counter

Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues

Children


Disabled


Elderly


Gender


Teens


Advertising


Branding


Business


Innovation


Marketing


Mechatronics


Technology


Architecture


Art


Creativity


Culture


Identity


Mobility


Museum


Co-creation


Design


Experience design


Interaction design


Presence


Service design


Ubiquitous computing


Africa


Americas


Asia


Australia


Europe


Italy


Turin


Blogging


Book


Conference


Media


Mobile phone


Play


Virtual world


Ethnography


Foresight


Prototype


Scenarios


Usability


User experience


User research


Education


Financial services


Healthcare


Public services


Research


Tourism


Urban development


Communications


Digital divide


Emerging markets


Participation


Social change


Sustainability


Posts in category 'Usability'

8 April 2014

[Book] A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences

a-web-for-everyone

A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences
by Sarah Horton & Whitney Quesenbery
Rosenfeld Media, 2013
288 pages

In their new book, A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences, Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery make a case for accessibility that begins and ends with people. “We believe that great design starts by thinking about how to make products work for everyone.”

The book is a great resource for those trying to implement accessibility measures without making sacrifices that compromise design or innovation. In this excerpt, you’ll meet the personas (illustrated by Tom Biby) that are referenced throughout the book.

Sarah Horton is a consultant for strategic planning for websites and web applications. She also does accessibility and usability reviews. Sarah started her career in interaction design in 1991 at the Yale Center for Advanced Instructional Media, creating award-winning interactive instructional software. She was an instructional technologist at Dartmouth College for 11 years before becoming director of web strategy and design. As director, she was responsible for planning and developing Dartmouth’s digital environment, and she led a team of user-experience professionals responsible for web and media design, development, and production. More recently, Sarah was Web Strategy Project Lead at Harvard University, responsible for strategy and user experience design for the Harvard Web Publishing Initiative. Sarah is currently Director of Accessible User Experience and Design with The Paciello Group. Sarah is co-author with Patrick Lynch of Web Style Guide, now in its third edition and translated into at least eight languages. She also wrote Web Teaching Guide, which in 2000 won the American Association of Publishers award for best book in computer science. Her third book, Access by Design, combines the disciplines of universal design, accessibility, and usability into guidelines for designing websites that are universally usable.

Whitney Quesenbery is a user researcher, user experience practitioner, and usability expert with a passion for clear communication. She has been in the field for too many years, working with organizations from The Open University to the National Cancer Institute. She enjoys learning about people around the world and using those insights to design products where people matter. Before a little beige computer seduced her into software, usability, and interface design, she was a lighting designer in the theater. Like every other element of the production, lighting has to help tell the story. The scenery, lighting, costumes, direction and acting all have to work together tell the same story. She learned a lot about the craft of storytelling from watching hours of rehearsals. Whitney has served as president of the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA), on the boards of the Center for Plain Language and UXnet, and as a manager of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) Usability and User Experience Community. As a member of two U.S. government advisory committees, she is working to update accessibility requirements and to improve the usability and accessibility of voting systems for U.S. elections. Whitney is a frequent author and presenter in industry events and is a contributor to UXmatters.com. Her first publication on storytelling was a book chapter on “Storytelling and Narrative” in The Personas Lifecycle, by John Pruitt and Tamara Adlin. She’s also proud that her chapter “Dimensions of Usability” in Content and Complexity turns up on so many course reading lists.

7 March 2014

Search results on travel sites: examples and best practices

flight_search_results-blog-200

Search results pages on travel sites should help customers to find the best deal for them without having to work too hard.

Graham Charlton of Econsultancy looked at a range of search tools from travel websites, which highlighted the importance of flexibility when users search for travel.

For this review he is looking at flight search, but the lessons apply equally to hotel and general holiday search.

He argues that the challenge lies in effective filtering and sorting of results, as well as a presentation style that allows for easy comparison. It’s not always easy though.

