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Think Mobile First Design, Then Desktop Design

By User Experience (UX)

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

By User Experience (UX)

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

By User Experience (UX)

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

By User Experience (UX)

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.

Usability Report Thoughts

By User Experience (UX)

Well for the last two weeks I’ve had the opportunity to work on my final paper for Usability Report and I kept struggling with how many pages should my report be? From my experience, less is more concept; I saw many examples of reports 20, 40, or more pages long and I’m thinking to myself what kind of stakeholder has that much time to read a report that long? I guess it all depends on your audience that you are working for, however for me the pace of design sprints, design iterations, and also being tasked to create the end product, less is more. Less is more is great because it allows you to focus on short-term goals and create simple action items from the usability test sessions. The best part about usability testing is that users will tell you what they want and help you drive the product into the right direction for better user experience in creating something that is usable. Getting an unbiased group to test your product will also save you a lot of time, money, and resources. The key is to bring in the testing at the right time during the formative part of the process and then you can also do a summative test to help further validate your designs. Doing the usability report is the start in the right direction for better user experience.

Reflection Over My Moderating a Usability Test

By User Experience (UX)

I’ve never been a moderator for any usability test before this week.

I am very critical of the performance, and I felt that I was worse than I thought it would be after watching and listening to the test session several times. I found myself speaking too fast and saying “umm” often which I need to get corrected. With practice, I will need to slow down and talking more naturally to the user, will help fix these two most critical areas. I did feel that I was unbiased, I let the user operate the website as she would regularly use it without me helping her. I let the user speak more than I did so that I would not lead her too much other than what tasks needed to complete.

I would in the future want to ask and engage with the user a bit more; however, that is also dependent on the type of testing we are doing. In this summative test with the given tasks to the user and watching her use the site as well as getting her feedback out loud was our primary goal. The thing that surprised me the most is getting the technology and promoting the user to do certain tasks was a bit of a surprise challenge that I thought it would be. So I needed to do some dry runs a couple of times before getting started to make sure the flow of the test went as smooth as possible.

Overall, I learned that being prepared is crucial in moderating a usability test and I believe practicing in front of a group of people at work with more stakeholders, group critics, etc. will help me be more comfortable talking to users in testing.

Qualitative vs Quantitative in User Experience

By User Experience (UX)

One of the main things that we UX practitioners have to do at some point or another is qualitative or quantitative research studies. No matter if we are in user-centered design, design sprint, or simply talking with our stakeholders this kind of information is extremely helpful to persuade the audience to whom we are presenting.

Qualitative Studies:
“Qualitative research studies can provide you with details about human behavior, emotion, and personality characteristics that quantitative studies cannot match.”

Quantitative Studies:
“Statistical analysis lets us derive important facts from research data, including preference trends, differences between groups, and demographics.”

Having a basic understanding of each is critical when you have a project in which you need to perform one of the studies or if you need to perform both: “While quantitative and qualitative research approaches each have their strengths and weaknesses, they can be extremely effective in combination with one another.”

The conclusion is that we are looking to answer questions to better help solve the problems that can better enhance the product or service in which we are testing. After all, we only want to create a better user experience so that the user will have an easier and more enjoyable time using that product or service.


Usability Screener and Tasks Setup

By User Experience (UX)

This week was my first time to be exposed to the starting process of a usability study and all the preparation that is involved in getting your targeted audience. The process in which you write and organize your screener questions to help you narrow down a large potential population down to a small handful was eye opening for me. You want to have your eliminator questions, as I like to call them, right at the start, so you don’t waste the participant’s time or your own as a consultant, or the business’s as an employee. Yes, of course, you can hire a company, then budgeting their costs becomes a factor when you’re writing your proposal. Finally, once you have your target group now begins the fun part, when you give the user a scenario and where you observe a user going through your tasks that you’ve presented to them. Getting user unbiased feedback and listening to their feedback and watching them finding the challenges and opportunities in your product can be very rewarding because you know you have the ability to make something better. That is after all in the end as a user experience designer when I get the most reward from my work.

Startup Formative and Summative Assessment

By User Experience (UX)

Understanding the differences between Formative and Summative Assessments are great and all, however when it comes time to implement into the real world or in this case in a startup furniture business it never goes according to plan. When you are dealing with founders of the company, and when there is tons of overhead in facilities, employees, etc. the pressure is high to start getting orders in the door to generate revenue. Would I have loved to have the opportunity to conduct a user-centered design session or design sprints, of course, I would?

So now that the real world takes effect, the very first version of the website had your basic e-commerce online shopping aspects to search or find your product, add to cart, checkout, view gallery, blog, contact us, about us, etc. We also incorporated our main business differentiator and why our furniture was the best quality and customer service. While we were creating the designs, our testing and users all came from in-house people along with their friends and family; I guess you could call it an informal, informative assessment study.

One of the best things we learned was from our live site with real world users giving us feedback for our summative assessment. I know this is completely unorthodox, but that is what we had to do, and we collected tons of data from feedback that was sent in and Google Analytics data. As orders came in and the popularity of the brand grew, we came together to take what we learned, my vision for the brand and created the updated version 2.0 of the website and company taking it to the next level. Although we did not go the traditional routes in our testing or methods, it was one that is truly a success story and a hallmark project in my career.

Hey marketing folks…focus group is not usability testing!

By User Experience (UX)

Is it just me that I find it hilarious when I hear marketing people wanting to run a “usability test” when a product or website is about to launch. Then, come to find out they only want to see what people think or feel when they get people in the room instead of letting users use the product or website. As Steve Krug says here’s the difference in a nutshell between doing a focus group and usability testing: A focus group is getting a small group of people to TALK about things, give opinions about product or past experiences with them. A usability test is about observing a person USING the product to identify problems or frustrations so they can be fixed during the process.

Doing usability tests are great throughout the entire process of developing a new product from paper prototypes to full blown digital prototypes. Testing should often be done as well as design iterations to create the most compelling usability experience of the product. It also costs less to test now and often test to get it right versus only testing after a fully developed product hits the market. You only need 3 to 5 participants each time you do a usability test session, and it can be done anywhere; you don’t need a particular room or high tech equipment. Keep in mind you are only checking for user’s behavior, patterns, and possible pain points. You don’t need to have hundreds or thousands of participants that many people think you do for statistical significance for quantitative data because I’m trying to solve a problem and simply need to gain qualitative data.