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Dear Diary: Using Diaries to Study User Experience

…t onto how the UX in each time span has formed. For example, findings from diary studies can reveal that it was the bad mood of the user or brand criticism heard on TV that impacted the user’s assessment of the interface. You may also discover that the game you are evaluating provides enjoyment only when the user interacts with close friends or family, even if the functionality supporting this was neglected by designers. Finally, you may notice th…

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Dear Diary: Getting the Most from Respondent Journals and Diaries

…ntial diaries help answer the question, ‘What is it like to…?” Ultimately, diary studies are powerful for clients because they tend to lead to previously undiscovered consumer needs, which then point to opportunities for clients to innovate (See Figure 2). Figure 2. Diaries lead to opportunities Which medium Is best? Believe it or not, paper can be a fabulous medium for the right type of diary study. Digital, of course, is rapidly expanding our ab…

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Little Red Sprite Learns Finance: An Exploration of Mobile Diary Studies Using Avatars and Chat Apps

…ed an existing chat app, WeChat, as a diary tool during a series of mobile diary studies that focused on understanding how Chinese consumers go about their banking and financial activities in China. Use of an avatar rather than conventional human facilitation allowed us to engage more authentically with consumers and gather richer insights. Finding the Right Tool If we disregard China as the context (think firewall, app usage restrictions, and lan…

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Conducting Field Studies with Older Adults Lessons for Recruiting and Testing Older Users

…ement in our studies very seriously. Only one of sixty participants in our diary studies dropped out-and she did so because she was hospitalized. Participants were also highly motivated to complete their diaries accurately. To help aid their memory, some carried note pads and recorded activities as they occurred so that they would not forget. We have conducted similar diary studies with younger participants and did not find nearly this level of co…

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Positioning Field Studies for Company and Customers

…during product design and development. It provides data that may be referred to throughout the product development cycle to make informed decisions and to understand the consequences to the end user when making trade-offs. Conclusion Field studies provide benefits to many groups—users, managers, sales, marketing, and support staff. By understanding and communicating these benefits, you can maximize your ability to undertake such studies and the e…

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Cultural Probes: Understanding Users in Context

…azines, voice recordings, and written notes. The technique is also called “diary study,” “media diary,” and “photo collage.” To create their diaries, users are given a “pack.” The contents depend upon the objectives of the data collection, the characteristics of the users, and the imagination of the designer, but common items are scrapbooks, pens, cameras, and diaries. Some of the more innovative and interesting items that have been used in packs…

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COMMUNICATION GAP: Designing an Interface for Chinese Migrant Workers

…nform user interface design have been researched widely, and the number of studies grows every year as China gains in importance to Western technology companies. These studies, such as the ones documented in Geert Hofstede’s book Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, are largely ethnographic, anthropological, or psychological. Less focus has been on user studies with interactive devices. The inaccessibility of the target users is most…

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Looking Closely at e-Learning: Vision Research Reveals Ways to Improve Children’s Experiences

…al aspects of children’s visual comfort and reading performance, including studies on the effects of font size and display quality, factoring in screen luminance and contrast. We also incorporated studies to determine whether frequency of breaks and reading posture interact with viewing distance and visual discomfort when e-reading on handheld devices. Our first studies, on children’s comfort and performance while reading using LCDs compared to re…

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Book Review: Of Testing and Techniques

…with an introduction describing what the authors mean by “online usability studies,” including a description of when such studies are appropriate, what one can expect to achieve, and the strengths and limitations. Remote studies are good for comparing designs, for collecting detailed and scalable usability metrics, and for exploring design issues in the users’ own environment, with all its attendant complexities. On the other hand, there are many…

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Mechanical Turk: Quickly Scale Research Without Breaking the Bank

…elped us screen large enough groups of participants for entire qualitative studies, and also enabled us to achieve statistical power when desired. Most of our early studies required tens or hundreds of participants to complete, yet we usually finished data collection in a day or two. Since our initial use, Mechanical Turk has continued to be a go-to platform when we need immediate results for research questions. Low cost Budget wasn’t one of our t…

