I recently conducted some user research on a proposed experience for a Help and value-added learning center for a Web application. The goals of the study were as follows:
Assess how well our proposed designs would align with user needs.
Understand how the new branding for the section would impact the user experience.
Understand how well a proposed conceptual approach to information categorization would support information seeking.
The setup for this study was similar to that for any typical usability study. We invited people to participate in one-on-one sessions with a moderator and asked participants to complete a series of tasks while using the think-aloud protocol. Project team members, including designers and business sponsors, watched from another room.
We wanted to gain the best possible understanding of the entirety of the proposed user experience, including branded words for labels, information architecture, and categorization. Therefore, during the course of the sessions, I asked participants to describe what they expected to see in a section or on a page behind a link before they clicked it. I thought this would help me to understand the users’ mindsets coming into the experience. Read More
A number of my previous Research That Works columns on UXmatters have focused on semi-structured user research techniques. My interest in these techniques stems from my desire to get the most out of my time with research participants and to leverage foundational work from other disciplines to gain unique insights for user experience design. With this in mind, a colleague of mine recommended that I try the laddering method of interviewing, which is a technique that is particularly helpful in eliciting goals and underlying values, and therefore, possibly helpful during early stages of user experience research, as I learned after a brief review of the literature on this topic. This column introduces the laddering technique and describes my first experience trying it for myself. Read More
In the design process we follow at my company, Mad*Pow Media Solutions, once we have defined the conceptual direction and content strategy for a given design and refined our design approach through user research and iterative usability testing, we start applying visual design. Generally, we take a key screen whose structure and functionality we have finalized—for example, a layout for a home page or a dashboard page—and explore three alternatives for visual style. These three alternative visual designs, or comps, include the same content, but reflect different choices for color palette and imagery.
The idea is to present business owners and stakeholders with different visual design options from which they can choose. Sometimes there is a clear favorite among stakeholders or an option that makes the most sense from a brand perspective. However, there can often be disagreements among the members of a project team on which design direction we should choose. If we’ve done our job right, there are rationales for our various design decisions in the different comps, but even so, there may be disagreement about which rationale is most appropriate for the situation. Read More