System Concepts A-Z of UX (part 2)

User Experience & Usability

The A to Z of UX

Letter JJ is for Journey mapping. Journey mapping is a valuable way to see the bigger picture and identify key points in a journey that are critical to the users’ experience when accomplishing their goal. Our approach uses insights from user research within a mapping workshop with stakeholders where we facilitate the identifying of key areas of the journey that, if improved, will create the greatest impact for the user. We love to see the User Journey maps being used and applied, such as this journey map we created for a client in the travel industry, which we are always happy to see displayed on their office wall whenever we visit.

Letter KK is for KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). This follows on quite nicely from our journey mapping case study above. Having created a journey map, the client was then interested in understanding which UX metrics could be tracked at each stage of the journey to understand the effect of business and design decisions on the products’ UX and create KPIs around these metrics. To do this we ran what we coined a ‘data sprint’ which drew on some design sprint techniques and the Google HEART framework.

Letter LL is for Low fidelity prototypes. Often our clients can be concerned that their design isn’t polished enough to put in front of users for testing. But we love a low-fi prototype. Users don’t feel like they are tearing down a design that someone has put a lot of effort into so are more willing to make suggestions for improvements. If we want to use some co-creation methods, we can unpick the design and rebuild it with the user. And obviously from a client point of view, where a number of recommendations emerge from the research, a low fidelity prototype requires less resource to build and update. Our fourth article from our Design Thinking series talks more about prototypes and how to use them as part of the process.

Letter MM is for Mental Model. A mental model is the way in which a user believes something is working (this may or may not be an accurate belief). Many usability issues can be attributed to a mismatch between the mental model of the users, and the conceptual model that a design is using to relay and organise information. Here is an article describing how encouraging users to draw how they think something works can help us to understand a users’ mental model.

Letter NN is for Neurodiversity. The term neurodiversity comes from the viewpoint that brain differences are normal rather than deficits and in fact strengths can come from these differences. Running research with neurodiverse participants is something we enjoy. Seeing the world from different people’s perspectives and talking to participants about how we can design products and services to better support them is always fascinating. And in fact, our accessibility experts provide some tips on running research with neurodiverse participants in this article.

Letter OO is for Open card sort. When clients are looking to design a new information architecture or evaluate and update their current navigation, card sorting is a good place to start. Open card sorting allows us to ‘start from scratch’ and understand how users would group the content and what labels they would give each group. We often use a mixed methodology by using an online tool (such as that offered by Optimal sort) to gather feedback from a large number of participants to establish common groupings before running one-to-one sessions to understand ‘why’ cards are being grouped in a certain way.

Letter PP is for Personas. Personas are fictional representations of clusters of target users who share similar attitudes/goals/motivations when using your product or service. Personas can get bad press, but personas that are not being used (or not being used correctly) are often ones not based on real user research, have not been updated in a long time or are part of a large unwieldy stack of personas. Being clear how the personas will be used, conducting in-depth and ideally in context research to inform them and creating engaging, useful deliverables (as we did for Les Mills in this case study) can ensure that personas are of significant benefit to designers, product managers and researchers alike.

Letter QQ is for Qualitative vs Quantitative. As a researcher you can of course specialise in one or the other, but it will always be important to have a good understanding of both in order to judge whether you should be using a hard data/numerical approach to answer a research question or a more naturalistic, interpretive route. And being able to employ both forms of research where we gather insights to answer the ‘what’ questions (using quantitative) and the ‘why’ questions (using qualitative) provides a rounded approach to a research project. We applied this combined approach when working with SMASH on their app encouraging teens and young adults to eat healthily.

Letter RR is for Rapid user testing. Sometimes budgets and timescales don’t lend themselves to in-depth user research but some level of (quality) user input is better than none. Rapid user testing is a scaled back, quicker version of a standard user test. You can test key tasks/journeys with around 5 participants in one day, followed by a stakeholder discussion of findings and a high level report detailing key insights and recommendations to be taken directly into the next design iteration (fitting in nicely with an agile approach). Our article goes into a little more detail of the possible uses and benefits of rapid user testing.

Thanks for reading the second instalment of our UX alphabet, from J to R. Join us again soon for the next instalment!

Speech bubbleIf you have any user research requirements, our experienced team can help, just get in touch. 

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