Among all the books that discuss about eye-tracking and user experience, our personal favourite has to be:
A Practical Guide to Research
By Aga Bojko
As you might have expected, this book will teach readers how to do eye-tracking studies the right way, choosing the right device, analysing and presenting the right way, and so on and so forth…..Yes, it virtually covers every aspect of what you need to know and consider before adding eye-tracking to your research toolkit.
Richly illustrated and clearly witten, this book stands apart from similar books in that it presents information in an approachable and accessible way. Despite all the technical bits, reading it certainly did not give us the feelings of reading a textbook!
However, the main reason why we like this book is the main theme that runs throughout the book: “Think first, Track later”. Aga Bokjo advocates that eye-tracking will not always be the most appropriate research methodology, unless the data it generates can be used to answer particular research objectives. Check out an excerpt for the book here.
By being brutally honest about the real benefits and limitations of eye-tracking, this book offers a refreshing take on the controversial research method. Coming from a background that blends rigorous academic research with an abundance of UX industry experience, Aga Bokjo gives us “actionable insights” and guidance to adopting (or not) the eye-tracking research methodology. Because of the scientific rigour that Aga Bokjo tries to instill in readers, this book appeals not only to the UX industry, but to the academic world as well.
Do you want to find out how eye tracking can help your research? Do drop by Objective Experience and pick up a copy of the book. Alternatively drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a knowledge sharing session.
With the fervent push for Singapore to become a “Smart Nation”, many government agencies are heeding the call to harness technology and user-centered design thinking process to improve urban living. Government agencies such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) are starting to set up technology research and innovation labs, aiming to “create new opportunities and improve people’s lives”.
At the forefront of the movement is Singapore’s Government Digital Services (GDS) that is headquartered in the newly launched 13,000 sq ft creative space, IDA Hive, equipped with a Tobii Pro X2-30 screen-based eye tracker. GDS has been in operation for more than 2 years, and the team has developed and launched several apps such as the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s myResponder, the Ministry of National Development’s OneService, Department of Statistics Singapore’s SingStat, as well as the mobile app for the demand-driven, shared transit experiment, Beeline.
GDS also provides consultancy services for other government agencies in developing or enhancing a digital service. For instance, Design Experience lab is a research facility in IDA Hive, where end users are brought in to test the digital service. The objective behind directly studying how users physically interact with the digital services is to better understand the needs and pain points experienced by users. This user-centered approach to design not only provides improvements for the product/services in development, but also insights into experience design for future product/services.
GDS recently engaged Objective Experience in a couple of such usability testing sessions for a new iteration of the IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore)’s website with the use of Tobii Pro X2-30 screen-based eye tracker. With the eye trackers, researchers are able to see exactly at which touch points users are having troubles with, and which elements are capturing or not capturing users’ attention. Coupled with the Retrospective Think Aloud (RTA) research methodology where users are interviewed with the cue of the eye tracking video, researchers are able to obtain more reliable accounts of what users are experiencing while interacting with the product/services. This method reduces the risk of fabrications as well as research bias.
Improvement to the IRAS website were made after one round of usability testing, and were validated with the next. GDS was very receptive to the user-centered design process, and quite a number of recommendations from the first round of testing were implemented. GDS was fervently concerned with making the IRAS website more user friendly for the wider audience (individual, companies, younger and older tax filers alike), and the overall result from the several rounds of usability testing certainly reflects that. For instance, GDS understands the prevalence of mobile computing, and put much attention into redesigning the mobile version of the website. In all, the project saw more favourable feedbacks from end users.
— Claire FoulquierG (@_cmfg) May 5, 2016
Objective Experience has also collaborated with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on several usability testing projects with eye tracking for print collaterals as well as for their website, and the research had certainly led to design reiterations with improved user experience.
With the newly found support for user-centered design process and digital innovation from the Singapore government, the UX community is poised to get bigger and better. And if the UX community gets bigger and better with the support from the government, you know our quality of life is definitely improving.
Ever wonder whether your website or app is accessible to those who are colour blind? No? Then most probably it isn’t.
Colours are one of the most fundamental design elements that every designer relies on. From colour theory to colour psychology, most designers make use of colours to create the biggest impact on their website or app based on how colour affects user’s attitudes and behaviours. However, many do not consider the fact that approximately 8% of men and 0.5% of women are affected by some form of colour-blindness. That would mean an 8% loss of conversion rate if your website or app is not accessible to them!
