Results tagged “ux”

Good crowd for talk on empathy, UX, art and science

Did a talk last night at the BCS about what makes a great user experience. High point of the evening, I showed my mental notes cards and did an experiment with the audience to illustrate anchoring & adjustment. I hosted a mock auction where the audience had to write bids on a card (with the premise like an Antiques Roadshow thing where you had to guess the price).

The result was amasing. In a room with aprox 60 people

  • 22 cards were filled in
  • 2 participants ignored the anchors entirely
  • 3 participants may not have been influenced
  • 17 users were clearly anchored

So this was done with bits of cardboard and in a bit of hurry but still, 77% still feels like a statistically significant sample.

The anchor itself was a number on the back of the card. The audience was told this was a random number from 0 to 100 which was to be used as a tie breaker at the end of the exercise. Before the start of the auction, the participants were asked to write this number in the "tie breaker" box on the front of the card. I wasn't sure that simply copying the number from one side to the other would have the anchoring impact but it clearly did.

I'm going to try and do the same for all the other cards now:-)

Wireframes v prototypes yakety yak...

wireframe structure from USC Proving Ground training

Have recently followed a couple of discussions along the lines of "wireframes are dead" touting the cure-all properties of prototyping (like this or this). I love and use both methods depending on client and production context so I'm always left feeling a bit bemused by the level and depth of side-taking.

Was reviewing some old bookmarks and came across a lovely post by Owen Briggs:

Something that bothers me with most buildings is they are drawn. The designers drew floorplans and elevations and then set these perpendicular to create space. Their direct thinking was all done at the two dimensional level. They don't see in three dimensional flows (or four dimensional; time) in the same basic way as they see 2D. The third and forth are added later, lightly understood and badly implemented...

He was writing this in 2001 and he was considering the potential frictions between the 4-dimensional world of digital and the use of line and paper, his foundational design method. Refreshing to see thought develop over time and very prescient of Mr Briggs:-)

Read the whole piece here:

Thanks to USC for the graphic

p.s. after posting this, one of the discussions on Linkedin when a bit ballistic and a guy called Soudy Khan had this v sensible point to add (can't link directly to Linkedin comments. Bad Linkedin) about the issue:

Billions of dollars and windows of opportunity (through time delays) are lost because experiences aren't specified-out properly. A lack of proper documentation leads to a great deal of back-and-forth with the engineering teams, features implemented improperly, etc.

Interesting the agile balancing act between specifying and specification...

I bought your product. Now boss me around.

Having just finished a big SAP UX project, I've been thinking about how large software vendors typically (I should say historically as this is beginning to change) transfer risk and pain to the end user. Here's an example:


WTF?!? Waddayamean I'm not allowed (the required extension?) to change the filename extension. It's my file, if I want to use the suffix ".pork-bellies" I can alright? The person who wrote this error message needs a lesson in user-facing software ethics!

Good content needs to really stink

Or "have scent" in the words of Jared Spool

In the article he mentions Are Halland's Cores and Paths methodology:

The idea is brilliantly simple: First, you have a core. This could be content, a feature, functionality, or even a work flow. Find what that is and design it first. Note that in doing this you necessarily have to get clarity from stakeholders and from the project team as to what it is that you should focus on.

And of course, how 37Signals keeps the stink levels up while copy-fitting

User experience balanced scorecard

Via UXmatters

As user experience becomes more established as part of an organization's overall strategy, a comprehensive Balanced Scorecard must include user experience. It would be beneficial for UX leaders within organizations to understand the Balanced Scorecard system and how to map their UX groups' objectives to their organizations' business strategies.

Not sure... but worth thinking about.

In the spirit of Rob's earlier post I thought you guys might find a test report interesting reading. This morning, Debbie, Louis, Mohammed and Dug piled into Mohammed's car and headed down to Hemel High Street. Debbie recruited, Louis kept the mac level and stable, Mohammed tracked the tests and Dug interviewed and moderated.


