User centred design

User research methods: qualitative vs quantitative, opinion based vs behavioural

One thing the result of the recent Australian election result has shown us is that not all research methods are equal. None of the major opinion polls – Newspoll, Ipsos, Galaxy or Essential polls predicted a coalition win on a two-party preferred basis. People are now questioning what went wrong with the opinion polls as LNP returns to power in what looks like a majority government? Unless a significant number of voters changed their mind on the day (which is unlikely) questions are now being asked why the pre-election polls were so wrong. I have several theories all related to the research methods used and I think there are several lessons that apply to anyone conducting customer research.

Moving away from persona templates: 8 traps and tips to make your personas work

Most UX people have a love-hate relationship with Personas – and for good reasons! They can easily become a checklist item that no-one puts to proper use. In this article we will guide you through the common pitfalls in persona creation and use, and provide you with ideas on how to effectively utilise personas for future projects.

Peak Usability is now PeakXD

I am excited to announce Peak Usability has now been renamed PeakXD (short for Peak eXperience Design). Why?

When I started Peak Usability 15 years ago I actually named it UX consulting but no one knew what UX meant (User eXperience for those of you who don’t work in the industry). Back then most people’s understanding of user centred design went as far as ‘usability’. And let’s face it, in 2003 there were a lot of really bad websites offering poor user experiences due largely to usability issues. User experience is so much more than usability and people understand that now.

Moderating usability test sessions: Are you Darth Vader or C-3PO?

Helping participants’ complete tasks; tipping them off that they have made a mistake; giving them too much freedom or leading participants; these are all things inexperienced test moderators might find themselves doing when moderating a test session. This article explores some of the common mistakes and why they’re damaging to the test outcomes presented through 5 Star Wars archetypes. Learn how to be a good test moderator and how to avoid being one of these 5 archetypes.

Planning usability testing – Writing test plans

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Planning is a critical part of the usability testing process. Without planning, your testing activity runs the risk of disorganisation at best and misleading or useless results at worst. Spending time planning will reduce the risks of the testing going off the rails and enhances the potential for great insights. This article explores the reasons for planning your usability testing process and just what you should think about. Hint: we mention checklists quite a bit.

UX Stands on the shoulders of Content Strategy

Content is one of the main touchpoints between the user and the business. It is a core and critical part of the user experience. Content strategy and UX share similar goals and challenges. Content strategy forms a foundation layer for UX activities, and UX activities (especially research and testing) serve to strengthen and improve content, thereby in turn improving the user experience. This article explores some of the key overlapping themes between UX and Content Strategy.

Collaborative journey mapping

You’re probably all familiar with customer journey maps as a user research output and/or design tool. But their usefulness can also extend to the research process, especially when you are trying to understand user decision-making. That is, the journey map can be a useful visual tool for both participant and moderator in a one-on-one interview.

Journey maps can be used to map out users’ behaviour and delve into the beliefs, attitudes and emotions that underpin this behaviour. When coupled with some research techniques grounded in cognitive psychology, you have a very sound and rigorous approach to understanding your user’s decision-making.

Analyse early, analyse often

As UX researchers, whether we are working on some early exploratory user research, or working on a quick and ‘lean’ usability testing project, due diligence in analysis is a necessary part of our trade. But have you ever experienced ‘paralysis by analysis’ or felt overwhelmed by the amount of data collected? You may have just spent a month conducting contextual enquiries with your user base, and now face the seemingly impossible task of pulling it all together. Or you may be working in an Agile / Lean UX environment and have just finished 4-6 test sessions and now need to quickly work out what the key insights are – due tomorrow. How do you get a handle on all this information and distil it into some meaningful insights?

Real world UX vs. University UX 101

For those who want to foray into the field of User experience (UX) design, it should be noted that the elements of UX that you learn at university are very different to real life experiences in the industry.

Incorporating UX design into the structured university curriculum is hard when every student is privy to your projects. Nearly all courses where usability testing was a component, were structured in a way that testing with people outside the student cohort was not always feasible.

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