Posts Tagged ‘user experience’

You’ve read in Cooper ch. 8 that one of the main goals of applying design principles to interfaces is to minimize work. This is, indeed, consistent with the assumptions about humans of information foraging theory. The same principle, sometimes simply referred to as “make it easy” applies to many other domains, such as persuasion, marketing, fundraising. In general, if you hope people will do something, you have to make it easy for them to do so. The same does not apply to professors… It is our job to make it hard 🙂

Now, think about your usability testing instruments and protocol: How do you minimize work? How do you make it easy for the research participant? How do you make it easy for the research team? Can you point out some of the (many) specifics things you do to minimize work?

As a beginning blogger, you may be interested/amused by this blogfest on user experience, bathroom and the 60s. You may even consider participating! Though I can see it may be hard to relate to the 60s… :). At least you can have some fun reading the entries, and discover blogs about user experience along the way.

Just in case you’re thinking of making a career out of this class… (no, one class isn’t enough, but it’s a start) – User experience jobs on Twitter.


Are you using Twitter (professionally)? Are you following me? If I’m not following you back, @ me.

If you recall (and I hope you do) our readings from the Cooper book and our class discussion of personnae, you’ll remember that this framework for understanding users begins with very general personal goal that are not directly linked to a task or activity. It may be a bit difficult to see the connection between those general goals and interface design, but here is a wonderful example:

I am sitting in a meeting about nanoHUB, and a physics professor tells us over lunch about some physics demos that he likes to use to help freshmen understand concepts. When asked what his criteria are for choosing those tools, he simply states:

“I want them to make me look good as a teacher.”

Then he goes on to tell us how the explanations have to be simple and clear, so that freshmen get the concept. They have to look neat, but not be burdened with unnecessary, complicated information or bells & whistles.

I had to tell you about this story, because it’s a really neat example, I think, of:

  1. the value of understanding user goals at the general level, as Cooper argues;
  2. the direct link between general user goals and interface features.

Head over to my other blog and look over a presentation embedded there from a Google UX researcher. Note the close connection between social science (understanding people’s social behaviors) and interface design.

5 second memory test

Posted: September 27, 2010 in Online tools
Tags: , , ,

Here is a tool (free, if I understand correctly) that enables you to collect data about the things people remember about your website after looking at it for 5 seconds.

Why do you think this type of memory test can be helpful?

Why perform the test after 5 seconds and not 7, or 8, or 10?

In the research protocol I created (WEA – Website Experience Analysis) I recommend measuring first impressions. I measure first impressions immediately after the first click off the home page. That is, as soon as the person clicks a link, I stop them and ask them to answer a couple of questions (see below). I figured that rather that imposing a standard (and random) amount of time, I better give the person enough time to figure the home page out. Different people will take different amounts of time, and different sites will require more or less time from the same person. I assume that once they’ve clicked that first link, they have formed a basic idea and orientation of the site.

The items I ask participants to answer are based on B.J. Fogg’s prominence-interpretation theory (pdf) and come in pairs. Here is the pair for first impression:

1. My first impression of this Web site is:
(very bad) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (very good)

2. Please describe your first impressions of the Web site. In your description, point out those Web site aspects upon which your first impressions are based.

How does the WEA assessment of first impressions compare with the 5-second memory test this tool enables? Are they assessing similar or different things? What do you think about the amount of time you allow site access before making the assessment?

Above is a screen shot from a list/task/project management service, Toodledo. I haven’t used it in a while, and when I came back to it earlier this semester, it took me a few long seconds to find the “Add a task” function. Can you see it? (you can click the picture to enlarge)

Granted, as you resize the browser window, the application looks different and the “Add a task” button appears within reach. But I don’t like working in tiny browser windows.

This is an example that violates one of the Gestalt principles of perception: Things in close proximity appear as one big shape/whole. Placing the “Add a task” button so far off makes it seem like it doesn’t belong in the application. I was looking for it within the application area, not outside of it.

There are many other things I would change about the Toodledo interface… This is a typical example of cramming in so many features (to satisfy the GTD productivity system) that the application becomes cumbersome. Every time I use it, I have to learn it all over again. Instead, I think I’ll switch back to todoist.

Do you have a favorite task/list management application? Which one?

And, more importantly for our course… What would you change about the Toodledo interface?