Optimal Card sorting?

What are you gone crazy? the information architecture of Optimal sort is questionable, as per my view the IA is good but it has missed a major chunk that is critical for the repeated users.

Optimal sort

Let me explain it, I was in UK for a UX project for BSI-British Standards Institute. We planned to conduct a card sorting, the best choice we felt is optimal sort and i going forward created an account for optimal sort.

I remember my user id and password for optimalsort website. Now after 6 months when i came to the optimal sort website there is no link that will take me to the login page.

hyenalabs-card sorting

User Login section is missing on the home page

It says sign up but there is no login section

The major sections of the website is

Tour | What is it? | Sign Up | About us | Blog  

But where is the login section? This can be resolved by including a link that says, login here.

Social media - where we are going

Today social media, is kool to indulge in but we can say that we are going to a place where we can have 150 friends and connections and when the time comes no one will lend you a $ 100 dollar bill.

It is a fact, but it will need more drill down and sync in. Let me explain it to you.You will have a twitter account and there are 200 people who follow you, but that does not mean they love you or they will help you. They follow you because you tweet some porn jokes every 1 hour or some other thing.

So what is the solution for this, i am not a sage to tell you the answer right now, but i say that there are ways in which social media should touch the human stuff of real connection.

You may have a linkedin connection in town, but are you willing to hang out for coffe this week end.The answer is no. Think about this aspect of social media and you will be astonished to some extent.

Let us try to create a better world by making social media more touching. You can not consider yourself better because you have more friends or more connections online. It depends on are you really connected to the people.

How to prepare for stakeholder interviews - a analysis + guide

As UX architect's and consultants we all have seen or at least heard about stakeholder interviews. In this blog i will show you how to prepare for stakeholder interviews . So let us see how we go about. Before a stakeholder interview is conducted a invite letter is prepared to send across the stakeholders. I am going to speak about the invite letter here, You will learn how to create one, send it and then conduct the stakeholder interviews.

Two types of stakeholder interviews

In person interviews - interview may last from 30 minutes to 60 minutes
Group interviews - with 4-5 people it will usually take more than 60 minutes

Lets begin

Step 1: Decide the type of interview you are going forward. If you are going with the group interview then there will be a slight change in the Agenda of the interview, the change i will explain in the below sections.

Step 2: Create the invite letter. The stakeholder interviews are done based on some questions, these questions are wrapped in a invite letter and send. A typical invite letter will have the below section. Take a word doc and illustrate the below sections and Magic happens - you have prepared the stake holder invite letter.


  • Objective of the stakeholder interview
  • Scope
  • Venue
  • Agenda
  • Questionnaire

A typical objective can be
"The stakeholder interview is designed to gather business insights form the key experts who are working with the product. The focus of the interview is to gather the business needs and user needs form the stakeholders. A set of suggestive questions will be posed and their list is at the end of this invite letter."

A typical scope can be
"The stakeholder holder interviews is totally focused on improving the user experience of the site. The inputs gathered will help us to define the persona and usability goals."

"You know what should go here - when where you are going to conduct it"
If there is a bridge booked then, mention the bridge numbers.

Agenda is a little tricky, i am giving you a example. Please mention the time zones correctely, EST or IST.....
A sample questionnaire is mentioned below. You can tweak the questions below and send this word doc to the stakeholders .

1. Define purpose/vision for the site

* What is the purpose of the site?

2. Develop goals for the site

* How would you define a successful Web site for your organization?
* What does success look like? How will you know when you have been successful?
* How would you describe the site?
* From an organization’s viewpoint?
* From a user’s viewpoint?

3. Define audiences & goals

* Who are the users of the site? (Primary and secondary users)
* How would you describe the users? (User characteristics, i.e., age, experience, education, etc.)
* Why will they come to the site? (User needs, interests, and goals)
* When and where will users access the site? (User environment and context)
* How will users access the site? (User computer settings, i.e., connection speed, resolution, etc.)

4. Conduct task analysis and prioritize tasks

* What will users do on the site? (User tasks, content, features and functionality)
* Which tasks are critical to users’ success on the Web site? (Criticality)
* Which tasks are most important to users? (Importance)
* Which features of the site will users use the most? (Frequency)
* Which features are prone to usability issues? (Vulnerability)
* Which tasks are critical to the organization’s success on the Web site?
* How often will users frequent your Web site?
* What will compel users to return to your Web site?

