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3 Usability Techniques

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  • Timings for CPL (rough)10 minutes - Intros and so on70 minutes - usability overview plus persona / story walk-through 40 minutes - hallway evaluations10 minutes – break60 minutes - usability testing20 minutes - wrap up - putting this into your work context
  • #1 focuses on the importance of looking at your work from the perspective of a user. The basic technique is a quick user story (persona based on what you know at this point).
  • Make this as a bile
  • #2 is about how to get people to try something out, instead of offering opinions. The basic technique in this segment is writing realistic tasks and observing behavior.How we will do it:screenshots and post-it notesCan have each table rotate to the next table for 5 minutes, etc. to jot down comments on post-it notesWon’t have time to get everyone through all the tables, but should get good idea
  • #3 puts the first two into real usability test, and teaches how to moderate and observe, along with some thoughts about who makes a good usability test participant.
  • What should we use for the demo usability test?We could use the Use Tax notice from the Hallway exercise because they will all have seen it and they'll have a copy.
  • We are testing with a VA brochure -- the before; as with the other documents we have an after to share at the end of the exercise.We should give the moderators and observers the brochure to look at for a few minutes to decide how to do the test and to decide whether to do a paraphrase test or a go through it and ask questions test.
  • Steve runs instant usability tests in his workshops – he asks for volunteers to name a web site, and runs a test with someone in the audience using the site. They always find at least a few problems.
  • This is where Nicole talks about First Friday and Whitney talks about NCI
  • This starts our conclusion.Remember that we've looked at 3 techniques from this toolkit.
  • We've shown review techniques but don't wait for the end of a project to focus on usability and accessibility.Use these review techniques on your CURRENT version at the start of a project.Use all the other techniques, too.
  • And a reminder of who sponsored this workshop today

3 Usability Techniques 3 Usability Techniques Presentation Transcript

  • Three ways to help users understand your informationA usability workshop for World Usability Day
    Whitney Quesenbery
    Ginny RedishKate Walser
    November 10, 2010
  • Topics for this workshop
    Introduction to usability and usability techniques
    Three techniques for today
    Persona / story walk-through
    Hallway review
    Informal usability test
  • Introduction to usability and usability techniques
    Poster from Usability Professionals’ Association showing an overview of a user-centered design approach
  • Plain language and usabilitygo hand in hand
    Plain language means that people can
    Find what they need
    Understand what they find
    Use the information to meet their goals
    Usability means that people can meet their goals
    Effectively (completely, accurately)
    Efficiently (in an appropriate amount of time)
    With satisfaction
  • Usability is about people
    All kinds of people
    doing all kinds of things
    online and offline
    Photo credits iStockphoto, russeljsmith, Trace Center
  • Different types ofpeople…doing differenttasks… have differentusability needs
    For this person, efficiency and effectiveness are the most important dimensions.
    For this person, easy to learn and error tolerant are the most important dimensions.
  • Usability focuses on users’ behavior
    Understanding users' needs
    Designing to meet those needs
    Making sure you have met those needs
    − in the time and effort that users are willing to spend
    Attitudes and satisfaction are important.
    But most important is what people dowith your document or web site.
  • Usability is a toolkit of techniques
    Do a final usability testto compare to benchmark
    Analyze and measurefor maintenance
    Prototype (or write drafts) iteratively
    Create a style guide and templates
    Inventory your content
    Develop your content strategy
    Do card sorting
    Do persona / story walk-throughs
    Set measurableusability goals
    Do hallway reviews
    Write relevant stories
    Do rapid, informal iterative usability testing
    Create personas
    Conduct benchmark usability tests
    Watch, listen to, and talk with users as they work(contextual interviews)
    Use each technique − when you need it and at the right scale.
    Analyze search logs and server logs
    Articulate your business goals
  • Persona / storywalk-through
    When you have no timeand no access to users
    Persona of a commuter, created in a workshop at the Society for Technical Communication
  • What is a persona / story walk-through?
    A usability technique that
    takes no special equipment or set up
    gets your whole team involved in the processAnd can even be a bit of fun!
    You can do this (and any of our techniques) with
    a document (paper, web-based)
    an entire web site or a partial web site
    a specific web topic or even one web page
    We'll call this your "content.”
