News bulletins

2014

Online bank mortgage application forms tested (WUD)

2014.11.14

For World Usability Day (WUD) on 13 november, we conducted a comparison study of 8 Swedish bank web sites. 25 participants were each given the task of finding interest rates and then completing an online application form for a mortgage. Large problems were identified across the online forms, which resulted in most applications contains incorrect data for a mortgage credit decision. (Further information about the study is currently only available in the Swedish press release).

Hospital system usability study

2014.08.26

We are currently conducting an interview and observation study of doctors and nurses in several different parts of Södersjukhuset. The study focuses on their use of several of the main IT systems used in the hospital. The objective is to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their user interfaces and provide recommendations for improvement.

Voice interaction study

2014.06.24

Usability Partners has conducted a large evaluation of synthesized voices for interactive TV applications. The study was conducted with over 100 participants as well as a number of professional voice specialists.

Responsive website testing for Nordea

2014.05.30

As part of a new website design project, Nordea asked Usability Partners to evaluate a responsive web design. The site, which will be launched in several countries, was evaluated by target users on a PC and a tablet, as well as on users' own smartphones.

Skandiabanken's new mobile app

2014.03.17

We have recently conducted two user-based usability evaluations of smartphone app prototypes for Skandiabanken. The prototypes included new online banking functionality and an updated UI design.

In-depth user interviews for Bring

2014.02.28

As input to a coming re-design project, Usability Partners has conducted a series of in-depth interviews to explore the needs and behaviour of users of web-based post and logistics handling systems.

2013

Field studies for Unibet

2013.12.11

Usability Partners has recently completed a series of field studies studying how mobile devices are used for gaming/betting in different environments.

IT-systems in healthcare (WUD)

2013.11.13

For World Usability Day (WUD) on 14 november, we conducted a survey of 250 people who regularly use IT-systems in their work. As healthcare systems were in focus for WUD, the survey included 50 people in the healthcare sector, as well as 200 working in other sectors. Respondents rated a variety of aspects concerning how they experienced the IT-systems in their work. Ratings from workers in the healthcare area differed greatly on one key point - they judged that their opportunity to influence the development/design of systems was extremely low compared to users in other sectors. The study received some coverage in the media, e.g. "Vården struntar i användarna" (Computer Sweden, in Swedish).

User studies for Fora

2013.06.27

Fora administers collective insurance premiums (including pensions) for approximately 200 000 companies and their employees in Sweden. Usability Partners has recently conducted usability testing of parts of Fora's online service for companies.

Scandinavian user experience study for PostNord

2013.04.10

PostNord has chosen Usability Partners to conduct a large user study of its websites, with a wide range of target groups. The study will include work with sites in Denmark (Postdanmark.dk), Norway (Tollpost.no), Sweden (Posten.se), as well its corporate site (Postnord.com).

Iterative usability testing for Handelsbanken

2013.03.22

Handelsbanken has a number of web development projects ongoing and Usability Partners has been supporting them with iterative usability tests to help ensure the designs, when launched, work well for customers. A range of studies have been conducted both with private and company customers in Sweden over the past 12 months, and a more focused study with private customers also in the UK (where Handelsbanken has opened a large number of new offices).

Eye-tracking usability study of 7 electricity company sites

2013.02.20

In January Usability Partners conducted a comparison study of the usability of electricity company sites. A total of 7 sites, from the larger electricity companies, were tested and a total of 24 representative users participated. Both small and large problems in the design of sites prevented participants from smoothly being able to find, compare and apply for an electricity contract, and negatively impacted on how sites were experienced. On many of the sites participants experienced such serious difficulties that our conclusion is that half would not have been able to successfully complete an order process in a real situation. Contact us if you are interested in purchasing the report.

Trygg-Hansa - "Best finance and insurance site in 2012"

2013.01.18

We congratulate Trygg-Hansa on winning the 2012 Internetworld award for their new responsive site design. Usability Partners has conducted several usability studies for Trygg-Hansa and we were happy to read the jury's motivation to the award...

"Trygg-Hansa's airy, bright and colourful re-design succeeded in making us think that insurance is fun - both on PC and mobile. Different types of insurance are clearly divided up and information is easy to overview."

2012

Kuoni improve their websites

2012.11.28

Kuoni is a multinational travel company with operations in more than 45 countries. In order to increase efficiency both from a user perspective and in the organisation, Kuoni has been developing a new "template" for websites selling package holidays. Usability Partners supported the design process by conducting an expert evaluation followed by user-based usability tests. The new Apollo site (www.apollo.se), launched this month, is based on the new concept.

Eye-tracking study of 4 Swedish bank sites

2012.11.22

The theme for World Usability Day 2012 was "Usability of financial systems". Usability Partners conducted a navigation study, including eye-tracking analysis, looking at currency exchange services across four av Sweden's largest banking sites. We also published an article about results from the study (in Swedish).

Usability of medical journal systems

2012.10.23

Karolinska University Hospital recently engaged Usability Partners to evaluate a medical journal system. The hospital wants to improve the ease and efficiency with which medical staff can work with support systems. This study focused on the prescription of medicines for hospital patients and involved doctors from several different parts of the hospital.

Eye-tracking study for ICA Banken

2012.10.12

ICA Banken are working with a new design for their site and we have conducted several studies to gather user feedback and provide improvement recommendations on design suggestions. In a recent study, which included a complete graphic design, eye-tracking analysis was used to evaluate which parts of the design caught user attention the most in different situations.

