Apply For A Free Engagement Audit And Re-Design

Starting in a few weeks I will  (again) be  teaching a semester course at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, on “Designing for Engagement” in the Web and Digital Media Development department. In the class we use “real life” case studies as the students learn how to evaluate a product for usability and engagement, and then do a re-design.

The students are mainly juniors and seniors. They are quite talented, and they work really hard.

If you have a project/product that you would like evaluated or re-designed to be more usable and more engaging, you can apply for us to use your product as a case study. There is no fee. It’s all FREE.

Here is what we are looking for:

A product/project that is a website, app, or other digital product

It has to e an existing product or at least a prototype. We aren’t able to design from scratch.

The product has to be something that is relatively easy for the students and I to learn about. In other words, your app that programs pacemakers in the operating room is probably not going to work.

You or a member of your team, have to be available in the October/November/Early December time frame via email and conference call so that the students can communicate with you about the project. Typically there are a few emails at the start, perhaps one conference call, and then the end result is your re-design and a video explaining it.

If you are interested, here’s what you need to submit to me via email (send to susan@theteamw.com:

Your Name:

Your Contact Info:

Brief Description of the product/website/app etc:

Brief Description of your usability and engagement challenges:

Instructions of how we can access the product

Who the product is for/users/visitors/intended audience:

What the users/visitors/intended audience want to do with the product:

What YOU want them to do with the product:

 

Let me know if you have questions, and thanks in advance for submitting your product for a possible evaluation and design

 

 

 

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Posted in design

Ten User Testing Bad Habits

User testing is a great way to get feedback from actual users/customers about your product. Whether you are new to user testing, or a seasoned testing professional, you want to get the most out of your user testing research. It’s easy to fall into some bad habits though, that will either make your testing time consuming, ineffective, or expensive. So here are 10 bad habits to watch out for when you are doing user testing:

#10 Skip the pilot
A pilot test is a user test you run before you run your “real” test. You run a pilot test so that you can try out your prototype and your instructions – it’s a trial run for everything. Then you can make any changes necessary before you run your “real” test. Sometimes your pilots go without a hitch and then it can be easy to say the next time, “Oh, maybe I’ll skip the pilot”. Don’t skip the pilot! Otherwise you may have to redo the whole test. Pilots are fast and inexpensive and worth it to do.

#9 Draw conclusions from early and insufficient data
People get excited when results start coming in, but don’t start changing things after 1 or 2 participants. You’ve got to wait to see what everyone does or doesn’t do before you start making decisions. And watch out for the confirmation bias – deciding that you know what’s going on after 2 participants and then ignoring other data that comes in later.

#8 Test too many people
If you are used to quantitative measures you might be used to running studies with large numbers of people. But user testing is often qualitative rather than quantitative (there are exceptions). If you aren’t running statistical analyses, so you don’t need lots of people. 7 to 10 people (per cell, see #7 below) will get you the data you need most of the time.

#7 Too many cells
A cell is the smallest unit of categorization for a user test. Let’s say that you want to run your test on men and women, and you want to be able to draw conclusions about differences in men and women. That means you have 2 cells – one for men and one for women and you need to run 7 people per cell. Now you already have 14 people. Next you decide to add young people versus older people, so now you have 4 cells of 7 each. Then you add people who are current customers vs. not current customers…. You can see that this is headed to too many people. The mistake here is a misunderstanding between cells and variation. I can have just one cell of 10 people, and within that cell I can make sure that I have some men, some women, some older people, some younger people – they only have to be a separate cell if I am going to draw conclusions about the variables. If I just want variation, but don’t need conclusions about the variability, then I don’t need all these cells.

#6 Do a data dump
When you conduct a user testing study you are familiar with everything, the instructions, the tasks, the results, and you may not realize that if you just hand the data and the video recordings to someone else they may be overwhelmed. You need to summarize the results, draw conclusions, and present a cohesive summary to your team and stakeholders, not just hand them a lot of data.

#5 Too much stock in after-test surveys
People have bad memories, and they also tend to over-inflate ratings on a survey. Watch out for putting too much stock in a survey that you give them after the task portion of the test.

#4 Test too late
Don’t wait till the product is designed to test. You can test wireframes, prototypes, and even sketches.

#3 Skip over surprises
Some of the best data from user testing comes not from the tasks themselves, but the places that people wander off, or the off-hand comments they make about something you weren’t even officially testing. Don’t ignore these surprises. They can be extremely valuable.

#2 Draw conclusions not supported by the data
You have to interpret the data, but watch out for drawing conclusions (usually with your pet theories) that really aren’t supported from the data.

#1 Skip the highlights video
A picture is worth 1000 words and a video is worth even more. These days highlight videos (made up of video clips) are easy to assemble using tools (for example usertesting.com). Highlight videos are much more persuasive than you just saying what happened. Make a habit of creating video clips the first time you watch the videos. Then you don’t have to go through them again to create a highlights video.

