Eight ways to make usability testing simple and speedy

Originaly published at: http://www.zdnet.com/article/eight-ways-to-make-usability-testing-simple-and-speedy/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

Usability testing for applications, interfaces or apps need not be a complicated, costly, or time-consuming exercise. There’s a relatively quick and easy way to go about it — and make all the needed adjustments that will keep end-users engaged and contented with the results.

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Photo: HubSpot
That’s the word from Steve Krug, a highly respected user-experience expert and author of Rocket Surgery Made Easy. In his recent keynote at MinneWebCon 2015, he suggests that DIY usability testing can be simple, inexpensive, fast, and effective.

Among Krug’s suggestions are these eight key guidelines that pave the way for DIY usability testing:

1) Keep users talking and expressing their opinions. Working with users is often like therapy, Krug says: “The main thing is to keep them thinking out loud,” he says. “You’re trying to get them to narrate whats going through their head.”

2) Keep the number of people you test small, Krug advises. The idea number of users at any one session is three, he points out. “With testing three users you’re going to find more problems than you actually have resources to fix — it doesn’t take many users to find serious problems.”

3) Keep things informal. A testing area can be set up anywhere in the organization. Plus, he adds, sharing the results of testing can be distilled into a single email, with bullets highlighting key issues discovered. “I don’t believe in collecting stats, because you’re only testing three people. No big honking report is needed, either — it used to be a person who conducted usability reports would need to write a 30-to-50-page report with all kinds of screen shots.”

4) Test early. When it comes to application development, “people wait to test until the thing was cooked, versus spending $5,000 on a round of usability testing while it was still in an ill-formed state,” Krug says. “The problem is, if you wait until it’s done, then it’s too late to fix anything.” Krug says testing can even begin with wireframes — “the tests tend to be very short, bur you can get great insights,”

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5) Test often. In addition, Krug advises, establish a regular testing date of once a month. “Once a month, bring in three people, and do testing on that day,” says Shrug. “This simplifies testing by simplifying recruiting, because you know exactly when you’re going to need people. It unhinges your test schedule from your development schedule.” With testing tied too closely to development schedules, the testing sessions may slip if development milestones slip, he adds. With a regular fixed testing schedule, IT managers can test “whatever we have lying around at that time.”

6) Get everyone involved in the testing process. The actual number of testing users should be limited — three at a time — but sessions should be open for observation and discussion by everyone across the enterprise. Making it a “shared experience can be incredibly powerful,” he says. He also provides a helpful hint to make the event top of mind: have great food on hand. “The best way to get people to come to these things is to have the best snacks in the organization,” he advises. Go to the best bakery and order those chocolate croissants.

7) Focus ruthlessly on a small number of the most important problems. “The problem with usability testing is very effective,” Krug points out. “You can turn up a lot of problems very quickly. But it turns out that we do not have that much time, people and resources to fix usability issues. The problems you find always are more than the resources you have to fix problems.” It’s important to focus on the one or two key problems and funnel resources in that direction, he says.

8) Tweak, not redesign. “When fixing problems, always do the least you need to do,” Krug says. “Don’t go into and try to make it perfect — go in and make the simplest change that you can,” he explains. It’s better to tweak than to attempt an expensive time-consuming redesign of the application or user interface. “Tweaks cost less — tweaks don’t ruin lives, break up families, wreck careers,” Krug explains. “Small changes can be made sooner, and if you make larger changes, you’re likely to break other things that are working fine in the process.”

10 usability considerations for your mobile app

Originaly punlished at: http://thenextweb.com/apps/2015/08/28/10-usability-considerations-mobile-app/

In a world dominated by mobile phones, finding a way to sell your product or service via smartphone is a good move. But when it’s your first time launching an m-commerce app, there’s a lot that’s easy to overlook. So I asked 10 founders from YEC the following:

What is the No. 1 usability consideration I should not overlook when launching an m-commerce app?
Their best answers are below:

1. Platform Usability
All Killer, No Filler
This one’s different, trust us. Our new event for New York is focused on quality, not quantity.