These are, according to him, the features of effective search results pages:

  • Ability to sort results. Users should be able to order results according to their own preferences. This may be price and duration of flights, departure times and more.
  • Presentation of results. The default display option should allow users to easily make sense of the information presented. Users should also have options to alter the display to suit their needs.
  • Filtering of results. Users need a good range of options to refine their results.
    Speed. Results should load quickly, and adding and removing of filters should also be smooth.
  • Clarity of pricing. This isn’t always easy for third party aggregator sites, but it can be very frustrating to see what looks to be a good price, only to find lots of extras added by the time you reach the checkout.
  • Quick link to change original search. Searches may produce a small number of results, or the user may not be satisfied, so make it easy for them to amend their search with a clear link.
14 December 2013

UX review of Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch

samsung-galaxy-gear

Smartwatches are the future, but the Samsung Galaxy Gear is only partway there, writes Raluca Budiu, a senior researcher with Nielsen Norman Group, in her detailed and extensive UX review of the Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch.

“One big reason to believe in watches is that this form factor has already been victorious. Historically, before wristwatches were invented, many people carried pocket watches. But the time needed to fish a device out of your pocket was much more than the time needed to whip around your wrist to face your face. Wristwatches are a much faster way to check the time (and maybe date) than using a pocket watch. As a result, you hardly ever see a pocket watch these days.

In the case of computers, the wrist computer (smartwatch) will not eradicate the pocket computer (mobile phone) the way wristwatches eradicated pocket watches, because a phone-sized screen can do so much more than a watch-sized screen. Most likely people will carry both.

The key is simplicity (you can do it more easily on a watch) and spontaneity (you can do it right away). Phones already encourage spontaneous use; watches will be for those moments when phones are too big and too slow to access. We’ll need to learn ways to make the apps more direct and distill their essence, so that a quick glimpse on a tiny screen will be enough to get what we need.”

See also this article on the iWatch by her colleague Bruce ‘Tog’ Tognazzini

4 November 2013

Experientia presents “BancoSmart”, the innovative ATM interface designed for UniCredit Bank

 

The user-centred approach is moving into finance, as banks increasingly connect to their customers’ needs and wants. As part of this trend, global banking and financial services company UniCredit Bank collaborated with user experience consultancy Experientia to create a user-friendly, people-centred ATM – the BancoSmart.

A customer trials the new BancoSmart interface, with personalised home page.
Click on image to view slideshow

The user-centred approach is moving into finance, as banks increasingly connect to their customers’ needs and wants. As part of this trend, global banking and financial services company UniCredit Bank collaborated with user experience consultancy Experientia to create a user-friendly, people-centred ATM – the BancoSmart.

Experientia has reinvented the ATM interface for UniCredit – making it easier to use, faster, and with more services, all offered through full touchscreen interaction. The new ATM is already in use in selected locations, and will finish its roll out across Italy in 2014.

The first reactions to the BancoSmart interface have been extremely positive, with people commenting on the increased speed, legibility, appealing graphics, and the improvement in features and functions. The highly intuitive ATM interaction allows clients to easily navigate, locate and use functions, from simple features like cash withdrawals to more complicated functions like deposits, information retrieval, bill payments and mobile phone top-ups. The interface is visually attractive and easy to read, with large fonts and clear banking function categories.

Experientia carried out in-depth user experience research as a foundation for the information architecture and service design of the ATM.  Multiple cycles of design, prototyping and user acceptance testing ensured that the final interface is strongly based on people’s banking behaviours and exceeds their expectations and needs for ATM use.

Experientia’s design is a responsive solution that runs on various ATMs including legacy terminals of different providers with various screen sizes and tech specifications. Usability and technical tests were performed across this device range.

BancoSmart offers a full touchscreen interaction, thanks to the extended network of touchscreen ATMs available in Italy (over 6,000 UniCredit touch ATMs, equal to 85% of machines).

The ATM offers several original features, conceived especially for UniCredit Bank, based on the research findings. These include:

  • Speedy withdrawal, with 3 predefined options on the Home Page based on the most frequent behaviours of the user, which the system learns over time. This cuts the time for common task completion by 30%.
  • Georeferenced payment service, which organises bill payment options and filters them based on what is available in the user’s location.
  • Adaptive interface, with a home page that offers personalised content based on the user’s banking profile.
  • Tone of voice, with the creation of a coherent language in all situations, which is more friendly and direct, and provides the correct support during operations.
  • Contextual support and feedback Contextual messages and continuous feedback keep people informed during interaction, particularly in case of data entry errors or other problems, using a clear language and coherent visual support.

UniCredit SpA is an Italian global banking and financial services company. It has approximately 40 million customers and operates in 22 countries.

