sales@techved.com
+91-9967105359



Users are the core livelihood of a company’s products and services. Users come with various needs

and wants; these user requirements are considered for every possible decision to be made while

designing.

Plenty of time and resources have to be spent in order to research with customers and planning

usable designs. This involves understanding the prevailing user behaviour, their needs, expectations,

and identifying the essentials of a user centric design. It does take an extra effort to create user

friendly designs but this extra effort is completely worth the time and resources spent; it brings a

great output. A user experience design helps us know our users better, increases the salability of

products and thus helps you gain return on investment.

Measuring the UX ROI

More often than not designing was interpreted as a fulfilment for enhancing the look and feel of

products. Design was earlier more associated with visual elements and aesthetics. The interaction,

how the functionalities work, the overall user experience was not paid much attention to. With time

and advancement, focus towards customer experience has been increasing and the UX of every

minute thing is taken into consideration while designing. A product design is not just about how it

looks; it is about a good user experience at every product stage.

The success of a product is measured by the users’ satisfaction in terms of ease of use, fulfilment of

their goals etc. While using the product, after using it and before using it, the users will be

disappointed in absence of a good user experience.

Facilitating a good UX before launching the product is a great practice as the research helps you not

only please your customers with a good experience, but also facilitates increased conversions. The

customers will not need help in understanding the product; they will use the product easily and find

it enjoyable.

User experience design is an investment

Ensuring a good experience on a product is essential as the development of a product depends on its

design. Many products and services are available in the market for users, and they can switch to one

from another as per their convenience. In order to set a product apart from others and gain

competitive advantage, focus should be on the experience.

It is better to pre plan the appropriate designs than correcting the errors identified at a later stage.

UX can increase the conversions, increase customer loyalty and satisfaction. Products experience can

be improved with the best of UX designs. The research conducted helps in developing an action plan

about how the functions will work and various elements that need to be placed. In the course of

research we figure out many features that need to be added and removed, the feedback from users

helps in brainstorming various ideas that can make the product unique and innovative.

In markets where there is a lot of competition, a new product can capture the market by simply

differentiating itself from the rest by offering consumers something concrete. This robust offering

can be provided by pre knowing the customer needs and ensuring the product is well equipped to

fulfil these needs and possibly go beyond to offer delight to users. Making corrections at a later

stage, after launching the product in market involves not only a higher cost but also leaves a bad

impression in the minds of your target audience. The product is then perceived to be less consistent

at par with its competitors. Instead of adding many features to the product, overloading it with

functionalities to make it capable of doing many things, it is advisable to craft something that excels

at what it does.

Cutting down costs with UX

As we already discussed, fixing the broken areas of products like adding new features or repairing

bad functionalities post launching the product will incur huge costs, as compared to those involved

in fixing it beforehand.

The designers and developers not only decide on what needs to be added to the interface, after

adding features they also need to ensure that it confirms with the technology platform on which it

was built.

After launching the product, when the version is revised after a considerably long interval of time,

the product has to be reworked upon a technology that may no longer exist.

Poor planning can lead to a product with wrecked features and bad user experience. Products that

come with bad user experience are not easy to use; they frustrate the users and are likely to be

abandoned by most.

UX design and conversions

UX design is associated with conversions. Businesses are always keen on having a better performing

conversion analytics; however they might get behind in ensuring a robust user experience for

customers.

To engage users, the very key is to make sure that the product is fully fledged in terms of user

experience. With variety of product options being available in market, one tends to be inclined

towards the products that are delightful and easy to use, as well as function efficiently. Although

user research may seem like a tiresome process but it is very critical in developing a product that is

desirable and helps in gaining the benefit from it.

Time investment is another important matter of concern. While monetary investments in a product

cost are involved, there is a time cost involved too. Making the product right from a UX perspective

at the outset itself rather than fixing the UX afterwards makes much more sense and also justifies

the time investment.

