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Is manufacturing a science? Is marketing a science? Is engineering a science? None of these are sciences. But they all can be informed by science or ignore science. To be "scientific" is to rely on observation and measurement instead of intuition and superstition.  Controlled experiments, surveys, observational studies, testing and validation can be used in all stages of these industries to make better decisions. These

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It's been ten years since the dot-com flame-out began. In those ten years we've seen the rise of User Experience. User Experience seems to have a lot of buzz and gets attached to all sorts of activities that have little to do with the user or the experience. It has all but replaced the terms usability and human factors in many companies (it is also

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Who would toil away for pennies, completing trivial tasks and answering surveys? A quarter-million users registered with Amazon's Mechanical Turk service.  Just who exactly are the people behind the Mechanical Turk and can we rely on the data we get from the nameless faceless masses ?  In this blog posted on Oracle.com I review two recent studies published and presented at CHI 2010. In one

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If you have an iPhone, you probably love it like I do. You probably also use it a lot like I do. The features and apps and, of course, the user interface make using the iPhone a rich and rewarding experience.  Where I once had to wait till I got to my computer to send an email, Google something or get directions from my location,

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Usability tests are conducted on samples of users taken from a larger user population. In usability testing it is hard enough to recruit and test users let alone select them randomly from the larger user population. Samples in usability studies are almost always convenience samples. That is, we rely on volunteers to participate in our test (a convenience to us). Volunteers, even paid volunteers, are

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A user-interface problem is anything in the code or design that inhibits a user from completing an intended action. Usability testing is best done in the formative stages of development to find these UI problems and generate quantifiably better designs. Usability testing also has a summative role at the end of development as validation when bugs and functional gaps have been addressed.  Most UI problems

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While it might seem like having users think aloud while they complete a task will increase the time on task—the literature is actually mixed. Some studies report no difference, some show longer task times for thinking aloud and others report faster task times for thinking aloud. It has been hypothesized that the reason users can perform faster while they think aloud is because this vocalization

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