The DSGi Customer Experience team ran a goal-oriented test on a small sample of NRS social grade C1C2 users in Hemel Hempstead on 10 June 2010. The purpose of the test was identify whether the "was now" user interface was behaving like a 'honeypot' trapping clicks that would have otherwise taken the visitor to the product page and on to the checkout. While the data sample was very small (ten participants, one invalidated during the test), the recruitment and test protocol was constant for all participants and the hope was that some significant pattern may emerge from the test results.

Participant recruitment

Participants were recruited on the public footpath in the centre of town. They were offered a store gift token in exchange for their participation. As part of the recruitment process, two filter questions were asked:

  1. Do you shop online (required response = "yes")
  2. Have you looked at the Currys website in the last 30 days (required response = "no")

Once participants had been recruited, the test was conducted in an adjacent car park. All participants used the sample computer in the same position and lighting. Participants were using Firefox and were connected to the internet by a 3G 'mobile broadband' dongle.

Test protocol

The test was conducted using the Think Aloud Protocol. Where users experienced difficulty using the computer trackpad device, they were asked to put their finger on the screen at the position they wished to click the mouse. This happened for participant Jeane who is 65. Once she had indicated where she wished to click, the test moderator clicked on her behalf.

Test script

Participants were shown a laptop computer with a web browser open to the Curry's home page. They were given the following instruction:

This is the homepage of the Currys website. Please take a minute to review the content of this home page, and when you are ready, please find a "Beko" washing machine. If you can find this machine, please try to buy it.


While the test sample was very small, the recruitment and test moderation attempted to follow approved protocols. Overall, the test was a positive experience as it gave both useful results and acted as an impromptu training session for team members who had not participated in goal-oriented user testing before. The main finding are:

  • Dug's hypothesis that the honeypot was trapping 50% or more of the add-to-basket clicks is wrong. In the test, only one participant tried to click directly on the "save" area. A second clicked on it but only as a result of being confused by the popup box.
  • However, as 15% of participants clicked on the honeypot, the test does indicate that the interface should be modified to remove the large red square.
  • Dug and Mohammed's assumption that best practise is to have a click on a product image link to the singleton view was confirmed by the observation that almost all participants clicked on the image of the product when asked to buy it.
  • The test also clearly indicates that both product title and product image should both link to singleton view, however it might make sense in a future test to establish whether a link straight ot basket might be more appropriate on an ecommerce website.

Mohammed has attached the test findings as an excel spreadsheet: utest_10june2010.xls

Interesting stuff and fun, to boot :-)

REAL user experience front end testing

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I saw this video and really enjoyed its simple method of creating the real user feedback we (as DSGi) so rarely do.

I think it would be great to start by testing a number of users (maybe just some non eCommerce types from head office) now and track how our improvements in design, content, functionality and proposition are received by some users when given a number of specific tasks to do.

I would be happy to work with someone in Dug's team to get this off the ground... answers on a post card to!!


Hi All, DavidW sent a message 'round with some thoughts on the Dixons delivery screen. Metrics are indicating this step in the purchase process triggers lots of abandoned baskets.

Here is the current basket delivery step screen (click to enlarge):


What bits stand out as particularly wrong?

  • Page title is "delivery" but no delivery choices visible
  • No call to action to continue the process is visible (continue button is waaaay down and on the left)
  • Incorrect postcode caused by bug in postcode check loop
  • "Print" button occupies the continue "hot spot"
  • There is no indication of total cost of transaction

Here's a suggested fix:


And here's what it looks like if you stretch the window to accommodate the whole interface:


What do you guys reckon? Leona? Mohammed?

Objectified, the movie

Paul Rand's cigar box

For the benefit of those of us who are not diehard design nutters, the cigar tin above was created by the man who defined IBM's entire visual language and created the iconic IBM logo. He did loads of other stuff as well (of course) but this is one of his weirder efforts.