The quality of the product matters, rather than the quantity of features. What makes a product is

not the number of features it brings along; it is the experience that is offered which attracts and

retains the customers. Adding numerous features can end up in a product with many weak spots and

problems that need fixation. Instead of making an unsuccessful attempt of adding endless features,

focus should be on a set of characteristics that are significant. It is alright to design a product that

has only few necessary features, provided the product experience is made efficient by focussing on

its core features. People switch from one product to another when they find a competent and better

performing solution in the form of a product.

To sum it up

UX design delivers great value in terms of revenue, conversions, leads and sales. User experience

calls for an overall enhancement of the aesthetics, interaction, functionalities so that the product is

capable of solving the user’s problems. To capture the market or beat the competition, one can set

their product aside by integrating good user experience in the design.

Products that are not built with proper research may completely fail to sustain as they will not fulfil

the end user’s needs. Making fantastic products requires getting the right UX design, which will be

an output of intensive research work, decision making based on the understanding of the business

needs as well as the target audience. Planning the entire design from a user perspective is beneficial

in developing efficient products for customers and bringing a smile to their face.

There is an erroneous perception in the UX community that if your method is qualitative, then numbers somehow cannot or should not be used.

These perceptions come from an informal practice that stems back to the beginning of the usability profession and continues through training programs and some UX experts.

prototype-techved

Unfortunately, this perception is misguided and can prevent perfectly good data from being used to gain accurate views of the user experience.

Qualitative data can in fact be converted into quantitative measures even if it doesn't come from an experiment or from a large sample size.

The distinction between a qualitative study and quantitative study is a false dichotomy. It doesn't cost more money to quantify or use statistics. It just takes some training and confidence--like any method or skill.

Here are five examples of how you can take common qualitative approaches to assessing the user experience and convert them into numbers which can then be treated with a range of statistical procedures.

 

  1. Converting a usability problem into a frequency: The quintessential usability activity is watching users attempt realistic tasks and identifying what in the interface is causing problems.

    Simply categorize the problems, count the frequency, then use confidence intervals to estimate how common the problems likely are in the entire user population. For example, if 3 out 11 users had a problem downloading the correct software product from a website, then we can be 95% confident at least 9% of all users would also have the problem (use the free web calculator or download the problem frequency calculator).  It doesn't cost more money to generate those confidence intervals. This process also allows you to generate more accurate sample size estimates.

  2. What problems are customers having?: It is sometimes difficult for customers to identify what they need in a product and where the shortfalls are. One effective approach is ethnographic research (a qualitative method), observing customers in their own setting encountering and solving problems.

    Observe the problems customers encounter, categorize and count them. Then estimate the percent of all customers that likely share this behavior or problem to help prioritize product features. You can then estimate how many customers you need to visit based on the frequency of these issues.

  3. Why is the product not being recommended? When using the Net Promoter Score, it's valuable to ask open-ended, follow-up questions, especially for Detractors, such as, "Briefly describe why you gave the rating." Take the list of open-ended comments and group them into categories (content analysis). Count the occurrences, create a percentage of all comments, graph them and throw in some confidence intervals for good measure.

       4 . Why was that task so difficult?: I recommend asking just a single question after users attempt a task in an informal Steve Krug usability test. If a user provides a low rating (below a 5), ask them to briefly explain why they gave a low rating. Take these open-ended comments, categorize them and add up the frequency in each group. This process can help you and your stakeholders make more informed decisions about the likely causes of the trouble. Figure 1 below shows an example of the comments from a recent usability test.
         

         

            
5.Combining Net Promoter Scores and comments: A powerful way of making qualitative, open-ended comments more actionable is to combine them with a closed-ended question, like the Net Promoter Score. For example, quantify what users say they would improve on a website, then show what these customer's Net Promoter Scores are.

An example is shown in Figure 2 below. There were 110 comments in total, but to quickly identify what to focus on, we can see that comments related to website navigation and product filters are both high in frequency and come from users that are likely generating negative word of mouth (notice the negative NPS). In contrast,  design/layout comments and advertisements while high in frequency appear to be minor issues for the users.

