two and forty-five bedrooms…

  115. 10 Great Reasons To Usability Test
  116. Need a reason to start usability testing? Here are 10 great ones
    Usability test so you don't fail - IntuitionHQ

  117. Do you make these 4 mistakes when carrying out a usability review?
  118. 4 common mistakes in usability reviews that you should watch out for

  119. 10 Mistakes in Icon Design
  120. A well illustrated post on icon design, and what makes them good or bad


Great sites on Usability and User Experience

From that giant collection of resources, we’ve crunched the numbers and found which sites were the most popular with our readers over the past few months. This is how those numbers broke down for the top sites:

The IntuitionHQ Blog – 9 posts. Unsurprisingly perhaps, as we often share our own links, and we also write a lot about Usability and User Experience, the IntuitionHQ Blog (RSS Feed) was the most featured site in our links. You can follow us on Twitter @IntuitionHQ

UXMovement – 5 posts. UXMovement consistently has a range of great posts which are short and to the point with really useful information. Follow them on Twitter @UXMovement

UXBooth – 4 posts. UXBooth is an old favorite of ours (and in fact, I’ve written a couple of posts there) with fantastic posts on a regular basis. Follow them on Twitter @UXBooth

Userfocus – 3 posts. Userfocus is another consistent resource for all things usability, and a knack for writing great posts. Follow them on Twitter @UserFocus

Hongkiat – 3 posts. Hongkiat features a whole range of different posts, including regular posts on usability and related tools. Follow them on Twitter @Hongkiat

The Contrast Blog – 2 posts. The Contrast Blog is a personal favorite of mine; it’s well designed and well written, and although not as prolific posters as some of the sites featured here, the posts are always worth a read. Follow @Contrast on Twitter for more.

UXfortheMasses – 2 posts. Like the Contrast blog, not super frequent posters, but always high quality, and a great reshare value. Check them out on Twitter @NeilTurnerUX

Some further recommendations

There are a whole range of other sites with frequent great posts on Usability and UX that are also worth a look, but that we haven’t tweeted as much over the past few months. We highly recommend you check out the following:

We hope you liked that roundup

Hopefully that is enough good resources to keep you going for some time. If you have other sites you’d like to see us Tweeting in the future, or other great links that we should see, please let us know in the comments below.

If you’ve got some value from this post, we’d love you to leave a comment, share this post using the buttons below, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or our RSS feed.

Thanks very much for dropping by, and thanks to everyone who puts all of these great sites together and writes so many fantastic, fascinating posts. Cheers.

Looking to do some quick, easy usability testing? Why not check out IntuitionHQ? You can get started in no time, and collect thousands of results.

Want to test on mobile devices? We’ve also got a Usability Testing iPad app, and work on all mobile browsers.

Learn more and sign up at IntuitionHQ.com

 

Feature Bloat and Usability

Posted by Jacob Creech on September 5th, 2011

This week I came across a really interesting blog post on the Contrast Blog talking about Swiss Army Knives in web design. That is to say, sites trying to pack 101 different features in to one site or app.

We’ve recently been in the market for a new CRM option (still taking suggestions on that front if you’ve got one), and can safely say that a great many CRM services suffer from this issue. Many of these services have clearly gone well past that stage of core development and are now adding a range of ‘nice to have’ (often not really necessary) features.

On the flipside, many of the services we’ve been looking at haven’t met would we’d consider the core functionality of a CRM service, i.e. keeping track of and facilitating customer relationships.

What features should you add?

What makes the people the build these tools add the things that aren’t of much value before the things that are? What method should people use for prioritization?

They’ve got a great chart on the Contrast blog which is definitely worth checking out – I’ve done a quick sketch below:

Choosing features

Choosing features

The idea is that the features on the top right – the features all of the people use all of the time are the most important features to have – which makes perfect sense, but people often don’t seem to follow this logic. The further you move in either direction (either less of the people, or less of the time), the less important the feature is and the less you should consider adding it.