Nicole MunozNothing is more frustrating to mobile users than not having an app work on their specific model of phone. In this case, make sure you extensively test exactly how the sales process will work across multiple platforms, using various types of digital devices. You don’t want to learn later that you have a high bounce rate because you overlooked a device issue. (And every phone on the market today has a few bugs!) – Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

2. Incentives for Sharing and Purchase
Trevor SummersMobile apps are more difficult than the web for quickly engaging customers. To overcome the additional friction of app downloads and installs, grease the virality with incentives for sharing and purchase. Turn your active consumers into marketing advocates. – Trevor Sumner, LocalVox

3. Usability and Conversion
Obinna EkezieThe most important thing you can do to test usability (and conversion) is to use mobile A/B testing platforms such as Optimizely. A/B testing allows you to test two or more variations of a particular app design or layout. For instance, you can test whether a red or a yellow “buy now” button drives more conversions. You can test if one layout results in longer time in-app than another, or various in-app purchase paths to see which drives more responses. The key is to stop guessing and start testing. Improving usability requires constant testing and optimization. – Obinna Ekezie, Wakanow.com

4. Easy Navigation
MilesOne of the top issues that users have when using m-commerce apps is poor navigation. This means that while they are using the app, they have trouble finding exactly what they are looking for, and have to navigate for way too long to stumble upon what they were looking to purchase. When focusing on usability, make sure that your products and/or services are extremely easy to find. Make sure there’s an easy to find “complete transaction” button on every page that they navigate through so that users can click as few times as possible. – Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com

5. Relevant Content
Ania RodriguezYou should curate content that is personalized for your site visitors. This is key to the usability success of an m-commerce site. – Ania Rodriguez, Key Lime Interactive.com

6. Great Aesthetics
Kevin CastleDon’t overlook aesthetics. People often start with a template, and you can tell by the look and feel. You should think through the aesthetics, as well as speed and interaction, so you can engage users on a deeper level. – Kevin Castle, Technossus

7. Complete Information
Punit ShahTraditional advice is to decrease content and reduce clicks required to conversion in a small screen environment. But make sure not to remove content that is vital to the customer’s buying process solely for the sake of reducing content. Consumers still need complete information to make their purchase, and withholding that basic information in the name of simplicity will result in a lower conversion rate. – Punit Shah, My Trio Rings

8. Auto-Filled Customer Data
jared-brownRepeatedly having to input personal data is a huge deterrent for making purchases on mobile, whether it’s via app or on a mobile site. Make sure they can store their billing and shipping information and then have it be automatically added to their orders, without having to re-add it each time. Just make sure you also give them an easy to reach edit button during the checkout process, in case they need to change their billing or shipping info. – Jared Brown, Hubstaff

9. Quick Movement
Andy KaruzaA small screen requires a simplified experience in order to get people to use it. Since browsing on mobile isn’t necessarily as fast as it is on a laptop, it’s important to limit the amount of clicks the customer has to make. Utilize scrolling as much as possible, as mobile customers prefer scrolling down a page to consume information as opposed to bouncing around between many pages. Focus on providing an experience where they can quickly move through the purchase process in as few pages as possible. – Andy Karuza, brandbuddee

10. Usability Testing Through Video
Marcela DeVivoIt’s not enough just to have usability tests — invest in a few video tests so you can actually see how people interact with your app. UserTesting.com is a great service that we’ve used, and the results we’ve gotten have been outstanding. Even though we thought we had a good understanding of our apps, watching many users interact — from different demographics — helped us make countless modifications. This should be essential. And once this is done, the next consideration is speed. Your app should be fast, or users wont’ have the patience for it. – Marcela DeVivo, National Debt Relief

Amazing People With Disabilities

There is nothing that is going to stop these incredible humans down, becoming models, actors, and special needs activists.


RJ Mitte
Famously known for his portrayal as Walter White’s son, Walter Jr. or Flynn, RJ Mitte was born with cerebral palsy just like his character in Breaking Bad. This congenital disorder affects the body’s movement, motor skills, and muscle tone. Because of this, he was given leg braces and crutches in order to help him walk, though, over time he grew stronger with sports and exercise and he no longer required them when he reached his teenage years. Mitte has gone on to star in several other tv shows and films, along with modeling and being a celebrity ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy.