 

 

I'm not advocating quantifying data for an exercise in counting. There are of course many software applications and websites which have never been exposed to any input from users. In such situations there will likely be many obvious problems that just need to be fixed, regardless of how many users encounter the problem.

But once you've picked the low hanging fruit of a neglected interface, the benefits of structuring your activities and results lend themselves to quantification, where you can derive more meaning from your methods.

The advantage of converting qualitative data into quantitative data is that the source of qualitative data--a direct encounter of the user's experience--can reveal nuances in usability, perhaps otherwise missed in more formal quantitative experiments and surveys.

Not only can qualitative data be categorized into quantities, but it can prompt further questions and discovery for usability improvement.

  1. Converting a usability problem into a frequency: The quintessential usability activity is watching users attempt realistic tasks and identifying what in the interface is causing problems.

    Simply categorize the problems, count the frequency, then use confidence intervals to estimate how common the problems likely are in the entire user population. For example, if 3 out 11 users had a problem downloading the correct software product from a website, then we can be 95% confident at least 9% of all users would also have the problem (use the free web calculator or download the problem frequency calculator).  It doesn't cost more money to generate those confidence intervals. This process also allows you to generate more accurate sample size estimates.

  2. What problems are customers having?: It is sometimes difficult for customers to identify what they need in a product and where the shortfalls are. One effective approach is ethnographic research (a qualitative method), observing customers in their own setting encountering and solving problems.

    Observe the problems customers encounter, categorize and count them. Then estimate the percent of all customers that likely share this behavior or problem to help prioritize product features. You can then estimate how many customers you need to visit based on the frequency of these issues.

  3. Why is the product not being recommended? When using the Net Promoter Score, it's valuable to ask open-ended, follow-up questions, especially for Detractors, such as, "Briefly describe why you gave the rating." Take the list of open-ended comments and group them into categories (content analysis). Count the occurrences, create a percentage of all comments, graph them and throw in some confidence intervals for good measure.

Why was that task so difficult?: I recommend asking just a single question after users attempt a task in an informal Steve Krug usability test. If a user provides a low rating (below a 5), ask them to briefly explain why they gave a low rating. Take these open-ended comments, categorize them and add up the frequency in each group. This process can help you and your stakeholders make more informed decisions about the likely causes of the trouble. Figure 1 below shows an example of the comments from a recent usability test.

Smile and Happiness- The World Wants More

Designs are to Delight. Ensuring a memorable journey for the consumers  is our responsibility as designers, believes Neha Modgil, Director at Techved Consulting. She has much more to say, express and share what’s on her mind. Put down on paper, here are some beautiful thoughts straight from our Director’s heart.

When I started Techved, it was passion turned to business. Over the years as I experienced world, Techved is my expression and gratitude to being a designer, woman, mother, CEO, entrepreneur and above all, a human.

With designing seated so close to my heart, I constantly strive to spread laughter and cheer through our designs. At Techved, I complete my desire to ensemble designs and emotions so that we deliver work that stays close to people’s heart too.

How to grow your Business by monitoring your User Experience strategy.

A good User experience strategy can give your customers happiness and make your business successful. Providing customers ease of use and a friendly experience can help in gaining loyal customers. If the customers find the overall experience comfortable, they will keep the company in business. Examining the user experience by and large can put together a robust business strategy that retains its customers. Keeping a check on the various user experiences that customers come across can improve the business processes, thus elevating the performance.

 

Let’s discuss a couple of tools and methods that can be used to keep a watch on the user experience your company is giving away to customers.                                                                                            

 ux-strategy

 

 

Product prototypes

Observing the experience of your company’s customers can be made easier with the use of prototypes.Prototypes of products relate to the samples that will be distributed among customers. By using these prototypes customers will be able to give a feedback and we can identify their needs. This user feedback can be used to plan the right UX for products. Good prototypes that bring positive feedback are feasible concepts that are likely to retain customers. Thus offering prototypes to customers can help you decide a good user experience design concept for your product.

