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Quick and Dirty
Usability Techniques
for Startups



                       @cperfetti
Reserving a hotel room
Choosing check-in and
checkout dates
Click and view the room
Fill out reservation form
Did Broadmoor help
users achieve their goals?
 In usability tests, many users booked the wrong number of
 nights at the hotel
Usability Testing
Putting someone (usually a member of your target audience) in
front of something (usually your product or web site) and
watching them work
The benefits of usability
testing for startups
Helps startups make informed decisions about the product or
the product’s design
Provides information about your customers’ needs and goals
Gets the right members of your team involved in the design
process
Makes your product better!
  Results from user research and usability studies often lead to
  small breakthroughs
Quick and Dirty Research
Techniques
 User research and usability testing don’t have to be time
 intensive
 The best teams start conducting quick and dirty techniques and
 tricks right away
   They avoid making excuses about constraints
   They start testing with customers in the first two weeks of
   development
The Excuses
Testing is too scientific   Not enough time


   Little money            Unsure where to start


           No resources and staff
A usability test
 The Quick and Dirty Version
   Bring in user, sit beside them, and watch what they do
   Greet the user
   Explain how the test will work
   Give users tasks to complete and observe the problems they
   experience
   General Q&A
   Debrief with observers
Start testing
 anywhere
Start testing
   anyone
A usability test
Exploration: Usability Test
 One person is the user
   Think aloud as you work

 One person is the observer
   Observe silently and take notes
As the user...
 We’re evaluating the design, not you

 The answer is somewhere on the site
   If you experience problems, it’s not your fault
   You’re helping the observers learn more about the design
   problems
   You can stop the task at any time
As the observer...
 Take notes as the user works
   Was the user successful?
   How did the user go about performing the task?
     Did they go to the search engine, what links did they click on?
   What obstacles did the user encounter?
   What confusion did they experience?
   Note things that worked well

 When you complete a task, say, “Got it!”
Disney.com

                           Scenario
 Your 5-year-old niece has always wanted to go to Disney World.
       You have decided to take her there for a vacation.

                     Task Assignment
  You are looking for a hotel within the park.You want it to be
 the cheapest hotel with access to the monorail. Which Disney
               hotel would you choose to stay in?
Discussion
 How many users found the answer?

 What helped users succeed?

 What obstacles prevented them from finding what they
 wanted?

 What do you expect will happen when you test your
 product?
Tests can take 10 minutes
  5 Second Page test
    A simple technique
    Can be done in less than 10 minutes
    Tells designer if page is clear and concise
Buying A Notebook
Computer
You’re ready to buy a new notebook computer
You consider a computer a big purchase
How much technical support will you get if you experience
problems?
Exercise Questions
 Write down everything you remember about the page
 From this page, do you feel the site would give you reliable
 technical support?
   If not, why?
Exercise Questions
 Write down everything you remember about the
 page
 From this page, do you feel the site would give
 you reliable technical support?
   If not, why?
 Do you feel this page was better or worse than
 the previous page?
Exercise Questions
 Write down everything you remember about the
 page
 From this page, do you feel the site would give
 you reliable technical support?
   If not, why?
 Do you feel this page was better or worse than
 the previous pages?
Five-Second Page Tests
 Designers often intend pages to have a single purpose
 We use when users complain that pages are too
 cluttered or confusing
 Identifies if pages quickly communicate their purpose
Comprehension Tests
Pages contain complex content
  Such as policies or procedures
User comprehension is imperative to their
success
Questions determine if users understand content
What causes most design
problems?
We’ve conducted hundreds of usability studies
  Each test identifies dozens of problems
The underlying cause is the same for every problem:


