Newbies setup on the first user experience testing

As I am a Lean way supporter and have recently read ‘UX for Lean Startups’ by Laura Klein I started to think about ‘Seriously We Think Free’ and how many things have to be done, improved and how to ask help from our early birds to make the magazine idea and product to survive and to be loved by even more people. First I decided on the problems and the goals which have to be achieved with this user testing you would like to perform. In our case – the website has a lot of functionality’s and it has never been working decently, no one ever could understand and track the magazine as we intended. The backend system worked but not the design as it was made fast, with no wireframing and any logic. It was a huge mistake not to ask the opinion from the ‘normal’ everyday users. I am learning by doing, thats the thing 🙂 So the decision was – to redesign the website and make it user friendly. The website holds plenty functions which first-time user has never seen before in any other platform and therefore the new behaviour for the users have to understood immediately. Thats the challenge.

Main reason for the user testing is: ‘What do we have to learn about our users and their behaviors in order to integrate the changes into our website with the quality and ease of understanding it.’

After a lots of wireframing and annoying the team with my silly variations and possibilities of the layout – I finally moved to super simple prototyping stage.

Choice of the prototyping tools

I don’t know is it the fact of me being raised in Eastern Europe or what, but I am very critical and cheap when it comes to buying the software, licenses and some memberships (If I know that I am not going to use those in everyday life). Therefore it took me a while to setup the super fast, interactive prototype and decide which software to choose from the ones I already have purchased.

Nevertheless here is my list of the tools (which are not actual prototyping tools) I had already in my computer and had chosen to use to test website re-design:

  • Adobe Muse – hover, forms, links, interactions, basically everything you can imagine. Found it as great tool not only for perfecting some simple websites but for some fast prototype creations as well!
  • Adobe Dreamweaver – Simply drag and drop the design as an image and use Image maps to create links. I know the developers will hate to hear that but I found it easy to use.
  • Froont app – Free online Google Chrome tool for up to 20 projects. Need to pay for interactions but possible to create some simple responsive design with no interactions. Perfect for Launch pages and simple A/B testing.
  • Adobe Fireworks – Similar to Adobe Dreamweaver, can create the hover effects, links and some more steps on click, see tutorial.

Note: that there are plenty of great prototyping tools on the web and you can choose which ever you would like to if you are not like me and have some spare peso to spend on your newly baking project. If you would like to purchase/tryout more professional prototyping tools then head in to cooper.com to decide on the most suitable tool specifically for your type of project.

Qualitative testing

The great help with user experience practicalities you can find in the ‘UX Crash Course’ by Joel Marsh. Warmly suggest you to get through it. Decide on questions according to your needs.

I picked 10 people who don’t know anything or something about the magazine and its functionality. I  suggest to setup a list of the target audience whose knowledge about your product is close to none. That way the test will be much more valuable. I  had one super flexible week to setup the Skype calls with the testing people, made sure they feel comfortable, got the little introduction and thanked them for their time. After 3-5 calls you will find a pattern and that the answers or behaviours are very similar. Hell yeah, you got into the beauty of user experience! Use those answers to discuss with your teammates on how to change, improve, iterate.

This is the result of re-design after the whole process of testing work: Seriously We Think Free in Behance

I hope you liked couple of my newbie suggestions and please share your learning path on user experience, prototyping or what would you do different?

 

 

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Design consult or not to design consult

For some time I had been carrying this annoying feeling in me because of some nasty experience I had.

To consult your clients or go with their flow?

As a designer who had many clients and projects on my experience path I would like to consider myself as being able to recognize good design from not-so successful design decisions. I started with learning PhotoShop on my own as soon as I got my first PC. At age of 15 I made some cash for buying ticket to Ozzy Osbourne concert by increasing breast size of my girlfriends images to post those in social media (well,you have to start somewhere). So client gives you a task (increase my boobies in this pic) and you just do it till the client is satisfied with the result, in the end you are getting your reward. No design consulting was done there. Later in life I had many offers for doing some flayers, posters, little branding etc. This was my golden time to find the best solutions, be rainbow-unicorn creative and consult how the things should be done. I considered myself a design-star. (Note: my teenage period was not over yet.) Then I got my first full-time job and wanted  to show all the best sides of my creativity and knowledge of usability, concept and design but very fast I understood that in this company you can give your ideas but creative director will change it to his liking and the client is the one who will twist your design decisions upside down and will say ‘make it look like Apple’ and after some consultancy saying that this is bad idea, you will end-up doing what the client says. So next time you will not even bother to consult or create some great decision together with client but just listen on what he says.  Needless to say – it was pretty devastating, therefore I started my own startup ‘Seriously We Think Free’ magazine – where I can express all my crazy design decisions and keep myself busy. Plus some great freelancing came along and some great clients who liked me to consult or create decisions together, but there were also some not so great clients…

I received the task from very opinionated client to finish the unfinished branding, wireframes and website. Therefore, I assumed that I had to hurry, as the programmers are paid and were waiting for psd. files and the task is extremely straight-forward, meaning, just do it and just do what client says. I assumed that no consulting should be done and my badly gained habits from my full-time sticked to my head and said, just get it done as client says. In the end not so successful wireframe which I was given turned into not so successful website, obviously, and the client noticed that it was too fast decision and blamed me in the all world problems and that on me the client lost a lot of money and that I had to design consult. So I swallowed the angry letter and kind of agreed with one point (others were just ridiculous) – saying that I had to do my consultancy as a professional and I had to kill my habit ‘shut up and do’ and say to re-do all wireframe because it did suck. It would tremendously delay the deadlines but at least I might have happy client at the end. It taught me a lesson: no matter how ‘design-smart’ and opinionated client you’ve got you have to stay true to yourself and your knowledge, you have to consult and create some great decisions TOGETHER with the client, because this is the only way how the product can become successful. If the client refuses all your consultancy and wants to put Comic Sans for his lawyer company website then leave the job (if you can afford it) or don’t put your name under this job. My lesson was learned and I know that this mistake will make me a better designer.

I wish you to have great clients, great collaborative outcome and bowl of patience 🙂

Did you have similar experience and how you coped with it?