Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category
When was the last time you bought something online? Did it go as expected? How did the process make you feel?
Previously, we have looked at how UX design can benefit from storytelling elements, but in this article, we will briefly discuss how to use storytelling ideas when organising your test sessions to get the most value out of a participant.
As humans, we naturally process information in stories. They are the key to engrossing us and helping us to understand other people’s ideas. Due to this, they are excellent for capturing and retaining our participant’s attention, dropping them into a scenario and frame of mind to aid our research and, in appropriate methodologies, improving their recall. Besides the participants, they can also help us, as researchers, when differentiating between all the testing sessions we have carried out on the day – the structure of our sessions may be the same, but the stories will always differ.
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You say ‘to-may-to’, I say ‘to-mah-to’
You often hear the terms ‘user research’ and ‘market research’ used interchangeably within companies, product teams often debate the differences between the disciplines. They both contain the word research and their main aim is to understand the ‘user’ or the ‘consumer’ – so, what’s the difference?
At best, people try to distinguish them by the data they work with, “user researchers are the qualitative guys and market researchers are the quantitative guys.” However, this stereotype is also incorrect and can be damaging. As any valuable UX research agency will use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, so will a market research agency.
This article sets out to explore the blurring line between the two disciplines, their shared similarities, their differences, and ultimately understand if there is a need for a hard classification. All that matters is the user, right?
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‘A picture tells a thousand words’
This is certainly the case when it comes to storyboarding. UX designers, researchers and stakeholders need to be able to put themselves into the user’s shoes to consider how they might react and engage with a product. Relying on imagery over text, storyboards can be a really effective tool within UX to: help conceptualise designs, visualise user personas or needs, aid research design and, add validation to research findings. This article will explore how to create a storyboard for UX projects and why they are effective.
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A homepage is something that any internet user will be familiar with. Whether it be landing on a banking site to set up a new account, or arriving on a travel site ready to book a holiday, the homepage and subsequent landings page are our first touch point on a number of online sites. Not only do these pages have to make a lasting impression on users and signpost them in the right direction, but a homepage is also an important hub, allowing users to come back if they got lost or want to navigate to a different area.
However, a lot of homepages fail to follow some of the basic requirements relating to appearance, information and interaction. So this article will highlight some of the fundamentals for homepage design, and how these can also be applied to landing pages.
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What’s your favourite book, film or tv show? Do you know why you like it so much? You probably remember it quite well. Since our time in the caves, we have been captivating attention and evoking responses through the telling of stories both fact and fiction. They are embedded into our culture and society; whether it is a classic novel, a news article or gossip between friends, storytelling in its simplest form is the sharing of information via cause and effect – and we are wired to think in this way. Research has found that storytelling activates multiple senses in our brains and the resulting flurry of emotions makes us understand the information more, retain it for longer and have a more enjoyable experience.
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For the last six months, I have walked into the centre of Leeds to work every day. It’s 1.8 miles each way and I’m secretly very smug about my average daily step count because of it. But sometimes, I don’t want to walk all that way. Sometimes, I would like to be able to take a comfy seat and travel in to the city centre a bit differently. As it happens, Leeds offers a form of public transport that runs down the exact same route that I walk, which would get me to work 10 minutes quicker, and it’s free. Leeds Dock Water Taxis have been offering a free service from Leeds Dock to Granary Wharf near Leeds Train Station for a few years now and I have often used it on weekends.
In June 2017 I walked out of my final exam as an undergraduate to an email offering me the job of a UX practitioner at SimpleUsability. A week and a half later, I began my journey at SimpleUsability, training as a practitioner and jumping feet first into the world of UX. So here’s a snapshot of my first six months and what I’ve learnt so far.
Why user research & why SimpleUsability?
Studying a research-driven degree in Human Geography meant that although my career path was never obvious, what I soon learnt was that research forms the basis of what we know and people are ultimately at the centre of everything we do. Although it’s an obvious observation, this was my first step towards where I am sat today.
