Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Under carefully controlled laboratory conditions, any lab subject will do exactly as they wish. (Caroline Jarrett)

And that’s why we love them. It’s what makes our job fun.

I’ve always said that the great part about usability is that we get to work with the two most complex things in the universe – humans and computers. There’s no telling what we’re going to get.

But we wouldn’t have it any other way, would we? Living, breathing human beings, with all their quirks and complications, make for very interesting work. 

In fact, I like to tell new usability engineers that out of every 10 users, they’re probably going to get at least 1character. But characters are fun, are not too hard to handle, and can help brighten up a long day.

Of course, I also point out that 1 in 100 is going to be a crazy. And that, for 1 in 1000, you’re going to need to call security. Both do make for engaging stories afterward though.

It’s also why I take a fairly relaxed approach in the lab. No lab coat for me. No voice-of-god mic. No clinical lab setting. I just like to sit with the user, engage with them to the degree they need it, prep them properly, then sit back and see what happens.

I know they’ll go off script sometimes. And, usually, I let them. I’ve gotten some good stuff over the years that way. That said, I have also developed a number of good tips and tricks to get them back on track without their ever knowing it.

Heck, after 3000 users, I kind of like it when I get a bit of challenge. Honestly, though, there’s probably nothing I haven’t already seen before.

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