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The Risks of Copying and Pasting: Health Technology, Human Error, and User Experience Design

user experience / client work / health / technology / featured
If you use any kind of word processing software, chances are you are pretty familiar with the copy-and-paste functions. Using them is an easy way to avoid retyping the same information, and you probably do it without a second thought. But when it comes to electronic health records, copy-and-paste functions can potentially lead to errors in health records, putting patients at risk. On the one hand, copy-and-paste functions are vital in helping health care professionals save time and document all necessary patient information; but these functions can lead to substandard health records if providers copy and paste the wrong information, fail to update information after copying and pasting, or copy and paste extraneous information. FMG recently completed a study to examine the ways in which... more
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Fors Marsh Group (FMG) Awarded Federal Contract for Website User Experience Research

news / user experience / ux / federal contracting / government / featured
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has awarded Fors Marsh Group (FMG), LLC, a contract to conduct user experience research to improve the Commission’s website. FMG will evaluate the user experience of www.usitc.gov through a variety of different research methods, which include a heuristic evaluation, usability test with several audience segments, as well as a card sort to provide insight on the information architecture for the content. The research will result in findings and recommendations that aim to improve the navigation, content and features of the website for its constituents. "FMG understands the importance of this website as travelers, businesses and government leaders need to find information quickly and conduct online transactions seamlessly." said Dr. Sean Marsh, FMG’s Chief Executive Officer. "We are thrilled... more
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Designing for Behavioral Change

behavioral change / qualitative research / user experience / featured

A few years ago, I was shopping for a birthday card for a good friend - a fellow psychology nerd, I should add - and after sifting through hundreds (no exaggeration!) of contenders, I finally stumbled across "the one". The front read, "How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?" and inside was the classic "…Just the one, but the bulb has to really want to change. Happy Birthday!" I remember chuckling to myself and ending my search there, knowing (or at least hoping) my friend would appreciate my find. Looking back though, a thought occurs to me - good thing she wasn't studying to become a behavioral scientist!

While intrinsic motivation is certainly influential and at the core of many behavior... more

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Making Websites Work Well for All - Usability and Accessibility

featured / usability / user experience / voting / evaluation
***This post was co-authored by Drs. Thad Hall and Sou Montazeri. Dr. Thad Hall has over 14 years of experience conducting public policy research for public sector clients and in academic settings, and works as Project Leader over FMG's Public Policy and Evaluation division. Dr. Sou Montazeri has over 10 years of experience in human-centered product design, design with intent, and user-experience thinking and research. At FMG, she is responsible for working with clients on the design, execution, and interpretation of UX research.*** As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is important to remember that the population of individuals with disabilities is not small. According to the Census, approximately 34.2 million Americans aged 18 and... more
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Webcams in Remote User Experience Testing - Advantages and Drawbacks

featured / user experience / eye tracking / usability
When it comes to UX testing of desktop websites and prototypes, our preference as UX researchers is to conduct moderated sessions in the lab because we collect richer qualitative data; however, remote moderated sessions have their own advantages. For starters, it's generally less expensive in that you don't have facility costs. It also allows you to obtain a more geographically diverse sample, because it eliminates the requirement that your participants be located within a certain distance from the facility. Lastly, it also helps mitigate lab effects because participants will (ideally) be interacting with the interface in their natural environments (1). The advantages of remote moderated testing are well-known, but some aspects that don't get discussed enough are the technical requirements and the necessary equipment. In... more
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Using Area Weighting and Confidence Intervals to Improve Quantitative Eye Tracking Data

featured / user experience / eye tracking / quantitative
For this blog post I wanted to address an issue user researchers often encounter when conducting an eye tracking study with different sized areas of interest (AOIs). Specifically, researchers often attempt to identify which AOIs are attracting the most attention. For example, imagine the heat map in Figure 1 represents the results from 30 participants asked to identify how many followers this Twitter profile has. The image on the left shows five main AOIs: Profile, Trends, Feed and Suggestions. Eye Tracking Fors Marsh Group In general, the heat map tells a clear story: most people looked at the "Profile" AOI, which makes sense since that is where followers are listed. However, let's say we wanted to provide... more
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Eye Tracking for Forms and Surveys - Not Always a Good Idea

featured / user experience / eye tracking
Eye tracking is getting to be more and more popular and easy to use in usability testing. The eye-tracking technology is getting smaller, more affordable, and easier to use, and with these changes, more and more clients are eager to incorporate it into their UX work. But it is not always a useful methodology, especially when we are testing forms and surveys, where participants may look away while they are filling in their responses. In a recent book chapter in Eye Tracking in User Experience Design(1), Caroline Jarrett and I explore what eye tracking can tell us about the user experience of forms and surveys. We also discuss when eye tracking is appropriate and when it can be misleading. Here I share... more
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Usability in the Urban Environment: Street Parking Signs

arlington dc / user experience / usability / blog
How often have you been in a city, as a resident or a visitor, and come across something that seemed so insanely complicated that it boggled your mind? “Why on earth did they do this this way? They should have just [enter brilliant alternative idea here].” Usability in the Urban Environment is designed to be a monthly blog series that seeks to apply basic usability standards to issues that residents and visitors grapple with daily when interacting with an urban environment. First on the agenda: Washington, DC’s parking signs. DC Parking Signs Look at the image to the right and ask yourself if you could answer the following pertinent questions relatively quickly from this signpost: a) Can... more
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Usability testing your signs and designs: The Washington Nationals logo takes a bow from DC road signs

