• Scenarios and Storyboards online course now available – 20 minutes of UX goodness
    Spend 20 minutes learning how scenarios and storyboards fit in to the user centered design process. Scenarios and storyboarding provide a reality check for your designs, allowing you to see how the interaction will play out in a real environment. This course explains how to write scenarios and transform them into visual storyboards that show … Read more
  • Ideation techniques short course now live online
    Ideation is the process of generating a lot of different ideas in a short amount of time. And in UX design, a broad set of ideas is more likely to lead to a more creative, more satisfactory solution for your users. In this short course, I describe the variety of ideation techniques available, their … Read more
  • Building Personas – quick lesson on assumption personas at LinkedIn Learning
    To make sure everyone on the project has the same vision of who you're building for, create a single picture of "the user." Assumption personas are fast to create and easy to verify later. Personas are a topic I've mentioned on this site before. If you want the full-on audiovisual extravaganza, head over to LinkedIn … Read more
  • Second course in online UX series now live – Analyzing User Data
    How do you turn data from site visits and other user observations into something coherent you can use to guide product development? Create Experience Maps and extract pain points and user goals! I've covered Experience Mapping on this site already. However, this half-hour LinkedIn Learning course – UX Design: 2 Analyzing User Data – puts … Read more
  • New series of online courses on UX Design Techniques
    I'm sharing the early-stage user centered design techniques I use with clients in a series of courses on LinkedIn Learning. Each of the quick courses covers a different technique. Taken together, they should give you a solid set of tools for running a design thinking exercise or "iteration zero". This isn't Big Design Up Front, … Read more
  • Build better products by helping systemizers to empathize
    We often overlook one of the biggest benefits to following user centered design techniques. Good user centered design is great at turning empathy-based concepts like users’ thoughts, feelings, frustrations, and desires into something systematic that development team members can use to build products. In other words, user centered design helps you to translate empathy into … Read more
  • Watch my new online course on Information Architecture – 2 hours well spent.
    My latest LinkedIn Learning online training course "UX Foundations: Information Architecture" is now available. It covers the steps you should follow to create a great information architecture for your site or application, including card sorting and reverse sorting. As always, the recording process was great fun and the graphic designers went to town with the … Read more
  • Evil by Design book is selling well – get your copy!
    My book, Evil by Design is now on sale! Initial reviews are very positive, with people like Alan Cooper ("The Inmates are Running the Asylum") and Don Norman ("The Design of Everyday Things") both saying how much they like it. You can find out more at You can download a sample chapter FREE (2.5Mb PDF) – all I ask in return … Read more
  • Usability Testing course is live on
    LinkedIn Learning have released the UX Foundations: Usability Testing course I recorded with them earlier in the year. The course takes you through all the aspects of planning, running, and reporting on a typical usability test. In the course, I talk about how to recruit participants, design suitable tasks, moderate and observe a session, and … Read more
  • Web user experience course now available online
    My new course "User Experience for Web Design" is now live. I'm really happy with the high production quality that LinkedIn Learning brings to their classes, and I'm excited that they are committed to the user experience training space. The whole course is only 1 hour 45 minutes long and contains the following topics. … Read more
  • RITE testing brings the team together
    Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation – the RITE method – is a way to run lab-based studies that identify and fix as many issues as possible and then verify the effectiveness of those fixes in the shortest possible time. Testing and fixing happens in near real-time, so the whole team feels more involved in the … Read more
  • Tips for working with usability vendors
    Sometimes you can't do all the usability work yourself. Either there's too much work, it's highly boring work, it's highly specialist work, or the whole project is being outsourced. Here are some tips for choosing and working with vendors. Yes, I'm a usability vendor. I've also previously been in the position of having to manage … Read more
  • Intercept Studies give you quick user feedback on your early ideas
    Field studies are great for seeing real user behavior and pain points. It's also important to get out and test your concepts "in the wild" before you get too invested in code. That's what intercept studies are for. You've got a neat prototype or early working code, and you want to check that you are on … Read more
  • Paper prototype testing video – real life testing of a sketched interface
    Clients often believe that you have to have a polished interface to show to users before you can get good feedback. Nothing is further from the truth. The most valuable feedback happens before you've even touched a computer. Paper prototyping is a great way to lay your ideas out on a page and see if … Read more
  • Systemizing and Empathizing – why code doesn’t meet users’ needs
    People on development teams tend to be great systemizers, but less well developed as empathizers. User research – if you present it the right way – can help systemizing individuals to empathize with the people for whom they are building products. We are not our users. So we consistently develop software that works better for … Read more
  • Tablet User Experience talk slides now available on slideshare
    Tablet User Experience is not the same as mobile phone user experience – the devices are used in different situations and in different ways. This presentation provides a framework for thinking about common tablet task types and suggestions for how to build useful and usable tablet apps. In the talk, I cover searching, tracking, transacting … Read more
  • Fast, easy usability tricks for big product improvements – with a case study
    The video and slides from the updated version of my Fast, Easy Usability Tricks talk are now available online. This version includes a case study to help put the work in context. You can either check out the video at the InfoQ site (it won't embed here because it's synced with the slides) or the … Read more
  • Visual thinker? See Sketchnotes of my #gotocph talk
    If you're a visual thinker, you'll enjoy this one-page map that lays out all the important steps in early investigative user experience work, based on my talk at GOTO Copenhagen. Michele Ide-Smith was one of my co-presenters in the well-received Agile UX track at GOTO Copenhagen last month. She created this awesome "sketchnote" visual map … Read more
  • A word of caution about online surveys
    On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog. Or in this case, that all you want is a dog. A cautionary tale about believing what people tell you in online surveys… Yesterday I was sitting on a sofa with a friend of mine called Lara. She was using her iPod Touch to fill in a … Read more
  • Watch the “Fast, easy usability tricks for big product improvements” video online free!
