Userfocus Usability Newsletter, October 2014

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

Message from the Editor

I've been thinking recently about eliciting user needs — more specifically, about ways to help novice researchers go beyond asking what appear to be logical and sensible questions, but that are in fact misleading and unhelpful. Questions like: "What features would you like to see in this system?", "Would you use this product?" and "Do you think this is a good idea?" The problem with questions like these is that they assume people have thought deeply about your system, care about it like you do and have insight into their own needs. This is rarely the case.

I was speaking with Philip Hodgson about this when he told me a question he likes to ask in every design meeting: "What specific problem do customers experience with this system that we are trying to solve?" I asked him to elaborate on it and he produced this month's article. It's a treasure trove of questions to ask in design meetings and with a small amount of tweaking you could also use many of these questions to uncover customer needs in user interviews.

I hope you find it useful.

David Travis

Feature article: Conducting an effective stakeholder interview

There are few things more likely to make your design or UX project difficult than a poorly conducted stakeholder meeting. Structuring your stakeholder interview around a few simple techniques will ensure you get off to a good start and set you up for success. Read the article in full: Conducting an effective stakeholder interview.

What we’re reading

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

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Contextual inquiry: how to plan, execute and analyse a site visit. Oct 20th, London.

This 1-day seminar will show you how to get the most from a field visit to a customer location. More information about this training course: Contextual inquiry: how to plan, execute and analyse a site visit.

User Experience quotation of the month

“It boils down to this: you arenít allowed to tell [customers] what their problem is, and in return, they aren't allowed to tell you what to build. They own the problem, and you own the solution.” — Rob Fitzpatrick.

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