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Adopting Documentation Usability Techniques to Alleviate Cognitive Friction

Usability is the combination of effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which the users accomplish defined goals in a given environment. User-centered documentation matches the users' mental model, thereby helping the users find information they want quickly and easily in their hour of need. The list of documentation usability criteria is fairly subjective at this time, and various opinionated discussion groups have contributed to this. Usable documentation is based on a deep understanding of the users' tasks, and this understanding can only be gained through interviewing representative users. Applying information architecture techniques, the content within documentation should be properly chunked so that the users can assimilate the information properly. Procedural guides should have a well-defined and searchable index that enables users to connect key application terms to their correct context. User-friendly documentation is always succinct, but never at the expense of omitting critical/useful information. It should be developed using a structured process so that it starts with the big picture and gradually adds lower level of details, addressing the needs of every unique group of users. Finally, the documentation must be tested among a representative group of users, and their feedback should be incorporated to make sure that it has met all of the major usability criteria.

Biswas, Debarshi Gupta and Suranjana Dasgupta. STC Usability SIG (2009). Articles>Usability>User Experience>Documentation


Aligning UX Issues’ Levels of Severity with Business Objectives

Over the past several years, I’ve grown increasingly dissatisfied with the vague and somewhat solipsistic nature of the gradations UX professionals typically use to describe the severity of usability issues. High, medium, and low don’t begin to sufficiently explain the potential brand and business impacts usability issues can have. After incrementally iterating on several existing classifications of severity, I finally decided in late 2008 to simply create some new ones, which I’ll present in this column. For lack of a better term, I call them business-aligned usability ratings.

Sherman, Paul J. UXmatters (2010). Articles>User Experience>Usability>Assessment


Budgeting for Advertising and Customer Experience

The most effective companies realize that they can't succeed on advertising alone; the customer matters.

Hurst, Mark. uiGarden (2007). Articles>Web Design>Usability>User Experience


Communicating User Experience Design

When trying to communicate the process of user centred design to senior managers it helps to convey the idea as concisely as possible. This infographic conveys the various steps and phases of user centred design on a single page.

Travis, David. UserFocus (2009). Articles>Communication>User Experience>Usability


Complexity and User Experience: Understanding Features in Terms of Complexity Instead of Functionality

The best products don’t focus on features, they focus on clarity. Problems should be fixed through simple solutions, something you don’t have to configure, maintain, control. The perfect solution needs to be so simple and transparent you forget it’s even there. However, elegantly minimal designs don’t happen by chance. They’re the result of difficult decisions. Whether in the ideation, designing, or the testing phases of projects, UX practitioners have a critical role in restraining the feature sets within our designs to reduce the complexity on projects.

Bolt, Jon. Boxes and Arrows (2012). Articles>User Experience>Usability>Minimalism


Comprehensive Review Of Usability And User Experience Testing Tools

Usability and user experience testing is vital to creating a successful website, and only more so if it’s an e-commerce website, a complex app or another website for which there’s a definite ROI. And running your own user tests to find out how users are interacting with your website and where problems might arise is completely possible.

Chapman, Cameron. Smashing (2011). Articles>User Experience>Usability>Testing


Connecting the Online and Offline Customer Experience

A well-constructed online and offline approach will ensure that customers are receiving the same levels of service, irrespective of how they ‘touch’ the organisation, and they will receive the same brand and proposition messages and as a result, customers will be more likely to buy from them and existing customers will be less likely to switch to competitors.

Cherryleaf (2010). Articles>User Experience>E Commerce>Usability


Content Strategy and UX: A Modern Love Story

Content strategy has been around for a long time. Large corporations such as Disney, Wells Fargo, and Mayo Clinic have had functional content strategy teams for years. The mega-agency Razorfish has had dedicated content strategists on staff since 1998. But it's really only been in the last two years that the larger UX community has started paying closer attention to content strategy. Why the gold rush? The answer is pretty simple: it's inherently impossible to design a great user experience for bad content. If you're passionate about creating better user experiences, you can't help but care about delivering useful, usable, engaging content.

