How to focus on users

September 19, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

Tree of connectivityCame across a great article in Smashing Magazine – 20 (Alternate) Ways to Focus on Users. Web and database designers employ certain methods to ensure user needs are catered for – usability tests, card sorting, personas, surveys and so on. But there are other methods to help come to grips with user behaviour and experience. You can read the article for all 20 – I’ll highlight the ones I found really interesting in this post.

  • Five Whys: ask five “Why?” questions in response to five successive questions in order to be forced to evaluate and articulate reasons for attitudes and requirements.
  • Cognitive Task Analysis: I’m familiar with CTA as a method for knowledge elicitation in the sense that Gary Klein talks about it ie how do people think; how do they organise and structure information. The article outlines CTA as a method to “list and describe all sensory inputs, decision points, and possible actions of users in order to understand perceptional, attentional, and informational needs, and to focus on system features that the user will find hard to learn“.
  • Role play: Play the roles of stakeholders involved in design problems in order to increase the understanding of users.

The article also pointed me in the direction of some interesting articles on personas in the Journal of Design.


Entry filed under: Information management, Usability testing, Useful resources.

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