Are you worried about: Overcoming the Obstacles of Usability Testing | UX Booth

When people hear about ‘usability testing,’ many things come to mind—eye-tracking cameras, big HCI labs, a long testing process, a lot of expenses, and maybe a little confusion as well. Even at this stage in the proverbial game, usability testing isn’t so well understood, and misconceptions abound.

So what do you think about Usability Testing? Is it baffling you? Do you need to understand its benefits?

Don’t be confused any more! Contact us to help you understand its value to you & your organization.

This article lays out some of the same issues & misconceptions we saw in the “7 Reasons you can’t sell Usability” post a while back.

We can make Usability Testing easy, affordable yet valuable with our tools & techniques. Many of the misconceptions of the problems in doing usability testing are myths & we bust those myths wide open with our approach to meet your needs & deliver actionable, useful & usable recommendations as a result of our Usability Studies.

So if you need to read this article, come to us after you read it to help you get thru all of this. We’ve done it for others & we’d love to help you get usability testing done your way!

Just check out our contact information at the right of this page – let us hear from you today!

via Overcoming the Obstacles of Usability Testing | UX Booth.

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Followups from Refresh Savannah Intro to Agile event

Hey all, thanks for the wonderful attendance & great discussion last night @ Refresh Savannah’s July event.

We had some very useful contributions from the audience & our resident “Scrum Master“! You see Scrum works so good that you too can get on TV & show off your favorite T-shirt! Kudos to uPlaya for their great success, all over the globe, from right here in Savannah, home of The Creative Coast!

There was a lot of interest paid to this image during the presentation – with a lot of discussion around how to make this work in some very interesting scenarios. If you want the image please let me know – it’s here for your perusal too:

Trying to locate the original source of this image! But, "Is THIS where YOU want to be?"...

The above image came from this post on the Agilitrix site:

Play the Scrum Simulation (based on XPGame) for Great Learning

The presentation has been uploaded to Slideshare – if you want the ppt let me know & we can arrange that for you.

And if anyone is interested in learning more about Parallel Tracks for UX & Development hit us up, we’re happy to share!

Posted in Agile Development, Agile Usability, Agile UX, Community, Refresh, Scrum | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Some comments on: Book Review #1: Sketching User Experience by Bill Buxton. Part II | Edge of Chaos | Agile Development Blog

The role of design is to find the best design. The role of usability engineering is to help make that design the best.

This quote is one of the best I’ve seen recently – it comes from this book review.

We believe of course that “usability engineering” includes the discipline of “Usability Studies“.

So, here is another reason to add usability testing to your repertoire of capabilities in your organization.

Check out our Services page to see the full range of services we at Social Usability (MPH Consulting) provide to our clients.

And, BTW, this book looks awesome – we’ll be taking a closer look too. The author, Bill Buxton, looks like a heavyweight in the design community too!

Take a look at the first part of the book review too – it’s linked to on this page…

via Book Review #1: Sketching User Experience by Bill Buxton. Part II | Edge of Chaos | Agile Development Blog.

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Agile and UX Coaching – Anders

Update: Once again, Joe Sokohl comes through with key insights, pointing out something that was obvious in my mind but I did not state explicitly in the post – the idea of a UX Coach is analogous to an Agile Coach. Just like the Agile Coach is not part of a team but helps the team undergo the transformation from a traditional to an Agile approach, so too does a UX Coach help Agile teams undergo a similar transformation, from UX being a vaguely mysterious notion to something that is just another normal part of an Agile project lifecycle.

via Agile and UX Coaching – Anders

So, does your Agile Team need a UX Coach? Making UX a natural part of the Agile development approach can enable your team to be a whole lot more productive.

If you don’t think you need a UX Coach yet, maybe you need to start with an assessment of where you are with good UX practices in your team – so check out our offering for an Assessment of the 12 Best Practices for UX in Agile development & let us know when you’re ready to discuss how your team may be performing!

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Are you creating usability test tasks that really motivate users?

Here is some food for thought in how you can really engage your users in doing usability tests with you & for you!