Mobile usability

2012.07.05

The last 12 months have seen a significant growth in our work with mobile usability. Its clearly no longer good enough just to launch a site/app for smartphones - people must be able to use it easily as well! Recently we have worked with solutions in the banking, insurance and gaming industry and this month we are conducting a study of new prototypes for TeliaSonera.

Usability test of www.gavle.se

2012.05.31

Usability Partners recently tested the web site of the municipality of Gävle (Gävle Kommun). The user-based tests were conducted in the municipal offices in central Gävle and keenly were observed by staff working with the design and content of the site.

Usability study of 6 home electronics web sites

2012.03.19

E-commerce in home electronics is an extremely competitive business in Sweden, with many companies fighting for customers. Usability Partners has conducted a study to investigate and compare the usability of 6 different home electronics web sites. The results indicate significant differences between sites and that all have the potential to improve. Both larger usability problems preventing users from completing a purchase as well as smaller irritating aspects were found. The study, which was conducted with 22 test participants, resulted in a detailed report (currently only available in Swedish - contact us for further information).

Trygg-Hansa improve their mobile site

2012.01.27

Trygg-Hansa, one of the major insurance companies in Sweden, is working to improve their mobile web site and Usability Partners has recently conducted user tests of a prototype. The mobile site includes the possibility to get live insurance quotes and buy insurance online.

2011

Swedbank Robur's new site

2011.12.21

Swedbank Robur launched a new web site earlier this year. To help identify areas to focus on in the next release, Usability Partners conducted a usability study. Different target groups participated in usability tests and the findings gave useful input to future development of the site.

Improved usability for customer service/sales staff

2011.10.25

Earlier this year Usability Partners conducted usability studies of an internal administrative system used by Folksam to support customer sales and service. After identifying a number of areas for potential improvement, we are now helping Folksam to create an overall improved user interface design for the system.

Further usability work for Skandiabanken

2011.06.01

Usability Partners continues to support Skandiabanken as they further develop internetbanking services on their new internetbank, and we have recently conducted usability tests of a new prototype.

Usability test for the Swedish Police

2011.05.23

The Swedish Police are working to improve their presence on the web. In a first step Usability Partners conducted a usability study of a prototype of a new version of part of the site. Findings and recommendations were well received and will be used in further development work.

Handelsbanken engages Usability Partners

2011.05.06

To support the development of its Internet services, Handelsbanken has engaged Usability Partners to assist with iterative usability testing and expert advice during the design phase of the services.

User-centred design course in China

2011.04.26

Demand for education in usability and user-centred design has increased recently. Interest is growing from further afield and last month Usability Partners held short courses for developers in Guangzhou, China.

One intranet for Vattenfall

2011.04.19

Vattenfall has recently launched a new intranet for the entire organisation, replacing a variety of local and/or organisational intranets. The new multi-language intranet includes a fully personalised home page and common navigation structure. Usability Partners conducted a series of user-centred activities which formed the basis of the new intranet design - from user requirements requirements gathering to prototyping and testing activities. Activities involved a wide variety of employees from across the organisation.

User study for Bredbandsbolaget

2011.01.31

In the beginning of the new year Usability Partners conducted usability tests of Bredbandbolaget's (The Broadband Company's) web site. The tests, conducted in our usability lab, focused on ordering broadband and digital-TV subscriptions. The results were well received and changes have already been made to the web site in order to increase usability.

2010

Electrolux focus on intranet usability

2010.12.20

Electrolux have initiated a project including a series of user-centred activities to improve the usability of their intranet (E-gate). The work is starting with an analysis of E-gate's current usability, including user testing with employees in 7 countries. Further work will include revision of the navigation structure and interaction design of E-gate's start page, where social media functionality will also be integrated.

Support in purchasing a new business-support system

2010.11.07

Usability Partners has provided expert support in the purchase/specification process for a business-critical system in a large Swedish financial company. The goal of the work was to complement the specifications with usability aspects and at an early stage make potential suppliers aware of the importance that would be placed on these issues -from initial tender evaluations through to delivery and system operation/maintenance.

"Hands on" introductory course in usability/user-testing

2010.06.10

We have recently created and conducted an introductory course for people working with IT development. The goal of the course is to raise awareness of usability issues and the value of working user-centred. The course is divided into two parts - basic theory and process, followed by practical exercises and observing user-based tests in our usability lab.

Usability work for SBAB

2010.06.02

During the Spring we have conducted user-based tests of SBAB's current web site and recently work has continued with a prototype that illustrates a suggestion for a new web site design.

Report - Usability study of 7 insurance web sites

2010.05.24

Usability Partners has compared the usability of 7 insurance web sites. 20 users attempt to get car insurance quotations on several different sites (each individual site was tested by at least 10 people). Success rate varied between sites, but in total one third of attempts failed due to a variety of problems in the quotation forms. Contact us if you are interested in purchasing the report.

Skanska develop new housing web site

2010.05.21

Usability Partners has assisted with usability testing of a prototype during the development of a new housing site for Skanska (part of their public web site). Valuable feedback was gained from the tests, helping to ensure further design work is kept in line with user needs.

International study for Swedbank

2010.05.03

Usability Partners has coordinated a series of usability tests in the Baltics for Swedbank. The tests were conducted in Estonia, Lativa and Lithuania in cooperation with local partners. We see an increasing interest for studies in the Baltic countries and are developing our relationships with partners to meet these needs.

