Watch these 10 must-see usability videos…
I guarantee they’ll change the way you think, and design!
If a picture is worth a thousand words than a useful usability video is probably worth several million more. The following 10 must-see usability videos provide excellent examples of practical approaches to usability testing and usability topics. I guarantee that if you watch and internalize the messages from each of these, you’ll change the way you design for the better.
These usability videos can also be used for:
- Demonstrating usability testing concepts
- Training or educating on usability methods and best-practices
- Providing stimulus to your team members to apply key learnings
- Serve as the starting point for discussions of applying usability systematically
I hope you find these valuable and refer back to them from time to time. And if I’m missing your favorite, be sure to add a comment at the bottom letting us know which one you would include.
The top 10 must-see usability videos:
Paper Prototype usability test by Corel Corporation 7:36
This is an excellent video because it effectively demonstrates how to conduct a paper prototype usability test, and record it for subsequent analysis and recommendation. Asking users to walk through a task-flow and observing them pointing to items they would click provides actionable and real data. This information can be used to make tremendous improvements to an application, well before coding ever begins.
SXSW 2010 Presentation – My 3-year-old daughter is my usability expert by Dave Stanton 53:21
This is a video of the very well received SXSW 2010 presentation by Dave Stanton in which he demonstrates how his 3 year old daughter provides usability feedback and demonstrations of key usability concepts. You can learn a lot from a 3 year old! This reminds me of Steve Krug’s point that anyone can be a usability tester and you, as the usability practitioner, can conduct usability testing anywhere, with almost anyone, at almost anytime and learn valuable information.
Usability Testing with Tobii T60 Eye Tracker and Tobii Studio by Tobii Technology AB 3:36
This is a very interesting and well produced short video demonstrating the Tobii eye tracking software and hardware. This brief but very well done video describes how eye-tracking, coupled with the Retrospective Think Aloud method can be used to find, analyze and report usability issues with applications. Although this is technically an advertisement video for Tobii, I find it enjoyable to watch because it’s interesting, describes eye tracking well and has high production values. For anyone in marketing by the way, this video should be considered a best-practice for how to advertise using YouTube videos (without bludgeoning your audience over the head with annoying advertorials).
No, this is not a Star Wars video staring R2D2 and C3PO and yes, as this video demonstrates so simply you can usability test anything with real users and learn lots. In this case we are observing people trying to use a binding machine. Usability is for more than just web sites, it can be used on anything. As with web-based application designers, an industrial designer could observe real people interacting with a prototype device. This could help the engineers conceptualize an amazing number of improvements, based on watching the user interactions, well before production actually begins.
Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug: Usability Demo by Steve Krug 24:27
Watch the usability guru and celebrated author of Don’t Make Me Think and Rocket Surgery Made Easy conduct a usability test. Watching this video is exactly the experience a remote usability testing observer experiences when observing remote usability tests. It’s a great way to see a master in action, including the inevitable and highly-annoying (funny) Windows alert message that pops-up right in the middle of his test (at about 10:30 into the video). Even usability gurus have their sessions brutalized by Windows! Makes me smile in a been-there-done-that sort of way.
The 3 ways that good design makes you happy by Don Norman 12:42
Where does good design and usability come from? It can be said that it comes from the pleasant interactions you have at the sub-conscious and conscious levels with your environment. This video, from Don Norman, another Godfather of usability, was recorded at his 2003 TED talk. It’s a wonderful primer into the various sub-conscious levels at which we interact with our environment and objects around us, and explores what makes up beauty, fun and emotion.
Right Way to Wireframe by Todd Zaki Warfel 4:24
This is a brilliant little video that uses time-lapse (and cool music) to summarize the process needed to; understand your users needs, research and describe Personas, and create wireframes that simulate the application they will interact with, all of which is essential for good usability. This video is by Todd Zaki Warfel who’s an IA and wireframe expert and has a movie-star-looking twitter avatar.
Strike Up The Brand: How to Design for Branding by Jared Spool 47:00
Jared Spool gave an interesting talk on usability and brands at a Google TechTalks event in 2006. It’s a valuable discussion of how people formulate emotional ties and beliefs or perceptions (positive or negative) with Brands, based on their interactions with many different elements that comprise a brand. And I don’t think he complained about a trip in a plane even once!
TEDTalks: The paradox of choice by Barry Schwartz 20:23
Usability optimization is about simplifying tasks and the experience associated with tasks. Psychologist Barry Schwartz argues that in western society we actually are paralyzed and indeed less happy because of too much choice. Watching this should convince you that examining your applications to search for ways to simplify and reduce is exactly the right thing to do to improve usability.
BBC Click Accessibility By the BBC 7:12
Back in 2006 the BCC TV series Click produced a very interesting TV segment on web site accessibility. Among the key findings mentioned was the fact that according to the Disability Rights Commission 2004 study accessible sites were over 1/3 quicker for non-disabled users. This is a significant statistic considering the importance Google is placing on site speed for organic search rankings. I defy any web site developer who uses spacer.gif on their site to try their site on a reader. I’ll bet you you’ll instantly want to rip the design apart and start again, but this time designing the right way with no spacer.gifs.
Conclusion: 10 must-see usability videos worthy of your time
My bet is if you watch each of these, and input what’s being discussed, it will dramatically change your designs. You’ll probably end up being far more focused on user-centered design, will test much more than before, and will apply best-practices of minimizing and reducing obfuscation in all the work you do from now on. Enjoy!
PS – If I missed your favorite usability video be sure to mention it in the Comments!