10 UX Tools and Resources
10 October 2009, Rupert Hughes
A quick check of Google shows 148 million results for “User Experience”, and more sites and blogs are popping up everyday. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to sort the wheat from the chaff, so here are 10 tried and tested sites that we keep returning to for guidelines, tools and sources of inspiration from the world of usability and user experience.
1. Useit.com: Jakob Nielsen’s Website
In existence since 1995, this is the original online usability resource from one of the forefathers of online usability. If you’ve got a usability issue or want to know the latest thinking on practically any UX-related subject, then you’ll find something here. It’s worth signing up for the Alertbox email too. The site’s look and feel is also an object lesson in what happens if you let usability principles alone drive website design.
2. Research Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines
Compiled by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, this library of pdfs provides 209 guidelines on all aspects of web design and usability. The material was last updated in 2006, so hasn’t kept up with technology improvements (e.g. it refers to 90% of web users being on 1024×768 resolution monitors), but the general principles are sound and still worth referring to.
3. Functioning Form – User Experience Diagrams
A great source of visuals for presentation or inspiration. There’s diagrams here that help explain most usability concepts. I’ve found printing out a few pertinent ones and scattering them around the walls of the design department to be a great way to keep web designers’ minds focused on their user.
4. Usability Net: Methods Table
A simply fantastic resource to help you decide on the best usability techniques to use for any given project. You define your project by 3 simple criteria and the site highlights the methods that’ll work best for your situation. You can then click through to read a full write-up of what’s involved in each method.
Card sorting’s a great way to develop your information architecture and this site lets you do your card sorting online. Particularly good if you need to get perspectives from a widely distributed group of people and haven’t got the resources to visit them all. You can sign up for free and use it for small projects, but to get the most out of it, you need to pay.
Online journal for all types of web design issues, but with particular focus on information architecture and interaction design. Great source of new thinking and opinion.
7. Business as a Design Experience
Video of an inspiring and insightful seminar given by Jesse James Garrett (founder of Adaptive Path and author of The Elements of User Experience) in 2007. Great resource for anyone trying to explain to senior management in a large corporate why “experience” should be at the heart of everything. If you don’t already know why you should care about user experience, then you should watch this.
Leisa Reichelt’s blog about her usability work and general UX issues. Good source of opinion and ideas frequented by a large community of usability professionals.
9. Juicy Studio’s Readability Test
Excellent online tool for determining the readability of any page on your website. Great for finding out whether your content can be properly understood by your target audience and as a way of checking that your copywriters are doing a good job.
If your site’s not accessible, then it’s also not fully usable. Accessify has lots of great information on accessibility issues and a great set of tools to help you build, maintain and test accessible web sites.