A matrix of tactics for getting usability issues fixed
On July 20th, I had the pleasure of giving a workshop at UX Bristol 2012 alongside Caroline Jarrett. We promised that we would share all the great ideas and recommendations that our participants generated. These were tactics for how to make sure that the usability ussues you find actually get fixed.
A big thank you to Steve Krug for allowing us to build on all the work he did with Caroline on this topic, and for letting us reuse his slides in our presentation.
The following is a matrix of those “lightbulb tactics“, with the four main usability testing phases we considered on one axis, and some apparent themes along the other. I produced those themes by doing a quick bit of affinity mapping of all the tactics… hopefully, they make sense!
A matrix of tactics for getting usability issues fixed. Click on it to see a bigger, annotated version!
It was great to hear Noah Iliinsky talk about how to apply a design process to data visualisation. He spent three hours with us, starting off with a short talk, and then guiding the audience through applying this design process to their data in a meaningful way.
A fuzzy iPhone photo of Noah Iliinsky sharing ideas during his workshop for EBI Interfaces
Anyone whom I work with will know that I’m often asking “What problem are you trying to solve?“, and this of course applies as well to data visualisation as it does system or interaction design. So it’s no surprise that I find Noah’s work really engaging and inspiring. He talks about understanding your reader (the audience… the “user” – their drivers and needs); understanding your data (its characteristics and dimensions, and the message within that you wish to convey); understanding the choices that you can make as you apply a design process to visualisation, choosing how to convey knowledge and enable action.
Triangulating these gets you most of the way to good data visualisation.
Some of you might have attended the most recent how-to workshop we ran on campus, looking at card sorting as a technique for organising information. If you’d like to follow up on that and learn more, Donna Spencer (@maadonna), author of the Rosenfeld Media book “Card Sorting – designin usable categories” has just updated her resoursces page for the topic.
Lots of great information, advice and articles.
A lot of work has been going into the redesign of the EBI website over the last few months. We’re steadily moving into the design of various things – content, navigation, pages, interfaces, and so on. As soon as we have something interactive, in whatever state, we plan to get it in front of users as soon as possible and test its usability.
Before that, though, we have to make something. One of the key things that we think will help us inform our design work is the use of personas. There is a lot of good information out there on how to create personas and how to use them, and my colleague Antony has already written about personas on the EBI Interfaces blog.
Recently, I worked with team-mates Jenny Cham and Andrew Cowley to produce personas for this project, and I wanted to share some of our work with you.
Do It Yourself
Go ahead and download the custom template for Word (.dot) and amend or adjust it to suit your needs. You can also download a little guide (.doc) that has an annotated example with explanations of each feature.
I’ve just had a quick flick through it, but there are lots of great articles on usability, typography, etc.
This Smashing eBook contains best ― most useful, most interesting or most inspiring ― articles about Web design and development that have been published on Smashing Magazine over the last five years.
Get it for your iPad, iPhone and iDon’tCareWhatElse here…
This is a relevant article on the BBC about our perception of colour. There was also an episode last night on BBC 2 about it, but I missed it. You can watch it here on iPlayer though. Although it’s quite obvious that each of us will see colours differently as a result of many colluding factors including the distribution of cone photoreceptors on our retina plus signal processing in the visual cortex, it’s worth considering that combined with different monitors, printers and related colour profiles that we have yet another layer of complexity in dealing with colour and how we present it to users. There is also a slightly more technical piece about perception of colour when multiple wavelengths are present here.
The grey tiles on the left look blue, and the grey tiles on the right look yellow
Getting hold of Monopoly money has proven tricky over the last few months. Something to do with worldwide recession maybe? I wanted some to use as part of a Buy A Feature design “game”; just the sort of thing that Neil and Rob described at a recent Interfaces talk.
Assigning values to features is a clever way to structure discussion of what to design, develop or build in a project. It also gives stakeholders a better grasp of what is possible, and what is most important
Amazon were sold out, and I didn’t immediately find anyone else who wanted to part with a stack of pink/blue/green/yellow notes.
To the rescue… my team-mate, Peter, pointed me to these downloadable and printable PDFs of Monopoly money (10 notes per sheet), made available by the manufacturers, Hasbro. Great! Saves writing out your own money on post-its!
Sometimes, you might find yourself discussing large amounts of data or complex systems with your colleagues. You need a way to visualize this, to get a better handle on it, but it can be hard to know where to begin.
Well, here’s something that might help to break that creative block – Jonas Löwgren’s “Visualization Catalogue”, a free collection of good (and often beautiful!) examples of information visualization and design.
Löwgren is Professor of Interaction Design, based in Malmö University, Sweden. He developed the Catalogue as part of a project he was involved in, as part of the early visual research.
The cards can be useful in a number of situations. For instance, drawing a random card can be an inspiring starting point or provocation in a visualization design process.
Another idea is to study the cards and sort them in different ways, in order to grasp some of the design space of information visualization.
Download the PDFs for the cards and the box, print them out, and try using them in your projects and discussions.
Prof. Noriaki Kano
Depending on your interests, if I say “Kano”, you might think of the British rapper, or maybe the founder of the Japanese martial of judo… or you might think, “Hey, isn’t that something to do with customer satisfaction?”.
Yep, all valid. I’m impressed. But for now, I am writing about the last one.
The Kano model (or framework) was devised by Prof. Noriaki Kano in the 1980′s. Essentially, it gives us as designers and developers a way to balance the amount of innovation required for a product or service, with the needs of its users, and it offers a way to interpret “customer satisfaction”. The model considers how users view the basic features of a product, the level of performance it provides, and the extra features which produce excitement.
I didn’t get to the EuroIA (Information Architecture) conference in Paris this year (Sept 24/25), and maybe most of you didn’t either! If you’re interested, Martin Belam has gathered together links to almost all the talks and slides on his website.
“…if you fancy reliving your favourite presentation, or flicking through the slides from some of the sessions you didn’t see, then here I have attempted to gather together the blog posts or linklogs or slides that went with each of the talks.”
Martin is an information architect at guardian.co.uk, and is co-hosting an Enterprise Search London meet-up entitled “Search the Guardian” on Oct 18, if you’re interested. I can’t get to that either. *sigh*
Thanks to Matthew Solle for the heads-up.