Great design starts with listening and observing. The biggest design tool you can leverage from this user research is empathy. The more empathy you transfer from day-in-the-life studies to your design, the higher the quality of your software. Our field studies create personas (Latin for "mask"). Personas provide snapshots of your user personas or roles, goals and tasks.
User research answers the big questions: Are we providing the right features?; Do we understand user goals?; Does our functionality flow the way a user wants to work?; Is our content compelling and emotionally impactful?
Prototyping forms the foundation of good Interaction Design. User Interface (UI) ideas and workflows, features and functionality should never be coded to test them. Instead create rapid throw-away design concepts that show how a user will interact with content, navigation and features. Our wireframes follow a Task-oriented Design approach. We like to say "Task is King". Since tasks are how usability is measured, they become the currency of design.
At the heart of Interaction Design are the following questions: How should we best support user's tasks?; What paths and sequences make the most sense for the user and the business objectives?; What usability best practices should be included in the wireframe blueprint?
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The bread and butter of UX. Usability testing helps you validate your ideas. Unlike a focus group, usability testing takes the format of a user actually interacting with your design without any intervention. User tests give you a window into how a user will actually use your design, over what their opinions are about the design.
Usability testing answers these questions: Is our design working for our users?; Do users know what to do and how to do it?; Are there any glaring usability issues, errors or confusions we should know about?; How well are our design concepts or ideas performing for users?
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