  • Step 1: Don’t look at it yet
    Sounds contradictory?You have only one chance to look at somethingfor the first time and to think about it like a new user.If you look at it before you try to use it, you’ll see it differently.If you are reviewing your own material, set it aside for a fewhours before you do the persona / story walk-through.
  • Step 2. Write down your goals for your content
    Your site visitors' goals (and their reality)
    Your organization'sgoals for this specific document or content
    Success − for youand your users
    Answer people's questions about your topic
    Have people complete a transaction correctly without calling
    Get more people to fill out a form correctly without calling
  • Step 3: Create a mini-persona
    Who is using your content?
    Who is a typical person for this content?
    What adjectives or phrases describe this person?(busy? anxious? curious? nervous? knows relevant technical vocabulary? or not?done this lots of times or never before?)
    Give that person a name, an age,a few personal characteristics
    Think about how well you know this person, and how much they are − or are not − like you.
    Mariella Garcia
  • Step 4: Tell that persona's story related to your content
    Why has that person come to your content?
    What is your persona's goal?
    What is your persona trying to do? looking for?
    What does your persona expect to find? to happen?
  • Step 5: Walk through your persona's story as the persona
    "Channel" your persona.
    Start where your persona would in the story.
    When / how would your persona get the document?(Open the envelope.)
    Where would your persona start in the web story?(Know the URL? Go to Google?)
    Go through the content (document, web site, web topic, web page) as if you were the persona carrying out the persona's story.
    Take notes of what works well and what does not.
  • Try it!
    We'll work on this example:
    Home page of the Tricare web site.
    Tricare is the medical insurance company for military personnel, retirees, and their families.
    It offers several plans with health, dental, pharmaceutical coverage.
    The site must serve current and new customers.
    That should be enough for you to set up a persona / story
    walk-through.
  • Try it!
    Work with a neighbor
    Don't look at it yet.
    Write down Tricare's goal(s) for the web site.
    Create a mini-persona of one typical user of the Tricare web site.
    Write the start of the persona's story. Why is your persona coming to the Tricare site?What does your persona expect to happen?
    Now be your persona doing the persona's storyand make notes about how well the Tricare home page works or does not work for your persona and your persona's story.
  • Considering what you learned
    Positives: Did any part of what you were reviewing work well?
    Concerns
    Relationship problems
    Are the organization's goals and the persona's goals in alignment?
    How well does the site satisfy either set of goals?
    Conversation problems
    Are the headings, text, and images meaningful to your persona?
    Did your persona understand the words? find where to click?
    Appearance problems
    Does it look tidy and attractive?
    Is space used well?
  • Making use of what you learned
    Reporting
    Include at least one positive comment.(You want to keep what is working well.)
    Have examples of problems from the persona’s perspective.
    Think about how critical the problems are.
    Think about what keeps the persona from being successful.
    Fixing
    Yes, fix the easy-to-fix problems.
    But fixing the one or two most critical problems is much more important.
  • A bit more about being user-centered
    What we’ve just done is a persona / story walk-through
    The user's story – the persona and goal – guides the review.
    Your knowledge of usability and good design helps you understand the problems the persona encounters.
    Guidelines or a checklist can help you keep important points in mind.
    Ginny did a large review with this technique for AARP.
  • What are the benefits and risks of this technique?
    Benefits
    Easy to do.
    Doesn't need users, space, equipment.
    Risks
    You may know less about these users than you think.
    Methods that rely only on guidelines are known to be rather poor at predicting actual problems.
    You (or your colleagues and managers) may resist doing usability testing because the review seems good enough.
    You become over-confident.
  • Doing a little bit more
    Get a second opinion.
    More people means more insights and less chance of getting fixated on a minor issue.
    Decide whether you want more or less expertisein the persona and the reviewers.
    Add a wider coverage of people and tasks.
    Include more personas, especially those that contrast.
    Include more stories for each persona.
    Make the report more comprehensive − if that will actually accomplish what you need.
    More detailed descriptions of problems.
    Include screenshots to point to specific problems.
  • Hallway reviews
    Getting input from morepeople in your organization
    Post-it notes with comments about a home page (portal) for students who are new to the Open University
  • What is a hallway review?
    A usability and design technique to capture feedback from
    Target users
    Team members
    People in the organization
    Customers
    Post screenshots or examples of the information in
    Meeting rooms
    Hallways
    Online (using tools like Notable − screen shot and link on a later slide)
  • Step 1: Decide what to review
    Which do you want to review?
