Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lean UX NYC and Tomer Sharon's "Noticeability Test"

It's been a while since I last posted...way too long. I'll just go ahead and dive right in.

I went to the Lean UX NYC Conference a while back (in April). It was a great conference! It was 3 days and held at NYU - the first day was full of short 20 minute talks and the last two days were all workshops. A few talks and workshops were about UX Research.  My favorite talk was given by Tomer Sharon.  Tomer is a user experience researcher at Google in NYC and author of the book It's Our Research. The reason it was my favorite was because he actually talked about a research method I had never heard of before. Yay learning! 

Also, there was a guy at the conference - I'm blanking on his name - who was sketching up the takeaways of the talks as they were happening.  So here is a sort of infographic of Tomer's talk (and others).

And here's the rundown of his talk and the method:

Tomer opened his talk by saying "don't listen to users - observe their behavior." He emphasized watching what they do. He cited the psychology of attitude and behavior - there's a negative relationship between what people say they will do and what they actually do. Tomer said "never ask what is their feedback - they want to be nice to you - just WATCH them - don't show a design to them and ask what they think, give it to them and ask them to use it, and then watch what they do."

Tomer then went on to talk about the question of whether users notice stuff. He mentioned that eye trackers are not mind readers; they are only good at telling us where people look, not what they notice. We don't know the why when using an eye tracker. So he developed the noticeability test. Here's how it works:
  • The noticeability test is a research technique for noting whether people notice key elements in design. Users are asked to recreate a screen based on their memory.
  • You will need to:
    • Print out a screen
    • Cut it into elements
    • Print and cut out non-elements (things that weren't there)
    • Mix them up
    • Have blank paper, sharpie, and tape
  • Hand the kit to the user after they complete a task. Explain that these are elements of a screen and ask them to re-assemble it. Add things that weren't there and take things that were there out. You can say "something must have fallen and got lost - here's a pencil, can you sketch it?" Then observe:
    • Did they put key elements in place? 
    • Did they leave out what doesn't being? 
    • Did they draw elements that weren't there?
  • Gives you crystal clear answers to the question "did they notice it?" 
  • Watch them behave rather than asking what they noticed.
I love the idea of trying out this method.  I have tried to ask users if they had noticed certain elements of a page before and the way I did it was just to ask them about it before having them go to the site.  These were users already familiar with the site.  But, this method seems way more effective.  And of course, as to be expected, I love the arts and crafts aspects of this method!  I found Tomer's slide deck about the noticeability test (from a different talk) here.

Also at Lean UX NYC, I went to Tomer's workshop about getting buy in from stakeholders, which was also great.  I think most of that is covered in his book, It's Our Research.  If you haven't read it yet, do it!