Userfocus Usability Newsletter, August 2010

Welcome to the August edition of the Userfocus usability newsletter.

Message from the Editor

With people away on holiday, August is a quiet month in most companies. This makes it a particularly challenging time to recruit people for user research efforts, like site visits and usability tests. Although user involvement is the gold standard, there are still some user-centred design activities you can carry out without users. Top of my list of favourite tools is the expert review. So this month I've written about an under-used expert review method known as the cognitive walkthrough. I've illustrated the article with some examples of real-life usability bloopers to help you see how this technique finds problems in practice. I hope you find it useful.

David Travis

Feature article: The 4 questions to ask in a cognitive walkthrough

Although the cognitive walkthrough gets less coverage than Nielsen’s heuristic evaluation, it’s just as effective at uncovering interaction problems. It’s also an ideal way to identify problems that users will have when they first use an interface, without training. Read the article in full: The 4 questions to ask in a cognitive walkthrough.

What we're reading

Some interesting usability-related articles that got our attention over the last month:

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Usability Training: Now Booking

SPSS Essentials, Sept 6, London

For researchers involved in analysing data within their organisation, "SPSS Essentials" is a 1-day workshop that shows delegates how to use SPSS to input and analyse data and how to interpret and present the results. More information about this training course: SPSS Essentials.

Contextual inquiry: How to plan, execute and analyse a site visit, Sept 15, London

For people in design teams who need to base their designs on reality, not assumptions, "Contextual inquiry: how to plan, execute and analyse a site visit" is a 1-day workshop that teaches delegates how to get the most from a field visit to a customer location. More information about this training course: Contextual inquiry.

Axure Essentials, Sept 20, London

This course is for those with little or no previous experience of Axure RP Pro and who what to gain expertise in rapid prototyping. More information about this training course: Axure Essentials.

Advanced Prototyping with Axure, Sept 21, London

For experienced users of Axure RP Pro who want to develop advanced prototypes, this is a 1-day seminar that shows delegates how to prototype rich internet applications (RIAs) and use the advanced features of Axure RP Pro. More information about this training course: Advanced Prototyping with Axure.

Web Usability, Oct 11-12, London

For web designers who want hands-on experience with usability tools and techniques, "Web Usability" is a 2-day immersion seminar that shows delegates how to boost sales and conversion rates, increase usage and improve customer satisfaction. More information about this training course: Web Usability.

User Experience quotation of the month

"Information architecture is an intangible area, nearly impossible to measure in any way. You only notice it if it isnít working." — Lou Rosenfeld.

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