    Information – use a printout of the wording
    Information plus design – use a screenshot or wireframe
    What do you want hallway reviewers to critique?
    Clarity – can someone read and understand it easily?
    Tone – does it set the right tone?
    Context – is there enough to help with understanding?
    “Enablers” – do the surrounding elements (design, headings, label, etc.) help reinforce the message?
  • Step 2: Think of questions AND bounds
    Help frame the feedback
    Post personas and sample scenarios / tasks with questions to gauge ability to complete scenario (e.g., What’s the penalty for paying late? Where did you find the answer?)
    Post thought-provoking questions (samples on next slide)
    What will hallway reviewers know that your personas won’t?
    Think of the game “Taboo”
    Background information
    Internal, insider words, phrases
  • Sample questions
    Could you answer [question 1]? If so, where did you find the information?
    How clear is the information?
    What else would the reader need to know to understand thisinformation?
    Are there any design elements that promote understanding?
    What would you suggest rewording?
    Are there any words your friends, family, or colleagues wouldhave trouble understanding?
  • Step 3: Find the right place
    High-traffic areas when you need…
    Volume
    Diverse population
    Lower-traffic areas, but with RIGHT people
    Subject matter experts
    Help desk
    Trainers
  • Step 4: Gather materials and post
    Get approval / clearance if needed
    Sample materials
    Large easel sticky notes
    Print-outs of site pages or pamphlets
    Post-it notes (arrow post-it notes too!)
    Tape
    Pens, markers
    Answer drop-box (if you want to review answers to questions)
  • Or set up an online area to collect
    Notable – http://www.notableapp.com
    flickr – http://www.flickr.com
    To give people “Add a note” option, go to You > Your Account > Privacy & Permissions
  • Step 5: Check in and observe
    See reactions as people encounter the review
    Check response rate
    Post new copies of screenshots if response rate is good
    Adjust the “framing” if needed
    Provide more clarification on task
    Follow up on questions, results as appropriate
  • Try it!
    We'll work on this example:
    Information that the Washington State Department of Revenuewrote for every business owner in the state.
    Organization's goals:
    If business owner owes this tax, pay it.
    If business owner does not owe this tax, go on record to say that.
    Persona:
    Owner of a small business with 10 or fewer employees.
    Is very busy; needs to spend most of time focused on the business.
    Doesn't want to get in trouble with Revenue, but doesn't know tax law or tax language.
    Gets a lot of mail from a lot of sources.
  • Considering what you learned
    Positives: Did your reviewers make any positive comments?
    Concerns: What did you learn from reviewers' comments about -
    Relationship problems
    Are the organization's goals and the persona's goals in alignment?
    How well does the site satisfy either set of goals?
    Conversation problems
    Are the headings, text, and images meaningful to your persona?
    Did your persona understand the words? find where to click?
    Appearance problems
    Does it look tidy and attractive?
    Is space used well?
  • What are the benefits and risks of this technique?
    Benefits
    Quick and easy
    Cheap
    Fewer time constraints than scheduled sessions
    Can reach more reviewers and cover more ground
    Risks
    More often, gather feedback from insiders – less often, target users
    Similar challenges to focus groups – one reviewer’s commentsmay influence another
    Little chance to learn more about the comments
  • Can we lessen the risks?
    Separate the markings from the commentsAsk reviewers to
    Initial / mark the area they want to critique
    Jot down the comments / ideas and drop in a box andreference the mark (e.g., KW1)
    Spread out the hallway reviews
    Requires more effort aggregating feedback
    Distributes the number of comments that could bias otherreviewers across multiple copies
    Use copies of the same screenshots and give each its own“focus” (e.g., clarity, tone, etc.)
  • Usability testing
    Informal testing with people who use your information
    Informal usability testing of voting materials at the Farmer's Market in Olympia, Washington
  • What is a usability test?
    Observe real people using something in a realisticor semi-realistic environment
    Not just asking them about it
    See how easily real people find what they need to accomplish a task
    Confirm or challenge assumptions
    Improve materials
    Don’t argue about design or language. Test with real users.
    Learn where and how to prevent mistakes or help peoplerecover from mistakes.
    Find where the information is not "plain" enough for peopleto revise it.
  • How easily can we learn from users?
    Gathering feedback from people can be as simple aswatching someone use something to find information.
    Let them explore the material as they would really do.
    Don’t explain or demo.
