IA & Usability Services
To learn more, contact an Account Executive at (617) 426-8600 x879 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Discovery and Research – What does the user want and how do they want to do it?
These are small informal group discussions. Users are asked to answer questions and perform exercises that are designed to uncover user needs and preferences. A moderator keeps the discussion on track but also keeps discussion open so that new ideas and concepts can emerge.
These are usually one on one. A person that has been identified as part of a target audience is asked a series of questions designed to uncover user needs and preferences. With a single individual there is often the opportunity to be more specific or granular in exploring key tasks and areas of functionality or content.
An expert with human factors and user interface expertise reviews the strengths and weaknesses of a product or site as compared to its competitors.
Expert Usability Analysis
A Professional usability review is done for an existing product or site to identify
- Points of disconnection that prevent successful user interactions
- Areas of strengths that can be leveraged to build a better product
Information Design – What is the most logical way to organize content?
Taxonomy: Structural Analysis
This is a formal system of labeling that defines the hierarchical flow of information and defines navigation scheme, header system and text-based control conventions. The taxonomic structure impacts and defines to some degree all indexing, labeling and navigation systems
Interaction and UI Design – What is the best functional scenario for users?
Usecases: Task Analysis
Based on user profiles and client requirements, key user tasks and system functions are identified and documented as individual use cases. These are then used to create a step by step map of how the users perform specific tasks.
Workflow Charts: Task Analysis
Based on the uses cases and client requirements, key functional workflows are rendered as flowcharts that help the design and development team identify additional functionality or features that may need to be included. This is also a good way to do a gap analysis and make sure that the basic logic for creating new features or functionality is sound.
Site Map: Structural Analysis
Site maps are used to assess the primary tasks and/or areas of content. This is a high level overview of a site structure that defines the content hierarchy and top level navigation scheme.
Wireframes: Functional Analysis
Once the primary tasks and the overall structure have been determined, a series of wireframe layouts that define the specific functionality and interaction design for each key screen view are generated. Wireframes may also incorporate views for feedback, error messaging and state changes. Annotations are usually incorporated that describe the logic and rules for features and functionality.
Usability Testing – Does this product or site meet user requirements in an engaging and intuitive manner?
This is a good way to test any system of labeling or navigation. Card sorts determine whether categories and the items contained within them are organized in a manner that is clear and intuitive. Users are asked to arrange a series of cards that represent the different levels of information in what they feel is the most logical manner. This can be done with physical cards or online.
Wireframes are used to develop a paper prototype of the application to give an immediate “feel” for the UI before a single line of code is written. A facilitator uses a series of these wireframes to test the layout, labeling and indicated functionality of the proposed UI using a small group of test participants.
A series of HTML screens can be created with limited functionality that test layout, labeling, navigation and feature functionality of the proposed UI using a small group of test participants.
Why should you invest in usability & information architecture?
- Helps minimize user frustration by making it easier to locate information and perform key tasks. Users are then free to focus on the content without having to struggle with a difficult user interface.
- Cuts down dramatically on the cost of development by exposing structural and functional weaknesses before a single line of code is written.
- This means better products and sites at a lower cost.