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Usability Interview: Jake Rocheleau

Posted by Jacob Creech on September 27th, 2011

Following on from our Interview with Jon Phillips of JonPhillips.ca, this time around we’ve got an interview with Jake Rocheleau.

Jake is a very prolific blogger (as a quick Google search will show), and his writing has been featured on a number of popular sites, including Speckyboy, WebDesignLedger, FreelanceSwitch and SixRevisions, along with many other great design blogs. If you’d like to hear more of his thoughts, I suggest you also check out his Twitter feed.

Please read on to see his answers, and to learn a little more about Usability in the design community:

An interview with Jake Rocheleau

User experience is truly the most important topic to consider because we build applications for the user. Without anybody to access the Internet our websites would empty scripts idling on a server somewhere. - Jake Rocheleau

Would you give us a brief introduction of yourself?

I’m a freelance writer and web developer out of eastern Massachusetts. I’m currently 20 years old, have been working in web design & development for about 5 years.

How did you get involved with usability/user experience/design?

I took my first class in basic HTML and web design at the age of 15. I quickly moved on to JavaScript/jQuery, CSS, and backend PHP/MySQL. This gave me the skills to build a couple web apps in my free time. This also introduced me to the world of freelancing where I began to work on a laundry list of UI design projects.

Why do you think usability and user experience are important?

User experience is truly the most important topic to consider because we build applications for the user. Without anybody to access the Internet our websites would empty scripts idling on a server somewhere. And it’s always simpler to make a good interface look pretty.

The study of building a productive user experience isn’t very tough, either. Most of the ideas are common sense processes. But it does take some practice to apply these into your own design work, for web or mobile or whatever.

Any words of wisdom to people learning about UX and usability?

Stay true to what you feel is right. You’ll always get scattered feedback from users, so take this with a grain of salt. Usability is always about the easiest and quickest route to completing a task. Keep this in mind when you design interfaces and you can’t go wrong!

Any favorite sites or resources you’d like to share?

Here are a few places I frequently visit:

What do you think?

How does this line up with your experience? Do you have any interesting insights to share? Who do you think we should interview in the future? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below, on Twitter @IntuitionHQ, or at Facebook.com/IntuitionHQ.

Thanks again to Jake for answering our questions, and don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed to follow the next in our series of interviews.

Next in our series we have an interview with Des Traynor of Intercom.io – a fantastic web app for managing relationships with people in web apps, Contrast.ie, where he blogs about a lot of things related to design and usability, and on Twitter @DesTraynor. He’s a very interesting fellow, and I suggest you have a look at those two sites – you’ll immediately see how much care they put in to developing a great user experience.

Thanks for dropping by.

 

Usability Interview: Jon Phillips of JonPhillips.ca

Posted by Jacob Creech on September 16th, 2011

One thing we firmly believe in here at IntuitionHQ is learning from experience. We always try to share our views on all things usability, but often there is a lot of value in hearing what others have to offer.

Following along with this idea, we’ve decided to put together a series of interviews with professionals in the usability and user experience design areas so we can all learn from their experiences.

Today we’re featuring the first of those interviews, with Jon Phillips – formerly of Spyre Studios, along with a range of other sites as he explains in the interview below – clearly a very busy man.

Jon is someone I have a lot of respect for, and who always creates, beautiful, usable designs, and writes well written, interesting content as well. You can see some examples of his work on Dribble to get an idea of what he does.

I think he has some very interesting insights into the worlds of design, usability and user experience, and so without further ado:

An interview with Jon Phillips

I think UX and usability are not optional. If you design for the web and have no idea what usability or user experience means, you need to start reading and learning—fast! - Jon Phillips

Would you give us a brief introduction of yourself?

Hi, I’m Jon Phillips, I’m from Montreal, Canada. I design websites, consult and work with companies and online publishers on content creation, website design, UX and usability. I also write a personal blog where I share my thoughts on design, UX, technology and sometimes photography.

