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  • 1.     Learning to Speak UX: A Usability Case Study Prepared by: Brian Gaines, Clemson University Prepared for: MAPC Thesis Committee, Clemson University Dr. Tharon W. Howard Dr. Susan Hilligoss Dr. Sean Williams     Submitted: March 4, 2014 Abstract     Usability   and   User   Experience   Design   are   young,   yet   maturing   collection   of   user-­‐ centric  disciplines  with  far-­‐reaching  implications  in  a  variety  of  applications.  This  is   especially  evident  in  technology-­‐based  endeavors,  such  as  social  media,  where  a  user’s   experience  can  have  significant  impacts  on  an  interface’s  success  and  failure.  The  focus   on  the  user  in  implementing  a  social  media  platform  is  paramount.    To  individuals  or   entities  who  are  unfamiliar  with  the  processes  and  procedures  involved  in  a  usability   study,  a  more  inclusive  education  may  be  required  to  disabuse  the  layperson  of  the   misconceptions  surrounding  this  multidisciplinary  field.  This  may  hold  especially  true   for   individuals   and   organizations   whose   discourse   resides   in   a   normative,   a   priori   realm.  This  case  study  focused  on  the  difficulties  resulting  from  conducting  a  usability   test  and  the  resulting  recommendations  report  submitted  to  the  CEO  of  a  social  media   website   that   focuses   on   entrepreneurship   and   innovation.   By   being   able   to   communicate  in  a  manner  consistent  with  the  client’s  discourse,  educating  the  client   on  what  usability  is  and  is  not  may  be  manifest.  
  • 2.     “User Experience Design (UX)”, also known as “Usability,” “Information Architecture,” “User Interface Design,” “User-Centered Design,” and a plethora of other nomenclature to describe a multidisciplinary set of user-centric practices has gained traction within the last decade in regards to designing for the Web. Because of the ubiquity of computers in people’s everyday lives, designing for the user takes on a particularly salient role. In the case of the Web interface, and in particular social media interfaces, creating a context for experience- the behavioral, emotional, and experiential responses of the user- are valuable commodities (Buxton, 2007). Paying attention to these factors could mean the difference between success and failure in regards to social media. Because of the relative youth of User Experience Design, unique challenges may be present for those who wish to capitalize on the benefits of designing from the user’s perspective. The multidisciplinary nature of UX suggests a discourse that may seem foreign, especially to those whose discourse may reside in a normative organizational culture (Deetz, 2001). In this case study, the usability researcher addresses the problems associated with understanding what is meant by the user-centric collective of usability, the need for educating the client on what usability is or is not, and the challenges of communicating the needs of the user to the client in a manner that can be easily understood. Background and Context InnoVenture.com, a Greenville, S.C. based company that connects organizations to entrepreneurs and their ideas, was founded in 2003. In 2004, the company started the
  • 3. 2     annual InnoVenture Conference, a series of networking events with the goal of connecting entrepreneurs to interested parties with resources and beneficial business relationships. The format for the sessions at the InnoVenture Conferences included presentations of 10 slides presented within eight minutes to large groups (500+) with the goal of facilitating innovation among interested parties. In the wake of the success of the InnoVenture Conferences, CEO John Warner- a businessman with 30 years experience as an executive, investor, board member, and adviser to companies and not-for-profits from start-ups to New York Stock Exchange listed firms in a variety of industries (LinkedIn profile, 2014)- launched the social media component of InnoVenture, LLC in November 2012 (J. Warner, phone interview, Sept. 13, 2013). To date, InnoVenture.com has approximately 2,200 participants from 32 U.S. states and 34 countries. Warner also is a regular contributor to the South Carolina Business Review, a podcast hosted by South Carolina Educational Television, which is also broadcast on statewide National Public Radio affiliates. As a result of the podcast and his business relationships over the past 30 years, Warner has established a high degree of credibility among business people within the Southeast. As of March 3, 2014, Warner had 1,523 endorsements for various business practices, including startups, entrepreneurship, venture capital, strategy, and business development (LinkedIn profile, March 3, 2014). Warner, in an interview on September 13, 2013, asserted that InnoVenture.com distinguishes itself from other business-related networking interfaces, such as LinkedIn.com, by creating a series of communities centered on an entrepreneur’s ideas rather than the individual (J. Warner, phone interview, Sept. 13, 2013). Participants of the communities, or networks, within InnoVenture.com, are classified into two types of
  • 4. 3     users: the “Presenter” and the “Follower”. The Presenter is generally characterized as someone who has an entrepreneurial or innovation-based endeavor, and has a desire to share this concept, known as a “Big Idea”. This Big Idea consists of a name for the concept or idea, a 140-character or less description or “elevator pitch,” and a description of the needs for the entrepreneur to further develop the concept (J. Warner, phone interview, Sept. 13, 2013). The Big Idea is presented via the Presenter’s profile page, or within the context of a larger network of like-minded individuals, in order to be followed. Optionally, a Presenter may also upload slide decks, videos, and longer descriptions to further explain the concept. InnoVenture.com also advocates to the Presenter that having a list of contacts (names and email addresses) of individuals (Followers) who are already familiar with the idea presented, as they act as allies in promoting the ideas to individuals and entities with the resources to assist in further developing innovative ideas (J. Warner, phone interview, Sept. 13, 2013).