People that have colour blindness see the world a little bit differently than the majority of us – they do not have the ability to perceive the differences between some of the colours that we normal people can distinguish. That said, most people with colour-blindness are not as “blind” as the term would suggest. People with complete colour blindness (monochromacy or achromatopsia), who can only see the world in shades of grey, are exceedingly rare.
The most common type of colour-blindness is dichromacy in which dichromats have only two cone photopigments, compared to the rest of us which have three. It means that normally most of us can distinguish colours based on a mixture of the three primary colours, while dichromats can only rely on two colours. The picture below shows the 3 subtypes of dichromacy.
It is important to note that red/green colour blindness is the most common (notice that colours look very similar for both deuteranope and protanope). People with red/green blindness have troubles distinguishing reds, greens and yellows of similar values, hence they might not be able to make out words or images in these colours with low value contrast.
So how does the knowledge of how colour-blindness affects users inform design considerations for this group of people. Here’s the main concepts that you need to know:
- Don’t rely on colours to convey important information
Since people with colour-blindness have difficulties distinguishing between colours, they would also have trouble making out information that is conveyed based on comparison between colours. A very salient example would be that of the Singapore MRT map (above left) which have their different routes colour-coded. Now if you are suffering from red/green blindness, you will see something like the right picture above.
Someone with colour-blindness might still learn to read the MRT map after a while, but just imagine the amount of cognitive effort they have to make! Based on psychology and UX principles, cognitive strain can create negative feelings and kill conversion rate.
Colours should never be the sole or primary means of communicating information. It may be more appropriate to provide additional means (e.g., patterns, symbols, text) of obtaining the same information conveyed by colours, especially if the information is going to be important.
- If you really need to use colours to convey important information, increase contrasts between colours to increase visual accessibility
This article outlines various ways to ensure maximize contrasts in order to ensure accessibility for people with colour-blindness. In general, the advice is to use colours with sufficient hue, value (lightness), and chroma (colour purity) contrasts to ensure all essential elements are visually distinguishable and readable.
The easiest way is to lighten light colours and darken dark colours. If not, staying away from reds and greens might be helpful, since red/green blindness are the most common.
- Use a Colour Blindness Simulator to see how your webpage or app looks in the perspective of people with colour blindness
Design Thinking is all about empathy. Without first putting yourself in other people shoes, you will not understand how differently others are perceiving the world as you do. Using a Colour Blindness Simulator like Coblis is the closest way you can experience how your website or app appears to people with colour-blindness.
Ultimately, listening to your users is still the key. Having the goal to design for accessibility is good, but you will never be sure whether you are doing it in a way that will affect the user experience for your main target audience. Using an eye-tracker like the Tobii Pro X2-60 is a powerful method to get feedbacks from both your main target users and users with colour blindness. By analyzing the differences in the way both population are looking at your website or app, we can then use a design that works for both population so that we can maximize conversion rate.
Keep accessibility in mind and we can help those with disadvantages navigate the world easier with design thinking. Let’s design for everyone and make the world a better place to live in for all!
User research in a tight timeline and budget is not impossible. In fact, it is already happening now. All you require are the quality voices of a handful of customers to test and validate your work using an agile user research method.
So what is the core difference between agile and a full user research method? Fewer number of participants are being tested in agile as compared to the full method. But does that mean lesser quality data? No.
One of the early usability gurus, Jakob Nielsen’s research suggested that with only 5 users, 85% of usability problems can be found. For a full user research method, 12 users can find almost 99% of the usability problems. For those who think that user research is too costly and elaborate, a small and agile user research method with frequent testing suits better (as many as the budget allows).
The other difference between agile and full user research is that there will less tasks covered during the testing. To overcome this, test and iterate the product’s features and functions in smaller chunks until it achieves its bigger goal, which is part of the agile manifesto.
Planning and communication are the keys to conducting a great agile user research. Early strategizing occurring at the previous development cycle helps. All of these information and ideas in the early planning phase should be communicated frequently to the user research team so that any issues can be ironed out quickly and for resource management to occur efficiently.
Here in Objective Experience, the entire testing to reporting phase takes only 2 days. The planning beforehand from the kick-off workshop takes 2 days. Ideally, everything happens within 4 days as illustrated below.
