One of the big things that separates UX from UI is user data. A UI can look stunning, but if it operates badly no manner of awesome graphics will make it work. UX requires data not opinion to function properly. Identifying not only what people say they want but what they don't is critical; what a user needs and how they behave and actually operate a systems is the core of UX.
They are scores of ways to get this data but far and away the best way is to get real users to operate a system and see where they struggle.
My first task was to analyse the obvious English weaknesses of a direct translation from French to Engish. There were several problems, not the least of which was that the client was determined to use the word 'Mobility' in their design, a phrase that has a different connotation completely in Britain. These differences were quickly identified and a different labelling 'motion' applied for testing purposes.
Secondly I devised a series of card-sorting exercises to both test the existing structures and naming conventions and also to see if there were any patterns in user perception that we hadn't predicted. As usual the user testing threw up a few wildcards, the term hybrid car, for instance, was simply not as familiar as first assumed, but if we substituted hybrid with 'environmentally friendly' there was no confusion at all. The more obvious results were used to refine the final testing prototype(s) so we could see if variants showed a similar pattern with different users.
The next step was creating a series of clickable prototypes to see how the proposed redesign(s) operated in real life, both in terms of navigation but also in interaction and engagement. These were iterative designs with user findings being used to refine solutions as the testing progressed.
I set-up two rooms as impromptu testing labs and the tests were conducted over four days with me acting as Facilitator to a range of user type. The Observers were a mixture of both system architects and developers and stakeholders from Peugeot UK. I have in the past been both Observer lead and Facilitator and both roles have their strengths, with both reactions of Users and Stakeholders often proving to be illuminating. All sessions were recording, both from an environmental view (the lab) and screen capture, for more deeper review after the testing.
- Facilitator (1) conducts the test and ensures candidates are at ease
- Candidate (2) Asked to talk out loud so that reactions and though processes could be recorded
- Workstation (3) All sessions were recorded on Camtasia
- Card Test (4) The use reorganised and renamed the existing structure in a logical - for them - layout
- CCTV (5) Sessions were recorded and observed in another room
- Screen (6) Large screen projection from the Testing Room
- Observers (7) Interested parties taking notes
- Notes (8) Observations reactions and points of concern that were recorded during the test
- Cards overhead (9) an overhead projection of the card sorting materials and exercise
- Room feed (10) a real-time view of the session broadcast from the camera (5)
Finally I analysed the tests, reporting on my findings, explaining how they had been reached and giving recommendations of how to proceed. The final site went live in 2012 , with a much more global Branding style, yet is still flexible enough to allow national requirements.