User research and UX glossary
This glossary aims to present specific words, terms and laws about user research and user experience design. The user research and UX design glossary is not exhaustive and is constantly updated by Ferpection's team. Don’t hesitate to write to us at email@example.com if you want to submit a suggestion.
A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a method of comparing two versions of online content against each other to determine which one drives more conversions and revenue.
Derived from the Scrum method, an agile sprint is a period of time during which a defined objective must be completed and ready for review. Commonly, a sprint lasts from a week to a month, but each sprint must always be the same length. The work to be developed during the sprint must be prepared beforehand and must not be changed once the sprint has started. At the end of the sprint, an evaluation of the work done allows you to continue in the same direction or change course.
A type of prototype that gives a visual representation of the user interface of a website or software application. Unlike static wireframes, in simulation clickable wireframes respond to user interaction.
Similar to a persona, but the difference is that the archetype is more based on behaviours, whereas the persona is oriented to socio-demographic data.
Atomic research is a new method for organizing and classifying with precision the data collected by listening and observing users. Whether qualitative or quantitative, this knowledge from X research (User eXperience Research) is broken down at an "atomic" level, and can then be analyzed. From their conclusions, the actions to be prioritized are determined. This technique is based on 4 phases: - The experience: "we did this"; - Observation of the facts: "and we saw this"; - Insights: "it made us think of this"; - The recommendations: "therefore, we will try to do that".
A questionnaire elaborated by Hassenzahl and his colleagues in 2003, it is a reference in user research. It allows to evaluate hedonic and pragmatic characteristics of an interactive system.
Testing against a set of standard best practices or past performance metrics.
Process for generating creative ideas and solutions through intensive and freewheeling group discussion. Every participant is encouraged to think aloud and suggest as many ideas as possible, no matter seemingly how outlandish or bizarre.
A technique using either actual cards or software, whereby users generate an information hierarchy that can then form the basis of an information architecture or navigation menu.
The circular design is playing an essential role in this new nonlinear economy through building a design thinking process that intends to build new business models. It considers the future of the product that no longer have a lifecycle with a beginning, a middle and an end.
Fast thinking mechanism that impairs judgment, logic and distorts an individual's decision-making. Cognitive biases have an influence on consumption patterns, thinking and psychology, among other things. Everyone is subject to cognitive biases, but it is possible to learn to spot them in order to regain your free will.
User research method to generate new feature ideas with 8 participants. Each participant draws in a screen or feature for one minute (so, 8 minutes in a total) and then share it with the rest of the participants to improve design. At the end of the session, there is a convergence phase with “Best of” to see what features are most liked by participants.
Crowdtesting is a tool allowing a large number of users to contribute to test and / or evaluate a new product, service or concept.
Customer eXperience (CX)
Or user experience : Refers to a person’s subjective feeling and attitudes about using a particular product or service, online or offline. It includes the functional scope, product and brand's perception, psychological expectations, and actual emotional feelings. These are indispensable parts of the user experience. It's important to think the user experience (or customer experience) in its entirety, considering every touchpoints between the user and the brand.
A design sprint is a time-constrained, five-phase process that uses design thinking with the aim of reducing risk when bringing a new product, service or feature to market. The 5 phases, one for each day of the week, are: Understand / Sketch / Decide / Prototype / Test. This method originates within GV (formerly, Google Ventures) from a vision to grow UX culture.
A design system is a design technique aimed at bringing together all the fragments constituting the identity of a brand in its own right. Whether it's graphic or visual elements, resources, code, or even branding data, everything is grouped together and accessible. Usually available online (in a cloud for example) this data is used to improve the productivity and collaboration of a product design team. It is a unique, lively and evolving point of contact, capable of helping teams to produce consistent, qualitative and competitive experiences.
Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.
Research methodology that involves providing participants with the materials and structure to record daily events, tasks and perceptions around a given subject in order to gain insight into their behaviour and needs over time.
First phase of the creation process, the discovery phase aims at knowing your potential users, understanding their habits and needs on a specific subject, in order to design a solution that will fit those.
Approach consisting of taking into account the environmental aspects throughout the life cycle of a product, with the aim of minimizing the ecological consequences linked to its design. Eco-design is a global approach that intervenes at the earliest during the product creation and development phase.