 

Interacting with users for inputs

The service or the product that you create is finally consumed by the customer. Knowing their needs and expectations is important so that the design can be such that it matches their expectation level. Taking ideas from customers in the form of feedback can surely improve the overall experience. Gathering such ideas from customers can be done indirectly through feedback sessions, questionnaire surveys, research methods. These techniques will reveal what the actual customer thinks and what their suggestions are. These methods also help you understand what customers are looking forward to in a particular product.

 

Campaign analysis

A company runs various campaigns in the company. The marketing campaigns, the research works, other business campaigns need to be observed to ensure that good UX is communicated to customers via all. This analysis is about checking whether the experience that is being offered through the campaigns is appropriate. Once the company activities are properly supervised, the entire UX can be augmented for the better.

 

Tracking software

Observing how customers behave on your website can be helpful in regulating the user experience. With various applications and analytics available on the web today, one can track how their online audience behaves. A tool like Google analytics tells us about how your customers behave on website, where they click, how they browse and move about. With these tracking softwares, companies can understand the user behaviour and act accordingly in order to improve the user experience.

Mobile application

Having a website is crucial to every business today. With internet driving most of the businesses and customers actions, a mobile application turns out to be equally important as a website. With mobile users growing tremendously, your company’s application is likely to engage a good number of your target audience. Keeping abreast with the most recent technologies and platforms, an apt mobile app should be developed for the target customers. Mobile is an excellent platform that can be utilized to communicate to users effectively for marketing purpose. Also, it will help you understand the response from your customers.

Experts Advice

Customers are the best judge of your company’s user experience; from their feedback we can understand what they like, dislike, how they want things. Similarly, experts or UX professionals can also gauge the existing user experience well. They can identify the areas of improvement and contribute ideas to enhance the current user experience. You can get some UX experts or designers to review the website, application and they will be able to identify the flaws and the scope of adding UX elements to the design. The advice from these experts can help you get more online conversions and satisfy your customers with a better experience.

 At your service

Good user experience is all about happiness. When your customers get good service, they will come back to you, recommend you and become your loyal customers. Is the right service reaching your customers? Are they happy with it? Are the representatives properly trained to facilitate good services and maintain standards? Customer service is one aspect that counts in an overall user experience. If you are planning to monitor your company’s UX, customer service is one of the things you must focus on. With growing competition, you should also keep a watch on how competitors are treating the customers  with their services. With time, the service should change and match up to their expectation levels. It can very well bring about improvements. 

In conclusion 

User experience in a company can be made superior by paying attention to various factors. Bringing good services and products to customers will directly have an impact on the business performance and results. There are various methodologies that one can use for monitoring the experience and bring about necessary changes to enhance it. Applications, software tracking systems and other useful tools and techniques can help in finding the right changes. To make sure your company offers the best to customers it is important to benchmark the user experience with these tools. Ultimately it involves delighting users so that they remain content and happy with the experience.

 

  

All Design Is Redesign

Design is ubiquitous. Everything around us is designed to be the way it is. Design is thus never a beginning; it is always an extension, refinement and distillation.

Design is representing of intent and is generally connected to terms like creativity and innovation or often seen as a form of an art. Every design is basically about revamping an already existing idea or design. It is about innovating and making it more acceptable to suit the needs that change with time.

Usability and Performance Improvement Statistics

The following compiled statistics and quotes, supporting the usability argument for website

redesign, are grouped into these benefit categories:

* Meets business goals

* Increases membership

* Improves organizational performance

* Decreases training time

* Saves money

* Improves member/customer satisfaction.

 Meets Business Goals

 

Usability goals are business goals. Websites that are hard to use frustrate customers, forfeit revenue and erode brands.

 

* Executives can apply a disciplined approach to improve all aspects of ease-of-use.

 

* Start with usability reviews to asses specific flaws and understand their causes.

