Category Archives: Usability

Preventing User Errors

One of Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics concerns user error prevention, and it is perhaps among the most important ones. Having a good design process in place, an understanding of the concept of mental models, and conducting usability tests can uncover potential areas of user error. These can then be addressed through design improvements targeting error prevention.

Two Categories of Errors

In The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman categorizes errors into slips and mistakes. Slips take place at a subconscious level and occur when an action is not done correctly; you intend to do one thing and end up doing something else. Slips also occur during the execution of a plan or in the perception or interpretation of the outcome. Mistakes are conscious deliberations, they “occur when the wrong goal is established or wrong plan is formed”.

Norman further breaks down slips and mistakes into classes. Let’s look at each of these further. Continue reading

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Anatomy of a Basic UX Project

Productivity and time management apps have been huge on smartphones in the last few years, and as a big fan of any kind of list-making or diary tool, I really enjoy playing with such apps. One of the most interesting ones out there is Lift, an app for goal-setting.

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During a class I took last fall at UW, I got a chance to dive in and do some user research on it with a team, so I thought I’d do a little blog post about that.

Continue reading

Question Writing 101 from Joe Dumas

I created and presented this summary as part of my usability testing class (HCDE 517) at the University of Washington. It covers basic question writing concepts that are applicable to both market researchers and usability researchers.

For me, the highlight of this article was Joe’s discussion on labeling the end points of scales. He reminds even us experienced question writers that: one’s choice of scale end points might activate two different cognitive structures instead of one. Measuring something as being “difficult” is not the same as measuring it as being “not at all easy”.

How Market Research Experience Can Mislead You in Usability Studies

Diving into the emerging field of usability research after nearly a decade in traditional market research, I’ve learned that some concepts and processes are similar in both fields (e.g., surveys). There are, however, more differences than I expected. For example, when I first heard the term usability testing I translated that in my mind as in-depth interview. As I’ll discuss in a minute, there are significant differences even though the two concepts are related. Continue reading

Sauro’s 4 Steps to Translating a Questionnaire

The process for translating questionnaires is one thing that is exactly the same in Market and Usability Research. Jeff Sauro, a highly regarded usability professional, posted “4 Steps to Translating a Questionnaire” on his blog last month. Continue reading