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Category Archives: Research and Testing

Heroin, Sharks, and Why UX Testing is Important.

Once upon a time we thought heroin was a great cough syrup. And maybe it was. Too bad it caused other problems (like heart failure…) that we didn’t bother testing for. There was also a guy that said sharks don’t get cancer, so shark cartilage must help people with cancer… except we tested and found out sharks do get cancer.

There’s an element of gambling when you don’t test things first. You would never gamble with your health or your money, why would you gamble with your business?

Today’s new business health cure  is “Let’s redo our website! I know a great graphic artist.”  Now throw some money at it in the form of Google Adwords and you will probably get some customers. Does that mean you figured it all out? Maybe. Probably not. Actually I have no idea. Why not? Because nobody has researched the user experience with the old site yet. Unless you figure out what needed attention in the first place, you are just rolling the dice and hoping the usability is better this time.

Once upon a time we wanted things to better, but we didn’t know how. So we tested things to figure that out. Then we made things better, and tested them again to make sure of it.

Now things are better, and we aren’t just guessing why.

We eliminated the gamble, and everyone lived happily ever after.

The End.


Designer Bias: Overconfidence and the UX antidote

Do you remember learning to ride a bike? Maybe not, but you did it. The more we do something, the better we get at doing it (typically). The better we get at doing something, the more confident we are that we are doing it right.

Now let’s look at Design. It doesn’t matter if you are designing a website, a video game system, or even a chair. If you care enough to be confident about what you are doing, you will reach a point when you will think it is the most amazing it could ever be – or better yet, the most amazing thing in the world! Even if it is your first one. Especially if it is your first one! Have you heard of observer bias? Well this is designer bias.

I don’t want to argue with you. I’m sure your design is awesome – but are you willing to bet your business on it?

That’s quite the gamble. And that’s where good UX research comes into play. Maybe the UX research will tell you that you were right, and you did know everything (doubtful). You get a big ego stroke and walk away validated. Most likely the research will tell you something you didn’t already know, and you can walk away having learned something and avoid a business mistake.

Don’t let over confidence hinder your users’ experiences. Think of it as insurance – against human error and natural bias.