  • 5. 4     Figure 1. Innoventure.com homepage, current iteration. 2014. During the initial interview, Warner also stated a desire to identify current usability problems within the interface, such as navigation, number of clicks to complete a task, and visual design issues. Warner also stated that emphasizing user-created content and streamlining the process of networking between entrepreneurs and those with resources and relationships to aid in the development of ideas is a top priority. Warner felt that by improving upon these areas, the user experience would be thusly improved (J. Warner, phone interview, Sept. 13, 2013). Validation of this model, through monetary donations, had furthered Warner’s resolve to develop InnoVenture.com into what he refers to as the innovation engine for the region (Warner, phone interview, Sept. 13, 2013). Warner also stated that, through an enhanced user experience, InnoVenture.com strives to establish itself as a “disruptive business” (Warner, phone interview, Sept 13,
  • 6. 5     2013). Clayton Christensen, in the Harvard Business Review, has argued that creating disruptive businesses offers the biggest source of growth and is the only way in the long term to continue creating shareholder value (Christensen, et al., 2002). The disruptive business model, which in itself is based upon a “disruptive innovation,” creates entirely new markets and business models (Christensen et al., 2002). Through the enhancement of the user experience, InnoVenture.com wanted to establish connections between entrepreneurs and interested parties with connections to resources and relationships, etc., which could result in what Christiansen describes as a robust process for creating and launching disruptive innovations (Christiansen et al., 2002). This overview of the startup’s goals is important, as we shall see in later discussion. However, at the time, Warner seemed to have a clear understanding of why usability testing would be beneficial to InnoVenture.com. As we will later see, a difference of conceptual models concerning usability caused friction between the client and researcher, a questioning of the researchers credibility, and finally the dissolution of the client-researcher relationship. To understand how a difference of conceptual models affects usability testing, we must consider that the interface as the common ground for discourse between the usability researcher and the client (Laurel, 1993). The interface- acting as a medium in which users experience InnoVenture from the usability researcher’s perspective and as a tool that delivers results from the client’s perspective- became more of a ground of contention and led to the breakdown in communication between the two parties. Furthermore, what both the usability researcher and client think about the other and their
  • 7. 6     respective roles in regards to usability testing for the interface informed the conceptual models (Figure 2). Figure 2. Diagram of differences of conceptual models (from Laurel’s “Computers as Theatre”). The blue bar represents the interface. To gain a better understanding of the researcher’s conceptual model of usability, we must first gain a base understanding of the fundamentals of “usability,” “user experience design,” “information architecture” and other nomenclature that constitutes the emergence of a multidisciplinary practice that has roots in technical communication (Getto, et al., 2013). Because of the multidisciplinary nature of usability and its emerging role as a recognized practice in the technology sector (Redish and Barnum,), a clearer definition of what usability entails is necessary.
  • 8. 7     Defining Usability A literature review was conducted by the usability researcher to define usability and to inform the researcher’s conceptual model of usability. An emphasis was placed on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) to correlate with determining the relationship between Innoventure.com and users of the interface. The following literature indicated the user was the most important factor when designing a system. These findings were especially beneficial to the research design and data collection for this study. Literature Review When a user accesses a web interface, finding information should require little effort, the interface should be easy to use, and navigation should be simple. These factors affect the usability of a particular web interface. Usability, as defined by Jakob Nielsen, is a quality attribute related to the ease of use of an interface. Usability is defined by five quality components: • Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design? • Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform the tasks? • Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency? • Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors. And how easily can they recover from these errors? • Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design? (Nielsen, 2000)
  • 9. 8     Moreover, functions such as navigation, connecting to and contacting other users, and creating content within the interface should be readily apparent. The first immutable law of usability, according to Steven Krug, is “Don’t make me think!” (Krug, 2009). That is, a user of a web interface should not have to be taught to navigate a particular interface, but rather, the interface should be intuitive, allowing the user to easily identify the location of information. Jonathan Lazar supports these claims by stating: When Web sites are created, the usability of the Web site should be an important concern. Web sites should be designed so that they are easy to use. The users should be able to easily find the content that interests them, and the users should not frequently be confused or “get lost in cyberspace.” (Lazar, 2003) Additionally, Lazar identifies six separate categories relating to the usability of an interface. These are: Navigation, Information Architecture, Download Time, Accessibility, Internationalization, and the Use of Graphics and Animation. Because the markup languages used to create the interface are universal and Warner has a defined visual identity, only the first four categories will be considered. • Navigation: In web navigation, users need information on where they have been, where they are, and where they can go (Lazar, 2003). In addition to providing users with site navigation that allows them to reach their task goals, the navigation on the web page must itself be easy to use (Lazar, 2003).
  • 10. 9     • Information Architecture: Closely related to navigation is the information architecture. How the web interface is structured, and how the users navigate through the site (Lazar, 2003). • Download Time: Download time is a major frustration to users. Several studies have shown a correlation on download times and the user’s perception of the interface. An increased download time can change the user’s perception of whether the interface is interesting (Ramsay, Barbesi, & Preece, 1998). An increased download time can also change the user’s perception of the quality of the web interface (Jacko, Sears, & Borella, 2000). Moreover, a long download time may cause users to believe that an error has occurred (Lazar & Norcio, 1999, 2000, 2002). Actual download times can vary because of a number of factors, such as server load, network traffic, etc., the file size of a web page can be determined by the designer. Nielsen suggests a 10-second download time as the limit for the web (Nielsen, 2000). • Accessibility: An important usability consideration when designing for the Web is that the interface is accessible to many different populations, including those with disabilities. Users may be viewing pages using adaptive devices, such as screen readers. The hearing impaired may be unable to utilize streaming audio and other multimedia, such as videos. Designing for accessibility is part of a larger trend called universal usability, in which information systems will be designed for ease of use for a variety of populations, including the disabled, the elderly,
  • 11. 10     economically disadvantaged users, and users with different technology, download speeds, and browsers. (Lazar, 2003). In recent years, the term “user experience” (UX) in regards to a user’s interaction with an interface has become part of the technological lexicon, particularly among those in the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) community. In an effort to standardize the practices of measuring a user’s experiences in human-computer interactions, the International Organization for Standards (ISO) defines user experience as User experience includes all the users’ emotions, beliefs, preferences, perceptions, physical and psychological responses, behaviors and accomplishments that occur before, during and after use. (ISO 9241-210:2010, Ergonomics of human-system interaction—Part 210: Human-centered design for interactive systems) This definition provides a fundamental framework for what user experience is, as well as reinforces the emergent multidisciplinary practice of user experience as credible through the ethos of ISO. In a further effort to define user experience, Marc Hassenzahl and Noam Tractinsky have developed three perspectives that attempt to contribute to our understanding of a user’s interaction with technology. These perspectives are described as: Beyond the Instrumental, Emotion and Affect, and The Experiential. • Beyond the Instrumental: In the early days of HCI research, the task was the pivotal point of user-centered analysis and evaluation techniques (e.g., usability) (Hassenzahl & Tractinsky, 2006). Designing for the user experience includes concepts that go beyond the instrumental (i.e., cannot
