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The research plan

Plan for each phase, each sprint and update the plan A research plan can be one of the outputs of a design sprint, when there is one.  If not, it’s still helpful to write one as soon as possible. To be accessible to both team and stakeholders, it can be a brief document: two sides of […]

Turning opinions into results

Previous posts in this category describe how Neilsen’s popular methodology of Discount Usability Testing can identity around 80% of a site’s usability issues. It’s quite “doable”, typically taking a day, with 5 people coming in for an hour at a time. As a summative method it’s used after context and requirements have been discovered and there’s something […]

Challenges with designing local government services

A recent assignment with local government brought home the challenges of introducing digital, agile and service design into a traditional service provider; into an environment that’s neither digital first nor by default. In the UK local statutory services have endured many years of restructuring and funding cuts, whilst demand has steadily risen and technology has evolved. […]

Formative research – techniques and tips

The post “Different types of research“, categorised user research as either formative or summative (aka generative/evaluative): – Formative investigates environmental and human factors, constraints, opportunities, behaviours, requirements, and objectives. Summative evaluates the performance of designs and prototypes in meeting those objectives   The purpose of formative research is to inform For example, a pop-up survey for a government savings scheme (n=14), suggested […]


“More time is spent researching, analysing results and gleaning insights, than communicating the results” – discuss. That detracts from the impact of research, and doesn’t help answer the important question – “So what?”. Visualising_data helps to – uncover the not so obvious deepen understanding communicate findings and engage stakeholders. Visualisations can be wonderfully imaginative, with big data only adding to the […]

Taking down a wall of sticky notes – visualising_data

The patent on sticky-notes apparently expired in the 90s, some time before UX took off. That’s 3Ms loss, as user research consumes vast quantities for collecting and visualising_data. What to do with a great mosaic of comments ? A wall of sticky notes that’ve been so carefully written, sorted and arranged, that represents a productive, collective experience, can be […]

Different types of research

Who researches what In the world of UX and UR, research can be crudely  categorised into – Formative – What’s useful Summative – What’s useable The first helps to create the product by investigating its context, environment, user needs and constraints etc, and the second evaluates the performance of designs in meeting those requirements. This article on Userfocus has more details […]

Analogue, digital, visibility, affordance and Klingons

It might not zap Klingons but nonetheless I know what to do If you don’t remember the original Star Trek, you’ll probably not recognise the quote or think the green Dymo printer resembles a phaser gun. The idea for this post came from realising that the thing sitting on the next desk wasn’t a scientific calculator, but a modern digital version of […]

A checklist for evaluating webforms

Heuristics At some point, looking for a definition of “heuristic” turns up: “rule of thumb”, which might or might not be helpful depending on whether you know that means “rough and ready”, widely accepted, approximations that are “good enough” etc. Practically, when evaluating usability, there doesn’t seem much point in booking a lab and going to all […]

Preparing for 5

Understanding usability testing 101, describes how “discount testing” with 5 people and no lab goes a long way toward identifying usability issues. The practical benefits are: – 5, 1 hour sessions constitute a good day’s work Its simplicity facilitates the good practise of testing early and often Of course there’s more to usability testing; but understanding a simple methodology’s strengths and limitations, and being able […]

Undertaking usability testing – a simple methodology

In the late 90s Jakob Nielsen and Tom Landauer established 80% of usability issues could be identified by 5 users. So a day of usability testing, 5×1 hour sessions, has the potential to dramatically improve a site’s usability, and so it’s efficacy with achieving both user and business objectives. To realise this, Nielsen devised Discount Usability Testing: a […]

Internet access by age demographic

Data from the UK’s Office for National Statistics represented in an Excel radar (spider) graph. It shows 37% of those surveyed aged 65+ had accessed the internet in a three-month period; which seems high for the demographic. It would be interesting to know: how representative the sample was what those who said “yes” used it for and how long […]