Userfocus Usability Newsletter, December 2010

Welcome to the December edition of the Userfocus usability newsletter.

Message from the Editor

Where do great designs come from? One popular misconception is that they materialise, fully developed, from the minds of design gurus, like Jonathan Ive. It’s a simplistic view, promoted by the organisations who hand out design awards — and it ignores the reality that great designs are actually the result of testing, rejecting and iterating upon prototypes. In software and web development, one of the best tools we have to support this way of working is paper prototyping. But paper prototyping is still not widely used and there are also several myths surrounding the technique, so this month I’ve written about it and we've developed a new resource to help you do it quickly. I hope you enjoy the article.

I also hope you have a great Christmas and new year.

David Travis

Feature article: 7 myths about paper prototyping

Paper prototyping is probably the best tool we have to design great user experiences. It allows you to involve users early in the design process, shows you how people will use your system before you've written any code, and supports iterative design. So why are some design teams still resistant to using it? Here are 7 objections I've heard to paper prototyping and why each one is mistaken. Read the article in full: 7 myths about paper prototyping.

New resource: Paper prototyping helper kit

When you're creating a paper prototype, it saves time to have controls and buttons that you can cut out and re-use, without needing to draw your own. Here's a set that you can download and use for free. Read the article in full: Paper prototyping helper kit.

What we're reading

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

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"Help! I need to spend my budget!"

Is your company's end-of-year approaching? Do you need to be invoiced in this financial year for training or consultancy work that you want us to carry out in the next financial year? Here's some ideas for how you can spend the money now. Read the article in full: Is your company's end-of-year approaching?

Usability Training: Now Booking

How to carry out a usability expert review, Dec 8, London. THIS WEDNESDAY!

For people in design teams who need to spot usability problems in prototypes and finished products, "How to carry out a usability expert review" is a 1-day seminar that teaches delegates cost-effective methods to evaluate designs without testing with end users. More information about this training course: How to carry out a usability expert review.

Web Usability: Designing the user experience, Jan 25-26, 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.

A Practical Guide to Usability Testing, Feb 17, London.

For people in design teams who want to gain confidence in usability testing, this is a 1-day workshop that shows delegates how to obtain customer feedback on prototypes and finished products. Unlike lecture-based courses, delegates moderate a usability test of their own web site and leave with a recording of the session to share with the design team. More information about this training course: A Practical Guide to Usability Testing.

User Experience quotation of the month

"People don't want to use your software; they want to have used your software." — David S. Platt.

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