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Re: New To Usability - Trying To Learn & Define Standards

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  • alochka
    The answer is always it depends (on business goals, users, constraints), it kind of sounds to me like you are looking for a pattern library? I would
    Message 1 of 17 , Oct 2, 2009
      The answer is always "it depends" (on business goals, users, constraints), it kind of sounds to me like you are looking for a pattern library?

      I would recommend the following resources:
      1) Yahoo Design Pattern Library: http://developer.yahoo.com/ypatterns/
      2) A book called, Designing Interfaces: http://designinginterfaces.com/

      Regarding adherence, that really depends on the culture of your organization and how many people are behind this initiative. I would recommend first figuring out IF setting up guidelines is really the solution to your core problem, and if so how will you communicate the guidelines to others when they are completed? The best way to figure this out is to just talk to people about their thoughts, and also observe how they currently do their work.

      Hope this helps!
    • William Pietri
      Thanks for the details, David! Doug s comment made me wonder something in specific, so let me ask about that directly. If your developers are asking QA for
      Message 2 of 17 , Oct 5, 2009
        Thanks for the details, David!

        Doug's comment made me wonder something in specific, so let me ask about that directly.

        If your developers are asking QA for advice on UI design, that's clearly a problem. But the people/interaction way I'd be inclined to solve that would be making sure there's a person with UI design skills in the room.

        Then if that wasn't enough, I'd find ways for the UI people to communicate more easily. If that still wasn't enough, I'd get them to collaborate around a style guide, a pattern library, or some other shared resource.

        Have you folks tried any of that?



        davidanthonyfreedman wrote:
        Hi William,
        I work here at CAA with Doug and run our Development group.  Just a little more context.  We are an agile shop through and through.  Our applications are a combination of internal LOB apps, communications apps, ERP apps, partner-facing (B to B) apps and a few extenally-facing websites.  We've got a relatively small internal staff (project management, dev/architecture, QA/UX and packaged apps) who are collaborate with our offshore partner in South America for delivery.  Both ourselved and our dev partner's processes are primarily Scrum-based.
        We've got a broad portfolio of apps with a lot of work in progress at any moment in time (some would argue that a better strategy would be to limit WIP per Kanban).  The importance of standards for us is not so much in the context of contranstraints, but in the as a baseline for continual improvement.  It's simply a means to socialize lessons learned.  Any team may innovate on those standards or depart where not applicable.  Also, inventing everytime is expensive and fallable so standards serve as a checklist.  
        We've got an aspiring UX team (which Doug leads) whose core competency is rooted in QA.  From my perspective, they've got fantasic UX instincts and some practical experience using common UX techniques (Paper prototying, etc) but want to grow their toolbelt of techniques understanding that and given tool is appropriate to a circumstance and that the team will use their judgement.  
        Long winded way of saying that we seek standards in support of people and interactions, not in place of.  Make sense?
        p.s.  I'm a long time board lurker and friends of a few on this board.  Thank you all for your contributions...I learn a lot here.
        --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, William Pietri <william@...> wrote:
        Hi, Doug.
        Since you asked here, I'm presuming this question has some Agile angle. 
        The broadness of your question brings me back to the Agile manifesto, 
        and in particular the first value statement: "individuals and 
        interactions over processes and tools".
        The solution you're looking at seems to be more about a process and a 
        documentary tool. Have you already tried solutions based in individuals 
        and interactions?
        doug.gorman@... wrote:
        Good morning, everyone. My name's Doug Gorman and I'm the QA manager at Creative Artists Agency.
        My team is beginning to take on usability as part of what we test for in the applications we build for the business. We are frequently presented with questions like "should we use an icon or text link?" that we have no resources to draw on to make a decision.
        Ideally I would prefer to create some standards around the kinds of interface decisions we're normally presented with. Not to prevent people from making other decisions, but to provide a baseline from which to guide decisions.
        I have three questions about creating a baseline:
        1. What resources would you recommend to be helpful in establishing a UI baseline for our organization? 
        2. If you've created UI standards for a company before, what issues did you encounter with regards to acceptance and adherence?
        3. Would you recommend a standard - if not, why?
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      • Adrian Howard
        ... [snip] I d second Michael s recommendation of Luke s book. A useful read - especially if you ve not got a usability/UX background. It s tricky one to sum
        Message 3 of 17 , Oct 6, 2009
          On 5 Oct 2009, at 17:39, doug.gorman@... wrote:

