Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

War Stories - part 8

If you do enough research with real human beings you will start to build up a collection of ‘war stories’ about things that went wrong that you can learn from. This could be anything from you forgot the spare batteries to recruiting the wrong people to speak to and anything in between.

Years ago when I worked in retail I was part of the team looking at making changes to the navigation of our website.

This was a massive change and seen as a significant risk to the business, so we had to do everything in our power to be confident that the changes we made would be positive. I was a UX Designer at the time and learning about UX research so suggested we use it to help us.

I did numerous card sorts in the office, set up tree tests online and, once we had a proposed navigation structure, was allowed to run some tests with participants in the office, something we had never done before.

Although it took a little setting up the tests went really well and helped management gain confidence in what we were building, so although late we did go live with the changes. They are still live on that website now.

Maybe a year after running that test I found out that I could have made that test even better.

At the time, I could not work out how to ask someone to find something in the navigation without telling them what it was called.

Talking to a researcher about a different project, she told me how they had given their participants photos of the things they wanted them to find in the navigation.

Not only did this test the navigation but gave the research team the additional information of what terms participants used for these items compared with what the business called them.

I could have kicked myself - it sounded so obvious.

So my take away from this is you can always learn more, but do not worry too much about what has gone before if you can build on it now.

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