40 Posts about
Usability

Usability Snowman

January 7, 2010 - This post has 2 comments
Posted by in News/ Announcements
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Well, we asked for some snow donations on Twitter and they came in in abundance! One day there was not even a hint of frost and the next, we were ankle deep in snow, working from home, but still managing to inject some Bunnyfoot fun into the day with a “usability snowman” competition across our UK offices (I hope Hong Kong don’t feel too left out!).

2 hours, some snow and a little imagination produced an outright winner from Oxford’s Usability Consultant, Nick Antram. Here’s his entry…

Here is an attempt at a usable snowman. We talked to local snowmen users and asked them what they really wanted out of their snowmen and the overwhelming response of the 2 people we spoke to was that snowmen needed to be not only big fat piles of snow that were funny to look at, but useful too!

Popular suggestions were:

  • To have a flashing light on the top so users could easily see the snowman in a snowstorm
  • Have a comfy seat to allow users to have a nice sit down after struggling through the snow
  • To have a nice cuppa tea (when is this not a popular suggestion?)

So we sketched some ideas:

Well ok, just one

Initial sketches of a usable snowman

Did some anthropometric analysis and fitting trials:

Scientific sketches to make sure the snowman chair is viable

Which gave us the 95th percentile of users

Then we user tested it thoroughly in blizzard like conditions **

And this is the result…

The snowmatic ergsnowchair!

Snowman Chair in its completed form

With some final user testing, we just knew it was perfect.

Nicks quest for to build an ergonomic chair

* Ergonomic principles may not have been used
** May not have been user tested thoroughly


20 Minutes to a Better Website Structure

For World Usability Day, Bunnyfoot have been working with sustainable charities across the country to perform free expert evaluations of their websites. The charity sector is a sector where budgets are typically tight (if non-existent) yet there is great expectation on web managers to increase donations and maximise the performance of their sites.

We’ve spent the last month working with a number of charities (gratis) to help guide improvements on their sites and we’d like to share a quick process for generating ideas for your website quickly and cheaply.

Time required: 20-30 mins
What you get: Ideas for prioritizing content and page layout to maximize engagement with customers.

Overview

To provide an example we’ve used www.bunnyfoot.com to show how you can use this activity to enhance the design of your site. Remember, this is a top exercise if you have NO research budget and aren’t exactly sure how to start prioritizing content for your customer groups. This exercise is relevant for any type of site, and we find it a great starting point when thinking about initial designs and improvements.

Disclaimer:

This is a kick starter activity; it’s not a complete high performance engine and shouldn’t be used as one. This is no substitute for engaging with your customers, but rather a great starting point in helping you to create customer journeys and prioritise your site content. Use this activity as a means for generating some good ideas quickly.

1. Think about the content your customers need

2. Sketch the layout according to content priority

3. Try some detailed pages using the same method

1. Think about the content your customers need

Your customers are getting to your site, somehow. Step 1 is to think about who they are (in the case of Bunnyfoot these could be a prospective customer, an existing customer, a competitor, a job seeker, a journalist and so on). List all the potential customers and then next to each customer type ask yourself, “What are they looking for?” (to continue our example with Bunnyfoot, information needs of our customer groups could be Case studies, Contact details, Company History, Services, etc).

2. Sketch the layout according to content priority

Once you have identified the needs of each audience group, you can start to count the number of instances where customers are looking for the same content (e.g. a prospective customer, existing customer, competitor and job seeker could all be looking for more information about services; this would result in 4 counts). Once you have counted up the instances of cross over, a pattern for content priority will emerge.
Once you have the counted priority, pick up a pen and paper and start to sketch out your content according to priority. ANYONE can do this, you don’t need to be a designer, and your sketches certainly don’t have to be pretty. The purpose is to think about how you’re going to give your customers the information they need.

Sidenote: We often undertake usability testing of hand-drawn screens; it’s a low cost and effective technique we use with our clients. With a limited budget, there’s nothing to stop you taking these initial designs to representative customer groups and getting some feedback.

3. Try some detailed pages using the same method

After you’ve finished with the homepage, go on to explore other key pages. We’ve shown an example of what our new case study page could look like. To create this we thought of what the story of a case study was and what are the most interesting aspects people need to find out about. For our site ROI was top priority followed by a summary of the brief the services used, the team involved, the process/services used, example output and a client quote. It’s natural for other ideas to be generated at this point, for example we’d like to add the feature for people to comment on our case studies and the approach taken on the original brief.

Conclusion

Going through the exercise helps with the content and layout, and will also aid insight into navigation and user journeys to tie different content together.
 After 20 mins we have a good idea about the customer groups and their information needs, and we have some initial sketches to take to our customer groups. Ultimately, many of these sketches will be thrown out – we don’t expect our new site to end up looking like it’s been drawn on a flip chart. However, many of the ideas generated during the process will be included in the end design for some low budget but effective quick-wins.


