The Experience Lab Blog

Three Benefits of Upfront User Research

Posted by Bryan Campbell on Aug 27, 2015 8:00:00 AM

We regularly get called upon to evaluate the usability of various websites or application UIs. In many cases, we’re evaluating a website, an application, or piece of hardware that’s already very far along in the development process (i.e., basically finished), and now the client would like a user testing evaluation.

This has always really baffled me! How can you create something for someone else without so much as an inkling of what they might need? Imagine building a house for someone only to realize after you’re all done that the house needs to be wheelchair accessible. I bet you’d wish you had known that from the beginning and would have done things differently if you had.

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Topics: User Research

Navigating the FDA’s Draft Human Factors and Usability Engineering Guidelines

Posted by Bryan Campbell on Aug 24, 2015 8:00:00 AM

The FDA provides a wealth of information about how to implement human factors processes in the design of medical devices, throughout the product lifecycle, with the goal of improving “the usability of devices to reduce use error, injuries from medical devices, and product recalls.”

While certainly a laudable goal, this body of knowledge can oftentimes be overwhelming and vague to industry outsiders, leaving readers wondering what to do next or where to even begin. In this post we’ll introduce the overall content themes found in the FDA’s draft guidance on human factors and usability engineering (HFE/UE) and explain why they’re necessary.

Be sure to join us on August 26, 2015 @ 12pm CST for a 1- hour webinar where we'll share practical guidance for meeting the FDA’s guidelines for implementing human factors processes in medical device design.

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Topics: Usability, User Research, Webinars

What Clients Should Know About Usability Testing

Posted by Bryan Campbell on Aug 12, 2015 8:30:00 AM

Occasionally clients contact us about conducting a usability test without knowing exactly what they’re asking for. Sometimes this happens because they’ve been told testing sounds like a good idea, sometimes it happens because they read something somewhere that intrigued them, or sometimes it’s because they know they need to test their product but don’t know if they should outsource or not. Regardless of the reason, there’s occasionally a learning process that clients go through when it comes to usability testing.

We’d like to share a few of the more common things that surprise clients when it comes to usability testing:

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Topics: Usability

Five UX & Design Quotes to Inspire You

Posted by Angela Schmeidel Randall on Aug 12, 2015 8:00:00 AM

It's half way through the week. After spending so much time hunched over computers or stuck in meetings selling the value of usability, let's take a moment to be inspired by the words of wisdom of our peers. 

Here are five UX quotes curated by our UX team to inspire you this humpday. Enjoy! 


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Topics: Quotes

5 MORE Reasons Why Your User Experience is Frustrating

Posted by Bryan Campbell on Aug 10, 2015 8:00:00 AM


In June we shared with you our opinions on the top five reasons why your user experience is unpleasant. We’ve given it some more thought and decided we didn’t want to stop there. Everyday we run across websites or other UIs that simply weren’t designed with the user in mind. This month, combining our more than 25 years of evaluating user experiences, we’d like to share five more reasons why your user experience is likely unpleasant:

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UX Research Method Spotlight: Card Sorting

Posted by Angela Schmeidel Randall on Jul 16, 2015 11:01:00 AM


We’re starting a new blog series here at Normal Modes that we’re affectionately referring to as the “UX Research Method Spotlight.” In this blog series we’re going to highlight our favorite (and most valuable) UX and usability testing methodologies. Each entry in the series will focus on a user research technique that we’ve found particularly helpful in the past. Our goal is to provide you with an overview of each technique as well as a discussion of the pros and cons of that particular research methodology. Most importantly, we’ll also discuss what types of research questions each technique does (or does not) answer and at the end we’ll provide a list of additional resources to get you going with that entry’s technique.

Keep your eye on our blog, webinar series, and UX resources and for our upcoming in-depth look at each analysis method.

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Topics: Usability

When to Outsource Usability Testing

Posted by Angela Schmeidel Randall on Jun 25, 2015 8:30:00 AM


At Normal Modes we love helping people. It’s the core of all our user research and it’s what we specialize in and it’s what we love.

Over the last several years we noticed the demand for our training services skyrocketing. More and more organizations are investing in their staff and training them to be the people who conduct usability studies. We love this trend, we really do! There’s never anything wrong with more people focusing on the user experience and learning how to assess their user experience with actual users.

Nevertheless, we’ve also noticed that investing time and resources into is not always economical or even good idea. We believe that sometimes bringing in an outside firm that can be more of an asset to you and your team than training. 

Here are a few instances when you know it’s time to outsource your usability testing:

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Topics: Usability

Five Steps For Creating An Awesome User Experience

Posted by Bryan Campbell on Jun 23, 2015 8:30:00 AM


We spend A LOT of time reviewing user experience. One of the things we’ve learned is that awesome user experiences do not just happen. They’re the result of careful planning and dedicated execution. We’ve had the opportunity to be a part of many different design processes and one thing we’ve learned is that the best user experiences all have a several things in common. Here’s what we believe are the five steps necessary for creating an awesome user experience.

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Topics: User Experience (UX) Design, Usability

5 Reasons Why Your User Experience is Unpleasant

Posted by Bryan Campbell on Jun 17, 2015 1:19:00 PM


Technology is changing the way we interact with the world at such a rapid pace these days that it’s never been more important to focus on the user experience. From Fortune 500 corporations to one-man shops, more and more businesses every day are learning that marginal user experiences aren’t cutting it any more—there are just too many alternatives out there.

We’ve compiled a list of five reasons why your user experience is probably unpleasant:

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Topics: User Experience (UX) Design, Usability

7 Reasons It’s Time to Dedicate Time to UX Training

Posted by Bryan Campbell on Apr 29, 2015 8:00:00 AM


During the lean years of the recession when budgets were tight and hours were long, skills development training sort of fell off the radar—companies stopped spending precious dollars on something that wasn’t a tangible work product. With revenues on the rise, we thought it was time to start talking about training again. 

We understand that spending money on training, due its intangible nature, is sometime hard to justify. It’s easy to fall into this line of thinking, so let us offer seven reasons why you should dedicate time to training in 2015:

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Topics: User Experience (UX) Design, Usability