Centralis Blog

Rss Image Subscribe (RSS)
Mobile Content in Museums: A Holistic Approach Posted Feb 26, 2013, 7:12 am CT

Mobile Content in Museums: A Holistic Approach

By: Tanya Treptow | 0 Comments
Museums around the world are now considering mobile content to supplement or replace audio tours. Since the app format is still new territory for many museums, museum teams often struggle to determine the best process for creating digital content.  When facing this challenge, what can a team do to help ensure that digital content will be engaging and meaningful for their visitors?

 

Continue Reading >
 
Beyond the Debrief: Jumpstarting Change with a Usability Testing Workshop Posted Jan 11, 2013, 2:33 pm CT

Beyond the Debrief: Jumpstarting Change with a Usability Testing Workshop

By: Matthew Scholl | 0 Comments

Those who observe usability testing often describe the experience as “eye opening”.  Yet over the course of several sessions or multiple days’ worth of testing, stakeholders and researchers alike are apt to lose track of some of those eye opening discoveries. To help ensure that everyone involved walks away with a firm grasp of the issues uncovered during testing, we find it useful to host a collaborative workshop immediately following the conclusion of usability testing.

Continue Reading >
 
UPA 2012: Becoming Better Leaders, Persuading through Games and Answering Tough Questions with Collaging Posted Jul 2, 2012, 2:18 pm CT

UPA 2012: Becoming Better Leaders, Persuading through Games and Answering Tough Questions with Collaging

By: | 0 Comments

UPA 2012 was themed Leadership and our team returned with some new strategies for developing leaders and a few interesting methodologies. Of particular interest were the opening keynote which talked about how to become better leaders, the talk on gamification and how Farmville can provide design insights for behavior modification and a discussion on collaging as a new methodology.

Continue Reading >
 
Can gamification help you to build more engaging experiences for your customers? Posted Feb 1, 2012, 3:51 pm CT

Can gamification help you to build more engaging experiences for your customers?

By: | 0 Comments

Gamification is one of the hot, new buzzwords within the UX industry. It is drawing the attention of businesses, so much so that demand for gamified websites has sparked the growth of a new industry of companies that specialize in gamification. This new industry provides a range of services from consulting on gamification to supplying a plug-and-play gamified experience. While games are appealing, as evidenced by the meteoric rise of social gaming companies like Zynga, careful consideration should be given to what can be gamified. One has to question if and when gamification is not only relevant but also beneficial to the user experience. Where do the gimmicky marketing-based add-ons end and the real fun begin?

Continue Reading >
 
10 Symptoms of IA Issues and How to Treat Them Posted Oct 20, 2011, 12:30 am CT

10 Symptoms of IA Issues and How to Treat Them

By: Kathi Kaiser | 0 Comments

When users struggle with specific screens within websites or mobile apps, sometimes it’s easy to see why - the display may be too busy, the wrong action might be highlighted or the copy provided could be unclear. However, when poor usability is due to an ineffective information architecture (IA), the problems can lie “between the screens”, making them more difficult to observe and diagnose.
 
IA issues are tough to spot because they manifest themselves less directly in users’ behavior. We’ve identified 10 user behaviors that signal fundamental issues with a site’s organizational structure, navigation system and content strategy. Be on the lookout for these phenomena during usability testing to help pinpoint IA issues in your design:

Continue Reading >
 
Uncovering the “Why” Behind Usability Issues with Diagnostic Usability Testing Posted Aug 10, 2011, 5:10 pm CT

Uncovering the “Why” Behind Usability Issues with Diagnostic Usability Testing

By: Elizabeth Benker | 0 Comments

Formative usability testing is great for identifying problems in an interface. By watching users interact with a system, you note when they encounter difficulties. For example, you might observe a participant searching in the wrong area for an item, or not adding an item to a shopping cart. Where traditional usability testing often falls short, however, is determining why those problems are occurring. Unless you specifically probe on what the user is thinking at that exact moment, you can lose the opportunity for accurate diagnosis.