I used to run FreelanceFolder, SpyreStudios, Design-Newz and more recently MediaLoot, which I co-founded and helped launch. I now focus mostly on freelance work as well as some other personal projects like CSSFTW and IconsFTW.

How did you get involved with usability/user experience/design?

As far back as I can remember I have always been interested in various creative outlets, from music to typography, design and writing. In fact I’ve been a guitarist for over 17 years now and I guess you could say that designing websites is, in some ways, an extension of this in terms of creativity.

Being in a band is also very similar to running a business, and solving problems is something you need to work on every single day to keep the ship afloat.

I started designing websites about 7 years ago for friends at first until I realized I could do this for a living and started learning more and increased my customer base as well as improved my skills (something you always need to keep on improving).

While I love designing and writing markup & CSS, what I enjoy most is solving problems and figuring out the hows and whys of how things work and how people interact with them. Finding a viable solution to a UX problem is what I enjoy most.

I think UX and usability are not optional. If you design for the web and have no idea what usability or user experience means, you need to start reading and learning—fast!

Why do you think usability and user experience are important?

I think that no matter what your job title is, whether you’re a designer, a developer or whatever else people call themselves these days (ninjas and rockstars?), usability and user experience go hand in hand with everything else you do. Similar to the ‘should web-designers know how to code’ debate that we seem to hear about all the time, I think all designers should have more than just a basic understanding of usability and UX in order to completely fulfill their role.

UX is related to pretty much everything we do. It is what defines a great website from a bad one, it’s what people perceive and feel and how they interact with your interface.

Designers and developers are not the only ones who need to understand what makes a great user experience. Artists, business owners, project managers and even musicians and movie producers, to a certain extent, need at least some basic understanding of usability and UX in order to satisfy the needs, feelings and goals of their clients, fans, shareholders, partners, etc

Any words of wisdom to people learning about UX and usability?

Always keep learning and improving your skills and understand what makes a great user experience (quick tip: don’t take anything for granted). Don’t forget that amazing Photoshop skills won’t help much when faced with a usability problem to solve.

Also, while there’s a ton of design blogs out there with some great tips and tricks about usability and UX, what you want in order to get a deeper understanding is not just tips and tricks, you’ll want to read articles, studies, personal experiences from people in the field, books and even go to conferences and seminars.

I personally really enjoy reading case studies from web-designers on how they solved certain problems—I prefer reading about the reasons behind a design decision rather than the technologies used to make it possible.

Favorite sites or resources you’d like to share.

After reading everything ever written by Jacob Nielsen, Steve Krug and Luke Wroblewski, there’s the obvious sources like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ where you can get a great deal of information about UX, usability and design—granted, not always the best advice, but they’re great tools for finding other resources.

I have some favorite online publications and blogs like UXBooth, UsabilityPost, UXMag, SmashingMagazine, DaringFireball and others which I visit almost everyday. Sure those sites aren’t always about usability and UX, but still they’re very good resources.


We want to thank Jon for his insights, and for being kind enough to share his experiences with the community. If you’d like to read more from him, you can find his blog at blog.jonphillips.ca or follow him on Twitter @JoPhillips.

What do you think?

How does this line up with your experience? What was your favorite part of this interview? Who do you think we should interview in the future? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below, on Twitter @IntuitionHQ, or at Facebook.com/IntuitionHQ.

Thanks again to Jon for answering our questions, and don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed to follow the next in our series of interviews. Coming up next? Blogger extraordinaire Jake Rocheleau – whose posts you can find on almost every design blog on the internet – be sure to check it out next week.

Thanks for dropping by!

 

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

 

Good news, everybody

Posted by Jacob Creech on August 23rd, 2011

As you all (hopefully) know, we’ve been working hard on making IntuitionHQ the best usability tool around, and we’re really happy with the progress we’re making.

It’s pretty amazing what you can accomplish as small company at the bottom of the world – we’ve had signups from companies and organisations all around the world, ranging from large universities, libraries and multinationals to freelancers and small businesses, and we are incredibly proud of how we have helped all of these people improve the usability of their sites and services.