Halvorson, Kristina. UX Magazine (2011). Articles>User Experience>Content Strategy>Usability


Design and Emotion

Emotion is one of the strongest differentiators in user experience namely because it triggers unconscious responses to a product, website, environment or interface. Our feelings strongly influence our perceptions and often frame how we think about or refer to our experiences at a later date.

Spillers, Frank. Demystifying Usability (2004). Articles>Usability>User Experience>Emotions


Designing Speculative Household Cleaning

Aging in place is a high priority for today’s elderly population, but little is known about how age affects mundane domestic activities. To make older adult’s desire a reality, design researchers must continue to understand elders’ needs and design products that respond to them. Presented is a human-centered approach to designing cleaning products. The project resulted in: 1) an initial understanding how aging changes older adults’ ability to clean their homes and 2) a collection of speculative cleaning products that demonstrate how greater empathy for elderly users can motivate innovative design.

Wyche, Susan P. AIGA (2006). Articles>User Experience>Usability>Elderly


Designing with the Elements of Play

While earning points or miles has been a staple of loyalty programs for the last 30 years, few outfits make it easy to redeem the points. ThinkGeek not only makes it easy, but also uses the opportunity to highlight some of their lesser-known products.

Spool, Jared M. User Interface Engineering (2010). Articles>Web Design>Usability>User Experience


Do’s and Don’ts for Focus Groups

Focus groups have gotten a bad rap over the years as UX research has shifted away from this very traditional method of market research. But focus groups can be quite useful for UX research if we approach them properly. This month, we’ll talk about ways you can get the most out of focus groups and apply the method properly to avoid the pitfalls that many people commonly encounter.

Madrigal, Demetrius and Bryan McClain. UXmatters (2011). Articles>Usability>User Experience>Focus Groups


Does Better Usability Increase Customer Loyalty?

Despite usability questionnaires providing only a partial picture of usability, they are nonetheless important. In fact, you could argue a user's perception of an application's usability is more important than actual task performance—a sort of gateway measure of usability.

Sauro, Jeff. Measuring Usability (2010). Articles>Usability>User Experience>Assessment


Don Norman: The Want Interview

The ability to explain complex academic theories in palatable layman’s’ terms is the mark of a good teacher—and Don Norman is certainly that. “Don,” Adaptive Path founder Peter Merholz warned us, “likes to take people to school.”

Grobe, Ken and Donald A. Norman. Want Magazine (2010). Articles>Interviews>User Experience>Usability


The Experience is Key

It is important to remember that the experience a person has using a product or service is every bit as important as that product or services usability.

Frontend Infocentre (2009). Articles>User Experience>Usability>Emotions


The Foundation of a Great User Experience

I’m part of the AEC User Experience Team at Autodesk. Our goal is to design a great user experience for our customers, but just what does that mean? Our definition of user experience focuses on all the touchpoints that current or new users have with our product. For example, the downloading of software trials is often the beginning of one’s user experience with a product. If you have to fill out forms that ask for too much information, (should “cell phone number” be a required field on a trial download form?) or present you with too many obstacles, the likelihood of a positive user experience will be low. Your interactions with technical support, documentation, the product, and even other products that you use, are all aspects of the user experience.

Wilson, Chauncey E. Designing the User Experience at Autodesk (2009). Articles>User Experience>Usability>User Centered Design


How Cognitive Fluency Affects Decision Making

Why should fancy restaurants print their menus in a font that is elegant, but difficult to read? Why should scary rides in amusement parks have names that are difficult to pronounce? How do people assess the risk of food additives in everyday grocery items? And what does any of this have to do with UX design and usability? Every day, your users make judgments and decisions about the products and services you provide based on the way you present them. In this column, I’ll talk about why seemingly insignificant aspects of information presentation can have surprising effects on people’s perceptions and behavior.