Someone on the team didn’t communicate everything they
knew about the product or users
The best studies...
 Usability tests are only successful if the right people are
 involved in the design process
 Designers, developers, engineers, marketing, usability
 professionals, content strategists can all involved
   This is possible even with quick and dirty testing
Tests should happen early
 The most common usability technique for startups
 Paper prototype tests typically happen during the first
 two weeks of development and involves all team
 members
   Design is in flux
   Development team needs to try ideas and get feedback
   quickly
   All team members can participate in the study
   Allows design teams to go through multiple design
   iterations in a week
“We’re building a what with what?”
                         Heather O’Neill, Above the Fold
    http://www.abovethefolddesign.com/blog/2010/08/24/from-paper-to-prototype/
Building a paper prototype
 The paper prototype consists of:
   A “screen” (large cardboard or paper rectangle)
   Separate pieces of paper for each screen state, drop-
   down menu, or pop-up
 1-2 team members silently simulate the behavior of the
 computer by placing pieces of paper in front of the
 user
Paper Prototyping by Carolyn Snyder
Testing the Home Page:
First Click Tests
 Useful method to assess where users first click on your
 site’s home or entry page
 Provide users with a specific task to complete when they
 arrive at the site
 By observing where users first click, it’s a clear indicator
 whether they’ll eventually be successful
What do customers find
valuable?
Inherent value testing
  Variant of usability test
  Identifies why loyal users love the site/service
  Determines if new users see the same value
Inherent Value Testing
 Trying to attract new users
 Loyal user base already exists
 Phase I: Identifies the value of the site for loyal
 users
 Phase II: Do new users see the same value?
Competitive Testing
 Compares designs to competitors
   Looks for innovations
   Prevents copying features that don’t really work
 Tasks are identical across competitors
Quick and Dirty Techniques
 We use these techniques when we’re unsure of who are
 users are and what they want to accomplish
   Interview-based Tasks
   User Interviews
Interview-based tasks
 Combine interviewing before and during test to identify
 users’ goals
   As part of the test, users talk about their specific goals and
   perform tasks based on these goals

 Realistically assess usability given users’ own goals
Stylous.com
The user interview
 If you are short on time and money
 Bring in one user per month
 Ask them about their goals, motivations, and needs
General questions
 What activities waste your time or drive you crazy?
 How did you learn about the product?
 Who do you provide information to? What information do you
 collect?
 What information do you need to make a decision?
Questions about the
product
 What are your most important and frequent activities with the
 product?
 What are the two things you like best about the product?
 What are the two things you would like to see improved?
 Are there any activities you currently perform that you’d like to
 see automated?
 What changes to the product would make your life easier?
Thank You!
  Email: christine@perfettimedia.com
  Twitter: @cperfetti
  Free Newsletter: www. perfettimedia.com/subscribe
Perfetti Media Workshops
  October 25: Paper Prototyping Essentials
  October 26: Designing for the Social Web
  January 27-28: Usability Bootcamp
  Sign up with promotion code MASSCHALLENGE for
  $100 off each workshop
  www.perfettimedia.com/workshops
Quick and Dirty
Usability Techniques
for Startups



                       @cperfetti

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Usability Techniques for Startups

