Conducting traditional synchronous, or moderated, usability testing requires a moderator to communicate with test participants and observe them during a study—either in person or remotely. Unmoderated, automated, or asynchronous usability testing, as the name implies, occurs remotely, without a moderator. The use of a usability testing tool that automatically gathers the participants’ feedback and records their behavior makes this possible. Such tools typically let participants view a Web site they are testing in a browser, with test tasks and related questions in a separate panel on the screen.
Recently, there has been a surge in the number of tools that are available for conducting unmoderated, remote usability testing—and this surge is changing the usability industry. Whether we want to or not, it forces us to take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of unmoderated testing and decide whether we should incorporate it into our usability toolbox. Read More
I recently bought a Toyota Prius and was surprised to notice my driving behavior change to a more economical style of driving. Doing some research, I learned that I wasn’t alone in this. Much has been written about “the Prius Effect”—how the Prius and other hybrid vehicles change driving behavior by providing feedback that shows drivers how their actions affect their gas mileage. Some people view this as a positive effect, while others, who are annoyed by slow Prius drivers, view it negatively.
What causes Prius drivers to change their behavior? I believe that it’s the feedback that the Prius’s Multi-Information Display provides to drivers. This display consists of several screens, showing the current gas mileage, average gas mileage over various periods of time, and whether the gas or electric motor is currently powering the car. In this column, I’ll discuss the Prius’s information displays, in terms of the effects they have on drivers, the usefulness of the information that they provide, and the effectiveness of their design. Read More
In Part 1 of my series on UX strategy, I defined a mature design approach for the modern world. There are three levels of UX maturity:
operational—Designers are just implementers. They work on assigned tasks and create design deliverables.
tactical—Designers are an integral part of a product team. They deeply integrate design into other product development tasks and processes.
strategic—Designers are visionaries or product strategists—perhaps even product managers. They influence and make strategic decisions on how to evolve a product.
Each level of UX maturity has its own challenges, goals, and limitations. These change as an organization matures. We need strong UX leaders with the clear vision and passion that are necessary to drive change and realize their goals, ensuring that their company’s design culture can grow rather than falling into decline because of real-world limitations. However, UX maturity is impossible without great product designers and a strong UX design team—a great leader alone is not enough. In this article, I’ll describe the role of product designers and how they pursue UX strategy. Read More