Jamie Brewer
The 31-year-old actress was born with the condition known as Down Syndrome that is caused as a result of a third copy of Chromosome 21. Brewer broke onto the acting scene back in 2011 when a friend gave her word about a tv show that was looking for a woman with down syndrome to play a girl with down syndrome. That show would later come to be known as the binge-worthy American Horror Story where she portrayed Adelaide Langdon in the show’s first season. She would later return for the shows 3rd and 4th seasons respectively. She has gone on to pursue better treatment and visibility for people with IDD, an intellectual or developmental disability, through her activism and she recently became the first model with down syndrome to ever walk in New York Fashion Week.

Stephen Hawking
The world famous theoretical physicist happens to suffer from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease that slowly took his freedom of movement and ultimately paralyzed him. He was told that he only had a mere two years to live when he was diagnosed at the young age of 21. He defied those odds and went on to have many accomplishments in his fields of study. He began to use crutches at first, but then became wheelchair bound and finally in 2009 he lost the ability to operate his wheelchair by himself and requires a breathing ventilator to help him. His life was recently adapted into the film The Theory of Everything where you can see Eddie Redmayne portray him

Nick Santonastasso
19-year-old Nick Santonastasso was born with Hanhart Syndrome, a rare congenital disease that left him without any legs, an undeveloped right arm, and a left arm that only has 1 finger on it. At the time of his birth, he was the only the 12th case of Hanhart Syndrome in the entire world. Back in 2014, he teamed up with the head makeup artist for the Walking Dead and pulled a prank on the tv show’s star Norman Reedus. The vine has since gone viral amassing over 8 million views on Youtube. Not just a famous vine star, he’s also a singer, musician and was a wrestler for his high school team. Nick says that even though he has his bad days where he wishes he was “normal”, he says he wouldn’t change because of how he loves to inspire his fans.

Jack Eyers
Jack Eyers made history last year at New York Fashion Week when he became the first amputee male model to walk down the runway. The then 25-year-old model was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency which stunted the growth of his right leg and ultimately he chose to have the leg amputated at 16 due to the discomfort that it was causing him. He happens to be a spokesperson for Models of Diversity, an agency that strives to promote diversity and inclusion on the catwalk. He states that he wants more inclusion for models with disabilities and that having a disability doesn’t necessarily have to be seen as something that holds you back.

Noah Galloway
The 34-year-old Army veteran was a Sergeant who happened to lose both his left arm and his left leg after he was injured in an IED attack. Once he left the army, he became a personal trainer and motivational speaker where he talks to school children and veterans leaving them with his mantra “no excuses”. He would later go on to become a model for various brands such as Armitron Watches and he placed third in the 20th season of Dancing with the Stars with his partner Sharna Burgess.

Aimee Mullins
Mullins was born with a condition known as fibular hemimelia which results in the individual missing their fibula bones and because of this she had to have her legs amputated up to her knees when she was only a year old. She went on to become an incredible athlete in softball, track and field, and skiing. Mullins made history as the first amputee person in history to compete in the NCAA. Not only is she an accomplished athlete, but she also happens to a model and an actress who’s starred in several different shows, her current role on the Netflix show Stranger Things.

Half of people in poverty are disabled or live with a disabled person

Originaly published at: http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2016/august/half-people-poverty-are-disabled-or-live-disabled-person

A detailed new report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation finds that almost half of people in poverty in the UK are disabled or live in a household with a disabled person.