  • 12. 11     be quantified), such as aesthetics, surprise, and intimacy (Hassenzahl & Tractinsky, 2006). User experience, through these concepts of non- instrumental aspects, attempts to create a holistic, more complete HCI. (Hassenzahl & Tractinsky, 2006). • Emotion and Affect: Based in Affective Computing’s recognition of affects and emotions, UX is concerned with affective consequences from the human perspective. While Affective Computing deals with negative emotions and experiences, UX is concerned with positive emotions such as fun, joy, and pride (Hassenzahl & Tractinsky, 2006). Hassenzahl and Tractinsky cite two basic levels of dealing with emotions in UX: The importance of emotions as consequence of product use, and their importance as antecedents of product use and evaluative judgment (Hassenzahl & Tractinsky, 2006). The latter is based partly on Donald A. Norman’s concept of the Visceral Level of Processing, in which the brain analyzes the world and responds (Norman, 2004). • The Experiential: The experiential perspective on UX emphasizes two aspect of technology use: its situatedness and its temporality (Hassenzahl & Tractinsky, 2006). An experience can be a combination of elements, such as the product and the mood of the user. Furthermore, Hassenzahl and Tractinsky argue for the differentiation of an experience and Experience: Forlizzi and Batterbee (2004) go a step further and distinguish between ‘An Experience’, which ‘can be articulated or named, has a beginning and end, [and]
  • 13. 12     inspires behavioural and emotional change’ and ‘Experience’ as ‘a constant stream of ‘‘self-talk’’ that happens when we interact with products’. The former acknowledges the experiential as complex, unique and thus, outstanding and hard to repeat. The latter view underlines the temporal aspects of experiences, their subjectivity and dynamics. (Hassenzah & Tractinsky, 2006). Hassenzahl and Tractinsky also question whether a designer can design for an experience, or whether to acknowledge the positive experiences, successes, and joys are the result of the product (in this study, a web interface) or other situational aspects. Based on the literature review, it should be clear that the conceptual model of usability for the researcher shared these prejudices. An interface that is intuitive, efficient, memorable, error-free, and pleasant to use is paramount. Moreover, it is essential that the interface be easily navigable, have a well-defined information structure, quick download times, and be able to be easily used by those with disabilities or impairments. Lastly, by considering the perspectives that contribute to a user’s interaction with an interface-Beyond the Instrumental, Emotion and Affect, and the Experiential-the usability researcher is considering the user at the center of the human- computer interaction model. Heuristic Evaluation On September 26, 2013, a heuristic evaluation of the InnoVenture.com interface was conducted to gain insights as to what areas of the interface may need to be revised. This evaluation revealed a glut of potential user issues, which were submitted as a report
  • 14. 13     to Warner. The following recommendations were submitted to act as a catalyst for refining the InnoVenture.com interface in future iterations. From  a  visual  design  perspective,  changes  to  the  typographic  elements  could   reinforce  the  ethos  of  the  interface.  By  changing  the  word  “big”  to  all  capital  letters,   it  could  send  a  visual  cue  to  the  viewer  that  he  or  she  is  indeed  being  part  of   something  big  (Figure  3).     Figure 3. Screen capture of InnoVenture.com homepage, early fall 2013       The  banner  of  the  home  page,  which  borrows  elements  from  the  InnoVenture  logo   (Figure  3.),  tends  to  be  the  focal  point  of  the  banner  and  detracts  from  the  message   being  articulated  clearly  to  the  viewer.  A  change  in  the  opacity  does  help,  but   eliminating  the  dynamic  feel  of  the  banner  in  favor  of  a  flat,  or  single  color  element  
  • 15. 14     will  seek  to  enhance  the  legibility  of  the  overall  message.  The  sentence,   “InnoVenture.com  helps  people  with  big  ideas  grow  trusted  relationships  with  their   existing  connections  to  discover  needed  expertise  and  resources,”  at  19  words,   could  be  perceived  as  perplexing  (Figure  3).  By  utilizing  some  simple  guidelines  for   slogans  (Krugman,  et.  al,  1994),  a  more  concise  description  could  be  attained  that   would  be  easier  to  remember  and  disseminate  via  word  of  mouth.   More  imagery  and  less  text  are  needed  in  many  key  areas  of  the  site.  By   providing  visuals  to  a  layout,  it  generates  interest  for  the  viewer  and  breaks  up  the   text  into  smaller,  easily  digestible  “chunks”  of  information  that  the  viewer  will   retain.  While  structural  cues  such  as  paragraphs  in  the  passages  do  help  the  viewer,   a  stronger  visual  hierarchy  would  enable  users  to  scan  information  and  distinguish   between  the  relevant  and  irrelevant  (Johnson,  2010).  Moreover,  poor  information   design,  unnecessary  text,  differences  in  information  processing  through  user’s   reading  abilities,  the  use  of  jargon,  and  information  buried  in  repetition  can  impact   the  viewer’s  processing  of  the  information  presented  (Johnson,  2010).     From  a  content  perspective,  changing  the  number  of  Big  Ideas  after  clicking   “Discover”  would  compel  the  viewer  to  want  to  learn  more.  This  technique,  known   as  “scarcity”  (Weinschenk,  44),  would  cause  the  viewer  to  believe  if  the  information   is  more  difficult  to  obtain,  then  it  is  more  valuable.  In  the  website’s  current  and   subsequent  iterations,  the  number  of  “Big  Ideas”  available  to  the  viewer  is  20,  with   the  option  to  load  more  in  increments  of  20.  By  reducing  this  number  to  perhaps   three,  the  perception  that  the  information  is  privileged  could  provide  a  desire  in  the  
  • 16. 15     viewer  to  join  the  Innoventure.com  community  to  learn  about  more  Big  Ideas  that   are  available  to  be  followed.     Use  of  conversational  language  would  also  enhance  the  overall  user   experience.  Use  of  the  word  “you”  is  a  powerful  language  cue  for  the  viewer,  as  it   appeals  to  what  is  known  as  the  “old  brain”  (Weinschenk,  70).  The  old  brain,  which   may  also  be  known  as  the  Id,  is  attracted  to  thoughts  about  danger,  food,  sex,  and   the  individual  in  which  it  resides.  As  the  appeals  for  danger,  sex,  and  food  are  not   necessarily  appropriate  subject  matter  for  the  site,  an  appeal  to  the  self  through   language  is  a  viable  option.   Because  the  heuristic  evaluation  conflicted  with  Warner’s  conceptual  model   of  usability,  the       Through the heuristic evaluation of the InnoVenture.com interface, several easily remedied usability problems were discovered. The minor adjustments that were suggested could result in a more usable interface. While these recommendations were not exhaustive, they did hint at some usability issues that could have been addressed. Warner seemed reluctant to heed the recommendations of the heuristic evaluation. In an email dated October 1, 2013, Warner was dismissive of many of the suggestions in the evaluation. Comments attached to the returned report reflected his frustration at the findings. In regards to recommendations regarding the homepage, Warner alluded to prior experiences with usability professionals. He stated, “Everyone I have ever worked with starts with the home page. If you are introduced to an idea, which is how most new users get to the site, the first page you see is an idea presentation page. This is much more important than the home page.” (Warner, email, October 1, 2013). Despite the
  • 17. 16     protestations of the importance of Innoventure.com’s homepage, by December some of the suggested changes had been implemented (Figure 4). However, suggestions concerning the slogan and the large amounts of text were ignored. Figure 4. Screen capture of InnoVenture.com homepage, present-day. The Client’s Conceptual Model In a face-to-face meeting on October 3, 2013,Warner outlined his conceptual model for improving the user experience for InnoVenture.com. The most salient feature of this conceptual model was based on what he referred to as the “Two Screens Scenario.” In the Two Screen Scenario, a Follower or potential Follower opens an email