The empathy map is a tool for visualizing and understanding a prospect or customer. The principle is to summarize in a document the perceptions and feelings of the client/prospect, in order to better target their needs and respond to them with relevance. This collaborative work tool is complementary to the persona sheet.
An empathy map is a collaborative visualization used to articulate what we know about a particular type of user. It externalizes knowledge about users in order to 1) create a shared understanding of user needs, and 2) aid in decision making.
Ergonomics applies to the adaptation of a work environment - whether equipment, tool, or organizational system - to the needs of the user.
Also known as shadowing. A methodolgy where the researcher accompanies the user and observes how they use the product or service within their natural environment.
A user experience map shows the users’ needs, expectations, wants, and potential route to reach a particular goal.
Eye tracking is the process of measuring eye activity. It uses tools like special glasses to record what users look at and in what order.
Is a predictive model of human movement primarily used in human–computer interaction and ergonomics. Fitts law predicts that the time required to rapidly move to a target area is a function of the ratio between the distance to the target and the width of the target.
This interface design trend is based on readability and minimalism. With these simple geometric shapes and grid systems, paper graphics flatten and streamline interfaces.
Fly on the wall
Is a traditional observational technique that allows a design researcher to collect data by seeing and listening. This method helps the researcher to secretly gain an insight into the participant’s behavior in a certain scenario.
A focus group is a directed discussion with a group of participants that a moderator guides through a set of questions on a particular topic to obtain feedback (about users, products, concepts, prototypes, tasks, strategies, and environments) and insights to create thanks to the dynamic group dynamic. (Part of qualitative research)
Gestalt laws or Gestalt theories - meaning "shape" in German - break down the way the human eye perceives objects and imagines shapes where there were none initially. These theories were developed in 1910 by the psychologists M. Wertheimer, W. Köhler and K. Koffka. In UX, they are used to take into consideration the visual perception of a user when interacting with the elements of an interface. There are 6 laws of the Gestalt: the law of continuity, similarity, proximity, closure, good form, and that of common destiny.
Hardware refers to the physical material that makes up your computer. It is opposed to software, which designates programs to it.
It is a usability inspection method for computer software that helps to identify usability problems in the user interface (UI) design. It specifically involves evaluators examining the interface and judging its compliance with recognized usability principles (the "heuristics").
Named after British and American psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman, describes the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has: increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time logarithmically.
Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
A multidisciplinary field of study focusing on the design of computer technology and, in particular, the interaction between humans (the users) and computers. While initially concerned with computers, HCI has since expanded to cover almost all forms of information technology design.
Inclusive design principles
They are intended to give anyone involved in the design and development of websites and applications a broad approach to inclusive design.
Structural design of shared information environments; the art and science of organizing and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability; and an emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.
International user research
The act of conducting a study in one or more countries other than your current one. Also sometimes called global research depending on the scope of the project. On top of translations, international research also brings a totally new factor into the mix: cultural differences.
Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know. Jakob's Law was coined by Jakob Nielsen, a User Advocate and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group which he co-founded with Dr. Donald A. Norman (former VP of research at Apple Computer).
Inspired by Lean and Agile development theories, Lean UX speeds up the UX process by putting less emphasis on deliverables and greater focus on the actual experience being designed.
The basic idea of this interface design is that the screen (smartphone or computer) has a thickness on which we can superimpose several layers of flat elements. The designers therefore takes the “flat” elements and gives them a little shadow, discreetly, to materialize their presence.
The average person can only keep 7 (plus or minus 2) items in their working memory. In 1956, George Miller asserted that the span of working memory and absolute judgment were both limited to around 7 pieces of information. The main unit of information is the bit, the amount of data necessary to make a choice between two equally likely alternatives. Likewise, 4 bits of information is a decision between 16 binary alternatives (4 successive binary decisions). The point where confusion creates an incorrect judgment is the channel capacity.
Application vendors consider their mobile users as the number one priority in their development roadmap.
A mockup is a detailed static representation of the design that clearly displays the information structure, renders the content and demonstrates the basic functionality. A mockup is a prototype if it provides at least part of the functionality of a system and enables testing of a design.
Minimal Viable Product, is a version of a product that has the minimum amount of features but can be used for user testing or demonstration. This approach allows for a more elaborate, in-depth testing phase before its potential is determined.
Interface design for which you have to imagine that the background itself is deformed in depth or in relief to create the interface. It is therefore treated as a soft virtual material, entirely plain, often of a slightly cold grey, allowing depth to be created with shadows and light reflections.