Experientia® is a global experience design consultancy that practices user research-based and people-centred design. They help companies and organisations conceive and innovate products, services and processes, through a qualitative understanding of people, their mental models and their behaviours.

Experientia won the 2011 Italian National Prize for Innovation in Services, for a low carbon service platform to be implemented in an eco-friendly residential area under construction in Helsinki, “using innovative methodologies devised in Italy.” They have conducted research and design projects in every continent, for industries ranging from mobile telecommunications to sustainability, from automotive to architecture, and much more. Their portfolio includes a range of financial products, aimed at bank and customer use, developed for some of the biggest banks in Italy and Europe.

Experientia’s client roster features Italian and international clients, such as Alcatel Lucent, ASUS, Banca Fideuram, Banca Carige, Condé Nast, CVS Pharmacy, Expedia, Fidelity International, Haier, Intel, Max Mara, Microsoft, Motorola, Mozilla Corporation, Nokia, Samsung Electronics, SAP, Sky,  Trenitalia, Toncelli, UniCredit Bank, United Nations and Vodafone.

 

Contact

Mark Vanderbeeken, Experientia srl, +39 011 812 9687,
[mark dot vanderbeeken at experientia dot com]

4 November 2013

Experientia rivoluziona la user experience degli ATM con “BancoSmart”, l’innovativa interfaccia degli ATM UniCredit

 

Le banche stanno cercando sempre più di entrare in sintonia con le esigenze ed i desideri dei propri clienti, innovando i propri prodotti e servizi secondo una approccio centrato sull’utente. Per dare concretezza a questo principio, UniCredit ha deciso di collaborare con Experientia con l’obiettivo di rinnovare a fondo la user experience del proprio canale ATM.

Un cliente prova la nuova interfaccia di BancoSmart e la home page personalizzata.
Click on image to view slideshow

Le banche stanno cercando sempre più di entrare in sintonia con le esigenze ed i desideri dei propri clienti, innovando i propri prodotti e servizi secondo una approccio centrato sull’utente. Per dare concretezza a questo principio, UniCredit ha deciso di collaborare con Experientia con l’obiettivo di rinnovare a fondo la user experience del proprio canale ATM.

Experientia ha di fatto reinventato l’interfaccia degli ATM UniCredit, rendendola più facile da utilizzare, più veloce e più ricca di servizi, il tutto attraverso un’interazione full touch.

Il nuovo ATM (denominato “BancoSmart”) è già attivo in agenzie selezionate e terminerà il roll out sul territorio italiano nel 2014.

Le prime reazioni al lancio della nuova interfaccia sono state molto positive, in modo particolar riferite alla maggiore velocità, alla grafica più moderna e di facile lettura, al fatto di far emergere con più chiarezza la ricchezza dei servizi offerti. L’interazione intuitiva del nuovo ATM consente ai clienti di navigare, individuare e utilizzare agevolmente tutte le funzioni, da quelle più semplici come il prelievo di contanti a quelle più complesse come il versamento di assegni.

Experientia, prima di procedere con la progettazione, ha condotto una ricerca dettagliata sulla user experience, i cui risultati sono stati alla base dell’architettura dell’informazione e del service design di BancoSmart. Molteplici cicli di design, prototipazione e test con utenti, hanno permesso all’interfaccia di rispondere ai bisogni espressi dalle persone.

BancoSmart funziona su sportelli di fornitori diversi, con schermi di varie dimensioni e specifiche tecniche dissimili fra loro. I test tecnici e i test di usabilità sono stati condotti sull’intera gamma di dispositivi in modo da mantenere inalterata la user experience.

BancoSmart offre un’interazione full touchscreen grazie alla più estesa rete di ATM touch presente in Italia (oltre 6.000 ATM touch UniCredit pari all’85% dell’intero parco posseduto) e presenta funzionalità, alcune del tutto inedite, concepite appositamente per UniCredit e ispirate ai finding emersi dalla ricerca. Tra le principali novità citiamo:

  • Prelievo veloce, con 3 importi immediatamente disponibili sin dalla home page e definiti sulla base dei comportamenti d’uso del cliente, riducendo del 30% il tempo impiegato per il prelievo.
  • Servizi di pagamento georeferenziati, con le opzioni di pagamento organizzate e filtrate per aree geografiche.
  • Interfaccia adattiva, con una home page che offre contenuti personalizzati, adattandosi al profilo dell’utente.
  • Tone of voice unico, con la creazione di un linguaggio coerente in tutte le situazioni, più amichevole, diretto e in grado di fornire il corretto supporto durante le operazioni.
  • Supporto e feedback contestuali fornendo all’utente un aiuto costante durante l’interazione, con messaggi e feedback contestuali, anche in caso di errori o problemi, utilizzando un linguaggio chiaro ed elementi grafici a supporto.