For agile user research, there is no need for testing a large number of users as then it defeats the purpose of the word ‘agile’, which means quick. Testing 5 users who are selected carefully and thoroughly screened to ensure the best participant quality of the targeted user segment is good. Each testing session covers around 2-3 main tasks or user flows within 45 minutes.
It is compulsory for the product design and development team members to sit in and observe the testing sessions as it goes on. Why? To immediately get a sense of what users actually need and iterate on the spot or the next day.
In our agile user research sessions, we also use eye tracking as a way to gain direct insight into how the product is used and what users struggle with. Eye tracking allows observers of the testing to see users’ unconscious behavior in real time, and enables stakeholders to make instant decisions about solutions to interface problems.
At Objective Experience, we have the facilities for team members and other stakeholders to observe the live sessions in person at our viewing room or remotely via a web link. The remote viewing link is great if you have overseas members interested in observing what goes on during the user research. We’ve got a really comfortable space complete with refreshments too!
Take a peek at our viewing room!
After all the testing sessions are done, a brief workshop with the research moderator is held with the observing team members to discuss the key findings from the users, brainstorm some solutions together and actualize the results for the next development. The next day, a report cementing the top 10 most impactful findings with the actionable design recommendations will be produced.
Let us help you make incremental improvements to the user experience of your products, thus driving business growth. Drop us a line at email@example.com or call +65 67374511 to discuss your needs now.
Objective Experience recently conducted an interesting study with Tobii Glasses 1 (Glasses 2 out now!). We had to visit various branches of the client’s business, to see their customers’ eye journey. The objective was to determine whether customers look at the marketing materials available (and if not, why?).
To gather the participants for this study, we used the intercepted people as they walked into a branch. This was because we wanted the regulars at the branch. Our methodology was simple. We would fit the glasses on a participant, who was then asked to go about normally in the branch to continue with their usual tasks. Subsequently, the participant was asked a few questions about the experience while we reviewed the eye-gaze data video recording with the Retrospective Think Aloud methodology.
Here are some pointers for moderating this type of study:
- Keep it short. Participants were always short of time. Most came to the branch during their lunch breaks and they would have no time for a 20 minutes session. It is best to keep everything (tasks & interview) within 10 minutes.
- Keep it simple. Language plays an important factor in communicating with others. The way you ask your interview questions should be localized (i.e. speak in the local slang if it helps the people understand you better). The words used should be easily understood (avoid jargon when possible) as well.
- Keep it humorous. Your participants are probably more nervous than you are. Easing their fears and putting them at ease by making small talk or sharing a joke at the beginning will go a long way into getting better data. When participants’ feel comfortable with the moderator, they become more willing to speak their minds.
- Keep on listening. Being a good listener is key in research. Be genuinely interested in what participants say and show them that you are listening by making eye contact as often as possible. People can somehow sense when you are not listening properly to them and they may shut themselves up. In doing so you’ll lose some valuable insights. Also, don’t rush to fill in silences when the participant pause between sentences and try not to fill-in-the-blanks when they are finding a word to describe their experience.
For more information on running a real-world/shopper research study, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at +65 6737 4511.
One of the best things about working with Objective Experience for me…
I like the autonomy that Objective Experience offers. I get to design and structure my client’s research studies based on their needs. The working environment is also great, with teamwork taking the forefront. Everyone pitches in, be it for a study, a demo that we need to present to a prospective client or a booth at UXSG2014!
Senior User Experience Consultant
…is the opportunity to travel and meet people from different cultures. In the span of a few weeks, I was in Mumbai, Delhi and Hong Kong as well. As a UX consultant, I believe that getting away from one’s desk and connecting with people will make me a better designer and researcher.
User Experience Consultant
…is to have that comfortable space to be able to ask for help and everyone pitches in to do so (they even offer their assistance before you even know that you need it). It’s a great way to learn!
User Experience Consultant
…is being able to improve the quality of people’s life by doing research with people all over the globe. Learning how different cultures shaped people’s perception about things to help my client view their customer lives from their customer’s point of view.
Yeo Poh Khim (PK)
User Experience Consultant
Working at Objective Experience has really been enlightening and it was really an eye-opener for me. I am able to meet different people and gain more insights about their expectations and needs, in regards to user experience. My interest and perception towards user experience had also been improved, as I feel that I am able to understand how user experience design and actually have an influence in user experience.
Intern (Student at Republic Polytechnic)