An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware and software resources and provides common services for computer programs.
A panel refers to a permanent sample of individuals, representative of a population, periodically questioned about their attitudes, habits, opinions or behaviours.
The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Its origins stem back to Vilfredo Pareto, an economist who noticed 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of the population. Though it might seem vague, the 80/20 way of thinking can provide insightful and endlessly applicable analysis of lopsided systems, including user experience strategy.
Any task will inflate until all of the available time is spent. Articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as part of the first sentence of a humorous essay published in The Economist in 1955 and since republished online, it was reprinted with other essays in the book Parkinson's Law: The Pursuit of Progress (London, John Murray, 1958). He derived the dictum from his extensive experience in the British Civil Service.
Is the characterisation of a user who represents a segment of your target audience. On a project you might create any number of personas to be representative of a range of user needs and desires. Contrary to archetypes, personas are mainly based on socio-demographic characteristics, rather than behavioural ones.
Postel's law can be expressed as follows: “Be tolerant in what you accept from users and specific in what you send to them.” Invented by American computer scientist Jon Postel, its goal is to make interactions more fluid and flexible by reducing the error rate. For this purpose, a certain level of tolerance regarding the errors that the user may make during a UX test is accepted. For example: on a site where you are asked for an IBAN, some will tend to enter this number with spaces, others dashes, and others all attached.
A rough guide for the layout of a website or app, giving an indication of the direction that the product is heading.
Research methodology based on understanding of behaviours, needs and perception of individuals. That's allowed through observation of individuals, or listening and interpretation of their answers and explanations. This methodology mainly replies to the questions "why" and "how". That includes for example indiviual interview, focus groups, ethnographic researches, or remote user tests.
Research methodology based on statistical data. We look at the individuals as a group, and not as an isolated person. That means an adequate number of individuals is required, and that the sample needs to be representative of the target. Individuals answer a survey, giving precise figures as results. These results mainly answer to what and who (vs why and how with qualitative research).
The proportion applied to some identified criteria in order to build a sample of indiviudals. Quotas can make a sample representative if they match to the proportions of the aimed population.
Remote user test
Research methodology set up by Ferpection through its platform. Users have access to missions to test services or products, online or offline. For each mission, they have several steps to follow and describe their experience pointing out positive and negative feedback. Each piece of feedback is illustrated with a picture, a screenshot or a quick video.
A design approach that responds to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. The practice consists of a mix of flexible grids and layouts, images and an intelligent use of CSS media queries.
It’s the roadmap of a project. This agile, iterative and evolutionary method should be put in place from the start of your project to avoid the pitfalls of poorly managed projects. It will serve as a monitoring sheet, a backward schedule and a timetable.
A sample is a smaller, and more manageable group of people, coming from a larger population. It has to include the same main characteristics as the larger group. It can also be representative of this population, strictly speaking, by using specific quotas.
The service blueprint is a technique originally used for service design and innovation, but has also found applications in diagnosing problems with operational efficiency. The service blueprint is an applied process chart which shows the service delivery process from the customer's perspective.
It's the art of forgery in interface design. For example, painting faux marble or faux wood on plaster, or putting diodes on artificial candles to create fixtures resembling the chandeliers of yesteryear. In the world of digital interfaces, we saw a lot of this type of design in the 90s.
This term define any internal program of a computer concerning the dematerialized and rational aspect of computing. Defines in opposition to hardware which describes the physical components of the computer. Ex: Word, Windows, Chrome, etc.
Closed and open-questions. Each question must be carefully written, and can be presented for example as semantic or numerical scales, items checklist, or fields to complete. Surveys are mainly used for quantitative research.
Acronym of System Usability Scale, it's an American standardized survey designed in 1986. Focused on usability, the SUS consists of 10 questions and uses a scale of agreements, ranging from 1 to 5, to assess the level of customer satisfaction. The score is then calculated, and can range from 1 to 100. A score is typically said to be "good" from 75, "correct" or "fair" between 50 and 75 and "critical" for customer satisfaction at 50 and below.
The System Usability Scale (SUS) provides a “quick and dirty”, reliable tool for measuring the usability. It consists of a 10 item questionnaire with five response options for respondents; from Strongly agree to Strongly disagree.
SXO stands for Search eXperience Optimization. It is defined as the combination of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and UX (User eXperience). Its goal is to produce content optimized for search engines and for the user by making his navigation as pleasant and efficient as possible.
