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Ideation Wireframes

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After determining the flow of the mobile app, it’s good to start with the initial ideation wireframes to visually see how some of the information will be organized. This is beneficial for the entire UX team and even stakeholders, especially if they are in a UCD or design sprint. We can identify if we are laying out the information in a way that users feedback has given us or if the personas will use them as expected. There is no one right direction to go, however, use the data from both your qualitative and quantitative studies has given you. You’ll never be able to design something for everyone, but do aim for the majority of the users. Doing several rounds of wireframes before going into full design and coded development, can save you time and gives you the ability to test with minimal effort quickly.

Sitemap and Design Iterations

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It is important after making user journey that you start with your first version of a sitemap for your app or website. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s not final, and heck you can keep it on post it notes. Just as long as it is put on paper or the wall; just as long as the entire design team can visually see it. Why do we do this? Well, it is a high-level view of what we’re thinking of going with the design concept. Also, it allows not only people on the design team to see and modify; it also allows your stakeholders, content team, information architects, and others to view it as well. It then becomes a living document as you go through the process to validate your decisions and even necessary changes. As you go through usability testing and meetings with the business; you will see the first version will not be what the final version is and that’s ok. This is what being a user experience design practitioner means; it means you practice and iterates for the best possible solution that meets the business goals and outcomes.

User Journey

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As I look back and think of the many times myself and colleagues, I’ve worked with, jumping from an ideation discussion right into design or development immediately make me think, “what the hell was we thinking?”

All that time and effort were going down the rabbit hole with no light at the end of the tunnel, because we were rushing into, “work to show something in production mode,” vs. figuring out our “why” in what we are doing, “is it the right thing for our customer?” Asking this simple question from the start and throughout the process is critical in creating a product or service that someone wants, willing to pay for it, and willing to invest their time.

Understanding your audience and the personas you’ve created will help you navigate the user to the goals and tasks they want to accomplish. Creating the user journeys will bring up the potential challenges that users may face and help you identify critical areas within your design to focus on to turn those into better experience opportunities. At any point in time, the emotional level of users goes into a negative one such as confusion, frustration, angry, upset, or just unable to find what they are looking for or even a way to get help; these are opportunities where better empathy within UX can contribute to creating better design. Thus, in turn, creates an overall better experience for the users.

Website Eye Tracking Usability

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This week we got to analyze gaze and heat maps from an eye tracking data from a usability study. The data was very valuable in conjunction with the videos of the participants to identify their challenges and opportunities that we have. The videos were also great as you can hear some recommendations and frustrations during the think out loud sessions. I learned this week if you simply look at the data it could lead you one direction, however, if you use both resources together (video and map data) it will take you into the correct path for making your design decisions and recommendations. It is vital after doing the usability eye tracking sessions to have a retrospective with the participant to gain further qualitative data from the study. Sometimes the data can show the participant seeing something on the screen, but they may not perceive it at all, ie. the ketchup bottle effect.

Importance of Post Task Questions in Eye Tracking

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Eye tracking has been around for many years and has been a great tool for UX researchers. With technology getting better with the quality of equipment, improved accuracy and most importantly affordability; UX researchers are starting to implement this type of testing more and more. Eye tracking is great to see where the users are looking and gazing at, however, do not rely on the pure data alone. It is crucial that at the end of your usability test session to review the information with your participant and ask post-task questions to get more in-depth qualitative data. This will help you pinpoint areas to focus upon as opportunities and also to ignore areas that the user may be glazing around the page. You may also find areas where the user was maybe struggling to locate the information or action needed even though it could be staring them in the face, known as the ketchup bottle effect, and completely miss on what they are looking for. Finding the data patterns great in the eye tracking study, however putting that in context with the user’s actual feedback will help you determine the necessary changes that are needed

Mr. Tappy Mobile Usability Testing Device

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The past two weeks we got to dive deeper into mobile usability testing and mobile gestures. After looking at several devices to use for mobile usability testing, I like Mr. Tappy product. The main reason I like this device apparatus is that it is lightweight, you can still hold our device as you naturally would, it comes with magnet or suction to hold your device in place; which can also be turned to landscape mode quickly, and that it comes with an HD camera. Having the users hold the device and not be stuck on a large bulky apparatus as others I saw on the market which makes you feel as though you are at the store using a display unit. Those testing devices do not allow the user to interact with it naturally and for us to clearly capture a participant’s gestures on the touchscreen accurately. Our main goal is to capture how a participant would interact with the device, website, or app as they would at home to identify their challenges and help us find opportunities to create a better experience.

