IA Summit 2008: “Checking for feel of your UI with an interaction audit”

I always love hearing case studies from client-vendor partnerships. In “Checking the feel of your UI with an interaction audit,” Josh Damon Williams from Hot Studio presented the work his company did with Peter Stahl‘s user experience team at eBay.

Twitter notes here:

  • Peter Stahl separates feel from the phrase “look and feel” — it’s what people do with their hands
  • Feel affects: learning curve, mental bandwidth, user success, site personality, brand promise, adoption
  • But how do we evaluate the feel and convey it outwardly? Auditing look is two images beside one another (before and after), while auditing feel is a series of images (slideshow) to illustrate the consistency of the user flow (or inconsistency)
  • Strategy: Plan the audit. Imagine what a compelling artifact might look like. Representative or exhaustive? Size matters
  • Interaction audit: Catalog UI elements, behaviors, instructions, icons, database fields (divided by more and less relevant)
  • Butcher paper is cheap. $15/roll. 36″ x 100 ft. Tape up entire flows on sections of butcher paper. Roll it up and carry as scrolls
  • Scrolls: flows as storyboards. Post up the inconsistencies
  • Findings report included interaction audit, problem statement, data/macro view, process to repair (patterns, etc)
  • On eBay, hyperlinks were used to load new pages, in-line boxes, dialog windows, etc. Inconsistent!
  • Task inconsistencies: filtering data, enabling/disabling sections of a form
  • Data object inconsistencies: eBay member (how person is referred to), etc
  • Document not an end in itself. Would only be useful if it were used. Yeah, hard part!
  • Clean up most egregious problems first. Low hanging fruit.
  • Find problem areas. Recommend fixes. Document. Engineer. Then new and upgraded site has improved interaction. But…how do you choose which patterns to use when all six, though inconsistent, are perfectly viable solutions?
  • Site-specific values. Netflix likes perceived simplicity. Facebook places value on connections. What values does yours have?
  • What they’ve learned: Important to check “feel”; it’s compelling, actionable and sparks real improvement, focus on flows and be representative of real UX, storyboards work, look for inconsistencies, get obvious problems first. Harder problems require site-specific values. Devise “feel” metrics

Slides not yet posted.

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