WolframAlpha beats Google for Results and Usability but not Brand

May 21, 2009 - This post has 2 comments
Posted by in Brain bites: 2 min insights
Tags: , ,

In 2005, here at Bunnyfoot, we carried out an eye tracking usability study; it showed that 79% of people were able to find the 2003 UK gross domestic product using Google.
We carried out a similar eyetracking study in May 2009 using Bunnyfoot’s Mass User Testing approach and found that this had dropped to 37%.
We also compared the performance of Google to the new WolframAlpha search engine where 100% of people got the correct answer. This result is worrying for Google for two reasons:

  • Google’s algorithms have got better in the intervening years; despite there being significantly more pages indexed on Google in 2009 compared to 2005 Google returns fewer results for the same search string; “gross domestic product UK 2003”. Given more pages to return results from and better algorithms it ‘should’ be easier to find information, not harder.
  • The general level of people’s Internet experience and expertise has increased since the original study – people ‘should’ be more successful, not less.

WolframAlpha also outperforms Google on three key measures of usability; effectiveness and efficiency and satisfaction. However, the strength of the Google brand dominated WolframAlpha with 100% of users saying that they would recommend using Google to a friend with only 77% saying they would recommend WolframAlpha.
The study is by no means comprehensive; it is based on a single search query and one that favours WolframAlpha’s approach to knowledge management/search, but is does pose an interesting question:
Can Google’s search dominance be beaten by better results and usability or is the brand so strong that people will stay loyal no matter how good the competition gets?


Internet enabled cars? Surely not in 2000 … oh yes!

The BBC news item below shows a report on the UK’s first Internet enabled car – produced and invented by Bunnyfoot in 2000. The car was intended as a demonstration of the essential importance of usability and accessibility … our message got somehow lost in translation in the newspapers and TV shows that ran the story, but it taught us a lot about different communication methods and to always look to the future.

Since then (is it really 10 years ago?) we have produced hundreds of video demonstrations showing usability testing, eyetracking and accessibility in action, our customer experience presentations at seminars and conferences etc, and many will be appearing here in the next few months – but this BBC one was one of our first … and is still a firm favourite.

What is perhaps surprising is that this type of technology and other ‘alternative interfaces’ haven’t really come on that far in the last 10 years– it seemed then (in 2000) that things like sophisticated voice interfaces for all sorts of devices and uses were bubbling just under the surface. In 2009 though you are likely to be annoyed at best, but most probably bemused, by the majority of telephone interfaces (has anyone tried Egg’s?), never mind anything more ambitious. It seems like it should be simple but this type of interface requires just as much research and careful design (perhaps more) than seemingly more complex visual interfaces. I’ll return to discuss this in more detail in a future post.

The point of the Bunnymobile video?

It was meant to demonstrate that usability and accessibility are vital for the interfaces of the future:

  • the car used software that blind people use to translate web sites into voice = accessibility
  • and needed to be simple enough so distraction didn’t cause you to crash (amongst other things) = usability

It seems we were right, and they still are important … lots more challenging and interesting work to do though.


Eyetracking – the basics of how it works

I am often asked how the eyetrackers work (second only to why the name Bunnyfoot?) – so here it is – in essence it is really simple – a digital camera videos your pupils (the holes that let light into your eye) and a computer works out where you are looking based on the video images.

Well there is a little bit more to it than that (not much though):
Tobii eyetrackers contain infra-red emitting diodes and a high resolution digital camera
The infrared diodes shine light on the person in front of the eyetracker (it’s 14 times less strong than that emitted from a TV remote – so doesn’t burn their eyes out).


In-game ad testing

How do you measure the effectiveness of your in-game ad investment?
Do you need to know accurate performance and brand engagement metrics?

It is not just about brand awareness or brand recall anymore, the new era of digital innovation provides us with an array of rich media to communicate with the increasingly cynical consumer. Games offer a huge untapped market with a broader profile than typically assumed. 59% of the UK population (26.5million) are gamers and 45% of those are women! Playing games is not just a nerdy boy thing anymore.


Does the North South divide exist online too?

During 2005 one of the many interesting projects undertaken by Bunnyfoot included a large scale usability test of a new Microsoft website.


Get real focus from your customers – try something different from focus groups

How do you choose between different creatives? It helps greatly if you can get answers to the following:

  • Is the creative going to make consumers look at the brand and the product?
  • Which creative will have better brand recall?
  • Which creative has the clearest marketing message?
  • Under realistic circumstances will the key messaging get through at all? Do they get the message from the limited time exposure?


Accessibility conformance explained

November 10, 2006
Posted by in Tools and resources
Tags: , ,

You may be asked what accessibility level your site conforms to, or you may have to specify the level you want in tender documents*. This article provides an easy way to think about the accessibility levels of the most internationally recognised accessibility standard – it will more than likely be the one you will use too (or if not your standard will probably be derived from it).

* Tip: you should go for a minimum of double-A compliance, find out what this means below


What companies look for in usability professionals

November 10, 2006
Posted by in Brain bites: 2 min insights
Tags:

Article written by former Bunnyfoot Director Stewart Pleace
– appeared in New Media Age November 2006.

There are a whole host of agencies out there who now seem to offer an all-encompassing package of services, from graphic design through to customer research, usability and accessibility. It’s quite a challenge to sift through them all and get a proper understanding of what they offer, and whether or not the fact that they offer an all-in-one package is of benefit to the business.


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Contact Caroline Bentley to discuss your needs:
0207 608 1670 more@bunnyfoot.com

Or come visit us, we have offices in Oxford, Sheffield and London.