Roller, Colleen. UXmatters (2011). Articles>Usability>User Experience>Cognitive Psychology


The Iceberg Analogy of Usability

Developers sometimes ask which aspects of look and feel contribute most to the overall usability of an application or Web site. They are typically surprised when I answer that the 'look and feel' aspects aren't the major contributors at all. Look and feel have been popular discussion topics for many years, and some developers have proposed various schemes purporting to allow an easy swap of one look and feel for another. They were perhaps compelled to this thinking to compensate for an inadequate understanding of their users. Around 1990, I became alarmed by the popularity of design architectures advocating paradigms like the User Interface Management Systems (UIMS) that enable a pluggable look and feel. Many of my colleagues and I felt that look and feel represented only the tip of the iceberg. We felt that the set of concepts users must learn and understand to use a product or Web site effectively is actually the most important factor.

Berry, Dick. IBM (2001). Articles>Usability>User Experience>Web Design


Internet Package Design

Many websites today try to mimic the in-store shopping experience as best as possible, but lack an important fundamental practice: package presentation. If handled correctly, package presentation can enhance the shopping experience a great deal, giving the company a competitive edge as well as bring in additional revenue.

Guy, Tammy. UX Magazine (2011). Articles>Usability>User Experience>E Commerce


iPad vs. iPhone: A User Experience Study

One thing we know is that the iPad is not simply a larger iPhone, nor is it a smaller computer. Developers have been quick to port their apps from the iPhone to the iPad to ensure they don't miss out on this trend, but there are big differences in the underlying specs and form factor of the iPad that make this a fundamentally different user experience.

Bolt, Nate, Brynn Evans and Cyd Harrell. UX Magazine (2010). Articles>User Experience>Mobile>Usability


iPhone Evaluation Report

User Centric, a privately held usability consulting firm based in Chicago, evaluated the long-term usability and user experience of the iPhone in 2007.

uiGarden (2008). Articles>User Experience>Usability


iPhone Is Not Easy to Use: A New Direction for UX Design

I live and breathe user experience design, and yet it took me two years to get myself the device referenced by almost every single presentation about user experience since 2007… Apple’s iPhone. My reasons were very specific and perhaps boring, but what is interesting is the perspective this wait has afforded me. Since it was released, the iPhone has grabbed an astonishing share of mobile Web traffic, been regarded as a “game-changer” in both the design and business worlds, and has even been referred to as the “Jesus Phone.” Now that I’ve owned one for two weeks I’ve developed a different perspective. The iPhone is surprisingly difficult to use, but it sure is fun! And that is why it’s a game-changer.

Beecher, Frederick. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>Usability>Interaction Design>User Experience


Is Beauty the New Usability Attribute?

The beauty of a product can influence the users' overall impression or general user satisfaction of the product. Think iPod. But how do you measure that?

Hall, Mark D. and Kathleen Straub. Human Factors International (2005). Articles>Usability>Aesthetics>User Experience


Let's Get It Started!

STC communities have moved from trying to figure out how they will work in the new model to starting to make the kinds of fundamental changes and undertake initiatives that will build value for members. We are starting to understand how to 'play' within and succeed with our new rules. For UUX to undertake new initiatives, we need more members to volunteer.

Bachmann, Karen L. Usability Interface (2006). Articles>Usability>User Experience>Volunteering


Leveraging User Data by Embedding UX Design Knowledge in Products

The role of data in a UX design process usually goes something like this: User researchers or UX designers gather data about users and their needs, using a variety of qualitative and quantitative approaches. They then analyze the data—often developing documentation that synthesizes the data, such as a task analysis or a set of personas. Finally, they use their analysis as a basis for making design decisions or influencing the strategy of the broader organization. Throughout this process, UX professionals mediate the relationships between the data that describes users and their requirements, design goals, and business objectives, seeking to align them as closely as possible. This article looks at how we can make this process of data analysis and design—or redesign—more effective by embedding UX design knowledge in computer systems.

Hornsby, Peter. UXmatters (2010). Articles>User Experience>Usability>Log Analysis



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