Framework contract for the Government Offices of Sweden (Regeringskansliet)

2010.04.15

Regeringskansliet has recently concluded a large procurement process for IT services. One area of the procurement was usability specialists, where Usability Partners won the contract (a total of 11 consultancies bid for the contract). The framework contract is over 4 years and we look forwarded to supporting Regeringskansliet with our services.

New iPhone application tested

2010.02.15

In February Svenska Spel launched their first iPhone application - a live scores service for those betting on sports. Usability Partners usability tested the application prior to launch.

Usability test for Euroflorist

2010.02.11

Euroflorst has recently conducted usability tests of a web site prototype in several countries. In January we conducted tests of the Swedish prototype. The results were well received by the project group and recommendations resulting from the tests will be implemented before launch.

2009

New interfaces to Electrolux kitchen appliances

2009.12.18

During December we have been conducting user studies of prototype interfaces to new kitchen appliances. The application of new user interface technology to traditional appliances can introduce a number of challenges and Electrolux are keen to ensure that their new products are easy to work with.

Usability tests for Folksam

2009.11.20

Usability Partners is currently conducting user-based tests of parts of Folksam's web site. Folksam is one of the few organisations in Sweden to have invested in their own usability lab, which we used during the tests.

Report - Usability study of 7 hotel web sites

2009.10.03

Usability Partners has compared the usability of 7 hotel web sites. 23 users attempt to book a room on several different sites (each individual site was tested by at least 10 people). Almost half (48%) of the booking attempts failed and were aborted for a variety of reasons. Contact us if you are interested in purchasing the report.

New application for Swedbank's internetbank

2009.07.01

Usability Partners has recently conducted a second set of user-tests of a new application for integration into Swedbank's internetbank. The application, which is yet to be launched, was first tested in the Autumn of 2008 after which a number of design changes were made.

Higher education search portal

2009.06.13

Usability Partners was chosen by the Swedish Agency for Higher Education Services to help improve the search interface on their portal www.studera.nu (where students can search for higher education courses). Initially, to see what worked well/not so well, the current design was user-tested. A new search interface prototype was then developed, tested with users, and further refined. The prototype and associated user-centred activities provided a good basis for future development of the service.

New web site for teachers' insurance

2009.05.22

The two main Swedish teachers' unions jointly offer insurance to members. A new version of their web site providing information and guidance on teacher insurance matters is currently under development. Usability Partners has recently started a project to evaluate early interface designs using paper prototypes.

Analysis for the Swedish Medical Products Agency

2009.03.28

The Swedish Medical Products Agency asked Usability Partners to analyse the usability of their web site. We conducted user-based tests with several of the most important target groups of the site - doctors, pharmacy staff and those working in the medical industry, amongst others. The results were well received and changes are planned to be carried out in the near future.

Usability of "118 100"

2009.02.10

118100.se is an Internet search service (in Sweden the number is also a directory enquiries service). Usability Partners has assisted with the design of a new search interface through expert reviews and input to early designs, followed by user-based testing of a prototype. The results provided input to decisions regarding the design of the final user interface.

Swedish Teachers Union web site

2009.01.26

The new web site of the Swedish Teachers has just received top ranking in Internetworld's review of trade union web sites...

"The Teachers Union are, as they should be, extremely educational and have succeeded fantastically well in creating a usable web site with lots of useful material for members."

Usability Partners has earlier cooperated with the Swedish Teachers Union in the development of their new web site and just recently we have conducted an extensive follow-up usability test. Representatives from several target groups participated in the tests (including union representatives, teachers and head teachers). The results have been analysed and soon further improvements will be made to the site to increase its usability.

More eye-tracking studies

2009.01.12

Usability Partners conducted more eye-tracking usability studies during 2008 and several requests for such studies in 2009 have already come in. Ongoing improvements to eye-tracking technology has enabled us to further develop our methods for eye-tracking analysis in usability studies.

2008

Two support tools for the HSA-catalogue

2008.12.19

The HSA-catalogue is a national catalogue service primarily used within healthcare, where staff can search for contact details to all types of healthcare units and personnel. Usability Partners has, through a user-centred design approach, developed interaction design prototypes for the main user interfaces - a general search interface for all staff and an administration interface.

ICA and ICA Bank

2008.11.28

During the Autumn we have conducted projects for both ICA and ICA Bank. User-centred activities have provided support to information structuring and design in two different web projects.

Sony Ericsson's new mobile music service

2008.10.28

During the Autumn we have conducted two usability studies of Sony Ericsson's new mobile music service - PlayNow Plus. The studies included a test of the mobile application and the related computer-based application.

Nordea.com usability-tested

2008.09.29

Nordea (one of the large Nordic banks) intend to improve their .com site. To evaluate the usability of the site today, Usability Partners has conducted usability tests with representatives from several of the most important target groups, e.g. financial analysts and investors. This resulted in a workshop in which the strengths and weaknesses were presented, followed by a discussion around how Nordea could go about further improving the site's usability.

Usability tests of gaming site

2008.06.30

Paf, an internet gaming site based on the island of Åland, are working to further enhance the usability of their weeb site (paf.com). As part of a large international usability study, Usability Partners conducted tests with participants in Sweden. The material from the study has been analysed and improvements will soon be made to the web site as a result.