The same problem exists in web design; I’ve lost track of all the sites that think they should include a million and one different navigation items, a million and one different social sharing buttons, or a million and one of anything else.

Do we need this many options?

Do you need this many options?

How do we decide what features to add?

Looking at our own example, with IntuitionHQ every feature or change that we consider, we try and see where it would fit in that chart – will the features be useful for everyone? Will they add value to the service for our users?

We are always looking for seamless features that improve the user experience without actually taking much thought or effort from the user. We want features that are useful, magical and delightful.

What that means is that we may not have all the features of our competitors, but what we do, we do well. This follows on nicely from the Scrum development principles that we adhere to at IntuitionHQ – it’s better to have 80% of the features 100% complete, than 100% of the features 80% complete. It’s better to have a product that does what it does extremely well, than a product that does a whole range of things to mediocre standard.

So, what next?

If you haven’t yet, go and check out the post on the Contrast blog. We’d your experience on choosing features for your products or services. What do you focus on? Any features you think we should be working on? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

Looking for more interesting links about design and usability? Be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed, follow us on Twitter @IntuitionHQ, or like us on Facebook to keep up with the latest news.

Thanks for dropping by.

Tags:
Posted in: Articles, Links, Usability
 

7 Tips for a More Engaging Website

Posted by Jacob Creech on August 5th, 2011

 
There is a lot of psychology in making a great website, and not many web designers or developers with a huge amount of knowledge about psychology. Luckily there a number of experts in the field that are happy to disseminate their knowledge to help the rest of us better understand our users.

One of these experts is Dr. Susan Weinschenk from Human Factors International who recently put together a great video on Persuasion, Emotion and Trust in User Experience, and 7 Tips for a More Engaging Website. It’s well worth a watch – here’s the video:

Did you catch all that? Quite a lot of useful information there, so we’ve written a bit of a summary for you below, along with some of our own real life examples:

How to make a More Engaging Website

1) If people have too many choices they won’t choose at all

This stands to reason; if you have too many choices, it makes it incredibly difficult to make up your mind which one is best for you, and with so many different options you may feel like you are giving something up by using one instead of another. With so many options the choice isn’t clear.

I’ve recently been suffering from this issue myself – I’ve been looking for a new camera bag, but looking on a site like Amazon or eBay presents thousands of different choices.

Camera Bags on Amazon

270,000+ choices. Yay!

I suppose is one of their strong points, but the results could certainly be better curated – to give you less options with the requirements you are looking for – for example that fits a camera body and two lenses – so the decision isn’t so overwhelming. I’ve actually been putting off my purchase for weeks now because I just can’t make up my mind.

Contrast this with Apple who has a small product line which makes your purchase decision much easier. Want a 15″ laptop? 2 choices. Want a 17″ laptop? One choice. Some people may see this as a weak point, but the truth is when making your decision the choice is very clear and you are far more likely to make a decision.

2) People need Social Validation

Sheep - Social Validation

Social Validation. Photo by Joost IJmuiden

When people are uncertain they’ll look to others to decide what to do. I’m sure you’ve all had this experience before, and I see examples almost every day – especially when people aren’t sure what to do, where to line up, who to ask or other similar situations.

The same is true in the online world; people are always looking to see what others have to say about a site, service or product. If you can provide some sort of social validation around your site, then you will build trust and give people some social validation. All this leads to higher conversions, and a better experience for you and your users.

3) Scarcity makes people want to buy

Scarcity

There are lots of different deal websites that use this concept. We have a very popular one here in New Zealand called Grabaseat the features daily flight and accommodation deals from all around the country.

The idea is (and apparently it’s been proven by psychologists) that when there is less of something available it seems to be more valuable. If you run a special for one day only, or have only a limited amount of something available people will feel more inclined to buy.

Of course, depending on the goals of your site you could do this in other ways as well. I’ve seen many webinars limiting the amount of ‘seats’ available to drive up demand, email newsletters available for one day only and lots of other ways to create scarcity. See what works for you.

