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Professional Services: Research

All usability claims should be evidence-based. This means that a map claimed to be easier to use should be better in an objectively measurable way. Hence it should be shown that people are faster, more accurate, plan better journeys, or remember the network better than with alternatives. My research consistently shows that people’s opinions on map usability are uncorrelated with objective measures, in other words some people prefer maps that are difficult to use and reject maps that are easy to use. Do not fall into the trap of asking users to choose the designs that they think will be easiest to use.

DLR Train map

With over 25 years of psychology research experience, many scientific publications, and 15 years specifically investigating transit mapping, I am uniquely qualified to devise and implement usability tests for maps which will pinpoint the most effective designs and highlight the weaknesses of least viable Daily Mail Thames article ones. In partnership with
FWT studios, the maps on display on Docklands Light Railway stations and trains were chosen from usability tests that I designed and implemented. The stronger designs had clear advantages over the weaker ones, and the results of the studies have been published.

Mistakes can be expensive, but the cost of basic usability testing can be
less than the design costs of creating and refining prototypes. However, there are many pitfalls for the inexperienced researcher conducting such studies. Poorly-designed research can result in inconclusive findings or, worse, designs that are rejected by the general public.

For all enquiries

Contact me at this email address:

What I can offer

Design and implementation of all stages of usability testing, devising sound methodology that will provide clear evidence to show whether, for alternative designs, there are usability differences that
are likely to impact on the general public. Alongside, data can be collected to infer acceptability of
the alternatives.

  • Literature search and conceptual analysis to determine whether the proposed designs and innovations can be assessed on the basis of past research.

  • Construction of research protocol using tried-and-tested methodologies alongside innovations needed for the particular requirements of the client.

  • Creation of materials including test maps, questionnaires, journey planning tasks, and programming of computer software if required.

  • Data collection which can be conducted in partnership with the University of Essex.

  • Data analysis using appropriate statistical tests.

  • Presentation of findings and report writing with statistical test results explained, alongside clear recommendations in the light of them.

  • Follow-up research if required.

The basic research methodology for usability testing can be applied in many different contexts, so that the efficacy of wayfinding information, or information design in general, can be evaluated (such as formatting of pre-flight checklists). Feel free to contact me if requirements go beyond the evaluation
of transit maps.