It’s been a busy October for FMG’s UX team. The week of October 13 was jam-packed with two professional conferences both chaired by our team lead, Dr. Jennifer Romano Bergstrom. David Hawkins presented at the Eye Tracking and UX Design Conference, while the rest of the team (Jake Sauser, Jon Strohl, Christian Gonzalez, and Jen Romano Bergstrom) presented at UXPA's User Focus DC 2014 Conference. To share our experiences with you, I'm including a few of the UX team's favorite takeaways.
Eye Tracking and UX Design on October 16, 2014
David Hawkins and Jen Romano Bergstrom presented “Eye Tracking the User Experience of Forms and Surveys.” They talked about the studies we have done at FMG and discussed the implications for form/survey design, including the placement of instructions. Through many usability tests of forms and surveys, they found that people tend to ignore long blocks of text and jump immediately to areas that have clickable buttons and links. After their talk, David sat on a panel with other presenters and talked about the design implications for cross-platform experiences.
When I asked Jon Strohl about the most interesting takeaway - he mentioned the difficulty in properly analyzing and interpreting eye-tracking data and how this often leads to misleading or false conclusions. This topic was covered in Andrew Schall's presentation, where he showed how heat maps are often misused in UX studies. For instance, heat maps only present the relative fixations on different parts of the page and are generally not informative about total fixations and the order in which they were occurred. Jon mentioned that he hopes future conferences cover this more and wants to learn more about how conclusions are generated by researchers when often times researchers make different inferences from similar data. This is an area to improve upon in order to move the UX research field forward.
In talking with FMG's Jake Sauser, he mentioned learning different ways to use eye tracking analysis. One of the most interesting ones was Veronica Zammitto’s presentation about how eye tracking is utilized in video game testing; examples were provided mainly of sports games, and we were able to see how eye tracking can tell game designers how well menus, heads-up displays, and cinematics are processed by game users.
UXPA DC’s User Focus 2014 on October 17, 2014
FMG was proud to sponsor UXPA’s User Focus Conference that featured two keynote speeches and three parallels sessions at a time and covered various topics such as cultural sensitivity, personas, accessibility, visual design, and many more. In his presentation “Eye Tracking Mobile: How to get started?”, FMG’s Jon Strohl talked about the additional challenge of eye tracking for mobile devices compared to webpages. For example, when you do eye tracking on a desktop computer, the software aggregates the data across participants and uses URLs to group the data. But with mobile devices, there is yet to be a software (that we are aware of), to parse out the pages. He also mentioned that eye tracking should be considered as a complementary component to other usability studies that enable the researcher to enrich her story and to find more evidence for interpretation of the results.
In another presentation, FMG's Jake Sauser discussed how conducting iterative UX research with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has ensured that the CFPB products are meeting the needs of their end users. He discussed the mission of the Paying for College site, the research and design approach for the iterative testing, and findings and insights from the three rounds of research and design. Difficulties regarding designing and testing for multiple audiences with different needs, as well as testing and iterating with live and prototype versions of the site, were discussed.
Another highlight of conference was when FMG's UX intern, Christian Gonzalez, presented about some of the more theoretical analysis methods of eye tracking, such as weighting Areas of Interest based on their size and location on the page to inform better quantitative eye tracking analyses.
Although it’s only been two months, I feel that I’ve landed in the right place. Fors Marsh Group is an environment that features a balanced mix of what I like in academia and in industry: being rigorous while practical, collaborative while competitive, and being pro-social while having “people” at the center. I look forward to sharing more UX/Design insight in the months ahead.