Design research is clearly an advantage to any designer. And while I agree with most of the sentiments Saffer has regarding the time and effort one should take in doing research, it's just not always feasible for all design. I do agree that when it comes to interaction design, it's probably more important. However, sometimes you just need to get it out there and watch how it's used and make tweaks along the way. I guess it depends on the scope and cost. This approach obviously wouldn't work for designing a new car. But a new paper clip? Maybe.
Snyder 4-7, 9
This has probably been the most useful reading thus far. As a primarily print designer, I want to dive right into the aesthetics of a mobile app. And while I know a lot of thought and prep should go into it before that stage, I hesitate as to where I begin. Some of the advice Snyder provides around paper prototyping seems clear, although I'm still unsure how it will actually work in use. She does note that first-time prototypers may find the initial usability tests cumbersome but with the right prep and pilots, hiccups can be minimized.
Chapter 6 regarding task design was especially enlightening. Snyder did an excellent job of laying out how and why you build certain tasks to test your design.
I've never really seen this type of testing. Most usability tests I've had the chance to work on (albeit only at results and design changes stages) were with live sites. I'm still wavering on which is faster – hand drawing or basic coding. However, it makes sense that the hand drawn version allows for easy changes while testing. That makes sense, I've just need seen it done this way. From a user perspective, I think the combination of interface screen shots with hand drawn pieces might be the way to go. This is particularly true if the interface is not being built from scratch.
I'm happy to note, as a marketer in the seniors' space, that we are following some of these guidelines. Although, it's interesting to see how much they do depend on consistent visual queues to guide them through a website. As a generation who did not grow up using the internet, I can understand why. Another behavior that grabbed my attention was that Edith was clearly the weaker user, but did well within sites she had already visited. This tells me that with common use, it can be picked up. The goal is to make that learning curve decrease or diminish altogether so first-time or novice users can navigate easily.
I thought is was a very well planned study. Mapping the personas on the 4-factor chart showing their age, aptitude, attitude, and ability was really helpful to set them up to expectation and measurement. The research uncovered some obvious and some not-so-obvious issues with most sites. I think if web designers followed more 508 guidelines, they may actually help resolve some of the difficulties seniors face using the web without even knowing – especially when it comes to text size.