We’ve written some very popular blog posts, both here on our own blog, and on a range of sites around the web.

We’ve been talked about by sites like Smashing Magazine, Web Designer Depot and UXBooth, and we are grateful to everyone who has helped us along the way.

There are times though when being far away from our largest market (the US) can make things a little difficult, and sometimes you just have to be where the action is. So you can imagine how our interest was piqued when we spotted a fantastic opportunity being offered by Rich Chetwynd and Nicole Fougere of Litmos.com called Booster Seat 2011.

As New Zealand business founders, Rich and Nicole appreciated the unique challenges that face businesses down under. After achieving great success with their own brainchild Litmos.com they wanted to give back to the New Zealand community in a really creative way – a NZ$10,000 prize to send two people from a New Zealand business to spend a month in San Francisco’s vibrant tech and start-up scene.

We duly submitted our entry, and yesterday we had a phone call from Rich to tell us the good news – out of almost 60 strong applications from a range of businesses around New Zealand, they decided that IntuitionHQ would be the lucky recipients of that fantastic prize.

Booster Seat 2011 Announcement

Booster Seat 2011 Announcement

Long story short, two of us here from IntuitionHQ are going to be heading to San Francisco for a month, and we are both incredibly excited about the opportunities that await us, and extraordinarily grateful for the generosity that Nicole, Rich and everyone else involved in the Booster Seat competition has shown. We are honored to have been chosen and are proud to be representing New Zealand small businesses, and showing what even small companies like ours can achieve with some determination and hard work.

We are planning to head over to San Francisco in early November, and we’d love to meet as many people as possible while we’re over there. If you’re going to be in the area, please leave a comment below, on our Facebook page or just send us a message on Twitter @IntuitionHQ.

We look forward to meeting lots of new people in San Francisco (and online too), and to a fantastic future for IntuitionHQ.

Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Rich and Nicole,

Jacob and the rest of the team at IntuitionHQ

 

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!

 

Usability iPad App – 5 Promo Codes to Giveaway

Posted by Jacob Creech on June 16th, 2011

 
To quote Professor Farnsworth: Good news, everybody!

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes here at IntuitionHQ, and one of the things we’ve been working on is an iPad app – which is now available in the app store for $2.99US ($4.19NZ). Needless to say, we are pretty excited.

Imagine taking your tests out on your iPad – to your clients, stakeholders, or even strangers in the street. It takes guerrilla usability testing to a whole new level. We’ve got a whole bunch of exciting features in store for future updates as well.

We’d like to tell you a little more about the app, and of course, give away some promo codes so you can try it out yourself. To be in to win all you need to do is leave a comment on this post, or retweet it for others to see. If you comment and retweet you double your chance of winning. Simple, huh?

Update: We’ve announced the winners of the five promo codes. Congratulations to those who won, and to those who didn’t check out our post for more chances to win.

Now, as for the app:

The Usability iPad App

Usability iPad app - Sign in

Usability iPad app: Sign in

The Usability iPad app works together with IntuitionHQ. You simply log in to your account, and all your published tests will be displayed. It works for A/B tests and preferences tests as well as single tests, and everything is seamless to the users.

Usability iPad app: Published Projects

Published Projects

Once your in your projects screen, you just tap on the project you’d like to test. The images are all cached on your device (they all download once you log in), and the testing process is lightening fast.

Usability iPad app: TED website test

Usability iPad app: TED website test

If you have longer screenshots, you can scroll around like you usually would – the app only records your ‘clicks’ when you tap on the screenshot.

Usability iPad app: TED website test

TED website test

You can test all sorts of things with the app – as well as your iPhone and iPad apps, you can easily test websites, ask questions and more. Our recent user experience and psychology of colour is a great example of this:

Usability iPad app: User Experience of Colour test

User Experience of Colour test

Usability iPad app: User Experience of Colour test

User Experience of Colour test

When one user finishes the test, you can either choose to go back to your projects, or to go on to your next participant. Simple.

