UX Movement http://uxmovement.com User Experience Movement Fri, 16 Mar 2018 00:26:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.19 The Line to Say in Usability Testing to Get Honest Feedbackhttp://uxmovement.com/thinking/the-line-to-say-in-usability-testing-to-get-honest-feedback/ http://uxmovement.com/thinking/the-line-to-say-in-usability-testing-to-get-honest-feedback/#comments Tue, 27 Feb 2018 14:00:33 +0000 http://uxmovement.com/?p=10641

In usability testing, researchers use discussion guides to direct the conversation toward areas of interest. These guides are not used like scripts. But rather, they are helpful guardrails to keep the session on track.

One part of a discussion guide that is treated like a script though is the introductory statement. Part of the standard introductory script goes something like this:

“Please give your open and honest feedback. I didn’t design this so don’t feel like you need to sugarcoat anything. You won’t hurt my feelings.”

It’s a line I’ve read at the beginning of every usability study since I became a design researcher. But is separating our involvement in the design, whether truthful or not, the best way to encourage participants to be open and honest with their feedback?

I decided to do some research. This is what I learned.

Framing the Problem

It takes more than a few prompts at the beginning of a usability test to encourage participants to give honest criticism. For most people, giving feedback is uncomfortable in the best circumstances, let alone to someone you just met. But the unfiltered truth is vital to the success of my clients’ projects.

They’re not paying for validation to hear that everything is swell. They want to see human error and hear real opinions about what’s not working before they sink resources into a project. Yet, in a manufactured lab environment, faced with a two-way mirror, human nature kicks in and people aim to please.

In my experience, using the standard script line can prevent the openness and honesty it’s intended to evoke. When I remind participants that a real person put time, energy, and care into this design that they may tear apart, I’m priming them to measure their responses.

Participants still hesitate to speak bluntly, often prefacing their opinions to soften the impact (e.g., “This is probably just me, but…”). This leads to ineffective feedback that obscures and diminishes the effect that design problems have on users.

The Experiment

I ran this experiment during a 10 participant usability test of an InVision prototype that I had designed. The client approved the variation of the new script. Sessions were one hour each in LiquidHub’s in-studio usability lab. There were no clients in the observation room.

Variations and Their Success

I tried out a few variations of the introductory line. If successful, the new line would elicit participants to give honest feedback without calculating their opinions with a fear of offending.

One that didn’t work well:

“We’re going to look at a prototype that I designed. I put time and energy into coming up with ideas, but I need your feedback to make it the best version it can be.”

This line was ineffective because it put unfair pressure on the participant to help me do my job. Also, identifying myself as the sole designer, set an adversarial tone (i.e., your opinions versus my ideas).

The variation that worked the best:


“My job is to help the client make this as amazing as possible. We’ve had some ideas already. And when we brainstormed, we put all our ideas in the design without judgement. You will help me figure out which ideas are great, which are duds, and come up with new ideas we didn’t think of.”

Why the New Line Worked

I learned that this new line changes the way participants approach the entire usability test interaction. With the successful line, participants began to act like a design partner, adopting a problem-solving mindset instead of only reacting to the design like a stimulus.

Participants were more comfortable leading the discussion toward areas of interest to them, resulting in more off-guide conversation (i.e., conversation that diverges from the planned discussion). These areas were ripe with insights.

The new line was also effective because people were more confident in their opinions. They associated being opinionated with being helpful, not judgmental.

It didn’t make them completely forget that there may be observers behind the mirror, but it gave them a clear purpose and understanding of how to meet our expectations. In short, it harnessed the human instinct for people-pleasing in a way that benefited the project.


The outcome of my experiment made me curious to test other accepted usability testing “rules”. For instance, in the lab we are instructed to take on a neutral, measured persona so we do not influence participants with verbal or nonverbal affirmations.

What would happen if we broke that rule? Would doing this “lead the witness,” as we are cautioned, or would it help us build rapport? What else can we do differently to crack the participant shell faster to get open and honest feedback?

I encourage fellow researchers and designers to join me in this exploration. As long as experimentation is done with respect for users and in service of the client goals, we should follow our own process to iterate, validate, and test.

After all, we are the experts in process improvement. If we do not turn our methods inward then we are missing the opportunity to evolve.

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Stop Misusing Ghost Buttonshttp://uxmovement.com/buttons/stop-misusing-ghost-buttons/ http://uxmovement.com/buttons/stop-misusing-ghost-buttons/#comments Tue, 19 Dec 2017 18:45:10 +0000 http://uxmovement.com/?p=10559

A ghost button is a button that has an outline but no solid fill. They’re a popular trend across the web, but many designers are misusing them.


Lower Click Through Rate

Ghost buttons are popular among designers because they exude a modern, minimalist look and feel. It’s not loud, dominant and doesn’t call out to the user. But that’s exactly the problem when you use them as a call to action.


A call to action button needs a strong visual cue that attracts the user’s attention and calls them to click it. A ghost button’s minimal appearance lacks a strong visual cue, which results in a lower click through rate.

A low click through rate means most users are overlooking ghost buttons, which leaves them less engaged with a site. Several different studies have found that users recognize solid buttons a lot quicker and easier than ghost buttons. This was concluded in an A/B test, click test, and visual attention test.

