3 Usability Techniques

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Three ways to help users understand your information

A usability workshop for World Usability DayWhitney QuesenberyGinny RedishKate Walser

November 10, 2010

## | Three ways to help users understand your information1Topics for this workshop

Introduction to usability and usability techniques

Three techniques for todayPersona / story walk-throughHallway reviewInformal usability test## | Three ways to help users understand your information2Introduction to usability and usability techniquesPoster from Usability Professionals Association showing an overview of a user-centered design approach

## | Three ways to help users understand your informationPlain language and usabilitygo hand in handPlain language means that people canFind what they needUnderstand what they findUse the information to meet their goals

Usability means that people can meet their goalsEffectively (completely, accurately)Efficiently (in an appropriate amount of time)With satisfaction

## | Three ways to help users understand your information4Usability is about people

Photo credits iStockphoto, russeljsmith, Trace Center

All kinds of peopledoing all kinds of thingsonline and offline## | Three ways to help users understand your information5Different types ofpeople

doing differenttasks

have differentusability needs

depending on their goals and tasks

For this person efficiency and effectiveness are the most important dimensions.

For this person, easy to learn and error tolerant are the most important dimensions.## | Three ways to help users understand your information6Top is a staffer view uses application all day longBottom is a customer see the different usability requirements

Yes, this is an important point. But then we have to be willing to deal with the issues this raises:-- How do I do usability when I have such diversity in my user group?-- How many different personas and their stories do I need?-- Is hallway review a good technique if only staffers see it and the "person out there" doesn't?

I like when that happens because those are real questions and I know we have answers to them. We just have to be prepared for the questions. -- GinnyUsability focuses on users behavior

Understanding users' needsDesigning to meet those needsMaking sure you have met those needs in the time and effort that users are willing to spend

Attitudes and satisfaction are important.But most important is what people dowith your document or web site.

## | Three ways to help users understand your information7Usability is a toolkit of techniques

Do a final usability testto compare to benchmark

Use each technique when you need it and at the right scale.

Watch, listen to, and talk with users as they work(contextual interviews)

Articulate your business goalsAnalyze search logs and server logs Conduct benchmark usability tests

Create personasSet measurableusability goals

Develop your content strategyWrite relevant storiesInventory your contentDo card sorting

Prototype (or write drafts) iterativelyCreate a style guide and templates

Analyze and measurefor maintenance Do persona / story walk-throughsDo hallway reviewsDo rapid, informal iterative usability testing## | Three ways to help users understand your informationPersona / storywalk-throughWhen you have no timeand no access to users

Persona of a commuter, created in a workshop at the Society for Technical Communication## | Three ways to help users understand your information9What is a persona / story walk-through?

A usability technique that takes no special equipment or set upgets your whole team involved in the process

And can even be a bit of fun!

You can do this (and any of our techniques) witha document (paper, web-based)an entire web site or a partial web sitea specific web topic or even one web pageWe'll call this your "content.## | Three ways to help users understand your informationStep 1: Dont look at it yet

Sounds contradictory?

You have only one chance to look at somethingfor the first time and to think about it like a new user.

If you look at it before you try to use it, youll see it differently.

If you are reviewing your own material, set it aside for a fewhours before you do the persona / story walk-through.

## | Three ways to help users understand your informationStep 2.Write down your goals for your contentSuccess for youand your usersYour site visitors' goals (and their reality)

Answer people's questions about your topicHave people complete a transaction correctly without callingGet more people to fill out a form correctly without callingYour organization'sgoals for this specific document or content## | Three ways to help users understand your informationStep 3: Create a mini-persona

Who is using your content?Who is a typical person for this content?What adjectives or phrases describe this person?(busy? anxious? curious? nervous? knows relevant technical vocabulary? or not?done this lots of times or never before?) Give that person a name, an age,a few personal characteristicsThink about how well you know this person, and how much they are or are not like you.

Mariella Garcia## | Three ways to help users understand your informationStep 4: Tell that persona's storyrelated to your contentWhy has that person come to your content?What is your persona's goal? What is your persona trying to do? looking for?What does your persona expect to find? to happen?

## | Three ways to help users understand your informationStep 5:Walk through your persona's story as the persona"Channel" your persona.Start where your persona would in the story.When / how would your persona get the document?(Open the envelope.)Where would your persona start in the web story?(Know the URL? Go to Google?)Go through the content (document, web site, web topic, web page) as if you were the persona carrying out the persona's story.Take notes of what works well and what does not.## | Three ways to help users understand your informationTry it!

We'll work on this example:Home page of the Tricare web site.Tricare is the medical insurance company for military personnel, retirees, and their families.It offers several plans with health, dental, pharmaceutical coverage.The site must serve current and new customers.

That should be enough for you to set up a persona / storywalk-through.

## | Three ways to help users understand your informationTry it!

Work with a neighborDon't look at it yet.Write down Tricare's goal(s) for the web site.Create a mini-persona of one typical user of the Tricare web site.Write the start of the persona's story. Why is your persona coming to the Tricare site?What does your persona expect to happen? Now be your persona doing the persona's storyand make notes about how well the Tricare home page works or does not work for your persona and your persona's story.

## | Three ways to help users understand your informationConsidering what you learned

Positives: Did any part of what you were reviewing work well?ConcernsRelationship problemsAre the organization's goals and the persona's goals in alignment?How well does the site satisfy either set of goals?

Conversation problemsAre the headings, text, and images meaningful to your persona?Did your persona understand the words? find where to click?

Appearance problemsDoes it look tidy and attractive?Is space used well?

## | Three ways to help users understand your informationMaking use of what you learned

ReportingInclude at least one positive comment.(You want to keep what is working well.)Have examples of problems from the personas perspective.Think about how critical the problems are.Think about what keeps the persona from being successful.

FixingYes, fix the easy-to-fix problems.But fixing the one or two most critical problems is much more important.

## | Three ways to help users understand your informationA bit more about being user-centered

What weve just done is a persona / story walk-throughThe user's story the persona and goal guides the review.Your knowledge of usability and good design helps you understand the problems the persona encounters.Guidelines or a checklist can help you keep important points in mind.Ginny did a large review with this technique for AARP.

## | Three ways to help users understand your informationWhat are the benefits and risks of this technique?BenefitsEasy to do.Doesn't need users, space, equipment.RisksYou may know less about these users than you think.Methods that rely only on guidelines are known to be rather poor at predicting actual problems.You (or your colleagues and managers) may resist doing usability testing because the review seems good enough.You become over-confident.

## | Three ways to help users understand your information21Doing a little bit more

Get a second opinion. More people means more insights and less chance of getting fixated on a minor issue.Decide whether you want more or less expertisein the persona and the reviewers.Add a wider coverage of people and tasks.Include more personas, especially those that contrast.Include more stories for each persona.Make the report more comprehensive if that will actually accomplish what you need.More detailed descriptions of problems.Include screenshots to point to specific problems.## | Three ways to help users understand your informationHallway reviews

Getting input from morepeople in your organization

Post-it notes with comments about a home page (portal) for students who are new to the Open University## | Three ways to help users understand your information23What is a hallway review?