    Watch what they do.
    Note where they do and do not read.
    Listen to their comments.
    Take their problems seriously.
  • How easily can we learn from users?
    Usability testingdoes not have to be formallengthy, or expensive.
    You don’t need
    a formal laboratory
    100s of participants
    special equipment
    special recording systems
    Poster from Washington State
  • Why not do this in a group?
    In focus groups, you get
    preferences
    opinions
    group consensus
    In a usability test, you get
    individual behavior and performance
    what happened, as well as why
  • What do you need for a usability test?
    What
    The material you want to test
    Where
    A quiet room (Maybe. We know of very successful usability testing in an open marketplace, a hangar at an air show, the chemotherapy center at the NIHClinical Center.)
    Who
    Moderator
    Observer/note-taker
    Users: 3 − 6 people, one at a time
  • The moderator runs the session
    Impartial, unbiased, observing
    No teaching!
    Listen and watch
    Open-ended questions: Why?How? What were you doing?
    Moderator roles:
    Flight attendant: Ensuring safety and comfort
    Scientist: Planning, maintaining objectivity, managing data
  • Briefing the user
    Thanks for trying out this […]. Your doing this will help improve this material.
    Note: If you never use the words "test" or "evaluate" with the user,you will not have to say "We are not testing you."
    You can stop anytime.
    Your involvement will be confidential.
    If you get stuck or confused, say so.
    Please let me know what you are thinking as you use this …
  • Techniques to maximize information
    If the user says, “hmmm” or “oops” or “I wonder…”
    Say, “What questions do you have right now?”
    If you are doing "think aloud" and the user is silent for 10 or 20 seconds (count!)
    Say, “What are you thinking?”
    If users stop because they think they're done or they are stuck (and you think there’s a problem)
    Summarize what you saw the user do.
    Ask "What would you do now?"
  • Think aloud during − or after the task
    Consider asking people to “think aloud” as they work
    What they’re doing
    Why they’re doing it
    If it's a usability test that you can't do with think aloud,go back over the material
    Ask the participant to walk you through what they did and why.
    Use the material as a guide for the discussion.
    Ask if anything was confusing or frustrating.
  • Different ways of having people try outdifferent materials
    Web site where you are observing people both find andunderstand information
    Ask participants for their own scenarios. (Have you used this site? What for? Please show me how you did that with this site. or Would you be likely to use this site? What for? Please show me how you would do that with this site.)
    Give participants scenarios you have written. (Write scenarios that will have people use parts of the site you are worried about.)
    Use both of these with their own scenario first.
  • Different ways of having people try outdifferent materials
    Single document (letter, notice, one web page)
    Paraphrase: Have participants
    read a section themselves (depending on the document that could be a sentence, a paragraph, a heading and the text under the heading)
    tell you in their own words what it means (note what they get right, what they get wrong, and what they leave out)
    Read, comment, and answer questions:
    Have participants go through the document as they would if you were not there, while commenting to you with their reactions as they go through the document.
    Then ask them questions about facts from the document. (You can write the questions like scenarios.)
  • Observers and note-takers
    Watch quietly.
    Do not distract the person participating in the usability test.
    Do not react to anything that happens during the test.
    No laughing, gasps, shaking your head, whispering.
    Do not ask questions or try to discuss the test with the participant.
  • Observers and note-takers
    Take good notes.
    Write down what you see and hear.
    Be specific. Not "he's confused." But "he said he doesn't know what APR means."
    Don't translate. Put down the user's words.
    Don't infer the user's reasons for doing something. (The moderator may ask as it is happening. If not, at the end, you may be able to ask the moderator to take the user back to the event and ask what was happening then.)
    Don't solve problems while taking notes. That's for later. It will take all your concentration to note what is happening.
  • Observers and note-takers
    Watch (and listen) for whether the user
    has any trouble understanding or following instructions?
    asks questions or appears confused?
    has to correct mistakes or re-read information?
    has any comments?
  • Watch and listen to a demostration
    We'll demonstrate a short usability test.
    You are all observers / note-takers.
  • Try it
    Break into small groups (3-4 people)
    Choose 1 person to be the participant
    Choose 1 person to be the moderator
    Others observe and take notes
    Participants all come up to the front to get a briefing while the moderators and observers become familiar with the document we are going to have you try out.
  • Considering what you learned
    Positives: Did any part of what you were testing work well?