  • 18. 17     to follow a Big Idea, participate in a webinar, or other InnoVenture, LLC, sanctioned event. In Warner’s words, the user would open the email, click on the link to the idea, and in turn, follow the presenter of the idea, attend the webinar, or indicate attendance to a live InnoVenture-sponsored event (Warner, interview, October 1, 2013; Phone interview, January 27, 2014). The email itself was an idea that Warner referred to as the “first interface” (the First Screen), and later in the meeting as the “First UX” (Warner, interview, October 1, 2013). “The Second Screen,” according to Warner, was the end result of clicking a hyperlink embedded in the email that the recipient would click to navigate to the Presenter’s Big Idea on the InnoVenture.com interface (Warner, interview, October 1, 2013). Warner had also stated in this meeting and in phone conversations that integrating his Two Screen Scenario into certain communities, such as the Clemson University Alumni Network, would increase the traffic on InnoVenture.com. He further asserted that linking the two communities would increase the possibility of a Presenter’s idea being paired with individuals and resources to further develop the concept. To further illustrate the importance of growing a network, Warner disclosed that the Innoventure.com interface equips the Presenter with the ability to upload as many as 250 contacts at a time in order to promote their Big Idea (Warner, phone interview, September 13, 2013; Interview, October 1, 2013). Another key component of Warner’s conceptual model of usability refers to what he called “The Nut” (Warner, interview, October 1, 2013). The Nut, according to Warner, involved “getting the followers,” “finding the signal in the noise,” “user agreement,” “tuning to the signal,” and the “ubiquitous problem: Too many options, and not one more thing to check.”
  • 19. 18     To the researcher, The Nut seemed to refer to marketing to potential users of InnoVenture.com. The ubiquitous problem, in particular, seemed to refer to the issue of a potential user being inundated with yet another social media platform. While Warner’s conceptual model for usability may revolve around a potential Follower opening an email and navigating to a predetermined page, some semblance of usability did occur. A day prior to the October 1 meeting, Warner emailed the usability researcher a document titled “InnoVenture.com Enhancements.” Drew Felty, a Clemson University MBA student and InnoVenture Presenter, was interviewed about possible changes to the current interface to improve its usability. Within the document, Felty outlined 13 areas he felt would enhance InnoVenture.com. Among the 13 areas outlined, integration with other social media platforms seemed to be the most salient. Integrating with LinkedIn or similar discussions was mentioned 16 times in the three-page document. While this document attempted to coalesce with the researcher’s conceptual model of usability, it should be noted that Felty has the second most Followers on InnoVenture.com, behind Zachary Eikenberry. Warner often uses these two individuals as examples of the success of the InnoVenture.com interface. While the intention of attempting to design for the user is evident, gathering insights from a variety of users would have proven to be an unbiased indicator of what users of the system desire. To Warner, his conceptual model of usability seems to involve growing a network and merging it with a larger, more established network (the Clemson University Alumni Association). This network interactivity is based, in part, on those who have successfully promoted their Big Idea within the InnoVenture network. By introducing these Presenters
  • 20. 19     to a larger, more connected audience; Warner will have facilitated a large-scale partnership between academia and business in a new model. In regards to the InnoVenture interface, Warner has stated that he “only focuses on the positives and not the negatives” (Interviews, October 1, 2013; October 8, 2013). Because users such as Felty and Eikenberry have used the interface in a successful way, Warner has chosen to focus on them as models of success rather than the hundreds who have not been able to use the interface successfully. The privileging of certain InnoVenture.com members, namely Eikenberry, Felty, and a handful of other Presenters who have amassed more than 100 Followers, evidences this. These Presenters are representative of an anomaly, and not the average Presenter, who as we shall see later, has not been as successful. Friction The differences in Warner’s and the researcher’s respective conceptual models of usability, as well as Warner’s reluctance to consider the researcher’s conceptual model of usability may have contributed to the ensuing friction concerning several aspects of testing of the InnoVenture interface. As stated previously, Warner had explicitly stated that the homepage of InnoVenture.com was not important to his Two Screen Scenario. While the two screens may have benefitted those few individuals who have successfully promoted their Big Idea, this reluctance to develop the interface outside of this closed system could alienate other populations within the interface. The homepage, as a navigational and structural device, serve an important purpose. From the perspective of the researcher’s conceptual model, having a frame of
  • 21. 20     reference for users unfamiliar with the site to orient themselves is a crucial navigational tool. A functioning homepage, with buttons or links in which to navigate back to this orientation area can accommodate the divergent ways in which various users navigate an interface (Krug, 2006). Warner’s reluctance to engage in enhancing the user experience outside of his definition framed within the two-screen discourse seemed contradictory to his earlier statements of wanting InnoVenture to be “the innovation engine of the region.” Steve Krug, the information architect, consultant, and user experience designer, offers a compelling argument in the case for usability testing. Because individuals think differently, have differing knowledge bases and skill sets, and use the Web in divergent ways, usability testing acts as a broadening experience and can provide a fresh perspective on an interface (Krug, 2006). Testing, even on a small scale provides insights into designing an interface form a user-centered approach. Testing on as few as one person offers 100% more insights on the interface’s usability than no testing at all (Krug, 2006). Furthermore, even poorly designed usability tests can still expose areas of improvement that can have far-reaching impacts on a web interface, ranging from insights to extreme cases of improving cost efficiency (Krug, 2006). Usability testing can also serve to change people’s attitudes about users. Observing users interacting with an interface can provide as an excellent feedback system in which the user is giving the observers feedback and insights never before considered, thus informing current and future products (Dumas and Redish, 1999). In Garrett’s Strategy Plane, from the Five Planes of User Experience, user research, user testing, and
  • 22. 21     usability all serve to make products easier to use (Garrett, 2011). Through contextual testing methods, such as task analysis, a close examination of how a user interacts with an interface or product allows for improvements to be made based upon studying the user in their “natural habitat” (Garrett, 2011). Warner’s conceptual model of usability, which involved rapid growing of the InnoVenture network, was also at odds with the researcher’s conceptual model. Warner’s fervent desire to promote the uploading of a Presenter’s contacts was consistent with his desire to rapidly expand the InnoVenture network. Small groups are better conversational environments and tend to foster convergent thinking (Shirky, 2008). As groups grow in size, it becomes impossible for everyone to directly interact (Shirky, 2008). This phenomenon, known as a Small World Network, emphasizes a quality over quantity approach to network building. Through another phenomenon, known as the Birthday Paradox, Shirky posits that reaching and maintaining an agreement among group members grows more difficult as the size of the group increases (Shirky, 2008). In short, a Small World Network, in which all members are striving to reach the same goal, would prove more productive to the Presenter of a Big Idea versus uploading large numbers of potential Followers as contacts. The friction resulting from the two divergent conceptual models of usability and Warner’s reluctance to consider the usability researchers recommendations would soon reach a great point of contention.
