Posts by stefanie

How our expectations determine how we process information

May 8th, 2018 Posted by Analysis & Research, User Experience No Comment yet

How do we process information? In cognitive psychology there are two famous processes involved on how we interpret information – and as humans, we constantly use both: Top- down processing and bottom-up processing. (more…)

User research biases to be aware of: Demand characteristics

March 14th, 2018 Posted by Analysis & Research No Comment yet

Demand characteristics are one of the so-called experimenter effects in behavioral research. They describe the tendency of interview/usability test participants to give you (the experimenter) what you want based on what the participants think what you might expect from them.

This doesn’t require that you tell them what you want explicitly and give them obvious cues. Participants only need to guess/hypothesize what you want from them based on some subtle cues you send out which are often based on your implicit opinions. So the assumption your participants make regarding what you might want from them is sufficient enough. For example, a general assumption which occurs during usability testing sessions could be that you want them to like the product you’ll be testing.

It’s important because demand characteristics may put the complete validity of your usability test/interview at risk.

Here’s how to weaken/temper the effect:
1) Make clear at the beginning and throughout your test or interview that you want to hear honest feedback. Try to take the fears of non-desireable answers away.

2) Be aware of subtle cues and nonverbal language your participant sends out. Seems the answer forced? Is he/she struggling? Take notes during the test, ask afterward in the debrief interview, eventually play the scenario through again.

3) In addition to an in-person usability test/interview, provide a post-test questionnaire like for example the SUS (System Usability Scale) which is a quantitative tool to measure the perceived usability

4) Last but not least: Demand characteristics may be one of the reasons the designer, who actually designed the system is not always the right person to conduct a usability test or doing debriefing interviews, because he or she may send subtle positive cues about the system he/she designed and so participants might react more positive than they actually feel about the task or question you gave them.
For this reason – even though we also claim research should be not outsourced but should be conducted by the interaction design team itself – it may be worth considering another person to conduct the test or interview – in best case people that are not directly involved in the design or development team. If this is not possible, it’s important to be aware of this bias throughout your test.

 

Comic image by http://www.markstivers.com/wordpress/?p=67

 

Live UX Design mit Adobe Xd und unserem Sideproject “Ladies who Lunch”

February 28th, 2018 Posted by News, Studio life & culture No Comment yet

Letzte Woche waren wir bei Adobe Live zum Thema UX Design zu Gast in München. Dort haben wir ein Projekt mit Adobe Xd live gestaltet und vorgestellt.

Adobe Live ist ein Live Streaming Format von Adobe, bei dem Experten live an Projekten arbeiten. Alle Zuschauer können dabei in Echtzeit ihre Fragen und Anmerkungen rund um das Thema User Experience und natürlich auch zu dem Projekt, welches von den Experten live umgesetzt wird, via Chat stellen. Das Ganze geht drei Tage, jeweils von 10-18 Uhr mit je vier Experten aus einem bestimmten Bereich– hier: UX Design – die sich jeweils zwei Stunden täglich live der Community stellen.


Während dieser insgesamt sechs Stunden live Zeit haben wir an unserem Sideproject “Ladies who Lunch – connecting working ladies during lunch breaks” weitergearbeitet. Wir dachten, es ist ganz interessant zu sehen, dass es wichtig ist, Lerneffekte bringt und viel Spass macht, auch im daily business Zeit für eigene Projekte zu investieren.

Noch kurz zum Thema Ladies who Lunch: Wir sind selbst Gründerinnen, die sich gerne mit anderen austauschen und neue Menschen kennenlernen. Die Idee hinter “Ladies who Lunch” entstand somit im Laufe des letzten Jahres aus unseren eigenen Bedürfnissen: Statt einsam ein Sandwich im Büro vor dem Rechner zu verspeisen, würden wir uns freuen, die Mittagspause besser zu nutzen, zB indem man neue, interessante Menschen kennenlernt. Quasi eine Art Lunch Speed Dating, aber eben ohne “Dating” Charakter.

Fig 01: Frühe Papierskizze von einem Lunch Item, dem “Herzstück” des Produktes, um relevante Anforderungen zu sammeln
Papier Skizze UX Design

Uns schwebte ein Netzwerk aus Frauen vor, die aus den unterschiedlichsten Bereichen kommen, und mit denen man sich ungezwungen und spontan zum Mittagessen verabreden kann. Wir haben uns beim Netzwerk bewusst gegen eine branchenspezifische Ansprache (wie z.B nur Leute aus Agenturen oder nur Journalisten etc. ) entschieden, da wir die Zielgruppe hierdurch nicht einschränken wollten und den Blick über den blasenspezifischen Tellerrand ermöglichen möchten – abteilungsübergreifend sozusagen.