Usability at the Swedish Government offices

2008.06.25

Regeringskansliet (The Government offices and ministries) has a number of important IT projects underway in preparation for Sweden's European Union presidency in 2009. Regeringskansliet has asked Usability Partners to conduct several different studies during this spring to support these development projects.

Large contract with Skandiabanken

2008.06.02

Skandiabanken have earlier this year asked Usability Partners to conduct several usability activities which have given valuable input to the development of a new web prototype. Skandiabanken have now signed a framework agreement with us for a further series of 15-20 usability studies.

Projects for Fidelity International

2008.05.16

We have recently completed two usability assignments for Fidelity International, to support the development of a new web site design and structure.

Several projects for Svenska Spel

2008.05.14

During the Spring we have conducted two usability tests ahead of the launch of Svenska Spel's new web site (Svenska Spel is Sweden's largest gaming/betting company). The first test included existing and experienced customers, followed by a second test where the prototype was evaluated by more novice users.

More international work for Vattenfall

2008.04.30

Aside from supporting Vattenfall with a range of new web and intranet projects in Sweden recently, international work has also increased. Usability studies have recently been conducted in Finland, Poland, and Germany. Two studies in Denmark are also currently being planned.

Ny 3-dagarskurs i användarcentrerad design!

2008.03.27

In cooperation with Ability Partner we have put together a new 3-day course in usability and user-centred design. The first course in February was very highly rated by participants and further courses are scheduled for later in the year. You can find detailed course contents, dates and booking information on Ability Partner's web site at www.abilitypartner.se.

Save The Children's intranet

2008.02.11

Save The Children Sweden is planning to re-design their intranet. We will assist them with usability testing of their existing intranet, user requirements gathering and information structuring activities as input to their new design work.

New office, new usability lab

2008.01.28

In January Usability Partners moved into newly renovated offices on Kungsholmen, close to Stockholm city centre. Aside from pleasant views out over S:t Eriks bridge and the Karlberg canal, our new office is significantly larger than before and has a brand new usability lab suite.

2007

Eye-tracking usability studies more popular

2007.12.12

In recent months there has been a significant growth in interest in usability studies which include eye-tracking analysis. Many of our existing clients have expressed significant interest in these kinds of studies, with both Vattenfall and Swedbank requesting studies in December to analyse different wen layout and design solutions. Eyetracking technology allows eye movements to be precisely followed across the screen as users interact with, for example, a web page.

More projects for Telia

2007.11.28

As part of a mobile broadband development project at TeliaSonera, Usability Partners has conducted usability tests of prototypes with mobile internet users. As the product will be available in several of Telia's markets, Usability Partners will also organise tests in Lithuania in the coming months. Also during this month we have conducted user studies of online order forms on www.telia.se in order to provide recommendations for potential improvements to their design.

Debate article in DN

2007.10.15

Debate article in Dagens Nyheter (DN), one of the main daily newspapers in Sweden, today published a debate article by Sofie Kaiser (usability consultant at Usability Partners). The article highlighted an example of how badly designed products in our daily lives cause problems and create irritation. The article focused on newly installed public transport ticket machines in Stockholm (full article in Swedish).

Scania - a new generation of web sites

2007.09.26

Scania are currently working on the development of a new generation of web sites. During the summer, Usability Partners conducted prototype tests of both national and .com site designs. The tests have been carried out with users from Sweden, Malaysia, Russia and Brazil (amongst others), with different target groups for Scania's sites - journalists, truck drivers, financial analysts, road transport company owners, students and job seekers. As the prototypes have been developed further, additional tests will be conducted.

Swedbank develops new corporate intranet

2007.09.07

Swedbank is expanding into new markets and is therefore developing a new corporate intranet to support its business in Sweden, Russia and the Baltic countries. To ensure a good structure for the intranet, during August Usability Partners conducted structure tests and interviews with a selection of intended users in each country.

This year’s summer competition

2007.09.01

Our summer competition - "Guess where?" has now finished, and the winner decided. The photograph was from Iceland, where we had this year's company conference and team building days. The winning answer to the tie-breaker question ("Why do you think Usability Partners chose that country?") was the answer "The combination of hot and cold provides inspiration in finding usable solutions to varying and conflicting requirements.", sent in by Katarina Barth-Magnus. We hope she enjoys the prize (a bottle of champagne).

Web site user surveys for IKEA

2007.08.30

Having recently launched a new web site design, IKEA has asked Usability Partners to repeat the international web site surveys we conducted last year. The surveys are currently running on 21 country sites from China and Japan through to Russia and France. Several, such as Switzerland and Canada, are multilingual.

Vattenfall's new corporate intranet

2007.06.18

Vattenfall has just successfully launched a new corporate intranet. The new intranet, which includes a new structure, new layout and new graphical profile, is primarily aimed at managers and senior staff across the Vattenfall Group. Usability Partners has assisted with usability and user-centred activities throughout the project - including user requirements gathering, information structuring, interaction design and usability testing. The project also included work with the user interface to Vattenfall's content management tool and quick reference guidelines for editors.

Swedish Radio focus on usability and accessibility

2007.05.22

Usability Partners, in cooperation with IYL AB have evaluated the usability and accessibility of Swedish Radio's web site. Included in the study was also an evaluation of a prototype for SR's new web radio.