We at Social Usability take all these approaches into consideration when designing the tasks for your Usability Studies – ask us how we can use these strategies to get better results & more useful & usable recommendations for your new projects!

Creating usability test tasks that really motivate usersThe magic of usability tests is that you get to see what people actually do with a system rather than what they say they do. This gives you great insights into how people behave and how to improve your design. But if your tasks lack realism you’ll find that people just go through the motions and don’t engage with the test — reducing the credibility of your results. Here are 6 ways to captivate participants with great test tasks. — DAVID TRAVIS, JULY 5, 2010

via Creating usability test tasks that really motivate users.

Posted in Agile Usability, Agile UX, Designers, Developers, Observations, Process, Recommendations | Tagged | Leave a comment

Are you a Agile skeptic? Scrum Alliance – Scrum Meets Waterfall – An Interview with Mike Cohn

Scrum Alliance – Scrum Meets WaterfallAn Interview with Mike Cohn.

VERY interesting interview with a skeptic on Agile (Scrum was of interest to him because he was an old-school waterfall PMI – Project Management Institute – guy).

So, if you come from old-school waterfall processes or are skeptical about what Agile is asking you to “give up” then read the transcript linked to above or look at the video in Google Video – this interview is from 2008 at a Scrum Gathering in Chicago, but it should be of interest & informative.

This can be some prepatory reading (viewing) before the July Refresh Savannah presentation too!

Get ready for some good questions & discussion there, prime your thinking here!

Posted in Agile, Agile Development, Waterfall | Leave a comment

Are you trying to be Agile? – comments from: Agile or Iterative and Incremental | Agile Zone

Agile or Iterative and Incremental | Agile Zone.

Some comments on being Agile in a Waterfall world – being careful treading there anyway is where this author comes from.

But from Kevin Lawver’s  comment on the previous post on Waterfall vs Agile & his teams sneak attack at AOL that got the whole company going agile, we need to go for the soapbox after we have proven some success can be delivered – biting the whole agile bullet will then deliver HUGE benefits that a one team approach got for that team.

To make agile scalable across a whole organization there needs to be a major commitment, trainers & coaches can help with the adoption, so can clear direction from Management!

Do you have your Management’s attention or looking for ways to get their attention – do what Kevin suggests in his comment to this post, take into consideration the views expressed in the referenced article above, then see where you need to go from there!

If you want to talk more about how we can help with our Best Practices offerings just let us know!

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Waterfall vs Agile – some comments on perspectives we’ve found!

We’re going to be doing an Introduction to Agile presentation at the local Refresh Savannah meeting on July 20, 2010 (7pm @ thincspace) so we thought we’d prime the discussion of this topic here & follow it up with a more detailed discussion of Agile in person there. Hope you were there July 20, if not the recap & presentation is available!

There will likely be participants at the meeting who have exposure to both sets of processes and maybe we’ll do a SCRUM “debate” there too – use the rugby approach to starting over that is! 🙂

This post has turned out to be rather involved! Sorry, but when you start looking on the web for perspectives on this topic you find lots of good stuff – stuff that raises the bar on your thought processes about Agile vs Waterfall & Lean vs Agile, etc.

There will be debates because we can & it’s so easy to “discuss” the topics too – in fact the articles referenced here have worthy discussions to peruse too! You’re free to discuss here too – especially as it relates to how Agile can work for our little community of Savannah GA as we try to get us thinking about & understanding these topics in our Refresh Savannah meetings.

So, read on & if you have the time peruse the articles referenced here – even the video if you have 8 minutes or so to spare or you want to share the basics of why Agile works & why Waterfall can fail!

Now, on to the little bit of food for thought (appeteasers that is) before the meeting of Refresh Savannah – btw, Refresh is a global movement & Savannah has had a “chapter” for a little over a year now – thanks to Kevin Lawver, a transplant to Savannah who has brought a fresh face to Savannah that allows us to address the principles of Refresh, making Savannah a better place to work collaboratively & towards a set of common goals. This informal approach of Refresh has made a difference already, allowing the various segments of Savannah’s creative community to come together casually & informally get to know each others needs & to network their ideas on a different level, the Refresh level.