Usability iPad app: Completed test

Completed test

Leave your comments and retweet to win

We’ve love you hear your feedback on the Usability iPad app. What would you use it for? How does it look to you? Any features you’d like us to add? Let us know below, and be in to win a promo code for the app. Good luck!

Happy testing all,

The team at IntuitionHQ.

Do you have a blog? Interested in writing a review of our Usability iPad app? Leave a comment below, send us a message on Twitter @IntuitionHQ or on Facebook.com/IntuitionHQ and you could be in for a free copy of the app.

 

What is usability?

Posted by Jacob Creech on May 31st, 2011

 
Every day we talk about website usability testing, what it can do for you, how it can smooth out the design process, and how usability is an ongoing trend that people need to learn to focus on.

All of that said though, every day I get people asking me ‘What is usability, and why should I care?‘. Today I’d like to talk about what usability is, and why it’s so important. I’d love to hear your views on it too, so please feel free to share your opinion in the comments below.

What is usability?

 
So, what is usability? There are a number of good definitions floating around, these are a couple of the ones that really hit the spot:

The state or condition of being usable; The degree to which an object, device, software application, etc. is easy to use with no specific training – Wiktionary

Usability refers to the ease with which a User Interface can be used by its intended audience to achieve defined goals. Usability incorporates many factors: design, functionality, structure, information architecture, and more – Sitepoint

Something easy to learn and easy to understand. Seems simple enough, right? But when you turn your mind to thinking of sites or products that truly meet this goal, how many can you think of? What examples come to mind?

My examples:

Mac OS X

Mac OS X

Mac OS X is well known because ‘it just works’. The simple tasks you would want to achieve are very simple to achieve. The important information is easy to find. Things that say they will work with OS X just work.

Especially if you live inside the Apple ecosystem, everything behaves in a simple and logical way. No blue screens of death, no clippy, no ugly pop up warning bubbles. It just works.


Retail Me Not - save money with coupon codes

Retail Me Not - coupon codes made easy

Retail Me Not is a great website to help you save money on the internet. If you often come to sites that ask if you have a coupon code, then this site will save you money. They have coupon codes for tons of different sites, and the site is designed to make the process of using the coupon codes as simple as possible.

When you find a code you want to use (with the simple, straight forward search function), just click on it and it will be copied to your clipboard. If it’s a referral link it will open up in your browser for you. You can see which codes are working at a glance, and share your own experience with the community. A great way to save money.


Kiwibank is a bit different from regular banking sites. The navigation structure is surprisingly clear and easy to use, and for what should be a content heavy site, none of the pages slap you in the face with too much content.

The important things are easy to find and easy to understand, and you are never more than a couple of layers from the content you are looking for.

They also developed their site without flash (which seems to appear awfully often on banking sites) so it’s extremely accessible as well.


Some more examples:

I’ve actually wrote a post last year over at 1stWebDesigner talking about 9 great examples of well designed, usable sites. Check out the list and see what you think.

Another great site that shows examples of UIs that have had a bit more thought than most is Little Big Details. They have a whole range of examples showing how little details make a big difference to the user experience. Well worth a look.

Why is usability so important?

  1. It gives users a better experience: The more your users enjoy your site, the more likely they are to return, the more likely they are to recommend it to others, and the better your site or product will do in the long run.
  2. It helps you stand out from the competition: Why did the iPod sell so well? It was simple, did what users needed it to do, and not a lot more. It was an extremely usable product in a market where people used to think cramming devices with a million and one different features that barely worked at all was the way to succeed.
  3. It’s what most people want: Well there are a few people who actually like things to be complex and customise things in a million different ways, the mass market wants things that are simple, straight forward and just work.
  4. It means people can spend more time doing, and less time learning: The more usable the interface, the more time people can spend enjoying themselves, making purchases, interacting with your site and achieving goals that are important to you.
  5. You spend less time, money and effort on support: If your site or product is simple and straightforward to use it will require far less support, saving you time, money and energy.

