(This is Part 4. Please read Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3 first.) Okay, in this post I’m going to get a little down and dirty. I’ll show some examples of research which do not seem to really enable a design team to learn more about their users, nor convince stakeholders about correct … Continue reading User Research Smoke & Mirrors, Part 4: Research as Bullshit
(This is Part 3. Please read Part 1 and Part 2 first.) Explaining it to the boss. Next time you read an article about a user research success story, ask yourself if the conclusions of that research weren’t just common sense (or at least common sense to good UI designers) to begin with. Ask yourself … Continue reading User Research Smoke & Mirrors, Part 3: Research as a Political Tool
Here’s a great and succint case study of how user research data can be easily misinterpreted, and a great example about why we should always be suspicious of statistics. The marketing blog at FutureLab (which I do recommend) has a short post today entitled “Study Shows Fear of MySpace Predators is Overblown“. The research paper … Continue reading User Research Smoke & Mirrors, Interlude: Data Interpreted Badly
(This is Part 2. Please read Part 1 first.) An eyetracking “heatmap” showing in red where users’ eyes were pointing for the longest time during a page-view. There is a limit, I think, to what a so-called “empirical” user interface test can tell you. At some point, the results must be interpreted in order to … Continue reading User Research Smoke & Mirrors, Part 2: Research as a Design Tool
Research-based design is a noble and widely-admired approach to building good products, especially in the web design field. Like a great many other user experience design firms, at Behavior we conduct research whenever possible, to whatever degree our clients’ budgets and timelines will allow. Our projects frequently involve usability testing (both lab-based and informal), card-sorting … Continue reading User Research Smoke & Mirrors, Part 1: Design vs. Science
A slight change of focus… (also check out Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3) You may recall that a nefarious global spying program called “Total Information Awareness”, spearheaded by convicted Iran-Contra criminal Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, was exposed in 2002 by the New York Times. After this program was made public, there was … Continue reading NSA Data Mining 4: Total Information Awareness, Resurrected
I honestly don’t know which is worse. (also check out Part 1 and Part 2) The press and Bush’s supporters make a big deal out of the fact that the NSA’s phone records program does not actually involve wiretaps. I think that’s a red herring. My argument is that the program is effectively a massive … Continue reading NSA Data Mining 3: Wiretaps? Maybe not. Stakeouts? Definitely.
(also check out Part 1) Most people who say that they would give up their liberty for temporary safety justify their opinion by saying “innocent people have nothing to hide”. But I wouldn’t be so sure. There are lots of ways a perfectly law-abiding American can get swept up by this program, both accidently and … Continue reading NSA Data Mining 2: So you think you have nothing to hide?
The NSA phone records program doesn’t seem quite so bad, at least not when it’s described this way. “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” – Sir Walter Scott The NSA’s recently-revealed program to scour through and analyze the phone records of millions of normal and innocent Americans is … Continue reading NSA Data Mining 1: If you aren’t against it, then you don’t really understand it.