UniCredit S.p.A. è tra i primi gruppi di credito europei e mondiali. Conta oltre 40 milioni di clienti e opera in 22 paesi.

Experientia® è una società internazionale di experience design, il cui obiettivo è supportare società ed organizzazioni a concepire e innovare i propri prodotti, servizi e processi, grazie a una comprensione qualitativa delle persone, dei loro modelli cognitivi e dei loro comportamenti.

Experientia ha vinto il Premio Nazionale per l’Innovazione nei servizi, nel 2011, per un progetto di change behaviour destinato a ridurre le emissioni di carbonio da parte della comunità di residenti di un nuovo complesso residenziale eco sostenibile in costruzione nella città di Helsinki,”utilizzando metodologie innovative concepite in Italia”. Experientia ha condotto ricerca e progetti di design in ogni continente, per settori che spaziano dalle telecomunicazioni mobili alla sostenibilità, dall’automotive all’architettura dall’healthcare all’entertainment e molti altri.

In ambito Finance & Banking Experientia vanta numerose collaborazioni su tutti i principali temi di innovazione, con progetti di ricerca e design sviluppati per alcune fra le maggiori banche italiane ed europee.

La lista di clienti di Experientia annovera aziende e multinazionali italiane e straniere quali:

Alcatel Lucent, ASUS, Banca Fideuram, Banca Carige, Condé Nast, CVS Pharmacy, Expedia, Fidelity International, Haier, Intel, Max Mara, Microsoft, Motorola, Mozilla Corporation, le Nazioni Unite, Nokia, Samsung Electronics, SAP, Sky,  Trenitalia, Toncelli, UniCredit Bank e Vodafone.

 

Contatto

Michele Giannasi, Experientia srl, T. 347 801 2446, [michele dot giannasi at experientia dot com]

2 May 2013

Designing for the multi-user: missed by Apple, Google and others

6a00d8345a66bf69e201901bb96684970b-320wi

The iPad is a multi-user device according to industry reports, writes Frank Spillers. But you wouldn’t know it from picking up even the latest generation iPad, especially if you are a physician or business user handling sensitive data. The design approach of designing for lone users misses out on a fundamental nature of mobile devices: they are social. To design for the multi-user is to recognize this need for delivering a rich social user experience.

19 February 2013

Teenage usability: designing teen-targeted websites

 

Recently published Nielsen/Norman Group research shows that teens are (over)confident in their web abilities, but they perform worse than adults. Lower reading levels, impatience, and undeveloped research skills reduce teens’ task success and require simple, relatable sites.

14 December 2012

Are the older generation getting tech-savvy?

oldpersonipad

BBC News has published a 5 minute video feature on Cambridge University’s Design Centre where they test how elderly people use technology.

Must-have modern gadgets are designed by young people with young people in mind – that is the view of Ian Hosking, who works at Cambridge University’s Design Centre.

This can mean that elderly people, who have much to gain from modern technology, feel excluded.

Mr Hosking’s mission is to improve the accessibility of modern, mass-produced devices like smartphones and tablets. To this end, he conducts experiments with volunteers.

The Design Lab conducts tests on individual products, but the general findings that Mr Hosking discusses here apply to digital communication devices across the market.

BBC News also posted a longer article on the same topic.

16 November 2012

The Design for Usability book

designforusability

The Design for Usability project, that researched how best to contribute to the development of usable products, published a book that provides the product development community with a comprehensive and coherent overview of the results of the project, in such a way that they can be applied in practice.

The book outlines the studies conducted in the project, and indicates how the individual research projects are related and which of them can be applied in a coherent mode.

The 150-page booklet provides links to the DfU website, where the reader can find a manual on how to execute the method or tool presented in the booklet, as well as templates that can be used.

Design for Usability’ was started by the three Dutch technical universities in 2007. About 15 people collaborate in this project, of which 5 PhD projects can be seen as the main component. This IOP IPCR project has been partially subsidized by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. The companies Océ, Philips, T-Xchange, Indes and Unilever are still closely involved in the project, by providing information and cases from their daily practice and serving as a sounding board for the project members.

