Difficult process but where all the value come from: Analysis and Evaluation

UX Book Chapter 16 & 17

Hartson, R., & Pyla, P. S. (2012). The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience. Waltham, MA: Elsevier Science.

After last week post about preparing and conducting usability testing, this week reading on analysis and evaluation are more difficult but I believe where it make the different in the whole usability study process.

One thing I find really helpful in the book is the author use the metaphor of the process of the diagnostic of a disease, from finding the problem to treatment to cure confirmation. Some time we thing treating the problem is just to fix the problem immediately.  But actually is the more important in life to find out what really cause the problem, and change our thinking instead fixing the problems on the spot.

Another principle for me to live by is don’t just fix problem, make sure the fixes are not causing new problem. So we won’t dive into a endless cycle.

Just one another point (I promise), how to present the data? Pie chart, bar chart on and on. But maybe we can think of better way to visualize of data is very important. A good image worth a thousand word and more. Not only 3D data visualization, but maybe 4D with time changing, this way we can find trend of the data in a boarder scale.

Be wise to use and present the user data you have work so hard to collect!

[image thanks to http://tumrai.com/images/e/e7/Time_where_we_live.jpg]


Selecting the right people for the right task. Well, in our case four people have to do it all.

UX Book Chapter 14 & 15

Hartson, R., & Pyla, P. S. (2012). The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience. Waltham, MA: Elsevier Science.

After reading the preparation and conducting usability testing session for rigorous empirical evaluation, something stand out to me. How should we selecting the right people for the right task, both the usability designers and usability participants.

Having a facilitator to help the session to go smooth. A prototype executor help individual task detail. A quantitative data collector to help record error number. task timing, and etc. A Qualitative data collector to record any observation or emotion data from the participant. And of course other supporting actors to help interact with participant for the specific task. Feel like this will be a room full of people. Seeing photos about the UX Lab at Bloomberg LP (pg. 517), the designers illuminate distraction by putting different people in different room to do observation, recording without the participant’s knowledge. And actually only a few people to interact with participant.

But in our class research group, four people are actually doing all the tasks during an usability testing session. We need to better understanding each team role match with the right team members. Maybe one person will have more than one team role. Also we can rotate team role to help each team member to learning different part in this process. Another thought, every usability testing session should be a learning process for the next, we will have to address different issues or problems, so that we can conduct a better session next time.

Picking the right usability participants should be a balance process. Although all participants should be potential user of our product, picking different knowledge level user is important, so the result can better reflect the general population of users.

Be prepare and pay attentions on the unexpected during the testing session, come up with better and more intuitive ways to gather user data, this is my advise. Practice makes perfect!

[Image thanks to http://pulllava360.saturn.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Looking-for-the-right-person.jpg]

Information Architecture and more

Brinck, Gergle & Wood (2002). Usability for the Web: Designing Website that Work. Morgan Kaufman.

After last week post on contextual design and prototyping. Information Architecture seen to be the nature concept to master. How to organize the all the information in a website, this is a question we want to find out. In life we usually have different ways to start approach the same question, create a information architecture for a website are the same. Are we start to organize the information in designer’s way or a more user-centered way? The answer is the clear from the reading, website should put information to help the user do their job better instead of forcing the user to match designer’s mental model.

As soon as the user visit a website first time, the user will immediately form a mental model about what is this site about and how can I find what I need from it. The user will start getting frustrated if the site architecture is totally different than he or she expected. But many times website organize information like a site map, just put every possible information out there for the user to lost in it.

Card sorting is a very useful way to help website better organize information with user oriented goal. Interestingly bringing in both bottom up and top down approach can help find all the categories and find a better way to group each categories. But he top down close card sorting can be a great way to save cost and time.

And thinking of another way to organize information to help user better find important information. Tagging is a great way to use weighted content to allow designers and users understand information in a personal way. But tagging also can mean more than just important information, it can help user and designer to find predictable tend and relationship in a field or person. For example, the team evaluation we received from Dr. V. really help me to identify many strength and weakness in the class. Create your own beautiful word cloud in Wordle.net 

Help user to find what they need, eventually help designer to find their way to success. Think Google!

About time to get our hand into the Design process.

Before this point, we have learned about everything we need to start designing a user product.

Chapter 7, 8, 9 in the UX book helps us understand the process from preparing to doing.
The Chapter 7 of the cooper’s book highlights the actual design process.

In our new project, we have the chance to creating personas, scenarios, user cases, and eventually advance to design requirements.
Without analyzes and investigates real user data, designer is difficult to create product with a user-centered perceptive.

Conceptual design helps designer to communicate their idea through a form that other can understand through word and sketch.
Many time designers understand the users through personas, scenarios, user cases, so the conceptual design process can be successful.

In the making of a product, conceptual design is essential for the designer concrete their idea into the whole story,
the “persona” in a “scenario” trying the “user case” in a easy understand visual way. Designers use sketch to quickly visualize the whole story on paper.

sketches have low fidelity helps design to identify user need  medium (wireframes); or high (prototypes). Design what you need in your new project can greatly reduce usability problem in the end.

Design Principles Make Good Design?