User focus in design of lararforbundet.se

2007.05.14

Lärarförbundet (The Swedish Teacher's Union) has recently launched a new web site which has been well received by memebers. During 2006 Usability Partners carried out a series of activities to gather information about user needs as well as provide input to an overall design concept and structure for the site.

Improving customer service tools

2007.04.02

Usability Partners has recently completed a usability study of one of TeliaSonera's customer service applications. The study was conducted in Göteborg and included usability testing and on-site observation of customer service and support staff in their work. Due to its nature, the telephone customer service situation can often be demanding for staff and it is important that support systems are effective and efficient.

Two projects for Re:member

2007.03.30

Last Autumn Usability Partners evaluated Re:member’s campaign web site which was launched to support the introduction of the Re:membercard credit card. This flash-based site was particularly interesting to evaluate due to its significant use of animation and video. Now this Spring we have tested a prototype for a new site.

Usability study for D-Link Europe

2007.02.22

Usability Partners has evaluated the usability of the common web design that D-Link use for their European web sites. The results were used as input to future planning and design work. Usability Partners recently participated in a 2-day workshop in London to present the findings and discuss future direction of D-Link’s sites together with representatives for different European markets and D-Link’s design agency.

Electrolux engages Usability Partners

2007.02.05

In 2005 the Nielsen Norman Group in the US pronounced Electrolux’s intranet (“E-gate”) as one of the top ten intranets in the world. Electrolux has recently chosen Usability Partners to conduct a usability study and provide recommendations as to how it can be even better.

Christmas competition winner!

2007.01.31

This year's Christmas card competition on our web site was won by Fredrik Sjöblom who will receive a bottle of champagne shortly! Many thanks to all those participating - there were many quite amusing entries!

2006

IP/broadband telephony

2006.12.14

Telia (the largest Swedish telephone operator) currently offer two solutions for IP telephony, one through a PC and the other using normal fixed telephones. To ensure an easy installation process for both solutions, Telia has asked Usability Partners to look into potential usability issues relating to the hardware, software and accompanying manuals.

New web site for Riksarkivet

2006.11.28

Earlier this year Usability Partners assisted Riksarkivet with user requirements gathering and a new design concept for their coming web site. A first prototype focusing on a new information structure for the site has now been produced, which we have been asked to evaluate with typical target users.

World Usability Day 2006

2006.11.15

The 14th of November was "World Usability Day", with usability-related activities going on worldwide to raise awareness about usability. Usability Partners participated in a number of company-specific activities, ranging from workshops at several organisations to an open exhibition at TeliaSonera. In addition we were the Swedish partner in an international expert usability review of web sites conducted by leading usability consultancies from 12 countries around the globe. A paper resulting from the expert reviews is planned for submission to the Usability Professionals Association's User Experience magazine.

International user surveys

2006.10.15

Interest is growing in conducting international web site user surveys - an efficient means of gathering feedback from users in different countries. Usability Partners currently has studies underway for several large organisations, one of which is IKEA with surveys in 21 countries worldwide.

Usability - a decision criterium at Ericsson

2006.09.14

Ericsson asked Usability Partners to help conduct a comparative study of two administrative systems from different suppliers. Ericsson defined usability as being one of the decision criteria for choice of system. The comprehensive study included a variety of different types of Ericsson employees as test participants.

Usability theme at conferences

2006.06.30

Usability is becoming a hot topic at web-related conferences in Stockholm. On the 12th & 13th of June IIR held their conference "Improve your web site" and the 13th of June saw the start of a 3-day conference devoted to "Usability and accessibility" organised by Ability Partner. Richard Whitehand from Usability Partners kicked off both conferences with a 1-day seminar on Usability & User-centred design.

Web & intranet usability at Arbetsmiljöverket

2006.06.29

Recently we have conducted several pieces of work for Arbetsmiljöverket, to assist in improving the usability of both their internal and external 'webs'. Work has included usability testing as well as surveying user satisfaction.

TeliaSonera framework contract

2006.04.25

Usability Partners has recently signed a framework agreement for provision of usability services to TeliaSonera. The 2-year contract was won in a formal competive tendering process.

Intranet usability

2006.03.29

Usability Partners has recently been working with intranets of several international organisations. A new client is DeLaval, whose intranet we evaluated in March. Their intranet is an important internal communication tool with a wide variety of users around the world.

Usability studies in Poland

2006.02.07

With over 10 million Internet users (and a population of 39 million), Poland has a potential market much larger than Scandinavian countries. Many Swedish companies have expanded into Poland and we're seeing growing interest in usability work to ensure web content and services work for the Polish market. Just recently we, together with local partners, have conducted two Polish usability studies (in Warsaw and Gliwice) for Vattenfall's intranet and internet.

Christmas competition winner!

2006.01.20

This year we again received many responses to the Christmas card competition on our web site ("Guess the weight of the giant Christmas ginger biscuit"). Many thanks to all those participating! The competition was won by Peter Nyberg and the prize - a bottle of champagne - is on its way.

2005

Intranet benchmarking

2005.11.21

Usability Partners has recently assisted Vattenfall in conducting a benchmarking activity concerning a variety of design issues across corporate intranets. A total of 7 international companies participated, all with head offices in Sweden. The study has given a variety of useful insights into current intranet design practises in large organisations.

