UX of Sofas

Interior Designer Rose Tarlow is very particular when it comes to sofas, “I never use two seat cushions because three people won’t sit on the sofa…

I didn’t give it too much thought until I ended up with this sofa:


Notice it has ONE cushion.  The design offers two affordances: the choice of where to sit and the number of people who can sit. By contrast a traditional three-cushion sofa constrains those choices.  A two-cushion sofa offers ambiguous cues on how many can sit and where they can sit.

In the Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman said;

“…the appearance of the device must provide the critical clues required for its proper operation—knowledge has to be both in the head and in the world”.

So judging by this principle, single cushion sofas are better than three and two-cushion sofas. Though of course those sofas have different affordances like easier clean-ability.


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.


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.

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Increasing Social Media Adoption or Aging Effect Among 50+ Year Olds?

The Pew Research Internet Project recently tweeted about an article about social media usage and age groups. It included the chart below that shows there is a generally upward trend (since 2006), which might be flattening, in social media usage across all age groups. Whenever I see a chart on age and something technology related, I always wonder if there is increasing adoption of the technology among the older age groups or if folks are merely aging into a higher age group.


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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

How Not to Ask About Educational Attainment

Researchers frequently need to ask about educational attainment in surveys. This question is often asked imprecisely.  The example below (adapted from a survey about computer systems) includes one of my all time top pet-peeves: a response option for post-graduate degree in surveys targeted at Americans.  It is not a term commonly used in talking about higher education in the United States.


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