    Concerns
    Relationship problems
    Are the organization's goals and the persona's goals in alignment?
    How well does the site satisfy either set of goals?
    Conversation problems
    Are the headings, text, and images meaningful to your persona?
    Did your persona understand the words? find where to click?
    Appearance problems
    Does it look tidy and attractive?
    Is space used well?
  • Base your findings on what the users did and said
    Did they read or use the information accurately?
    Were there any
    signs of hesitation or confusion?
    misreadings or misunderstandings?
    requests for assistance?
    adaptive behavior?(taking out reading glasses, moving closer to the document, holding the paper up to the light − could all be signs of problems with the information design)
    surprises?
    other expressions of emotion (anger, disgust, delight, satisfaction)− what specific aspects of the materials were those about?
  • Report on what you observed in the test
    How you report depends very much on your situationand the usability maturity of the organization.
    Reports can range from
    a brief memo of what was agreed on in a debriefing meeting (Everyone involved observed sessions, attended the meeting, and will fix the problems.)
    a short report with very brief identifying information, and then bulleted lists or tables of findings and recommendations(Usability testing is well understood and people just need the results to act on.)
    a detailed report with an explanation of usability testing, details of what you did, quantitative and qualitative results, video clips and screen shots, recommendations
  • Can we really find problems runningusability tests with so few people?
    Yes!
    This is not “science” but a way to find problems…and fix them before the material is released.
    Experience tells us that usability testing uncovers problems more clearly than any other method.
    Seeing the problem is the first step to solving it.
  • Rocket Surgery technique
    Steve Krug's "do it yourself" method
    test on a regular schedule, a morning a month
    test to get answers to a limited number of issues
    3 participants (one hour each)
    observers note 3 insights from each of the 3 sessions
    debrief and decide immediately after the sessions
    to participate in decisions based on the test,you must observe at least on session
    no report! just a brief memo of what the team will change inthe next month
    tweak to fix; just do what is needed to eliminate the problems
  • Usability is a toolkit of techniques
    Do a final usability testto compare to benchmark
    Analyze and measurefor maintenance
    Prototype (or write drafts) iteratively
    Create a style guide and templates
    Inventory your content
    Develop your content strategy
    Do card sorting
    Do persona / story walk-throughs
    Set measurableusability goals
    Do hallway reviews
    Write relevant stories
    Do rapid, informal iterative usability testing
    Create personas
    Conduct benchmark usability tests
    Watch, listen to, and talk with users as they work(contextual interviews)
    Use each technique − when you need it and at the right scale.
    Analyze search logs and server logs
    Articulate your business goals
  • Usability andaccessibility must be designed in
    They can’t be piled on top after the rest of the design is done!
  • Plain language matters.
    The Center advocates for clear communication and plain language everywhere − in government, business, non-profits, and universities.
  • We support those who use plain language, train those who should use plain language, and urge people to demand plain language in all the documents they receive, read, and use.
  • The Center’s projects include:
    • ClearMark awards, celebrating the best in clear communication and plain language
    • WonderMark awards, telling the world what’s not plain.
    • Demand to Understand, encouraging everyone to demand clear communications before they sign an agreement.
    • Educational programs about plain language− like this one.
  • Plain Language and usability resources
    What is plain language?http://centerforplainlanguage.org/about-plain-language/
    How-to for plain language: guidelines and tools http://www.plainlanguage.gov/howto/index.cfm
    How-to for usability: basics, templates, and guidelines http://www.usability.gov
    Toolkit for starting plain language in your organizationhttp://centerforplainlanguage.org/toolkit/
    Usability training at Web Manager Universityhttp://www.usa.gov/webcontent/wmu/
    Usability Professionals’ Associationhttp://www.usabilityprofessionals.org
  • Books on usability and plain language
    Handbook of Usability Testing (2nd Edition) by Jeffrey Rubin and Dana Chisnell
    Letting Go of the Words by Ginny Redish
    Rocket Surgery Made Easy (The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems)by Steve Krug
    Storytelling for User Experience by Whitney Quesenbery and Kevin Brooks
  • Janice (Ginny) RedishRedish & Associateswww.redish.net
    ginny@redish.net
    Whitney QuesenberyWQusabilitywww.wqusability.comwhitneyq@wqusability.com
    Kate WalserCX Insightswww.cxinsights.comkate@cxinsights.com