The click through rate difference between a solid and ghost button is significant. One company’s study shows how much their email newsletter click through rate increased by switching to solid buttons. For every email opened, the solid button outperformed the ghost button by 7%.

It’s foolish for designers to sacrifice their click through rate to follow a stylish trend. Users will get more utility from a site with clear visual cues than one without. And designers will get more user engagement that can lead to conversions.

When to Use Ghost Buttons

Ghost buttons are only a problem when they’re used in the wrong contexts. When used in the right context, they can clarify the priority of an action and increase task efficiency.

When users see two buttons together, they need to think about which button to click. They’ll read the text labels to decide, but putting visual cues on the buttons can help them decide quicker. A solid button for your main action and a ghost button for your secondary action will accelerate the user’s decision-making.


In the “bad” example above, you can see how the outline of a ghost button gets lost with the lines of text when it’s by itself. If you were scanning the page, you could easily miss the button.

In the “good” example, the solid button carries so much visual weight that it’s hard to miss it. Your attention is drawn to the main action even though its surrounded by text and another button. The secondary action is still visible by its close proximity, but it does not take attention away from the main action.


Visual Cues Shouldn’t Disappear

Designers are misusing ghost buttons without realizing the consequences it has on their users. They assume the outline around a ghost button is a strong enough cue for a call to action. They assume it’s okay to use ghost buttons for its style because other sites do the same. But studies show this is not the right approach to using them.

Visual cues are disappearing from buttons and users don’t appreciate that. Designers may like the minimalist style of a ghost button, but the function of a button is for action, not aesthetics. The context in which you use a ghost button matters. Use it in the wrong context and your button’s visual cue will disappear like a ghost.


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PorkBun: Get a Free .design Domain Namehttp://uxmovement.com/sponsors/porkbun-get-a-free-design-domain-name/ http://uxmovement.com/sponsors/porkbun-get-a-free-design-domain-name/#comments Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:05:48 +0000 http://uxmovement.com/?p=10548

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Why the Email Confirmation Field Must Diehttp://uxmovement.com/forms/why-the-email-confirmation-field-must-die/ http://uxmovement.com/forms/why-the-email-confirmation-field-must-die/#comments Tue, 03 Oct 2017 15:20:32 +0000 http://uxmovement.com/?p=10488

The email address is one of the most corrected form fields. It’s easy to mistype because the input contains a long string of various characters. This can lead to users submitting an incorrect email address.

The Email Confirmation Problem

Designers believe they can prevent this by adding an email confirmation field. This may prevent some incorrect submissions, but not all, and at a cost.


Many users tend to copy and paste their email field input into the confirmation field. This defeats the purpose of the confirmation field because users can end up pasting an incorrect email. The confirmation field does nothing to prevent them from mistyping their email.

One research study discovered that “60% of the test subjects consistently copy/pasted their e-mail when they retyped it in a confirmation field”. Users copy and paste their email often because retyping it is too much work. The users also didn’t believe that they would mistype their email but were surprised when they did.

The email confirmation field does not solve the incorrect submission problem. Not only that, but it forces users to do more work than they’d rather do. Users can end up making typing errors in both fields. This will cause them to spend more time correcting their input which can frustrate them.

Redesigning the Email Field

If you want to increase correct email submissions, you need to redesign your email field. You’ll need to change your email field’s placement, sizing and labeling.

Place the Email Field First

Filling out forms is a mundane task. Users tend to rush through them because they want to move on to their next task. But when users rush they’re more likely to make typing errors.

Placing the email field first can prevent this. This is because it’s the start of the form and they don’t feel the need to rush. Placing the email field in the middle or at the end of your form is not ideal because that’s when users get tired of typing and are most eager to finish.


Increase the Size of the Field Input

The email field is the most mistyped field on sign up forms. One study illustrates this in their data table at the bottom. It’s important to increase the size of the email field to help users notice their typing errors.

Many forms use too small of a font size for their email field input. If users make a typing error, it’s harder to notice. When the font size of your field input is larger, users are able to identify specific characters easier. This will help them spot typing errors at a glance when they check their input.

You can make your email field larger than the others but that may give your fields inconsistent styling. Instead, you should make the email field expand when the user selects it. The font size of the input should also appear larger. When the user unselects the email field it should return to its normal size.

Here’s an example of what this looks like.


Emphasize Input Accuracy in the Field Label

Most designers label their email field “Email”. While this is short and straightforward, it doesn’t emphasize the importance of input accuracy. If you want users to double check their input, your field label should stress that.

A field label such as “Email (make sure it’s correct)” reminds users to check their input after they type it. This is important to emphasize because most users don’t believe they’ll mistype their email, so they don’t bother checking their input.


All You Need Is Clarity

Not all form data have the same level of complexity. The email field deserves special treatment because its input is more complex than other fields. It contains alphanumeric characters and symbols that make it easier to mistype.

It’s time to take a new approach on how you design the email field. The solution is not another field to fill out, but to give clarity to the existing field. Prominent placement, larger input size and a specific label are what you need. Make this change and kill the email confirmation field once and for all.


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Stockio: Your Free Portfolio of Design Resourceshttp://uxmovement.com/sponsors/stockio-your-free-portfolio-of-design-resources/ http://uxmovement.com/sponsors/stockio-your-free-portfolio-of-design-resources/#comments Tue, 26 Sep 2017 14:38:04 +0000 http://uxmovement.com/?p=10455

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