Google Chrome User Experience Research

Monday, January 26, 2009

Why are the buttons where they are instead of where I want them to be? What's up with bookmarks? Why does the Google Chrome UI look and operate the way it does? These are probably questions that some, many or even all you have about Google Chrome. We explained how we came to some of those decisions in a previous post:
"To achieve the streamlined feel we were after … we had our own intuitions about what was and wasn't useful in current browsers, we had no idea how those ideas matched to reality. So in typical Google fashion, we turned to data; we ran long studies of the browsing habits of thousands of volunteers, compiled giant charts of what features people did and didn't use, argued over and incorporated that data into our designs and prototypes, ran experiments, watched how our test users reacted, listened to their feedback, and then repeated the cycle over and over and over again."
To provide some more insight into this process, I should explain what we mean by "data." The data we turn to is both quantitative and qualitative. Usage logs provide statistics such how many users have tried a feature and how frequently a feature gets used. These logs are collected only from people who have chosen to share usage statistics with us. This quantitative data tells us the "how" and the "when" but not the "why." For that, we use qualitative data gathered through research methods like surveys, interviews and contextual inquiry which involves observing people in their home or work environments. Often we bring people to one of our usability labs where we can observe their interactions and collect feedback on a new feature we are working on. Many times we employ an eye tracker where we can find out what exactly people are looking at on our user interface. By incorporating data from all these sources into our design process, we hope to provide a user experience that satisfies the needs of the many Google Chrome users out there.

In the future, we are planning on releasing some of our research on this blog and the on the UX Site to show how the data we are collecting is impacting the Chrome experience.

All of our research data comes from studying and observing people. But what kind of "people" do I mean? Probably someone just like you. So if you are interested in becoming a potential participant in a research study on Chrome or one of the many other Google products, I encourage you to sign up at google.com/usability.

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