TCO re-design their web site

2005.10.24

TCO (the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees) are working on re-designing their main web site to better support their target groups. To ensure that the site will work well in use, TCO asked Usability Partners to evaluate an early prototype. Åsa Reiland, web editor at TCO comments:

"I thought it was incredibly rewarding and clarified many aspects where we felt uncertain."

We look forward to further cooperation.

Information structuring workshop

2005.10.07

On the 6th October Richard Whitehand and Alexander Piatidis from Usability Partners were invited to run a workshop at the Swedish Public Relations Assocation, on the topic of information structuring for web sites and intranets. The user-centred methods presented help project groups to understand how best to organise information. The workshop was fully booked and participants showed significant interest in the material presented.

Internetbank developments

2005.09.23

Föreningssparbanken continue to develop their internetbank and Usability Partners has again been asked to provide input to help improve the design. This time the work relates to a prototype of a new innovative service which will be integrated into the existing internetbank design.

Vattenfall framework contract

2005.08.31

Usability Partners has recently signed a framework agreement for provision of usability services to Vattenfall across Europe. The contract, in which Usability Partners is awarded "preferred supplier" status, primarily concerns usability consultancy services relating to Vattenfall web sites, web-based applications and intranets.

Usability consultancies from across Europe tendered for the contract. We are delighted that Vattenfall's comprehensive pan-European procurement process has resulted in Usability Partners being selected, re-affirming our position as a leading usability consultancy in Europe.

Intranet information structuring

2005.08.19

Usability Partners is currently helping Föreningssparbanken to develop and improve its intranet through user-based methods for information structuring. Intranet structures often leave a lot to be desired from an end-user perspective, a problem which Föreningssparbank wishes to avoid. The current work is part of a large project to make the whole information structure easier for users to navigate.

"Usability gone from mobile phones"

2005.07.29

This was the title of a debate article written by Kaisa Solman and published in Computer Sweden today. Kaisa writes that mobile telephones have become better looking and richer in functionality, though their usability has become worse. The list of problems is long - mobile phones are too complicated to use and today few are satisfied with their choice of phone. The full article is available on Computer Sweden's web site (in Swedish, requires login).

Posten engages Usability Partners

2005.07.17

Posten has selected Usability Partners to conduct a study of their Intranet and provide recommendations as to how they can improve it's usability. The study includes a user-based usability test involving a variety of Posten staff.

Mobile Internet study

2005.05.16

Usability Partners has recently completed a user-based study of a mobile internet portal and related services. The study was conducted as part of an international project for a major mobile operator.

Easier access to healthcare

2005.04.01

Usability Partners has been assisting the Swedish Association of County Councils and Municipalities (SKL) in the development of a new national system for healthcare advice over the telephone. Since the autumn of 2003 we have advised on requirements specifications, assisted with user interface design, and tested prototypes with nurses. Just before Easter we usability tested a first version of the system, which is due to go into 'pilot' usage after the summer. Usability Partners is continuing to provide user interface design input to later versions with extended functionality. More information about the project can be found at www.1177.net (currently only in Swedish).

Improving usability for tourists

2005.03.04

Usability Parnters has recently completed a usability evaluation of the Swedish Tourist Association(STF)'s web site. STF has over 300 000 members and their web site is becoming an ever more important resource for Swedes interested in tourist activities in Sweden.

Web-based share trading

2005.02.25

Nordnet is focusing on the user experience of their online trading services and asked Usability Partners to conduct a usability study of their web-based share and fund trading service. The study has included user-based tests and interviews in Sweden, as well as user surveys in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

AstraZeneca engages Usability Partners

2005.01.17

Usability Partners is currently evaluating the usability of one of AstraZeneca's patient information sites - "astma.com". The evaluation includes both user-based testing and an online user satisfaction survey.

2004

Ikanobanken's new Internetbank tested

2004.12.06

At the end of 2003, IKanobanken asked Usability Partners to conduct a usability study and provide usability recommendations concerning their existing Internetbank, to provide input to new design and development work this year. To follow up on the previous study and assess the new design, Usability Partners has now usability tested a development prototype.

Interviewed in Internetworld

2004.11.16

The current issue of Internetworld (Sweden) is focused on usability related issues. The feature article includes interviews with two Usability Partners consultants (Richard Whitehand & Alexander Piatidis), as well as one of our clients (Eniro). Readers have been referred to our web site for interesting reading and we have put together a "Top 5 web-related editorials" summary.

Usability work improves online marketplace

2004.10.01

"Koll" (www.koll.se) was launched earlier this year - a web site for advertising objects for sale or wanted. Behind the venture are Bonnier Newspapers, together with TV4 and Tidningsaktiebolaget Stampen. Koll engaged Usability Partners to evaluate the web site’s usability and provide recommendations as to how it could be made easier to use.

"Usability Partners experience from similar work has been an asset for us", says John Hedborg, director at Bonnier Newspapers...
"The value of using them has been very clear. Their systematic and objective review of the web site’s strengths and weaknesses enabled use to make changes that, for example, resulted in a simpler and better flow for placing adverts. In addition gave the process itself - to watch actual users using the web site - numerous ideas and insights in addition to those aspects purely concerned with usability."

Svenska Spel engages Usability Partners

2004.09.24

Svenska Spel is the largest gaming/betting company in Sweden, with a market share of 53%. Usability Partners has recently had the opportunity to, together with experienced gamers, test both new suggestions for electronic gaming services and a new web site prototype. We investigated both usability and the user gaming experience. Usability Partners has previously evaluated foreign online betting services.