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What Shall We Watch Tonight? Using Mobile Devices to Plan TV Viewing

…o a different platform, such as a PDA or mobile phone. Television Planning Diary Study We asked eight people in the United Kingdom, between ages 18-35, to keep a week-long diary of their TV planning activities. We asked them to note the resources they used, when they were used, and for what purposes. We then used these entries as a basis for a mid-study phone interview and an end-of-study face-to-face discussion. Figure 2. Example of a diary entry…

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Automated Usability Testing: A Case Study

…you normally can’t detect in moderated tests. Unmoderated remote usability studies are especially good at enabling comparisons between alternative designs. We’ve performed these studies where we simultaneously compared up to ten different designs. In just a few days we were able to test these designs with a large number of users and quickly identify the most promising designs. Unmoderated remote usability studies aren’t always appropriate and some…

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User Research for Non-Researchers: How to Get User Feedback Without a Dedicated Researcher

…on-one interviews (often called in-depth interviews or IDIs) and usability studies because they are the most foundational types of studies that a novice should be able to learn quickly and conduct independently with little guidance from the research team. There are, however, a number of situations when you should bring in help from experts (see Figure 1), including when you know you need any method other than an interview or a usability study. In…

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Designing Credible Studies: A Research Framework

…ne that maps to a larger story arc of research’s power potential. Research studies that cover more than one quadrant of questions are done so with intent and by design. The scope of the project and its outputs are clearly defined. Hidden agendas are exposed by copious documentation of all questions; interpretations and misalignments cease to exist in someone’s head because they must be written down. Decisions are public and everyone has to align o…

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Redesigning Centrelink Forms: A Case Study of Government Forms

…Tyler from Robert Barnett and Associates reported on a series of usability studies on forms produced by different government departments for aged people. The studies showed that many of the lessons learned from research with younger people didn’t apply. For example, simple form-filling processes such as sequential reading of questions, were replaced by random scanning of pages, and answer examples were often misinterpreted as being the only possib…

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Collaborating Across Cultures: Designing UX Studies for Japan

…r people live, how they communicate, and what’s important to them. For our studies and designs to be truly user-centric, they need to be fully localized to the markets in which we test. At Mitsue-links, we often get international clients (usually UX professionals from agencies or large companies) who are looking to collaborate with us for local UX research. Occasionally, however, clients have created the study beforehand and ask us to perform a tr…

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Ethnographic Research: Business Value

…al approach to making sense of the data gathered in close, immersive field studies. The many cultural insights gained from ethnographic studies in specific ecosystems are not obtainable through straightforward market research-style questioning. The ultimate value of ecosystem research for business and design lies in reading the ecosystem as a symbolic, conceptual universe, as well as a space of practical human interactions. Our needs and aspiratio…

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UX Increases Revenue: Two Case Studies

…r differences in the bottom line before and after a redesign. The two case studies presented in this article share such a methodology. La Quinta Situation Overview La Quinta is a limited service hotel chain which had over 370 properties in thirty-three American states at the time of the project. The process of online bookings (at www.LQ.com) became increasingly important to La Quinta as the Internet grew, and website managers realized that custome…

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More than Just Eye Candy: Top Ten Misconceptions about Eye Tracking

…on. MISCONCEPTION #6 There is a magic sample size for all eye tracking UX studies. We often hear claims that you need thirty participants to conduct an eye tracking study. However, this is an oversimplification. There is no one sample size appropriate for all eye tracking studies. As in any other type of study, the sample size depends on multiple factors including research objectives and study design. Before the sample size can be decided, the re…

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The Truth is Out There: Using Mobile Technology for Experience Sampling

…ticipants at different times and prompts them to provide information via a diary at that very moment. These data, while time-consuming to extract and analyze, provide deep insight into user activity, motiva­tion, and other cognitive and social dimensions. They can identify patterns of use, context that drives usage, and motivators. Leveraging Advances in Mobile Technology We need to be able to capture experiences in the places and at the times the…

