A Practical Guide to Information Architecture
Simple steps to create better information architecture in your own projects, large and small. Read it now »
A glossary of terms that newcomers to the field may find confusing.
Sometimes half the battle in learning a new field is getting your head around the jargon. UX is no exception, unfortunately—which is why we’ve created this glossary of common terms. We’ll continue to update this with more terms as we come across them.
Have a suggestion? You can contribute to, share, or adapt this collaborative glossary on GitHub.
- [N] (#n)
Agile is a project management methodology often used in software development. The Agile development process enables teams to adaptively plan, test, develop, and continuously improve products. Because teams work in incremental, iterative work cadences, known as sprints, Agile encourages rapid and flexible response to change.
Agile UX adds UX design and research methods to the agile methodology. The most important driver for Agile UX is the close cooperation between developers, UX designers and UX researchers during the entire process of product development. Ideally, every sprint entails a design and/or research goal. By planning, testing, optimizing and re-testing elements throughout the project, the UX team is able to roll out a final product that has already been validated by their target users.
Automated business processes save time and budgets. Just like software for Marketing Automation, UX testing tools allow to digitalise user research efforts and accelerate every part of a project. Online UX software do not only allow to systematically plan continuous studies and manage the recruitment process, but to automatically gather and filter usability data, create individual research reports based on UX metrics and to easily export and share results within an organisation.
To determine the user experience of a website, it is essential to compare it with its competitors. Within a UX benchmark study, participants perform the same tasks / test the same key processes on a company’s and its competitors’ websites. Results help establish best practices, form baseline performance metrics, identify problem areas and build a vision and direction for product strategies for the next product release cycle.
Card sorting is an established technique to improve the Information Architecture of a site. It is often used to help structure, organise and generally improve the “findability of content or functionality” on a website, (Rubin and Chisnell, 2008, p. 18). Users come to a website with expectations of how they will interact with a site and the language and terminology they will find there. Card sorts help improve the way information is structured on the site so that it matches users’ mental models.
See Screenshot Click Testing.
See Prototype Testing.
CX includes the experiences customers and potential buyers have with a brand whenever the get in touch with a company throughout their customer journey. Every customer touch point (physical, digital, human) influences the Customer Experience and thus the brand strength and popularity. User experience is an essential part of CX.
By validating designs UX design teams make sure their design or re-design meet the expectations and intentions of use of their defined target users.
Effectiveness Ratios show if users or test participants successfully complete a predetermined task on a website, mobile website or app. Also see quantitative user data.
Efficiency Ratios show how long users or test participants need to complete a predetermined task. Also see quantitative user data.
Information architecture refers to the structural design of a website, mobile website or app and includes the science of organising and labelling information to support usability and findability.
In-Lab Testing refers to tests with users conducted in a usability lab and requires a moderator. A limited number of participants usually perform tasks to test prototypes, mock-ups, websites, mobile websites or apps. Participants are not in their natural context of use, so data can be distorted. On the other hand, it enables researchers to conduct focus groups and obtain in-depth feedback and explanations.
With (email) invitation links companies can invite users to participate in a research study. The link redirects to the study. If customer profiles already exist in a company’s contact list (for example by age or gender), multiple invitation links can be used rather than one. If an organisation still needs to profile users, participants can be profiled by asking initial questions at the beginning of a study.
See In-Lab Testing.
Iterative Testing are tests, which are repeated multiple times in order to detect usability issues and improve usability.
Mobile Usability Testing are task-based usability studies on mobile websites in order to obtain quantitative and qualitative data from participants while they use their own smartphone or tablet.
Mobile App Usability Testing refers to the process of testing the usability of a mobile app remotely. Users take part in a study on their own mobile device. This allows app owners to collect mobile data from users in their natural context of use and to measure, manage, and improve the app’s performance during the first phases of deployment.
A modal window (also called a ‘modal dialog’ or ‘heavy window’)is a child window, dialog or popover element subordinate to an application’s main window. It creates a ‘mode’ that disables interaction with the main window while keeping it visible behind the child window. Users must interact with the modal window, even if only to close it, before they return to the parent application. This provides a way for interactions to occur in a screen separate from the workflow on the main window. Often used for image galleries, login prompts or alerts. They can be ineffective due to mode errors, especially if not intentionaly triggered by the user.
Multichannel or Omnichannel Experiences are related to the experiences customers or potential buyers make when interacting with a brand. They typically use a variety of channels to research product information and compare offers.
The NPS measures how loyal users are towards a brand or product. The question used to determine their level of loyalty is: “How likely is that you would recommend “this brand / website / product” to a friend or colleague?” The NPS is calculated by using a 0-10 scale. Respondents are grouped in brand promoters (9-10), passives (7-8) and detractors (6-0). Subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters results in the Net Promoter Score. It can theoretically range from -100 to 100. The NPS’ average depends on the industry sector. If an organisation’s NPS is better than those of competitors, they will likely outperform the market.
