CUA of the Month – November, 2014

Daniel Muther
"In usability work the best feedback is no feedback. If I observe in a test that the user is completing the task without problems, this the best compliment. For me this is the best success factor because I know all of the process behind creating it and how it to comes to that easy process."
Daniel Muther
Head of User Experience

The UX Swiss Connection

by Jim Garrett

We are all familiar with the efficiency and precision of the Swiss culture and products. However, they are in the pioneering days of User Centered Design. In the middle of this movement is our Certified Usability Analyst of the Month, Daniel Muther.

Daniel works at Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund’s (MGB) headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. The company is involved in the operation of supermarkets and hypermarkets; wholesale, catering, specialist markets, leisure, and club schools businesses. The company is also involved with the sale of home and garden products, sports and outdoor, furniture, home accessories, entertainment media, office equipment, electromobility products, and heating and fuel oils.

How long have you been in UX?

I have worked now ten years in this field. In Switzerland this field is behind. When I was in the HFI classes, I could see that Switzerland is five or ten years behind the U.S. or UK.  Building up the team with the right skills and bringing the UCD-Methods into the projects has not been the hard part. Changing the culture and changing people from technic centered to human centered thinking, this is still the mission I’m working on.

We now have a usability lab with a panel of 900 test persons, we build great prototypes with Axure, and we can test mobile apps with our own invented testing rig. From time to time we have to decline some orders because we’re just too busy. That is a good sign for me that we are on the right track. Today we are on level two or three in HFI’s UX Maturity Model, but I’m quite sure we will reach level five within the next three years.

 Migros deals with an enormous amount of products.

That is right. Migros is the biggest retail company in Switzerland.  We have about 80,000 employees and there are ten cooperatives within Migros. We are helping the groups by providing good user experience for their digital projects and digital concepts. There is a huge number of different firms within Migros which have apps, websites, and internal applications where we can help them to create a good user experience.

That’s a lot of usability to cover, how do you do it?

I have a team of five people. We can’t be everywhere so what we do most is teaching the project employees the user and the design methods to help them do it by themselves.  If someone can’t do entry use or entry techniques, we help them to do that or we help with prototyping.  That is something that we try to enhance with the user experience methods.

Can you tell me any of the current projects that you are working on?

Most of them are web shops for which we are doing conversion optimization with A/B testing.  Two web shops are new for different clients. One web shop is only for Germans who want to buy Migros products.  We do user research on how Germans shop on-line. We have a lot of data on how Swiss people shop on-line but, it is not comparable to how Germans shop because Swiss products are expensive to the Germans, but they want them because of the good quality.

This is something that you have to bring into the shop, how the detail page is designed and how the checkout works with all those features of trust.  Shipping costs more for the Germans and delivery takes a lot longer. In Switzerland everybody knows Migros as a trustworthy company; where you buy your goods since your childhood. So trust elements, like safe ways for payment or refund policies, are not very important. Because of this difference, we have to design the checkout process completely different from the existing shops.

It was a really interesting project for us to do the whole user research, creating customer journeys and then start prototyping and testing again with new users. The German users are not in our test person pool so we have to recruit them from Germany. This is more complicated so we do remote usability testing with them. That worked out well.

We also do business to business websites. This is one of my projects which I am working on right now on how to sell products from a company within Migros to another business.  Business to business websites are also completely different from business to consumer websites like, for example.

I am curious about this tool you invented for testing.  Can you tell me a little bit about how that came about and what are some of the results that you are having with that?

I was in a conference with UX Lisbon and there was this enlivening talk about how to test with mobile devices. They came up with the paper built stand for web cams. You can just put a web cam on a paper built stack and having your mobile in your hand that films. But that was only working in connection with a computer. We had the need to see how people were using the app outside. So I came up with adopting this idea with the stands, with the web cam, and I just took an aluminum profile stitched on a GoPro camera.

You can use it outside without connection to a cable and you can watch the people to see how they use the app.   You can see the face of the user and the display so it works very well with the iPhone or iPad. They can walk around while using the app or mobile website.  Our test subject was an instore-navigation system.  We just ask people in the store if they have any time to help us to get better with the app. We took fifteen users who did the test with us and we found out the application needs a lot of improvement before we go live. 

Was there anything significant that you found in your testing?  Did anything come to mind that you needed to improve?

We knew that the app wasn’t so good.  We knew that people would struggle, but the most interesting thing was I always thought that no one would use the app inside the store. If you go to shop for groceries, you go to the store and you know where the milk is, where the bread is, so you don’t need to have an in-store navigation system on your phone.  That was my opinion.  We asked the people if they would use this app, would it be helpful for them. To my surprise more than ten said yes. They reported it would be very helpful for them and make their shopping experience faster and more efficient. I didn’t expect that. The user base for that application is so much bigger than I expected.

What did you learn in the CUA and then progressed to the CXA?

In the CUA class I got the confirmation for the theoretical side. Before the course, I would do something but not very professionally. In the CUA class I got more tips and professional insights to do it better. And of course the exchange with other students in the class was very helpful.  They gave great tips with what they do in usability tests and how they do user research. How they collect the data helped me elevate my next project to a more professional level than before.  Of course, the certificate at the end gave me more creditability with the stake holders. Now I am considered something of an expert, so that really helps me out here.

In terms of the progression from the CUA to the CXA, the CUA was really the basics in how usability works.  What helped me most in the CXA class was the HFI UX Maturity Model. It gave a clear vision of what needs to be done to achieve that end.  The package design section was also helpful. The other aspect of usability, with the whole psychologist thing, the PET, has a lot to do with how people think, what makes them respond the way they do. It’s a fascinating study on how the brain works.  The CUA and the CXA combines two very valuable aspects of UX together that I can now use in my daily work. It’s made a huge difference.

What do you enjoy most about your work, where do you find your passion in all of this?

In usability work the best feedback is no feedback. If I observe in a test that the user is completing the task without problems, this the best compliment. For me this is the best success factor because I know all of the process behind creating it and how it to comes to that easy process. I know how many examples were needed to design a task to completion like this and, if you see in a usability test that the person just went to the task without a problem, it makes me smile. This is my satisfaction.

CUA of the Month

Each month we highlight the successes and achievements of a different member of our CUA community. If you are a Certified Usability Analyst and would like to be considered for CUA of the Month recognition, please send a brief professional bio to

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