Userfocus Usability Newsletter, July 2017

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

Message from the Editor

A delivery arrived for me last Sunday from a leading online retailer. (Sunday! When did Sunday deliveries become a thing?) The delivery man seemed a little distracted so putting on my best empathic face I asked him how his day was going. “Terrible,” he said. “My system keeps sending me the wrong way and then telling me to do a U-turn”. On further quizzing, I found out that he has to use a portable device that routes him to each drop-off. “I know that it’s telling me wrong,” he said, “But I have to go where it says. I was delivering until 10:30 last night.”

As with all things, I’m sure the real story is a bit more complex than this. But let’s not that get in the way of a good anecdote as I’d like to use it to make three interesting points.

First, few organisations have done a much better job than this retailer of connecting the dots between user experience and making money, so it was interesting to see a poor example of design from them. I’m often surprised at how organisations spend lots of time and money trying to create a good user experience for their customers but ignore the needs of their employees who deliver the service.

Second, someone designed this experience. They may not have had ‘UX’ in their job title, but they designed it nonetheless. This makes the point that the whole organisation is involved in delivering good and bad user experiences not just the people in the design and research functions.

And third, it serves as a reminder that if you think your job is about designing a simple interface (feel free to replace the word ‘simple’ with ‘engaging’ or ‘responsive’ or any other adjective) then you don’t understand what user experience is about. My delivery man was struggling, not with the interface, but with the experience. User experience is not about interface design but work design.

If you agree, but you’re struggling to get going with user research, I wrote an article this month that may help. I hope it comes in useful.

David Travis

A practical guide to getting your user research started

One challenge faced by teams new to user research is simply getting started. Enthusiasm quickly gives way to frustration as teams don't know where to begin—especially when their product is aimed at 'everyone'. A practical solution is to identify a group of users that is easiest to get to and that provides the best opportunity for validated learning. Read the article in full: A practical guide to getting your user research started.

From our archives: What user researchers can bring to the Design Studio Methodology

The Design Studio is a wonderful methodology to encourage multidisciplinary design, but in practice teams often create design concepts that aren't grounded in user research. We can bake user research findings into every design concept that emerges by using the context of use (users, goals and environments) as a constraint. As an added bonus, this approach helps teams create many more solutions to a design problem. Read the article in full: What user researchers can bring to the Design Studio Methodology.

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, Oct 10-12 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

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Thomas Edison.

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