(via InfoDesign)

19 October 2012

Slow HCI

interfaces92

The latest issue of Interfaces, the quarterly magazine of the Interaction Specialist Group of the BCS, the British chartered institute for IT, is devoted to Slow HCI, or how to design to promote well-being for individuals, society and nature.

Here are the key articles:

Invisible stable interfaces
Kai A. Olsen, University of Bergen and Molde University College, and alessio Malizia, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, explore the importance of maintaining stable interfaces for efficient workflow and ask companies to consider how to minimise disruption to experienced users when bringing out new versions.

Design for happiness
Anna Pohlmeyer, Delft University of Technology, translates positive psychology into positive design and outlines 20 opportunities to design for happiness.

Birds of a feather
Email is recognised as a major productivity disabler. Karen renaud, Glasgow University, and Judith ramsay, University of the West of Scotland, present a flighty perspective on emailers’ behaviours.

Future HCI
Daniel Gooch and Ryan Kelly from Bath University reflect on a future for HCI where interactions are slow and reflective, more intimate, creatively and innovatively combining aspects of the physical and digital world to promote fulfilling experiences.

The ITT Group
Professor Lynne Baillie provides an overview of her team, the Interactive and Trustworthy Technologies research Group at Glasgow Caledonian University, and some of their current projects.

New centre, new challenge
Lorna McKnight, University of oxford, introduces a new research centre exploring assistive learning technologies and reflects on the difficulties and value of researching this area.

My PhD
Andrea Bellucci: Prototyping Natural Interaction

Massive Open Online HCI
Alan Dix, Talis and University of Birmingham, describes some of the inspirations and challenges he faces as he prepares to run a massive open online HCI course.

Other recent issues of Interfaces:

Interfaces 91 – Summer 2012 – Reviewing HCI (pdf)
HCI research in the UK: funding, reflection and the future

Interfaces 90 – Spring 2012 – Work, Rest and Play (pdf)
HCI crosses physical and digital boundaries

Interfaces 89 – Winter 2011 – What’s Hot in HCI? (pdf)
It’s difficult to get consensus from our multidimensional discipline

10 October 2012

Top 10 things still to fix in experience design

 

Here’s the view of Ray McCune, managing partner at Flow, on some of the peaks we still have to climb if experience design is to become a mainstream business discipline.

It’s quite excellent.

1. Targets and incentives within businesses must be aligned with long-term value
As long as business managers are incentivised only to deliver against short-term goals in narrow areas of business performance, companies will struggle to make significant improvements in their relationships with customers.

2. We need to stop designing experiences based on company structure
We’re already seeing a rush by individual business units within large organisations to launch their own individual mobile offerings, often with little thought for the overall experience.

3. The User Experience community needs to get out more
We are talking to ourselves more than anyone else. [...] We need to seek out opportunities to speak with politicians, business owners, executives and managers on their own ground and use a vocabulary that resonates with them: tying UX to social benefit, improved business performance and new marketing opportunities.

4. Improve the user experience of boxed products
All too often the out-of-the-box experience offered by third-party products simply isn’t flexible enough to create a valuable, differentiated experience for customers.

5. Most digital agencies are charlatans
Ten years ago, few digital agencies had any user experience offering, so it should seem like progress that today the majority of agencies make the vocabulary of UX central to their pitch and their proposition. Or perhaps not.

6. Pitches are a uniquely bad way of finding a good design agency…
…but they remain a very good way of finding a bad design agency. The traditional pitch process is flawed because it requires agencies to begin the process of making decisions about creative ideas and complex interactions in the absence of insight and understanding.

7. NPS is a blunt tool
While Net Promotor Score (NPS) is good at telling a company what is happening, it’s less good at telling a company why. What influences advocacy is subtle, and NPS lacks the subtlety to help inform experimentation and optimisation of customer experience.

8. The cult of data
Even if data is infallible, the high priests interpreting the data are not. In almost every company we know, data analysts find patterns in the numbers and then guess at their meaning. That guesswork is passed up the line, sometimes to board level, but it masquerades as fact because its source is ‘the numbers’.

9. Still not enough investment in solving basic usability issues
While companies have increasingly employed usability testing to improve their sales and service processes there is still a clear tendency to act only on the issues which are easiest to fix.