Usability for increased internet bookings

2004.08.16

Stena Line - one of the world’s largest ferry operators - wish to increase the number of travel bookings that are made on the web. A new web service is therefore under development, in which usability is seen as a key success factor. In order to help ensure that the service is easy to use, Stena Line has contacted Usability Partners.

This year’s summer competition

2004.08.11

Our summer competition - "guess the building" has now finished, and the winner decided. The buildings illustrated in the web competition were SAS and Eniro’s head offices in Frösunda, Solna. The winning answer to the tie-breaker question ("Who lives in the mystery house?") was the answer "The average user - i.e. the non-existant user", sent in by Anna-Karin Carlsson. We hope she finds the prize (a picnic rug) useful.

International intranet evaluated

2004.06.29

Creating an intranet for an international user group is a significant challenge. Not only are their potential issues around language but important differences in working cultures, even within Europe, which affect usage and are relevant to consider during design. When Usability Partners recently evaluated Vattenfall’s intranet, users naturally participated both from Sweden and abroad.

Easing international e-business

2004.05.12

Trade promotion organisations in a variety of countries are working together to aid international business between companys through 'E-markets'. The eMarket Services web site (www.emarketservices.com) provides information about E-markets as well as a comprehensive E-market directory. The Swedish Trade Council asked Usability Partners to provide input to improving the usability of the site and provide recommendations on how it can better meet user needs.

Vasakronan engage Usability Partners

2004.03.23

Vasakronan is one of the leading commercial real estate companies in Sweden - in 2003 they received the highest customer satisfaction rating in the 'Fastighetsbarometern' branch index. Their web site has an important role in attracting new customers and they have recently selected Usability Partners to evaluate its usability, as well as conduct a user satisfaction survey.

Would you like to be a 'testpilot'?

2004.02.16

We regularly advertise in local newspapers (e.g. Metro and City in Stockholm) in order to recruit members of the general public who can participate in our usability evaluations or user requirements studies. We've just finished a recruitment campaign, but if you saw our advertisement earlier this month and didn't get the chance to express your interest, drop an email to testpilot@usabilitypartners.se.

Christmas competition winner!

2004.01.12

This year we again received many responses to the Christmas card competition on our web site. 80 of the submissions were correct and were entered into a prize draw. The were also many incorrect answers, however, responses were both imaginative and entertaining. Many thanks to all those participating! The competition was won by "Katarina Lindström" and the prize - a bottle of champagne - is on its way.

2003

Increasing focus on international usability

2003.12.18

During 2003 we've seen a clear increase in interest for our services internationally. Many organisations wishing to improve their software or web sites in the Nordic region have chosen Usability Partners to support them (new clients in recent months include Biogen, Vattenfall & Victor Chandler). Furthermore, existing Swedish clients have continued their cooperation with us to work with web sites and/or systems for use abroad (including Eniro, Ikea and Scania). We're looking forward to further international projects in 2004.

"Swedish 24hr public e-services far from ideal"

2003.11.12

This is the title of a debate article written by Kaisa Solman and published today in Computer Sweden. The article argues that there is too much focus on the technical development of Sweden's "24-hour" public e-services, at the expense of their ease of use. Usability Partners experience is that public web services are often far from simple and effective for citizens. The full article is available on Computer Sweden's web site (in Swedish, requires login).

Telephone healthcare advice system

2003.10.31

Usability Partners is assisting the Swedish Association of County Councils (Landstingsförbundet) during requirements specification of a support system for a new national telephone healthcare advice service. In addition to providing input to requirements documentation, we are conducting a series of usability tests of early concept prototypes with nurses from around Sweden.

"Unusable site" competition winner

2003.09.05

This year's summer competition included naming a web site with bad usability (with justification). We received many interesting entries - a bottle of champagne went to Axis Lundberg for nominating www.sl.se. Whilst generally not difficult to use, Axis simply wanted to get the route map for a specific bus line (very difficult without knowing the area a specific bus 'belongs to', which isn't necessarily where it starts or ends!). Other submissions that we particularly enjoyed were www.sncf.com and www.roskilde-festival.dk.

Biogen tests patient information sites

2003.08.06

Biogen - the world's oldest independent biotech company - has selected Usability Partners to evaluate the usability of it's Scandinavian web sites for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). The evaluation includes in-depth testing with users complemented by online user satisfaction surveys.

E-commerce article in the press

2003.06.19

Our "Lack of customer focus in E-commerce" editorial has received much attention in recent months and in June it was published in the Swedish business paper "Dagens Handel". Entitled "Swedish e-com companies nonchalant about customers", it was published as a debate article - an electronic version can also be found on DagensHandel.se (Swedish only). Material from the article has also appeared in several online publications in other European countries.

Eniro - Find it easy!

2003.05.21

Usability Partners have assisted Eniro in improving the usability of a new Internet search and catalogue service for the Nordic countries (www.eniro.se is the Swedish version). The service, which includes "Yellow pages", was launched in the middle of May. Our help has ensured that the service is better in meeting user wishes and needs. Usability Partners has been involved throughout the development project - from early evaluation of design 'sketches' through to more thorough usability testing of functional prototypes. Eniro can proudly use the slogan "Find it easy"!

