How To Develop Intuitive User Experience

Don’t you love web sites that just seem to “get you”? Everything on them seems to be placed exactly where you want them. That’s not an easy experience to create, but Eric Stephens showed me how to do it using listening labs.

Eric learned how to do listening labs when he worked at Creative Good, a consulting company focused on good user experience.

Eric Stephens

Eric Stephens


Eric Stephens is the Director of User Experiencee at Mahalo and co-founded, an online guide to beer menus at local bars, restaurants or beer stores.

A few lessons from this program

You’ll have to listen to my full interview with Eric to hear step-by-step instructions for conducting a listening lab for your web site, but here are some of the basics:

Basically – In a listening lab, you interview people about how they use the web and watch as them use it.

Be a fly – The most important element of the process is to try to be a fly on the wall. You want to see how people use the web when no one’s there.

Find subjects – You want to study people who are in your target group. You can find them by posting an ad on Craig’s List. When you’re starting out, you can save some money by interviewing your friends.

Interview – First thing you do is ask your subjects how they use the web. Your goal is to create a list of tasks that you want to watch them do online. Don’t go fishing for information. Just listen. When they tell you that they use your competitors site make a note of it. If they tell you they have issues, make a note of it.

Watch & listen – At this point, you get them online and ask them to do the tasks you wrote down. Get them to put their brains on “speaker phone” so you can understand what they’re doing.

Suggest – Suggest they use your site. If possible, don’t tell them that it’s your site. You don’t want to bias their reaction.

At this point, you’ll notice problems with your site that need to be fixed ASAP. Eric says they’ll be so obvious you’ll feel the pain. You’ll also know more about your users’ overall internet experience, including how they interact with your competitors.

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