10. Too much disrespect for customers
Henry Ford still gets quoted by people who want to marginalise the opinion of customers. There’s a lazy acceptance by many in business that user research is futile.

(via InfoDesign)

9 October 2012

Five new articles on UX Matters

 

Tips on Prototyping for Usability Testing
By Jim Ross, Principal of Design Research at Electronic Ink, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Because user research studies peoples’ behavior, the most effective research techniques involve observing participants doing things and talking about what they’re doing. Research that focuses on opinions and discussions of behavior in the abstract isn’t as useful, because it’s difficult for people to talk about their behavior out of context or to evaluate a design without using it. Therefore, the best way to evaluate a new design is to create a prototype and give participants something concrete to interact with and react to. In this column, Jim Ross provides some tips that can make your usability studies more successful and help you to avoid problems when testing prototypes.

Are You Still Using Earlier-Generation Prototyping Tools?
By Ritch Macefield, Owner of Ax-Stream, London UK
Given that we can now choose from a variety of fourth-generation prototyping tools, why is it that so many organizations are still creating second- or third-generation prototypes?

The Many Hats of a Usability Professional
By Rebecca Albrand, Design Researcher at Electronic Ink, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Sometimes it seems as though usability professionals need to have superhuman multitasking abilities to conduct usability test sessions. As a usability professional, you have to wear the hats of a facilitator, a consultant, a conversationalist, a note-taker, a technologist, and a psychologist. In this article Rebecca Albrand describes some objectives for each of the roles you’ll need to take on, as well as provide some tips that you should remember to help you wear each hat successfully.

Demystifying UX Design: Common False Beliefs and Their Remedies: Part 1
By Frank Guo, Founder of UX Strategized, San Bruno, CA, USA
In debunking common UX design myths, Frank Guo shows that they’re just half truths that don’t fully account for the complexity of user experience and that there are better alternatives for achieving your design objectives.

Product Review: Mobile Prototyping and Testing with Justinmind
By Afshan Kirmani, Information Architect at Global Dawn, London UK
Justinmind Prototyper supports requirements gathering, wireframe creation, application simulation, and usability testing. You can use it to create interactive prototypes of both Web and mobile applications. As a bonus, Prototyper lets stakeholders and users provide feedback on your prototypes of mobile and Web applications. Thus, it incorporates all of the features that are necessary for a prototyping project.

16 August 2011

Creating human-to-human design

Human
In the ever-changing and expanding world of the web, reaching the end user effectively is paramount in the minds of businesses, writes Stephanie Hamilton on Onextrapixel (OXP), a weblog dedicated to delivering useful, comprehensive and innovative information for designers and web developers.

We are entering a new age of Web design and development where this concept is apparent now more than ever,” she says. “It’s not enough to have any old website – it must communicate your goals seamlessly to your audience through its rich content. When you take into account the diversity of methods used to access a given website – such as mobile devices – the result is a more dynamic and engaging web that must respond to the end users needs as quickly as possible.”

“In designing websites with the end user in mind, it’s important to take into account principles such as simplicity and clarity, with a focus on accessibility and customization. By tailoring your website to the individual, they’ll feel more appreciated and less like a faceless user who chanced upon your website. This translates into a positive experience for them as well as your business, brand, or service.”

Read article

16 July 2011

The difference (and relationship) between usability and user experience

Usability and UX
In a blog post, Justin Mifsud discuss the terms usability and user experience, highlighting their differences and more importantly the relationship that exists between them.

“Usability is a narrower concept than user experience since it only focuses on goal achievement when using a web site. By contrast, user experience is a “consequence of the presentation, functionality, system performance, interactive behaviour, and assistive capabilities of the interactive system”. This essentially means that user experience includes aspects such as human factors, design, ergonomics, HCI, accessibility, marketing as well as usability. An alternative way to look at this relationship is by subdividing user experience into utility, usability, desirability and brand experience. “

Read article

26 May 2011

Usability testing with children: a lesson from Piaget

Children on the iPad
In this post, Sabina Idler, information designer at Usabilla (The Netherlands), introduces Piaget’s theory of cognitive growth and explains how it can be useful for usability testing with children.

