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It doesn't matter if it's your first usability test or your hundredth; there are always things you can improve to make the most of the time with your users. Avoid using why in a direct, reflexive manner: We of course want to know why users do things on websites and in applications. But when we ask why directly, we risk putting the participant on the

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For as long as user interfaces have had icons, there have been strong opinions about what makes an effective icon. From the business analyst to the CEO, we all like to tell the designer what's "intuitive" and what's "terrible." Instead of making decisions based on the pay grade of the people in a meeting, consider using some data driven approaches to make better decisions. While

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Will users get it? Marketing and design teams often want to know if users will understand a key concept on a website or design. For example, do users understand new terms and conditions, a privacy policy, different product models, prices or the service packages properly? When you want to know if users will understand something in a design, you can quickly see how asking "Did

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Learnability is often used interchangeably with usability. While they are similar concepts, learnability is actually something a bit different. Part of the confusion is that there are two common uses of the term learnability. The first use of learnability describes the ability of an interface to allow users to accomplish tasks on the first attempt. We often refer to this as usability for first time

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There are a number of popular methods used in improving the user experience at all phases of research and design. The following are some of the more popular methods we use and when we use them. We will focus on most of these methods in detail at the UX Bootcamp in Denver. Requirements Who are the Users and Customers? Survey:  The cheapest way to find

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Too much to do and too little time—that's product design. The list of bug fixes, feature requests, pet projects and product enhancements are almost always too long to address. While the product can be a website, desktop software or an enterprise accounting system, it's a problem that predates software development and is as old as manufacturing. If you tried to fix or improve everything, you'd

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You don't need to be a mathematician to quantify the problems and improvements in user interfaces. Often the most compelling metrics are simple to compute and require no more than arithmetic and basic algebra. While most of us were exposed to these concepts in 8th and 9th grade, they are easy to forget and probably didn't seem applicable when not learned in context. Here are

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One of the biggest barriers to conducting usability testing is the cost and time involved in testing. Moderators have to bring users to a dedicated location, test each one (usually one at a time), and only then get results from only a handful of users. Unmoderated usability testing is a technique using software such as our MUIQ tool or Loop11 to administer tasks and questions

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Last year a friend was getting married on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. If you've ever flown to Hawaii from the mainland US you might have heard of the "Halfway to Hawaii" game. It's something the flight attendants organize to help distract folks from the long flight. All the passengers are invited to guess at what time our plane will be exactly halfway to

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"We want to conduct a focus group to improve our software." It's something I hear a couple times a month, and almost always when I'm speaking with a product manager, marketer or someone unfamiliar with usability. It's so common that we UX professionals have wryly come to call it the "F-word," a phrase I first heard from Christian Rohrer, now VP of Design, Research, and

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