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You Can Observe A Lot By Watching.

July 4, 2014 at 9:46 am PST
Usability Testing at CiscoLive!

Usability testing a support mobile page at the NetVet lounge with NetVet Mike Williams.

Recently at CiscoLive!, we spent a full week with customers and partners doing in-detail usability tests of Cisco.com and some of our mobile sites and apps. This is one of the main methods we use to make our web and mobile easier.

What’s a usability test? Something different than you might think. While you’ve probably heard of other research techniques like focus groups and surveys, usability tests and listening labs are a way for us to learn through observing how people use our sites: We have someone sit down in front of the screen and ask them to do a task that they would in their real work day. This could be solving a support question, researching a new product, finding the right download, investigating a new API, or any number of other things.

Here’s the difference between a usability test vs. a focus group or survey: In a focus group, a facilitator often throws out an idea or scenario and gets a group of people to comment on it. The people in the room will tell you what they might like… they will build on others comments… they may give you some great ideas! But, you won’t really be learning by observing. You won’t understand the kinds of things they will actually do in real life, because you’re asking them what they think they would do. You aren’t observing.

But when we observe people using our mobile apps or web sites, we can see lots of things. For instance:

  • We can see the areas that trip them up (even if they report to us that the experience is just fine)
  • We can see the areas where they’re getting the wrong result (even if they think they’re getting the right one).
  • Or sometimes even technical problems that we see and can troubleshoot, but they can’t.

We recommend running usability tests or listening labs at multiple stages for major projects:

  • At the beginning of the project – when you want to understand current state and also look at how competitive or best practice sites and apps are doing.
  • In the middle – while you’re still developing, and direct observation and feedback can make a huge difference
  • Before release – so you can catch any last-minute problems
  • After release – because sometimes when outside factors and environments affect the app or web experience in way you can’t expect (for instance, how and whether people can find your site topic on Google or other search engines, and how they interact with the results).

Even though this sounds like a lot of testing, there are some new techniques you can use to get real user feedback very quickly – within hours or days. I’ll talk about that in a future post.

Meanwhile, keep testing. And, remember baseball legend Yogi Berra, who said:

“You can observe a lot by watching!”

Yogi Berra

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Empower Your Employees with a #MobileWorkspace

byod

[Webinar] Mobilize Your Employees with Cisco Solutions for a Mobile Workspace

We discussed the considerations behind the Cisco-Citrix Mobile Workspace solution to set the stage for the CVD (design guide available now!) earlier this month, and now we’ve planned a great technical deep-dive for customers and partners interested in finding out more about the Mobile Workspace Solution. It’s going to be at 10am PST Wednesday June 4, 2014 (Click to Register).

 Organizations are moving from just dealing with bring your own device (BYOD) and the influx of mobile devices to proactively developing solutions that use the full power of mobility. Because of the complexities and fluid technology horizon, this is often simpler said than done. Now you can simplify and accelerate your mobility projects by deploying a comprehensive mobility solution that has been tested and validated end to end.  Read More »

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Cisco.com Search Tune-up: The little things count

May 15, 2014 at 6:36 am PST

There’s a nice article by Web analysts SiteIQ this month about Cisco.com search, with the flattering headline “Cisco aces search again…” The post points out how we do little things like how we:

1. Link to Google for more search, in case you didn’t find what you were looking for, or if you want a second opinion…

Site Search 5-15-2014 6-00-45 AM

2. Collect the highest-value links at the top of a page…

Site Search 5-15-2014 6-00-20 AM

3. Offer search directly from our megamenus….

Site Search 5-15-2014 5-58-07 AM

 It’s an interesting short article worth a read. Enjoy!

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Going Mobile? Get Secure.

There is no turning back from the mobile trend. With more devices comes the insatiable hunger for bandwidth. After devices are connected to the network, IT must make sure each is secured and provisioned. Creativity is needed to handle these high-density environments and enforce proper policies for mobile security, while juggling other responsibilities for the business. That complexity can be a huge headache. IT needs tools that can help make the whole process simple and fast.

Enter Cisco’s secure enterprise mobility solutions. Cisco’s 802.11ac (the latest Wi-Fi standard that enables more devices and bandwidth), Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE), and Cisco TrustSec solutions join forces to simplify the high-density, secure mobility experience.

Join us for an engaging webcast on March 5 and learn how this combined Cisco solution can relieve your mobile device management and security headaches. Hear how Erickson Living, a trusted name in retirement communities known for innovative approaches to supporting resident needs, relied on this Cisco solution to provide high-quality, secure connectivity and a simple user experience.

Register today to learn how Erickson was able to level up to 802.11ac with heavy considerations for mobile security and how Cisco provided the tools to easily manage always-on, secure wireless access.

Get your questions answered with live Q&A. You will not want to miss this webcast. Register here.

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HDX Blog Series #1: Why Spectrum Intelligence Still Matters

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a four-part deep dive series into High Density Experience (HDX), Cisco’s latest solution suite designed for high density environments and next-generation wireless technologies. For more on Cisco HDX, visit www.cisco.com/go/80211ac

CleanAir for 802.11ac:  Why Spectrum Intelligence Still Matters

In wireless networking and communications, as with life, nothing good comes for free. It’s well known that the primary feature of the new IEEE 802.11ac amendment is support for an 80 MHz-wide channel. The benefit of an 80 MHz channel is the potential to double usable throughput in comparison to that of 802.11n using a 40 MHz wide channel.

However, what is less well known is that a wider RF channel is also more susceptible to interference. In other words, 802.11ac devices “hear more” than 802.11n devices, primarily due to the wider channel support. It should be noted that this is not a flaw in the 802.11ac amendment, it’s simply basic communications theory.

Nevertheless, there is far more to building an 802.11ac access point than simply meeting the standard. Not all 802.11ac access points perform equally without interference. But more importantly, not all 802.11ac access points perform well in the presence of interference.

Furthermore, there is far more to deploying High Density wireless LANs than only considering the performance of individual access points. Read More »

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