Die Nutzerinnen sollen auch selbst entscheiden, wie sie Ladies who Lunch nutzen – um neue Leute kennenzulernen, also eher private Bekanntschaften zu machen oder als berufliches Networking Tool. Das soll also ganz bewusst offen gehalten werden. Die Maxime, so wie wir uns das momentan vorstellen, lautet: Mach daraus, was dir gefällt. Wir haben uns zudem bewusst auf Frauen beschränkt, einfach, um die mögliche Missverständnisse, die entstehen können wenn man sich mit Männern verabredet, flach zu halten (ausserdem gibt es bereits genug Dating Apps) – sowie eine “safe” Atmosphäre innerhalb dieses Netzwerkes zu schaffen. Diese Idee brachte sehr viel positive Resonanz in den verschiedenen Frauennetzwerken ein.

Fig 02: Frühe Papierskizze der Einstellungen, um relevante Anforderungen zu sammeln
frühe Papier Skizze UX Design

Nach der Prämisse “better done than perfect” – also um schnell damit in die Welt hinauszugehen und somit einen Proof of Concept zu bekommen – haben wir uns bei der Realisierung der Idee zuerst einmal mittels Facebookgruppen ausgeholfen. Eine initiale App ohne diesen Schritt, haben wir auch im Sinne einer Kosten-Nutzen-Analyse als eher negativ betrachtet.

Es gibt also bei Facebook mittlerweile einige LwL Gruppen (in Berlin, Mannheim, Bremen, Frankfurt und München). Das Ganze fand bei der Entstehung sehr viel positive Resonanz – da aber hier Eigeninitiative gefragt ist, ist unsere Hypothese, dass etwas mehr “Guidance” gut wäre, um das Projekt am Leben zu halten und die Nutzerinnen mehr einzubinden und ihnen einen klaren “Call to Action” anzubieten. Dafür ist natürlich eine eigene Seite oder Anwendung, die das Ganze unabhängig des Social Media Giganten und seinen “Aus den Augen, aus dem Sinn”-Algorithmen unterstützt, viel besser geeignet. Und genau diese haben wir in diesen drei Tagen konzipiert und mit der visuellen Gestaltung begonnen.

Während wir daran arbeiteten, kamen viele neue Fragen auf, die wir uns selbst bezüglich des Produktes gestellt haben aber auch jede Menge neuer und wertvoller Ideen, wie man das Produkt später noch nutzen und erweitern kann.

Video 01:Der noch nicht ganz perfekte Prototyp am Ende der drei Tage, allerdings ohne den Onboarding Prozess – erstellt mit Adobe Xd:

 

Angefangen haben wir erst einmal auf Papier, da dies im Denkprozess  in der typischen Trial & Error Phase für uns am besten funktioniert. Nachdem die groben Basics standen, sind wir zu Adobe Xd geswitcht. Tatsächlich haben wir lange Zeit nicht mehr mit Adobe Produkten gearbeitet und waren nun doch in einigen Dingen positiv überrascht. Hervorzuheben sind besonders die Repeat Grid Funktion sowie die wirklich sehr schnelle Live Preview auf dem Mobilgerät wenn man direkt mit USB verbindet sowie die Schnelligkeit des Programmes an sich und die kleinen Dateigrößen. Da hat sich wohl wirklich einiges getan beim Kreativgiganten, wenn auch noch viele Punkte offen sind. Aber dank der regen Community werden diese auch hoffentlich bald gelöst (und nein, dies ist kein Sponsored Post. 🙂 )

Seht selbst und viel Spass – wir hatten den auf jeden Fall 😀

 

Adobe Live 1/3 – Live UX für Web-Community „Ladies who Lunch“ mit „The Geekettez“

Adobe Live 2/3 – Live UX für Web-Community „Ladies who Lunch“ mit „The Geekettez“

Adobe Live 3/3 – Live UX für Web-Community „Ladies who Lunch“ mit „The Geekettez“

UX Research: Don’t forget the stakeholders

June 7th, 2017 Posted by Analysis & Research, User Experience No Comment yet

When we are hired as a user experience design studio we are often asked to jump straight into production work like sketching and wireframing and to quickly hand over some solutions and deliverables.
We are not very comfortable with this approach and this is why:

May we introduce: Ladies who lunch – Connecting working ladies during lunch breaks

May 16th, 2017 Posted by Studio life & culture No Comment yet

You probably all have that one issue you keep complaining about. It may be either something you miss or something you want to change. So you have two choices: You try to do something about it or you keep complaining which is – honestly – misspent time.