Cooper, Alan, Reimann, Robert, and Cronin, David. About Face: The Essential of Interaction Design 3 Wiley Publishing, Inc.: Indianapolis, Indiana, 2007. Chapter 8, 11, 12, 13, 14

Many time when we see a new product design or design prototype, we may quickly tell it this a good/bad design by simply use the product. But many time we can not explain to another person, why this is a good/bad design? Because we can not identify the principles of what make it a good design. For example, Google search engine, it really look simple, and attract billions of users. Why?

After reading cooper’s book, it really increase the knowledge of good design principles and patterns. Those principles are directly help us identify and understand a design issue. Chapter 8, it really lead us into categorize from the user stand point vs. designer stand point. It summarize what we should do to ensure we will have a user-center good design. The author divide design values into four level from Ethical to Elegant. For example a website only have design follow ethical and purposeful principles, this website are missing pragmatic and elegant principle. When we look at the website, if we try focus on the issues of pragmatic and elegant principle, immediately we lose the attention of the audience.

And I also enjoy finding the different design principles with the lamp, this really help us to review the important concepts and principles. I think this is also a good design principle which the author use in this text book to fit different readers by “eliminate excise wherever possible” (cooper, 2007, page 224) It is important to Learn how to automate any steps instead of letting the user figure them out. We want to help the user not to complicate the process. Also we go back to the Google search engine example, the interface design help all the user to immediately get to where they want without taking extra steps. It is really important for us to remember that at the end who will be using the product.

Want to save time and money, Rapid Evaluation Method.

Hartson, R., & Pyla, P. S. (2012). The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience. Waltham, MA: Elsevier Science. Chapter 13

Although human research takes time and effort, and the result can be promising and surprising to many research. In this rapid changing society, many time we do not have time or simply can not afford to do human testing during a product cycle. One of the way to still use to create a user-centered and good user experience is rapid evaluation method. Researcher and developer can easily apply many usability principle during this self evaluation process.

But it is very hard for us to predict the outcome of the evaluation for many reason. Because this evaluation process require experts simulate the users in using the product. It so hard to test a product you have created. The developer usually knows the product very well, the evaluation can be subjective or the expert simply have not trouble to use the product. Many time I have been the designer/developer/programmer of an application, it often take me a long time to see what the user see. Sometime I have to find out the issue though user feedback.

The author of the book points out many good point to help designer in the rapid evaluation process. One of them is try to see a big picture. It is so easy for me to focus on little details of the product and forget or do not even have time to look at what is the purpose of the user, the bigger goal which the users is trying to accomplish by using the products. For example by reading an usability blog, the reader is trying to learn more usability principle, and becoming a expert in this area. And not trying to understand everything about the blog writer. Another helpful tip is taking good note. Many time when I try to read a textbook, I forget many important concept because I did not write down some important word or just ideas I have during the reading. This is the same when we apply to the rapid evaluation process.

Alan Cooper; Robert Reimann; David Cronin. (2012). Designing Smart Products. In About Face 3 (pp298–307). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Chapter 2

Continue reading, I realize I should read this chapter first before I read the Ux book. It is so important to know the human mental model before we can be a expert in simulating user during the evaluation process.

Knowing or predicting what the users will think before they use the process can be very helpful in the design process. So that we can plan to ask the smart and right question to get to know what the participant thinks during the evaluation process.

Thank you for reading, again please tell me how can I make this reading more pleasant to read.



Just scratching the surface of Ux.

Hartson, R., & Pyla, P. S. (2012). The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience. Waltham, MA: Elsevier Science. Chapter 1-2

After reading the first two chapters of this new Ux (User experience) book, the knowledge I have about the topic of Ux seem elementary and sallow. But this gives me more confidence in learning more new and useful knowledge during this Ux course.

In Chapter 1, the author discussed the development and history of the UX and helps the readers to understand many blind spots and mistreated issues in this topic.

The concept of disconnection of absorption (Section 1.4.1 ) caught my attention, quick often I try to focus on two or more things at the same time during my design process (especially in web page design). People are so easy to be detracted from the overwhelming information on the same page.

And how about fun at Work (Section 1.4.5 ), the balance between fun and efficiency in work situation . This can really depend on the type of work, emergent or non-emergent work. Fun, aesthetics, and joy don’t have to be compromise if we think about the worker’s needs. This reminds me a video about the human emotion and user experience by the famous Norman Door inventor, Professor Donald Norman.

In Chapter 2, the analysis process in the cycle of UX activities is the most challenge concept to me. To “understanding the business domain, user work, and user needs”  will be a really good point for me to pay attention and ask questions in class. I think too often we dive into the design process before we even understanding anything about the users.

Last, what can be the best to know that a graduate student is important in the world of UX when I read the quote by Phyllis Reisner

Human factors is about making things work better for people. For example, think about building a bridge: You use theory, good design practice, and engineering principles, but you can’t really know if it will work. So you build it and have someone walk over it. Of course, if the test fails, … well, that’s one of the reasons we have graduate students.

Norman, D. (2002). The Design of Everyday Things. Jackson, TN: Basic Books. Pg. 1-33

In Professor Norman’s book, I learned one really good user design principle, if we spend the time to learn about the user before designing a product is more efficient than to fix the usability problem after designing a product.

If you are read till here, please tell me your reading experience. So I can write better next time.

Thank you!