Posted by: bbannan | February 19, 2009

Which User Experience Method? – Maricel

Jakob Nielsen in his article “When to Use Which User Experience Research Methods” ( provides a useful chart to determine which is the best method to obtain feedback from the users.  The methods are grouped according to the development phase (strategize, optimize, assess) and the goal at each of those phases.  

Focus groups, according to Nielsen,  are more suitable when the goal is to explore new directions and opportunities. However, the development team should not rely only on this method to gather data but in a combination of other cost-effective methods.  Based on the table provided by Nielsen, what would the best suitable method for each team in each development phase?  What is the common denominator of all the methods?  How can the effectiveness of the selected method be measured (validity of results)?



  1. Maricel, you’re an ID student after my own heart: you’re quoting Jakob Nielsen and using 2×2 charts.

    As we all know, Jakob Nielsen is the guru of usability, a genius at taking the obvious and explaining it two levels higher to say, yes, but this is why it’s so obvious.

    I thought the key to Nielsen’s essay is what people say vs. what people do. It’s the (obvious) answer behind Weight Watchers, eyetracking and gambling in Las Vegas: People already know what they should do; but will they do it?

    Weight Watchers tells people to put down the two donuts and walk up the stairs to work. But the donuts look so good. Eyetracking proves people spend time eyeing the top left of a web page (logo and left side of navigation). Sometimes the content in this area is trite, but the human mind-and-eye can’t stop from returning to familiar places and scanning the page as quickly as possible. Everyone knows that when you’ve matched your quota in Vegas (time spent at the table, or money left in your pocket), it’s time to get up and go. But still ….

    We need to measure what people do over what they say they will do, or how they will act in an idealized minds-eye version of themselves.

    In our group, we are trying to create brand awareness (and fondness) among young adults for financial services. In gathering information, the best methods are probably iterative focus groups (70%) and surveying (30%).

    In development, we’re probably best served through eyetracking (50%) and comprehension/retention (30%), as well as some additional surveying (20%).

    If the information we present isn’t chunkable, platable, attractive, interesting and unique, we may not be in business very long.

    Thx for the opportunity, Maricel.

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