          > I'm curious about the book. What were some of the strong takeaways
          > from it that you use consistently?

          I'd second Michael's recommendation of Luke's book. A useful read -
          especially if you've not got a usability/UX background. It's tricky
          one to sum up since it's really a collection of useful patterns /
          "best" practices for form design.

          You'll get some good rules of thumb on, for example, label alignment
          in forms - which will help with making those initial decisions before
          user testing.

          Taking a look at the book site


          and the illustrations from the book


          might give you more of an idea.


          http://quietstars.com - twitter.com/adrianh - delicious.com/adrianh
        • Adrian Howard
          Hi Doug, ... You have to be slightly careful here that this doesn t become an excuse for not making informed decisions about the products user experience in
          Message 4 of 17 , Oct 6, 2009
            Hi Doug,

            On 5 Oct 2009, at 17:58, doug.gorman@... wrote:

            > I absolutely agree that end user feedback is almost always a better
            > driver than our own internal opinions.

            You have to be slightly careful here that this doesn't become an
            excuse for not making informed decisions about the products user
            experience in the first place.

            Good user testing isn't an excuse for bad design - with the user
            experience just as much as the code. User testing is a fantastic tool
            - and can help you discover and guide the development of the products
            user experience. But it doesn't drive good design - it informs it. You
            still need to figure out the best way to solve the problems that it

            Letting the user experience be driven by post-implementation user
            testing is a bit like having the code design be driven by post-
            implementation tests. The feedback loops are too long.

            Don't let this dissuade you from starting doing usability testing -
            but it's what you do with the results that's really important.

            > I'm curious about your thoughts on when and how to engage them.

            Like most things agile I think a little and often is the best
            approach. Doing many small usability informal tests throughout the
            development process is more effective in my experience than doing
            fewer, larger, formal ones.

            > The team here is considering "usability runahead" to get users -
            > particularly of existing products - to do some hands on with us. Are
            > there particular activities or kinds of usability testing that
            > you've found consistently identify usability issues?

            Depends what kinds of thing you're trying to do. If you're looking at
            new functionality I'd suggest looking at lo-fidelity methods like
            paper prototyping (see http://is.gd/40q4J for a few pointers) very
            early in the process to help you try out many ideas quickly. This has
            the advantage of also being enormous fun - who doesn't like to play
            with paper, scissors and glue for a few hours :-)

            If it's finding issues with existing products I'd try a couple of

            1) If possible go and work in the same place as the users for a bit
            and watch them do their work. You'll almost certainly spot some issues
            that are hard to see in a more formal user testing environment (e.g.
            do people get interrupted in the middle of tasks?)

            2) Once you've spotted a few areas that look like they can be improved
            do some informal "talk aloud" tests with the user (in the workplace
            where feasible) around those tasks. If you've not done tests like this
            before Rubin's "Handbook of Usability Testing" http://is.gd/40wGR is a
            nice starter (I've only ever read the first edition, but folk I trust
            have said the second edition is equally good.)

            > Also, are there kinds of usability testing you've done with users
            > that they've enjoyed and found to be a positive experience?

            User testing is mostly fun - but be warned. When you're poking at bits
            of a product that frustrates the user they're likely to get...
            frustrated :-) While this won't usually be aimed at you as the tester,
            especially if you frame the test appropriately, it does happen.

            Hope this helps.


            http://quietstars.com - twitter.com/adrianh - delicious.com/adrianh
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