I'm not going to bore you only with a product pitch for Usabilla. Why not? Because I don't only try to sell you one of our big paid plans, but also at least a dozen of my competitors as well.
In the past 2 years quite some usability services popped up. Usabilla is one of those services. These services are quite different and all take their own approach, but on one point they are the same. They claim to make usability easier.
Let me start off with a short introduction and definitions, to ensure that we all talk about the same thing.
In most cases when we're talking about usability we don't really mean usability. We&#x2019;re talking about User Experience instead. And that's probably the smartest way to present usability .... or user experience.
Because when we would start about user experience or UX most of the people around us, especially in Holland, who just got used to this buzz usability thing, probably wouldn't have a clue what we're talking about. So while we stick to the word &#x2018;usability&#x2019;, we often broaden our scope to UX.
So what&#x2019;s User Experience? A very bright mind, mister Peter Morville, created a smart diagram for UX, containing 7 elements of user experience.
In a creative mood, a few years ago, I adapted Peter Morville&#x2019;s UX Honeycomb a bit and put my own (and of course Peter's name under it).
User Experience consists of 6 elements. At least my diagram does ... ;)
Three intrinsic values and three extrinsic values.
Three intrinsic values and three extrinsic values. The intrinsic values - valuable, credible, and desirable - are about attitude or feelings. It's about how a user perceives, or thinks & feels about your website... or concept.
The extrinsic values in this user experience diagram are technical. Or in other words, more focused on your product.
Findability, Accessibility, and of course Usability, are all three about how well your user performs while interacting with your product. Let's turn that around: how well your product performs in relation to your user.&#xA0;
These definitions are not that important. Basically we're just interested in one thing. And that&#x2019;s how our products fit our users. And how we can improve this by involving users.
User Centered Design, Human Centered Design, Participatory Design, Contextual Design or whatever belief you preach is definitely not new. &#xA0;
&#xA0;Since 1970 a variety of different movements labelled their newly designed design processes as 'user centric' in some way and underlined the importance of the involvement of the end user in the design process.&#xA0;
If you'd like, you could probably spent the rest of the year reading scientific publications on the topic of "User Centered Design" alone.&#xA0;
Back to the real world.&#xA0; Let&#x2019;s meet Mister X.
Mister X is just an ordinary marketing, design or business development super hero. Mister X also knows about User Centered Design, and as he states himself: "usability saved his life... more than once". Mister X really cares about his user, that&#x2019;s why he convinced his team, and his self, to make a true master plan for user testing. Next year. A full week of lab tests to listen to their users. For just once....
Let's paraphrase this a bit and then read it again.
Mister X might have some budget at the end of their well planned full redesign. If it might run on schedule. They could run some usability studies when their new redesign has been launched or, if he's lucky, in the last week just before they launch their final product.&#xA0; But at the end, it doesn't really matter. Because they already know this must the best they ever built because they did everything different than in their previous version.
So. Let forgive Mr X. We can't really be mad about this nonsense, can we.&#xA0;Because this is our fault.
We made usability testing this incredibly important.&#xA0;
We not only made it very important. But time consuming as well.&#xA0;
Not to forget expensive.&#xA0;
Not just a bit expensive. Let&#x2019;s say just really expensive.
And difficult too. Because that&#x2019;s why they need us.
We made usability testing a really *big* fat basterd.&#xA0;
So how can we make this little big man a bit smaller? And more attractive... at least, according Western standard. That&#x2019;s where our diet kicks in.
I promise this is the only slide containing these kind of pictures. Sorry.
Diet user testing just about the same as a healthy food diet. Which is about changing habits and making these changes as simple and fun as possible.&#xA0;
A healthy food diet is about eating the right food, regularity, and some mental support from the people around you.&#xA0;
Your healthy user centered design diet is just about the same. Using the right tools, focus on some sort of regularity in your tests, and gain mental support from the people around you.
So what about the right tools. Eating the right food is for many people probably the most difficult part of dieting. Picking the right tools for testing is probably less complex. Just dive in and try.
The right tools are fresh, diverse, and we only take small bites.&#xA0;
So what about variation in your diet....
Create your own toolbox. Some tools or data sources might be already available, others need some trial and error. Don't search for the holy grail of usability testing, the master corporate suite that fits all your needs. It simply doesn't exist. Not now, and not in the future. Focus on interesting specific tools that fit your needs. There's no such thing as THE usability tool. Yup, *even* Usabilla isn't the holy grail.&#xA0;
I could speak the rest of this evening and night about awesome tools that can help you to involve users, test findability, set up user experience tests, test mockups, or anything else your want to know about your users. Take a look at remoteusability.com for more inspiration. Feel free to ask me later this evening, I'd love to share my personal favorites.
Keep your portions small.
This big big cake might be nice to look at, but don't try to eat the entire cake at once. It probably will not make you feel any better.
Focus on small steps instead. Test small scenario's and just a few tasks at once.
Zoom in on specific tasks and specific parts of the user experience. Don't forget to zoom out every now and then.&#xA0;
Test data has a very limited expiration date. Not only because we try to develop at a high pace, but we also tend to forget extremely quick.
Big written reports of 50 pages probably only matter really matter if they're part of your business model and hype machine and if trying to sell your reports, books... and consultancy services. For the rest of us it's probably more effective to focus on fresh and interesting small data sets.&#xA0;
What happened the past week?&#xA0;
How can we get from data to new release as quickly as possible? The easier we make&#xA0;data collecting and interpreting results, the faster we can iterate and start all over again. Keep it fresh and simple.&#xA0;
So let's get back to our diet. Our next step in a schematic approach to a healthier lifestyle focuses on regularity.&#xA0;
Try to create habits. It might be interesting to take a look at agile or scrum approaches to development. These methods could be inspiring to get more regularity in your testing practices. And you might even make some new friends with development. I don't ask everyone to spent just half an hour a week testing, because especially the consultants won&#x2019;t make a full month salary in just 2 hours a month. But cutting up projects in smaller steps and trying the embed a certain repeat might be interesting for all of you. Smaller steps make it easier to make web optimizing a recurring business.&#xA0;
One final thing before we take lot&#x2019;s of small bites and regular drinks is 'support'. Try to involve the people around you and gain their support.
If your client, development team, designers, employer, secretary, or mom can act as cheerleaders it way easier and definitely more fun to slim down and kickstart a more healthier lifestyle.
Thanks a lot for your attention. Follow me on Twitter (@pveugen) or mail me if you got any questions.
“We’re going to test our
website. We planned a full week
of lab tests to ﬁnd all usability
issues of our new redesign.”
“We might be able to
ﬁnd some time (and
budget) next year to
test our recently
Probably not. ”
“And if we do, we already spent
way too much on our new
redesign (which is, by the way,
the best thing we ever built)”