The New Policy Institute report – Disability and Poverty – says that disabled people are more likely than non-disabled people to be disadvantaged in the following multiple aspects of life: these are problems in of themselves and also contributing factors to poverty:

employment – 46% of working-age disabled people are in employment, compared with 80% of non-disabled people;
skills – there is a considerable ‘skills gap’ between disabled and non-
disabled people (for example, only 15% of disabled people have a degree, compared with around 30% of non-disabled people);
pay – low pay rates for disabled people are higher than those for non-disabled people, at 34% compared with 27%;
costs – disabled people face higher costs than non-disabled people, (such as the cost of equipment to manage a condition) which means that the same level of income secures a lower standard of living than it would for a non-disabled person; and
social security system – there is evidence that ‘extra costs’ benefits such as DLA and PIP do not cover these extra costs sufficiently: in the bottom fifth of the income distribution, disabled people are more likely to be materially deprived, whether they receive extra costs benefits or not.
The report recommends two approaches to reduce poverty among disabled people –

maximise resources – this is partly about increasing employment, (such as the government’s ambition to halve the disability employment rate gap) and a focus on job retention rather than re-entry to work;
reducing costs – high rates of material deprivation among disabled people suggest a failing of the social security system in mitigating these costs. In addition, the role of high housing costs in driving poverty for disabled people should be investigated, particularly for both private and social renters.
A summary of Disability and Poverty is available @ http://npi.org.uk/files/7414/7087/2444/Disability_and_poverty_SUMMARY_REPORT_FINAL.pdf

The full report is available @ http://npi.org.uk/files/3414/7087/2429/Disability_and_poverty_MAIN_REPORT_FINAL.pd

BMW supports ALL athletes by building an incredible performance wheelchair

Originaly published at: http://f30.bimmerpost.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1291908

Its that Olympics time of the year and BMW is one to always be involved in some way/shape/form. This year, BMW is showcasing an incredible performance wheelchair designed for Paralympians. I’m sure you’ve seen short little spots featuring this chair during the Olympics coverage, but they have produced a longer video titled “Built for Gold”

The video stars Josh George who won gold at the 2008 Paralymping games in Beijing. The video beautifully shows him as a pure athlete and one forgets about the chair itself. Whats I love about this is that BMW is using its corporate resources to bring greater attention the Paralympics.

The Delta

Originaly published at: http://www.theplayerstribune.com/brad-snyder-usa-paralympics/

BRAD SNYDER

I thought I was dead.

When the blast first happened, I could still actually see out of my left eye, and I remember looking down at my body and noticing that both my legs and both my arms were still intact. I thought that meant that I was dead. I really assumed I had passed over and was in purgatory waiting for what was next.

As an explosives specialist in a Navy SEAL unit, I accepted the fact that I could die every time I went on patrol. I expected to die, actually. Before I left for a patrol, I would mentally say goodbye to everything and make sure my bed was made.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it was that made serving in the Navy so appealing to me. The truth is that it was probably a confluence of a few factors. Military service was pretty much wired into my DNA. Both of my grandfathers served in the Navy in World War II, so it was an important part of my upbringing. Growing up, you would find me playing with G.I. Joes while watching Top Gun. I was unconsciously aware that I wanted this life from a very young age.

I expected to die. Before I left for a patrol, I would mentally say goodbye to everything and made sure my bed was made before I left.

It all kind of clicked my sophomore year of high school when my Uncle, who served in the Navy at the time, took me to the Naval Academy in Annapolis and gave me a tour. It truly was love at first sight. I walked the campus and was completely in awe of the history and the tradition I was surrounded by. It was a destination for the country’s best and brightest, so I made it my life’s mission to one day go to school there. Two years later, I was admitted.

When I arrived in Annapolis, I had to decide more specifically how I wanted to create a career in the military. Eventually, I was drawn to the explosive ordnance disposal community. I found taking apart bombs fascinating, almost like a high stakes academic challenge. It was something that just made sense to me and as I pursued it I felt like I was fulfilling my destiny.

When I graduated from The Academy, I landed my dream job as an explosives specialist for a SEAL team. I essentially functioned as a SEAL in a SEAL platoon, but my expertise was in explosives rather than assault operations.

brad3

On the 7th of September, 2011, I was on a joint U.S./Afghan patrol — half Navy SEALs, half Afghan Special Forces. We were clearing an area looking for Taliban fighters and weapons. My job was to protect our assault team from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) buried in the ground and decide how to dispose of enemy weapons we discovered. In our mission planning, I would consult images that showed us all of the IED activity in the area — we’d be walking around and the map would often look like chicken pox.

