The day I met my client's clients' clients

A photo of Shane and some Ovis Aries in Dublin cityOn my way into a client meeting recently, I noticed that a rally was being held outside. 
My client is a major agricultural organisation and the rally comprised farmers from all around Ireland. In order to get media attention, they had taken some sheep with them into the city. The animals there corralled into pens outside the offices.
The rally was good-natured and so I decided to talk to the farmers. Given how much time I spend on Persona and User Analysis, I couldn't miss this chance. I approached a farmer, asked permission and was allowed to take some pictures.
As a result, I think I have gone further on this project than any other. I now have a profile of my client (the organisation), my client's clients (the farmers) and my client's clients' clients (the sheep). Can't get more thorough than that.

World Usability Day Ireland: oversubscribed

We well surpassed our target yesterday. We set ourselves a provisional figure of 60 users. I think we got 90-odd in total.
As yesterday was Guinness World Records Day (as well as World Usability Day), I wonder if we could apply for an entry?

Our findings

It will take a while to collate everything we have learned. However, some things stand out loud and clear:
Aer Lingus: Very few people saw the 'Multicity' option on the homepage - probably because it is styled as a link. Change it to a radio-button to align it with the existing "One way" and "Return" options.
Bus Eireann: People were irritated at having to insert their departure date on the homepage and then AGAIN after clicking 'Go'. Ease the pain. Use a session cookie to carry the user's selection over from the homepage to avoid double data entry.
Irish Rail: Few people could find information about carrying bicycles on trains. And when they did, the instructions were in a PDF. Annoying! Not only that,  it was worded "Service that can accammadate bicycle transfers". Spel chequer anyone?
By fixing such simple things today, these companies could do a lot to increase Gross National Happiness.


Thanks to all who helped out and to the people who came along to support us.
The video below shows some of our final volunteers (and the clean-up that awaited us).

The Great iQ User Test

Next week myself and my colleagues in iQ Content will be running Ireland's biggest ever user test. This is us doing 'our bit' to support World Usability Day.
From 9am next Thursday 13th November we will be pulling in people off the street to test some of the country's top transport websites. This includes such chestnuts as:
  • Dublin Bus
  • Irish Rail
  • Ryanair
The aim is to guage just how easy they are to use by Séan and Síle Citizen. We will then collate our results and feed the information back to the site owners. If they have any sense, they will use this data as a starting point to improve their sites.

Lots of room for improvement

If my experience is anything to go by, we should be flooded with recommendations. 
For example, the Irish rail website is a truly abominable
I challenge any one to book anything on that site without at least one error. If nothing else, perhaps the press coverage this event will get may shame them into a few remedial fixes. 
PS - feel free to join us on the day, or afterwards for an extended post-mortem over a few drinks in the Dandelion. The address is below. 
Dandelion Café Bar
St. Stephen's Green
Dublin 2