We decided we had complained long enough and came up with a solution for our source of complaint: who is free for lunch?

Despite the fact that we both are sitting in shared office spaces with a bunch of other people surrounding us, we often ask ourselves: what should I do with my lunch break?
Often we meet with co-workers or people we already know for lunch but you know how it goes: sometimes your coworkers or friends do not have the time and so if you would like to go somewhere on that day, you either go alone or you spend your lunch break quickly eating a sandwich in front of your desk with your eyes glued to your smartphone and the internet (SAD!).

We are convinced there is a better way to spend your lunch break, especially because no one wants a tuna overlord ruling our lives in the near future.

In addition to spending happier lunches away from the desk, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could meet new people during lunch hours? New, interesting people, who you might even end up doing business with? Yeah, we thought so, too. So voilà!

We happily introduce: Ladies who lunch

The idea is simple: we want to create an opportunity to connect women by going out to lunch together, building or maintaining their professional network or making new friends!

When we came up with the idea we considered creating a Ladies who Lunch app to get things rolling. But then, after discussing the idea – on a lunch date with a befriended project manager – we decided to take her suggestion and get Ladies who Lunch started with existing tools and services that everyone is already using. This is why, only a few weeks after we first had the idea we already have two Facebook groups (see what we can achieve on lunch dates with awesome people?!), reflecting our two studio locations: one group for Berlin and one group for Mannheim. Join us! We believe this will be an awesome way to spend your future lunch breaks.

But we won’t stop here!

Before our decision was made to start with Facebook groups we had also discussed the possibility of using slack. But slack is rarely used in Germany from people outside of the tech bubble. We are currently also discussing opening groups in Xing and/or LinkedIn. But that is something we would like to discuss with you – on our lunch dates. So join us and help us shape this. UPDATE (18.05.2017): we heard you and have expanded the Ladies who Lunch groups to Linked In!

Also, we haven’t given up on our initial app idea because we would love an independent platform. We already have a clear concept in mind so if you want to join or support us: let’s discuss it over lunch! Head over to one of our groups so we can set up a lunch date: Ladies who Lunch – Berlin, Ladies who Lunch – Mannheim

Who is it for?

Every woman is welcome.
If you are looking to make new connections or to find like-minded women to connect with – whether you are new in town, a long-time resident or just visiting for a business trip or conference: Ladies who Lunch is the perfect way to spend your lunch break.

Why we chose the name

According to Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary “Ladies who lunch” are “Rich middle-aged women with no jobs or another meaningful way to occupy their time, who descend on upscale cafes around lunchtime to hang out with each other more because they have nothing better to do than because they like the company. Generally despised by cafe workers.” (Source: Urban Dictionary)

Well, we thought it was time to change the meaning of this term and use it to describe a network of working ladies exchanging information and experiences.

We are looking forward to meeting many many new ladies from different professions in our cities! Head over to Facebook and apply to join our local groups in Berlin and Mannheim.

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/8623220@N02/2178452567 (Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication)

UPDATE May 19, 2017:
Wow, thank you all for so much positive feedback! We have now an “official” Facebook page you can follow: https://www.facebook.com/LadiesWhoLunchMeetups/
Also in Berlin we had already our Ladies who Lunch premiere!

And because we were asked about it by now several times about that: If you want to start a Ladies who lunch in your city, this small FAQ may help you to get started: LadieswhoLunch-FAQ YAY!

Differences in formative and summative evaluations (and why they matter for UX designers)

May 12th, 2017 Posted by Analysis & Research, User Experience No Comment yet

A few weeks ago Steffi spoke at the Berlin Ladies that UX meetup “An evening about user research” about the different types of usability tests. Here is a brief summary of the talk

UX thoughts: Language matters!

April 20th, 2017 Posted by Analysis & Research, User Experience No Comment yet

Have you ever wondered if simply avoiding the term “test” in usability test situations may get you better results? We have and we think replacing the word “test” with the word “evaluation” is an improved description of the situation and will even help us to get less biased and therefore better and more accurate results!

As language determines perception, we think it is better to use the term „evaluation“ when it comes to usability testing situations instead the term „test“ – especially when interacting with our participants, because – simply put – a usability test is nothing else than an evaluation of a product/system with somebody’s help – namely our participants – who are or might be the users of the product/system.

