Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Sometimes prototyping can seem like a big investment of time, but I find it is always worth it.

In this article on User Experience Prototyping, Paul Boag, who has been in the field of user experience for over a decade, writes about the benefits of prototyping.
When most people think of prototyping they are thinking about mocking up a user interface. There is no doubt that prototyping can help in this area. Organisations use prototyping to define and test experiences using all kinds of interfaces. Interfaces from mobile apps to enterprise systems.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Agile and Scrum

Agile development is an iterative and flexible process. Rather than specifying all the requirements of a project up-front and adhering to them throughout the development process (as happens in waterfall development), the requirements are listed as items in a product backlog. Specifiying software in this flexible and responsive way is better for customers and better for users.

Monday, 28 November 2016


A persona describes one category of the target users of your system as a fictitious but realistic person with goals and needs.

It is useful because it summarises the user, their role, their skills and aptitudes, their preferences, and their goals. Personas give rise to user stories, and keep the user stories focused on the goals of real users.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Hallway usability testing

Many people complain that usability testing is expensive and time-consuming.

However, there is a very quick and very cheap approach to usability testing that any developer can adopt.

It's called 'hallway usability testing' because you grab someone from the corridor and ask them to test your software feature that you've just developed.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Behaviour-driven development

Behaviour-driven development (BDD) has emerged from the practice of test-driven development (TDD).

Whereas TDD focused on making sure that code worked and caught exceptions gracefully, BDD focuses on making sure that the functionality delivers business value and satisfaction to users.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

How to write a user story

User stories are part of the Agile process. Agile development is iterative and broken down into sprints. Each sprint delivers “shippable product” – something that can actually be used by users, and which has business value.

A user story looks like this:
“as a [role], I want to do [task], so that I can achieve [goal]”.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Writing style

An easy-to-read prose style is the first thing you need to get people to read your posts. Here are a few pointers:
  • Say what you mean
  • Use an appropriate tone
  • Call a spade a spade – don’t say ‘utilise’ when you mean ‘use’
  • Vary your sentence length – too many short sentences is ‘choppy’; too many long sentences is boring.
  • Avoid passive voice, e.g. ‘the business was lost by the inability of the sales team to convince the buyer of the uniqueness of their product’ (replace with ‘the sales team lost the business because they couldn’t convince the buyer that their product was unique’)
  • Avoid clich├ęs and stock phrases, e.g. France bit off more than it could chew in Vietnam, and America’s intervention was too little, too late.
  • Avoid too many qualifiers, e.g. Most people usually think that many puppies are generally pretty cute.
  • Avoid too many prepositional phrases, e.g. “the organisational culture of [your organisation]” could be replaced with “the way [your organisation] is organised”.
  • Avoid too many exclamation marks! They’re ever so annoying! Especially when you use too many of them! See what I mean?!?

Further reading

Monday, 21 November 2016

Designing for emotional response

Design can elicit many different emotions. Many designers aim for surprise and delight, but those are not the only emotions you might want to elicit.

If you are designing a site or an app for a charity or a campaign group, you might want to elicit compassion and a willingness to act - whether that is volunteering or donating. You might even want to elicit anger.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Big Data

"Big data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate to deal with them. Challenges include analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy. The term 'big data' often refers simply to the use of predictive analytics, user behavior analytics, or certain other advanced data analytics methods that extract value from data, and seldom to a particular size of data set."

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Search engines and the 'filter bubble' effect

There has been a lot of discussion over the last few days about social media filter bubbles and even search engines tailoring your search results to the kind of things you have previously clicked on, and therefore never showing you articles about the opposite point of view.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Plain English

A succinct and simple writing style can make communication much more effective. Here are some tips for writing in Plain English.