Online surveys are a way to gather customer, user, and employee feedback. If an UX software allows integrating surveys in a user study, researchers can combine user feedback with UX metrics obtain through task-based usability studies.
User panels are specialist groups, which evaluate the design, usability, and content of a site. With their feedback and insights it is possible to create products and experiences along the expectations and needs of a company’s target group.
UX designers usually create prototypes of website or features and test the Information Architecture before new products are further tested, designed and programmed. A prototype usually As the name suggests, Prototype Testing is a test of any kind of designs and concepts: functional prototypes hosted online in tools like Axure, Justinmind or iRise, other high-fidelity prototypes, low-fidelity prototypes, mock-ups and other new product concepts.
RUT is an unmoderated task-based online study on any web-based interface (website/app, prototype, mock-up) with geographically dispersed participants. Participants take the study simultaneously, in their natural context, using their own PC or device. Unlike traditional in-lab user testing, RUT does not require a moderator and lab facilities; this enables companies to reduce research costs, save time and improve the frequency of testing.
The ROI is a measuring method to calculate an investment’s efficiency.
While users perform a task of a study, their screen will be recorded in order to analyse and understand the users’ behaviour.
Screenshot Click Testing allows you to evaluate first impressions and first clicks on your wireframes or website screenshots. Users’ click locations are recorded and conveniently presented as a heatmap, displaying first and all clicks. Screenshot Click Testing is perfect for design and UX teams testing the design validation of new or existing sites, as it allows to measure effectiveness by gathering success and error metrics, in addition to the findability of important content. Screenshot Click Testing is an integral part of the roadmap in navigational redesign.
Task-based User Research is a task-based study that is normally conducted in a usability lab and requires a moderator. A limited number of participants test interfaces (prototypes, mock-ups, websites). A critical aspect is that participants are not in their natural context of use, which can lead to imprecise results.
Think-aloud is a qualitative research feature that can be enabled in Remote Usability Studies and Mobile Usability Studies. During a research session, UX researchers can capture audio feedback, user videos, on-screen activity and keyboard/mouse input. Because users participate in their natural user context, UX researches can analyse the participants user experience under real conditions.
A tree test is a usability technique to evaluate findability, labeling and organisation of websites’ navigation structure or information architecture. It helps to detect navigational issues early in the design process and to measure how well users can find items in a hierarchy.
True Intent is a research approach that enables companies to obtain a more holistic view of how well their website, mobile website or app is doing. True Intent Studies bridge the gap between Web Analytics and Online Surveys. By capturing both attitudes and behaviours of your actual site visitors in the context of what they are trying to do on the site, researchers are empowered to make informed decisions about site changes.
Usability Testing is conducted to detect usability barriers and to improve the usability of human-computer interfaces. The testing methods include Card Sorting, Tree Testing and Screenshot Click Testing among others. A good usability is one of the requirements for a positive User Experience.
UX Analytics are important for knowing how User Experiences are going. There are different tools to obtain analytics metrics. While companies used to run focus groups, client interviews and in-lab studies, today the right testing software enables organisations to conduct user research online to scale and quantify results continuously.
See also Automated UX Research.
User Experience Design deals with user satisfaction improvement by continuously optimising the usability, accessibility and satisfaction given during the interaction between users and a product. This contains visual design, information architecture, interaction design, findability, usability, structuring, organisation and labeling.
UX is what a user experiences when interacting with a user interface. UX influences the entire customer experience and users’ brand perception.
User Experience is not an istitutionalised study subject yet. Thus, there are a lot of UX certification programs out there: all of them from different institutions with different main focuses, lengths and prices.
Companies that continuously conduct user experience research can implement UX monitoring programmes. They define how often and with how many participants data will be collected. To analyse and track results and trends, they develop a standardised view to visualise result data. On a UX dashboard data will be updated in regular intervals. For example, a UX Dashboard can contain information about conducted online surveys, Competitor’s Benchmarking and Conversion Rate Optimisation on single Pages of the company’s website. In this way, companies can ensure that the results are being addressed to the proper recipient.
UX Management is the discipline that takes care of providing business outcomes through optimising the experiences that users have while interacting with the company brand. UX management is important to show the impact a good user experience can have on business and why it is worth to invest in UX research.
Video Questions allow UX researchers to record customer feedback during a remotely conducted mobile usability test. Participants film their feedback and ideas on their own mobile device. Users record their comments while they are surfing on your mobile web or prototype or while they are experiencing your product in one of your stores or at home.
VoC studies are user tests that are based on online surveys. They enable companies to improve the user experience of their websites, generate user profiles, assess user behaviour and measure the level of customer satisfaction. Immediately before or after their visit of a website, users are invited to a study through a layer or a feedback tab. Participants perform tasks and provide feedback to different issues that vary considerably, depending on their sector of activity.