Having had my first exposure to user research during a summer internship in my penultimate year at University, I quickly realised that this was the job for me. My final year as a student was accompanied by a search for a graduate role in the realm of UX, and this is when I stumbled across SimpleUsability. Instantly drawn in by the prospect of better understanding users, assisting the development of clients’ platforms, and of course working with state of the art technology, I knew that this was an opportunity I could not miss out on.
From day one, the small and close-knit team was something that stood out to me here. Teamwork is really at the core of what we do, as together we create a smooth service delivery; from the initial development of a proposal, then to the selection of users by our in-house recruitment team, right through to project delivery. Although we work on projects individually, we would not function without the constant communication and support.
On-the-job training at its finest.
Next, I realised that my training at SimpleUsability was not going to be weeks of shadowing and endless reading, I jumped straight into learning to moderate my own sessions with the company’s unique methodology, familiarising myself with the tech, and getting stuck in at multiple stages of the end to end project cycle. Straight away my voice was heard and I was on my way to becoming a valued UX practitioner within the team.
What makes us unique.
As my time here has continued, I have also learnt that what we do is very unique. Firstly in terms of the level of quality and care involved in every stage of a project lifecycle. Then secondly in terms of the range of different project types we deliver and the assortment of sectors we work within. One week could involve running usability testing on a grocery shop, and the next, validating personas in gaming. So with expertise spanning a vast range of sectors and project types, our breadth of knowledge enables us to tailor our core methodologies according to the needs of the business and importantly, the users.
User-centric in every way.
That brings me onto my next point, users really are at the core of everything we do. Our unique methodology begins with a natural user journey accompanied with eye tracking, and is followed by a post-task retrospective interview, including targeted but non-leading questions. This allows us to get the most natural response and feedback from users which is unaffected by any business expectations or hunches. The outputs can therefore be presented back to the clients based on evidence of what users actually do, rather than what we think users might do.
And my experience does not stop in the past and present, as we are constantly thinking into the future here at SimpleUsability. Developing ideas about how we can improve our services to be more flexible according to an increasingly agile industry, and really getting our noses stuck into new ventures as the digital world advances.
Don’t forget the yurt!
Lastly, I guess an important think to note is that we really know how to have a good time. From a team trip to York beer festival, to a Christmas party in a Yorkshire Yurt, there is a never a dull moment in the offices here.
So I guess to summarise, my first six months have been a blast! I’ve been faced with new challenges every day, learnt more about the world of UX than I could ever imagine, and I’m able to contribute towards improving digital platforms for everybody on a daily basis. So here’s a big thanks to the great team here and I’m looking forward to what the next six months holds.
5 important things to think of when conducting usability testing of voice interaction using voice controlled assistants.
Over the last year there has been a significant increase in the use of voice controlled assistants such as the Amazon Echo or the Google Home, with over 17 million devices estimated to have been purchased over the last three months alone.
As sales of these devices have boosted more companies are starting to develop systems to work with voice interaction and we are seeing an increase in different ways people can use their devices, some of these are new services such as making calls or sending message others are new channels for existing services such as asking the weather, ordering their online groceries or even ordering a taxi.
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We’re in the Christmas mood here at SimpleUsability, thinking about the festive season ahead and reflecting on the year that’s gone. As good UXers we’ve been wondering what would make a great UXy type of Christmas? And what have we enjoyed and learned we can use to make sure it’s a great experience for all?
So we got to thinking about designing a magical Christmas app, an app that does everything you need for Christmas: helping us shop for the festival meal, bringing the family together, helping us cook for them, adding decorations and sparkle to our homes, and helping us keep traditions alive.
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In today’s digital world, our online presence is expanding and so too are risks from hackers and phishers. So with this continual expansion of the digital world comes a need for improved security.
But as security measures have improved they have also become more complex. Multi-factor authentication is now commonplace, and logging into online platforms is no longer a walk in the park. It takes concentration, accuracy and an awfully good memory. So with these advances in security, the usability of getting rightful access to our products and services has tended to suffer. However, this is not something that is going unnoticed amongst us UX professionals, as alongside security advocates, we have recognised that we must find a balance, because as Jared Spool points out ‘if it’s not usable, it’s not secure’.
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