Links on Usability Engineering

Will Ford learn that software isn’t manufactured?

A recent article in the New York Times discusses Ford’s plummeting fall in user rankings this year, focusing the blame on their new touch screen interface. According to the article, J.D.Power, the auto industry arbiter, dropped Ford’s ranking from 5th to 23rd, and subsidiary Lincoln’s ranking from 8th to 17th place.

J.D.Power acknowledges that both Ford and Lincoln’s fit and finish are excellent. It was the “annoying” behavior of their driver-facing interactive systems that caused their ratings to plummet. Other reviewers concur, as Consumer Reports yanked their “Recommended” rating from Ford’s new 2011 Edge model.

… Digital solutions are so much cheaper and more flexible than mechanical ones that they will eventually come to dominate the entire company. Companies who can master the challenge of software’s unique nature, and particularly of how humans interact with it, will thrive. Ford is learning the opposite lesson.

Will Ford learn that software isn’t manufactured?

High Paying Jobs in User Experience Design

Here are top paying jobs for Information Architecture, Usability, and UX practitioners plus reasons to explore each for your user experience design career - and bank your account. (Salary figures based on Indeed.com and GlassDoor.com data)

  • User experience strategist: $67,000 to $135,000
  • Usability analyst: $81,000 on an average
  • User interface designer: $84,000 to $155,000
  • Interaction designer: $91,000 on an average
  • Interaction designer: $91,000 on an average
  • Information architect: $104,000 on an average

High paying jobs in User Experience design

Usability Questionnaires: If you could only ask one question, use the SEQ (Single Ease Question)

Was a task difficult or easy to complete? Performance metrics are important to collect when improving usability but perception matters just as much.

Asking a user to respond to a questionnaire immediately after attempting a task provides a simple and reliable way of measuring task-performance satisfaction. Questionnaires administered at the end of a test such as SUS, measure perception satisfaction.

There are numerous questionnaires to gather post-task responses. The SEQ (Single Ease Question) is a new addition.

Usability Questionnaires: If you could only ask one question, use the SEQ (Single Ease Question)

Usability as Common Courtesy

Steve Krug says that usability is about building clarity into web sites: making sure that users can understand what it is they’re looking at — and how to use it — without undue effort. Is it clear to people? Do they “get it”?

But there’s another important component to web usability: doing the right thing — being considerate of the user. Besides “Is my site clear?” you also need to be asking, “Does my site behave like a mensch?”

Usability as Common Courtesy

Response times- the 3 important limits

The basic advice regarding response times has been about the same for thirty years [Miller 1968; Card et al. 1991]:

  1. 0.1 second is about the limit for having the user feel that the system is reacting instantaneously, meaning that no special feedback is necessary except to display the result.
  2. 1.0 second is about the limit for the user’s flow of thought to stay uninterrupted, even though the user will notice the delay. Normally, no special feedback is necessary during delays of more than 0.1 but less than 1.0 second, but the user does lose the feeling of operating directly on the data.
  3. 10 seconds is about the limit for keeping the user’s attention focused on the dialogue. For longer delays, users will want to perform other tasks while waiting for the computer to finish, so they should be given feedback indicating when the computer expects to be done. Feedback during the delay is especially important if the response time is likely to be highly variable, since users will then not know what to expect.

Response times- the 3 important limits

Usability Maturity Model: Human Centredness Scale

Abstract
This organisational human-centredness maturity scale is based on Flanaghan’s Usability Leadership scale, Sherwood-Jones’ Total System maturity model and ISO 13407. The background to the scale is described. The scale has six levels defined by a set of attributes. Each attribute is defined by one or more management practices performed at that level. The management practices are defined. The uses of the scale are outlined. A recording form is supplied and its use described. Some indicators of personal attitude at each level are given. The scale is conformant to ISO 15504. This version specially prepared for the TRUMP project.

Usability Maturity Model: Human Centredness Scale (PDF, 220 kb)

What’s the real value behind unmoderated remote user testing?

The mission of this article is to explain unmoderated remote user testing (URUT) in a way that will hopefully help people better understand it. Obviously, we write from our own experience using UserZoom’s software technology and methodology, which includes about 7 years specializing in remote usability testing, a large number of remote testing projects, about half of them international testing, and an endless number of participants.

What’s the real value behind unmoderated remote user testing?

A Brief History of the Magic Number 5 in Usability Testing

Are you are wondering about the origins of the sample size controversy in the usability profession? This article provides an annotated timeline of the major events and papers which continue to shape this topic.

A Brief History of the Magic Number 5 in Usability Testing

ROIs on PhDs. How much are trailing letters worth to you?

Have you wondered whether earning a PhD would improve your lot? Mid-to Advanced career professionals often ask me if i think a PhD would be worth it for them. When they say “worth it,” they typically have two specific questions in mind:

  • Will having a PhD confer me more credibility and ability to move up in the workplace?
  • Will having trailing letters will result in a bigger salary?

The literal, simplistic answer is, “Yes, more credibility and 17K/year according to Sauro’s analysis of the recent UPA Salary Survey.” But, the real answer is probably no. Earning a PhD requires two things:

  1. The keen desire to spend roughly a decade thinking about ONE well-defined problem
  2. An enthusiasm to spend roughly a decade poor

ROIs on PhDs. How much are trailing letters worth to you?

Breaking Up Large Documents for the Web

Most people come to the web for information, not for a complete document. They don’t want the user manual; they want instructions for the task they are doing. They don’t want the handbook; they want the answer to specific questions. They want usable, manageable pieces. To present content on the web in the amount that most people want:

  • Think “topic,” not “book”
  • Break large documents into topics and subtopics

Breaking Up Large Documents for the Web - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3