Now on to the topic, Waterfall vs Agile!

There has been a series of articles (blog posts) on the Agile DZone website recently (it’s a site with lots of resources for developers on a variety of topics) about the perspectives of one writer about when to use Agile vs when Waterfall is still appropriate in today’s development challenges or opportunities.

The discussions in these posts & the comments that ensue are appropriate & we all need some exposure to those perspectives.

While the debate is sane, there needs to be a stake in the ground that Waterfall is NOT 100% dead (yet!), it just needs to be evaluated under stricter criteria when its applied to solving business problems inherently addressed in the application development arena these days.

The business or entity supporting or requiring development to be done in a waterfall approach needs to understand their options & in fact look for a melding of waterfall & agile so that at least maybe they can get all (or some of) the value from using Agile processes while still receiving the deliverables (other than working code) required in many “Waterfall-type” projects.

That’s not the only perspective of the differences & applicability considerations of Waterfall vs Agile but one that we’re highlighting here – take a look at the entire series of articles (listed & linked to below) to evaluate for yourself all of the perspectives.

Our comment about mixing the development processes is not founded in any experience but merely a suggestion that if you have a chance to look at melding the processes in some way, are asked to do some of the things that usually are required by Waterfall processes within an Agile-run development project, or just can’t bite the whole Agile bullet yet, spend a little time evaluating the perspectives in these articles & decide how to maximize your rewards from Agile processes while still being able to meet the needs of the sponsor (business unit or funding source) of your development project. If you can convince them of the value in the total adoption of Agile & dropping some of the requirements of the project that are typically considered “Waterfall” requirements then go for it. But the bottom line is, don’t lose the project by being so blind to Agile processes that you miss the opportunity to do good work!

Three articles are to be written in the series, as of this point an intro article & two of the three have been posted. We’ll monitor the Agile DZone site for the third & final post on this topic, which deals with Management & QA issues as they relate to Waterfall & Agile.

The links to the articles are:

It seems that there has been a lot of discussion on the web about this topic. Various people have perspectives that are founded in their personal stakes in the industry, almost personal feelings like the Windows vs Mac debates we see or just plain interest in folks getting an understanding of their perspective for the sake of education & allowing others to develop their own perspective with a sense of ownership of their beliefs or feelings.

There are even videos about Agile vs Waterfall referenced here (broken – oops, sorry), actually here instead!

This author has seen it all in his review of the “literature” on the web. Then there is the newer debate about Agile and Lean – Closer than you think | Agile Zone. References to both debates (discussions) are considered here as it is about an organization or team developing for themselves (with proper guidance & direction) what works for them.

Then there’s the camp that feels like Agilists are a declining breed – read about their views & experiences over the years as an Agilist & why they feel like a declining breed here: The Decline and Fall of Agilists | Agile Zone. There is a VERY interesting point made in this article about the fact that all teams don’t use agile practices in the same way. And he explores Gaming Theory in his discussion at the end of the post! And draws the following conclusion:

If there was one best set of agile practices, it would be a weakness of the system!

There are many consulting organizations who want to help you get started with Agile if you haven’t already begun your quest. There are many options for selecting processes to use in our development of platforms, tools, applications, websites & even games.

When we look at Open Source development approaches we might ask how does Agile work there? Are there teams who collaborate remotely in a global sense using Agile processes or just a set of protocols for sharing development code at various stages & deciding as a group what works for a release? Well often we see nightly builds of code on a repository for a given open source project. That sounds very Agile to me!

But we aren’t here to discuss the greater issue of global open source development projects, although the scale of the processes we discuss here should be considered.

Our interest is not concerned so much with debate of Waterfall vs Agile – those debates are actually being won or lost in the success of the teams that have made their choices. As this one series of articles, or group of articles suggest, there is a place for waterfall processes. Those places where waterfall is to be leaned towards are pretty specific, so if you work on those types of projects go for it, so that you can deliver what’s expected of those types of projects, just look for the opportunities to fine tune your processes, considering an Agile approach to a projects requirements when it makes sense.