4) Use food, sex or danger to attract peoples’ interest

Interested?

Interested? Photo by VeganFest

This one is obviously pretty dependent on your audience, but the idea is that using these kind of images can draw people to your site and (temporarily at least) capture your attention.

One online marketing campaign that did very well using these principles was Old Spice. Their series of videos captured a huge audience – and along with the way they made the campaign interactive, it was a huge boon for the brand.

5) Use the power of faces

The power of faces

The power of faces. Photo by tommerton2010.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, humans tend to react to human faces. By having faces on your site, people tend to spend more time looking at and understanding your site, and apparently the faces in particular.

I find this point quite interesting, especially when they say you should get ‘the faces’ to look directly at the camera. In this post over at Usable World they talk about the results of their eye tracking experiments that showed users look where the faces are looking – so I thought that getting the faces to look at your calls to action would be a great idea.

Either way you might find using faces on your site will create more engagement.

6) People process information better as stories

People process information better as stories

People process information better as stories. Photo by 50 Watts

They kind of gloss over this in the video, but I think it’s a very interesting point. I know when I’m reading blog posts the ones that pull me in are the ones that have a good, personal hook, that tell a story.

Of course, applying that to your website could be pretty difficult, but telling even a little about the story of your site could be a good start.

7) Build commitment over time

Commitment

Commitment

As they say in the video, you can start with a small amount of commitment with your users (like asking them to subscribe to your RSS feed, Twitter feed or Facebook page) and build from there.

By taking your time and not rushing people they will slowly but surely feel more loyalty to your site, service or product.

I’m sure you all have your own experiences of a whole range of services building up a loyal following in this way. It’s tried and tested, and a great way to build more engagement.

Conclusion

Hopefully this have given you some good ideas on how to make your own site or service more engaging.

Obviously some of these points would be harder to implement on some sites than others, but there is sure to be a point or two that will work for you.

If you’ve got your own tips for how to make a more engaging site, we’d love to hear them as well. What has your experience taught you? Do you have any good examples of sites that are doing a great job at engagement?

While you’re here, we’d also be much obliged if you did subscribe to our RSS feed, and if you enjoyed the post, we’d love it if you Tweeted it as well (see what we did there?).

Thanks very much for dropping by!

 

12 Website Usability Testing Myths

Posted by Jacob Creech on July 12th, 2011

 
The internet is a wonderful, magical place that is filled with more amazing content than you could shake a stick at; it has an almost unimaginable wealth of resources on a huge array of different topics, and more or less anything you can think of exists on the internet.

The problem though, is not that there is too much content, nor that there are too many sites, it’s just that the vast majority of sites and services suffer from a number of different usability issues that make using them anything from difficult and frustrating to downright unpleasant to use. I’m sure you can think of a number of sites off the top of your head that fit into these categories.

Unfortunately there are a number of different myths floating about saying that improving usability takes too long, costs too much or doesn’t really do anything useful to these sites and services. As someone who works on a website usability testing tool I hear these myths far too often, and I’d like to dispell them permanently.

Read on to see 12 Website Usability Testing Myths, and why they are wrong:

12 Website Usability Testing Myths


Usability testing is pointless because we won’t make changes anyway

Change ahead

I’ve heard this very depressing argument a number of times, and while I understand that you may not have all the development resource at your disposal to implement required changes, you might still find some things that don’t require much time or effort to change, and that could make a substantial difference to your site and user experience.

I’ve encountered people who initially thought that the business wouldn’t see the value of making changes, but upon being presented with testing results saw how a few relatively inexpensive and relatively fast changes could make a big difference to their bottom line. It’s pretty hard to argue when you have results in front of you showing exactly what is wrong.

Even if there is no chance that you can make changes in the near future, at least you have some idea of what is going wrong, and if you ever do get that development resource, you can implement the required changes.

