Userfocus Usability Newsletter, February 2017

Welcome to the February edition of the Userfocus usability and user experience newsletter!

Message from the Editor

One aspect I enjoy about working with both design teams and end users is that I get to assess something I call "the gulf of understanding". This is the difference between the design team's view of the world and the end user's view of the world. Designers and developers tend to use up-to-date software and devices and often don't appreciate the steam-powered software that ordinary people have to use in their day to day lives. And because most designers and developers are nowadays familiar with the fundamentals of usability, they tend to think of 'usability' as a little passé.

So I was pleased to come across a letter published in The Guardian's 'Consumer Champions' section. A motorist had used an app to pay for her parking, and the app confirmed that the parking space was paid for. However, she entered her license plate with a space in it, as it appeared on her car. The developer of the app had decided that a license plate with a space in it was a different car to the same plate without a space and the motorist was sent a £100 fine. To compound this idiotic design flaw, when she appealed she was simply brushed off with a standard response that the need to pay and display was 'clearly displayed', without any reference to the fact she had paid via the app.

Stories like this remind me that while technology may be marching forward, the gulf of understanding is widening. One way we can address this is with field visits, so I decided to write about contextual interviewing this month. I hope you find it useful.

David Travis

The Beginners’ Guide to Contextual Interviewing

Running a good customer interview is a fundamental step you’ll take in trying to understand your users’ needs, goals and behaviours. You can learn a lot from any customer conversation, such as a ‘pop up’ interview in a café or library, but you’ll learn even more by running the interview in context: in your user’s home or workplace. Read the article in full: The Beginners’ Guide to Contextual Interviewing

From our archives: How to prioritise usability problems

A typical usability test may return over 100 usability issues. How can you prioritise the issues so that the development team know which ones are the most serious? By asking just 3 questions of any usability problem, we are able to classify its severity as low, medium, serious or critical. Read the article in full: How to prioritise usability problems.

What we’re reading

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

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Upcoming user experience training courses

Foundation Certificate in User Experience, Feb 28-Mar 2 2017, London.

Gain the BCS Foundation Certificate in User Experience in this fun and hands-on training course. You'll practice in all the key areas of UX — from interviewing your users through to prototyping and usability testing your designs — while you prepare for and take the exam.

More information about this training course: Foundation Certificate in User Experience.

User Experience quotation of the month

"Good design research doesn't ask, it watches." — Stephani Robson.

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