  • 23. 22     Putting Out Fires On January 26, 2014, Warner, Web Developer George Manley, and the researcher attended a particularly heated conference call. During this particular call, Warner and Manley were emphatic that Warner’s conceptual model of usability was the preferred method of enhancing the user experience. Warner also explicitly stated that the only usability he was concerned with was the Two Screen Scenario and how the researcher could “make the emails more usable” (Warner, et al., phone interview, January 27, 2014). Warner further asserted that testing potential and current users would not help him realize his goals in any way. Manley, echoing Warner’s sentiment, stated that usability testing “was wrong, and is actually the opposite of what works in the real world” (Manley, phone interview, January 27, 2014). Manley also asserted that because of his decade-long experience as a Web Developer versus the experience of the researcher, that he was more knowledgeable in the practices of usability (Manley, phone interview, January 27, 2014). Despite the heated discussion during the conference call, an agreement was made to continue with the think-aloud usability study as planned by the researcher. In dealing with resistance, such as that exhibited by Warner, it was important to handle it well. By realizing many clients want confirmation, not change (Block, 2011), the researcher was able to determine that resistance was a part of the consultation process, especially when the conceptual models involved were seemingly diametrically opposed. In order to minimize resistance, and to convince Warner that usability testing offered many insights to making InnoVenture a more usable system, the researcher’s negotiation skills had to be of paramount importance. By “separating Warner from the problem,” it was possible to achieve an elegant solution (Fisher, et al., 2011). In other
  • 24. 23     words, when Warner suggested that the actual usability testing being conducted was not consistent with his Two Screens Scenario, the problem wasn’t necessarily with Warner, but rather with the issue of the vagary of the jargon surrounding User Experience. Furthermore, Warner’s interests in making InnoVenture a successful social media and business platform consistent with his conceptual model, was operating independently of his position as to what usability actually is (Fisher, et al., 2011). In order to reach agreement on the usability test, the researcher agreed to participate in propagation of the Two Screen Scenario within his own InnoVenture network. With an agreement in place, the researcher was free to conduct the think-aloud usability testing. Research Design and Data Collection The usability test for InnoVenture.com was broken into three major sections. The first section, involved interviews with John Warner and George Manley, InnoVenture’s Web Developer. From these interviews, it was discovered that both Manley and Warner stated the desire to identify potential usability issues with the interface in an effort to attract new users, as well as to gauge current user’s experiences with the site (Warner, phone interview, September 13, 2013; Manley, interview, October 8, 2013). An agreement with Warner was negotiated to survey early users of the InnoVenture interface, with Warner determining the respondents as well as having final approval over the survey questions. The survey was sent to 385 InnoVenture users, with 75 users responding. The survey consisted of a combination of open response questions and a five- point Likert-type survey. While the validity of the data cannot be confirmed as entirely accurate (Warner administered and reported the data), some interesting insights were still
  • 25. 24     yielded. The questions themselves were geared towards the value of connections made on the InnoVenture interface, as well as some of the features Warner deemed relevant to the success of the interface, such as uploading 250 contacts at once. In regards to the Likert- type responses, a “valuable connection” was defined by Warner as a relationship formed that resulted in a connection to individuals with resources or relationships that were beneficial to the Presenter. When asked if any valuable connections had been made on InnoVenture.com, 29% of the respondents indicated that, yes, valuable connections had been made. Forty seven percent of those who responded indicated that they had not made a valuable connection. Nineteen percent of the respondents were unsure, and five percent of the survey participants did not respond. When asked if they were aware of how to make valuable connections, 61% indicated yes, 11% were not aware, 24% were not sure, and 4% did not respond. In regards to being aware of uploading up to 250 contacts at a time, 56% of the respondents indicated yes, 23% indicated no, 15% were unsure, and 4% did not respond. When asked about valuable connections that were made as a result of regularly updating progress on a Big Idea, the respondents indicated that 19% of them did in fact make valuable connections, 60% did not, 20% were unsure, and 1% did not answer. The open response section of the survey varied among the 75 respondents, with the majority giving support for Warner and the site, or promoting their own Big Idea. A few respondents suggested linking to other social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. One respondent called for a feature to reach out to potential customers, stating,
  • 26. 25     “We are trying to reach out to potential customers. Our InnoVenture connections are not potential customers but industry partners or business associates. The platform does not seem to be directed to market development. It seems like we are all swimming in our own bath water. We attended the conference last Nov in Greenville, SC but did not score one customer hit.” While this statement can be considered contrary to Innoventure.com’s mission, it reinforces Krug’s idea of users engaging with the Web in divergent ways (Krug, 2006). After reviewing the survey responses, the researcher felt it was time to design and implement a task analysis in order to determine the interface’s actual usability. Warner, who at this time was somewhat skeptical, had agreed to this form of testing in fall of 2013 (Warner, email, September 26, 2013). Steve Krug, in his influential User Experience design book, Don’t Make Me Think, suggests that the optimal number of users in each round of a usability test is three to four (Krug, 2006). In an effort to exemplify academic rigor, the number of participants for this particular usability test was 10. Among the 10 participants for the study, the ages ranged from 22-29, with 6 of the participants being female, and 4 being male. Eight of the participants were U.S. citizens, one hailed from China, and one was from Germany. One of the participants held a doctorate, two were Ph.D. candidates, 2 were Ph.D. students, and the remaining 5 were graduate students in various Master’s programs. All of the participants had self-identified as having an interest in entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as self-identified as being “Internet savvy.” Three of the participants had a working knowledge of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) or other scripting languages, and one of the participants had recently built a website. The second portion of the study involved a task analysis coupled with a think-
  • 27. 26     aloud protocol, followed by a System Usability Scale (SUS) survey and an informal interview. The task analysis, which took place in Clemson University’s Usability Testing Facility, using Techsmith’s Morae Usability Software, a Logitech Web camera, and two Dell OptiPlex 960 computers, each outfitted with two Dell monitors. Notes were taken documenting positive and negative responses to the InnoVenture.com interface, quotes, and general reactions to the interface. The task analysis featured 10 tasks, ranging from very simple to complex. The tasks, which covered a variety of salient features, as described by Warner, were: 1. Navigate to the URL “ http://www.innoventure.com.” 2. From the innoventure.com homepage, navigate to the “About Us” section and identify the company’s founder. 3. Locate the contact information for innoventure.com 4. Locate how you would join the InnoVenture community. 5. Navigate to “Networks” and locate the “Clemson Innovation” network. Within this network, locate Adam Hoover’s “Big Idea” and view his presentation. 6. Locate and identify the number of projects that “Clemson Innovation” is currently promoting. 7. Navigate to the screen where you would learn to promote your “Big Idea.” Determine how many ways in which you may promote your “Big Idea.” 8. Return to homepage. Navigate to the screen where you would most likely upload any contacts you may want to promote your “Big Idea” to. 9. Locate the search bar and perform a search for “Drew Felty”. Once you have located Mr. Felty, describe his “Big Idea.” 10. Log out of “http://www.innoventure.com.”