It will just get overruled through ‘design by committee’

Design by committee

This is a myth I’m very happy to dispel. If design by committee is a designers worst nightmare, then usability testing is the solution to it. If you have been told to put this button there and that button here, and you can present results showing why one location is clearly better than another then it’s very difficult for anyone to argue with those results.

If people start suggesting changing you text to comic sans, and using sky blue text on an azure background, then you can provide testing results showing just how laughable this idea is. Of course, the ideas may not seem so ridiculous, but you get the idea.

Present testing results that showcase a few different options, and it’s very difficult to disagree with the one that works best.

It takes too long

A long way to go

This is a very frequent excuse; many people are under the impression that running a usability test requires weeks of time, and a number of dedicated staff members in order to get any results whatsoever.

The truth is that with modern website usability testing tools that you can create and share a test in just a few minutes.

For example, when creating a test with IntuitionHQ, you simply upload some screenshots or designs, write the questions, and you are good to go. Share you test via email, Facebook, Twitter or any other medium you see fit and you get great results in no time. If you can write an email, you can create a usability test. Simple, and very quick.

It costs too much

Usability Testing can be low cost

Many people are under the mistaken impression that running usability testing costs thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. The truth is with remote testing tools you can run tests for a pittance.

Tests with IntuitionHQ cost just $9, and include unlimited questions and respondents. There are other tools out there that enable you to capture feedback in different ways and don’t cost much more.

Whatever your budget, there is a tool to suit it.

It’s impossible to convince management to run tests

Convince management to usability test

We were recently working with a local government agency who were very interested in testing, but couldn’t see how they could sell management on the concept. We showed them how cheaply, quickly and easily they could set up a test, and just by testing with internal staff they got over 200 respondents on their test.

Not only were management blown away with the results they received, but by involving staff in the process the enthusiasm levels went through the roof.

If management can see the value that some simple testing can provide, they will be very quick to get on board. Management love metrics; show them some testing metrics, and they will love it.

My site is perfect, there is no need to test

How to build a perfect website

I’ve yet to see a site that couldn’t do with a little tweak here or there, but even if you think your site is perfect, wouldn’t you rather have the evidence to back that up?

Also, as I’ve already mentioned, people change, trends change. Your site may be perfect now, but I can guarantee it won’t remain perfect for long; look at sites made even a few years ago, and I’m sure you will understand what I mean.

The point here is even if it’s perfect now, it may not always be. With a little testing you’ll catch any problems as and when the crop up.

It’s impossible to show the value of testing

Show the value of Usability Testing

Over on UIE.com they have a remarkable story about a $300 million button. The long and short of it was that by forcing users to do something they weren’t interested in, that company was costing itself $300 million. Obviously $300 million is more than most sites can hope to gain but the point is, every little improvement can help.

How can you know what changes you should make and what things will add value for you company? Usability testing. We’ve done some interesting example website usability tests of Gizmodo, TED and the iReddit iPad app and found some very interesting results. Check out our analysis of the Godaddy User Experience for a fantastic example.

Our testing showed some simple changes that each site or app could make that would dramatically improve user experience – a different navigation label, moving around some key social media icons or following design conventions can all make a big difference to your site and your users. In todays competitive environment you simply can’t afford to miss out on these improvements.

Users don’t care about usability

Involve your users

We’ve run tests on a number of different sites, and every time we get feedback from users saying how great it is that that site cares about usability, that they care about their users, and they want to get users involved in developing the site.

It helps users feel involved in the future direction of the site, and builds up passion and community around a site. The more users are involved, the more committed they will feel to your site.

If users feel you are responding to their needs they will keep on coming back, they will recommend you to their friends, and they will be a great advocate for you. In a day when the switching cost of changing from one site to another is so low, building this passion and commitment is what helps you stand out from your competition.

You need an Human Computer Interaction degree to understand usability

HCI Degree

Again, looking at our website usability testing examples you can get an idea of how simple setting up usability tests can be. Think of some important points you would like you users to accomplish on your site, take some screenshots and get ready to go.

