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I'm gonna have a speech about the importance of UX for a bunch of graphic designers that are mainly used at working with print advertising and I want to show the audience how tricky usability could be and how important usability testing is.

Do you have a good example of an exercise that the audience could participate in to really prove my point?

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2 Answers 2

Suggestion: send out email in advance with a link to a "registration" or "survey" page, ostensibly so you can gather some info to help you better target the presentation. On that site, violate a bunch of usability principles (that you plan to talk about). At the talk, start by discussing their experiences.

There is risk that this could backfire if they think "geez, these usability guys don't know enough to design their own site!", so you should say something about that on the page they get after clicking "submit" -- tell them the problems were intentional and you'll be discussing them.

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I've always liked this idea for a quiz - which I came across years ago in hard copy format, so there are probably other versions around.

The basic format is that it says at the beginning

Read all the questions before starting

But as users can see lots of exciting questions they generally ignore this instruction and just start doing the questions.

You let them work away for about 10 minutes - and then when they turn the sheet and read the last question it says

"Don't do anything"

When you do this you'll get a few smug faces, from those people who have actually followed the initial instruction, who sit there quietly smiling while everybody else is trying to work out the answers.

The follow up discussion should cover why the users failed to follow the instruction which was clearly stated on the quiz / on screen...

Here's an online implementation

http://www.nerdtests.com/mq/take.php?id=77

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I like that. as an added focus on visual design vs. usability, the 'read all questions...' could be nice looking 8pt gray text or the like. Afterwards, talk about how perhaps making it 18pt red with arrows might have reduced the error rate and now we can re-test. –  DA01 Jun 19 '12 at 18:35
    
That sounds like a good follow up. It'd be an interesting discussion to ask the question: "Is there a linear relationship between the size of font and whether people notice it ?" - ie if you make the font twice as big, do twice as many people read it ? –  PhillipW Jun 19 '12 at 20:46

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