Category Archives: usability

User testing approach and the customer buying process

I’ve been working on the testing plan for a large personal finance company.

The aim of testing is to understand customer behaviour during the purchase process and how we can help motivate customers through the journey. The purchase journey can be broken into a number of stages.
Recognition of a problem or a need
Product Search
Product Evaluation
Expectation and use

As part of the customer research I’m using an online survey to gather customer requirements at key stages in the process. A secondary aim is to understand what devices customers are using and how they use devices differently. This should help inform the longer term strategic development of the site.

As well as the online questionnaire I’m running some face to face user testing. This consists of in depth customer interviews which inform the affinity or a behaviour model. [We can then assign features and functionally to ensure that customer needs are support by the product. ]

Usability testing the current web and responsive offer will highlight what is working and what’s not working so well.

Running the two sessions will give good insight into the strategic development of the product whilst also help make immediate improvements to the product.

Six ways to improve website readability

80% of web users scan web pages, when they do read they read 25% slower than off screen readers.

The key is to write content that can be easily scanned , this can be done by adopting some of the following suggestions.

  1. Highlight key words and use bulleted lists where appropriate to the content, this helps to open up large block of text.
  2. Try not to cut and paste content directly from a printed document – an approximate rule is to cut it down by 75% , this is a must if you expect your users to read it on a screen.
  3. The inverted pyramid technique is a great approach to writing good content.  Start with the conclusion, and then go on to explain the full story.
  4. Aim to stick to one idea per paragraph.
  5. Always keep links phrases concise and clear.  Ask yourself if they make sense if read out of context or as a series of links?  At all costs avoid these terms:  click here, more info, follow this link and this website, they are meaningless when read as a list. A screen reader will just hear the words click here with no idea where the link will take them. Click here implies the use of a mouse which may not be the case. Using descriptive words or phrases  in links  help users to understand what to expect and is of benefit to the search engines.
  6. Are heading and subheadings meaningful – can user quickly scan the page and understand what they’re looking at or looking for.

Puffin Crossing – Help how does this work?

I maintain that a designer should always aim to consider and where possible engage the user in any design. If a user is struggling to comprehend how a product works then it is often back to the drawing board for further consideration. It feels like a failure if a product requires instructions to enable the user to operate it and my instinct is to develop the product further until it works. This set of instruction for using the new Puffin Crossings [Puffin crossing are an adaptation of the Pelican crossing] struck me as odd, firstly are people really having problems using this, especially when it’s older sibling has been around for such a long time now. If this is this case wouldn’t it have been better to resolve those issues without the need for pinning guidance to the product.

car stereo

I’ve been driving this car for nearly 3 years and I still haven’t worked out what these buttons are for. It’s somewhat ambiguous and pressing them doesn’t help me much.

interface for car stereo

interface for car stereo

Heuristic evaluation

The site should provide mulitple ways to access the same content
Indexes and sitemaps should be employed to supplement the taxonomy
The navigation system should provide users with a sense of context
The site should consistently use language appropriate for the audience
search and browsing should be integrated and reinforce one another.
[information Architecture – Louis Rosenfeld & Peter Morville]

Jakob Nielsen’s Ten Usability Heuristics

On a Virgin train to Manchester

I’m really not sure about these ‘not so new now’ Virgin toilets. Firstly scared the bejesus out of some woman who had obviously thought the door was locked as it was closed. Word of warning to future travellers – because the door automatically closes don’t expect it to automatically lock. You need to press the red button to lock it.

Over kill on the signage or rather the use of signage to enhance the usability of a poor product. I can’t help but wonder whether the flush button had been placed a little higher or a little to the right whether it would have made it simpler to use.

train toilet