Enter diagnostic testing. At Centralis, we use this method to uncover the “why” behind usability issues. In a diagnostic session, you not only observe behaviors, you determine what’s causing them. How does diagnostic testing do this? Read on:
 

Continue Reading >
 
Three Simple Rules for Successful Social Sharing Posted Jun 1, 2011, 5:57 pm CT

Three Simple Rules for Successful Social Sharing

By: | 1 Comments

Over the past few years many companies have integrated social sharing on their sites by linking their content to social networks, i.e., Facebook, Twitter and others. Recent research at Centralis has illustrated how users react to the presence and usage of social sharing. Some are open to it, and welcome it, and others find it invasive. We have compiled a list of three guidelines to consider before implementing social sharing on your website:

Continue Reading >
 
Hone Your Mobile Site First Before Tackling Native Apps Posted May 16, 2011, 5:15 pm CT

Hone Your Mobile Site First Before Tackling Native Apps

By: Matthew Scholl | 1 Comments

The question of whether to build a mobile website or native app seems to elicit a similar response among industry experts, often along the lines of, "It's not either/or, it's both." Yet one suspects that for many organizations "doing both" (or least doing both simultaneously) may not be feasible. So where do you start? The following are some reasons to consider honing your mobile website first and applying what you learn in the process should you later decide to build native apps for one or more mobile platforms (e.g. iPhone, Google Android phones):

Continue Reading >
 
Mind the Gap! Tips for Bridging the Domain Knowledge Gap in Field Interviews Posted Mar 16, 2011, 10:34 am CT

Mind the Gap! Tips for Bridging the Domain Knowledge Gap in Field Interviews

By: Elizabeth Benker | 1 Comments

If you’ve ever conducted ethnographic field research, you’ve probably experienced pressure to get up to speed quickly on an unfamiliar domain—be it legal research, manufacturing, or risk analysis. You could learn about the domain entirely through field research interviews, but why not come to the session armed with a rudimentary understanding of the domain instead?

Continue Reading >
 
Designing Mobile Apps: Phenomenal Cosmic Powers, Itty Bitty Living Space Posted Nov 5, 2010, 11:26 am CT

Designing Mobile Apps: Phenomenal Cosmic Powers, Itty Bitty Living Space

By: | 1 Comments

The challenge of crafting an effective mobile application is to deliver on user goals and business goals within the constraints of the mobile device. In our work, we have discovered a handful of helpful guidelines for designing mobile applications while keeping user needs and business goals in mind.

Continue Reading >
 
Usability Testing: Choosing the Right Sample Size Posted Oct 26, 2010, 4:09 pm CT

Usability Testing: Choosing the Right Sample Size

By: Lyman Casey | 2 Comments

Clients sometimes ask us what constitutes an appropriate sample size for usability testing.  Some are initially uncomfortable with the idea of basing design conclusions on samples of as few as 8 participants. We typically find that their concerns spring from experience with quantitative techniques such as surveys, or qualitative methods such as focus groups -– both of which employ larger sample sizes.  However, usability testing differs from traditional market research in important ways that impact the optimal sample size.

Continue Reading >
 
Communicating about H1N1: What the CDC can learn from User Experience Design Posted Nov 6, 2009, 11:44 am CT

Communicating about H1N1: What the CDC can learn from User Experience Design

By: Kathi Kaiser | 0 Comments

This morning, NPR reported on the United States’ Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s difficulties with helping people understand how to care for family members who are sick with H1N1 flu, while also protecting themselves from illness.  The NPR story chronicled the efforts of a mother in Portland, ME who visited the CDC’s website to learn more about treatment and precautions.  Her experience is sadly typical of what users often encounter online – messages that do not understand or appreciate the recipient’s perspective run the risk of communicating nothing.

Continue Reading >
 
The Trouble with Creative Website Navigation Posted Oct 26, 2009, 5:33 pm CT

The Trouble with Creative Website Navigation

By: Lyman Casey | 2 Comments

I love the rush of creativity we see in website design. Having been fortunate enough to work with some excellent designers over the years, I appreciate a fresh, innovative visual design as much as the next person. But I often wish design teams would invest less energy in coming up with creative or "compelling" website navigation systems. You know the ones: menus that move around the screen playing hide and seek, or are scattered across the page, or refuse to reveal themselves until we discover them, or that just don’t look like anything we’ve seen before. Certainly navigation has a role to play in expressing a brand, but it has a more fundamental role -- to help people get where they’re going.  

Continue Reading >
 
It’s about Balance: Guidelines for Designing Usable Website Login Functionality Posted Oct 2, 2009, 11:33 am CT

It’s about Balance: Guidelines for Designing Usable Website Login Functionality

By: | 0 Comments

Recently we have worked on projects where the website security functionality was shown to significantly impact the usability of the website.  During these initiatives, we gathered some helpful guidelines on how to design usable website login functionality.

Continue Reading >
 
Five Tips for Becoming a More Effective Usability Testing Moderator Posted Jul 2, 2009, 4:06 pm CT

Five Tips for Becoming a More Effective Usability Testing Moderator

By: Elizabeth Benker | 1 Comments

Being a successful usability test session moderator requires more than just watching a participant use an interface.  It requires complete focus, finesse and flexibility.

