Resources for Adventurous Usability Techniques

Jared Spool

August 30th, 2006

In Christine Perfetti’s Virtual Seminar today, she mentioned some resources I thought people would want to know about.

Carolyn Snyder’s Paper Prototyping Book

This is a must-have book for anyone thinking about conducting testing. Carolyn’s done a great job talking about how to conduct usability tests, both with and without paper prototypes. She also walks through the steps to create a paper prototype, which we think is the best way to start any design project.

More details on the book here.

Other Paper Prototyping Resources

Using Paper prototypes to Manage Risk: An article by Carolyn Snyder about the steps to prototyping.

Five Paper Prototyping Tips: Quick tips about making prototypes out of paper.

Looking Back on 16 Years of Paper Prototyping: An article I wrote talking about our history with the technique and why we still think it’s a great way to do design.

Workshop: Product Usability Survival Technique: Christine’s very popular one-day workshop where you actually build and test a full working prototype. The team that has the most usable interface wins fabulous prizes!

5-Second Tests

5-Second Tests: Measuring your Site’s Content Pages: An excellent article Christine wrote on how to conduct a 5-second test.

Inherent Value Testing

Inherent Value Testing: An article I wrote describing the benefits of this technique.

Conducting Inherent Value Testing: Apparently, I got long-winded when I originally wrote the article above, so we broke it into two parts. This part walks, step-by-step, through the process of conducting an inherent value test.

Field Studies

Field Studies: The Best Tool to Discover User Needs: An article I wrote discussing the value of conducting field studies.

Designing Products That Work the Way People Work: This is a great interview that Christine did with Kate Gomoll a few years back, talking about how they use field studies in their work.

Book: User and Task Analysis for Interface Design: A great book by JoAnn Hackos and Ginny Redish (both former UI Conference speakers) about conducting field studies to determine who your users are and what they do with your design.

Book: Contextual Design: Karen Holtzblatt and Hugh Beyer’s (also both former UI Conference speakers) landmark book about contextual inquiry — a more formal field study methodology.

Book: Rapid Contextual Design: Karen’s follow-on book. (I haven’t read it yet, but several people have told me it’s excellent.)

Category Agreement Analysis (CAA)

The CAA: A Wicked Good Design Technique: A quick summary of what a CAA is.


Personas: Matching a Design to the Users’ Goals: Christine’s first article on how to design with personas.

Three Important Benefits of Personas: An article I wrote talking about some oft-ignored benefits that personas bring to the organization.

Getting from Research to Personas: Harnessing the Power of Data: An article by Kim Goodwin describing how to take research data and use it to build personas.

Book: The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design: An excellent book by Tamara Adlin and John Pruitt describing the process of building personas and utilizing them in the design process.

Recruiting Participants for Studies

Report: Recruiting without Fear: A report we wrote last year to help you manage the recruitment process.

One last book:

Observing the User Experience: Ex-Adaptive Pather, Mike Kuniavsky, has done an excellent job of compiling many of the most important techniques into a single volume. Another must-have for the bookshelf.

Christine also mentioned during the presentation that we like to use Techsmith’s Morae. It’s not the only way to record a usability test, but it’s a darn good solution.

3 Responses to “Resources for Adventurous Usability Techniques”

  1. Words and Software : Resources for prototyping Says:

    […] So, let’s talk about prototyping instead, just because the User Interface Engineering blog posted an excellent collection of resources yesterday. I wrote a bit about our usability testing last year (has it been that long already?). We used a prototype then, although it was a bit more sophisticated than the paper prototypes mentioned in this article. Although there are great arguments for paper prototyping based on costs and time and efficiency, I think the emotional one is key. As the author explains: “Modifying a paper prototype is much less painful than for the developers than modifying an actual product. With a real product, because of the substantial amount of work they’ve put in, the team has an emotional investment in the status quo and will naturally tend to “defend” their design. Even when the team clearly understands the need for changes, it’s tough to throw away all that hard work. In contrast, because paper prototypes are so easy to create and modify, there is less invested effort to defend. As a result, development teams become more flexible and willing to try new ideas.” Filed Under: User experience […]

  2. adaptive path » blog » blog archive » Signposts for the Week ending September 1, 2006 Says:

    […] The cool kids are all abuzz about Flickr adding geotagging. Jeff Veen explains why. (For more fun in this space (pun intended), check out MIT’s PlaceMap Project.) Crazy good collection of links from UIE on field research. […]

  3. Web in the burbs » So that logo… Says:

    […] Looking Back on 16 Years of Paper Prototyping – Jared Spool […]