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Getting Your Money Back: The ROI of remote unmoderated user research

…ompare to the competition? What strategies will help us win? INTERNATIONAL STUDIES -How are we performing in key markets internationally? NAVIGATION AND ARCHITECTURE-How well does my site enable key task accomplishment? OPEN WEB RESEARCH-How do users find our site? How can we use the web to develop awareness and preferences? CARD SORTING STUDIES -What are users’ expectations of the information archi tecture? What category names should be used for…

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Older Users Online: WAI Guidelines Address the Web Experiences of Older Users

…oad recommendations for making websites more accommodating for older users Studies focused on the impact on web use of particular limitations experienced by older users Studies looking at specific design aspects of websites, or specific types of sites and the general impact on older users After reviewing this wide range of literature that considered age-related functional impairments and issues facing older web users, we are able to make some gene…

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What’s So Hard About Enterprise UX?: ERP Software Revisited

…in the right direction, vendors have started focusing more on ethnographic studies of enterprises that specifically focus on workgroup and enterprise level factors in addition to end-users. Studies of this type take time and planning, but they provide valuable data for designing ERP systems. Even more important than any particular design improvements identified in these studies is the shared context they help develop among stakeholders. Progress i…

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Engaging Teams with Rich Reporting: Recipe for a Research Findings Expo

…the profile and impact of UX research, and increasing acceptance for field studies. Reflecting on this effort, expo attendees still utilize findings and recommendations from this study, even a year after it was conducted, and our team members ask for more studies with similar deliverables. Figure 4. Expo attendees discuss incident entries. Lessons Learned The expo helped us to better appreciate the power of face-to-face interaction with our stakeh…

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Measuring Emotions: Self Report as an Alternative to Biometrics

…ord their responses independently, allowing the moderator to collect emotion data without group influence. Out-of-box studies. Capture how emotions change during initial interactions with a product. Diary and longitudinal studies. Have participants record their emotions over a longer period of time in order to paint a compelling picture of the entire emotional journey….

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Total Recall: The Consequence of Ignoring Medical Device Usability

…haracteristics of the use environments that must be simulated in usability studies. Evaluate a detailed list of tasks to determine which tasks are the most risky. Then, design the device to reduce or eliminate risk. Test user interfaces in usability studies with representative users. Include tasks necessary for normal operation, along with the most safety-critical tasks. Usability is a cornerstone of safety; use errors are frequently predictable a…

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Usability Practice in China: An Update

…nd, so barriers of language and culture can make a difference in usability studies. With the growth of local usability expertise, the “localization” of usability practice in China is an inevitable trend, and it will be reinforced by a difference in personnel costs. In the process of developing local expertise, it is, of course, necessary for Chinese to learn from the experiences accumulated over the past twenty years in the West. Nevertheless, the…

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How Do Other People Do It? A Comparative Review of Usability Study Reports

…used by our colleagues in CUE-10 to write their reports. Background on CUE Studies Rolf Molich, a pioneer in the field of usability research, has been organizing comparative usability evaluations for decades. Starting in 1998 with a small study of a calendar program by four UX practitioners, Molich and colleagues have been presenting the results of these studies with a goal of demonstrating how effectively usability principles and methods can be u…

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Getting Better Design Feedback: Anonymized User Research

…to find private office space. Summary and Findings With your user research studies wrapped up and usability tests complete, you should be on your way to a well-informed, user-centered design solution. But what becomes of all that great feedback and input you’ve received from your users along the way? Next up in your design process, you’ll surely find yourself sharing the fruits of your labor with project team members and stakeholders. They’ll be w…

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Designing for Vulnerable Users: Illustrations (May) Help Understand Complex Health Websites

…to be a general consensus that “illustrations are worth a thousand words,” studies have shown inconsistent results regarding the effectiveness of using illustrations. Whereas some studies report positive effects of illustrations (for example in terms of improved memory, comprehension, and attention), other studies fail to find evidence for such effects or even demonstrate contradictory effects. While pre-testing affective illustrations for our stu…

