Taking Research out of the Lab

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To date, usability testing has been largely confined to usability labs. This ensures a controlled environment where users can interact with products or designs and researchers can field questions. The downside of this is not being able to get the context of use of what you are testing. But a recent project for a life science organization cemented the idea that taking user research out of the usability lab yields the best results.

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Focus on Usage Maturity: Part I

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Designing for All Users by Starting at the Beginning

Photo by Amélie Mourichon on Unsplash

Far too often, products are designed to meet the needs of the typical user. As a user experience researcher, I’m always cautious about defining the “typical user” for any of the digital or physical products I work on. My UX research has included work on business processes, websites, services, software platforms, digital games, physical products,  and physical properties.

I prefer to use a usage maturity matrix and design to meet the range of functional priorities of our users.

  • Usage maturity is a measure of users’ comfort and familiarity with and degree of use of a product.
  • A usage maturity matrix defines the functional priorities at each level of usage maturity.
  • The matrix lists beginning, proficient, and advanced level functional priorities and can expand to include novice and expert levels to account for greater complexity.
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Don’t Send Personal Messages Through LinkedIn (Unless You Want People to Hate You)

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Looking through my parents’ storage boxes, I found letters that my mother and father sent one another prior to my existence. This unfathomable world was decades away from mobile phones, public internet connectivity, and social networking. Along with explanations of humorous or ordinary everyday episodes and proclamations of love, the letters included doodles, crossed out words, and long postscriptums. I don’t know if my mother or father ever dabbed some perfume on their letters hoping to evoke butterflies in the other’s stomach; it would not have been out of place.

My parents may not have thought about it, but their craftsmanship likely had an impact on the recipient. Perhaps my dad’s use of smiley faces (predating by 45 years when the word “emoji” was selected as Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year) made my mom smile. Maybe crooked handwriting or spelling mistakes hinted that one of them was anxious or hurried. The intuitive idea that the recipient of a letter responds not just to the dictionary meaning of the words within but also to the tone, paper, calligraphy, neatness, and presentation would be wrapped up by the behavioral science concept that “context matters.” When my parents customized their letters they were in control of said context. They manipulated the context to amplify their love or neutralize a piece of sad news. Continue reading Don’t Send Personal Messages Through LinkedIn (Unless You Want People to Hate You)

Case Study: How to Build a Digital User Experience Monitoring System

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Most software user experience and product management teams have similar questions: How do users feel about our products? How is our product experience changing over time? How do users feel about a recent change we’ve made in the product?

Our user experience (UX) and product teams are no different, so we set up a system that provides an ongoing stream of data that answers these questions and does much more.

In this case study, we describe our user experience monitoring system at Qualtrics.[1] With data collected through this system, we are able to monitor the overall UX of our software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, share dashboards and reports with stakeholders, and send automated messages to individuals and groups based on key performance indicators. This system complements our existing traditional UX research initiatives (such as interviewing, surveying, usability evaluations, and reviewing telemetry data) with an actionable stream of high quality user experience data collected with very little ongoing effort from our team.

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How to Use Gamification in Mobile Apps: A Case Study

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Gamification, or the addition of game-like elements to anything that isn’t a game, pops up all over the design world.

In my last post for Boxes and Arrows, I focused specifically on gamification in mobile app onboarding. The moment when users first open your app is critical to the app’s success, and you can use gamification as a tool to get a new user through the learning curve.

But gamification doesn’t just fit with onboarding. It’s possible to apply gamification to any part of app design, or even design an entire app—that is not a mobile gaming application—around it.

I’ll examine Forest, a productivity app, as a case study of gamification embedded so deeply into an app’s framework that gamification becomes the entire reason to use the app in the first place.

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