    The video from my 2012 GOTO conference presentation is available online. Fast, easy usability tricks for big product improvements In October 2012 I talked at the GOTO conference in Aarhus, Denmark. It was the first time that this relatively technical conference had a user experience track and the audience loved it. My talk got an 89% … Read more
  • Asking the right questions during user testing
    It's hard to ask questions that don't suck when you're running a study, so the best advice is "don't do it." But you are going to anyway, so make sure your questions are grounded in what the user has done, not what you want them to do.  It would be much easier if you could … Read more
  • Test your navigation with a reverse card sort
    Even with a good content management system it can be hard to re-arrange stuff after you've gone live. Take the time to test out your proposed navigation with a reverse card sort to quickly iterate to a working model. A reverse card sort uses index cards as a stand-in for your site's menu system. It … Read more
  • Happy users: information architecture via index cards
    Users are happiest when your site's structure – its information architecture – matches the way they think about the problem space. Get insight into their thoughts using a card sorting task. You'll be surprised how different their perspective is from yours. The way you lay out the information on your site or in your app … Read more
  • Different locations for different measurements
    There are times when "ecological validity" is important, and there are other times when you just want to know whether users can make their way through your interface. Save money by choosing the right location to run each type of study. Get out to users' locations for discovery work. Early UI can be tested in … Read more
  • Discount mobile usability techniques (slideshare presentation)
    Mobile usability is hard to perform well – dragging people into the lab and wiring them up with cameras detracts from the experience. This slide deck has some suggestions for how to quickly and cheaply get product feedback for mobile device apps. I gave this presentation to the Mobile Special Interest Group while I was … Read more
  • Build the big picture from many small, fast studies
    Incremental research aggregates data from frequent small, fast studies to check you're on track. Running large numbers of participants during any one study is a waste of time and money. If ever there was a blog posting that deserved to be accompanied by clip art of jigsaw puzzle pieces, this is it. Each piece of … Read more
  • Active observation: lean forward, write lots
    User research is a lean-forward activity: you have to remain actively engaged. It's very different from watching TV: a lean-back, passive activity.  Good user observation techniques require you to constantly note down what you see and hear, and formulate questions that you'd like to ask. If you sit back for even a minute you lose … Read more
  • Different UX books for enthusiasm, advice or skills
    UX books have to serve many purposes. Here are three lists aimed at making people enthusiastic, giving them practical how-to advice, and teaching them the research skills they will need. In the past, my over-simplified advice has been that Steve Krug's books appeal to developers, Jakob Nielsen's to researchers, Don Norman's to everyone else. I … Read more
  • Online tools for user testing
    Online testing can give you fast feedback for very little financial outlay. The results might be less trustworthy than face-to-face sessions, but the technique fits well as a complementary tool.  Remote usability testing tools let you measure the usability of any website from any computer, with any users anywhere in the world, asynchronously. What's not … Read more
  • Cheap, fast, reliable: you can have all three
    Cost-effective, quick research techniques don't always inspire confidence in your data. Perform many small incremental studies to build reliability over time.  My wife races bicycles. As with almost any sporting goods, bike components come with any two of the following three properties: strong, light, and cheap. If you're a serious racer you normally compromise by … Read more
  • Usability testing competitor products
    Don't be shy – run studies of your competitors' products to learn how well their software supports users' tasks. Teams often shy away from observing users work with competitor products. Unless your lawyers have specifically instructed you to steer clear, there is a lot to be learned from a competitor usability study. It should be … Read more
  • Stay user-focused during development
    You kicked off the project with a Design Thinking session. Now that you've started development, run fast and cheap tests to stay user-focused. A one-week Design Thinking exercise is a great way to kick off the project, but once you start to build the product, you'll run into many more issues. Here are some techniques … Read more
  • So you want to “run a study” … the cheat sheet
    Your team decides they need to "run a study." They don't know what that means, and they are relying on you to set it up. That's a good problem to have. Use this cheat sheet to help you out. Jump right to the cheat sheet, or read on to learn more about how to narrow … Read more
  • Cognitive Walkthroughs put you in your user’s shoes
    Stepping through your UI and asking two deceptively simple questions at each stage can give you great insights into the problems your users will face. It's always worth getting real user feedback on your designs. Maximize the value of that feedback by making sure you've removed all the problems you think users will face before … Read more
