Computing Reviews

The UX five-second rules : guidelines for user experience design’s simplest testing technique
Doncaster P., Morgan Kaufmann Publishers Inc., San Francisco, CA, 2014. 140 pp. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: 01/19/15

Increasingly, professionals are challenged to do more with less. Unless you work at a mature organization that supports a rich user experience (UX) discipline, it is likely that someone not trained in the domain is playing the role. It is not uncommon to find ineffective surveys or misapplied tools and techniques. This book bridges the gap for those leveraging the five-second test, helping those that may not be versed in the domain to be effective with the approach.

At first glance, one questions whether there is enough content to even constitute a book, let alone demand guidance. However, Doncaster did his homework evaluating how poorly leveraged the technique is in the wild. An example online resource is, which makes it easy to test designs on people. This is a great example of an effective tool that, in some cases, is poorly leveraged.

Doncaster covers the original intent of the five-second test and quickly works through his ten rules, which provide great guidance for those “playing the part” and a refresher for those who are more experienced and looking to reflect on their own thinking. These tests are brief, and so naturally the time factor impacts the kinds of things that can be effectively tested. Given the limited duration and targeted application, Doncaster helps readers get the most out of the approach. He does a great job of not simply offering guidance, but also of illustrating with real examples how others have done it wrong. Through these illustrations, Doncaster is able to highlight when not to use this approach and how to optimize for its strengths (for example, assessing for purpose, memory recall, target identification, and attitudinal feedback).

For those readers who are considering or already working with the five-second test technique, this is a worthwhile book. It is a short and quick read that will help these groups be more effective in working with this method of evaluation. Wearing multiple hats is the nature of a dynamic work environment, and books like this one help people do better.

Reviewer:  Brian D. Goodman Review #: CR143095 (1505-0358)

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