Evolution of user research jobs

When I started in user research in 1994 I was titled a “human factors engineer” although I did neither human factors as we’d understand it today nor any kind of engineering. I’ve been privileged to watch user research evolve and grow and grow and grow some more as a profession sitting under the broad umbrella [...]

2019-02-24T09:44:15-05:00Feb 20, 2019|Tags: , |

Observing Usability Studies: A Guide for Stakeholders

One of the most exciting things for me when doing user research is having opportunities to interact with both stakeholders and participants in person. Thus, I gravitate to the kinds of projects where these interactions occur. Most frequently, at least some of the stakeholders who are involved in the product design attend the usability test [...]

2018-04-09T10:32:59-04:00Apr 9, 2018|Tags: |

Research Recruitment Fail! Now what?

I largely do user experience (UX) research activities such as usability testing, cognitive walkthroughs, ethnography, interviews and focus groups all centered around how users and potential users would interact with existing, updated and new interfaces. Sessions and activities are typically scheduled to last about an hour for each participant. Like my marketing research colleagues, I [...]

2017-04-22T22:36:42-04:00Apr 3, 2017|Tags: , |

How sophisticated should your usability test participants be?

Recently I had the opportunity to do a usability test for a client that had previously used another vendor to conduct their research.  As we were working together to develop screening categories for the study, we discussed the technological sophistication of their users. They knew that while some of their users were expected to have [...]

2017-04-22T22:36:28-04:00Jun 16, 2014|Tags: |

Quirk’s Marketing Research Media – What Qualitative and UX Researchers Can Learn From Each Other

Article Abstract: This article focuses on how user experience research is unique in the marketing research space and why qualitative researchers must understand the differences to succeed in usability testing. While both marketing research and user experience (UX) research certainly add commercial value, marketing research is focused on getting the right product sold with the [...]

2014-03-24T16:41:18-04:00Mar 24, 2014|Tags: , , |

Focus Groups are useful for UX research – to a point

Focus groups, often maligned within the field of user experience for not being able to get the “right” information, are actually a great way to collect information.   But as a tool, the value of focus groups is limited to only certain types of information gathering.  A problem I’ve seen is that the use of focus [...]

2017-04-22T22:36:23-04:00Mar 13, 2014|Tags: |

Assessing Mobile Accessibility for Screen Readers

I’ve had several projects lately where I needed to check that a particular resource was accessible on a mobile device for people with disabilities, particularly those who use built-in screen reader software. Given that it has been possible to create accessible mobile-friendly webpages and apps for several years now, it’s surprising how little has been [...]

2014-02-13T08:42:59-05:00Oct 28, 2013|Tags: , , |

My Most Memorable Usability Test Participants

I’ve been working with participants in usability studies and other research for nearly 20 years now. I’ve met a myriad of interesting people: some had backgrounds or interests similar to my own, and others had vastly different backgrounds. I have learned a great deal from these interactions, even beyond the project at hand. There have [...]

2017-04-22T22:36:32-04:00Oct 18, 2013|Tags: |

Intercom Magazine – Making Usability a Priority: Advocating for the Value of User Research

As a consultant specializing in user research, studying how users interact with Web and mobile resources, I wish I could give my clients a short contract to sign promising that if they work with me, they will definitely incorporate usability into their project. They will listen to my suggestions and they will follow through with [...]

User Experience as a moral imperative? We want you, we want UX, but we have priorities.

A client hired Lebsontech for user experience related work, but partway through the process decided to use Lebsontech staff to address some other priorities that weren’t specifically user experience (UX) related. Since I knew funds were limited, using the funds and my team for this alternate purpose would seriously limit the time and funding available [...]

2014-01-28T15:13:30-05:00Jun 11, 2012|Tags: , , |

Usability: What a Project Manager Needs to Know – Part 2

Update 3/29/13 This blog has been the basis for: Lebson, Cory. 2012. "Making Usability a Priority: Advocating for the Value of User Research (PDF)." Intercom Magazine. October 2012. Lebson, Cory. "Making Usability a Priority: Advocating for the Value of User Research." Society for Technical Communication (STC) Live Webinar.  October 23, 2012. Preface It’s been almost two [...]

2017-04-22T22:36:49-04:00Feb 21, 2012|Tags: , , |

Usability: What a Project Manager Needs to Know – Part 1

Update 3/29/13 This blog has been the basis for: A reprint on usability.gov (May 28, 2014) Lebson, Cory. 2012. "Making Usability a Priority: Advocating for the Value of User Research (PDF)." Intercom Magazine. October 2012. Lebson, Cory. "Making Usability a Priority: Advocating for the Value of User Research." Society for Technical Communication (STC) Live Webinar. October [...]

2017-04-22T22:36:49-04:00Feb 8, 2012|Tags: , , |

Importance of a Good Logger in Qualitative Research

A usability test, user interview, or any one-on-one qualitative research really isn’t entirely one-on-one, at least not in an ideal setup. Ideally, it involves two research staff members to do research with a single participant – a moderator and a logger. A focus group should have the same two types of staff members as well. [...]

2015-04-24T16:23:52-04:00Dec 23, 2011|Tags: |

How well do they listen? Results of a meta-analysis of usability recommendations

A long-term Lebsontech client asked me to report on how often my usability recommendations were followed. The truth is, I didn’t really know. I had done research on a number of different sub-sites for this client and produced a ton of reports. While I had certainly kept tabs on some of those sites, in other [...]

2014-02-13T09:20:30-05:00Nov 9, 2011|Tags: , , |

Should you keep asking the question after you know the answer?

Classic usability studies involve a lot of hours to prepare, to conduct the research and to write up a robust report of findings. There is often a recruiting fee for someone to recruit the “right” participants, and participants often get paid, typically $75 to $100. In some cases, to get to the right audiences, travel [...]

2014-01-28T15:18:53-05:00Sep 15, 2011|Tags: |

Usability as Sociology: How the Perspectives of Tornado Survivors Differ from those of Other Major Disasters

My initial training in usability occurred during my undergraduate years, within the framework of my bachelor’s degree in psychology. The research methodology that was applied to usability fit well within an experimental psychology approach. After graduating with my psychology degree, I decided to pursue a graduate degree in sociology, with one emphasis on the use [...]

2017-04-22T22:36:49-04:00Aug 14, 2011|Tags: , |

Critical Importance of Usability at FEMA: Before, During and After a Disaster

[Update 3/29/13 - This blog has been the basis for: Lebson, Cory. 2011. "The Critical Importance of Web Usability in Disasters: Agency-Wide Efforts to Promote Usability at FEMA (PDF)." International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 11. November, 2011.] In the last post, I talked about our user research training program at [...]

2014-02-13T09:17:50-05:00Aug 1, 2011|Tags: , , |

User Research and Emotional Awareness

Although I interned in a usability lab while a psychology undergrad at University of Maryland, my undergraduate senior honors thesis was actually in the field of cognitive neuropsychology. Specifically, I conducted in-depth qualitative research on patients with frontal lobe damage, focusing on their ability (or in most cases, lack of ability) to perceive the emotional [...]

2017-04-22T22:36:53-04:00May 16, 2011|Tags: |

On the Importance of Body Language in User Research

I love interacting with people but have never particularly enjoyed those interactions when over the telephone.  No matter how clear the voice on the other end is, no matter how great it is to catch up with someone, I still have the vague impression of flatness, much like listening to music from really cheap speakers: [...]

2019-02-25T19:29:30-05:00Feb 15, 2011|Tags: |
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