Of course, there is more to usability than this, but these are some really fundamental points about why usability is so important. Regardless of what industry you are in, regardless of the sites or products that you build, good usability will make a big difference.

Your turn

We want your opinion

We want your opinion

So, you’ve seen some examples of what usability is to me and why I think it’s important, and now I’d like to see what usability is to you.

What are your examples of great sites? What products come to mind for you? Or are there any sites or products you can think of that are fail on the usability front?

We’d love to do a usability review of some outstanding sites so people know what is working, and why it works so well, as well as sites that could use some improvement to improve their usability. Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

Interested in learning more about usability and user experience? Curious to see one of our upcoming usability reviews? Subscribe to our RSS feed, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up with all the latest news.

And don’t forget to share your comments on sites you love and hate in the comments below. Thanks for dropping by!

 

The Godaddy UX (Fail) – Results

Posted by Jacob Creech on March 1st, 2011

In my recent post on The Godaddy User Experience Fail I asked people to partake in a quick test to help gather a variety of views and interactions with the Godaddy site.

The results have started coming in, and it’s been quite interesting to see how people found the Godaddy experience. If you are interested you can take the test at http://video.intuitionhq.com/godaddy-ux, or just read on to see the results. It’s possibly not the most scientific test in the history of man, but you still get the idea that something isn’t quite right with the Godaddy UX.

Update: Hi to all the visitors from Godaddy – we’d love to hear your side of the story – and would respect your privacy if you wanted to post anonymously. Don’t be shy.

The results:

1) Where would you click to view your account?

Where would you click to view your account?

Where would you click to view your account?

Simple question to start with: Where would you click to view your account? As you can see in the results above 76% of people clicked the ‘My Account’ button and the remainder clicked the log in area – I’d say it was safe to say a 100% success rate; more or less what you’d expect for such a simple task. The average time for completion (top left of the results image) is a little long, but there is often such a delay with the first question of a test as people get accustomed to the interface.

2) Where would you click to view your expiring domains?

Where would you click to view your expiring domains?

Where would you click to view your expiring domains?

Another fairly straight forward question, but it’s always interesting to see the different ways people try and achieve the same goals. In this case clicking on ‘Domains’ won’t actually lead you to the page where you can renew your expiring domains but rather to a page where you can search for new domains and with a list of pricing for different domain names (so that’s where I could find that information). That means this page has an 80% success rate with an average click time of 11.26 seconds.

This means this page could probably do with some tweaking; if 20% of people are clicking in a different location to try and renew domains, Godaddy should perhaps incorporate the renew domain feature into the ‘Domains’ page. Supposing they have 1000 customers a day trying to renew domains, 20% (200) click the wrong location, and as a result say 25% (50) of those abandon their purchase (at roughly $10 a domain) that’s still $500 a day. Better than a kick in the knickers.

3) Based on the following information would you say you are:

Based on the following information would you say you are:

Based on the following information would you say you are:

Now, this seems like it would be very straight forward, but 20% say they are logged in, 56% say they aren’t and 24% aren’t sure. This is something that should be glaringly obvious and can lead to frustration for customers if it’s not as obvious as it should be. Definitely a fail on this front.

Even after having gone through the purchase process, I still couldn’t tell you if I was logged in or not – in fact it seems Godaddy has some sort of semi-logged in state which is really very confusing. Such basic functionality should really be fixed, and while immediate financial effects may not be obvious, I can imagine a number of users abandoning Godaddy after such frustrating experiences, and telling many others about their negative experiences.

4) Based on the following information, what currency would you think you are using?

Based on the following information, what currency would you think you are using?

Based on the following information, what currency would you think you are using?

OK, glad to see I’m not that only one who was a little confused by this. A full 20% either say they are using the wrong currency or aren’t sure what currency they are using. Why do they have the New Zealand flag there if they aren’t using New Zealand dollars? Yes, you can trace my IP address to New Zealand, congratulations, and yes, that is what my flag looks like, but why do you have it there?