This is an attempt to work the meaning native to a product experience (that in the 1950s a way of sharing the joy of a baby's arrival was to share cigars) into the product design itself. If you can park your horror at seeing a baby on a tobacco product for a second, you can appreciate the boldness and insanity of the experiment.

Another interesting thing about this effort is that it points to how important context of use is (in many cases I believe this is a more important and more useful tool than market segmentation). One of the reasons men shared cigars is that they were excluded from the birth itself.

I've compared the experience of my first child's birth with my Dad's experience of my own birth. While I was alone in the room (for two minutes) with Nicki pushing and watching the crown of CLF's head showing, my Dad was alone in his car wondering what it all meant.

As the context of our experiences changes, so does the experience of the products and services we allow into our lives. In the future, I hope we will be working closely with others in the business to create product narratives that will allow us to work much more closely with our customers (and sell a whole load more tellies).

I'm just about to download the film Objectified and if it's half as good as his other work Helvetica I expect it'll be an inspiration to anyone who makes a living out of asking people to buy stuff.

Sites I go to for inspiration

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To all

As mentioned yesterday, here are some of the blogs and websites I regularly check out. Most are on Twitter too for instant updates. All very visually stimulating to designers.

Six Revisions


Web Design Ledger

I Love Typography


W3C Sites

CSS Tricks


Hide your search interface

The big Visa widget at the top has the shape, drop-shadow design and position of a search input box. This one kept trying to convince the auto-pilot part of my web users brain that I should click on it.

In the process of Googling the stuff I was looking for I came back to the site a few times before finally noticing the tiny search interface hidden in the grey bar at the bottom. I reckon I need to start testing search styles and positions (there seems to be a bit of a trend for moving away from top-right and into top-centre) but this is ridiculous.

Very search interface

I recently tried out the @verynetwork web store to get a feel for what retailers are up to these days. This store is run by the same company that redeployed Woollies as a digital pure-play but doesn't have the brand equity that Woolworths does. Incidentally, the fact they've launched a party-specific url suggests they've done a lot to understand the needs of the average Woollies customer.

One thing I find intriguing about is they sell high-street fashion and electricals from the same interface. Nothing wrong with this, just that traditionally, we all felt the electricals customer expected a certain level of specialisation and expertise from her vendor.

Anyways, I just wanted to mention that my test went well and my new jumper arrived swiftly and was entirely as described including the sizing which is often a problem for me.

On the down side, as a test to see how Very went about selling tellies, I did a search from the home page (search bar in an unusual position, I'd be curious to see their test data on that) for a 32 inch Sonia Bravia and got the error message above.

My guess is that the client-side validation script was written by a PHP jockey (because PHP is vulnerable to POSTed code, often included in double-quotes). By trapping the double quote, the browser robbed the ecommerce system of an opportunity to parse my query and sell me a TV.

I'd much prefer the browser to send the garbage to the server and let the server do the heavy lifting, that way I increase the chance of returning an engaging search result.

Come on Very, you've got it mostly right, why not let your customer search for a 48" chest or a 50" television or a 19" monitor?

Is this an April Fool's day thing?

Talk about what makes a great customer experience... My O2 iPhone has been down for four days now and no amount of calls to the 'support' line and emails to the help-desk seem to make any difference. If I can find the energy I'll log each step in the exchange as right from buying the phone it's been one UX downer after another...

As a last ditch effort, I've just sent the following to support (mark of a quality customer experience: somebody steps up to the plate and takes responsibility. So far O2 0/10 on that front):

Dear O2 'support'

This is the fourth day I have not had an active working number on my iPhone.

I purchased this iPhone from you 2 years ago. This iPhone is:

IMEI = 01 161400 578383 7
With ICCID = 8944 1100 6422 5894 959
Number = +44 7515 661 655

This phone has not been working since the 29th of March 2010.

