Thursday, May 27, 2004

Getting users to perform tests

Typically when we carry out usability tests, we ask our colleagues to check the user interface, perform a few tasks and try to learn from it the UI pain points. But, in course of time, the people we know, start understanding the product so well that they may know more workarounds than we do!! In such times, one has to scout for people who can perform the tests.

And, if the organisation is small, then it becomes difficult to get people from within the organisation. How do those of you usability experts get people to perform the usability tests?

One thought I had was to put an online form asking people to register with us and so when there are opportunities to carry out these tests, we can call them. Another is to invite final-year engineering students from colleges to carry out the tests.

Are there more tried, tested and trusted ways?

Saturday, May 15, 2004

How to attract traffic to Blog sites?

Does anyone know how to attract traffic to the blog sites? Also, how can I put a hit counter on my blog page?

Debate: Is Marketing more forceful than usability

Many companies have software that is inherently not very usable. Still, how do they have large scale deployments with such painful-to-work-with software? I think it's because the vendors sold the software to IT managers while the users are those in the line functions!

Given this kind of scenario, can you say that it's more important to target the right decision makers and sell your software to them rather than look inwardly and put loads of effort in improving your software's usability? I think this is quite likely.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Usability Engineer - what makes one?

I've been working with different usability engineers during the past 3 years. So, when a friend of mine asked me to sum up what attributes make a usability engineer, here was my list.

Usability Engineer

Is Creative, Innovative, Communicative, Observant
Can Visualize, Architect, Prototype, Empathise
Does Usability Measurement, Turn out models quickly
Is skilled at Photoshop, DreamWeaver, Flash
Understands big picture of Domains, Users, Mental Models, Abstraction

Am I missing anything significant here?

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Where are the markets headed?

Elections were anticipated to be the most important event for our economy in the recent times. Even the FIIs pulled out lots of their money from the capital markets in the last few days so much so that the market cap in the indian capital markets was eroded by a stupendous Rs. 55000 Cr!

Come election counting episode and much like the later exit polls predicted, the NDA is seen to be taking a back seat in the results! The markets that slumped yesterday regained strongly with Nifty going up by 25 points and Sensex going up by around 100 points!

I think all this points to the fact that the current capital market scenario in India is characterized by strong fundamentals of the companies listed there, good regulatory environment put in by SEBI and positive economic outlook for India. And, post-Elections, it's going to be business as usual. I also feel there's less chance of operator-driven hype / bubble than of fundamentals-driven bull run.

Whaddya think?