Essential UX Skills for Technical Communicators (STC Summit 2010)


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Covers basics of user-centered design and 3 ux skills anyone can use: heuristic review, card sorting, and usability testing. I presented these slides with Will Sansbury and Yina Li at STC Summit 2010. It's a revised version of the workshop we did in Atlanta.

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  • Take a grocery store for example... (next slide) What aisle is hot dog chili on?Every product has a can of hot dog chili. It's that topic that doesn't really fit in any of the user guide's chapters (or maybe it fits in multiple chapters). So where should you put it?Maybe it goes with . . . (next slide)
  • Card sorting is an inexpensive test you can run to figure out how your users talk about and group information in your product. What terms do they use? How do they think about the services or products you’re offering? What’s their motivation for using your product?Card sorting can be particularly helpful for establishing…---navigation on a website---menu structure in an application---table of contents in a user guide or help system--related topics links
  • These are the types of instructions you would give for a card sort. We used these instructions when running the card sort you saw in the previous picture.Keep it simple. Explain what you’re trying to do so your customers have some context about what they’re doing.Listen to what they say while they’re doing the sort.
  • So now you have a bunch of organized cards. What do you do with them? Look for trends and patterns. You can use a spreadsheet to do this.--List cards on the left--Color code the category labels to show trends. You may need to consider similar labels as the same (“Events” and “Meetings”)But what if there are no patterns? You may need to view the results in context of other information:--interviews--surveys--existing info (web stats, search terms, customer emails, call center logs, etc.)And remember – it’s OK to ask follow up questions. Talk to the participants about why they sorted the cards the way they did.
  • Figure out:-What problem are you solving?-What questions are you answering?For example…
  • Ask people to describe what they see. Then show my tags (probably similar to what the crowd suggested). Then show photographer’s tags. Then show “how would you tag it” box.These tags are called metadata. You see them in things like content management systems. For example, a blog may use tags to group topics beyond their category or high-level topic grouping.Explain that structure can impact the type of sort you need to do.In the card sort I led for STC Atlanta, we were trying to design a navigation system for a website. It’s a hierarchical structure, so we asked participants to group cards into stacks and label them.A database, however, uses meta data. The type of sort we did probably wouldn’t work that well for organizing information based on many facets (such as the example in the slide). Sometimes you’re looking for how people classify or organize stuff instead of trying to build a menu system.For example, if I wanted to figure out how people classify the information on a website or in a product, I’d ask them to create piles but not ask them to label the piles. Instead, it would be about which things go with other things. Some cards may end up in multiple piles. This can help you figure out the different ways items can be related to each other.But…
  • There are no right and wrong answers. Your job is to find what data you can. This is where more context can help. Put what you do find in context of the other information you have.People organize things in lots of ways. Classification schemes include:-topic-chronology-geography-alphabetical order-numerical order-task-audienceA card sort can give you insight on what scheme to use when designing your product.
  • Classification does not equal findability. Just because you can group items together, doesn’t mean you will find those items in those groups later. If you want to test findability, give the users a set of cards and tell them to find the item.
  • For all the information you ever wanted to know about card sorting.
  • What do you think usability testing is?
  • YinaThe best way to learn is by doing it, or observing it. Today, we are going to run a mock usability testing here. I am going to be the facilitator. We have a product in mind to test. And we need a user to test with. You are our user pool. At this point, I will not tell you what the product is. As you will not tell your user pool what the product you are going to test. How do I find my participant? Interviews. I am going to do a group interview to find the one that I am looking for today. Please stand up, everyone.
  • Define your goals:--what’s the problem? Are there problems?--does the design work? (validation)--know what you’re testing – you can’t test everything--keep an open mind and watch for findings that come out that you weren’t looking for.Create your test:Who you will test with- write scenarios relating back to your goals- prepare the discussion guide, script Find peopleTarget users- recruit yourself or hire an external agencyRun the testBest to have all the observation team taking notes.Often just by yourself.Analyze the resultsAs early as possible- find trends- Report the findingsHighlighted videos- User quotes- Most important findings only
  • Yina and WillAdd resources.
  • Essential UX Skills for Technical Communicators (STC Summit 2010)

