New answers tagged methodology
Simply based on the information in the link you provided, I think the answer is "the sooner the better". Maybe it's something that's decided upon before realizing changes need to be made. i.e.: making the entire company's website more user-friendly > Finding out the shopping cart isn't user-friendly at all and deciding something should be done. If done ...
I agree with Steve Psomas in The Five Competencies of User Experience Design. Visual design is one of the competencies. Still, you shouldn't be perfect in all of those.
Interesting question. I think visual design is about making something attractive to use while interaction design is about making users understand how to use it. But if a button isn't being seen beacuse it's color is the same as the background, it isn't very useful, is it? Still in my opinion interaction design isn't about the visuals, it is about how things ...
He / she probably needs to know something of visual design - but not too much. Otherwise they will lose the ability to 'take one step back' from the world of visual design which is what their role requires.
In my opinion it is very essential to combine not only function but also form to have a complete and round experience of the product you are creating. Yes a interaction designer should definitly know how to do visual design. Does he therefore need to exectue it everytime? No.
In the situation you describe, you have to test the whole. If you have just designed something, you want to know if it works at all. For this, always test the whole. The point of a complex system is that it is more than the sum of its parts. Reactions to parts will not predict reactions to the whole. In many situations, some parts won't even make sense ...
You can tack on any old questions onto the end of a thinking aloud session. If you've seen some issue keep coming up it gives the user a bit of time to just have a chat about it which can be quite enlightening. However I'd be vary wary about attaching too much importance to any kind of 'scoring' at this point - the poor user is probably tired and thinking ...
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