“Children are becoming an increasingly important target group on the web. Good usability and high user experience are crucial aspects for a successful website. Early and repetitive user testing is the way to go. If we address children on our website, we need to focus on what they want. We need to include children as a target group in our user testing. In this post I’d like to take a look at usability testing with different age groups.”

Read article

(via InfoDesign)

26 May 2011

Gestural interfaces: a step backwards in usability

Swipe
Donald A. Norman and Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman group argue that today’s gestural user interfaces are a usability nightmare
and that we need to come back to some basic HCI realities in the design of gestural user interfaces.

“In a recent column for Interactions Norman pointed out that the rush to develop gestural interfaces – “natural” they are sometimes called – well-tested and understood standards of interaction design were being overthrown, ignored, and violated.

Recently, Raluca Budui and Hoa Loranger from the Nielsen Norman group performed usability tests on Apple’s iPad, reaching much the same conclusion. The new applications for gestural control in smart cellphones (notably the iPhone and the Android) and the coming arrival of larger screen devices built upon gestural operating systems (starting with Apple’s iPad) promise even more opportunities for well-intended developers to screw things up. [...]

There are several important fundamental principles of interaction design that are completely independent of technology:
· Visibility (also called perceived affordances or signifiers)
· Feedback
· Consistency (also known as standards)
· Non-destructive operations (hence the importance of undo)
· Discoverability: All operations can be discovered by systematic exploration of menus
· Scalability. The operation should work on all screen sizes, small and large.
· Reliability. Operations should work. Period. And events should not happen randomly.

All these are rapidly disappearing from the toolkit of designers, aided, we must emphasize, by the weird design guidelines issued by Apple, Google, and Microsoft.”

Read article

6 April 2011

About unnatural user research and limits to usability

UX Matters
Two new articles on UX Matters:

User research Is unnatural (but that’s okay), Part I
by Jim Ross
From the perspective of a participant, user research is not very natural. We ask participants to try to act naturally in the artificial environment of a lab, or we impose ourselves on their environment and hope our presence doesn’t affect their behavior. We often forget how unnatural user research can be and what effect it can have on participants.

Part II: Making user research more natural
To minimize the negative effects of these unnatural aspects of user research and get more realistic results, there are many things we can do to keep user research as natural as possible.

There should be limits to usability
by Peter Hornsby
People generally regard improving the usability of products or systems as a major part of our role as UX designers. While there are tradeoffs in all aspects of design, our assumption has generally been that products and systems that are easier to use are preferable to those that are harder to use. However, despite what seemed to be a common understanding, a number of articles have recently reported on research that suggests increased ease of use can be detrimental. This column examines the research underlying these conclusions and looks at some lessons UX designers can learn from them.

25 February 2011

On the UX revolution coming up

UX Magazine
Two articles in UX Magazine describe upcoming UX revolutions: data and the user interface.

The UX of data
By Scott Jenson / February 17th 2011
Data storage in the cloud enables user experiences that would be impossible with only local storage, and creates a new facet of design: the UX of data.

2016: the user interface revolution underway
By Peter Eckert / February 24th 2011
New interfaces are not going to be uniform; devices and applications will not possess common protocols. For users, each interaction will have to be learned, so despite the improved usability of products, individuals will find themselves learning the quirks and standards of more and more technologies just to get the functionality they seek.

1 February 2011

New encyclopedia on interactive design, usability and user experience

IxD Encyclopedia
The people behind Interaction-Design.org introduced a new type of top-quality and free encyclopedia dealing with Interactive Design, Usability, and User Experience.

It has taken the opposite approach of Wikipedia and crowd-sourcing: all entries are written by leading figures who either invented or contributed significantly to each topic.

The new encyclopedia also features video interviews shot at different universities around the world.

The materials available for free, because the Interaction-Design.org people believe in the value of knowledge democratisation, where all can can get free access to world-class educational materials.

3 December 2010

Automation suppliers strive to boost product usability

Automation
Automation World reports at length on how human-centered design techniques are gaining attention in the world of industrial controls and automation, as more users struggle with complex user interfaces.

“Many of today’s industrial products, with their ever-growing feature sets, have become too complex and difficult to use, leading to increased training costs and lost time, and in some cases, even robbing manufacturing companies of the very benefits that the features were intended to produce. But more vendors are beginning to take notice. Increasingly, as a way to differentiate their products and help customers become more productive, automation suppliers are stepping up their efforts to reduce complexity in their products and make them easier to use.”

Read article