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Engaging Study Observers: An Overlooked Step in User Research

…d observers of usability studies. Building this atmosphere has not been without its challenges, but we have successfully found ways to balance observer inclusion with efficient study goal accomplishment. By openly and directly communicating with observers prior to studies, providing them clear instructions and materials during studies, and giving them an organized way to express themselves after study sessions, your practice will only improve. As…

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A Moderated Debate: Comparing Lab and Remote Testing

…for catching the freeloaders, the most important of which is watching the studies for anomalies. Here are some of the problems the back-office teams catch: A sudden spike in new participants. This is usually due to messages posted on “free stuff” boards. Unqualified or uninvited peo­ple see the posting and then jump on the test site to start taking the test. When the testing software sees these spikes, it shuts down the study until the research a…

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Engaging with Mental Health: Opportunity for Collaboration

…dying compliance variation between a paper-based chart and the Mobile Mood Diary. An initial clinical evaluation with ten adolescent clients has also been completed. Results showed a high level of adherence amongst participating adolescents over a sustained period. Figure 2. Mobile Mood Diary was developed to make recording moods more convenient and reliable. Design Challenges and Future Directions A more detailed description of previous work in m…

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Scarcity: Focusing on Limitations to Explore Design Opportunities

…for and where you could live. Figure 2. A screen of a participant’s video diary where she reflects on a long day of taking several buses across town to visit a particular store. However, we also saw an upside to scarcity. The people in our study had developed deep expertise. All participants had a good understanding of how the transit system operated, but we noticed that the participants who were poor had developed a level of expertise that seeme…

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Finding Uses For New Technology: Moving with a Magic Thing

…e (Tables 1 and 2) that we use for documenting “moving with a magic thing” studies uses concepts from a theory explaining user experience. According to this model, user experience is defined as a motivated action in a certain context. Moreover, the user’s expectations and previous experiences influence his or her present experience. By using the reporting template, the UX experts who conduct “moving with a magic thing” studies can report the motiv…

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US Government UX Work: Challenges, Strategies, and Good News

…gov provides numerous resources including training, events, webinars, case studies, and the Usability Starter Kit, shown here. GSA runs DigitalGov, which provides resources for agencies producing digital services, including information about UX (see Figure 4). GSA sponsors training opportunities, both in-person and online, and they have a blog covering a number of topics, including UX. Although attendance at their training is limited to government…

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Auditory Displays in Healthcare

…ven if not listened to) whether a worker remembers to attend to it or not. Studies show that healthcare workers respond much faster to auditory than to visual alarms. For this reason, auditory displays are used for alerts and alarms. However, researchers are trying to make auditory displaysmore informative. Testing the respiratory sonification in a full-scale patient simulator at Royal Adelaide Hospital. For the user tests, speakers have been plac…

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Understanding User Motivation: Creating Compelling IoT Experiences

…Design for the Household Gaining this additional perspective from in-home studies fundamentally shifted our internal culture and how we thought about our roadmap. Previously, our features centered on solving our own problems and those of tech-savvy adopters in a way that was suited for the individual user. Our studies, which revealed many unsuspected complexities, enabled us to shift our focus to the entire household. This, in turn, helped us in…

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Illuminating the Journey: Improving Public Transit Rider Experience

…ting into the rider journey. This isn’t to say we completely ruled out lab studies, but rather we complimented them by inserting ourselves into the rider journey early and often to understand how well our designs would work for users. Field testing “in the wild” provides several advantages: It is a lightweight and relatively inexpensive way to obtain feedback early in the design process from a large number of participants in a representative popul…

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The Cost of Bad Design (Book Review)

…dustry reading. The way Shariat and Saucier use varied content types (case studies, personal anecdotes, images, recommendations, etc.) to illustrate themes makes the book a quick, easily digestible read. I found the case studies and accompanying images to be the most affecting. As a UX designer, I have been in situations where I need to pull from any available data to demonstrate how a particular design can benefit the business. Having an arsenal…

