User Vision World Usability Day 2022

10th November marked World Usability Day. To highlight and mark the importance of this global event, User Vision, based in Edinburgh, hosted an office open day to learn more about making products usable and highlighting accessibility within digital applications. Tor and I decided to attend the event giving us a glimpse of how to better incorporate good accessibility practices within Edinburgh Napier’s existing and emerging digital services.

Empathy Workshops

Firstly we went into a room that had a mix of consultants with different activities. The first activity was showcasing an example of a badly coded contact form and a good example of a contact form with the demonstration done on a screen reader. From the bad example, it was clear using incorrect HTML and Aria Labels that it was very difficult for the person using a screen reader to navigate their way around and fully understand what each input field is for. It read out ‘inputs’ but didn’t have any context behind it meaning an impaired user wouldn’t know what to enter in those fields.

WCAG 2.2 Guidelines

During our time at the event we attended a talk by one of User Vision’s consultants about the upcoming changes within the WCAG 2.2 guidelines. A lot of these upcoming changes include changes to focus appearance and focus not being obscured during tabbing and highlighting – this is when you are tabbing through content on a page using only a keyboard instead of using a mouse. While these changes aren’t currently live and requirements to adhere to, it’s a good opportunity for us to learn what is upcoming and how as a university we can go above and beyond to support our users in meeting accessibility requirements.

Usability Testing

In another section we worked with a consultant to explore usability testing. Tor acted as the participant and I was the note taker analysing her actions and asking her to verbalise her thoughts and feelings towards the actions she was carrying out. The example Tor was tasked with was to navigate and carry out tasks around the Natwest website where she had to find out the interest rate of a particular balance transfer card. She was also asked to describe her thoughts and feelings as she was going through each task, allowing the facilitators to visually see what works with the application and what doesn’t. This was a great activity that allowed us to see how User Vision run usability tests and the questions they are using to prompt responses from the participant of the test. 


We had a great afternoon at User Vision’s event and we have brought back a lot of valuable information around accessibility and usability. It was great to see the impact caused to impaired users through applications that aren’t built with accessibility in mind. The event has allowed us to reflect and think about what we learned and allowed us to start thinking about key areas where we can improve the accessibility of Edinburgh Napier’s digital applications.


What is UX?

In short and simple terms, user experience is all about how people feel when they use a product or service. The experience of using a product should be seamless and enjoyable for every type of individual. User Experience can be applied to anything, whether that’s a school student looking at a particular course on the University’s website or the process a staff member has to go through in order to get another application installed on their managed laptop.

Our job as a UX team is to ensure that the user is at the forefront of every project. While our primary focus is being on the user, it is also important that we take into account the organisation’s goals and needs. As a team we aim to create enjoyable, usable and accessible digital products for the university.

Some of our day to day work includes research for digital projects across the university. We use a wide variety of different research methods, the most common ones being one on one user interviews, focus groups for collecting insights from a larger audience and surveys for obtaining statistical quantitative data. The research methods we use are subject to the project being worked on.

We take our research and make use of the data by constructing user journey maps. These allow us to visualise a user’s existing journey when carrying out a task and allows us to see where users may be getting stuck, and where we can improve the experience. Empathy maps are another resource that we use to put ourselves in the shoes of the end user – allowing us to explore what a user might think, say, and do when completing a task.

UX at Edinburgh Napier University

In 2017 some of the members from the Applications team within the Information Services department realised that the University could benefit from taking a UX led approach to application development. From 2017 we have been using this approach and with it has brought great success with the projects it has been utilised on.

Looking to the future

I joined the Information Services department as a UX Designer at the start of August and a Senior UX Designer is due to start in a few weeks time. This is an exciting period for UX within the University as it is gaining a wider presence and the team is growing.

If you have any questions about UX or would like to be involved in future projects, feel free to email me direct or reach out on Microsoft Teams. We will be blogging here with further information about UX and sharing our work.