In areas like this, we’d have an explosives specialist like myself move through the area with a metal detector until it was cleared while everyone else followed behind. My partner, the other specialist, was clearing a path that morning when two of the Afghan Special Forces veered off course and landed on an IED, killing both of them.

Everything was pretty chaotic, but my job at that point, not knowing their immediate status, was to get them on a helicopter so they could go to a hospital. In the ensuing effort to render aid to these men, I stepped on a secondary device located about five meters from the original blast site. The blast occurred right in front of me, which is the only reason I’m still here today. Had the blast been below me, I would be gone. I was 18 inches away from certain death.

Even though I was able to walk away, I took the brunt of the damage to my face. I spent over 100 hours in surgery and ultimately came out completely fine, except for my eyes. I was told that I would be completely blind for the rest of my life.

In my line of work, I thought there was always a chance that I could lose a leg. In every blast incident that I had seen, the men closest to the explosion lost at least one leg. I’d mentally prepared myself for death or amputation, but I never thought I’d become blind.

I lived my previous life like I was invincible. Now my biggest challenge in life would be discovering what I could still do.

When I got the prognosis that I would never be able to see again, I latched onto idea that I was thankful to be alive. I was thankful to still have my limbs. I was thankful to still be here with my family. I still had the opportunity to experience a long and happy life, I would just need to adjust to the idea that it would be a different life than I’d imagined. I made the decision to be thankful and optimistic, and it improved my quality of life at that time.

I spent three weeks at Walter Reed hospital in Maryland in intensive care. Once most of the wounds had healed, I was moved to Tampa’s Veterans Hospital. I was there for about five more weeks before I was finally allowed to go home during weekends.

While I was in the hospital, there were so many people caring for me and worrying about me all the time. Everyone around me was feeling so much pain over my situation, and honestly, I hated it.

I went from being a person capable of anything — I was trained to shoot military-grade assault weapons, jump out of aircraft and take apart bombs — to someone completely dependent upon others. I lived my previous life like I was invincible. Now my biggest challenge in life would be discovering what I could still do.

All I wanted to do was prove to everybody that I was going to be fine. I just wanted my life to get back to normal.

I needed a vehicle to show everyone in my life that I was still strong, so I turned to swimming. I did some of my rehab where I grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, and that community knew me as a swimmer. I competed from the age of 11 all the way through college, where I swam against NCAA competition for the Midshipmen. About eight weeks after my surgery, I was offered the opportunity to hop in the pool for the first time since losing my sight, and I decided to go for it. Honestly, after weeks of having everyone around me concerned about my future, I was so excited to show off what I was capable of doing.

The feeling of swimming — the stroke, the pace, the strategy and most of all, the mental image — sometimes make me forget that I’m blind. I have a very vivid image in my mind of what the pool around me looks like, and I’ll begin to swim like I used to. This inevitably results in me smacking into the lane line, which results in cuts and bruises. And I crash — a lot.

I’ve adapted my stroke to where I keep my hands very low so I can feel for the lane lines. Normally, if I find it with my hands on my outstroke, I can bend my body and go back to the middle of the lane without crashing. But when I get going and my adrenaline is high, I’m not blind anymore. I completely lose myself in the moment.

2012 London Paralympics – Day 9 – Swimming

My first race was in February of 2012, just five months after I lost my vision. I jumped in the pool and felt like I had a good swim, and when I emerged I was told that I had recorded the fifth-fastest time in the world among active blind athletes. I assumed they were looking at the wrong list. I thought I might be the fifth-fastest swimmer amongst 28-year-olds from St. Petersberg named Brad. But fifth in the world? It was unbelievable for a number of reasons. I had never really experienced success on that level before. I’d won only one race when I was in college and while I considered myself a good athlete, the idea of being a world-ranked swimmer was difficult to fathom.

When I get going and my adrenaline is high, I’m not blind anymore. I completely lose myself in the moment.

It took a week to really figure out what this meant for my life and where I could take it. As luck would so have it, it was a Paralympic year, so the possibility emerged of representing the United States at the Paralympics. For the first time in a long while, I was overwhelmed in a positive way.