 

* Fix the right problems through action-driven design practices.

 

* Maintain usability with changes in business processes. 

                                                                                                                  - Forrester Research,

 

                                                                                                              Why Most Websites Fail

 

 

Increases Membership

 

In the spring of 1999, Ameritrade ran one of the slowest brokerage sites on the web. Today, the company consistently ranks among the five fastest websites for executing stock trades. What happened 18 months ago was Ameritrade made website performance a focal point for its IT department, investing "substantial" sums in infrastructure and testing tools. As a result, Ameritrade's user base has soared from 400,000 to 1.4 million. 

                                                                                                       - Ameritrade 

Improves Organizational Performance

Improving the information used by workers raises their measured performance substantially— never less than a 20% improvement, sometimes as high as 600%. 

                                                                                                                        -Thomas Gilbert

                                                                                             Engineering Human Performance

 

Telephone companies regularly report savings in the millions for shaving seconds off usage.

                                                                                                  -Karlin and Klemmer,

 

1989, Wayne D.                 Gray, et al 1992

 

 

Poor user interface design can have a significant effect on user productivity. Consider a very simple transaction, such as filling in an on-line data entry form. Suppose an organization has 20 users, who perform this transaction approximately 80 times a day (quite typical for data entry clerks or other high frequency users). This adds up to 368,000 transactions per year (20 users working 230 days a year, performing 80 transactions per day). If a screen could be redesigned to reduce the transaction time per screen by 10 seconds, a savings of 1022 hours, or 25.5 person- weeks could be realized. If improvement on a single screen of the system could increase productivity by 1/2 of a person-year, clearly improvements across the whole system will have a very dramatic effect on productivity. 

                                                                                                - Deborah Mayhew,

                                                                                         Cost Justifying Usability

 

 

Improves

 Organizational

 Performance

(cont)

In a three-year survey of UK businesses, the Design Council of Britain collected information on the measures of effectiveness by focusing on information design:

 * Improved product/service quality 73%

 * Improved image 69%

 * Increased profit/turnover 65%

 * Developed new markets 65%

 * Improved customer communication 65%

 * Increased market share 56%

 * Cut costs 41%

 * Improved internal communication 36% 

                                                                   

—Design Council research by         PACEC, June 2000 

 

 

Decreases Training Time

 

Training courses for new systems typically run between 3 days and 2 weeks. Suppose a company has 20 users, and each one must learn to use two new systems a year. If the training time per user could be reduced by 1.5 days through easier-to-learn user interfaces and/or better user documentation, then a savings of 60 days, or 12 person weeks would be realized. 

 

 Saves Money

For each dollar a company invests in developing the usability of a product, the company receives $10-$100 in benefits and wins customer satisfaction and continued business. Furthermore,industry data shows that for each dollar spent to fix a problem during product design, $10 are spent to fix the same problem in product development, and $100 or more are spent to fix the same problem after product release. 

                                                                                            -Compuware Corporation

 

A major computer company saved $41,700 the first day the system was in use by making sign-on attempts faster for a security application.     

                                                                                                                             —Karat 1990

 

IBM recently reported that sales went up 400 percent with an easier to navigate site.

 

Improves member/customer/user satisfaction

 

Usability methods can raise user satisfaction for a system by 40%. Poorly designed user interfaces carry a cost not only in customer satisfaction, but also in real overhead in customer support. Supporting customers with trouble-shooting and data recovery can be very expensive.

 Designing a less confusing and less error-prone interface can reduce the need for customer support. Supposing a vendor has 600 customer organizations, whose users call in for help and need an average of 15 minutes per call to solve their problems. And, suppose 4 calls per customer per year could be eliminated by engineering a more usable interface. This represents a savings in customer support time of 15 weeks per year. 

  

                                                                                         -  Deborah Mayhew,                                                                                                                      

 

An Australian insurance company had annual savings of A$536,023 from redesigning its application forms to make customer errors less likely. 