5. Determine measurable usability objectives

* Which tasks should users be able to accomplish easily with few errors? (Efficiency)
* Which tasks should users be able to finish quickly and efficiently? (Effectiveness)
* What level of satisfaction should users have after using the site? (Enjoyability)

6. Discuss expectations, requirements & preferences

* What is your vision of what the site should do?
* Describe your initial view of the project. What do you think the project should entail?
* What prompted the redesign?
* Who will be the key point of contact?
* Are there any restraints, mandates, or guidelines for the site?
* Are there any sites you would like to model or a particular style that you prefer?
* What characteristics/attributes/attitude should the site convey to users?

7. Determine accessibility requirements and needs

* Is the site currently accessible?
* What type of accessibility testing has been done?
* What types of accessibility tools are being used?
* Who is the key point of contact on accessibility issues?

8. Identify available resources and training needs

* What level of resources is available for site updating and maintenance?
* Do you have content writers skilled in writing for the Web?
* Are there graphic designers on staff?
* Who will be responsible for programming and maintaining the site?
* Who is in charge of site marketing and promotion?

9. Discuss initial technology needs

* What are your hosting needs?
* Do you currently have a domain name or do you need a new one?
* Are you currently using a content management system? If so, which one?
* Are you currently logging Web metrics? If so, what metrics are you currently capturing?
* Do you currently have a search engine? If so, what type of search are you using?

10. Timeline and Project Plan

Step 3: Send the invite letter.

Step 4: Conduct the stakeholder interviews.

The above composed docs can be send as an invite letter to the stakeholders. The idea behind the invite letter is to make sure the stakeholder knows what you will ask and they have clue, and if they want to do some R&D they can do and come.

If you need more precise help, please send and e-mail to smartsanjaykumar@gmail.com
I would be happy to help.

Happy stakeholder interviews.

How to talk UX with Stakeholders and Business people

We all are social beings, however we may stumble upon when we are trying to talk sense. Its so easy to gossip and talk crap but when it comes to talk business, it needs a good sense of confidence and self respect.
Let us try to digg into the facts and get some ideas on how to talk UX with stakeholders. Some key pointers that may help, in the end it depends from person to person and business to business.

1. Comfort zone - The first thing in interaction with stakeholders is to develop a level of comfort. Its like selling, you can not just bump in and throw 10 -20 ideas in one meeting. Let them put some effort in knowing you and develop the comfort zone.

2. Progressive disclosure - Do not be a open book, no one like to watch a movie with all the main scenes shown before the movie. Will you like to go to a suspense movie in which the suspense is known to you. No .....Right... so the idea is to show your expertise on a daily, basis make them understand one concept and build the next concept the next day or next week.

3. Ice breaker - if you have good experience in dating you can see that the ice breakers are talking of childhood, college, movies, interests etc. Similarly here the story takes a different way and ends up in talking about

  • Who you are - slide 1 will say
  • UX methodology
  • Current scope of the project - understand the business problem
  • What will you do - Solution
  • How will - Approach
  • Time lines
  • Deliverable - what is there for stakeholders
  • Benefits they will get - how business will grow/progress etc
  • Case study - the last slides
4. Meet often - Meet the stakeholders in their office and speak about the way you are helping the business, always speak what you are doing. If you are sending a meeting request, please go 1 floor up and ask them if it meets their times, or call them and confirm.

5. Show them the future - Talk how the future will be, how the people will benefit by this kind of design.

6. Talk in their language - Businessman are good in numbers, so make sure you are good in this trade. Speak in numbers like,

"I have conducted the expert review and my predictions suggests that the user will face 4.79 usability issues when he will try to complete a task on the site"

"The current experience of the site is between 6 to 7, if we perform a usability testing with the users, we can try for experience score 9 to 10."

"Focus group is good with the users, but it is more profitable to do before the application is designed, so we can have 100% control on the feature list"

"I agree with your point, a good expert review can highlight approximately 60 to 70% of the issues in the application."

Kool i think the above lines which are my lines in a recent project are enough to highlight the importance of Mathematics in UX design.

7. Work as a team - Talk with other team members, and highlight the work you are doing, how it is going to impact the project. The basic idea is to have a good rapoo with the team. If you are able to say sir ji " jara is ko dekh lo, i am sending it to the stakeholders" then all is fine.