What do you think? Do you have any bad habits to add to the list?

————

If you are interested in learning more about user testing consider these two courses:

User Testing: The What Why and How as an in-person workshop I’m teaching it in San Francisco on July 31, 2014

and

an online video course on User Testing.

 

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Posted in usability testing, user testing

How To Be A Great Presenter

We’re bringing our How To Be A Great Presenter class to Chicago on October 21, 2014. Want to know if this course is right for you or someone you know? Here’s a short video that gives you a sneak peek at the course.

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Posted in presentations

How Do You Design Something So It Is Engaging?

We’re bringing our Design For Engagement class to San Francisco on July 30, 2014, and to Chicago on October 22, 2014. If you’re not sure what Design For Engagement is all about, here’s a short video that explains what it means to design for engagement, why care about engagement, and gives you a sneak peek at the course.

Bring your whole team! Some seats are still available.

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Posted in courses, design, user experience

User Testing In The Spotlight

With Lean UX all the rage (deservedly in my opinion — see my recent slideshare on Lean UX), user testing (an important part of the Lean UX process) is getting even more popular. If you need to convince someone(s) in your organization that user testing is important — well, not just important but CRITICAL — try this video below.  It’s an introduction video to my User Testing course. And if you are interested in the course I’ll be teaching it in San Francisco on July 31, 2014. Bring the whole team! If you are already convinced about how important usability testing is, then stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on Bad Usability Testing Habits To Avoid.

 

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Posted in courses, usability testing, user testing

5 Myths of Lean UX

Today I gave a webinar on the topic of 5 Myths of Lean UX. I’ve created a slideshare from the webinar. If you are interested in what Lean UX is and isn’t, then you might want to check out the slideshare.

 

 

If you’d like more information on Lean UX check out our Lean UX one day workshop.

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Posted in Lean UX, user experience

Top 10 Favorite UX And Usability Books

It’s been over a year since I wrote my last Top 10 book list for Usability and UX, so I decided it’s time to update the list.

Since I’m limiting the list here to 10, chances are high you have a favorite that I’ve not included. Let me know what your favorites are in the comments.

I have an Amazon affiliate account, so I’ve linked to the books on Amazon if you are interested in purchasing, or even just getting more info.

The list below is in no particular order:

1. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. This is a newer edition of the book. Steve is such a great writer (and an all round great guy!). He has a way of cutting through all the chatter and clutter and bringing out the essence of a topic. If you are going to get one book for your team to introduce them to human-centered design thinking, then this should be the book.

2. Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug is the other necessary book if you are doing usability testing. And you ARE doing usability testing, right? This book will teach you everything you need to know about how to plan and conduct a user test of your product.

3. Forms That Work by Caroline Jarrett and Gerry Gaffney. If you are designing anything that has a form: a web page, web app, software application, mobile app, or even a paper form, you must read this book. It’s practical and also conceptual — my favorite book on form design.

4. The User Experience Team of One by Leah Buley. I don’t agree with this title. Because this is a great book even if you are a UX team of 10! This is the best book I’ve found that walks you through processes, deliverables, and what you need to do in a very clear and readable way. Not ponderous. A really hands-on book.

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5. Communicating the User Experience: A Practical Guide for Creating Useful UX Documentation by Richard Caddick and Steve Cable. In an era where many are calling for “lean UX”, and the end of the formal deliverable, I am going to be so bold as to say that there are many times and situations when you should create deliverables for communicating your user experience work, and luckily this book will show you how to do that. It’s practical and innovative at the same time. A must-read for practitioners who have to create deliverables for their projects.

6. Smashing UX Design: Foundations for designing online user experiences by Jesmond Allen and James Chudley. This book has everything. It will walk you through the idea of user centered design, teach you the details of how to do everything (stakeholder research, user research, wireframing, prototyping, user test, etc etc,) and then will show you how they did it with case studies. A great book for the UX practitioner, whether new or experienced.

7. Client Centric Web Design by Paul Boag. Have you ever had your design or UX project blow up? Misunderstandings with clients? Then you need to read this book. Paul takes the point of view of the client, not just the user. This book has critical advice for anyone who works on web design/UX design projects for clients. Unless you are only designing your own personal website, you need to read this book. It’s not available on Amazon, just through his site.

8. Measuring the User Experience by Tom Tullis and Bill Albert. Need metrics? Need numbers to back up your impressions? This is the go to book for everything measurable about the user experience. Really thorough and detailed.

9. Quantifying the User Experience: Practical statistics for user research by Jeff Sauro and James Lewis. The word “statistics” scares a lot of people. I love statistics, but I understand that many others don’t. Whether you love ‘em or not, you should read this book. If you are friends with stats then you’ll enjoy the book. And if you’re not you really NEED to read it! Don’t be afraid. Jeff Sauro is a master at getting people to understand the why and how of stats for user experience.

10. Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden. I have a lot to say about Lean UX. I’m a fan, but I also think there are misconceptions about what it means, where it comes from, how it’s different from “not lean” UX. I’ll leave you find out all my opinions in my Lean UX Workshop course! Let’s just say you should know about Lean UX.

and one more bonus book: I hope you forgive me, but I’m going to recommend my own book: 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People.

Which makes 11!

(You might also be interested in my top 10 Psychology books to read.)

What are your favorites?

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Posted in book, usability, user experience

Obstacles To User Experience Success

Have you ever been the User Experience point person on a product team and found yourself explaining over and over again what it is you are actually doing? Working with a team that doesn’t “get” user experience is one of the obstacles to creating a great user experience.

I talk about that obstacle plus a few more, as well as what to do about them, in this video. It’s one lesson in my latest course course called “An Introduction To User Experience”. And the entire course is FREE.

Even if you are an experienced UX professional you might enjoy this video and the whole course.

In the video I talk about three obstacles:

  • Working with a team that doesn’t “get” what UX is
  • Being a UX team of One
  • Not having a high level advocate in the organization

What do you think? Have you experienced these obstacles? More? Others?

If you know someone who needs to learn about UX, what it is and why it’s important, point them to the free course on our TeamW Courses page!

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Posted in usability, user experience, user-centered design, web design

Why I’m Still In Love With User Testing

I’ve been doing user testing for (I’m afraid to admit) decades. And I still love it. It’s a great way to get feedback from people about how effective your design, your product, your assumptions are.

In these days of Lean everything you can’t beat user testing as one of the best Lean UX techniques to test your assumptions.

Here’s a short video on Why You Need To Do User Testing. It’s the first lesson in our newest online video course on User Testing. 

Do you know someone who needs to see this video?!

 

 

 

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Posted in courses, usability testing, user experience, video

365 Ways To Persuade And Motivate: #15-24

For this post I’ve put 10 ways to persuade and motivate altogether in one post!

15. Talk first – Research shows that people like to follow a leader and that the person who talks first when a group gets together becomes the leader.

16. Give a gift – When someone gives you a gift you feel indebted and will likely want to give something in return. If you want to increase the likelihood that someone will do something, give them a gift first, and then ask for what you want/need. Whether a website give away, free trial subscription or free eBook include an informative video – give away something of value before asking for people to sign up or make a purchase.

17. Ask for more than what you need/want – Research shows that people are more likely to say yes to your request if you ask for something larger than what you really want first. When your initial request is denied, come back with a smaller one (the one you really wanted). Not only will they be more likely to say yes, they will be more committed to following through if it is a second request.

18. Use nouns - When you use a noun it evokes group identity. People are more likely to take an action when they feel part of a group. For example, instead of having a button on your website that says “Donate Now,” phrase it as “Be A Donor.” Instead of “Join Now” use “Be A Member.”

19. Say how many other people are doing it – Research shows that we look to what other people are doing to decide what we should do. If we think a lot of people are doing something we are more likely to do it too. Especially if the situation is ambiguous or uncertain. Make reference to how many people have already taken the desired action. “Over 2,500 people have already downloaded the e-book.”

20. Model the behavior – Mirror neurons in our brain make us likely to imitate what others are doing. Show someone else taking the same action. For example, have a video that shows someone filling out the form on the website and pressing the “Sign Me Up” button.

21. Imitate others’ body gestures – In a face-to-face interaction imitate what other people are doing. If they sit back, you should sit back. If they put their hands on the table, put your hands on the table. Research shows that people that imitated the other person’s body language were rated as being more likable and were more persuasive.

22. Be passionate and excited about your idea – Emotions are contagious. If you are passionate and excited about your idea it will be conveyed through your voice and body language and others will become passionate and excited too.

23. Use strong emotions (positive or negative) – If you want something to go viral then use strong emotions. Messages or ideas that include strong emotions go viral more than messages without emotions. It doesn’t even matter if the emotion is positive or negative. Just showing strong emotions inspires people to act.

24. Synchronous behavior – If you want to bond a group have them do something together and preferably something rhythmic. When we engage in rhythmic behavior as a group (singing, drumming, dancing), the neurochemical oxytocin is released. Oxytocin makes us feel a sense of bonding with those around us.

What do you think? Have you used any of these 10?

For more information check out my books, or better yet, sign up for one of our in-person or online video courses.

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Posted in competition, groups, influence, motivation, persuasion, psychology, research, social science, social validation

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Welcome to The Brain Lady Blog

I'm a Ph.D. psychologist and I write and videoblog about how to apply psychology and brain science research to understand how people think, work, and behave. For more information about me and about the Weinschenk Institute, check out the the Team W website.

Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D.
The "Brain Lady"

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Weinschenk Institute, LLC
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