Understanding the Value of User Research,
Usability Testing, & Information Architecture
Kyle Soucy, Founding Principal
Usable Interface www.usableinterface.com
The Ockham's Razor Principle of
Content Management Systems
“Given two functionally equivalent content
management systems, the simplest one should
- Dries Buytaert
Original creator and project lead of Drupal
"Human-centered design is characterized by: the
active involvement of users and a clear
understanding of user and task requirements; an
appropriate allocation of function between users
and technology; the iteration of design solutions;
multi-disciplinary design." - ISO 13407
"[Usability refers to] the extent to which a
product can be used by speciﬁed users to
achieve speciﬁed goals with effectiveness,
efﬁciency and satisfaction in a speciﬁed
context of user." - ISO 9241-11
User Research Focus Groups
Heuristic Evaluations Log File Analysis
Surveys Eye Tracking
Card Sorting Usability Testing
Purpose of User Research
Making sure the product provides
what the customer needs and wants.
✓ Does the the feature work?
✓ Can it be used easily?
✓ Is the feature even needed?
Value of User Research
Making sure all your resources are being used effectively.
RESOURCES: INVESTMENT: OUTCOME:
Design Confidence that
you are building a
product that is
Support and will be used by
Etc. your customers.
• In-depth Interviews
• Contextual Inquiries
• Field Studies
• Diary Studies
What is Usability Testing?
Observing real customers
as they actually use your product.
Image source: facit digital
• Deﬁne what you are testing
• Deﬁne who you are testing
• Deﬁne the tasks you are testing
• Recruit users
• Prepare the prototypes
• Conduct dry-run
• Facilitate tests
• Conduct Analysis
Who should you test?
• Create a recruiting screener
• Include existing users as well as the people
you are trying to target
• Make sure to cover all user groups
• Get buy-in from project stakeholders
How many users do
you need to test?
Source: Jakob Nielsen
What NOT to do...
1 Round of Testing
What you SHOULD do...
Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
• First step to user-centered design is to
realize your end users are not YOU
• Include your users in the design process
• Usability testing is not a validation test
• Testing earlier pays off more