Testing social media is difficult. We are not testing micro interactions, but macro, or global, behaviors. These can be extremely hard to observe—either by using qualitative methods to assess the commentary of individuals or groups or by tracking clicks. When testing social media, we are assessing social influence and motivation, which are much more elusive.
Understanding these types of behaviors won’t let you determine things like the perfect placement of your shopping basket icon. However, it can be invaluable when determining the right timing for providing choices such as content or action buttons. The monitoring of macro behaviors is quantitative in nature, and the data represents broad trends—what people do en masse, not individually. Nevertheless, it is the sum of many people’s behavior that is important rather than the behavior of individuals. Studying societal behaviors requires a different way of thinking—macro thinking—rather than the micro thinking that is characteristic of studying the behaviors of individuals. Read More
Sitting where we do within a consulting organization for a software vendor, my team and I often feel like mediators between two warring factions. On one side, we have Design and, on the other side, user’s actual usage of an application. Sometimes, both meld fantastically well. In such cases, the design is almost always well thought out, slick, and crafty. At other times, though, a design is found wanting in actual usage, especially at the higher end of the scale. It is at such times that, although a design seems great, all parties agreed to it, and we put it through rigorous testing, there are still significant user-adoption issues after the design gets implemented. How does this happen, and how can we address this problem?
During this golden age of design that we are experiencing, it is becoming increasingly important to address such situations. Even though the profession of User Experience is rapidly maturing, many executive sponsors of our efforts still look at User Experience as some sort of magic pixie dust. UX experts come in, sprinkle it about, and all is well. This mentality does not leave a lot of room for UX folks to fail to hit the mark the first time out. Such expectations may be unfair, but more and more, this is becoming the reality. Design, especially Web page design, is now becoming a commodity. Business leaders understand that User Experience is critical, but there is also a growing sense that what we do is totally repeatable. Read More