“Er” and “Um”: Banish filled pauses to improve your communication

It’s not just, er, what you have to say; how you, um, say it matters too. While it’s painful to read written language containing “er”, “um” and “uh” (collectively known as filled pauses), their use in spoken communication is commonplace and subconsciously undermines the messages received by listeners. If you’ve never considered this before, you’ll now notice it everywhere, from radio presenters to work colleagues, and you’ll almost certainly be using “ers”, “ums” and “uhs” in your own speech. If you can stop yourself from doing this, your communication skills – critical for any good User Experience designer – will be elevated considerably.

User interface design

Test driven design

If you’ve worked with developers, you’ll be familiar with the concept of ‘Test Driven Development’. The basic principle is that the functional requirements of a given task or feature are used to create specific tests that the code will need to pass. The tests are written before the code, which helps developers know exactly what’s required of them and what level of quality is acceptable.

When designing a system, starting with testing in mind is a powerful way to improve usability and the overall user experience.

Usability testing

A practical guide to writing product usability test questions

If you have a well-developed wireframe, prototype or existing product, you can use usability testing to gather valuable data on the system’s user experience quality as well as identify any specific usability failings. Whether the tests are moderated or unmoderated, when it comes to writing task questions for the tests, there are rules that should be followed to ensure effective testing and reliable data.