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Topic: Research Methods

The Most Important Usability Activity

July 16, 2012

What's worth the most: field studies or user tests? Depends on your company's usability maturity, but user testing is the safe bet if you can do only one thing.

Interviewing Users

July 26, 2010

Despite many weaknesses, interviews are a valuable method for exploratory user research.

Testing Expert Users

January 25, 2010

It's more difficult to conduct usability studies with experienced users than with novices, and the improvements are usually smaller. Still, improving expert performance is often worth the effort.

Building Respect for Usability Expertise

July 6, 2009

Enemies of usability claim that because 'the experts disagree,' they can safely ignore user advocates' expertise and run with whatever design they personally prefer.

Traffic Log Patterns

July 10, 2006

The relative popularity of a site's pages, the number of visitors referred by other sites, and the traffic from search queries continue to follow a Zipf distribution.

Enterprise Usability

November 7, 2005

Usability goes beyond the level of individual users interacting with screens. It's also a question of how easy or cumbersome it is for the entire organization to use a system.

Putting A/B Testing in Its Place

August 15, 2005

Measuring the live impact of design changes on key business metrics is valuable, but often creates a focus on short-term improvements. This near-term view neglects bigger issues that only qualitative studies can find.

Authentic Behavior in User Testing

February 14, 2005

Despite being an artificial situation, user testing generates realistic findings because people engage strongly with the tasks and suspend their disbelief.

Acting on User Research

November 8, 2004

User research offers a learning opportunity that can help you build an understanding of user behavior, but you must resolve discrepancies between research findings and your own beliefs.

Card Sorting: How Many Users to Test

July 19, 2004

Testing ever-more users in card sorting has diminishing returns, but test at least 15 users - 3 times more than you would in traditional usability tests.

Keep Online Surveys Short

February 2, 2004

To ensure high response rates and avoid misleading survey results, keep your surveys short and ensure that your questions are well written and easy to answer.

User Empowerment and the Fun Factor

July 7, 2002

Designs that engage and empower users increase their enjoyment and encourage them to explore websites in-depth. Once we achieve ease of use, we'll need additional usability methods to further strengthen joy of use.

Field Studies Done Right: Fast and Observational

January 20, 2002

Field studies should emphasize the observation of real user behavior. Simple field studies are fast and easy to conduct, and do not require a posse of anthropologists: All members of a design team should go on customer visits.

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