Interviewing someone about their level of understanding is a very different thing from conducting a standard user interview.
Some organisations do their own testing. Some testing is better than none. However, the benefits of using an independent researcher for information resources are:
- It's obvious - independence. People who test their own material sometimes hear what they want to hear. Independent researchers hear everything.
- The second reason is interviewing skill. Interviewing someone about their level of understanding is a very different thing from conducting a standard user interview. Interviewing someone who is confused and potentially embarrassed about being confused requires professional interviewing skills. We are research experts who have studied conversation science, so we know what users mean when they 'think aloud'.
- Standards. We are members of the Research Society. We abide by a Code of Professional Behaviour that mandates privacy protection for example.
Our skill with language
While factors such as site or page design and layout play a key role in user experience, at Susan Bell Research our focus is on language, such as
- The words that users don't understand or have to guess the meaning
- How readers read, and where they engage, what they skip over, where they stop, and why. Much of our work has been on resources that regulators and others want users to read and understand.
When presenting our findings we use our linguistic expertise to explain to how the information can expressed more clearly, so that more people understand, use or comply with it.