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John Dirks Head of Research & Partner

John Dirks is the Head of Research and a Partner at Blink UX, leading a variety of user research projects, and has visited so many homes for work that he now claims it’s not real user research unless you can smell what’s for dinner.


Tips for Success in Complex Field Research Projects

Part 1: Logistics We user researchers often find ourselves in unusual places doing unusual things: in homes watching strangers set up media equipment, in passenger seats noting how drivers use in-car technology, in manufacturing settings observing CAD/CAM fabrication, in hospitals interviewing medical staff, just to name a few. The common thread is that we are… Read more

Personal Health Metrics and Good UX: Partners in Healthcare

Countless personal health and wellness applications have been developed over the past few years, and more spring up all the time. The ubiquity of devices, health-focused apps, social networks, and other digital tools all enable users to set new goals and regularly collect and track their own personal data toward achieving them. When coupled with… Read more

In-car view of UberX

Why UberX is Blowing My UX Mind

One of my professional preoccupations is observing how people use devices and built-in technology in their cars. Yes, I sometimes get paid for it, but just as in other domains in which I do user research, it’s become a slight obsession. Add to that the fact that I’ve always liked talking to cab drivers. I… Read more

In-Home User Research: Building Rapport Before & After Stepping Through the Door

In the past two years, Blink has conducted field research in over 500 homes in the U.S and internationally.  While participants in these studies are often recruited through professional market research agencies with which they have a pre-existing trust relationship, we still find that many people feel nervous about letting researchers into their homes.  In-home… Read more

Usability Highlights: 2008 and Beyond

Just in time for spring, we’re posting our annual round-up of usability highlights. Blink usability specialists evaluated a host of technologies and applications in ‘08, from online games to web-based classroom tools to healthcare portals. We worked with software startups and giants alike, new media agencies, insurance providers, a coffee company, a materials association, an… Read more

Findings and design

Turning Usability Findings into Design Changes

You’re coming up for air after an intense usability study. Your usability consultant has delivered actionable findings and recommendations to your team that you know would really improve the user experience. Now what? Here are some tips we’ve learned from clients and from our own experiences working within companies to increase the likelihood that: 1)… Read more

Eye Tracking Usability Studies

To determine what usability study participants look at and take in while viewing online media, we used to watch their mouse cursors, interactions with links and controls, and body language. We also listened carefully to their think-aloud narratives and comments. These traditional testing techniques, however, could never tell us definitively what users notice and what… Read more

Staff Picks: Usability Highlights from 2007

Last year was a busy one for the Blink usability testing staff. It’s once again time to reflect and report some of our favorite themes based on studies we completed in 2007. 1. “This should be more like Google.” Several sites and applications we tested included home-grown yet sometimes very powerful search features. Google has… Read more

Staff Picks: 10 Usability Favorites for 2006

Throughout 2006, Blink conducted usability studies almost weekly in our downtown Seattle labs, at client sites, and in the field. While observing hundreds of participants, we noted some interesting behaviors and themes that we’d like to share… Web 2.0 features are not always discoverable. We tested numerous web pages and applications in 2006 that included… Read more