  • 1. Quick and Dirty Usability Techniques for Startups @cperfetti
  • 4. Click and view the room
  • 6. Did Broadmoor help users achieve their goals? In usability tests, many users booked the wrong number of nights at the hotel
  • 7. Usability Testing Putting someone (usually a member of your target audience) in front of something (usually your product or web site) and watching them work
  • 8. The benefits of usability testing for startups Helps startups make informed decisions about the product or the product’s design Provides information about your customers’ needs and goals Gets the right members of your team involved in the design process Makes your product better! Results from user research and usability studies often lead to small breakthroughs
  • 9. Quick and Dirty Research Techniques User research and usability testing don’t have to be time intensive The best teams start conducting quick and dirty techniques and tricks right away They avoid making excuses about constraints They start testing with customers in the first two weeks of development
  • 10. The Excuses Testing is too scientific Not enough time Little money Unsure where to start No resources and staff
  • 11.
  • 12. A usability test The Quick and Dirty Version Bring in user, sit beside them, and watch what they do Greet the user Explain how the test will work Give users tasks to complete and observe the problems they experience General Q&A Debrief with observers
  • 14. Start testing anyone
  • 16. Exploration: Usability Test One person is the user Think aloud as you work One person is the observer Observe silently and take notes
  • 17. As the user... We’re evaluating the design, not you The answer is somewhere on the site If you experience problems, it’s not your fault You’re helping the observers learn more about the design problems You can stop the task at any time
  • 18. As the observer... Take notes as the user works Was the user successful? How did the user go about performing the task? Did they go to the search engine, what links did they click on? What obstacles did the user encounter? What confusion did they experience? Note things that worked well When you complete a task, say, “Got it!”
  • 19. Disney.com Scenario Your 5-year-old niece has always wanted to go to Disney World. You have decided to take her there for a vacation. Task Assignment You are looking for a hotel within the park.You want it to be the cheapest hotel with access to the monorail. Which Disney hotel would you choose to stay in?
  • 20. Discussion How many users found the answer? What helped users succeed? What obstacles prevented them from finding what they wanted? What do you expect will happen when you test your product?
  • 21. Tests can take 10 minutes 5 Second Page test A simple technique Can be done in less than 10 minutes Tells designer if page is clear and concise
  • 22. Buying A Notebook Computer You’re ready to buy a new notebook computer You consider a computer a big purchase How much technical support will you get if you experience problems?
  • 23.
  • 24. Exercise Questions Write down everything you remember about the page From this page, do you feel the site would give you reliable technical support? If not, why?
  • 25.
  • 26. Exercise Questions Write down everything you remember about the page From this page, do you feel the site would give you reliable technical support? If not, why? Do you feel this page was better or worse than the previous page?
  • 27.
  • 28. Exercise Questions Write down everything you remember about the page From this page, do you feel the site would give you reliable technical support? If not, why? Do you feel this page was better or worse than the previous pages?
  • 29. Five-Second Page Tests Designers often intend pages to have a single purpose We use when users complain that pages are too cluttered or confusing Identifies if pages quickly communicate their purpose
  • 30. Comprehension Tests Pages contain complex content Such as policies or procedures User comprehension is imperative to their success Questions determine if users understand content
  • 31.
  • 32.
  • 33. What causes most design problems? We’ve conducted hundreds of usability studies Each test identifies dozens of problems The underlying cause is the same for every problem: Someone on the team didn’t communicate everything they knew about the product or users
  • 34. The best studies... Usability tests are only successful if the right people are involved in the design process Designers, developers, engineers, marketing, usability professionals, content strategists can all involved This is possible even with quick and dirty testing
  • 35. Tests should happen early The most common usability technique for startups Paper prototype tests typically happen during the first two weeks of development and involves all team members Design is in flux Development team needs to try ideas and get feedback quickly All team members can participate in the study Allows design teams to go through multiple design iterations in a week
  • 36. “We’re building a what with what?” Heather O’Neill, Above the Fold http://www.abovethefolddesign.com/blog/2010/08/24/from-paper-to-prototype/
  • 37. Building a paper prototype The paper prototype consists of: A “screen” (large cardboard or paper rectangle) Separate pieces of paper for each screen state, drop- down menu, or pop-up 1-2 team members silently simulate the behavior of the computer by placing pieces of paper in front of the user
  • 38.
  • 39. Paper Prototyping by Carolyn Snyder
  • 40.
  • 41.
  • 42.
  • 43. Testing the Home Page: First Click Tests Useful method to assess where users first click on your site’s home or entry page Provide users with a specific task to complete when they arrive at the site By observing where users first click, it’s a clear indicator whether they’ll eventually be successful
  • 44.
  • 45.
  • 46.
  • 47.
  • 48. What do customers find valuable? Inherent value testing Variant of usability test Identifies why loyal users love the site/service Determines if new users see the same value
  • 49.
  • 50. Inherent Value Testing Trying to attract new users Loyal user base already exists Phase I: Identifies the value of the site for loyal users Phase II: Do new users see the same value?
  • 51. Competitive Testing Compares designs to competitors Looks for innovations Prevents copying features that don’t really work Tasks are identical across competitors
  • 52.
  • 53.
  • 54. Quick and Dirty Techniques We use these techniques when we’re unsure of who are users are and what they want to accomplish Interview-based Tasks User Interviews
  • 55. Interview-based tasks Combine interviewing before and during test to identify users’ goals As part of the test, users talk about their specific goals and perform tasks based on these goals Realistically assess usability given users’ own goals
  • 56.
  • 57.
  • 59. The user interview If you are short on time and money Bring in one user per month Ask them about their goals, motivations, and needs
  • 60. General questions What activities waste your time or drive you crazy? How did you learn about the product? Who do you provide information to? What information do you collect? What information do you need to make a decision?
  • 61. Questions about the product What are your most important and frequent activities with the product? What are the two things you like best about the product? What are the two things you would like to see improved? Are there any activities you currently perform that you’d like to see automated? What changes to the product would make your life easier?
  • 62. Thank You! Email: christine@perfettimedia.com Twitter: @cperfetti Free Newsletter: www. perfettimedia.com/subscribe
  • 63. Perfetti Media Workshops October 25: Paper Prototyping Essentials October 26: Designing for the Social Web January 27-28: Usability Bootcamp Sign up with promotion code MASSCHALLENGE for $100 off each workshop www.perfettimedia.com/workshops
  • 64. Quick and Dirty Usability Techniques for Startups @cperfetti