                                                                                         —Fisher and Sless, 1990 

 

"As part of the redesign, we brought a lot of features to the home page that had been buried three clicks in," Ruddy says. "Our carrier site was two to three clicks down. Now it's on the home page, and we've seen a 300% increase in its usage."

                                                                                                              —FedEx  

 

 

Remote Online Usability Testing: Why, How, and When to Use It

by Dabney Gough and  Holly Phillips on 2003/06/09 |

“If you’re considering using this technique, it’s a good idea to consider the pros and cons before diving in. Despite this method’s similarity to in-person usability testing, there are significant differences as well.”

After completing a remote usability testing study, the manager of research and usability at Agilent Technologies, and myself, a usability consultant at Socratic Technologies, decided to write a synopsis of our experiences conducting remote online usability testing for several areas of Agilent’s website. We feel that sharing pros and cons, as well as tips for success, will be useful for other usability practitioners who are unfamiliar or inexperienced in this particular technique.

Remote online testing versus traditional usability testing
Traditional, one-on-one usability testing in person is a great technique for uncovering usability issues on your website. It provides your team, as well as management, the opportunity to watch actual users use and give feedback about your site. This “reality check” is invaluable for stakeholders, designers, and developers. Unfortunately, though, in-person usability testing isn’t always feasible. Projects take longer than expected, budgets get tightened, and target users can be hard to come by. So what’s a usability crusader to do when in-person usability testing is impossible?

One option is to conduct usability interviews using an online meeting service, such as WebEx. (There are a number of other companies offering similar services, but our discussion will focus on WebEx since that is the service used for this particular study.)

WebEx is a web-based service that allows users in remote locations to participate in online meetings. WebEx offers many features, including the ability to share viewing and control of a web browser. Using this feature during a telephone interview allows the moderator to view the user’s mouse movements and web pages visited. Control of the browser is easily passed back and forth between moderator and respondent, and therefore, facilitates discussion similar to that of a traditional in-person usability interview.

If you’re considering using this technique, it’s a good idea to consider the pros and cons before diving in. Despite this method’s similarity to in-person usability testing, there are significant differences as well.

Benefits to remote online interviews
The “remote” aspect of this technique is certainly appealing; it makes it easier to reach respondents in diverse geographic areas, and you don’t need to limit your users to a single city or area (unless you want to). This is particularly useful if you are developing for a small, hard-to-reach, or decentralized group of users for whom it would be difficult to schedule interviews at a single location otherwise.

Another benefit is the potential cost savings, particularly if you typically travel and/or rent a focus group facility for your testing. It eliminates travel costs for the interviewer and team, which is useful when your team is scattered across the country, as was the case for our project. Instead of paying for travel costs and facility fees, you pay a per-minute, per-participant fee to use WebEx.

The interview schedule can be much more flexible, eliminates the need to “make the most” of a day’s rental at a focus group facility, and allows your users to select a time that suits their individual schedules.

Since most respondents choose to participate from their office or home, there’s also a slightly more ethnographic element to remote testing. However, keep in mind that, as with any ethnographic study, respondents may become distracted by people or things in their environment during the course of the interview. (One interviewee participated from the comfort of his kitchen—the clang of pots and pans were audible in the background.) These distractions could be considered a benefit or a limitation of the technique, depending on what type of feedback you’re looking for.

One final benefit of this type of testing involves exposure at the client’s company. Typically, the research manager and direct team are the only ones that can feasibly attend in-person usability interviews—a handful of very interested people, but still just a portion of the folks who could benefit from first-hand observation. Remote online interviews suddenly enable these other interested people, from senior management to the actual website developers, to “attend.”

Limitations and drawbacks
There are a number of limitations to using a meeting service to conduct usability testing: the most obvious being that you aren’t in the physical presence of the respondent. Consequently, there is an additional “degree of separation” that can be challenging. You cannot see the respondent’s facial expressions and other nonverbal cues, and it’s more difficult to build rapport and trust when you’re just a voice on the other end of the phone.

