Tag Archives: Usability

Which is it?

My cousin, Lonnie Brown was a game warden in the mountains of Colorado for many years. A good man, in a noble profession.

On one visit to his little ranch in the mountains, he showed me the bear trap he used occasionally to trap a bear needing to be relocated to a more remote area. It was a simple piece of culvert opened on one end. They would put some stinky piece of meat or something in there to attract the bear and of course close the gate once he was inside.  It wouldn’t hurt him.  Actually it might save his life. But there is not much chance of explaining that to the trapped bear.  Lonnie told be you better believe that bear makes a heckova racket inside that steel tube.

Sometimes when I am watching a usability test in which a user is lost and frustrated, clicking around on everything trying to get a foot hold, I think of that bear in a trap, thrashing about trying to get some control of his situation.  Then when someone tells me that  some stupid feature is getting a lot of clicks, i smirk a little. Quantitative data is compelling, but qualitative data is smarter.  Knowing what users do is information.  Understanding why they do it is intelligence.
My point is: A whole lot of clicking going on is not necessary necessarily a sign of success.
My question is this: What is the nature of interaction on your web site? Is it site exploration and discovery? or is it thrashing and flailing?  How can you know?

roger

Less Maze, More Cheese

LessMazeMoreCheese

My formula for fixing overly complicated web sites and out of control apps is simple; Less maze, more cheese. Give people what they are looking for first, not as a reward for enduring a sales pitch. Then they’ll want to learn about what else you have to say. Keep front-loading the experience with prizes and they’ll keep looking for more. And keep giving that too. The web is a “pull” experience unlike traditional media such as TV which is a “push”. The audience is in charge and that changes everything.

– roger

Failure to communicate ebola

Texas Health systems report that a factor in missing the Ebola patient had recently traveled from Liberia was that the nurse patient records which contained that fact are separate from the info the doctors access.

Many people are surprised and appalled that this could happen.

Reality is that healthcare systems are an aggregate of disparate systems evolved of different origins serving various niches in the vast healthcare arena. just getting them to share the most common frequently used information efficiently has been the focus of healthcare IT for years. Asking for bigData intelligence that is usable and flexible to new needs such as this is a big expectation. So much work to be done.

Some naively think that having doctors and nurses on the IT design team is the answer to all the troubles facing healthcare IT.

Having domain experts, including people who are from that target user base, in this case actual medical professionals, on board is important. However, it is not a substitute for having process analysts and user experience designers who are experts in teasing out the important task and information elements and translating it into a usable high performing system. Other fields such as banking, transportation, and aerospace have learned this through a lot of trial and error over the past twenty years, Doctors are not designers any more than airline pilots, travel agents, or loan underwriters.
Healthcare UX is an area of huge need.  Of course, I have been saying this for along while.  See my previous blogs

BAD HEALTHCARE UX ON LIFE SUPPORT

http://belveal.net/2012/06/20/bad-ux-in-healthcare-on-life-support/

Roger

Fishbone-to-Wishbone: A Recipe for BrainstormChasers

BrainStorming or just Storming?

Somehow, brainstorming has gotten a bad rap. I was actively brainstorming at the white board with a product manager one day. As we were having excellent success at nailing the key elements of the design, he looked at me and said, “My business professor told me this wouldn’t work”.  Hmmm. I wasn’t sure what to say other than I’ve heard that theoretically, bumble bees cannot fly, yet somehow they do.

By the way, rigorous usability testing later on confirmed that the concepts we came up with in that brainstorming session were dead on target. So, I am still a little confused about who is saying brainstorming doesn’t work and why. Perhaps they’re just doing it wrong?? Or maybe I am just using the term too loosely to describe using your brain to analyze and solve problems. ??
Brainstorming  Recipes
As with all recipes, ingredients are important.  So first of all, before you begin, make sure to have an ample supply of good quality brains on hand.  This will make things go better as the process gets messy. Having these ingredients will enable you to improvise in case something doesn’t work as expected or you spot a new opportunity  that  was not anticipated.
Fishbone2Wishbone Recipe

Having been trained in Six Sigma, my tendency is to look for root causes of pain points following the five whys to begin forming hypotheses. Of course, Six Sigma was invented for manufacturing where a given product or process was already defined and typically the tools were used for trouble shooting to reduce defect rates, hence the name.  That has always made it a weird fit for design, where the purpose is the define the not yet defined product or process.

But wait.  Here’s the deal, Flipping this method on its head, one can use the same cause & effect logic to trace the root causes of a good effect, such as customer delight.  Brainstorming potential causes of customer delight based on things you know about the audience (personas), their tasks, the context, the business domain, etc. can produce some very good hypotheses for taking into design.  This can feed the lean methodology.  I have named this my “fish bone to wishbone” method. i.e., Fish bone (Ishikawa diagram) leading to an A B test (wishbone).  Get it?

Fishbone2Wsihbone-9-5
Maybe my point here is to not simply open the table to ideas, but to have some cause  & effect rationale for forming hypotheses that can then be explored and tested.  Testing hypotheses need not always require a design exercise.  In fact whether you do proceed with a design to test or not, you should attempt to prove or disprove each hypothesis with existing available data.  Sometimes this along is enough. Or it may direct you to a more focused design exercise. 

Typically, there maybe multiple ideas swirling as to what is the way forward.  Simply gathering up everyone’s assumptions and ideas is constructive IF you restate all of them as testable hypotheses. This can be a great way to cut through folk lore, eliminate churn and move the team forward. Of course (here comes the disclaimer) group dynamics are still at work and your mileage may vary. Cheers.

– roger

 FocusFast_Card_SideB_2015-09-05
wishbone-to-wishbone
or Fishbone2wishbone
copyright 2013 Roger Belveal  😉

Andy, Warhol and 4 more

The Flash List Entertainment Guide, covering the Indie Festival has a nice mention of my work.

http://www.theflashlist.com/dallas/events/2014/06/events/usa-texas-dallas-indie-festival.html

http://www.whiterocklakeweekly.com/view/full_story/25244361/article-Bath-House-to-host-Dallas-Indie-Festival

So, I am being called “the Andy Warhol of the digital age’.  i think that’s pretty cool.   i have always admired the Warhol knack for capturing the essence of the contemporary pop culture and reflecting it in his so so vividly!   the excitement in Warhol images never goes out of style. And it speaks as eloquently of yesteryear today as it spoke of then at the time.

Actually, I aspire to be like five Andy’s:

Warhol – for giving us compelling images about contemporary culture.  The definitive Warhol image? Marilyn Monroe, of course.

Griffith – for being plain spoken, honest, and approachable

Kaufman – He messed with our minds and our sense of reality, just for fun. And we liked it!

Andy

Andy Rooney – for the ability to poke fun and laugh at just about everything!

Rooney

And lastly, Andy, Pixar kid – for reminding us how much we love toys!

But my name is Roger.