Userability: Seriously Seeking UX Questions

Jared Spool

January 8th, 2009

Have a design question you’re dying to get an answer to? Well, look no further. (For the answer, that is.)

Robert Hoekman, world famous author of Designing the Obvious and Designing the Moment, and I, Jared M. Spool, a person who co-authored a book in 1996 that you’ve probably never seen, are joining forces to do the unthinkable: We’re starting a new weekly podcast to answer any user experience or design questions you can come up with. We’re calling it Userability. Seriously.

Yup. You’ll give us a question and we’ll give you an answer. We’re not sure it’ll be a good answer, but we’re promising it’ll be an entertaining one.

(Actually, like all good user experience processes, it’s not that simple. You give us a question. We pick your question for the show. We tell you what time we’re recording and make sure you’re available. We call you while we’re recording and you get to ask us “on the air” and then we give you the answer. And we have a lot of fun while doing it.)

And here’s where you come in: We need your questions. Think of a great question. Something you’d love to find out the answer to. It can even be a serious question. Send it to userability@uie.com. Brian Christiansen, our producer, will pick the best ones and tell you how to be on the program.

Don’t worry. Once the first program is ready, we’ll be sure to let you know, even if you can’t come up with a good question..

Looking forward to your questions (and our answers),

Jared Spool & Robert Hoekman, Co-hosts of Userability
Brian Christiansen, Producer of Userability (forced into it — wasn’t his choice)

userability@uie.com

21 Responses to “Userability: Seriously Seeking UX Questions”

  1. Gong Szeto Says:

    here’s a Q: is that whole “F” scanning thing for real?

  2. Jon Hartmann Says:

    Question: I work at a company that doesn’t “get it”; they don’t see the value in touchie-feelie stuff like user experience. If a process works in 4 clicks, whats the value of making it 3 clicks, and that kind of thing. What hard numbers can sell usability to profit minded number crunchers?

    Question: Multi-selects: SELECT tag, JS powered, or scrollable checkbox list?

  3. Will Evans Says:

    Q: When you are creating a web application or website, and you are ready to unleash it on the world, by what metric can you say that a website/application is “Usable Enough?”

  4. Livia Labate Says:

    Q: Practitioners choose how to approach projects based on (hopefully) the goals and needs of the projects and their previous experience and level of comfort with certain approaches/methodologies (skills + trial and error). How can one objectively measure or identify the efficacy of a method/approach to a problem, over another, to make more informed decisions?

    This question came up as I thought about a story you told me in ’06 (Jared), where different teams of researchers with the same goal, using the same methodologies were coming up with different results/findings/outcomes. That problem aside, a lot of people say only experience will help one make better choices (the best approach to solving a problem), but everyone’s experiences is different. Can we make that process more objective? How would we start?

    I feel we are throwing new practitioners under the bus by giving advice about being flexible, not sticking to a particular process (which I agree), and not providing more concrete answers about how to choose approaches, or at least, how to know what risks are taken and how to hedge bets.

    Alright, that’s long. Make what you want of it!

  5. Livia Labate Says:

    We are either bad with instructions or your commenting form is too persuasive… I’ll re-send to userability@uie.com.

  6. Jared Spool Says:

    @Livia,

    Posting here works fine!

    :)

  7. Rob Fay Says:

    Q: Resources of time, money, and human capital are the constraints to any project. Given these constraints, I find that Project Managers favor fewer “safe” designs (i.e., designs that use existing code) over many innovative “blue sky” designs that will take greater resources to implement. How can I create a culture in my organization that values brainstorming multiple design ideas, including innovative designs?

  8. Karen McGrane Says:

    I talk to many user experience professionals who have been hired into an organization to try and change process or values. Sometimes they are part of a newly-created “design” function in an engineering environment, and sometimes they’re a lone voice for the user in an advertising agency. Many of these people express frustration at the difficulty they face in getting existing people and processes to adopt new thinking. Even when people take a job knowing they’ll have to evangelize user experience, the magnitude of the challenge can be daunting. At a certain point, you want your job to be actually doing user experience design, not just trying to persuade people that you should get the chance to do your job. What advice do you have for people in trying to effect change?

  9. Daniel Szuc Says:

    If there was ONE thing you would want an organization to take on board immediately to help UX in that organization, what would it be and why?

  10. Simon Raistrick Says:

    I’ve outgrown our industry. What should I do next?

    The agencies are generally just running production lines and that really bores me.
    I enjoy strategy, but the management consutlancies don’t take what we offer seriously enough, so it’s hard to convince them of the level of value we add. We are not a comforatble fit within their frameworks at the moment.

    I don’t have the appetite right now to set up as a business – been there, done that, and not into 18 hour working days any more.

    Having been independent for 8 years, I miss working with a team, having a supporting organisation, and having continuity, and am about ready for a change. But in our profession the onward career path seems hazy and difficult, and for once, I really don’t know what to do next in order to continue growing.

  11. Marlas Silvestrone Says:

    I do business analysis in an IT department and sometimes struggle with ‘selling’ user requirements to the developers. I especially struggle with including strong, well defined usability requirements in a business requirements document (brd). Any tips on how to best capture usability requirements in a brd?

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  13. Weekly Roundup :: gLog - Thoughts from Geoff Alday (a User Experience Designer in Nashville, Tennessee). Says:

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  14. Michael C. Jennings Says:

    With more and more companies trying to increase the interactivity of their Websites with Web 2.0 technologies, creating user experience with Flash CS3 or CS4, what guidelines, suggestions, etc. can you offer for assessing and evaluating usability?

  15. Jon Hartmann Says:

    I’m a web developer (programming), not a web designer (graphics), but I love analytics and designing user interfaces. How do I make the career jump from coding to interface design and usability?

  16. Jamis Charles Says:

    Question: Should link treatments vary for different methods of displaying content to the user? Example: On the same page I have several links. The first one takes me to another page when I click. The second shows a hidden layer with more content if I click. The third shows more content if I hover.

    Assuming these should be different treatments, should the treatments be organized by type of content, or by the user interaction necessary to display these?

  17. UI and us » Blog Archive » Seeing the Orchard for the Trees Says:

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  18. Stephen P. Anderson Says:

    OK, I have one…

    Thinking about “scent” and information density:

    I’m all for creating contextual (and conversational) experiences where people essentially click through to get to their desired goal (be it an action or content). However, a recent project got me thinking about passive and active experiences…

    I’m working on the redesign of an online newspaper, where much of the interaction is of the passive sort– casually glancing at the headlines– I believe there is not much intent in this context. Normally, I’d favor presenting less information and channeling people to their desired content; however, in this context it seems like barfing up all the content you can (with good information design, of course!) is probably the better choice.

    I was wondering if you had done any research into this area– do you have any insights into when it’s better to put more or less content on a (home) page?

    Thanks!

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