By Michael Heraghty on March 5th, 2015
After you’ve done usability testing, or got user feedback of any kind, what should you work on? Most people prioritise low-hanging fruit. Clients ask me if there are “quick wins”.
But a better question to ask is “What is most broken?” During the usability testing, what caused the biggest problems for your users?
Don’t conflate low-hanging fruit with what Steve Krug calls kayak problems — issues users may initially struggle with, or complain about, but can quickly recover from. Most-broken issues, by contrast, are show-stoppers.
In testing I recently conducted on a life insurance application, a link on the form prompted participants to add any another occupations before they had finished answering questions about their main occupation. For technical reasons (apparently!), changing the position of this link was a big headache for the developers. It was something that was “most broken” — multiple tests and customer feedback reports showed it was problematic for users. Common sense, in hindsight, revealed that the position of the link didn’t follow normal conversational flow. But, the push-back I was getting from the developers made it clear that this wasn’t low hanging fruit.
Yet, fixing other easy stuff was not going to make this problem go away.
The problem with hard-to-fix stuff is that it’s, well, hard to fix. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If it’s most broken, you’ve got to tackle it eventually, but you won’t feel the value of the usability testing. The project may lose momentum. A lot of hard to fix items get put into a box marked “later”, that no-one wants to open.
Everyone wants to find easy stuff to fix because, well, you know why. While editing a label or swapping buttons around is easy to implement, the effect on user experience is usually minor … except when it’s not.
After conducting usability research, look out for things that are most broken, which can be easily remedied. These are the things you should fix first.
I once did usability testing for a new online savings account aimed at seniors. At the end of the process, there was a captcha. But the captcha had no label — nothing to say “enter the letters and numbers you seen on the screen”. One of the people I tested with simply just gave up, despite having gone through the long (and painful) form. The captcha was a show stopper, but there was an easy fix — add a text explanation to the captcha, or (better) just remove the captcha.
Another well-known example of problem solved with an easy to implement fix is the story of the $300 million button.
1% of each $300 million saved as a result of this article can be sent to my PayPal account 🙂