Innovative Design; Water Curtain Stop Sign

We were inspired by this innovative design (from a while back) that has been deployed in Sydney.

What do you do when truck drivers just don’t notice the multiple warnings you’ve placed on the road? And then wedge their truck into a tunnel entrance causing massive traffic jams?

What some smart folks have done is, using a curtain of water and a projected image, put a giant stop sign smack dab in the center of the road where it can’t possibly be missed. See it in action here – very cool!

Mostly Avoid Sidebar “Hamburger” Menus

Many of you might have noticed Facebook’s change from a “Hamburger” menu to a more traditional, docked-to-the-bottom-of-the-screen menu.

Luis Abreu, a blogger and UX / UI Designer suggests that Hamburger menus should be avoided in many cases because:

  • Stuff is hidden and hard to discover
  • It’s less efficient; requires one tap to reveal the menu options, and another to tap the item you want
  • It can clash with standard navigation patterns like the “< Back” button, causing confusion

In our experience, Hamburger menus make sense for some audiences, but straightforward bottom-navigation menus work for everyone.

Phones are Getting Larger; Design Appropriately

Scott Hurff explains that “Apple’s iPhone 6…officially signaled the Dawn of the Era of Huge Screens.”

The “natural” zone for your thumb has changed; it’s harder to tap things at the top of the screen, for example. If you upgraded to an iPhone 6, you probably noticed this in the first few minutes.

Be sure to design accordingly. Don’t put important buttons / icons / targets in areas that are hard to reach.

P.S. You may not be aware of an iOS feature called “Reachability” – double tap (don’t press but just tap) the Home button and whatever app you’re using will slide down within easy reach of your thumb. See here.

How We Conduct User Testing and User Interviews

Usually “Informal” User Testing is the Best ROI

Too often “user-testing” can mean a months-long process that only creates reams of documentation that go unread. We typically focus on getting the highest-value results as quickly as possible. Our staff is trained in methods of identifying target customers, segmenting them, and then building understanding of how to optimally design for those target groups. We do this in a way that balances the need to move fast with the rigor and balance of an unbiased experiment.

7483010074_cd45e2bfcd_oWe work with our clients to develop an understanding of the target market, and then challenge those assumptions to create a nuanced view of the target customer. Then we’ll identify ways to quickly reach people in those markets (including Facebook ads, attending industry meetups, finding enthusiasts on Instagram, and more) and schedule a series of interviews with those users (in the office or at a coffee shop), which are recorded, transcribed, and mined for insights.

Once a prototype has been developed, we’ll sit down with additional users in the target areas to gauge the usability of the prototype and ensure that it’s meeting their needs. In our experience, no other methodology works as quickly to ensure that we’re building products to delight customers.

 

If Needed – Formal Usability Testing in a Lab

In these cases, we handle the entire project “turn-key,” including recruiting and compensating the participants, preparing the testing facility, and reporting the results.  We expect the following work will be required, in ongoing collaboration with the client:

  • Kickoff / Assessments
    • Discuss top-level goals, what is good and bad about the existing product, areas for improvement, advantages / disadvantages, motivators, drawbacks, calls-to-action. Discuss hypotheses (e.g. “we think it breaks because of x”).
    • Discuss metrics that might be available that suggest current product performance or areas for improvement.
    • Discuss demographic breakdowns (e.g. lean more towards customers that are shopping for more expensive items or just an “across the board” type of customer sample).
  • Develop a screener that successfully selects for the right participants from the general population. Attempt to screen for certain recent qualifying activities related to the task (i.e. visited a competitors web site, purchased books on the subject, etc.).

Lab

  • Recruit participants from the general population. Recruit “floater” participants to be available as-needed in the case of no-shows or disqualified participants. Compensate the participants.
  • Develop test materials including the moderator guide. Handle the multiple ways and platforms in which the product should be tested (e.g. mobile, web, tablet, etc.).
  • Run the usability testing and handle the testing logistics.
    • Prepare the testing facility, prepare the technology (including video recording and live stream if necessary), prepare the observation room with large screen, and prepare all of the devices that are to be tested.
    • Expect several days at the usability testing lab.
    • Testing conducted by UX Researchers under the supervision of our Engagement Manager. Detailed logging and note taking.
    • Some participation by client, e.g. two to five people in attendance per day observing the testing in progress. Parking and meals to be provided.
  • Conduct analysis and report testing results. Review and crunch the resulting data.  Report on the results, issues, and recommendations in an actionable presentation format.

Expectations are Changing; UI Designers and UX Designers Take Note

In recent years, the massive shift towards web apps and mobile apps have completely changed user expectations around how software should look and work.

When most folks are using the computer, they’re on the web (and increasingly not in a Windows app, except, of course, for the web browser that they’re using to access the web) and at these web sites:

Google
Facebook
YouTube

Yahoo
eBay
Amazon

MSN
Pinterest
Hotmail

Bing
Wikipedia
Twitter

 

And, these same folks have a smartphone and are using these apps:

 

 

 

Users are expecting apps to be simpler, dynamic, “active” or “alive,” personalized, and responsive:

  • 3 days ago”; relative date/time formatting
  • Content first; labels and other items demoted
  • Mixed Case vs. all UPPERCASE; natural and easier to read
  • Hierarchy represented with whitespace and lines vs. rectangles within rectangles
  • Minimal horizontal scrolling
  • Modal; focus on one thing at a time
  • Beautiful and actionable dashboards
  • Progressive disclosure (show stuff as-needed)

What does this mean for the user experience design of your enterprise applications?