We had to have a plumber round the other day. Watching him at work (and pestering him with plenty of annoying questions) it quickly became apparent how much of his knowledge was subconscious. Decades of grovelling around under sinks and fiddling with boilers had ingrained these skills and expertise so deep in his brain that he often couldn’t articulate precisely what he was doing.
Most of the research we do on websites is now done during the development stage: thank goodness the days of usability testing just before, or even after, launch is now in the past for the vast bulk of our clients. See User test early - Quicker, better, cheaper outcomes.
Booking airline tickets, getting a mortgage, designing trainers or reading favourite news, chatbots are being used by customers for all sorts of things. But how might your organisation use one and where should you start?
Most current chatbots are not very good. This makes it very easy for people to be sceptical about them and ignore the whole approach. However, this is often because the user’s needs were not fully understood or because they have not been adequately tested with users.
How people interact with your organisation is likely to change radically over the next few years. The maturing of some key technologies, most notably machine learning and conversational interfaces, means your users may no longer be using your website.
Over the years we have undertaken usability testing on several University websites. I have blogged before about why so many University sites are so unusable, and concluded that the problems are primarily organisational not technical. Our recent experience seems to confirm that this is still the case.
I have always been a bit of a fan of Gov.uk. From a citizen’s point of view, it has transformed many aspects of transacting with Government. Whether it is re-taxing the car, applying for a passport or applying for a patent it is now quick and straightforward. Gov.uk clearly deserves many of the plaudits it has received. The principle that users don’t care about which government body a service is being delivered by - they just want the service - is both sensible and user focused.
I have a confession to make – one that is a bit embarrassing. As a researcher, I know you must not trust your own opinions but should look at the evidence, because often our instinctive view of world - or of people’s behaviour – is wrong!
Web Usability has been heavily involved in helping to develop a new website for the Alzheimer’s Society that has just been launched. We are very chuffed with this and think the Society’s web team and their design agency have done an amazing job. Take a look at www.alzheimers.org.uk.