Userfocus Usability Newsletter, March 2011

Welcome to the March edition of the Userfocus usability newsletter.

Message from the Editor

A few people have recently asked me why the demand for user experience is growing at a time when other industries are shrinking. I know that we're receiving more requests for consultancy support than ever, and when I speak with other UX people working inside organisations large and small they tell me they're swamped with work. We're getting the same demand for usability training — I've personally run 12 separate usability courses in the last 4 weeks and trained over 150 different people.

I wonder if it's to do with that term "user experience". In the past, I remember that it was often difficult for companies to find a budget to pay for usability work, since the organisation didn't know which expense category to categorise it under. Should it be paid for by development, engineering, or from some skunk works budget? But with the increasing popularity of the term "user experience" it's now obvious who should pay for the work: the marketing department. This has opened up purses that previously stayed resolutely shut. I'm interested to hear your experience. Drop me a line at david.travis@userfocus.co.uk and let me know.

This month's article is on forgotten principles of usability testing. I hope you find it useful.

David Travis

Feature article: 4 forgotten principles of usability testing

Many usability tests are worthless. Researchers recruit the wrong kind of participants, test the wrong kind of tasks, put too much weight on people's opinions, and expect participants to generate design solutions. Read the article in full: 4 forgotten principles of usability testing.

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

Web Usability: Designing the user experience, Apr 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.

Axure Essentials, May 9, 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, May 10, London

This course is for those who can already design, specify and generate basic prototypes in Axure RP pro and who now want to learn how to produce complex prototypes by exploiting the advanced features of Axure RP pro. More information about this training course: Advanced Prototyping with Axure.

Web accessibility for developers and designers, May 23, London

There is no shortage of information on web accessibility. The difficulty for web developers, marketers and managers is in identifying precisely what they need to change in their web site and how to go about it. This workshop lets you experience how disabled people use the web and shows you how to design and test your site for accessibility. More information about this training course: Web accessibility for developers and designers.

User Experience quotation of the month

"Google has the functionality of a really complicated Swiss Army knife, but the home page is our way of approaching it closed. Itís simple, itís elegant, you can slip it in your pocket, but itís got the great doodad when you need it. A lot of our competitors are like a Swiss Army knife open ó and that can be intimidating and occasionally harmful." — Marissa Mayer.

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