[Case Study] Max Scheugl's Tips for Usability Testing

Max ScheuglMax Scheugl is an experience design consultant at kununu. Before that, he ran a company called Nofro Research+Design that helps companies visualize and test their digital product ideas before starting development. Wireframing is one of his core techniques, along with multiple rounds of usability testing along the way.

Q&A with Max Scheugl

What industry do you work in, and what is your title or job description?

I work in the business management consultant industry. I’m a user researcher and interaction designer in Vienna, Austria. I have worked on iOS, Android, Windows and web projects with the publishing, financial and travel industries.

Your website says that you help "in the early phase of development". Why do you focus on that phase? How do clients respond to that?

The processes I use requires being part of the project team early on.

When I redesign a product or built a new one, the processes I use requires being part of the project team early on. Clients who want to add usability at the end of a project are not my favorite clients.

What suggestions do you have for someone looking to succeed in your role or industry?

Get a usability certification from the International Usability and User Experience Qualification Board (UXQB). This organization is transparent and their curriculum, glossary and a complete set of certification test questions are available on their website.

Get a usability certification from the International Usability and User Experience Qualification Board.

Their glossary helps to make the usability industry more usable by establishing a common vocabulary. By the way, Balsamiq delivers low-fidelity wireframes, not high-fidelity mockups ;-).

Rolf Molich owns a small Danish usability consultancy that he founded in 1993. Beside that he is policing the usability industry and we desperately need more people of his kind. Read his Comparative Usability Evaluation studies, in which more than 100 professional usability teams tested or reviewed the same applications. I love Rolf’s scientific approach to practical, day-to-day user research work.

Why and how do you use Balsamiq Mockups?

Balsamiq Mockups is highly optimized for low-fidelity wireframes. "With only one click you can add a scrollbar to a screen" is how Peldi, the Balsamiq CEO, convinced me in 2010 to switch from Microsoft Visio to Balsamiq. And I have never looked back.

Peldi convinced me to switch from Microsoft Visio to Balsamiq in 2010 and I've never looked back.

Max's wireframe and implementation for the ING mobile app.

What is your process, from the first client meeting to the end of engagement?

Stakeholder interviews and the client's annual report and corporate identity document help me learn about the people and the project. Competitor analysis helps me learn domain knowledge and industry standards.

Observing users, reviewing platform style guides, and listening to employees are the basic principles I build my work on.

Observing users solving tasks during usability tests, reviewing platform standards described in platform style guides and listening to employees sharing their knowledge are the basic principles I build my work on.

My design process starts with sketching and copywriting.

My design process starts with sketching and copywriting. Either with pen and paper or in Notepad/TextEdit. Then I continue wireframing with Balsamiq Mockups Desktop. If I’m feeling adventurous, I use the Beta version of Balsamiq Cloud ;-).

I iterate early and often with the stakeholders and real users by running usability tests.

I like to move to code as soon as possible. Since I am a designer who doesn’t code, this means collaborating with developers.

A post-launch usability test ends an engagement.

Wireframes for kununu.

How has your process evolved over time?

The amount of collaboration has increased over time. And to my surprise, that's been fun! And the quality of the products has improved as well.

Do you have any tips for usability testing wireframes? What about usability testing on mobile devices?

I like to do four rounds of usability tests:

  • In the 1st round of usability testing I print my wireframes on paper and run a Wizard of Oz usability test. This validates the product idea, information architecture, user flow and copywriting. Iterating the wireframes with these learnings, I also add basic interactivity.
  • In the 2nd round of usability testing I use tap-able wireframes on a device.
  • In the 3rd round of usability testing I use a coded prototype or high-fidelity mockups. This validates the interaction design, visual design, and the transitions between screens.
  • The post-launch usability test validates everything together using the user's device and data.

paper prototypesPaper prototypes for a mobile usability test.

Mobile screen recording has evolved over time, making usability testing on mobile devices an easy and enjoyable task. It started in 2013 on Android with CyanogenMod Screencast by Koushik Dutta, the first reliable, untethered and no-root screen recorder.

In 2014 Google added a screen capturing API to Android 5.0 Lollipop, which meant that mobile screen recording was no longer avant garde but heading mainstream. In 2017 Apple may add untethered screen recording to iOS 11. Let’s hope it will be usable for usability testing.

Do you have any feature ideas or suggestions for how we can improve our product(s)?

  1. The ComboBox height is 24 pixels only. I also need 44 pixels height for touch devices.
  2. Color: In the color palette please highlight the active color.
  3. Add Find and Replace.
  4. A line of text in an iPhone wireframe should equal a line of text on an iPhone. I have the feeling this is not the case. This would help when you do copywriting in Balsamiq.

Thanks, Max, for sharing your tips and your process!

Do you have a story to share about the awesome things you do with Balsamiq? Send an email to champions@balsamiq.com with your stories or blog posts!

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