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Usability

Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object. (source: Wikipedia)

How to determine the right number of participants for usability studies

Have we left N=5?

“UX researchers and other project stakeholders often fervently debate the number of participants that are necessary for usability studies. At the core of this debate is often the tension between the usability professional’s desire for the best possible study and the business team’s desire to reduce time and expense.”

Janet M. Six a.k.a. /janetmsix | @JanetMSix and Ritch Macefield a.k.a. /dr-ritch-macefield | @Ax_Stream ~ UXmatters

What is meant by UX? Analyzing usability and UX professionals’ dynamic representations of Self

Your self image is never the same as the worlds perception of you. Even if it’s your professional image.

“This research investigates the ways usability/user experience professionals describe themselves for different audiences and across multiple digital platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter, portfolio websites, and business websites. By analyzing the digital identities of over 40 usability/user experience professionals, this article presents quantitative and qualitative pictures of how usability and user experience is being described in digital spaces. This article highlights broad patterns and specific tactics being implemented by four types of usability/user experience professionals and gives recommendations for how these tactics can be modified and applied for other usability/user experience professionals attempting to create professional identities in digital spaces.”

(Rebecca Zantjer and Laura Gonzales ~ Journal of Usability Studies August 2015)

The roots of Minimalism in web design

There comes a time that web design will be part of art history. As a design movement in the early 21st century.

“Many of today’s most popular design trends are influenced by minimalism. This web design movement began in the early 2000s, but borrows its philosophy from earlier movements in the fields of fine art and human–computer interaction.”

(Kate Meyer ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

The fox guarding the usability lab

Look-and-feel designers: “Look at how great our usability lab is. All our products and services have great usability.”

“In this editorial, I focus on the inherent conflict of interest that design agencies have when they are responsible for evaluating their own design work, what can be done to mitigate this problem, and the implications for the UX community. I define a design agency as a consulting firm that is hired to design (from a visual and interactive perspective) digital products.”

(Bill Albert ~ Journal of Usability Studies)

Multitasking on mobile devices

It’s still task-oriented. So, usability therefore. Quite something else than omni-channel or multi-device. Word, words, words. A rose is a rose is a rose.

“Multitasking involves being able to rapidly switch between different apps and to combine multiple sources of information. Small mobile screens limit users’ ability to see content from different apps at the same time, so current operating-system support for multitasking focuses mostly on switching between different apps. This increases users’ memory load, so mobile designers must help users compare and rapidly retrieve recent items.”

(Raluca Budiu ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

The Fold Manifesto: Why the page fold still matters

Is there or isn’t there such a thing as The Fold?

“What appears at the top of the page vs. what’s hidden will always influence the user experience—regardless of screen size. The average difference in how users treat info above vs. below the fold is 84%.”

(Amy Schade ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

A critical, creative UX community: CLUF

Know your professional history. Moving from HCI to UX into a steep valley or ravine.

“In this editorial, I advocate a new form of interactive community publication (…) to respond to new creative emphases within human-focused interaction design practices and research. I have called this CLUF (creatively led user foci), pronounced like the Northern English word clough, meaning a steep valley or ravine. The realities of reflective creative practices are that we can always probe further and explore more as we work down through layers of design practice. CLUF would support a much needed online community of practice around systematic rigorous exploration of creative UX.”

(Gilbert Cockton ~ Journal of Usability Studies Volume 10, Issue 1, November 2014)

17 usability testing myths and misconceptions

And there are so much more. Myths and misconceptions also apply to design, designers and De$ign.

“Usability testing has been around so long that it’s the most well-known and most frequently practiced user research method. So I find it amazing that there are still so many misconceptions about usability testing. In this column, I’ll debunk the most common myths and misconceptions that I’ve encountered over the years.”

(Jim Ross a.k.a. @anotheruxguy ~ UXmatters)

Redesigning your website? Don’t ditch your old design so soon

Look in the mirror, not to the other.

“Before you redesign your site, make sure that you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your current design. Garner design ideas and alternatives by studying your competitors. The focus of competitive tests is not to crown a winner, but to gain deeper insight into why design elements work or fail so we can make informed decisions moving forward.”

(Hoa Loranger ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

Usability testing is undermining UX design

Usability being a characteristic of a product in use. UX being a mental state of a person with a product in and after use.

“I’m a big fan of usability testing. It’s a useful tool, and one that all UX designers should have in their toolbox. But we need to see usability testing in a broader context and consider its strengths and limitations.”

(Peter Hornsby ~ UXmatters)

Breaking web design conventions is breaking the user experience

De facto standards are still standards, if you like it or not.

“(…) the reality is that too often, resources are spent on making the site look great or creating an innovative widget, and usability is neglected until the very end of development (if it’s even ever looked at). Ideally, you’ll be doing testing throughout the project, be it testing your information architecture, creating and testing wireframes and paper prototypes, and conducting usability tests with real users on all the devices that you’re targeting with your design, all with enough time before the launch so that you can iterate your designs and test them again.”

(Katie Sherwin a.k.a. @kwsherwin ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

Designing mobile usability

Mobile usability, the same as paper usability or usability of applications. What’s all the difference? The principles are the same, the instantiations not.

“In this interview Jakob Nielsen, explains the rules of mobile usability. He outlines how to create seamless experiences and why designers are plagued with featuritis. He then goes onto explain the reciprocity principle and the importance of user-centred design.”

(Dorm Room Tycoon)

The reciprocity principle: Give before you take in web design

Sharing as a design principle.

“Humans tend to return good deeds: use this social psychology law in user interface design to gain users’ trust and motivate engagement with your site or app.”

(Raluca Budiu ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

Three guidelines for search engine No Results pages

Empty SERPs are pages with a purpose too.

“When users try a search and get no results, there’s a high risk of site abandonment. But paying attention to design details can turn this potential disaster into an opportunity for content discovery.”

(Kathryn Whitenton ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

Minimize cognitive load to maximize usability

Believe it or not, humans are still cognitive animals.

“The total cognitive load, or amount of mental processing power needed to use your site, affects how easily users find content and complete tasks.”

(Kathryn Whitenton ~ Nielsen Norman Group)