Eric Schmidt on Mobile First Philosophy

For Google and other companies, the value of mobile phones is their sheer rate of adoption and their numbers in the hands of users. Schmidt noted that smartphone sales are growing at 30% year-over-year and will soon surpass global PC sales.

Schmidt argued that mobile Web adoption is growing eight times faster annually than Web adoption did 10 years ago for the desktop. Half the Internet connections are made by mobile devices, he said, noting that more Google searches are done on mobile devices than on desktops in emerging countries.

Other writing on Mobile first by LukeW.

Additional content of Schmidt’s talk on ComputerWorld.

Why Don’t Usability Problems Get Fixed?

There are various reasons why usability problems exist in the first place—some simple and some complex. Identifying problems and recommending solutions is not always enough. Unfortunately, the same factors that cause problems in the first place also hinder their getting fixed. The following are some of the most common reasons why usability problems don’t get fixed.

  • Lack of Resources

o   No One Has the Skills to Fix Them
o   There Is a Lack of Time, Money, or Resources

  • Technical Limitations

o   Technical Limitations Make Changes Difficult
o   Vendor Software Is Difficult to Change Continue reading

Mobile UX Essentials

As part of my ongoing mobile UX study, I am coming across many presentations. Here is one by Rachel Hinman, who will be running a workshop at the upcoming IxDA Conference 11 in Boulder Colorado.

This PPT touches on many of the key points of how designing for mobile provides key opportunities to not make the same mistakes we made in the early 90s with the web. Namely: design to what mobile does well: Places, context, temporal and spatial relationships.

I am excited to go to Boulder and hope to attend her workshop.

Read about:

How to Stay Productive Working from Coffee Shops (or Anywhere Out of the Office)

For those who work on the go, it is important that you be prepared and have some self discipline in how you work.

It has been proven that the traditional office cubicle has nothing on telecommuting for improving productivity and happiness in employees, but there are some basic steps that can help ensure that you stay healthy and have everything you need to be a 21st century worker.

These tips are from LifeHacker By Kevin Purdy

How to Stay Productive Working from Coffee Shops (or Anywhere Out of the Office)

If you can escape your desk every so often, you should. It boosts memory, opens up new ideas, and provides needed escape. But there’s more to it than simply lugging your laptop. Here’s how to make any workplace your own.

Image via Thomas R. Koll.

We know the usual protests. “Coffee shops are for pretend work.” “There’s a reason companies have offices.” “Why pay for coffee and Wi-Fi when I have them for free at home?” And it’s fine to think that way. But some people like something other than tuna salad sandwiches for lunch every single day (literally or metaphorically, take your pick). Continue reading

How to Recruit Your Own Usability Test Participants

The most important variable in any research, whether it is usability, marketing or other scientific study, will always be the quality and relevance of your participants.

If you choose to take on the recruiting yourself, it is important to know that there are many methods to getting people (see article below) but be sure that that friend who is doing you a favor may not be exactly who your product is geared to.

from an article on usability news

In case you don’t have a team or resource in your organization that dedicatedly looks after participant recruitment and coordination of usability testing activities, or you don’t have access or simply don’t want to spend on a professional recruitment agency to do the task for you, the following tips will help you to effectively find participants for usability testing on your own without having to work into a cold sweat wondering where are all those people and how can you get them to participate.

1. Let people find the participants for you

Instead of looking for the participants on your own, let people know that you need them and what the criteria for selection is. Once you get contact details for potential participants from these people, you can then screen them to ensure that they fit the bill and also try and determine whether they’d participate fairly or simply try to complete the session in the easiest and fastest manner possible so they can walk away with the compensation. But where are these people who can help you out? They are all around. You can:

– Use the company mailing /distribution list
What better way than using your organization’s distribution list to let a large number of people know that you are looking for participants for a usability test, all in one go. The bigger your company, the better. Try and send it out to the largest distribution list that exists in your office for the particular location you are situated at (assuming you’re not planning on conducting remote usability tests, in which case the ‘global’ list might be a better option). Take permission if required before shooting off the mail to a large group. If you decide to do so, make sure your mail is usable itself. Avoid jargon and explain everything you need in the participant clearly and in the simplest language possible.

– Use the company’s website /product websites /mailers
Let your product users know that you are looking for participants. Add the information to company mailers or have a separate mailer just for this purpose. Put up the information on your organization’s website or your organization’s product websites if so may be the case (this you should do as part of your strategy for creating a usability test participant database anyhow).

– Try and get the HR department to help you out
If you feel that the participant criteria would match that of the job seekers applying to your organization, talk with human resources and let them know the profile of people you’re looking for. After HR completes their interview process, they could let the interview candidates know about the opportunity to participate in the usability test in exchange for gratuity.

– Take help from your friends and family
Spread the word amongst your friends and family. This might not be so useful for recruiting the usual participants but is rather helpful in cases where gratuity can’t be the motivation, as is discussed in the last tip.

2. Find participants on your own

– Use the internet
The internet is your answer to look for anything you need to find if you can search smart, looking for usability test participants included. You will almost definitely find the right users on the net. Look in forums, websites like Yahoo! Answers, classifieds websites… the list goes on, but hopefully you get the idea (In case you don’t, let me know and I’ll be glad to elaborate depending upon the type of users you are looking to recruit.)

– Look around (not in) the office
You might have a lot of people around your office building that would fit your participant profile. Be it the guys from Green Peace, credit card and banking-related services salesman, or students, there’s definitely someone who’ll fit your participant profile. Try persuading them to participate in your usability test.

3. When gratuity just won’t do (or: recruiting users in executive leadership)

There are cases where gratuity is not sufficient motivation for the participants you need to recruit. Take the case of executive leadership and senior management. Besides having no time to spare, gratuity isn’t what they’re looking for, or what you can probably match with their expectations. What will motivate them is the request for participation by someone they know personally who matters – that might be your boss, your parents, your friends or even you. It pays to know the right people and be in their list of loved ones in this case.