Continue Reading >
 
It Posted Jun 25, 2009, 3:01 pm CT

It's Up to the User to Define Simplicity

By: | 1 Comments

One of the interesting presentations at the 2009 Usability Professionals’ Association Conference was “Secrets of Simplicity ” presented by Giles Colborne.  During this presentation, Giles posited that a key component of usability is simplicity and presented guidelines for creating simple designs.  At Centralis, we believe guidelines are great as a starting point when creating a design, but ultimately it’s the user who determines if a device is simple to use.

Continue Reading >
 
The Next Revolution Will Be Televised: User-Centered Design Meets In-Home Entertainment Posted Jun 18, 2009, 12:25 am CT

The Next Revolution Will Be Televised: User-Centered Design Meets In-Home Entertainment

By: Kathi Kaiser | 0 Comments

Hillcrest Labs may just change the way we watch TV.  As cable and satellite providers redefine television by increasing programming choices and integrating with home networks and the Internet, users are left to shoe-horn these new offerings into their old concepts of how TV works.  Hillcrest Labs’ Loop Pointer and interactive navigation system break the TV mold altogether and establish a new schema for interacting with in-home entertainment.  Driven by user research and grounded in user needs, Hillcrest’s design dovetails with Centralis’ experience with designing for TV – it’s critical to provide a clear, fun experience for driving engagement and promoting acceptance of new offerings.zwmf2v7qyt

Continue Reading >
 
Advice for the Backroom Facilitator:  Managing the 5 Stages of Client Grief Posted Jun 11, 2009, 5:59 pm CT

Advice for the Backroom Facilitator: Managing the 5 Stages of Client Grief

By: Elizabeth Benker | 3 Comments

During a usability test, most people are focused on the main event — what’s happening in the testing room.  Everyone watches the moderator and the participant, eager to see how the product or website performs.  While most usability practitioners are taught to manage what happens in the testing room, what if you’re in charge of managing the room full of people watching the sessions?

Continue Reading >
 
What Makes a Good Usability Professional? Posted Jun 4, 2009, 9:28 am CT

What Makes a Good Usability Professional?

By: Lyman Casey | 0 Comments

Those of us charged with creating useful, usable products come from many academic traditions, work in multiple settings and offer a wide variety of technical skills.  Despite these differences, our recent discussions with colleagues at the Usability Professionals Association annual conference suggest that effective usability professionals share skills, experience and personality characteristics that transcend the diversity of our backgrounds.  The best usability professionals offer well-developed skills honed by experience, and attack their challenges with tenacity, pragmatism, empathy and a sense of humor.

Continue Reading >
 
No Product Should be an Island: The Importance of Design Compatibility Posted May 27, 2009, 3:59 pm CT

No Product Should be an Island: The Importance of Design Compatibility

By: | 0 Comments

In Don Norman’s recent article on sociable design, he states that “No object is an island, entire of itself”, however “each piece is designed as if it were an island, independent of actual usage.” The design of how products work together, otherwise known as compatibility, is a prime example of this disconnect. Often how a device works with other objects in a users’ environment is neglected during product design.

Continue Reading >
 
Tips for Recruiting an Incontrovertible Participant Sample Posted May 20, 2009, 4:10 pm CT

Tips for Recruiting an Incontrovertible Participant Sample

By: Kathi Kaiser | 2 Comments

When a design is giving users difficulty in a usability test, a common response of the observers is to dismiss the participants as non-representative:

Continue Reading >
 
Adapting Focus Groups for Interactive Products Posted May 13, 2009, 4:00 pm CT

Adapting Focus Groups for Interactive Products

By: | 1 Comments

Originally developed to obtain group opinions on product messaging or communications, focus groups are now often used to elicit feedback on interactive applications such as software or websites. In a typical focus group, a moderator demonstrates a concept and then solicits feedback from participants. However, this traditional format does not work well when evaluating complex interactive products. Focus group participants must use a product in depth before they can judge its effectiveness, voice their information needs or explain what features they want and why.

Continue Reading >
 
5 questions to ask before hiring a usability testing firm Posted May 6, 2009, 4:09 pm CT

5 questions to ask before hiring a usability testing firm

By: Kathi Kaiser | 0 Comments

In a recent blog post, we were thrilled to see that one of the first questions you should ask when hiring a web design firm is, “What is your approach to usability?” Naturally, we think the best answer is, “We partner with a user experience firm.”

Continue Reading >