Research Articles

Articles, tips and techniques for evaluating and understanding user and product needs. Emphasis is on doing research and iterative testing early and often.

Effective Design Research: Analyze Goals First
A small difference in the way a goal is phrased can drastically change the tasks that are necessary to accomplish that goal. Many designers of technology-based products spend a lot of time working on developing UIs to support the tasks a user needs to accomplish. However, without first understanding the users' goals, many of these designs often fail.

Go Mobile! Representative Wireless Usability Tests
Usability testing in the unwired future requires that our experimental subjects and the tasks they perform be studied "out there" in the mobile environment. To do so requires better planning, decision-making, and acceptance of tradeoffs that in other experimental settings would be deemed unreasonable.

Assessing Usability Part 1: Introduction
The first in a 4-part series on assessing usability. The article gives a brief introduction to the concept of usability, discusses its importance for successful product development and serves as a gateway to three additional articles that deal with some methods and techniques you can use to evaluate usability as the project progresses.

Assessing Usability Part 2: Discovery
Techniques you can employ at the beginning of a project, when you have a general idea of what a product needs to do, but you need clarification on how to best implement your ideas in later design activities.

Assessing Usability Part 3: Inspection
Usability inspection can typically be done without the need for outside users; relying, instead, on usability experts to identify and evaluate issues that need to be corrected as a design progresses.

Assessing Usability Part 4: User Testing
Part 4, the last in our 4-part series (weird, huh?) on the tools and techniques you can use to evaluate usability by testing versions of your product - before it's complete - with real people.