Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Creating a UX Assessment

See the follow up article Presenting the UX Assessment Following this article.

Creating a UX Assessment (also known as a Heuristic Evaluation) is not all that complicated. Before I can talk about this design tool, let's first level-set by looking at the definition of a UX Assessment...
UX Assessment (as it pertains to a UX team) 
A UX Assessment is when a member or members of a UX Design Team conduct a "best practices" evaluation of a product, service or design with the explicit goal of identifying usability focus points.

Got it? Good. Generally, when I need to conduct a UX Assessment of an interface or service I start by walking through the interface or service and capture all the photos I can. I then place them all in a folder for easy access for when I'm putting slides together in the assessment.


picture of ux assessment template slides
UX Assessment High Level Construct
Yes, you read correctly in the last paragraph... When I create UX Assessments, I make a slideshow in Google. My slideshow is made up of these elements:

Title Slide
The title slide is like the cover of your book. You will typically find the company logo. There will also be a title similar to this example: "productName UX Assessment". Following that, I'll put the date that the assessment will be completed. My teams name will appear. I'll also put my name and any other people I'm working with as well. Lastly, the mgr or boss' name (they like to get credit for your hard work).

Table of Contents
Just like the name implies.

Getting Started Section
In this section, you will explain the scope of the assessment. Additionally, include "Key" information, kind of like what you would find on a map. Here's where you will explain the parts of your standard UX Assessment Slide (which I will explain lower).

Global Considerations
This is a top level section used to call out key findings that effect the full product, service, or interface as a whole. You can consider these items to be "HIGHEST of HIGH" priority issues.

Usability Focus Points
This is where you will put the bulk of the assessment (all the slides that make up your assessment). I usually organize this section with sub headings that reflect the product, service or interface I am assessing (i.e. if it's a website with a home page, a contact us page, and a product page, then I'd have 3 sub headings labeled as such).

Conclusion
In the conclusion, I like to place a "Next Steps" slide so as to help nudge the business who will be consuming the UX Assessment into action. On the next steps slide I have one bullet for "Does anyone else need to learn of these findings?", one for "What actions should be taken at this point?", and one for "What else can we help with?". Last but not least is the "Reference" slide where I list all the links to the "Heuristics", "Best Practices", "Top 10"'s, and any other resource that I needed to reference in order to gain a full picture so that I can grade the various elements that I encountered while evaluating the design.

Standard UX Assessment Findings Slide Construct
If you take a look at the above picture, you can see that slide number 7 appears to be a slide template. That is correct. I find it valuable to create a "UX Assessment Template", but then within that template to create a template for "Findings Slides".


picture of a single findings slide template with notation marks included

As you can see, there are a few different parts here...

Left:

  • Blue, numbered down arrows allow you to point at the specific points in a screenshot that the finding is referring to. 
  • Orange dot can be used to present process flows.
  • Yellow (low), orange (mid), and (red) high severity indication
  • blue ux key finding indicator
  • green comment or question indicator.
Center:
  • Image placeholder box. Replace the box with a screenshot or photo of the finding in question (if applicable).
Right:
  • Section title indicated as "{blank page}".
  • Page number (always good to go through and do page numbers last, when you have identified all the findings you plan to identify.)
  • Finding title. Should be specific to the problem. It is likely that some users will just skim the page, so make sure they can get a clear picture of the finding by simply reading the title.
  • Explanation of the finding (don't solve the issue here).
  • Recommendation. It's good not to try and solve the specific design problem here, but rather provide them with the knowledge they need to come to a better design. On occasion I muddy the water with a "One possible solution might be to do this specific thing with the design...", but that's overstepping the bounds of a UX Assessment. Remember this is not their marching orders. It is a means to communicate to the business where usability focus points are found.
  • Last but not least is the severity indication. I generally follow these rules when identifying severity...
    • High Severity (3 red boxes): Show stopper or in other words, the even determined users are unable to move past this point.
    • Moderate Severity (2 orange boxes): Determined users are able to make it through the process, but less determined users are likely to give up or seek assistance.
    • Low Severity (1 yellow box): Determined and undetermined users can make it through the process. The process could be more efficient or more inline with best practice (which would generally equate to being more efficient).

This completes my UX Assessment Tutorial. Hope you can glean info from this. Maybe you should probably come up with your own slide scheme, color scheme etc though so that it doesn't seem like everyone doing ux is copying each other!!! haha.

Good luck! Let me know if you have questions. Remember to see the follow up article Presenting the UX Assessment next.

~e

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