More Tools for Building the User Experience

Prompted by a comment from Amit on my Faster Prototypes, Better Specs entry where I discussed Lucid Spec, I went and looked for some other UI-prototyping tools. I looked at GUI Design Studio, as Amit suggested, and also iRise. At first glance, they all look very similar. Initial thoughts:

  • I like the “whiteboard” in iRise Studio where you can model page interactions. They also have Masters and Templates that allow you to standardize your page designs and quick-start any new page design.
  • GUI Design Studio lets you put in anything you can draw as a control–you’re not limited to standard controls.

I’m wondering if anyone has done a comparison study of these types of UI prototyping/requirements tools? Are there others I’m missing?

… On my quick journey investigating these prototyping tools, I stopped off at the iRise blog, where I found a really interesting article on the adoptability of a product depending on where it is in the continuum from functional to usable to desirable, where:

  • Functional = A user can finish what someone could describe as a functional task but doesn’t necessarily meet their needs or goals as a user.
  • Usable = A user can meet needs and goals without frustration.
  • Desirable = The satisfaction of needs and goals is done in such a way that a user builds a positive emotional association with the product (i.e. positive product equity).

Dave showed this chart in the article:
Desirability_5

and explains the chart like so: 

What this shows on the lower right side is that yes, there are software products that can be adopted that are almost purely functional if they provide a huge amount of relative value.  However, even if they are adopted in a temporary fashion, the negative product equity associated with them means that they are easily and enthusiastically displaced by competitors.  The dot shows a product that moves from no adoption, to adoption with negative product equity, to adoption with positive product equity.

What a great chart! and a great way to explain the human factors of design. Dave also talks about “Desirability testing” and says this isn’t currently done. Shouldn’t that be part of any good usability test? I typically try to guage the user’s emotional response to the interface in all my usability tests, in addition to asking several questions about satisfaction and “would you use this again?”, “would you recommend it to your friends?” kinds of questions. That’s desirability, is it not?

But I really like the name. Perhaps we shouldn’t call it a usability test–perhaps we should call it a desirability test? Would that make more sense to the world? Every time I mention “usability” to someone outside the field, they get this deer-in-the-headlights look like they can’t begin to imagine what I’m talking about.

But then “desirability testing” might be even worse–I can just imagine the snide comments I’d get from guys outside the UI design field … (or even worse, those within!)

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2 Responses to “More Tools for Building the User Experience”


  1. 1 Dave Shackleton December 18, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Thank you for the comment! That’s a great question about whether desirability is included in usability. Part of the reason I split them out was because there seemed to be a bit of confusion about it. I think you are further advanced in your usability testing if you are already testing for desirability (nicely done!) – I have seen way too many where the focus is purely on issues like task completion in the fewest steps.

    I am intrigued by your comment about “gauging the user’s emotional response”. I have had trouble measuring and communicating this. For example, we can record facial expressions with Morae, but I don’t know a systematic way of translating that: does Version 7 represent 252 “happy units” while Version 6 only had 111? Or is the current state of the product “brussel sprout” and we need to keep working on the details until it reaches “chocolate”? Do you have other methods you have used?

  2. 2 krauseann December 18, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    While I’ve watched their emotions during the test, I can’t say that I’ve really quantified it. It’s easy to tell from their facial expressions and language when they’re confused, angry, intrigued, excited, etc., so if I noticed the same emotional response from several of the participants to a particular aspect of the product, I included that observation in my report and presentation. I also used a Likert scale for rating satisfaction of several different aspects in the post-test interview and survey and noted whether the ratings matched my observations.

    The other thing I did is I categorized the usability issues I uncovered as “user catastrophes” (the user can’t complete the task because of this issue), “impedances” (the user could complete the task, but had some difficulty doing it), or “annoyances” (the user could complete the task, but found this thing annoying).

    Perhaps I need to better represent the other side of the scale, though, by introducing some more categories: “nominal success” (the user completed the task, but with general apathy), “user delights” (the user completed the task with ease and was pleased with this bit) and “user thrills” (the user was really excited about this aspect).

    I have always started my testing presentations with some positive points from the users, but haven’t actually categorized the warm fuzzies as “desirability measures” in the past. Perhaps I should–then I’d have a way of charting the number of instances of each category on a scale and plotting improvement over time.


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