The pleasing mapping between Sam Ladners three states and Myddletons’ three types of research

I’m trying to use this blog more, and really on twitter less as an outboard brain. So over the next week or so, I’ll experiment with blogging stuff I’d typically tweet, then link to it.

I came across a nice mapping between two people I find interested and the mental models they present for thinking about user research. The first is Will Myddleton, and the second is Sam Ladner, who I found out about through a Jools, who I met through the Researchops Workshops in May.

Myddleton’s three kinds of user research

I really recommend reading the whole post, but these early paras give a good summary background:

Over the last two years I’ve stumbled into a useful model for talking about this relationship with researchers and their teams. The model helps them understand what to expect from each other, recognise and support each others’ strengths, and work together to make better products.

The model? There are three types of user research product teams should care about:

  1. Testing things the team have built
  2. Working out what the team should build next
  3. Understanding potential users and their lives

Not revolutionary. Not innovative. Just helpful in doing the trickier parts of my job.

Sam Ladner’s take

Sam has a nice model that says similar things:

Too often, researchers take their cue from the scientific method. While this method undoubtedly changed the world and our knowledge of it, it is antithetical to the creative needs of a well-rounded researcher. It is especially problematic for design research, which requires creative solutions to existing problems.

Design researchers should embrace less structure and more openness at the early stages of product design, and rigor and structure in the mature stages of product sales. As sales drop off and the product loses its natural match to the culture, design researchers should once again embrace openness in their research approaches.

Bonus association – Emma Boulton’s research funnel

This isn’t a million miles away from the research funnel that Emma Boulton put forward a while back. I couldn’t find a snappy quote but her post gives a good example of using the activites from the difference phases together.

Amazon and passwordless login UX

I signed into the German Amazon Retail site, today, and I saw a new sign-in flow. Being a UX nerd, I took photos and immediately took to twitter.

Here’s what I saw.

Look! Only one thing being requested!

The first change is that like Google, and Eventbrite, they only ask for one thing per page now.

This roughly translates as ‘login’ , and ’email address or phone number’, then ‘continue’/

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 13.24.20

Next! No password requested!

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 13.24.47.png

Sometimes you might get the option to sign in with a password, but Amazon is also testing this as way in, where they send an email with a one-time-use login code to your email address instead of asking for your password. This is good, as most of us have terrible password hygiene (not you obviously though I know you use a password manager, but the chances you have family members who don’t, and also use the Amazon website).

A one time code, sent to your email, instead of a password

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 13.25.00.png

What you get sent to your address is this – the one time code, and some reassuring copy about taking your security seriously. Interestingly though – there’s no link to click to get to Amazon at all. This feels like a good anti-phishing pattern.

I’m happy sharing a one time code in a screenshot here, because well… it’s a one time code – you can only use it once. You might be able to social engineer access if you called Amazon, and said this code wasn’t working, but the solution I hope they would give would be to tell me to generate a new code, or go through some escalated process to prove who I was.

Why I like this

As I mentioned before, most of us are terrible at managing passwords, so moving us away from relying on terrible passwords as a default as feels like a win.

Things I wish it did – chunking


I don’t understand why these services don’t chunk numbers longer than 3 digits to make them easier to read, or type in.

As an example, Google Authenticator does this chunking trick, and I think it makes it easier to read the numbers.

Well… it’s not just me that thinks it makes it easier – this is not a new technique, and there is a paper from 1956 that explains how it helps with human computer interaction. There’s also some recent, good advice on when and how to apply chunking from the Neilsen Norman group. It’s not a new idea, and there are peer reviewed academic papers to help justify using the technique.

How many people are getting this?

I’m curious if this is a widespread experiment – if you see it too, and have opinions on it, let me know.

Also, I’m considering writing a piece about the common pitfalls when implementing passwordless logins, based on my own experience over the last few months. If I get say… 15 faves/likes, it’ll justify me writing a more in-depth article, as it turns out there are quite a few non-obvious pitfalls along the way.





Visualising the wiki holes you fall down with Pilgrim

I just came across Pilgrim, an interesting web thing that converts pages inrto a more readable, ad-free version of their form self, but also visualises the links you click to get an map out where you end up going as you look through it.

I’m finding these tools, and ones like hypothesis, and Pockets’ recent experiments in highlighting text in their app interesting lately.

Not sure what I’ll do it, but who knows, maybe it’ll be useful to refer back to it in future.