Thinking in a Simple Way


Usability engineering UX techniques

There are various UX techniques , today I will introduce some of UX techniques which include both strengths and weaknesses.

Part1 . About User Research:

1.Context inquiry

Context inquiry is to observe user’s behavior as User carry out every tasks. and follow up the user.

The time will last 3-5 days ,normal about 90 minutes sessions.

Advantages: 1.  The data is very rich;

2. reduce the risk of self-reporting bias;

Disadvantages: 1. Observer’s bias

2. time consuming

3. not practical.

2. Diary Studies

Diary studies is about that users normally record events on a particular topic by using paper-diary, voice- recording,photos or mobile phone

Advantages:  1. rich data;

2.gain deep insight into user’s behavior is contextual.

Disadvantages: 1. time consuming,     2.Risk of self-reporting bias   3 User not reporting, 4 User not complete the tasks.


Interviews conducted one to one with users;

lasts about 45-90 minutes;

normally use open questions to avoid leading or biasing

and use close questions to zoom in finer details.

Advantages: 1. easy and quick to execute.

2. can talke a large number of users in a relatviely short time.

Disadvantages:1. data is not rich, 2. highly risk of self-reporting bias,

4. Focus group:

normally about 6-10 users grouped into a discussion workshop.

a series of group interviews. DETERMINE USER PRIORITIES,more often in market research,not often in User research

last 1-2 hours.

Advantages: can talk a large amount of people very quickly. 2.good for preferences,options ,trends.

Disadvantages: not good for task analysis,,2 big risk of self-reporting bias,3 need strong facilitators.

5. Log analysis.

Review  site’s analytics to determine items such as user’s path ways, search area;

Log analysis is an early analysis ahead of other UX work.

When budget does not allow any face to face tasks, it will provide an alternative solution.

Advantages: Insight into user behaviors. Disadvantages:1.Tell the what but not the why.

6. Survey/ Questionnaires:

Normally online survey of users.

Total 4-8 days.

When there is a requirement of quantitative data( validate qualitative findings)

To evaluate user’s satisfaction before redesign.

Ad: quick way of gathering quantitative data.

DisAdvantages: risk of users ‘misreport’ their actions and emotions.

Part 2.

Design Research:

1. Card Sorting: includes open card sorting: develop categories,  close card sorting: check categories.

Actually card sorting is about gathering data, and categorize the data into subgroups. and then labeling

a name for that groups. this is very useful for Information Architecture(I.A),which is to structure the design

of information to aid task completion (Alphabetical,(dictionary),Chronological(events,calendar),Geographical(travel,)

time: Total lasts 6-7 days

Card sorting is mainly used to test Information Architecture.

Use close sort to testing current IA, and use Open sort to generate a new IA.

Advantages: quick and Cheap

Disadvantages: ISN’T task based.

2.Competitive analysis

Competitive analysis is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of competitor’s products or services before starting work on


why copies can fail:

The specific UI element you are copying is not that good .

The design works fine in the original but may not good in your context.

Part 3. Design Research:

There are two design research I will introduce below,which are Information Architecture and Interaction Design.

1. Information Architecture: (I.A)  The structural design of information to aid user tasks completion and access to the content.

Alphabetical, Chronological, Geographical.

2. I.D: interaction design: is about the communication between people, or about the communication between human and machine.

The system, service or tool that must meet the needs of people by supporting activities(what they trying to do) and contexts(the operation environment).

Part 4. Evaluations:

There are several evaluation methods: Heuristics evaluations( i.e NIELSEN’S 10 principles), Usability testing(Prototyping,Accessibility usability test, IA testing, Eye tracking), Expert Review, Controlled Experiment(a/b testing,live testing),Card sorting.

Heuristic Evaluations: normally use guidelines to identify usability issues of given web site:

normally we are following Nielsen ‘s 10 principles:

1. the visibility of system status,(let the user’s know what the system’ are doing, and the status of the system)

2 match between system and real world ( following the real world conventions)

3.User feel control and freedom ( undo, redo, if some errors occur,they can click the exit button)

4. Error prevention( a careful design which will try best on avoiding errors)

5.Consistency and standard( user does not need to know different words has the same meaning)

6.Recognition rather than recall( should provide user a easy manner to operate, like more steps,minimize the memory load by making objects)

7.Flexibility and Efficienty(Accelerators,should provide functions for both inexperienced and experienced user),shortcuts for keyboard)

8.Aesthetic and minimalist design

9.Help and documentation

10.Error messages help user to recover(good error messages help the user to resolve the problems,and understand the system)

Remote testing(online tasks studies),

1. One is Moderated Remote testing( Qualitative data)

2. The other is Automated Remote testing(Quantitative data)

Advantages: Time aware research,2 Geographic diversity,3 ability to test anywhere,4, quicker to set up test

Disadvantages: Cannot watch participants in real time and ask questions

2. cannot conduct interview-based tasks

3.what people write in report can be very different to what they do.

Controlled Experiments:

It is actually to control practical values to compare each other, and identify the differences between them.

A/B testing

Live Testing.

Summary :

How to choose the right method

We will use an scenario based situation to compare these methods to check the suitable areas:

Situation: concept stage:

EXPENSIVE: Diary Study

Cheap:   Focus group, competitor analysis

Situation: user research

EXPENSIVE: Diary study

Cheap: Contextual inquiry, desk research(log analysis)

Situation: design

Expensive: DESIGN WITH USERS — paper- prototyping

Cheap: walkthrough prototype with stakeholders

Situation: building

Expensive: usability testing(work with users,)

Cheap: Card sorting(IA must be decided)

Situation: we are not sure it’s working(already built)

Expensive:usability testing

Cheap: Expert review, log analysis, accessibility testing,surveys,questionaires.


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