I wrote about the crucial conversation at SXSW with Micah Alpern a few weeks ago. The time has come!
In talking through this with Micah, we came back to the crucial insight that the availability of artifacts of the usage of internet software creates an opportunity and challenge for designers. What follows is a reference for our conversation, which will include a short intro and mostly conversation. Subject to conversational flow, we'll be asking the participants to share stories:
- What's your favorite HIPPO story? For those of you who haven't encountered the hippo meme, it's about decision making based upon something more than the highest paid individual's personal opinion.
- What business or user goal would you like to be informed by metrics?
The talk precis:
Design Metrics: Better Than 'Because I Said So':
Too often designers are put in a position of defending design decisions based on personal preference or an unarticulated sense of expertise. We'll discuss how to use metrics to understand user and business goals. Then how these metrics can be used to evaluate design decisions, make tradeoffs, and shape strategies.
Our goal is to better enable productive conversations with key stakeholders, using the tools of metrics to understand and advocate a position.
In the most productive cases, this means designing with measurement toward end goals in mind. In less developed scenarios, there may be some foundations in need of construction.
There are a lot of reasons to test designs with live users. The most pedestrian is business acceptance testing. We'll be more focused on using metrics to resolve internal debate, multivariate testing learn more about the motivations, mental models, and personas of users, as well as value estimation.
We believe the "Role of Designer " is to drive hypotheses about the user and to internalize results and use to inform future design.
Of course, testing is not the only tool in the toolbox. You have to choose the right tool for the job. Key dimensions:
- Quantitative, Qualitative
- Small vs. large scale
- Advanced techniques: Sequence modeling, learnability metrics
- Repeat vs. non-repeat visitor
That said, creative techniques with Greasemonkey or limited scale prototypes can make testing available in situations you might not think it's possible.
We're scheduled for 11:30 AM in Ballroom E on Monday. Hope to see you there. If you can't make it, stay tuned for a follow-up.