Posts in User Experience

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

The stereotype content model: A social psychology theory as a framework for brand perception and user experience work

October 11th, 2016 Posted by User Experience No Comment yet

Summary:

Social psychology theories like the stereotype content model may have a huge impact in your user experience work, as more and more interactions between companies and customers take place through a „digital window“ called a user interface. The perception and therefore the behaviour of digital interfaces had become more and more important to brand perception. This can serve as a basis for improving your customer loyalty as a growing body of research suggests that people have emotional relationships with brands that resemble relations between people.
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Deutsche Post’s postage stamp machine vs. humans

October 5th, 2016 Posted by User Experience No Comment yet

6 UX flaws to avoid if you want to design stories with happy endings

Last week I was standing in line to get a post stamp at the German post office. A task that can be done at the counter but also at annoying machines that give out 1 cent stamps (instead of change) if you put in too much money. You might have guessed it: these machines are not liked but are still used, especially if the the line at the counter is too long, which is exactly the reason why I was standing in line at one of these machines on this sunny day. A couple in front of me was desperately trying to get some stamps out of this machine. The couple were in their late 50s’ and most likely have had their share of human-machine interaction, probably even use smart phones on a regular basis. But this machine was showing them who was boss. After briefly watching their struggle I asked them if they needed any help. They told me that they needed a stamp for a letter with destination France.
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UX Research Methoden – In welchen Fällen sind User Interviews eigentlich angebracht?

November 10th, 2015 Posted by Analysis & Research, User Experience No Comment yet

Im Designprozess kannst du verschiedene Methoden bzw. einen Methodenmix nutzen, um das Produkt, die Webseite oder die App „besser“ im Sinne von „user centered“ zu gestalten – sprich: du bekommt wertvolle Einblicke in die Welt der Nutzer.
Im UX Design bedienen wir uns gerne aus dem Methodenrepertoire, welches sich in den Sozialwissenschaften bewährt hat. Daher dachte ich mir, das wir mal ein paar Einblicke in einige Methoden geben. 🙂
Los gehts im ersten Teil mit einer bekannten und beliebten Methode – dem qualitativen User Interview – und der grundlegenden Frage: Wann macht ein solches überhaupt Sinn?

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How to end a relationship. Ein UX Point Of View

May 11th, 2015 Posted by User Experience No Comment yet

Let’s face it: Nirgendwo klaffen die Bedürfnisse von Nutzern/Kunden und Management eines Produkts/Services soweit auseinander wie beim Punkt ‚Account kündigen‘ – also wenn Kunden – aus welchem Grund auch immer – sich verabschieden möchten.

Es gibt wie in jeder Situation verschiedene Szenarien WARUM jemand ein bestimmtes Produkt oder einen Service nicht länger in Anspruch nehmen möchte.
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Human – machine touchpoints – a love story by Spike Jonze (HER)

February 5th, 2015 Posted by Interaction Design, User Experience No Comment yet

Being ill during the holidays can have it’s benefits. I got to watch A TON of movies that I had missed throughout the past year. One of the films I saw was HER by Spike Jonze  and it blew me away! So much so that I immediately jumped online to read through all of the articles written about it in the past year. In the process I also found an amazing blog AND book on SciFi interfaces and what interaction designers can learn from them. But let’s start at the beginning.

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Intercultural Aspects of Interface Design

December 29th, 2014 Posted by Analysis & Research, User Experience No Comment yet

or: Know who you’re targeting.

In one of our recent projects we were asked to do culture research for a client’s website.
Goal was to optimize the client’s landing pages in terms of  design (& content) as  the page was to be rolled out in different countries with very different cultural backgrounds e.g. USA, China and Russia.

What is culture?

According to social psychologist Geert Hofstede, the term ‚culture’ can be defined as “(..) a shared set of values that influence societal perceptions, attitudes, preferences, and responses”.

In short, culture takes an effect on our perception, cognition and behaviour. When working on websites, interfaces or campaigns this means we need to consider the following things:
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Ready or not: No UI vom Verschwinden des Graphical User Interfaces

April 9th, 2014 Posted by News, User Experience No Comment yet

Anything, anytime, anywhere?

‘In the twenty-first century the technology revolution will move into the everyday, the small and the invisible.’ (Mark D. Weiser, XEROX)

Diese Woche waren wir auf dem Webmontag in Mannheim eingeladen, wo wir eine kurze Einführung in das sehr spannende Thema ‘ambient Technology’ , ‘smart Devices’ oder in unserem Falle vereinfacht gesagt das ‘Internet der Dinge’ (Internet of Things, kurz: IoT) gaben. Den Vortrag hatten wir etwas abgespeckter schon auf dem Usability Kongress 2013 in Frankfurt gehalten.

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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