  • Heuristic Evaluation – no users required
    Check your product is following simple rules of interface design. It's fast and finds potential UI issues before your users do.  There's no point running a usability test when you already know things are wrong with your design. A fast check-up against a set of best practices will give you plenty to fix. If you … Read more
  • One week to a user centered design
    Spend just one week to get the information you need to build your product right first time. Use these techniques to plan your sprints or even to work out what product to bring to market. Design Thinking Design Thinking, or User Centered Design, is all about putting users at the center of the design process. … Read more
  • Paper prototype user testing
    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. He's working frantically to find the next sketch to show to the study participant. He might even be drawing it as we wait.   Paper prototype usability testing is often called "Wizard of Oz" testing, and for good reason. Nothing is real, it's all an illusion, … Read more
  • Paper prototype to get the right design
    The cheapest, fastest way to mock up your interfaces is with pen and paper. The creation process involves the whole team, and the unfinished feel means you're less attached to any one idea. Once you have created some product ideas using scenarios and sketched them out using the design charrette process, you'll need to turn … Read more
  • Surveys – good for reinforcing biases
    It's hard to create a good survey. Even if you can write non-biased questions, it is the ones that you don't think of that will get you into trouble. Make survey results actionable by focusing on behavior, not speculation. The two staple methods of marketing folks – focus groups and surveys – don't much help … Read more
  • Revolving door studies validate designs each sprint
    Design validation is not a phase, it's a continuous part of the process. Testing your designs tests your assumptions and lets you make quick course corrections. In traditional user testing, you wait until you have accumulated a set of features to test before you recruit some participants. User testing tends to lag behind development by … Read more
  • Focus Groups – what do they tell you?
    It's hard to uncover behavioral qualities during a focus group session, so the technique suffers from "what I say isn't what I do" syndrome.  Focus groups have been a key method for marketing and market research departments for so long that they seem to have become incorporated into the product development cycle. Get an idea, … Read more
  • Thumbnail personas make users real
    "The user" is a nebulous term. Everyone on the team has a different picture in their head when they say those words. Thumbnail personas use site visit data to focus the whole team on the same key individuals. A thought experiment If you asked everyone on the team to think of the color blue, and … Read more
  • Scenarios are your product ideas
    "Turn that frown upside-down" – Take the pain points that you discovered in your user research and re-write them as positive experiences for your customers. These scenarios provide you with new product ideas. Create actionable product ideas Qualitative user research data like an experience map gives you great insight into the problems that your users … Read more
  • Design Charrette
    Get everyone on the team involved in interface design and be prepared to be surprised with the creativity you unleash. You are guaranteed to uncover better design ideas than if you did it all yourself.   A design charrette (also known as a design studio) is a collaborative session where a group of individuals sketch … Read more
  • Experience Mapping
    Quickly turn a pile of site visit observations into a visual story about users' tasks and pain points. Use experience maps – affinity diagrams on steroids.   Analyzing qualitative information like written site visit notes isn't as simple as plugging numbers into a spreadsheet. However, it's a lot more fun and it can lead to … Read more
  • Getting to intent – listen, probe, validate
    Users will make lots of feature requests during research sessions. Listen, Probe and Validate to make sure you solve the underlying issue. Getting at user intent Users often give us feature requests without telling us the underlying problem they are trying to solve. Feature requests are problems bundled up as solutions, but in this instance … Read more
  • Work backwards to create good research questions
    The way to create good study questions is to work out what you want to be able to say before you even think about the methods you'll use to find the answer. Formulate your answer statement  Write down the statement that you’d like to be able to make. This helps you work out how you’re … Read more
  • Recruiting usability participants
    Recruiting sucks. If you can afford it, hire a recruiting company. If not, here are some tips to make it hurt less. Big lesson: make sure participant fidelity is proportionate to prototype fidelity. Finding representative users for your site visits and studies is hell. Ensuring a steady stream of them can be a nightmare. Using … Read more
  • Site visits show you real user pain
    To improve how people use your product, watch the tasks they perform. To get people to love your product, find and fix the small annoyances. Users lie Unfortunately, users aren't very good at vocalizing their tasks and they have often become so worn down by the annoyances that they don't realize there could be an … Read more