16 September, 2018

The One Thumb, One Eyeball Test



Imaging that your user is on their phone, standing in the bus, surrounded by distractions and your app has to hold their attention. They must be able to use your product using an average thumb. If they can’t, you fail the One Thumb, One Eyeball test, and will lose users.

A woman using the mobile phone with one hand on a beach

Many mobile products have call to action buttons that are either too small, or placed too close together, or links are confusing, or new unwanted windows pop up. As soon as you redirect someone to a screen they didn’t want or expect, they’ll lift their head up and your product has lost. Users should be able to complete critical tasks quickly without losing focus. This means all the critical tasks are "do-able"using one thumb and one eyeball what come may - be it standing in the bus, leaning on to the wall at train station, sitting in a congested place at work, comfortably lying down on the couch or even better, sitting on the beach.

One Thumb, One Eyeball Test
People use mobile phones everywhere and anywhere. They are often distracted away from their mobile phones to get some work done or distracted by mobile phones to do some physical work without dropping the phone down. This forces them to use the mobile phone by investing only one eye and one thumb. This enables high speed interaction using one hand needing short attention spans.

The one thumb, one eyeball test was proposed by Luke W during the design of “Polar”, an app designed to create photo polls and allow voting on them. 



The objective was that a user should be able to create a new poll in less than a minute using only one thumb to do so. This test is now a global standard for mobile apps across the world.

Moving away from Hamburger to Tab bar design
Hamburger menu placed in top left corners of the app are too hard to access. Take a look:


A user who is driving a car needs to use the phone in one hand with the other hand on the steering wheel. If the app hamburger is in the top-left corner, the one thumb use case fails. In other words, users must be able to perform critical tasks on the mobile app with just one thumb in a few seconds. Lesser the time (in seconds), the better. Users work in micro-moments - small units of time with distracted attention. Hence the need for speed.

In the above app, notice that most of the critical tasks like My Flights, Today's Deals, Booking are easily accessible using one thumb. This is the freedom users need.

Takeaway
Effective mobile designs must accommodate for one eye and one thumb experiences.

If people can get things done in time sensitive, limited mobility situations, they'll be even more efficient and products will have their full attention.





02 April, 2018

The Big Three Questions .... and User Research


This article was originally published on Linked In.

So, Life happens. I took an unplanned break from writing for past few months. The good news: I am back :). Without further ado, let us get started. I'll touch upon my experience of doing user research over past few years in this article.

What is User Research
User Research is the process of understanding the *impact of design* on an audience with a focus on users’ behavior, needs, and motivation.

Why do we need User Research?


1. To create designs that are truly relevant to people

2. To create designs that are easy and pleasurable to use

3. To understand the return on investment (ROI) of your user experience (UX) design

What is Wrong with User Research
We humans think that we are driven by rationality. Yet, we are far from it. How we behave is based on the heuristics and biases we have. These, in turn, influence the decision we make and the problems we solve. This is precisely why conclusions from user research may not improve the experience of the product. It is not that user research methods are faulty. It is because what people say about their motivations and behavior is far from what motivates them to behave in a real environment. Hence, observations about them during interviews may not capture the whole story.

How to Fix it
Jeff Gothelf talks about The Big Three Research Questions in his book, The Lean UX.

1. Is there a need or opportunity? 
Identify a strong need or opportunity as this is critical to successful user research. This can be done through Observations and Interviews.

2. Do people value my proposed solution? 
Today, products suffer from feature bloats. Asking if the proposed solution for the identified need/opportunity is something people value. The value of the proposed solution can be measured using interviews. If people don't value the solution, there is no point building the solution. Just discard that need and move on to the next one.

3. Can people use my proposed solution? 
Building a solution without validating if people can use that solution is a waste of time and money. A good alternative is to build a simple prototype of the solution and watch people use it by performing usability testing and interviews.

The above research questions apply not just for user research, but for any problem you are trying to solve.

Next time around, when someone seeks user research, ask them what value are they looking for?


29 January, 2018

Flight Maps and Natural Mapping


This article was originally published on Linked In.
Interactive flight maps are a great way to kill time on long-haul flights. Few In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) systems get the geography wrong on these maps. Take a look at this one, I happened to be in last year.


On a standard world map, we know that Auckland is far far away from Kuala Lumpur to its right. On this map shown above, representation shows that Kuala Lumpur is to the right of Auckland, and the flight is flying from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur.
As you may notice, a natural mapping is missing on the interactive map since the location of Auckland and Kuala Lumpur are reversed.
Mapping is a technical term meaning the relationship between two things. Consider the steering wheel in a car. To turn the car to the right, one must turn the steering wheel clockwise, so that its top moves to the right. This mapping is easily learned and always remembered while changing directions of the car. In fact, turning the car to the right maps naturally with our right arm turning to the right, as a mental model. This is natural mapping, natural because it naturally maps to how humans use their body and mental models. The human mind is trained for natural mapping.
Natural mapping takes advantage of physical analogies and cultural standards (Another example — red traffic light means stop; green means go).
Great products apply natural mapping to design enchanted experiences.