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UX Tip #27 Usability Sessions

Have you ever come across an aesthetically appealing website, which was so impressive that you were forgiving when the usability wasnt all that great? In usability sessions, it is possible that a users first overall impression of the product clouds their impression of other specific features or functions. How can we be sure whether the participants thoughts and feelings about the product are truly reflective of the functionality and flow, or if parts of their experience have been overlooked? There are several things you can do to mitigate this halo effect. When discussing a product, ensure that each evaluative statement made by the user is explored in more depth in terms of what they specifically like or dont like. Using low fidelity prototypes (black & white wireframes) can also reduce the likelihood of participants becoming distracted by more subjective aspects of the product such as attractiveness, and allow them to focus on usability. You may therefore find value in gauging the opinion of participants while designs are still in the wireframe phase.