  • 28. 27     Numerical assignments were given to the ability to complete tasks, with one (1) being “Failure to Complete task”, two (2) “Completed Task with Difficulty, three (3) “Completed Task with Some Difficulty, and four (4) being “Completed Task With Ease”. The data collected from these tasks were scored and averaged (Figure 1.). The range of the scores was1.8 to 2.8, and the mean score among the 10 participants to complete tasks was 2.41. Based on these scores, the participants experienced difficulty in performing most of the tasks in the interface’s current iteration.     (Figure  4.)  Graphical  depiction  of  Task  Analysis.  On  a  scale  of  1  (failed  to  complete)  to  4  (completed  with  ease),   the  mean  score  among  10  participants  was  2.8.   After the completion of the task analysis, a System Usability Scale (SUS) survey was given to the participants. The SUS survey, developed by John Brooke at Digital 0   1   2   3   4   Average  Task  Errors   Tasks   Average  Task  Errors  
  • 29. 28     Equipment Corporation in the United Kingdom in 1986, provided a means of assessing usability within a system. Because the SUS can operate independently of technology, it can be implemented in a variety of usability scenarios (Brooke, 1996). This survey, a Likert-type survey, has been proven as an effective means of measuring usability (Brooke, 1996; Bangor, et al., 2008; Bangor, et al., 2009). Because of its ease of use, intuitive scoring, technological agnosticism, and low-cost, it is widely used in usability and user satisfaction scenarios (Brooke, 1996; Bangor, et al., 2009). Moreover, the SUS scores can provide a means of determining a system’s usability in a method that is easily understood by many: the higher the score, the more usable the system. The SUS score was determined by calculating each item's score contribution range, from 0 to 4. For items 1,3,5,7,and 9 the score contribution was the scale position minus 1. For items 2,4,6,8 and 10, the contribution was 5 minus the scale position. Multiplying the score’s sums by 2.5 yielded the system usability score (Brooke, 1996). The scores were then averaged to determine the mean of 28.0. While SUS scores are not exact percentages, it is generally accepted that scores in the 68 and above range indicate a system is usable, and scores below 50 generally indicate poor usability (Yeo, 2001). With a range of 0.00 to 60.0, and a mean score of 28.0 among the 10 participants, the Innoventure.com interface could be described as very poor. (Figure 2.).
  • 30. 29     (Figure  5.)  System  Usability  Scale  (SUS)  scores  for  participants.  The  mean  system  usability  of  InnoVenture.com   is  28.0  on  a  scale  of  0-­‐100,  which  indicated  the  InnoVenture.com  interface’s  usability  is  very  poor.   The informal interview focused on the individual user’s responses to both positive and negative aspects of the Innoventure.com web interface that they experienced during the task analysis and think-aloud protocol portion of the test. The participants were asked to further elaborate upon particular aspects of the interface they found exceptionally positive or negative. The researcher asked participants to discuss positive aspects of the InnoVenture.com interface as a strategy to convey the information to Warner. Because of the aforementioned practice of focusing on the positives, the researcher surmised that the data collected would be seen by Warner if some praise were lavished upon Innoventure.com. Educators in persuading others to listen to the negative have used this strategy of naming positive attributes effectively. Furthermore, naming positive attributes about the interface can be an effective alleviator to the potentially demoralizing effects of the negative attributes of the interface. Because this may be the first direct feedback Warner has experienced with the InnoVenture interface, including positive findings could prove to be beneficial (Dumas and Redish, 1999). 0   10   20   30   40   50   60   70   p1   p2   p3   p4   p5   p6   p7   p8   p9   p10   SUS  Score  
  • 31. 30     The Positives Despite the high task error averages and low SUS scores, the participants felt there were still several positive attributes within the InnoVenture social media interface. 100% of the participants thought that a social media platform focused on connecting individuals focused on innovation and entrepreneurship with those with valuable resources or connections was a great idea. Sixty percent felt the interface was credible, owing to the clean design and the color palette. Additionally, 60% stated they would recommend the site to others. Ten percent described the interface as “looking the way a social media site should.” While these attributes were certainly positive, they paled in comparison to the high number of negative aspects associated with the interface. The Negatives Unfortunately, the participants felt the negative aspects of the InnoVenture.com web interface overwhelmingly outweighed the positives. All of the participants stated that there was simply too much text, with over half stating they would not read all of it. Eighty percent described the interface as frustrating, particularly concerning the inoperability of the search bars, uploading, and navigation features of the site. Ninety percent all of the participants expressed concern over the scarcity of information concerning how to use the site, the difficulty in navigating to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) areas, the size of the font, and the lack of intuitiveness of the overall site. One particularly colorful participant described the interface as a “Podunk ass website” and further stated that they would not recommend this site to anyone under any circumstance. Of the 50% of the participants who elected to join the Innoventure.com, 80% of those voiced concern over having to verify their membership via a two-step
  • 32. 31     process involving email, as well as whether or not InnoVenture would send unsolicited bulk advertisement via email (spam), and how frequently. The introductory video on the home page was viewed by 30% of the participants, who described it as “cheesy,” “unprofessional,” and “stupid.” One participant identified the background music as the instrument track to popular song “Gangnam Style,” and wondered aloud if InnoVenture had secured the rights to use the music. Suggestions for Improvement The participants were also questioned during the informal interview as to what they would feel would make InnoVenture.com a more suitable social media web interface. All of the participants thought that less text and more imagery would greatly enhance the interface, as well as prominently displaying FAQs, working functionalities, more explicit instructions on how to get started, and a more intuitive interface. Sixty percent of the participants suggested uniformity of the menu buttons, 40% suggested stating the benefit of being a part of the InnoVenture social network, and 30% suggested a messenger or chat feature, in addition to having the option to group Presenters and Followers based on the interests of the users themselves. One participant suggested a more customizable home page, where a particular user’s settings would make the interface more intuitive based on personal preference. Despite the numerous negative associations by the participants, 80% were hopeful that the problems associated with the interface could be easily resolved. For example, one participant suggested outright that making changes to the size and amount of text would present a more aesthetically pleasing layout that would make it more legible.
