A unique approach to usability testing

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When solving a problem, there are always two paths you can travel down. The first is the tried and tested path that has proven itself time and time again, with the deeply etched footprints of those who have walked it before you to guide you along the way — the path that an industry has refined, mapped and measured that has proven itself to be an effective way to get from point A to point B.

And then then there’s the trail you blaze. It hides pitfalls, dead ends and may never offer up a peak to climb where you can survey your surroundings and regain your bearings. But there are treasures along this path — it’s yet to be mined of the hidden gems of insight that only offer themselves up to the boldest of travellers. …

Design sprint process for SaaS development

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Design thinking? It’s terribly trendy and can be seen walking around town wearing spectacles, a macbook tucked away in it’s leather satchel. But in a serious sense, it’s a way of thinking about a product, service or problem from multiple perspectives.

It’s something that might come naturally to lateral thinkers. It’s about more than just ‘thinking outside the box’ — it’s about conceptually and functionally understanding the box as well as empathising with it, along with all those who seek to harness it’s utility.

It all comes down to thinking like a designer. This requires dreaming up wild ideas, taking time to tinker and test, and being willing to fail early and often. The designer’s mindset embraces empathy, optimism, iteration, creativity, and ambiguity. And most critically, design thinking keeps people at the center of every process. A human-centered designer knows that as long as you stay focused on the people you’re designing for — and listen to them directly — you can arrive at optimal solutions that meet their needs. …

Prototyping data visualization and navigation

Everybody loves a good prototype! A tangible, clickable design that almost feels like the real thing — except it isn’t. It’s the best it gets without any code being written. But when do you build a prototype? Prototyping is a lengthy process and so you have to ask yourself: What will my prototype achieve that the designs won’t be illustrating anyway?

When to prototype

The first question to ask is: does a working example of what I’m developing exist? If so, then you’ve essentially got a prototype, or prototypes of the various features you’re trying to showcase. If that’s the case, whip up your designs, use your existing references to get your client go-ahead, and shoot it over the devs. …

Competitor analysis in the product development lifecycle.

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The great thing about competitors is that they’re a living example of what works and what doesn’t. That being said, focusing too much on what a competitor is doing shifts your sights away from your main goal — to produce a product that speaks to your users. This isn’t an arms race to see who can produce the best piece of technology, this is an opportunity to improve a user’s experience with a service.

This was precisely our thinking when we partnered with Black and White Real Estate Marketing to produce a platform where photographers can outsource their media enhancements. Their clients were already using a product that achieved similar goals, but there was so much more we could do to make users’ lives easier, and we figured that out with some good old fashioned competitor analysis. …


Ryan Von Ess

Ryan is a UX lead and product owner at TouchFoundry who is passionate about academic research, user-centric designs and human-product interaction.

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