The number of items that can be held in short-term memory or that can be the focus of attention, as stated by George A. Miller in his 1956 paper. The number applies only to retention and recall of information, and not to recognition. “The Magic Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information” (The Psychological Review, 1956, vol. 63, pp. 81-97).
Affinity diagramming is a participatory method where concepts written on cards are sorted into related groups and sub-groups. The original intent of affinity diagramming was to help diagnose complicated problems by organizing qualitative data to reveal themes associated with the problems.
Braindrawing is a type of visual brainstorming in which a group of participants sketch ideas for designs, icons, screen layouts, or other visual concepts.
A method for generating ideas, intended to inspire the free-flowing sharing of thoughts of an individual or a group of people, typically while withholding criticism in order to promote uninhibited thinking.
Brainwriting is a method for quickly generating ideas by asking participants to write their ideas on paper (or online) rather than announcing them in traditional group brainstorming sessions.
A way of learning about a complex instance through extensive description and analysis. The case study articulates why the instance occurred as it did by exploring the factors contributing to its success or failure, and what one might consider in similar situations.
A method for identifying the strengths and weaknesses of competing products or services before starting work on prototypes.
A method for organizing information that involves sorting a series of cards into groups that make sense to the participants. Each card represents a single term, function or object. Card sorting helps to reveal users’ mental models, or patterns that the end users would expect to find.
The human ability to group information into related small sets, which can then be stored in short-term memory. By keeping information in smaller pieces, the functional storage capacity of the brain is increased.
The aspect of usability that focuses on facilitating the users learning of an interface, with minimum time and effort spent in the learning phase.
The attribute of usability that focuses on task completion, guiding the user through all parts of the task and ensuring that the task is properly completed.
The attribute of usability that focuses on being able to accomplish a task in minimum time with a minimum of effort.
The attribute of usability that focuses on capturing and holding the user’s attention and interest.
A person who guides the process of conversation and helps team members work together in the most effective way possible. Often a facilitator is an outside consultant or non-project team member to ensure objectivity and continued focus on process instead of content.
Metaphor brainstorming is a method for generating metaphors and extracting aspects of those metaphors that can be applied to the design of hardware, software, processes, and services.
A person that works with a group to regulate, but not lead, a discussion. Whereas a facilitator might take charge of a discussion to shepherd it in a specific direction, a moderator remains passive, without explicitly leading the process or driving a desired outcome.
A study conducted on a paper version of a design to get feedback early on in the design process.
A lightweight initial design of an interface or product, used to capture initial concepts and layouts to gather feedback from users, as well as project participants and stakeholders.
A project overview that includes repeatable phases. These include: scoping the project, planning the project, implementing the plan and evaluating the project.
The creation of low-cost representations of the user interface to a system as a method of brainstorming, creating, testing and communicating ideas about the system being developed.
A story which has the key elements of a realistic situation when the user would interact with the system being designed or evaluated. The scenario includes consideration of the user’s goals, tasks and interaction. Scenarios can be created for user groups, workflows or tasks to explore, understand and test the different types of needs and goals.
A representation of the information that can be found on a Website or of a system. When presented as content on a Website it is typically organized in a hierarchical listing. Alternatively, the same information can be represented with boxes and arrows that visually show the hierarchy of the interface.
A technique for illustrating an interaction between a person and a product (or multiple people and multiple products) in narrative format, which includes a series of drawings, sketches, or pictures and sometimes words that tell a story. Read more about the Storyboard method.
Usability is the degree to which something – software, hardware or anything else – is easy to use and a good fit for the people who use it.
How people orient themselves and navigate in a built environment, both physical and virtual.
Rough outline of navigation and content elements that make up a user interface. Typically visual design and precise layout are not addressed.
A user-based evaluation of unimplemented technology where, generally unknown to the user, a human or team is simulating some or all the responses of the system.
A planning process that breaks down a project’s goal into the tasks required to achieve completion. Estimates of time and money required are then estimated based on the task analysis.
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