In this Ask UXmatters column—which is the first in a series of three columns focusing on usability—our experts discuss the use of usability testing versus expert reviews. In the upcoming columns, we’ll discuss what usability techniques to use when money or time is tight and how to best conduct remote usability testing.
Look to Ask UXmatters for answers to your questions about user experience matters. If you’d like to see our experts’ responses to your own question in an upcoming edition of Ask UXmatters, please send your question to: [email protected]
Q: Under what circumstances is it more appropriate to do usability testing versus an expert review? What are the benefits and weaknesses of each method that make one or the other more appropriate in different situations?—from a UXmatters reader. Read More
Creating a seamless user experience is something that all UX professionals strive for. No matter what an individual team member’s contribution toward that goal—whether as a UX researcher, UX designer, strategist, product manager, software engineer, or doer of all works—the collective goal of any great product team is to make the user experience a good one.
As UX professionals, the task of balancing time, money, and resources to reduce UX debt and maximize value to the user is our constant challenge. The purpose of employing usability-inspection methods is to identify significant usability issues quickly and inexpensively—in a way that is much more efficient than usability testing.
In deciding which of the family of usability-inspection methods would be best for auditing your software’s usability, this question often arises: What is the most efficient method of auditing or inspecting the usability of software? Should we do a cognitive walkthrough or a heuristic evaluation? Employ a combination of the two methods? Or choose a different method altogether? Working through your options to determine the best method of evaluating your software—and, thus, maximizing value to both users and the business—is a challenge that we all share. Read More
UX researchers must frequently deliver bad news to the creators of products and user interfaces. After we’ve conducted expert reviews, competitive analyses, usability testing, or user research, the end result is often telling our clients, stakeholders, designers, and other project team members about all the problems we’ve found in their product. Even though this is what they asked us to do—and what they expect—listening to a long list of their baby’s faults can be demoralizing.
Yes, we do try to balance our negative criticism by also highlighting some positive aspects, but most research findings tend to be negative. After all, the goal of research activities is not to confirm how great the user experience already is. The goal is to find problems and areas for improvement. Yet, despite the fact that we deliver bad news all the time, it often feels awkward and uncomfortable. Usually, the people in the room have created the problems your research has identified. While most people take it pretty well, some won’t like what they’re hearing and will blame the messenger.
People tend to become very attached to the fruits of their labors, so hearing criticism of their work really can feel very much like having someone say their baby is ugly. Read More