When looking at your results, you get a very quick idea of what is going right and wrong. If it takes users 20 or 30 seconds to find your RSS feed subscription button, you know you have a problem. If only 50% of users can find your signup page, you’ve got a problem.

None of this is rocket science, and if you ever do get stuck or have a question, we’d be more than happy to help point you in the right direction. The truth is though, it’s really not (or at least, doesn’t have to be) that hard.

Designers already know what they are doing, they don’t need to run usability tests

Different users and different personas

While I completely agree that there are a number of fantastic designers out there, even the best designer in the world can’t be expected to understand the needs of an entire user base without a little feedback.

Usability testing gives them that feedback, and helps them understand how their users think and what sort of things their users are looking for. If you think Apple released the iPod or iPhone without any kind of testing, then you really need to think again. To make a great site, service or product, you need that feedback.

Remote testing tools enable you get that feedback quickly, easily and effortlessly, and as designers, we can tell you this is something designers understand and appreciate.

I’ve already tested my site in the past, there is no need to test again

Try try try again

Congratulations; you have taken your first step in the right direction, but this logic is the same as saying something like ‘MC Hammer was the height of fashion in the 80′s, therefore my parachute pants are still in fashion’.

The truth is your audience changes, trends and fashion change, even design conventions change. Testing you site on a regular basis ensures that you are always improving your user experience, that you are keeping up with design conventions, and that users will continue to use your site, and come back in increasing numbers.

Steve Krug advocates testing once a month to ensure you are up to date and know and understand how your users are interacting with your site or service.

Testing on a regular basis means there won’t be any nasty surprises further down the track; it’s easy to make a few small changes on a regular basis, than massive changes a little less frequently. Sensible, isn’t it?

It’s too difficult to get started

Getting started with usability testing

While it used to be true that usability testing required a lot of time and effort – recruiting participants, getting them along to usability testing labs, hiring expensive equipment and so on, times have certainly changed.

I’ve set up tests on IntuitionHQ in five minutes flat, and received hundreds of responses in just one or two hours time. All you need to do is write a few questions, upload a few screenshots, and you are really good to to. Send your test to your site stakeholders, put it on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ and watch the results roll in. It really is that simple.


Where to next?

If your interested in taking your next steps in usability, we’ve got a few posts you might like to check out:

There are also a whole bunch of great sites out there for learning more about usability and user experience that anyone interested in the topic should check out:

If you’ve got any website usability testing myths you’ve heard before, any questions about usability testing, or anything else we can help you with, please let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear your experiences.

Thanks for dropping by!

Don’t forget to sign up for an IntuitionHQ account while you’re here. Signing up is free, and publishing your tests only costs $9.

You can also subscribe to our RSS feed and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with the latest news in the world of website usability.

 

Mobile Usability Test: iReddit

Posted by Jacob Creech on July 8th, 2011

 
Reddit is one of the most popular, successful social news sites online. It’s full of interesting stories from every topic under the sun, and can be pretty much anything you want it to be. It’s a great site to waste a lot of time on, and there are always plenty of interesting stories (as well as pictures and memes) to find.

Like most popular sites and services (and us), they also have their own iOS app, iReddit, for browsing stories, pictures and other valuable content while you are on the go, or just browsing from the comfort of your iDevice.

Continuing on from our recent website usability reviews of Gizmodo and TED, this time around we are going to be testing iReddit.

Read on to see how we formulate our test questions, what our iPad usability testing looks like, and our final thoughts on the iReddit app.

The iReddit App

 
As with the Reddit website, you can’t accuse this app of being over-designed. When you open the app, you see a list of popular sub-reddits (categories within the site), that is customised from your account details supposing you’ve logged into the app.

Reddit Mobile App - iReddit

Reddit Mobile App - iReddit

One of the most common types of content on the Reddit site are images, and these also integrate nicely into the app for viewing, voting and so on.

