Posts Tagged ‘User Experience’

It Might Get Loud and a Little Random

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Inspiration comes in many forms. I was watching a documentary the other night on the electric guitar called It Might Get Loud. The film says it’s about the electric guitar, but it isn’t… It’s about leaving a mark. The film followed 3 guitar players and talked about their lives, inspiration and drive. You may have heard of these people – Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White.

As I was watching this film, I started thinking about where I am in my life. I started thinking about what I do for a living and what I am currently doing in my job. I started wonder how I’m leaving a mark or, more to the point, if I’m leaving a mark.

At one point in the film Jack White is talking about some of the guitars that he has and how they are a little bit warped or out of tune. He points out that he likes to leave them like that because he does his best work when it is a struggle; when he has to conquer the guitar to get what he is looking for out of it.

That really got to me. Too often, I feel like I am hoping that something will just comes to me. If I do the same thing over and over again something new and exciting will come out of that. Now, I am probably my toughest critic and I am probably over simplifying things, but there is still some truth to that.

It is really easy for me to get caught up in my daily routine and to let the little obstacles trip me up on a daily basis and zap some of my energy. It’s simple to just grind out the week focusing on one task at a time and not really pick up my head to look around at what is going on.

That, however, is not leaving a mark… that is just getting by.

I have done a bit of soul searching lately and I decided that I need to focus on things that I am good at and things I can conquer with a little bit of struggle. I need to get back to the things that charge my batteries. I have been distracted as of late and I miss doing things that matter to me; things that I can leave my mark on and things I can be proud of.

Greatness is in the eye of the beholder. I think all often people associate greatness with what everyone else thinks. I am not searching for fame or greatness in the eyes of others. I am looking to define greatness for me.

I found a place where I want to funnel some of this new found energy and drive – MKEUX. I will be talking a lot more about what this is going to be. I am very excited about the possibilities of this new idea and I am working with @michaelseidel; one of the best Information Architects (IAs) in Milwaukee. I am also looking forward to the rest of the Milwaukee UX community contributing to this.

We are working out the details of this and will have more to share soon.

The True Cost of User Experience

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

In some schools of thought, user experience (UX) and usability testing are a box to be checked somewhere in the development life cycle. As long as you, at some point in development, talk to someone about the UX of your product things should move smoothly ahead. Usually these UX talks happen near or at the end of development and any feedback given is taken with a grain of salt.

The problem with this thought pattern is all the hidden costs of overlooking or short selling UX.

Password Reset FormFor instance this very real example shows a very confusing UX while trying to change a password for a login to an online application. (I am not going to reveal the company that had this experience. They have since come to the light side and now embrace usability and user testing.)

As you can see the form is pretty straight forward until you have to select what button to press to complete the task. The form is asking you if would like to reset your password. If you do, you fill out the form and then… Do I hit OK? Maybe that seems like I am giving the form permission to reset my password. Do I hit RESET? I think so… The form is asking me to “reset” my password so “RESET” must be the right button.

Wrong.

The RESET button clears the fields above and doesn’t give you any feedback as to what just happened. Oh, by the way, the OK button does the same thing. There is no feedback telling you that your password has been reset. Now the user can only assume that their task is complete.

So, how do we break down the overall cost of this terrible user experience?

First we take a look at it from the user side. They now assume that their password has been changed. The next time they come to use the application; they put in their user name and their newly changed password. The application tells them that “The username and/or password are incorrect. Please try again.” So thinking they misspelled something they try again… same error. Fumbling around with this several times is taking precious time and patience away from the user. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cost.

Next that user then calls customer support to get some help. In walks the cost to the proprietor of the application. They are paying for every call that comes into their call center to troubleshoot this issue. They have thousands of users and are now funneling hundreds of calls through their call center on this one issue (Especially because this particular application requires users to change their password every 90 days.).

Some users even go as far as dropping the service and using a competitor’s application. “If it’s this hard to change your password, I can only imagine how difficult the rest of the application is.” Now, this may be an extreme viewpoint, but there were still some customers who felt that way. Hidden cost number 3 — loss of users.

Fed up with all the issue troubleshooting, the company decides that they need to get to the bottom of all the problems their users are having and perform some user testing. They go through several sessions of usability, take the finding and come up with a plan to implement the necessary changes to make the UX better for their customers.

The final cost of that is taking part of the development staff off their current tasks, getting them to crawl back through all the code to fix all the troubled spots of the application, retesting the application to make sure the changes haven’t caused any additional issues elsewhere in the application and finally rerolling that application out to a production environment where the users can take advantage of the new improved UX.

Had this company taken the mock-ups through user testing prior to one line of code being written, they would have discovered this issue (among others) and could have resolved it prior to launch. This would have prevented all the hidden costs of aggravated customers, larger call center volumes, troubleshooting time with each customer, lost customers and a ton of rework getting in the way of new enhancements and pushing back future releases.

The cost of that simple change up front would have been minor compared to what actually occurred.

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