User Testing & Research

National Cancer Institute Launches New User Experience Lab

Sep 4, 2014 | ,

Why does a Cancer institute need a User Experience lab? Simply put: To learn about their customers—people living with cancer and those who care about them—and build the best possible products with them in mind. “Cancer has a journey and we wanted to create a Read »

System Usability Scale (SUS): Improving Products Since 1986

Aug 29, 2014 |

Trying to measure usability can be a head scratcher. How easy something is to use depends on where you are, who you are, and a number of other factors. Luckily in the world of usability, there exists a post-test survey known as the System Usability Scale, introduced in 1986 by an engineer named John Brooke, Read »

API Usability Case Study: openFDA

Aug 22, 2014 |

The API Usability Program brings together developers from agency APIs and the private sector to evaluate how the API can be improved to be more user friendly. Sean Herron of 18F, who was a key member of the openFDA developer team, shared with us some of the major insights gained from this latest API usability session. Read »

Redesigning with Customer Feedback: Child Support Enforcement Usability Case Study

Aug 19, 2014 |

The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement at the Administration for Children and Families had a visually appealing website after an agency-wide redesign of program websites. The problem: Key stakeholders complained they could no longer easily find needed information. Their feedback prompted us to facilitate a UX-minded focus group to recommend improvements that met both users’ business needs and the redesign goals. Read »

How to Choose a User Experience Technique

Aug 18, 2014 |

The good news: Your boss is interested in User Experience! The news: She wants you to do something about it… NOW. Well, don’t be alarmed; you can start by figuring out two simple things: 1. Identify the Stage you’re in in the development cycle. Write it down. 2. Choose a User Read »

Photo Carousels on Mobile Websites: Use With Caution!

Aug 13, 2014 |

You might recognize them by the user controls, if provided, that allow you to move from one newsy item to the next. They go by various names, including: carousel, slider, slideshow, banner, and gallery. Many government homepages have them. In a recent email exchange on Read »

Heat Mapping Case Study: Epa.gov Homepage

Aug 12, 2014 |

Most people relate the term “heat map” with something they see during the weather forecast on the nightly news, those colorful maps that vividly illustrate how hot it’s going to be during an impending heat wave. The word “heat map” may not usually however, conjure up images of a widely used Web usability tool; but for those Read »

Improving Content, Increasing Participation: A NARA Usability Case Study

Jul 18, 2014 |

Over the years, the staff intranet at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) had become increasingly difficult to use. Old, irrelevant content routinely bubbled to the top of search results, and essential employee tools were hard to find. NARA staff agreed that the site was due for an upgrade: fixing NARA@work was voted a Read »

Using Top Tasks to be Top-Notch: Federal Reserve Board Usability Case Study

Jul 2, 2014 |

In 2012, the Federal Reserve Board used the Top-task methodology to redesign our intranet, called Inside the Board, which had not been significantly updated since it was launched in 1995. After determining the top tasks the audience needs to accomplish on a website, you can run usability tests to gain knowledge and improve the site. The project Read »

Using Analytics to Create Change: USA.gov Usability Case Study

Jul 1, 2014 |

While many people tout the death of the home page, it’s still an important piece of the user experience on USA.gov. In 2013, 30 percent of all sessions on USA.gov included the home page—that’s 8.67 million sessions. The numbers for GobiernoUSA.gov are even higher—79 percent of all sessions included the home page. According to Jakob Nielsen, “A Read »

Talking Usability with Kids over Milk and Cookies

Jun 11, 2014 | ,

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently created a new Web page made especially for students, so who better to give it a test run than children attending “Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day”? We took advantage of this event held on April 24, 2014, at Read »

Consumer Action Handbook – Usability Case Study

Jun 6, 2014 | ,

The annual Consumer Action Handbook, from GSA, is a guide to making smarter decisions with your money. In both its print and online formats, it includes a compilation of buying tips from across government agencies, updates on the latest scams, and a robust consumer contact directory. But the most popular part of the book is the Read »

How to Make a Mobile Paper Prototype

May 22, 2014 |

What if a single piece of paper could make your mobile app work 20 percent better? It’s hard to imagine something as unimpressive as paper influencing our 21st century smartphones, but it’s true. Well before we get into the design and coding phases, we can show customers Read »

The Road to Better Websites Gets Easier with Usability Walkthroughs

May 21, 2014 |

The road to more user-friendly government websites does not have to be long and scary. In fact, there is a growing network of people and resources to guide you along the way. My office in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been fortunate enough to benefit from some of this support, most recently Read »

Trends on Tuesday: Larger Screen Smartphones See Accelerated Shipments

May 20, 2014 |

Smaller doesn’t mean more popular when it comes to smartphone screen size. According to mobile analyst Canalys, shipments for phones with screens larger than 5″ represented a third of total shipments worldwide in Q1 this year. Devices with a screen size larger than 5″ are more popularly known as “phablets” (not quite tablets, not quite phones). Government agencies Read »

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