Again, these are the little quirks that can slowly (or not so slowly) but surely cause a frustrating experience for users. Why not just make it obvious? I can cope with not having my flag there so long as the visual cues make sense.

5) How would you add this domain to your cart?

How would you add this domain to your cart?

How would you add this domain to your cart?

Interesting numbers here: 77% clicked in a location that would select the correct (or all) domain, which means 23% clicked somewhere else – and what’s more, there was an average click time of 22.72 seconds for this test – much too high, which means too much thinking. Clicking the continue button doesn’t actually add the domain to your cart, but it doesn’t actually tell you this until you are two steps further through the process. Can you feel the frustration brewing?

Adding a warning on this page that your domain hadn’t been added would be a very quick and simple fix to this problem, rather than letting users carrying on and trying to upsell them in the process.

6) Where would you click to toggle automatic renewal for this domain?

Where would you click to toggle automatic renewal for this domain?

Where would you click to toggle automatic renewal for this domain?

Kind of a trick question because it has a 100% failure rate – at least in my experience. Regardless of where I clicked and what I did, I couldn’t turn off auto-renew. I’m sure advertising at the superbowl is expensive, but I can’t image using tactics like this to keep customers will do good things for your business. I’d be very interested to hear if others had the same experience when renewing their domains with Godaddy.

7) Based on the following screenshot, would you say you are:

Based on the following screenshot, would you say you are:

Based on the following screenshot, would you say you are:

The same question as number 3 after having gone through the checkout process. 42% now believe they are logged in, 29% think they aren’t, and 25% don’t know. I can tell you which answer is right because I still don’t know. I did have to log in (again?) to actually access my domain management area, which would lead me to think I wasn’t logged in, but then again it knew one of my domains was expiring when I came to the site and let me pay for renewal so I’m really not sure. Does anyone have any insight into this? Very confusing in my opinion, and so the test results show.

8) Would you say the following page is easy to understand, a little confusing, or quite confusing?

Would you say the following page is easy to understand, a little confusing, or quite confusing?

Would you say the following page is easy to understand, a little confusing, or quite confusing?

A leading question maybe, but still, 84% of people say the page is either a little or quite confusing. Really Godaddy? Up your game! I imagine if they took 10% of their marketing budget and invested it in their site they could make some dramatic improvements. I’d like to think the trend is making content more understandable and accessible, designs cleaner and less cluttered, and generally towards providing an ever improving user experience. I’d say so far Godaddy is failing on all three fronts.

What does this mean?

Obviously it’s far too early for me to predict the demise of Godaddy, and so far they have such a huge slice of mindshare it’s hard to imagine someone overcoming them. But like all things web, it’s never too late for a strong, new challenger to come along, and it’s not too late for Godaddy to try and improve their game either.

Whichever side wins, there does need to be a focus on making as great a user experience as possible. As I’ve quoted before, “Build it and they will come; build it well and they will come back”. By developing the site to meet their target markets need, by making the experience an enjoyable one, by making a clear, understandable process and by constantly tweaking and improving their site, Godaddy could make a huge improvement to their service. Just a few quick usability tests (shameless plug) and they will have some ideas on how they should get started and what they could improve. Why not do the same for your site too?

What do you think of the Godaddy service? Do these test results help you? How could you improve your own site? Any questions or comments, be sure to let us know below.

If there are any other sites you’d like to see us test, leave a link in the comments and we’ll look at doing them next time round.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Happy testing everyone.

 

How to avoid creative block and other interesting tweets

Posted by Jacob Creech on February 21st, 2011

A whole range of interesting tweets in the twittersphere this week (hmm, doesn’t really sound like a word) ranging from how to avoid creative block, to time management for freelancers (and everyone else if they feel inclined) and everything in between. Read on for some interesting tips and tricks to make your design/development life a little bit easier.

How to get around a creative block: http://ow.ly/3YF92 #writing #web #webdesign #metalblock

A few quick tips for whenever you get stuck in a creative funk.