Supporting industrial designers

2003.04.09

We have just started work on a new project for Saab Tech in cooperation with Reload, a Stockholm-based industrial design company. This is the third project in which we have cooperated with Reload. In this project Usability Partners is supporting the development of a complex operator workstation by conducting analyses of the intended users and their tasks, as well as providing concrete requirements and recommendations as input to the design process. We will also conduct early design prototype tests with users.

Best Practice Management : Simplicity

2003.03.31

"Making things simple to use" is the title of an article in the current Hong Kong-based international business publication "Best Practice Management". The current issue's theme is "simplicity" and Richard Whitehand was asked to present Usability Partners' experiences of how users should (and should not) be involved in the different stages of product development in order to ensure a simple and easy to use end result.

Improving Internetbanking

2003.03.27

Usability Partners is currently conducting a series of user-centred activities to further improve the ease of use of Föreningssparbanken's Internetbank. 2003 is now the 6th year in which our consultants have regularly conducted usability and user-centred design activities to support Föreningssparbanken - activities which have led to continuous improvement in the end-user experience of the Internetbank.

"I can't use my microwave!"

2003.02.14

This was the title of an article in Computer Sweden today, by Kaisa Solman. Kaisa's microwave oven came with her flat - unfortunately there was no manual and nobody has managed to work out how to use it! The article highlights the need for significant improvements in the ease of use of "hi-tech" consumer products and raised awareness amongst consumers. Article link (in Swedish, requires login)

Christmas competition winner!

2003.01.07

Our Christmas greetings card proved extremely popular, with many interesting submissions to the competition. Angelika Melchior won the 'complete the phrase' competition, with: "I think that good usability is important because... bad usability makes what we create pointless as nobody CAN use it, nobody would WANT to use it and if, against all odds, people should try to use it then it would take them far too much time!". She will shortly receive a bottle of champagne!

2002

Novo Nordisk takes user needs seriously

2002.11.01

Usability Partners is helping Novo Nordisk, a leading healthcare company in diabetes and growth hormone deficiency, to ensure that its patient community web sites meet user needs and are easy to use. Thorough usability testing is the current element of a series of user-centred development activities that Novo Nordisk has been carrying out.

We're moving!

2002.10.25

In November Usability Partners is moving into newly built offices in Frösunda, Solna, just north of central Stockholm. The office is located close to the main E4 motorway (directly opposite Scandinavian Airlines headoffice) and about 10 minutes from the city centre by public transport. The new location means we retain easy access to major Stockholm airports for our projects in other parts of Sweden and abroad, combined with a closer proximity to central Stockholm than before.

"Parties weak on the net"

2002.09.11

This was the headline to an article appearing today in Svenska Dagbladet (one of the major Swedish daily newspapers). The article reported our recent usability review of the political parties' web sites, which was also mentioned in Computer Sweden as well on several news web sites. For further information, see our "Votes lost in cyberspace" editorial.

CSN selects Usability Partners

2002.08.19

CSN (the Swedish National Board of Student Aid) has selected Usability Partners to conduct a usability study of their administrative systems. The study includes usability evaluations at several CSN offices around Sweden, complemented with a broader user survey. Results will be presented in a workshop early in October.

Midsummer competition winner!

2002.06.26

Many people viewed our web-based midsummer greetings card and registered guesses as to which island was depicted on it, and which year the picture was taken. Many correctly identified Marstrand (though Gotland, Vaxholm and Sandham were also popular guesses), though the date (1998) proved more challenging. Jan Johannessen won the hammock and two close runners-up won consolation prizes!

User-centred design & usability course

2002.05.21

Demand for the 3-day version of this course has grown recently - we've held it for several companies this spring. A new modular course content allows us to tailor tools, methods, examples and exercises to suit the type of development in a particular project or organisation. Interest in our 1-day introductory course remains, though the 3-day "hands on" version has become more popular as companies recognise the importance of working with usability issues throughout development.

Evaluating on-board IT systems for trucks

2002.04.18

Scania Infotronics have asked Usability Partners to evaluate the usability of a prototype for a new multi-function on-board IT system to be used in trucks. Tests have been conducted with a variety of different truck drivers, and carried out on Scania's test track in Södertälje (just south of Stockholm).

Coop's new web site tested

2002.03.08

Usability Partners has evaluated the ease of use of Coop's new web site. The purpose of the evaluation was to assess the overall usability of the site, identify potential problems and provide recommendations for improvement. KF members in different age groups participated in the tests.

Föreningssparbanken tests DigitalTV service

2002.02.26

Usability Partners has carried out usability tests of a prototype interactive banking service that Föreningssparbanken has developed for DigitalTV. Our portable usability 'lab' equipment allowed the tests to be conducted in an informal 'TV sofa' environment whilst still giving project members the opportunity to follow tests from a nextdoor room.

2001

Skolverket selects Usability Partners

2001.11.21

This autumn Skolverket (The Swedish national agency for education) invited companies to tender proposals for evaluating the usability of their web site. A surprisingly large number of proposals (24 in total) were received, though many were discarded due to not fulfilling requirements and/or lacking basic elements to their methodology. Those remaining were judged based on methodology, consultant profiles, references and cost - the proposal from Usability Partners being selected as the best overall.

Improving ease of use for IKEA staff

2001.10.19

Usability Partners has begun a large project to provide usability consultancy services throughout the development of a new sales and service support system. The system will be used in all IKEA stores worldwide. We will be supporting the IKEA IT development centre in Helsingborg with a full range of user-centred design and usability activities throughout the development process.