  • 33. 32     The usability report- which outlined demographic information of the participants, the research methodology used, the equipment used for the test, the findings, and recommendations for improvement- was sent to Warner for his review. However, the differences in conceptual models between Warner and the usability researcher could be problematic. The A Priori Versus the Emergent Considering Warner’s conceptual model of usability, his desire to rapidly grow a network and to merge it with a larger established network, and reluctance to consider the usability researcher’s conceptual model as valid could be described as falling within a normative and a priori conceptual framework, would most likely fall into the communication metaphor known as the conduit (Putnam, et al., 1999). From a normative, a priori viewpoint, the channel from which the message originates, in this case Warner, was meant to be communicated with a minimal of spillage (Putnam, et al., 1999), i.e., executed to its fullest extent under his orders with minimal to no dialogue during this process. This message has been transmitted to Manley, who had helped develop InnoVenture.com’s web presence to Warner’s specifications, with little to no apparent feedback. This metaphor allows for the transmission of communication Another metaphor that falls within the conduit hegemony is the tool. The tool, in this case, the InnoVenture social media interface, seeks to provide a means to an end (Putnam, et al., 1999). Manley, and his skill sets as a Web developer, have also acted as a valuable tool in translating Warner’s communicated idea into reality. Ideally, the usability testing that has been performed for this interface should have acted as a tool in order to fulfill Warner’s mission of creating a viable social media platform. However, the
  • 34. 33     nature of usability testing, which considers the role of the user, is diametrically opposed to the metaphor of the conduit. From a discursive perspective, it appears that Warner, and as a result, InnoVenture, is normative and a priori. Warner’s own admission of wanting “InnoVenture to become the innovation engine for the region” embodies the overcharacterizations and rigid standards emblematic of a normative organizational structure (Deetz, 2001). By becoming the “innovation engine of the region, Warner reifies the concept of InnoVenture as an object of prediction and control (Deetz, 2001). This control, which Warner wants to extend to the Clemson University Alumni Association, addresses the discursive features of a normative organization in several ways. Within the “Problems We Solve” subheading in the FAQ, InnoVenture addresses several key components associated with normative discursive feature (Deetz, 2001): People with big ideas seeking resources, and enterprises with resources seeking big ideas, have a common problem. Those with ideas find it difficult to attract resources, and enterprises find it difficult to provide resources, because early on big ideas are not fully formed and are personal to the people who have them. Those with ideas are most likely to attract resources, and enterprises are most likely to provide resources, when someone they both know and trust introduces them to one another. As a big idea is validated in the marketplace, the individual with the idea grows the confidence of those interested in helping by keeping them updated on progress. InnoVenture.com is a platform for people to present big ideas and ask for introductions to those with resources, who can follow the idea to receive progress updates, introduce the idea to someone else who can help, and connect privately with the person who has the idea to explore how to work together. The explicit use of the term “marketplace” is highly suggestive of a normative discourse, as the marketplace is a prominent metaphor for organization from a normative discursive practice (Deetz, 2001). By suggesting that Warner is someone that they (the
  • 35. 34     Presenter and Follower) can be introduced to each other by someone they know and trust, Warner, through InnoVenture, seeks to control, bring order to disorder, facilitate information needs, provide an economic social relation, and attempts to enforce efficiency through a defined channel (Deetz, 2001). Moreover, the perceived forced creation of affinity groups reinforces the normative culture reified by Warner. Consensus, through dominant social relations, knowledge, and the attempt to maintain a hierarchy was apparent with Warner. In email correspondence, phone conversations, and meetings with the usability researcher, Warner insisted that his conceptual model was the preferred framework in which to conduct usability testing. Despite the usability researcher supplying myriad examples of both academic and popular literature supporting his conceptual model, Warner insisted it did not apply to InnoVenture’s needs. Whenever the subject was mentioned, Warner maintained the Two Screen Scenario and his 30-plus years in business outweighed any findings from the usability researcher. The emergent practices suggested by the usability researcher, using metaphors unfamiliar to the client, presented a discourse foreign to the client. These differences in metaphors and conceptual models led to a breakdown in communication that ultimately led to the dissolution of the researcher-client relationship. When considering the user’s experience in designing for the web, a metaphor that describes that overall experience is that of linkage (Putnam, et al., 1999). This linkage, which seeks to produce organizations that produce communication, is crucial to the acquisition of information, which is one of the functions of the InnoVenture.com interface (Putnam, et al., 1999). Moreover, the metaphor of linkage relies upon strong network ties and overlapping of convergent networks, which may or may not have
  • 36. 35     permeable boundaries, which is consistent with many social networks (Putnam, et al., 1999). Because InnoVenture’s partial mission is to link ideas with individuals or groups with beneficial connections or resources, this metaphor to describe the networks involved is fitting. Through a shared practical knowledge and discovery of concepts, the users of InnoVenture.com appear to represent a dialogic and emergent discourse practice (Deetz, 1999). Through the expansion of available discourses afforded by a virtual society created through social media, new identities can be assumed (Presenter, Follower, or both), thus fragmenting this “society” (Deetz, 1995, 2001; Gergen, 1991). The use of the social media platform seeks to establish a space for voices that may be otherwise lost within a normative organization, which is indicative of a dialogic discursive practice. Furthermore, the connections among people that are afforded by social media networks extend social influence and coordinate actions (Putnam, et al., 1999). The potential for strong network ties formed through these fragmented societies is also consistent with the linkage metaphor. The members of Innoventure.com themselves, as a collective, challenge the notion of a normative organization, by virtue of their differing roles within Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff’s Social Technographic Ladder and Amy Jo Kim’s Membership Life Cycle Model (Howard, 2010). Within the structure of the Social Technographic Ladder, six different member type shave been established: Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators, and Inactives. Another five have been established in Kim’s model: Visitors, Novices, Regulars, Leaders, and Elders (Howard, 2010). Each of these member types have characteristics, such as the Joiners, who have influence simply by joining, indicates