arlington dc / usability / user experience / blog
While driving the beltway last year, you may have noticed road signs with the Washington Nationals’ Curly W (see photo). On first impression, this seems like a great idea. The symbol would presumably aid in recognition while the highway was congested with hurried fans trying to make that first pitch. However, while the ‘Curly W’ logo blankets the ballpark and Nationals merchandise, it can’t be found on any road signs. So what happened to all those Curly W’s?! Nationals Logo on Road Sign In a Washington Post article from February, Dan Steinberg investigated this and uncovered some interested findings. The D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT), conducted a survey with ballpark attendees to determine... more
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Creating Usable Personas

client work / usability / user experience / blog
UX practitioners use many tools to evaluate websites and apps. Utilizing a variety of tools is what UX research is all about! Give a UXer a webpage and voila! In no time they can evaluate a webpage with any number of their tools. When the evaluation is complete, the end product is a detailed list about what works well and what does not work well from the end user’s perspective. Common UX evaluation tools include usability heuristics, eye tracking, think aloud protocols, personas, and focus groups. Normally, UX research is focused on the use of these tools to evaluate other products. What happens then when you don’t need to fix a broken website and you actually need to fix one of the tools you... more
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Your Web-Based Survey Should be “Medium Rare”

behavioral research / user experience / blog
On Wednesday evening, I had dinner at Medium Rare , a fun, friendly, neighborhood restaurant in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington DC, where “customers can just relax, and have a simple yet exceptional meal served to them.” This was my third time there, and each time I go, I am amazed by how busy it is. Honestly, it’s good but what’s so fantastic is the experience – there is a pre-fixed menu of artisan rustic bread, mixed green salad, and culotte steak and fries – the only thing you have to choose is the temperature of your steak. Even their wine and beer lists and the dessert menu are short. Everything is prepared well and consistent – something many people,... more
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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Conference Season

conferences / current events / usability / user experience / company events / blog
April is a really exciting month as it kicks off the start of the busy conference season and plenty of speaking engagements. My calendar seems pretty booked and I am excited to meet new people and talk about UX with others in the DC/NoVa area, and at conferences across the country. Here is a brief rundown of what’s to come – hope to see you at a few: Tuesday, April 8 - DC Web Women’s Code(Her) Workshop Series: I will be teaching about integrating usability testing methods in development. This should be eye-opening and encourage lots of conversation because many people do not even know that they can or should test their products even as early as during the coding stage. (David discussed this last... more
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Iterative Design: Three Prototyping Guidelines

usability / user experience / blog
Designing a website or mobile application from scratch is tough. Getting the creative juices flowing is no easy feat. When you do get lucky and think of something new, it can be hard to execute your plans as you had originally intended. Following through with lofty goals for your UI can seem impossible, especially when you take a look at the coding requirements. A seemingly endless mountain of code can dissuade someone from continuing the development of their web tools. Recent FMG research using iterative prototyping and usability testing can turn the mountain of code into a mole hill. FMG’s User Experience Lab recently worked on a series of usability studies using iterative prototypes. Prototypes are a very helpful tool to use during the design... more
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YAHOO! helps you pick a winner: the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge

current events / in the news / user experience / blog
College basketball fans can rejoice because March Madness is finally upon us. Cinderella stories and nonstop games for three weeks will keep even the most hardcore fans satiated. When the NCAA Tournament arrives, so too do the bracketology experts. This year, the stakes have been raised. Not only can you compete with your friends for bragging rights, you can also compete for a billion dollars of Warren Buffet’s money. When you submit your bracket, you might want to hold off on giving your boss your two weeks notice. If you know a little something about college basketball you might bump your odds of winning the bracket challenge up to one about in 128 billion, according to a recent Washington Post article. To say the... more
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Better Data in Five Steps: UX Testing

eye tracking / research design / usability / user experience / blog
Last week, Jen wrote about resolutions for being a UX Champion. This week, I want to highlight five simple ways that UX research teams can improve the UX testing environment. Improving the testing environment in the following ways will ensure the validity of data and provide participants with a more pleasant experience. 1. Don’t interrupt. The UX data collection process often relies on concurrent think aloud protocol. In this method, researchers ask participants to think aloud and narrate everything they are doing (e.g., reading, searching for links, interpreting graphics). This method is valued by UX researchers because it allows us to hear things like initial impressions of design features and experiences using site search and navigation. Users’ comments are very powerful when inserted into... more
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UX Resolutions for 2014: Become a UX 'Champion'

conferences / market research / usability / user experience / blog
I attended UXCampDC on Jan 4, which was a new style of conference for me. There was no pre-planned schedule. I had no idea who I was going to hear speak (or if I would give a presentation) and what I was going to learn about. There was a board with time slots throughout the day, and people who were interested in speaking wrote their name and topic on a post-it note and posted it to a time slot. In the morning and after lunch, each speaker gave a 1-minute pitch about their talk so attendees had a little more information, and then we split up and went to the different talks. Some were planned – people had prepared slides and gave lecture-style talks... more
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Eye Tracking Your Mobile User Experience

eye tracking / research design / user experience / usability / blog
Mobile devices are transforming how we use technology. Pew Research Center reported in June, 2013 that 56% of all US adults own a smartphone (1), and that number is only expected to increase in the years to come. As a result of increased ownership, there has been a surge in usage of mobile versus desktop computers for exploring online everyday needs – from checking email and social media, to shopping, banking, document creation, and socializing. For example, Pew also reported that 32% of US adults now bank using their mobile phones (2). As a result, the usability of mobile platforms and applications is more important than ever as people rely on their handheld device. For the average mobile user, even after becoming comfortable using a... more
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