Another potential drawback of using a meeting service is cost. WebEx offers a monthly, unlimited-use subscription plan, but because of our limited needs, we elected to use the pay-per-use plan. In the latter scenario, charges are per minute, per “attendee.” At last check, a single hour-long interview with six attendees (including the moderator and user) could run up to $300.

Teleconferencing service is not included in the basic pay-per-use cost, and is an additional expense if you don’t already have access to such a service. (WebEx does offer teleconferencing, also charged on a per-user, per-minute basis.) Using an online meeting service could end up being more expensive than renting a focus group facility, depending on how many interviews you plan to conduct, the anticipated number of “observers,” and any travel costs you might normally incur. (Note, though, that some clients already have unlimited-use corporate WebEx accounts that could be used for this purpose.)

Online remote usability also requires a bit more finagling if you want to record the interviews. A traditional portable usability lab can be used, but this requires you to conduct the interview via speakerphone in order to capture both the moderator’s and the respondent’s comments. Keep in mind, however, that using a speakerphone feature also picks up a great deal of background noise and reduces the sound quality for everyone else on the call.

There are a few other recording options that can be exercised separately or in tandem. You can make an audio recording with a simple telephone-hookup tape recorder or through WebEx’s internet phone feature. (A word of caution about using the latter: Setup and use of this feature requires additional equipment and technological know-how on the part of the participant.) For video recording, a traditional portable usability lab (without audio) or WebEx’s screen recording feature can be used.

Tips for a successful study
Recruiting
Online remote usability studies can be recruited through any channel you might use for normal usability testing. However, in a WebEx study you never actually meet the respondent in person, making clear communication much more critical when recruiting respondents. It’s important that respondents know what they need to do and what to expect at the appointed interview time.

  • Consider the benefits and drawbacks of using an outside recruiting firm. We did use such a firm’s services, which meant we didn’t actually talk to the respondents until the day of the interview. This takes a lot of administrative burden off of the moderator, but it does add an extra “layer” of management. We had to make sure the recruiters understood what they needed to communicate to the respondents, for example. (Sort of like a real-life game of “Telephone”.)
  • Be sure to mention the WebEx requirement when you’re recruiting respondents. It doesn’t need to be elaborate—just say that you’ll be using the technology during the interview, and that they will need to have their computer and Internet connection up and running at the scheduled interview time.
  • When recruiting, make sure respondents will be using a high-speed Internet connection during the interview. Ask this question specifically, as a one person did the interview from their home dial-up, which slowed WebEx to the point that we only got to do half the tasks.

Meeting setup
If you’re doing this type of project for the first time, this is the part that takes the most “figuring out.” Careful foresight will take you far in this endeavor…

  • Communicate details of each meeting yourself, rather than via WebEx’s system. When you set up the meeting, you have the option to add attendees to the invite list, which sends an automatic reminder email to the participant containing a link to the meeting itself. We recommend against using this feature because the email is sent from WebEx (not you), and breaks the consistency of your communicating directly with the respondent. Additionally, you cannot modify the text within the automatically generated email to reflect details particular to a given interview. (For example, the email lists the meeting time in a single time zone, which is potentially confusing if the email is sent to multiple participants/observers in different time zones.) Instead, copy the meeting ID that is generated in the setup confirmation, email it to the clients, and simply read it off to the respondent when you help them log in to the meeting.
  • When setting up each meeting’s options, disable the View Attendee List and Chat features. (You don’t want the respondent to view the attendee list and be intimidated by all the “lurkers.”)
  • Use a conferencing system that can suppress notification of attendees who are joining/leaving (via “Now joining” messages as well as beeps). This allows observers to join or leave the meeting without creating a distracting cacophony of entry/exit tones. Agilent’s internal conferencing system could be set up to suppress the beeps, but we could not find a way to do this on the WebEx conferencing system.
  • Communicate beforehand that internal attendees must mute their phones throughout the entire interview. There’s nothing more unsettling than the sound of “phantom” keyboards, conversations in the background, or heavy breathing as you’re trying to conduct an interview!