Think Mobile First Design, Then Desktop Design

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What is mobile first design? Shift your approach by thinking about the user experience and functionality on a mobile device first before you start to create your website, application, etc. for the desktop experience. For many years we, designers, were taught and trained to design for the desktop first and then figure out how to transfer that experience on to a mobile device second.

However, since early 2014 the number of mobile devices and spent on mobile devices surpassed desktop devices1 and as the smartphones continue to advance at a rapid rate, this trend will continue to grow. Thus, we need to shift as designers and organizations to design for the small constrained area on a mobile design to get the essential information on the screen, as well as the bare functionality that we want users to do and experience or actions we want users to take.

Here are some additional reasons to why we should design mobile first2:
• There are over 1.2 billion mobile web users worldwide
• In the U.S., 25% of mobile Web users are mobile-only (they rarely use a desktop to access the web)
• Mobile apps have been downloaded 10.9 billion times
• Mobile device sales are increasing across the board with over 85 percent of new handsets able to access the mobile Web

Cited References
1 Mobile Marketing Statistics Compilation
2 Mobile First Design: Why It’s Great and Why It Sucks

Usability Testing Data Beyond the Numbers

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Ran into a situation when I was looking at usability testing quantitative data, which by the numbers showed the users were able to complete their tasks easily and quickly. However, when I reviewed each video to get some qualitative data they seemed to be complete opposites. Watching the users struggle in one of the tasks and hearing their frustrations was more informative vs. just looking at the numbers. If I had only looked at the numbers, I would not have been able to make the better UX design recommendations for the stakeholders. Hearing the users points of frustrations and identifying them will give us opportunities that will have a direct impact on the business’s financial bottom line. So my takeaway from this study is never solely to rely on the data numbers given to you and always ask to watch some usability testing in person or the videos.

Unmoderated Remote Usability Test

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Image credit from Seeking Alpha

This week I had done an unmoderated remote usability study (URUT) on American Eagle Outfitters website. I checked out the website myself before the study with the participants and saw some challenges from a user experience standpoint. Thus I had identified some opportunities for a better experience. While setting up the study with my objectives in mind, I created several tasks and questions for the URUT. There are many different approaches when it comes to conducting a usability study and when is the right time to run one type of research vs. another kind? There are five main reasons why you would want to consider URUT:

• Large Sample Size
• Dispersed Audience
• Small Budget
• Convenience
• Benchmark

After my participants had completed their tasks from the study, several of them confirmed the same opportunities I had also identified when shopping on the American Eagle Outfitters website. That was excellent news to me as it validated the same challenges I saw in the site, and the data from the study will be used in my report to present to the stakeholders for my recommendations to the website to enhance a better user experience.

Powering User Research

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Continuing my thoughts on the growing field of UX and the tools that we use in powering our user research. I understand that everyone has a budget and you want to make the dollar stretch as far as you can, however, are you doing your research justice if you use a tool, for example, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk? Just because it’s very cheap and you can get a large pool of participants for your user research are you getting the right data that you need to make the right decisions to make your product the very best it can be? Or is simply good enough is what you’re going after? These are a few questions you may want ask yourself when conducting your research and when is the right time to get the right participants for the critical tasks and problems you’re trying to validate. Don’t get me wrong I’m all about maximizing my budget, however I would rather do something once and get it done right vs. having to explain to my stakeholders why I need additional funds to do the same research over again and have them lose confidence in me doing the study and the UX process as many stakeholders in the real world are not exposed or familiar with it at all in the first place.

So keep this in mind when you are out there looking for a website to help you with face to face or remote user research to find the right tool and company to aid you in this process. Ethnio website and their customers that they have whom all have used their tool gives me great confidence in the data that I would gain from their tool. This would help me in my report to all stakeholders, and when many of them want to learn or watch the process, I feel tools and website such as Ethnio would provide validation of the UX process to the business.