8. Company management - Stay in touch with the company management and be aware, about their plans. Are they ok with your approach etc.

9. Smile - You know smile is a killer, i got attention from many people because of my smile. God bless, you should smile, laugh and enjoy all that is their in your plate. A smile will take you a long way.

10. Be yourself - No need to try to impress anybody, if you be yourself i feel 60-70% of work is done. The rest is your work and talk.

11. Explain - explaining your thoughts is important. I believe and agree with JFK that - a person should be able to speak and let the world know what he is, before people start making assumptions.

12. Thought process - Sharpen and remove the clutter from your design thought process, i know it will take a lot of efforts to do this but try for this.

13. Good Presentation skills - Last but one of the key skills to sell UX.

I think this is enough for now, go smile and talk to the stakeholders.
Do you want to talk more - smartsanjaykumar@gmail.com

Best of luck!

How to do task analysis?

What is task analysis?
Task analysis is performed for critical tasks that determines the fate of the web application.For example in an Airline website the critical tasks would be
- Search for flights based on price,timings,special offers & destinations.
- Airline ticket buying
- Finding Help & support

Each task is given to users & there behaviour,actions,system responses are evaluated.Mostly the person performing the task analysis accompanies the user while he or she is performing the task.

hyenalabs-task analysisUser details & background
Name: Sanjay Age:25Gender: male
Education Qualification: B.E
Competency Level: Expert
userOccupation/Work: User Experience Consultant
Objective to visit the site: Book a flight ticket
Problem Faced by Sanjay while performing the task: He did not know that on fare offered dates the tickets are already sold out He is not able to return to the booking page after selecting the seat.He is not able to figure out at what step is he inHe is not sure for which flight the tickets he has chosen for the TO journeyHe is also not sure about the seats for which he has chosen the ticket
Task result: Successful in completing the task There return tickets on the selected dates were sold out so he could not book the ticket.
Step by step description of task perfomed with system responses(In a flow chart)
Step1: User enters the login ID, password in the form & clicks on submit button
System response 1: The personal page is displayed with a welcome message stating the user name.
In this way the whole process is depicted on the single slide.
Multiple slide task analysis presentation
In multiple method screen shots of user steps & system responses are taken. Each screen shot is illustrated with the following details.
Page name: NYSE login page
Click no: 1
Refresh no:1
Activity: User types the URL in the browser ,he is looking for the login section. He easily finds it ,enters his credentials & clicks on Login Button.
System response: The page refreshes & the user is taken to the user home page.
Observation: User is interested to view the dividends on the home page.
Last but not the least
Finally in the end summary of observations & recommendations to improve the task will follow as shown below.

Design of the task analysis form?
After determining the tasks to be analyzed, a form is prepared to be filled by users who are going to perform tasks.A typical form will have an introduction,description of the tasks to be performed,user form,user notes,user feedback & disclaimer.
Task performance by users.
The users are given the task analyis form, they fill there details & continue with the task assigned.The expert who is perfoming the task analysis accompanies the user & notes down the user actions, the time he took to complete the tasks etc.

Presentation of the analysis.
The task analysis can be presented beautifully in the form of presenation.There are two ways to present it.
Single slide task analysis presentation
Multiple slide task analysis presenation

Single slide task analysis presenation
The complete task analysis is shown in one slide is the ground rule.This type of presentation we go when we are intrested to have a small presentation & the task is not so complicated.The slide will have the followings elements.




Observations & recommendations
1.It took 4 clicks for the user to accomplish his task.
2.Select period scroll bar is an intuitive feature in the application.
3.The Information Architecture of the application is user friendly so User does not face any major problem in completing his task.
4.Visual graphs to display the dividends data helps User to easily analyze the data & make decisions.

User experience design

Are you bogged by the terms used by UX architects and other UX professionals. I am defening some of the terms and the hidden meanings of each one.

User experience design has major areas such as




  • Interaction design

  • Visual design

  • Usability testing

  • Protptype engineering

  • User research

  • Information architecture


I am not going to tell what each section mean, but you need to Google it or spend some more time on this website to get a feel of user experience design perspective.

1. Information architecture - is the structure of the website/application. The content organization of the application.It deals with the grouping of information in sensible chunks.

2. Task - task is a planned action that needs to be taken by the user of the application/website.

3. Flow - is the " experience of group of pages together". Eg. registration process. Flow connects pages to support tasks.