Quick and dirty user testing…

By Onlineability,

We were amused today by an article in Guardian Professional – a great business resource, by the way, if it covers an area relevant to you – as follows:

What the UK government can learn from Google autocomplete

Inspired by this amusing blogpost from Canadian thinktank the Mowat Centre, I decided to do a version for the UK public sector. Here’s what policymakers – and government communicators – can learn from the most popular questions typed into Google.

Much of it revolves around money; lots of people want to know what they can get out of the government, be it maternity leave, sick pay or funerals.

Google also reveals some of our wackier concerns, including what the plan is for when zombies attack. Or aliens. And when will the government start cloning us? Read the full article here.

This is an excellent example of “quick and dirty” or “guerilla” user testing. Just because you don’t have access to a fully-featured UX lab (or the money to buy in people that do) doesn’t mean you can’t find innovative ways to get an insight into what your users or potential users are thinking.

Of course, you do need to apply at least a bit of critical thinking, to work out what biases may have crept into the results. But it’s great to hear about imaginative ways of finding out about user behaviour – if you’ve got any good examples, leave us a comment.

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