In the third strand of my research on Positive User Experiences I am looking at the strategies and tools companies are currently using to conduct usability testing and measure User Experiences.
Some initial observations from the literature and the web:
EVALUATION: different usability experts find different problems with the same product
DialogDesign, a Danish Design agency have carried out several research studies over the last number of years on Comparative Usability Evaluation (CUE) investigating how different usability experts review the same product. They found on many occasions, that different usability teams report different usability problems when analysing the same product.
DATA ANALYIS: informal testing and quick turnaround of results Vs formal testing matrices
Another recent paper looking at Analysis in Usability Evaluations talked to 11 usability professionals about how they conduct testing. For the most part, the experts’ analysis did not follow a formal process or structure but rather problem definition and recommendations were based on the expertise of the evaluator. This paper concluded with a recommendation to develop a research-based analysis resources.
The debate for on-the-fly quick turn-around expert reviews vs more structured (and valid?) analysis continues
MEASUREMENT: heuristics and guidelines such as those promoted by Neilsen and Krug are popular
In the study above, some of the experts did report the use of established heuristics, such as Nielsen’s. Another popular expert often mentioned on the web is Steve Krug and with his usability tips and his ‘common sense’ approach to usability.
METHODS: common UX/usability tools and methodologies
Some common methodologies mentioned are observation, contextual enquiry, cognitive task analysis, Talk Aloud Protocol, RTA, eye-tracking, scenarios, personas, interviews, A/B testing, comments, guerilla marketing?, card sorting, story boarding. Remote testing and testing on multiple devices.
MEASUREMENT: capturing the bigger picture
In addition to testing for usability errors, many agencies are developing methods and instruments to evaluate UX qualities such as trust, presence, satisfaction or fun. The intention is to better understand user attitudes and how they feel about the overall experience. To make the experience a positive user experience
REPORTING: connecting UX to competitive advantage
How to feedback findings to customers? Reviews, customer journeys, flow charts, wireframes, mock-ups, prototypes. The aim is to show how an effective UX strategy can achieve company goals and enable business strategies.
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