When & Where Are People Using Mobile Devices? http://ow.ly/3VDxF #mobile #UX

A neat dissection of mobile data from the always fascinating LukeW on how people use mobile compared to computers. Interesting to see the different behaviours.

Content Strategy and UX: A Modern Love Story http://bit.ly/huAXQN #UX #Usability #UCD via @ponscreative

A neat look at content strategy, and what it can do for you.

Providing great user experience with feedback on @37signals http://ow.ly/3WpZn #usability #UX #UCD #feedback

An insightful view from 37signals on how providing feedback can lead to a much better user experience.

9 Ways to Simplify ‘Sign In’ http://ow.ly/3X3Eh #usability #UX #UCD via @niallkennedy

9 simple tips on making life a little better for your users. Check it out.

Hear hear: Why you should fight Apple’s Subscription Extortion http://ow.ly/3YFyK #apple #ios #mobile

A well written piece from the perspective of a content producer on why Apples subscription system is going to kill good content (or promote html 5 web apps).

12 Useful Techniques For Good User Interface Design: http://ow.ly/3Wpxn #usability #UI #UX #Webdesign #UCD

An oldie but a goodie from Smashing Magazine with some useful tips on how to make a better interface. Worth a read.

How to Allocate Time Effectively if You are a Freelancer (and even if you’re not) http://ow.ly/3YFhU #time #procrastination #GTD

Probably should have started with this tweet – procrastinators have probably give up now. Still, some useful tips if you’ve made it this far.

Well, that’s all for this week. Be sure to let us know if you’ve got something interesting you’d like to share, and we’ll put it in next weeks list. Happy testing everyone.

 

The benefits of wireframing and other interesting tweets

Posted by Jacob Creech on February 4th, 2011

There have been a number of interesting discussions going on in our twitter feed (@intuitionHQ) this week. We’ve found a lot of interesting resources, and now we are happy to share them with you – there are post ranging from the benefits of wireframing to the ROI of user experience. Check them out below.:

war of the roses

The Benefits of Wireframing a Design http://ow.ly/3OuMC #wireframes #webdesign

Great post over at sixrevisions.com (where if you’ll remember my article “The Key to Successful Collaboration” was published last year) on wireframing, what it is, how it adds value for you and helps improve your design process. Well worth a look.

7 Business benefits of usability testing #UX #UCD http://fb.me/U97xSneM

Nice to see this kind of post – just the same kind of information that I’m always trying to get out there, and great arguments for anyone who is unsure if they should or shouldn’t be usability testing. The short answer: Do it.

Great reading: 9 Ways to Simplify ‘Sign-Up’ http://ow.ly/3OuyX #usability #UX #signup via @UXFeeds

Good reading for anyone who has a sign up form on their website. Follow these very simple tips and increase the experience of your users hugely. Probably get yourself a few more signups too. Win-win.  

Usability on Quora

How can I learn to be a good product designer? http://b.qr.ae/fpkxTW #ux #UCD #design

A range of interesting answers to this question on Quora, with people ranging from a Facebook designer to average Joe Blogs. All good stuff though.

Getting Real: Copywriting is Interface Design: http://ow.ly/3MTiH #usability #readability #UX #UCD

As always, a very interesting post from the folks at 37signals. Everyone should realise just how important copywriting is to a good interface, and this post will emphasize all those key points for you.

Via the (relatively recent) archive – Saving time with usability testing: http://ow.ly/3MSSo #usability #UX #webdesign

A recent post we wrote on saving time with usability testing (hence the title…). If you haven’t checked it out, give it a quick look. There is some useful advice in there.

Neat animation – The ROI of User Experience: http://ow.ly/3MSwb #Usability #design #UCD

And a neat video to finish off with. This post from HFI does help explain the value of a good user experience. Be sure to send it on to anyone you know who might doubt the value. And then get started with a quick test on IntuitionHQ.

That’s all for this week. Hopefully a few interesting resources there to keep you going. Feel free to leave your thoughts on this selection below and be sure to let us know if you have any other interesting resources or articles you’d like to add.

Happy testing everyone.