You can also view your comments and replies, look through all the sub-reddits on the site, and most everything else that you are likely to do from your mobile device.

Based on this information, and an idea of what some of the most common tasks people are likely to perform with the app are, lets go ahead and formulate our questions.

The Questions

 
Where would you go to enter your login details?
I suspect most users who download this app would already be Reddit users, and hence entering their login details and getting access to the sub-reddits they follow most is probably the first thing they’d do upon entering the app

Where would you go to view the Reddit front page?
The front page has the largest amount of traffic, and for many users this page is the first stop to see the latest and greatest posts on the Reddit site.

How would you view your comments and comments others have responded to?
Commenting is very popular on Reddit, and some posts can have thousands of comments on them. Therefore, on would imagine commenting is an important function of the app as well.

How would you view the sub-reddit, ‘Design’?
The Design sub-reddit is one of my personal favorites. In this case however, we are just testing how easy it is for users to find different areas of interest on the site.

How would you view the most recently submitted posts?
Finding new posts on the site is pretty key, because otherwise new content would never make it to the front page.

How would you cast an upvote for this post?
Voting is what gets good stories to the top. Upvotes and downvotes are what sort out the good content and the bad. A core part of the site, and a core part of the app as well.

How would you view comments on this post?
As I stated earlier, viewing and commenting on posts is one of the many reasons people frequent the site. This is testing how easy it is for them to view comments on a particular post.

How would you share this post?
As a social site, sharing is a big component of Reddit. If you find a great story (or more likely, a funny picture) you’d probably like to share it with your friends. Lets see if users can work out how.

The Testing Process

 

Loading up the Usability iPad app

Loading up the Usability iPad app

For this test, I took my iPad out with me to a friends party, and just asked everyone to pass it around as the evening progressed. I also asked people to write down if they were iOS users, Reddit users, or both. At the end of the night, 30 people had taken the test, 18 of whom were iOS users, 8 of whom were Reddit users, and 3 of whom were both iOS and Reddit users. All 3 had used the iReddit app before.

Usability testing on the iPad

Usability testing on the iPad

Bearing all that in mind, lets go on and look at the results. If you are interested, you can also take the test yourself – either on your iDevice or in your web browser.

The Results

 

Where would you enter your login details?

Where would you enter your login details

Where would you enter your login details?

For the first question there is a pretty great result; 97% of users found the right location with an average click time of just 5.71 seconds. For a simple interface like this, anything over 80% success rate, and an average click time of less than 10 seconds is very strong, so this is a great result.

Where would you go to view the Reddit front page?

Where would you go to view the Reddit front page?

Where would you go to view the Reddit front page?

An even stronger result than the first question. 100% success rate, and an average click time of 4.22 seconds. This could be influenced by the fact the question text is the same as the label, but it’s a good indication that users know where to go.

How would you view your comments and comments others have responded to?

How would you view your comments and comments others have responded to?

How would you view your comments and comments others have responded to?

A weaker results than the previous two questions. An average click time of 9.04 seconds and a success rate of 80%. They could improve the response time by reconsidering the label they use here – perhaps something like ‘Recent comments’ would work better. This would be a good question to run an A/B test on so they could try some different label variations to see what works best.

How would you view the sub-reddit, ‘Design’?

How would you view the sub-reddit, 'Design'?

How would you view the sub-reddit, 'Design'?

A fantastic result here; the users are obviously getting more familiar with this interface. An average click time of just 3.37 seconds, and a 100% success rate. Really a great result.

How would you view the most recently submitted posts?

How would you view the most recently submitted posts?

How would you view the most recently submitted posts

Yet another great result – an average click time of 3.66 seconds, and a 100% success rate. It just goes to show the simple UIs can be extremely effective.

How would you cast an upvote for this post?

How would you cast an upvote for this post?

How would you cast an upvote for this post?

