The importance of understanding “will” vs. “can” in usability testing

In my experience it never fails that many stakeholders come to usability testing with the question of “will” vs. “can” Customers use their products or services. It’s a natural and desirable outcome of conducting user research. A positive answer can lead to acceptance of a business case, sign-off on a product launch, or pre-mature glory for the product owner and team. A negative answer can help to avert a disastrous build and launch.

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Transforming Digital Transformation

“Digital Transformation” has become an interesting buzzword that in its own right seems to be rapidly transforming. Not so long ago, replacing software systems with integrated, customer-facing digital systems, and putting digital more at the core of your business was simply a large-scale technology infrastructure program. But everything requires a buzzword, and perhaps “large-scale technology infrastructure programs” had become laden with everything needing to be “enterprise-scale” using large “systems integrators” in an eco-system where technology – not the Customer – was in the driver’s seat.

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Whatever happened to discovery?

It’s a cool, sunny late Autumn Sunday morning. You live in the countryside; the nearest village is a mile away. It’s been a while since you bought a Sunday paper. But for some reason, you want one. Instead of getting in your car, as you normally might to do to drive the mile to the village to buy milk or go to the pub, you decide to walk. There are paths through the fields behind your house that take you to the top of a hill and then down to the village – which is actually less than a mile to walk.

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UserZoom UX Seminar Series: The Evolution of Mobile from a User Perspective

On Tuesday, 4 October I’ll be on a Mobile Surgery panel at the UserZoom UX Seminar Series: The Evolution of Mobile from a User Perspective. Other speakers at the event include: Carina Hoogeveen, Account Director, UserZoom, Arthur Moan, Country Manager UK Ireland, UserZoom, Anders Rosenquist, the ZAAZ Head of Mobile, David Murphy, Editor, Mobile Marketing Magazine.

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Prototyping as an ethos

When car manufacturers design a new automobile, they develop requirements, conduct research, draw designs, make scale models, test scale models in wind tunnels, computer model their ideas, build full-scale prototypes, test them, and iterate the designs – all of this before putting them into production. What they don’t do is go right from drawing them on a piece of paper or having a pocketful of highly subjective ideas to putting them into production.

So they don’t base their decisions on a paper prototype or a list of personal ideas. Why? Because a car is a 3 dimensional experience. It is an experience of the senses. It is an interactive experience. You really need to understand it before you put it into production. Mistakes carried through into production would be costly.

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No Virginia… you are NOT the user

As individuals, we have many user experiences over the course of a day. Certainly over the course of a week, month, year… indeed a lifetime. In a sense, we become experienced users over time of many things, and remain inexperienced users of many other things. In some instances we feel we can extrapolate the experience by comparing it to ‘like’ experiences.

When it comes to designing apps for use on the internet, software, or web, everyone is an experienced user. At least that’s the impression I’ve gotten over the years in dealing with clients and colleagues.

Let’s take clients. They are often made up of many constituents: a business owner, stakeholders, marketers, project managers, IT geeks, editors, business analysts, and possibly even cobbled together components of a web team. Each of them has an opinion. Each of them view digital projects in terms of their own interests, experience, discipline and exposure (or lack thereof) to similar types of projects. They also have their own agendas – which are a double edged sword – that guide their actions.

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UX and the Art of Digital Appropriation

So, I feel caught in a language loop recently. I talk about (and practice) User Experience. I do these things in the digital/mobile space. And really, I’m mostly focusing on good, strategic paths to design.

But all of it is an illusion.

User experience is pervasive. It is ubiquitous. Like air. And I don’t design air… I breathe it, I need it to live, I experience it, it’s all around me. It’s ubiquitous too.

User experience is about more than just digital experiences. If we accept that it is pervasive, ubiquitous, we have to accept that it extends well beyond our digital boundaries. But we most often hear about “UX” in relation to developing digital experiences.

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Mobile Cloud Summit

On 21 September, 2011 the Mobile Cloud Summit will take place in Hoxton.

It is a one-day event that will focus on how cloud-based applications delivered via smart mobile devices are transforming business and society.  It will also focus on the Mobile Cloud investment opportunity and will be an opportunity for leading IT companies, investors, entrepreneurs, and the tech media to get together and discuss.

I will be moderating a brand new session at Mobile Cloud Summit called The Evolution of the Mobile Cloud.

For more information on the event, visit the Mobile Cloud Summit website.

You can also track the event on Lanyrd.