Day 3-Interrupted UX: Add a Dose of Reality to Usability Testing

— We are excited to talk to you today about the concept of Interrupted User Experience


— Before that though, we will share a quick story with you


— We typically design for perfect path
  • But do you design and plan for an unexpected path?


— Take a look at this example from Cleveland, Ohio
  • The City of Cleveland did a renovation of its public square, so that it was shaped like half of a butterfly
  • But looking at it, we can see that people are cutting right through the square with a desire path, as fastest route
— As researchers and UX practitioners, are we building this kind of desire path into our UX research?


— We want to share why/how/what this all means


— First, an introduction
  • I’m Mark, a User Researcher from Progressive Insurance
  • I’m Tony, and I am a UX researcher from Meta
— We will be talking about interrupted design


— It’s a fascinating topic, as we will give you many things to think about


— Let’s go through the What, Why, How?, and When?
  • What: Find out what exactly interrupted UX is
  • Why: Discover why it’s important
  • How: Understand how to perform it
  • When: Uncover when to run it


— What is interrupted UX all about?
  • What is the interrupted user-experience and building in interruptions for usability studies
— In real-life interruptions happen, from connectivity to phone calls
  • We need to build these interruptions into our user research


— Interrupted UX will get us a deeper understanding of end-user and behaviors at more complex level and more realistic understanding of research findings


— If you think about your everyday user experience, you are constantly getting interrupted.
  • As we moved to 100% remote UXR, and want to figure out how to build those interruptions
— Three steps were decided on


— The steps are investigate, separate, frames:
  • Investigate: Do research to grasp context and problem space and interruptions happening
  • Separate: Distractions from Tasks, and seeing what goal is and how to accomplish it, and build it into a usability study and get understanding on user experience
  • Frames: Carefully bring people back to the test
    • Let’s us introduce realism and how it matters


— Why is this important?


— Meet Sal our sales rep, our persona for this presentation
  • Our fictional company is  building new market disrupting software for sales people
— In our generative research, Sal is key persona using the software
  • What kind of interruptions may Sal get when trying to sell something?
— Sal can encounter disruptions related to communication, alerts, connectivity issues, weather disruptions
  • Think about disruptions like a phone call and interrupting a participant
    • Throughout a test we can ring up participant and go through imaginary call and disrupt their workflow, as that is normally what would happen in the field


— This is important for many reasons, but here are top five:
  • One: Increased participant interaction
  • Two: This is more realistic for the user, as it lets them get immersed in test reality, and let us find higher quality discoveries
  • Three: Get more accuracy of research
  • Four: Increasing discovery output, and in more realistic situation you learn more about emotional context and how they handle challenges
  • Five: You can make product-centric decision to due to realism
    • See Erik Meyer’s book “Persona in Crisis”, which incorporates unexpected changes in personas


— Three different models that merge together
  • Based on thinking about how people interact with reality and how a worldview is created
    • The Actual Product, Creator’s Model, and Customer’s mental model overlap, but this helps us understand it
  • It will bring it to more realistic practice


— So how to do this? Let’s talk about it


— First, observe the context you are trying to understand
  • Grasping interruptions and how they conflict with goals user has, and ask questions with the observations
  • Grasp the expected situation and try to learn and accomplish on what to improve on
  • Recruit and find right participants who are match for the studies
  • Select an appropriate method like a moderated usability study
— Many methods available for research to build in realistic scenario


— Back to Sal
  • We pointed out he might get interrupted, and as we talk through process
  • Grasp interruptions and align to research goals
    • For sales rep, chatting inside the tool and keeping track of context, may require interrupting Sal with the call and sending out an email
  • We can also stop them in the middle of doing something and then come back
    • This a contrast to usability studies where things are completed in a continuous stream
  • Also think of what to build in with an emotional event or accident or something extreme coming up



— How to do this?
  • Find the persona or personas through observations, as everything will go back to the audience. Take the time to define them, as you’ll need that
  • Communicate with the participant before the study and clarify there will be a disruption and that it’s non-typical and that they are not being tricked by it
    • If interruption happens, try to eliminate any frustrations as much as possible. That is the most important thing
  • Determine nature of the interruptions against the research goals, prototype fidelity whether low-medium-high
  • Interruptions should be in-tune tune with a specific prototype


— Interrupting phone calls, and increased tech issues
  • Balanced preparation and preparing people for study
— Managing emotions to make sure interruption doesn’t eliminate stress completely, but grasping how it will impact someone and balancing as much as possible
  • Use dry-runs to see emotions
— Use the appropriate interruptions that are realistic for the user


— As to when to induce an interruption look at the Story Curve when planning things out


— The Story Curve is reflected in any movie or book. Interruptions should happen in the center of the story, after allocating five minutes and getting into the actual study
  • There should then be ten minutes of ramping down and maintaining the rapport to a create a comfortable less stressed out space


— Let’s talk about the Goldilocks principle in terms of fidelity. What is it?
  •  The higher the fidelity better it will be, given the time that’s available for the study
    • Low Fidelity prototype can do interruptions and disruptions, but that will be based on the time available


— But when to do this? Let’s go back to Sal
  • Think about the persona, culture, and everything for an audience for most the likely scenario to do the interruption
    • This varies according to the industry


— Grasp realistic scenarios and build it into every usability test


— Add the interruption supplementally and use it with product development
  • It will be analogous to using eye-tracking in usability studies
— Think of interruptions as useful and effective, and as professionals consider it as a tool in your utility belt
  • Add interrupted UX to your toolkit, and run your own experiments


— In summary, there are four things to think about
  • Everyone is planning for the expected path, so consider the unexpected path especially with disruptions in work environment
  • To properly measure:
    • Understand differences in studies and seeing what comes out and what doesn’t have disruptions and differences
  • Increase the accuracy and reliability of research
  • Finally, not only will there be increased engagement, the development team and product owners are observers, based on tools used and moderated usability session, so get them involved in the process


— Thank you. Are there any questions are out there?
  1. Why do interruptions increase output?
—> When you put interruptions in, the subject sees patterns revealed by the disruption, such as where did we put the info in, and is thinking of missing features out loud, as well as other things happening in the moment


—> We typically design things for happy path, not the unhappy path, and interruptions reveal the unhappy path
  1. How do you ensure you are remaining ethical in this practice without agitating the  participant?
—> Like we mentioned before let them know the study is non-typical and  that stress may be involved and that it will be a realistic situation in context
  • Get sense of where the usability study will cause stress, and grasp when people are stressed out
—> Depending on scope and what you’re creating , you may also need legal sign-off