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Creating Usability Maturity Models for Large-Scale Projects

…ternal) Testing outcome, which is any quantifiable data from the usability studies. (Examples of the quantifiable data are explained later in the article when we discuss testing.) NOTE: These are the KUPIs that we selected, but if they aren’t the right ones for your products/process, you can use your own, such as the total number of errors, time on task, and SUS scores. In order to populate the chart, we used our KUPIs and some math to predict mat…

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UX Research in the Top 3 Economies in Latin America: What You Should Know

…e-spot adaptation is a factor that will always play a role when conducting studies abroad. No matter how much prior research you may have prepared, there will always be room for improvement once you are in the fielding stage. Based on my personal experience in Latin America, there are many other considerations during the fielding stage. People in Latin America enjoy discussing their personal lives and love to share their personal experiences, some…

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Adapting to Change: UX Research in an Ever-Changing Business Environment

…ny cases, our new method has replaced the need for more standard usability studies since the team has a consistent venue for getting customer feedback and is able to make changes iteratively. Agile research has also enabled us to rethink our usability reports and documentation. Our quick, next-day, topline summaries and in-person reviews with stakeholders are more effective than the traditional, lengthy, “thrown over the fence” reports. Immediatel…

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More than Mere Transcription: Closed Captioning as an Artful Practice

…to be treated as an afterthought. But when we explore captioning as a complex, curiously rich text, we raise the profile of accessibility and suggest, in a small way, that something as potentially intricate as closed captioning deserves to play a more central role in our usability studies and multimedia projects.UX More Reading The Artist movie script by Michel Hazanavicius is available on imsdb. “Hypnotoad” entry on Futurama Wiki. “Presentation R…

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Land Your Dream UX Research Role: Take Your Career to the Next Level

…and working alongside other user researchers. I recruited participants for studies, took notes when they facilitated, attended and observed every meeting that they were in, and asked a lot of questions to understand why they did what they did. Get Comfortable with Public Speaking No matter how insightful your research results are, if you can’t communicate your findings, it’s as if the research never happened. In addition to getting the word out, t…

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Follow the Flow: Using Mind-Mapping to Capture User Feedback


…linear note-taking technique that can be used to capture data in usability studies. It’s a method that is particularly useful in sessions that have a tendency to jump around within the test script. Mind-mapping has been used for decades to aid in memorization and internalization of new information, and to visually organize information in a way that reflects the natural way we think: thoughts radiate from, and are connected with, one central point….

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Seeing is Believing (Book Review)

…e been specified, not before. Eye tracking will not be appropriate for all studies. It is great to see this clearly stated. The remaining three parts of the book cover preparing, running, and reporting on your study in detail. Consider it the how-to guide for eye tracking. The chapters are organized in a logical way and help you learn the ropes on first reading. They also serve as a great reference in the future. Each chapter begins with an overvi…

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Understanding User Adaptation to New Technology in the Manufacturing Industry

…ary information. One important tool to record this insight is the use of a diary. During the contextual inquiry sessions, you may consider asking employees to submit a diary for the study. The employees could submit entries daily using a program like WhatsApp. Entries could include pictures, videos, or audio recordings because simply typing their submissions may be considered tiresome, discouraging this user group from submitting entries. Figure 3…

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The UX of AR: Toward a Human-Centered Definition of Augmented Reality

…rvation, we need to balance them with other methods that let us see. Diary studies and photo elicitation techniques are effective, lower-cost alternatives to understanding both intended and unintended users within their contexts. For these methods, researchers give participants prompts to gather information about people’s motivations for use, social experiences, and environmental contexts. Researchers follow up with the participants to ask about t…

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Usability ROI as a Strategic Tool

…r products would be successful. The questionnaire emerged from a series of studies conducted to understand what makes user experiences satisfying to people. This short, Likert-style questionnaire was suitable for measuring experiences as diverse as software, hardware, services, and even content. The factors it measured mapped to those in the ISO 9241 definition of usability, and it was consistent with the Technology Acceptance Model work that emer…

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