My next race was at the Paralympic trials to make the national team, and I had two first-place finishes and one third-place finish. And just like that, I found out I would be going to London to represent the United States. In those months when I first started swimming again, the level of excitement just kept rising. The higher the stakes, the more exciting it got. Not only could I do this, I was one of the best in the world. That feeling of touching the wall and hearing familiar cheers telling me I won the race was almost intoxicating. Every time I touched the water it felt magical.

In London, my success in the pool continued as I won three medals, including a gold medal on the one-year anniversary of the explosion that cost me my vision. Standing on the podium and hearing the national anthem play will forever be one of the proudest moments of my life.

2012 London Paralympics – Day 9 – Swimming

Everything moved so fast during that year that I didn’t have time to sit back and truly reflect on what had happened to me in Afghanistan. I was entirely focused on chasing after that feeling of excitement and anticipation. For the first time in my life, I was considered an elite athlete, and it all happened because of something tragic. That’s a lot to reconcile.

It really wasn’t until the December after the Paralympics, that I really sat back and said Wow. I stumbled into so many cool and exciting opportunities — from traveling around the world to meeting the president — that my family started calling me Forrest Gump. A lot of the time it felt like I was watching alongside them, witnessing the journey rather than experiencing it. I couldn’t believe what was happening, either.

It felt like I had taken out a loan on the time needed to adapt to my new life, and it was the next two years that I spent paying it back as I truly learned how to function as a blind person. It’s very easy to say that you made a decision not to let something bring you down, but the reality is much more complicated.

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It’s somewhat easy to paint my story as one about someone who bounced back from something tragic, but I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. I was always on a certain path, and when blindness struck, I adapted and continued, focused forward in a singular direction.

In that time, I did my best to not pay attention to what I call “The Delta,” which is the difference between what I used to be able to do and what I can do now.

My initial frustrations with blindness were very simple things. Like for example, I really struggled to get the right amount of toothpaste on the end of my toothbrush. A task that I had mindlessly performed my entire life now served as a huge challenge. I never considered that I used my eyes to measure how much toothpaste comes out of the tube, but having that ability taken away was one of many demoralizing moments. Just walking down the hallway can be a frustrating, bumping into walls and smacking my head on cupboards. But there are also those moments when I just truly feel trapped.

I did my best to not pay attention to what I call “The Delta,” which is the difference between what I used to be able to do and what I can do now.

I have a guide dog named Gizzy, and in the fall of 2013, I took her to a dog park. It was the first very cold day of the year, but I really wanted to take her out, so I was the only person at the park. On rare occasion, my dog will sometimes leave and not come back to me. It’s not because she’s being a bad dog, it’s because she thinks its a game. On that cold day, my dog decided to play a game and left without coming back. As a result, I was stuck in the intense cold for a long time with no idea what to do. I felt completely alone.

That was really a true low moment for me because it was the first time I felt truly and utterly enclosed in this world of blindness. I’d not had my sight for more than two years, but I’d never experienced that feeling before. The closest thing I could compare it to is claustrophobia. It’s like being in a box you can’t escape from, and then realizing you’ll never escape.

This wasn’t about dealing with the short-term frustration associated with banging my head on something, it was about experiencing the deep loss of my independence. Those are the moments that every newly blind person experiences at some point, but for two years, I had avoided.

Over time, though, I’ve learned that when you allow your mind to be consumed by The Delta, and you get so angry over what you can no longer do, life becomes almost unlivable. So I’ve had to train myself to accept the reality of my situation and take more ownership over what I can control. And because of this, my attachment to the swimming pool and competition has only grown.

The first year was tough, but the second year was a little better, and over time you just try to build up more skills and learn more tricks to make life easier.

Since I stood on that podium in London, I’ve gone through the process of truly learning to accept my blindness and be at peace with it. Because of that, I particularly look forward to swimming in this next Paralympics in 2016. When I get into that pool in Rio, I will do so with a new outlook and focused goal. I can see it all so clearly.