An interview with Giles Colborne

About Giles Colborne

Giles is the author of Simple and Usable (New Riders, 2010). He has been working in usability and user centered design since 1991. He formed cxpartners with Richard Caddick in 2004 focusing on creating outstanding user experiences and measurable changes to projects and products. He’s led user research projects on every continent except Antarctica. Giles is a former President of the UK Usability Professionals’ Association and now sits on the UPA’s Global Advisory Committee and International Conference Committee. He has worked with British Standards Institute in developing guidance on web accessibility and is currently researching the problem of distraction among users.


Main points

  • Stakeholders need to understand why research is happening. We help them understand by framing it as ‘validation’, which answers to their fear of doing the wrong thing.
  • Stakeholders believe in research they participate in. When they take an active role in research, they become emotionally engaged with it.
  • In lab studies we open an IM link between the moderator and the note taker (who sits with stakeholders) to allow stakeholders to ask questions.
  • Some organizations understand research is an inherent part of the process, some like the idea they hire experts and prefer passing on research.
  • If you can’t run all the research you think you should do, seek for other sources of information your organization already gathered.
  • Indy Young’s mental models are an extremely helpful deliverable.
  • Stakeholders show you they are bought into research when they start coming to you and ask questions about how users behave, when they want to attend sessions, and when they send their staff.
  • You are successful if you shift people’s point of view of customers and how they use products.