I note that because you are not supplying the services I pay you for, your service may be deemed "substantially not as described" under British law and therefore, this voids the contract between us.

If my phone is not working by GMT18:00 today I shall consider our contracts (I have 2 contracts with O2) void and cease payments to you.

All the best,

Oh, and by the way, Ofcom are on Twitter I wonder if that account is really run by an Ofcom representative?

Why would you want to work at the beeb?

Look around your office, now imagine being a part of this massive redesign

We set out to broaden our ambitions; to create a design philosophy and world-class design standards that all designers across the business could adhere to. We wanted to find the soul of the BBC. We wanted something distinctive and recognisable; we wanted drama. We knew whatever we created needed to be truly cross-platform and that we needed to simplify our user journeys.

Together, over the last four months, we've spent countless hours and created countless iterations of designs, components, mastheads, footers, polar maps, word documents, pdfs and grids... and whilst it's still a work in progress, I'd like to share with you where we're at with both the design philosophy and the latest version of our global visual language styleguide.

Oh to have a license-payer's fee eh? Oh, to have a thinking space with a wall big enough to share and iterate over the big picture...

I'm glad Neville Brody is keeping busy and lovely stuff and top marks all around to the BBC but I'm reminded of a talk I just attended where Christian Crumlish made an interesting point:

Pattern libraries are more useful, more engaging and have a greater longevity in the enterprise than design guidelines.

I think his point is that most styleguides start becoming obsolete the moment you complete them. Clearly a large and complex design resource needs guidelines, but I think Christian felt that giving a team a system of patterns and the understanding of the user needs they satisfy was a bit like teaching a man to fish instead of handing him a tuna steak.

Just installed Fallon's Skimmer app and as much as I'm uncomfortable with the Air platform I'm really enjoying it. They set out to achieve a few simple goals and have pretty much succeeded.

No-one cares about this sort of stuff anymore, but I followed the links back to Fallon's website and was impressed by their tech+culture choices, they're getting really close to best-practice. The Skimmer app and the website both follow a similar look-and-feel but each makes use of its particular strong points.

The website

The website is built in reasonably semantic xhtml (except the multimedia insertions but hey, it's an ad agency) and not only does the code carry meaning, it validates! I only got one warning on the homepage for an unencoded URL path fragment. It's also almost accessible, also unusual for site in this space.

The javascript library is jQuery (of course) but an added clue that someone there knows what they're doing is the library link to Google code instead of the webserver.

The blog pages are served up using a nicely made skin on top of Wordpress and video and images are served from good old Flickr and Youtube embeds just like Mom used to make 'em.

Both the website and the desktop app are trying hard to fit closely with the frequent webuser. The diggerati and the road warrior, the MBP brigade already twittering-up a storm about SXSW would feel welcome and respected. Hell, I bet even Cory Doctorow himself wouldn't mind checking out a couple Chrysler ads in the "our work" section.

The app (download Skimmer here)

The desktop app is called "Skimmer" and its purpose is very simple. Aggregate a few key social networks allowing the user to both push and pull content. Once the content is in the app, suggest a connection with other Skimmer users to share content and status.

In one sense this is really no big deal. What I like about the user experience is the clarity of the purpose and the honesty of the deliverable.

I would have preferred a bit more feedback when loading assets (and come to think of it, someone needs to tell that designer about colour contrast and visibility) and would have preferred either a web pureplay or a cocoa app but I can't deny the experience is on the whole very impressive.

The Slideshare (watch the presentation)

Finally, if i was a client looking to better understand how my digital media spend was going to loop back to ROI I'd be comforted by the whole experience of the Fallon planning team.

They built these digital assets with the best intentions (participating in internet culture to benefit from it--sound familiar?) but the case study should help help put a client's mind at ease. They're showing they understand basic tracking and monitoring and have demonstrated the quality of their digital planning in the process.

If I was still in agencyland I'd be blogging my little heart about this case study;-)