Just because it hasn't been seen doesn't mean it hasn't been noticed

I am constantly coming across the problem in user tests where the user doesn't see a particular link or piece of functionality. The natural reaction of the business is to say, "Let's give it more emphasis - let's make people notice it!"

I am constantly coming across the problem in user tests where the user doesn’t see a particular link or piece of functionality. The natural reaction of the business is to say, “Let’s give it more emphasis – make people notice it!”
How to Garnish book cover
It reminds me of an adage from my days in the catering trade. Nobody remembers the garnish but they notice if it’s not there. The garnish doesn’t bring anything to the meal but brings plenty to the experience.

The work I’ve been doing with Eyetracking has shown that they users may look at something but they don’t focus on it or indeed talk about it but they keep it in their head until they do need it

If in the course of user testing the user hasn’t seen the widget for changing the font size, or the link to contact customer service, or the CEO’s latest blog post it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been noticed. In testing features set up a meaningful task that requires the use of the widget you want to test and then gauge how easily it was found.

Finally resist the urge to make your widget bigger and flashier otherwise you’ll end up with something that’s rather more garnish than meal.

2 Responses to “Just because it hasn't been seen doesn't mean it hasn't been noticed”

  1. john morse

    Joe.
    Should consider the possibility that the user may not know what the ‘widget’ is and therefore dismisses it as not relevant to their activities.

    Clever sites can often get too clever in this way, much like some garnishes, or nouveau cuisine, never understood that 😉

Leave a Reply