Peeking in to the minds of users.

peeking_into_the_minds_of_others

No matter where you start, users will always interpret your UI differently than you intended. Even the most intuitive interface in the world gets misused. Often the confusion leads to frustration, though occasionally it leads to increased utility as the user goes about using your tool for something you hadn’t considered before.

At the end of the day, you need to peer in to the minds of your users to see what they are doing, so you can help shape your interface to provide better value. One tool that I use from time to time is “Peek”. This is a tool offered by the guys over at Usertesting.com. They provide a recorded session with a random tester interacting with whatever web page you specify.

Since Peek is a free service, it only gives you a teaser of the real value that UserTesting can offer. That’s ok though, because one thing this free service allows you to do is to perform a quick litmus test on your messaging and UI. The user will spend five minutes answering general, but useful, questions about the page they are looking at. If anything confuses them, it will get called out. Additionally, they will provide feedback on their initial impressions of your messaging. They won’t go read every word. Instead, like a real user is apt to do, they will scan the text and graphics then share what they think the page is trying to convey.

Getting a peek inside the mind of a random user has its uses. Seeing as the only cost is time, it is probably worth doing every once in a while just to sanity check and make sure you are on the right track.

-Joe

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