Conducting the interview
Once you have respondents scheduled and the meetings arranged, you’ll be ready to conduct the interviews. There are a number of techniques that will make the interviews themselves go a lot smoother. Most of the following suggestions are aimed at reducing last-minute scrambling (on the part of the moderator) and avoiding possible “dead time” as observers wait for respondents to get up and running.

  • Be prepared to spend the first 10 to 15 minutes of each interview getting set up, from helping the respondents log in to demonstrating the shared browser feature. (This is important to keep in mind as you consider how many tasks you can fit in an interview.)
  • A few minutes before the scheduled interview time, log in to your WebEx account and start the meeting. By opening the meeting a few minutes early, “observers” will have a chance to log in and get settled. You should also turn on the sharing feature and bring up the URL of the site to be evaluated, so that it’s ready to go as soon as the respondent has joined the meeting.
  • At the appointed interview time, call the respondent and walk them through joining the meeting. A short setup feature is required for first-time users, which simply installs a necessary plug-in in the user’s browser.
  • To help the respondent log in to the meeting read out the meeting ID number and have them enter it in the appropriate field. (This is another argument for not bothering with the WebEx meeting invitation: giving the respondent the ID verbally, as he or she types it in, is a lot easier than waiting for the respondent to sift through an Inbox in search of the email containing the ID.) You know the respondent has successfully logged in when you see his or her name appear in the “Attendees” list in the main WebEx Meeting Manager window.
  • Check that the sharing feature is turned on, and enable the respondent with browser sharing “power.”

If you are using a teleconference service to allow your team to listen in, we suggest following the guidelines above. In addition, once the respondent has successfully logged in to the meeting, each team member should hang up and call in to the conference number. That way:

  • You can be sure that the respondent has logged in to the meeting successfully, and
  • You will know when the respondent joins the conference number (useful when such announcements are suppressed in the call system).


Now you can proceed with the same type of introduction you might use in a traditional usability test: describe the purpose of the research, ask the respondent to “think out loud,” reassure them that there are no right or wrong answers, etc. At this point, it’s also useful to cover a few other WebEx-related items:

  • State that you’re audio recording, (if applicable) and that you have a few colleagues listening in. In many states, it is illegal to record a telephone call without all callers’ knowledge and consent, so be sure this statement is included in your audio recording.
  • Remind observers to keep quiet: say, “…and I just want to remind my colleagues to keep their phones on mute throughout the interview.” Say it once, when everyone’s on the phone, and then move on.
  • Finally, give a brief description of how WebEx works, and demonstrate how to trade control of the browser back and forth. This doesn’t take long, but it’s critical for the success of the interview. It also allows you to get a sense of the delay time when transferring control of the browser between the user and yourself, which may vary slightly from interview to interview. Once the participant has the hang of it, get started with the tasks.
  • Ask the respondents to point with the mouse as they discuss various aspects of a page. This helps avoid confusion about which link, graphic, or text that they are talking about.

After that, proceed with tasks just as you would normally. Throughout the interview, you may need to remind the respondent to point with the mouse, or to click to take control of the mouse.

Conclusion
If all of this sounds like a complicated endeavor, it’s only because there are a lot of small details that need to be taken care of in order to make everything run smoothly. However, it gets easier with each study you conduct.

This method can be used successfully in many situations. The tradeoff between slightly reduced insight and dramatically increased efficiency may be a beneficial one.

We don’t foresee this becoming “the next wave” in usability testing, for the limitations (inability to see respondent’s facial expressions, limited to participants who have high-speed connections, etc.) are not insignificant. However, this technique is very well suited for instances in which traditional in-person usability is not possible, whether for logistical, financial, or political reasons. In many situations, the benefits of getting user feedback, albeit of a somewhat limited type, far outweigh the possibility of getting no feedback at all.

Page 1 of 5