    1. 1. Essential User Experience Skills forTechnical CommunicatorsSummit 2010 • May 5, 2010<br />1<br />Yina Li<br />Technical Writer<br />Horizon Software<br />Will Sansbury<br />Interaction Designer<br />PracticeWorks Systems<br />Rachel Peters<br />Sr. Analyst, UX<br />The Home Depot<br />
    2. 2. Card Sorting<br />Heuristic Evaluation<br />Usability Testing<br />
    3. 3. What isuser-centereddesign?<br />
    4. 4. User-centered design is an approach to design that grounds the process in information about the people who will use the product.<br />What is User-Centered Design? Usability Professionals Association<br /><br />
    5. 5. User-centered design looks like this.<br />
    6. 6. User-centered designis common sense.<br />Phase 1: Analysis<br />How would you like your hair cut?<br />Phase 2: DesignSnip, snip.<br />Phase 3: EvaluationHere’s a mirror. What do you think?<br />Phase 4: Deployment Have a great day!<br />Image by malias (flickr)<br />
    7. 7. Essential Skill #1Card Sorting<br />
    8. 8. What aisle is hot dog chili on?<br />
    9. 9. With the hot dog buns?<br />
    10. 10. Chili’s kind of like a soup…<br />
    11. 11. Chili has beans…<br />
    12. 12. Nah, that’s too easy!<br />
    13. 13. Is hot dog chili a condiment?<br />
    14. 14. Card Sorting 101: It’s easy and fun.<br />
    15. 15. events<br />scholarship<br />about the local chapter<br />conference information<br />job listings<br />competitions<br />
    16. 16. Typical card sort instructions<br />How would you organize the STC Atlanta site?<br />Group the cards into categories.<br />Is something missing? Use a blank card to add it.<br />Something doesn’t belong? Put the card aside.<br />Card belongs in more than one group? Be creative.<br />Label the categories<br />Use a blank card to name each category.<br />Category names are up to you.<br />
    17. 17. Card sorts reveal patterns (usually).<br />
    18. 18. What’s your goal?<br />Card sorts aren’t just for designing menus or tables of content.<br />
    19. 19. What are these?<br />My words<br />flowers<br />daisies<br />petals<br />spring<br />purple<br />pink<br />green<br />yellow<br />happy<br />pretty<br />photo<br />Photographer’s words<br />farmers market<br />flowers<br />san francisco<br />california<br />cannon<br />outstanding shots<br />Your words?<br />Image by Flickr userSwami Stream<br />
    20. 20. Classification is ultimately an imperfect and messy undertaking; don’t let yourself get caught up in the false goal of getting it “right.”<br />Donna Spencer, Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories<br />
    21. 21. Classification ≠ Findability<br />
    22. 22. Everything you want to know…<br />Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories<br />Donna Spencer<br />Available from Rosenfeld Media:<br />
    23. 23. Essential Skill #2Heuristic Evaluation<br />
    24. 24. 24<br />
    25. 25. How do you counter bubble bursters?<br />25<br />
    26. 26. Heuristic evaluation involves having a small set of evaluators examine the interface and judge its compliance with recognized usability principles.—Jakob Nielsen<br />Nielsen’s heuristics for user interface design<br />Nielsen’s heuristics for user interface design<br />26<br />
    27. 27. Recognized by whom?<br />27<br />
    28. 28. Louis Rosenfeld’s Heuristics for IA<br />Accommodate behaviors of repeat users who know what they’re looking for.<br />Labels and headings should be clear and meaningful.<br />Provide clear calls-to-action for what a user might want to do next.<br />Complete list available on Lou’s blog at<br />28<br />
    29. 29. 29<br />
    30. 30. Heuristics…<br />ground your feedback in industry best practices.<br />lend the voices of experts to your cause.<br />give you a means of structuring your feedback in a consistent, digestible format.<br />30<br />
    31. 31. Narrative report<br />31<br />
    32. 32. Visual report<br />32<br />
    33. 33. A common misperception of the evaluation of content quality is that its scope is limited to the correction of typos and grammatical errors.—Colleen JonesFounder, Content Science<br />Jones’ heuristics for content<br />33<br />
    34. 34. Colleen Jones’ Heuristics for Content<br />Usefulness & Relevance<br />Does the content meet user needs, goals, and interests?<br />Does the content meet business goals?<br />For how long will the content be useful? When should it expire?Has its usefulness already expired?<br />Is the content timely and relevant?<br />Clarity & Accuracy<br />Is the content understandable to customers?<br />Is the content organized logically and coherently?<br />Is the content correct?<br />Does the content contain factual errors, typos, or grammatical errors?<br />Do images, video, and audio meet technical standards, so they are clear?<br />34<br />Jones’ heuristics for content<br />
    35. 35.<br />
    36. 36. Essential Skill #3Usability Testing<br />
    37. 37. What is usability testing?<br />
    38. 38. Image by Seattle Miles -<br />Time to explore!<br />38<br />
    39. 39. Is this your first Summit?<br />
    40. 40. Your local chapter won the Award of Distinction this year. You would like to go to the Award Banquet. Find out what you need to do to attend. <br />
    41. 41. What did we learn?<br />
    42. 42. How to run a usability test?<br />Define your goals<br />Create the test<br />Find people<br />Run the test<br />Analyze the results<br />Report the findings<br />
    43. 43. You do not have to be perfect.<br />
    44. 44. Still interested? <br />44<br />STC Usability SIG:<br />Usability Professionals’ Association<br /><br />SIG CHI of ACM<br /><br />IxDA<br /><br />Jakob Nielsen’s Alert Box<br /><br />UX Matters<br /><br />
    45. 45. Any questions?<br />Rachel Peters<br />Sr. Analyst, User Experience<br />The Home Depot<br />Will SansburyInteraction Designer<br />PracticeWorks Systems, LLC<br />Yina Li<br />Technical Writer<br />Horizon Software International<br />