So unlike a heuristic evaluation or cognitive walkthroughs which you will do by analyzing the product by yourself – a usability test is an empirical evaluation of a product/system with the help of people, who use or might use a specific system or product. “Empirical” here meaning: the knowledge or source of the knowledge is acquired by your senses, mostly by observation. In a usability test you will observe (and interview) representative users trying to accomplish certain important tasks as they are using the product.

We prefer the term „usability evaluation (with users)“ over “usability test” or even “user test”, simply because the term “test” is avoided and this little fact may help to reduce stress levels and therefore errors because people will feel less „observed“ and „tested“ during the test situation. “Evaluation” is also a more precise word in this situation because you are not actually testing peoples’ skills while they interact with the product, you are testing/evaluating a product with their help. That is a huge difference, also in the test participants’ perception.  Using the term “test” can result  in so called experimenter effects – like demand characteristics  which describe the tendency of participants to give you (as the experimenter) what you want based on what the participants think/guess what you might expect from them –  here: a test “result”. This may lead to  the participants focusing on how to  solve tasks error-free and to please. Such effects may put the complete validity of your usability test at risk.

In addition, we believe the term „evaluation“ will help people feel much more included because it prevents a „we“ vs „them“ situation, which can help to reduce further stress during the evaluation. We should always keep in mind that our participants help us and cooperate with us in evaluating a product/system and just using slightly different terms may help doing this better.

Image credit: https://flic.kr/p/LJwVMm (CC BY 2.0)

Are representative users important for usability testing?

March 24th, 2017 Posted by Analysis & Research, User Experience No Comment yet

YES, yes and yes – of course: Usability testing is a method in user research. You are evaluating a system or product you design by observing people who think aloud while they use that system/product and solve pre-defined tasks and so help us to spot problems with the system or product.

Recruiting the right participants is a critical, very important and often neglected task when planning usability tests. In best case scenarios, your test participants should also slightly differ within a specified user group. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this has to be totally expensive and is not feasible for smaller companies or organizations.

If you’re going to run usability tests with people who don’t represent your actual users, the problem is, that you might not see incidents or problems that your actual users will have – because of the differences between who you run your test with and the people who will actually be using your system: Think only of expertise – are your actual users technically more sophisticated or do they tend to be relatively new and inexperienced with technology? Or think of cultural backgrounds. All those criteria (plus of course more) will have influence on how people will use the system you’re designing.

Or as userfocus says: „Screen for behaviours, not demographics“

Of course you CAN test with people who doesn’t fit in your criteria and who aren’t representative for the usage of the system you want to test – but then you have to be absolutely aware of that fact, and write it in your report – plus: think about the fact that your findings might or might not apply to the actual people/population who will use your system. You might spot problems or discover ways of thinking and cognitive schemas and mental models that don’t match your actual users.

Even if recruiting the right people may sometimes be a challenging task, it’s absolutely worth the effort, because it gives you a lot more information about how well your system is going to be designed for people who will be actually using it.

Links:
Recruiting Better Research Participants
Writing the perfect participant screener
Recruiting Usability Test Participants

Image source: https://flic.kr/p/QHpkCL

We contributed a case study for a UX book and you should put it on your reading list.

January 14th, 2017 Posted by News, User Experience No Comment yet

Is technology universal? This is the key question of the book which has just been published and we’ve contributed a case study on culture research to.

The book provides a guide as multicultural UX is is no longer a nice-to-have in your digital experience strategy – it’s a must have and absolutely vital to think of it.

So if you’re looking for new UX books you should read this year – here you go. 🙂

Universal UX Design by Alberto Ferreira
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann
Release Date: November 2016
ISBN: 9780128025956

View on amazon

View on elsevier store

Image credit: https://flic.kr/p/oWgQUc

Ladies that UX is coming to Berlin. Join us on Nov 29!

November 18th, 2016 Posted by News No Comment yet

To all the Berlin women in the field of user experience – there’s another meetup in town!
Together with a few other ladies I co-founded the Berlin chapter of Ladies that UX, which is an international organization connecting women in the user experience field.

(more…)

We love to write an speak about UX topics.

We have had many nation wide speaker appearances on many different topics. We have spoken at TEDx, UIG spring conference, Usability Congress, World Usability Day, webmondays and the up.front web design community in Berlin. We speak mostly about topics such as user experience and workflows. Have a date? Need speakers? Get in touch and let us know We might be interested in researching a topic