Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category
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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If you visit an e-commerce site, a travel site, or any website where users are given multiple products to choose from, the chances are it will have some form of filtering and sorting function to help a user choose what they would like.
Every day, more and more people are choosing to shop online, and if they can’t use your site to find something they like or need, then there is a good chance they may not come back.
In this article, I will discuss the benefit of using filters and sorting, and highlight a few ways you can use these tools to help your users find what they are looking for. I have concentrated on fashion sites for the examples, but they can be applied to many more sectors.
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There is nothing more frustrating than having the task of filling out a badly designed online form. With there now being around 3.2 billion of us using the internet around the world, it’s becoming a more common experience for us all.
Form validation is essential as it ensures that data stored about a user is in the correct format, and hopefully correct as well. As UXers we want to make form entry as smooth as possible, while also ensuring the data is valid.
In this article, we look at different validation techniques and how they affect the users’ experience.
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This week at NUX Leeds, Lee Duddell, UX director at WhatUsersDo kicked, off his talk by engaging the crowd with two simple questions: ‘Who has too much UX budget?’ and ‘Who does too much UX in their company?’
As expected, no one jumped to respond. Lee had hit the nail on the head and identified two of the biggest hurdles for most of us ‘UXers’: a limited UX budget and consequently, a substandard amount of UX taking place. This acted as a good opportunity for Lee to tell us his thoughts on the 10 biggest enemies of UX in reverse order and how they should be killed to overcome these two great hurdles.
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It seems almost everyone is on the Monzo hype at the moment, even Martin Lewis has jumped on the band wagon. So when we heard Monzo were coming to town last week, we were keen to go along and find out more about what they are getting up to! We learnt how they are shaking up the user experience of banking, guided by their 3 pillars of UX, innovative tech and customer service. They went on to explain that they are no longer focussing on their early adapters and trying to reach out to the wider community.
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Help features are typically only used as a last resort. Whether it be an electronic appliance or a web application, most users will not read instructions until they feel stuck, and even then they might not. There are two key reasons for this:
- Firstly, due to prior experience users often regard help as unhelpful. Masses of text and pages of irrelevant FAQs have led them to simply ignore it.
- Secondly, as usability continues to improve, users are learning to rely on their own intuition. They expect to be able to self-serve and navigate through a website themselves, so requesting help seems to have become associated with ego depletion.
You might wonder if that makes help features redundant, but we know that users still need help. So the challenge is finding a better way, or ways, of providing it. In this article, we will discuss the helpfulness of some familiar help features from the perspective of how the user gets the help – is it pushed towards them or do they need to seek it out and pull it for themselves? We call this Push and Pull help:
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A User Journey Walkthrough is a great way to put yourself in your users shoes, and using a persona is the ideal way to do this. A persona allows you to focus on your users, therefore keeping their goals and needs at the forefront of the Walkthrough. A persona is based on findings from user research, and can also combine analytics and other customer information. As the purpose of this article is to show you how to use the User Journey Walkthrough methodology, here is one I created earlier: