UX and Psychology FTW

Steve Krug at the UX Smackdown session at SXSW

Shuttles again were a problem, but we were able to come in a little late to the first session of the day on using HTML5 and JavaScript to build apps. It sounded really good, but it was definitely for developers, not designers.

Next up, though, was a panel called “UX Smackdowns: Usability techniques in the ring.” This compared 6 different techniques head-to-head and asked the audience to vote for which was most effective. Here were the rounds:

  1. Focus Groups vs. Field Research
  2. Eye Tracking vs. Unmoderated Testing
  3. High Fidelity Prototypes vs. Rapid Iterative Testing

I was shocked that the guy arguing for focus groups actually made a little sense. It didn’t help him though as probably 99% went for field research. This session also made me wonder how I can get my boss to sign off on a $10,000 purchase to get some eye tracking equipment. That paired with a moderated test would be amazing. With the final round, everyone pretty much decided that both have their place. In any case, it was a fun look at how different UX methods compare and really, remembering the first day’s session, thinking of different ways to use combinations of tools rather than hoping for a silver bullet.

The other session of note today was “High Online: Applying Psychology to Web Design.” Right off the bat, I like his approach. He began by talking about the downfall of the “tips and tricks” types of advice out there. Yes, they may be scientifically proven, but these types of articles rarely get into why they work. Jason Hreha, the speaker, did his graduate work for BJ Fogg at Stanford’s Persuasive Technology lab. His mentor, Fogg, came up with a behavior model that describes what causes behavior.

  1. Ability
  2. Motivation
  3. Trigger

Ability and motivation are always there in some measurable quantity, but the trigger is not always present. In fact, if you were to graph ability and motivation, when both were high, that’s the most likely place to plant the trigger. The rest of the hour, we talked about how we might apply this concept to web design as well as using both off-line triggers (emails mostly) and on-line triggers (calls to action) most effectively.

So that’s all for the Sunday sessions, looking forward to tomorrow.

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