While this might not be as strict (or serious?!) an evaluation technique as, say, heuristic analysis or usability testing, having two people act out the roles of the user and the user interface (UI) of system can, I think, be very revealing.
It’s a little bit like some of the more elaborate “paper prototyping” scenarios I’ve seen, but I first heard of this in a talk by Stephen P Anderson, at UXLx 2010. Perhaps the best thing to do is see Stephen describe it at another event in Norway.
Observing representative users carry out representative tasks using a system (for example, your data visualisation tool), and recording any issues that come up!
Ideally, there’s a participant (a user to test your system), facilitator (that might be you), and observer (let them take notes).
Dave Hamill’s usability testing tips & tricks (sketchnotes from NUX2)
As part of evaluation, critique gives you a structured way to discuss usability issues with the developer of a system. Aim to give and receive feedback in positive way. Be kind, though. You don’t need to put the recipient on the defensive (although that takes skill and practice).
Heuristic analysis provides a way of objectively evaluating your own work or that of others against a set of design principles (“heuristics”). While it is a great way to pick up issues early on, it is not a replacement for observing real people using your system. We’ll get to usability testing later on!
A nice little primer for Jakob Nielens’ 10 Usability Heuristics. This was created by João Machini and is used with permission
We knew that lots of people, both on the Genome Camps and off it, were interested but we were less sure about the extent to which that would translate into actually selling places! Turns out that we needn’t have worried.
Places were sold out in a record 29 minutes. Now, there’s a waiting list and it looks as though we could run the same event a week later and fill it. Phew.
Screengrab from jsbestpractices.com
Since the summer of 2013, I’ve been working with my colleague, Rafael Jimenez, to take this from an idea to reality. Though we hope to have lots of interest from staff at both the EBI and the Sanger Institute, the event is open to anyone.
Inside the European Bioinformatics Institute
While I am keen to make it understood that UX design is not UI design, now and then, I am asked to help design a user interface. During the summer, I was pulled onto a project last minute: “Can you help us with this presenter interface?”. It turned out to be an interesting little exercise, and the end result seems to be pretty good.
Start screen from the control panel