4.39 seconds average response time, and a 97% (29/30) success rate. I’m not really sure what the other user was thinking here, possibly they were confused by what an upvote is, but clearly most users had a pretty good understanding. Still a great result.

How would you view comments on this post?

How would you view comments on this post?

How would you view comments on this post?

3.58 second average response and 100% success. Fantastic. Evidently this comment icon is pretty universally understood. Granted our test participants were pretty tech savvy, but this is a great response.

How would you share this post?

How would you share this post?

How would you share this post?

A small amount of confusion here with a couple of people clicking the Facebook share rather than the built in sharing solution. Still, with a success rate of 93% and an average response time of 3.48 seconds, this is a fantastic result.

Conclusion

 
As you can see from the results – which you can also view in their entirety – the iReddit app has done very well. Although some people complain about the simplicity of the user interface, the app is obviously very functional.

The only recommendation I would make for this app is reconsidering the labels they use for viewing comments; this was the only question that caused the users we tested any kind of problem. Obviously increased familiarity with the app would also help cut down the response time, but considering this is the only question that caused an issue, it would probably be worthwhile to improve the experience just that little bit more.

Overall they have obviously done a great job on keeping this app very usable, and for all those Reddit fans out there, and those that just enjoy finding interesting content (and who aren’t too easily offended) the app is a very worthwhile download.

Final Score: 9.5/10

The results of our testing were almost perfect, and aside from the commenting label question, we had an absolutely fantastic response time across all of our users. A very usable app.

What do you think of the iReddit app? Do you think it’s very usable? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. You can also run your own tests on IntuitionHQ.com or using our Usability iPad app and see how your results stack up.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts on what we should test in the future, and to keep up with all the latest usability news.

 

Satisfying The Cat and User Centered Design

Posted by Jacob Creech on June 28th, 2011

 
People often ask me how they can convince project managers, stakeholders and people who are otherwise invested in a project that spending time and money on usability and user centered design can add value to their projects. (Not that you have to spend much time or money with some of the tools that are out today)

Of course, it seems logical to me (and I imagine to most of you) that providing a better experience for your users will make them a lot happier, more likely to return and use your site or service, and much more likely to recommend your site or service to others. Makes sense, right?

The clients arguments against usable design

I often hear arguments saying that why should they pay for something that they don’t understand or can’t see the value of, although I think the value is pretty obvious. They want to see the value before it is delivered, and this can be pretty hard to quantify and convey – although in my experience showing case studies of previous work is a pretty good way to go, some people still struggle to grasp the concept.

Regardless of my beliefs of what’s obvious, we need to show these people that it’s worth investing in making a better user experience even if they can’t see how it can benefit them. Then I came across this video, and a fantastic new way to explain the value to clients. Check it out:

Satisfying The Cat:

There are a whole bunch of great quotes in this video, but this is the one that I think sums up the situation perfectly:

“…If the cat doesn’t eat the food, how long is the owner going to remain satisfied…”

Next time you have a client who is demanding X and Y from you, maybe you should send them this video, and see if they can see the as well as providing value to them, you really have to provide value (and a great experience) to their end users. Satisfy the cat, and you’ll have a very happy owner on your hands.

Final thoughts:

 
We find the simplest way to show our clients the value of user centered design is by getting them involved in our design and testing process using usability testing tools, and showing them the results of usability reviews we have run in the past.

Once they see how simple things can trip up users, and how much the could improve their return on investment by making a site, tool or app more user friendly, they start to understand the value that testing and a focus on user centered design can provide. It’s pretty hard to argue with solid metrics, and it helps to avoid design by committee as well.

Yahoo Email Test: How would you view your calendar?

Yahoo Test: View your calendar - This is not a good result; clicks everywhere and a long response time

A good example of poor usability; clicks everywhere and a long response time

How do you show your clients the value of usability and user centered design? Do you have problems showing them the value of satisfying the cat? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

We’d love to hear your tips and tricks for showing value to your clients and bringing them over to the light side. Together we can make the world a better place, one website at a time.

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