The target is the population you want to reach with a product, service or brand.
Tesler's Law, also known as The Law of Conservation of Complexity, states that for any system there is a certain amount of complexity which cannot be reduced. While working for Xerox PARC in the mid-1980s, Larry Tesler realized that the way users interact with applications was just as important as the application itself. The book Designing for Interaction by Dan Saffer, includes an interview with Larry Tesler that describes the law of conservation of complexity.
A file mapping the different tests to come to help the product development.
The Likert Scale
The Likert Scale allows a user to rate their level of agreement with a sentence (question or statement). The graduations generally range from 1 to 5 or from 1 to 7 and are used most often in the case of quantitative studies carried out with questionnaires. Example: "This brand of yogurt is good for your health" - Strongly disagree - Disagree - Neither agree nor disagree - Agree - Totally agree
The Von Restorff Effect
Named after the work of psychiatrist Hedwig von Restorff, the eponymous effect (also called the isolation effect) stipulates that if several similar elements are brought together, the eye more easily retains the one that differs from the others. In UX, this is the reason why calls-to-action are highlighted: the shape may be similar, but the color or location of the button differs.
The Zeigarnik effect
The Zeigarnik effect - named after the Soviet psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik - is applied to an individual when he's forced to interrupt a task in the middle of the process. The individual develops emotional stress, as he does not receive the expected dose of satisfaction when solving the task and will remember it 1.9 times more than if he had completed it. This stress will push him to finish his action as quickly as possible.
A usability technique for evaluating the findability of topics in a website. It is also known as reverse card sorting or card-based classification. A large website is typically organized into a hierarchy (a "tree") of topics and subtopics. Tree testing provides a way to measure how well users can find items in this hierarchy.
UI (User Interface)
User Interface, in the industrial design field of human–computer interaction, is the space where interactions between humans and machines occur.
Is an important quality indicator for interactive IT products/systems. It refers to the degree to which products are effective, easy to use, easy to learn, efficient, minimal errors and satisfying to users. Usability is mainly about the functional part of the product. In a word, “Don’t make me think”.
User experience (UX)
Or customer experience : Refers to a person’s subjective feeling and attitudes about using a particular product or service, online or offline. It includes the functional scope, product and brand's perception, psychological expectations, and actual current emotions. These are indispensable parts of the user experience. It's important to think the user experience (or customer experience) in its entirety, considering every touchpoint between the user and the brand.
User experience questionnaire (UEQ)
A UX evaluation method, through a 2-3 minute survey developed by 3 German experts. The method is introduced as a "fast and reliable questionnaire to measure the User Experience of interactive products on 6 scales: attractiveness, perspicuity, efficiency, dependability, stimulation, novelty."
User flow is the path taken by a prototypical user on a website or app to complete a task. The user flow takes them from their entry point through a set of steps towards a successful outcome and final action, such as purchasing a product.
It's a qualitative research methodology, for which a moderator will talk with a single user. The objective is to have insights about its behaviour, expectations, perception about a defined topic. This can be purely exploratory or include a test of a product or sevice. Interviews can be done by phone, video call or in person.
A user journey is a sequence of steps a user takes to reach their goal when navigating a website. It is simply an experience a user has while interacting with software.
In agile modeling, user stories are one of the primary development artifacts for Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP) project teams. A user story is a very high-level definition of a requirement, containing just enough information so that the developers can produce a reasonable estimate of the effort to implement it.
User centered design (UCD) is an approach to designing a product or service (e.g. user interface design), in which the end user is placed in the center of the process. The primary concern of user-centered design are the targeted end users of the website or the application and which requirements these users will have. User-centered design ensures that the target users easily understand the user interface and find what they are looking for.
The systematic investigation of users and their requirements, in order to add context and insight into the process of designing the user experience. In others words, it's asking your users to place them at the centre of your decision process. UX research is not a technical assessment, even though you may encounter some bugs to fix. UX research is not theoretical research either, as it focuses on finding detailed facts on pragmatic real-life experiences and not abstract principles or theories. It is “applied” research.
A verbatim statement is a raw piece of data which illustrates the exact word by word account of a user, without any modifications. Verbatim statements are commonly used by our teams during user tests.
A rough guide for the layout of a website or app, either done with pen and paper or with wireframing software.