  • 37. 36     usability testing across a diverse population could be beneficial. Moreover, understanding that different types of users exist, such as the Visitor in Kim’s model, suggests an interface such as Innoventure.com cannot and will not become a daily habit for all users (Howard, 2010). An interface that is cognizant of different types of users will ultimately be successful versus one that strives for a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Because different users will have different reasons for using the interface, a rigid network created by a Presenter-Follower relationship within a predetermined network will not benefit everyone. Certain users may be seeking advice, while certain users may be interested in developing manufacturing processes to create a product more efficiently. The current method of Presenter-Follower may not foster the types of discourse appropriate to those types of users. Usability, as a professional practice, is the convergence of several career fields: human factors, cognitive psychology, sociology, technical communication, and visual design, among others. This abundance of available and varied discourses also lends itself to what Deetz refers to as fragmented society, and portrays the usability professional as someone who may represent multiple identities by performing his or her practice. The portrayal of many seemingly divergent roles, coupled with the privilege granted to the user, seeks to unmask the elitism established by an a priori, normative organizational culture (Deetz, 2001). This unmasking, which favors creativity, diversity, and deconstruction, presents a unique challenge to the normative organizational culture, whose social fear is disorder (Deetz, 2001). The polarity in discourses between Warner, the users of InnoVenture, and the usability researcher present great difficulties when explaining the importance of the user
  • 38. 37     experience. Warner and Manley, whose aforementioned statements regarding the role of the usability researcher were expressed by discordance over the difference between the two competing conceptual models. Warner felt that a task analysis was counterproductive to his Two Screens Scenario, and Manley’s opposition to usability testing based on his developer-centric model in regards to Web design. (Warner and Manley, phone interview, January 27, 2014). The aforementioned benefits of user testing were dismissed, with Warner stating that none of those things would be helpful in attracting users or promoting the site to the Clemson University Alumni Association. Being aware of the diversity of users and their experiences with an interface, as well as the divergent ways in which people use the Web can only enhance the user’s experience. Gathering insights from potential or actual users concerning the interface is one such method of becoming aware. As Krug has pointed out, gaining insights from even one user is a 100% increase over none at all. Because InnoVenture is the product of an individual who has been immersed for three decades with a normative culture, some level of reluctance regarding the user experience is to be expected. In order to help the case of the user, the usability researcher, and ultimately InnoVenture, careful consideration was given to convince Warner of the beneficial role usability and the user play in a social media interface. To convey the needs of the user and the usability researcher, a method of transcending the communication barrier was necessary. The usability researcher decided to present the need for usability testing and the findings in language that Warner might be receptive to. Phrases, such as the external Return on Investment (ROI), communicated insights gathered from the usability tests in a way that made sense to Warner. The
  • 39. 38     benefits of usability testing- making Innoventure.com easier for users to use, creating a more helpful interface for users trying to achieve their goals of connecting to individuals with resources and connections, a generating a more satisfying user experience overall (Wilson, 2005)- framed as ROIs were one such way in which the usability researcher and Warner were able to reach an agreement. By using language Warner was accustomed to, it was possible to convince him to consider disparate viewpoints. (Fisher, et al., 2011). This appeal to Warner’s values from an organizational perspective is typical of an “outer voice” form of socialization (Cheney, 1983). This outer voice form of communication by the usability researcher in regards to Warner’s understanding of the importance of usability is also consistent with the fragmented identity associated with a dialogic discursive practice. Back Draft Upon receiving the usability report, Warner thanked the usability researcher for his efforts in making Innoventure.com a more usable Web interface. This politeness was short lived, however. Upon learning that the usability researcher had written an academic paper outlining his experiences of working with a client who was unfamiliar with usability practices, Warner demanded to read the paper immediately. Because no such agreement had been discussed regarding Warner’s role in dissemination of information concerning the usability study, the request was denied. Warner, in an email, questioned the usability researcher’s credibility, saying “This process has not gone well. For someone who is getting trained to listen, you are in an academic bubble and have haven't listened. Your user interface research was not focused on the most important interface for how most people are introduced to the site. Your report highlights
  • 40. 39     obvious issues that are secondary to how the site is primarily used. It didn't take four months to know there is too much text on the about page, and it is not necessary or helpful for you to publish that. How this project was structured reflects a lack of understanding about how most users engage with social networks, whether LinkedIn or Facebook or InnoVenture. Most users today start on a phone or some other mobile device which is the first screen and the second screen is an interior page of the site, but you said that wasn't relevant to you. You can't provide relevant input on a user interface if you don't understand user behavior. I'm concerned that whatever you publish will do more harm than good. If I had this to do over again I wouldn't.” In response, the usability researcher expressed to Warner that the usability issues and recommendations were, in fact, very important to the users of the site. In short, if a user cannot use the interface being accessed, the user simply will not use the interface. Moreover, Warner provided nothing other than anecdotes that suggested users of Innoventure.com used the interface on a mobile device exclusively. As we have learned, users access the Web in divergent ways. Lastly, if Warner knew what the usability issues of Innoventure.com were, why did he seek the recommendations of a usability researcher? Further, if Warner knew of these issues, why were no measures to correct these issues implemented? Having met the agreed upon requirements for the usability testing, and realizing that any mutual understanding for improving the usability of the InnoVenture.com interface unlikely, the usability researcher dissolved the client-researcher relationship.
  • 41. 40     Conclusion When conducting usability testing, being cognizant of the client’s conceptual model regarding usability is paramount. Differences in goals, knowledge of what “usability” entails, and organizational discourses are some of the factors that will inform a client’s conceptual model of usability. While this model will most likely be in conflict with the usability researcher’s conceptual model, careful consideration to the differences can be an effective means of reducing friction between the disparate parties. Because of the dialogic nature of usability testing, the researcher is called upon to perform several roles within the fragmented society. An extension of performing these divergent roles is adopting the discourse of the client-in this case the discourse of a normative, a priori organizational culture- in order to effectively communicate the importance of testing as well as advocate for the user. Through the reification of a normative discourse, the usability researcher can project an outer voice that is consistent with the client’s organizational values. By practicing communication in a normative role, the usability researcher is also reifying the fragmented identity (or identities) associated with a dialogic discursive practice. To someone whose organizational discourse resides within a normative theoretical framework, the practices and discourse associated with user experience may present a traumatic experience. In an effort to minimize this trauma, a clearer definition of user experience and the user-centric practices associated with it must be developed. Through reification of a normative discourse, the usability researcher is engaging in the dialogic discursive practices associated with user-centered desig
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