The real question comes when the rubber meets the road & you are judged about whether you have met the requirements of the “buyers” of your services!

Try to exceed their expectations by using processes that make you more successful in areas they hadn’t even considered or in areas that benefit you (if you are a contractor or freelancer bring an Agile outlook as a designer or developer to your projects & all will be good).

Hybrid vs rigid adoption of (or flexible vs rigid execution of) principles around your choices of development strategies without having the viewpoint referenced above will more likely get you the results you want & won’t make any results you deliver to your clients very painful, expensive & unrewarding.

So, our advice is to be agile which carries with it flexibility & adaptability by the very nature of the Agile Manifesto. Seek ye the best set of tools & processes for the work at hand!

Posted in Agile, Agile Development, Community, Designers, Developers, Waterfall | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Watching TEDx Creative Coast Today (@thincspace)!

We’re over at thincspace today!

If you missed getting to go to TEDx Creative Coast & you want to hang out with a group of CoWorkers come on over to thincspace (see their site for info & directions) where you can experience coworking, talk over the sessions with these collaborative folks & have a little fun too!

Then there’s the after party at Cha Bella at 7pm (or earlier if you really wanna start the weekend off right in Savannah)!

If you Retweet this please use the tag #tedxcc – thanks!

Posted in Community, CoWorking | 2 Comments

Is Savannah ready for a new workplace paradigm? Consider Seths Blog: Goodbye to the office

Is Savannah ready for a new workplace paradigm?

With Seth Godin’s blog post about “Goodbye to the office” we are now prompted to think about where & how we work in todays economic conditions. The new office can be anywhere & everywhere but it should be a “place” says Seth.

While some of you may not know about Seth Godin, he is well known as a writer, blogger & pundit in the areas of marketing, branding & efficient work & business growth.

You may know of his writings on Permission Marketing where he defined the need to get permission from those you seek to market to before you try to interrupt them, changing the way marketing & advertising are done today. We take that for granted today in the social media connected world we live in now don’t we!

Not to ignore all the other great things Seth has written about you should familiarize yourself with his writings & maybe even subscribe to his blog so you’ll get new tidbits of wisdom & emerging thought to tickle your creativity & develop your own thoughts in the significant topics of the day.

The items he mentions in his list of considerations for the workplace today point to the need for a shift in workplace mentalities.

Collaboration & engagement with others of like mind… Items 5 & 7 say it all:

5. You can get energy from people other than those in the same company.

7. So go someplace. But it doesn’t have to be to your office.

So when you are your own boss how does all this work? You still need the values of items 5 & 7 even more now so you aren’t isolated & so you can grow & nurture your ideas as well as those of others you come in contact with in this new paradigm of workplace.

Thincspace presents that opportunity, to create a community that thrives on collaboration & the support of growth in jobs & work for the new worker in the new workplace.

This blog doesn’t often use its voice to speak about community issues & needs but Seth has focused our attention on the things that will not only make the work of this writer productive & successful but also that which has the potential to motivate all of Savannah’s technology, creative & sustainable workforce to get a bounce, change its focus to the community of workers here in this place we call home.

So, let’s get out of that home office, out of that coffee shop & collaborate on our ideas for creating a better workplace that meets the needs of todays workers.

Keep an eye out for thincspace as it brings its first CoWorking Day to town – look for ways there to engage with others & create a community that supports a workplace where we can all thrive, work for common goals, support each others ideas & the nurture & growth of them into thriving opportunities that creates more work & jobs for all of us so that our community can emerge out of this funk we call a recession economy, making ourselves ready for those opportunities that can only thrive in todays workplace.

Seth sums it up very well, so leave now & ponder his wisdom (below)…

The gain in speed, productivity and happiness is massive. Whats missing is #7… someplace to go. Once someone figures that part out, the office is dead.

via Seths Blog: Goodbye to the office.

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