“Our solution was to conduct a “digital diary study”: a novel hybrid technique that combined aspects of traditional methodologies into a single, comprehensive framework. In the study, participants used voicemail, email, and digital photographs to “record” their daily behaviors. These recordings were sent to researchers at frog on a daily basis via email and international toll-free numbers.
Researchers would then follow up using these same technologies, pursuing new questions as they arose. Participants elaborated iteratively through this two-way conversational model until behavioral patterns were identified. An additional benefit was the ease of response; participants only had to remember to carry their own cell phone and digital camera, as opposed to a paper journal. This more naturalistic approach allowed for journal entries to be captured in a variety of locations and a variety of moments; participants could leave brief messages even while driving, working, socializing, etc.”
Posts in category 'Usability'
The 2010 UPA conference (Munich, Germany, May 2010) takes this just a bit further: design is now ‘experience design’ and the European regional conference theme of “cultivating diversity” has turned into a global “embracing cultural diversity”.
It’s nice, and somewhat funny, to notice how ideas influence one another.
“A person is a first-time user exactly once (and in the case of the infusion pump, because of training and observation, nurses were actually never really first-time users), and in many cases a beginner for only a very short while. The first-time user scenario is always important to get right (as is that highly emotional first impression); for some products such as an airport check-in kiosk or a public emergency defibrillator, for example, it’s the most critical one and deserves the most elegant solution. But for countless other products that target people who will use the product to accomplish complex workflows over long periods of time, the first-time use case is likely only one of many secondary scenarios that deserve attention.”
“The set of methods employed by most user-centered professionals fails to deliver truly user-centric insights. The so called ’science’ of usability which underlies user-centeredness leaves much to be desired. It rests too much on anecdote, assumed truths about human behavior and an emphasis on performance metrics that serve the perspective of people other than the user.”
The very successful conference, which was chaired by the UPA Europe president Silvia Zimmerman (who has meanwhile become president of UPA Global) and UPA-Italy chair Michele Visciola (who is also the president of Experientia), has clearly had some impact on UPA’s global thinking, as exemplified by its upcoming international conference in Portland, OR, USA.
Not only is the look and feel of the global conference’s website remarkably similar to the European one, but three of the invited speakers are actually designers — Dan Saffer (Kicker Studio), Nathan Shedroff (California College of the Arts) and Raphael Grignani (Nokia Design) — with a specific focus on interaction design and experience design.
Obviously we are excited about this embrace of design within the usability community and look forward to hearing more about this conference.
Few people know the history of fields like UX, IxD, Usability and Human-Centered Design as Jack does. His article on interaction-design.org is a must-read for those who have ever asked themselves, “Where does our field come from?”
“In terms of IT, the three key priorities are mobiles, mobiles, and mobiles. As indicated earlier in this column, cellphones are now reaching far down into the bottom billion. At present, development solutions will need to be based around voice and text. But other possibilities are rapidly opening up.”
The article is published online on the wonderfully redesigned Communications website.
The new site complements the magazine by providing an easy access point to all the content found in the magazine’s print pages, but perhaps more importantly the site extends beyond Communications’ current reach and helps bring us closer to fulfilling the flagship’s original promise as the primary “communication” tool in the field of computing.
Here is some more on the philosophy behind the new site.
We at Experientia are proud to say that Putting People First made it to the site’s blogroll, together with some other important players in the field. Here are some other articles that caught my attention:
Using crowdsourcing applications, humans around the world are transcribing audio files, conducting market research, and labeling data, for work or pleasure.
Reflecting human values in the digital age
HCI experts must broaden the field’s scope and adopt new methods to be useful in 21st-century sociotechnical environments.
Bookmark this site.
In his introduction editor Avi Parush writes:
“Usability engineering has always been about cost-effectiveness and visible added value. However, with the global economy crisis we are facing now, usability engineering may be one of the first to suffer. In a very timely manner, Tom Tullis shares experience-based and well-informed insights and tips on how to survive this crisis. In his invited editorial “Tips for Usability Professionals in a Down Economy”, Tom presents 10 very practical tips on how to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of our work, while providing the added value of usability.”
“It is almost painful to watch Nissan designer Naoki Yamamoto get out of a test car. To understand the challenges aging drivers face, the 39-year-old interaction specialist is encased in a proprietary “aging suit” that gives him the mobility and faculties of a driver twice his age. “Sure, it’s uncomfortable,” Yamamoto says, “but to really understand a problem you have to feel it in your bones.”
At an “Interaction Design Workshop” today at the Nissan Design Center in Atsugi, Japan, Yamamoto demonstrated to reporters one of many methods Nissan’s Interaction Design team employs in a continuing effort to make future car interiors easier to understand and more comfortable to use.”
Design is the Problem: The Future of Design Must be Sustainable
by Nathan Shedroff
Design makes a tremendous impact on the produced world in terms of usability, resources, understanding, and priorities. What we produce, how we serve customers and other stakeholders, and even how we understand how the world works is all affected by the design of models and solutions. Designers have an unprecedented opportunity to use their skills to make meaningful, sustainable change in the world—if they know how to focus their skills, time, and agendas. In Design is the Problem: The Future of Design Must be Sustainable, Nathan Shedroff examines how the endemic culture of design often creates unsustainable solutions, and shows how designers can bake sustainability into their design processes in order to produce more sustainable solutions.
Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories
by Donna Spencer
Card sorting is a technique that is used to gather user input to design the information architecture of a site. The technique is easy to prepare and run, and great fun. But sometimes the results can be hard to interpret and it is not always clear how to use them to design the IA. This short, practical, and accessible book will provide the basics that designers need to conduct a card sort in a project. More importantly, it will explain how to understand the outcomes and apply them to the design of a site.
Search Analytics: Conversations with your Customers
by Louis Rosenfeld & Marko Hurst
Any organization that has a searchable web site or intranet is sitting on top of hugely valuable and usually under-exploited data: logs that capture what users are searching for, how often each query was searched, and how many results each query retrieved. Search queries are gold: they are real data that show us exactly what users are searching for in their own words. This book shows you how to use search analytics to carry on a conversation with your customers: listen to and understand their needs, and improve your content, navigation and search performance to meet those needs.
Prototyping: A Practitioner’s Guide to Prototyping
by Todd Zaki Warfel
Prototyping is a great way to clearly communicate the intent of a design. Prototypes help you quickly and easily flesh out design ideas, test assumptions, and gather real-time feedback from users. Like other Rosenfeld Media books, A Practitioner’s Guide to Prototyping will take a hands-on approach, enabling you to develop prototypes with minimal muss and fuss. The book will discuss how prototypes are more than just a design tool by demonstrating how they can help you market a product, gain internal buy-in, and test feasibility with your development team.
Storytelling for User Experience Design
by Kevin Brooks & Whitney Quesenbery
We all tell stories. It’s one of the most natural ways to share information, as old as the human race. This book is not about a new technique, but how to use something we already know in a new way. Stories help us gather and communicate user research, put a human face on analytic data, communicate design ideas, encourage collaboration and innovation, and create a sense of shared history and purpose. This book looks across the full spectrum of user experience design to discover when and how to use stories to improve our products. Whether you are a researcher, designer, analyst or manager, you will find ideas and techniques you can put to use in your practice.
See What I Mean: How to Use Comics to Communicate Ideas
by Kevin Cheng
Comics are a unique way to communicate, using both image and text to effectively demonstrate time, function, and emotion. Just as vividly as they convey the feats of superheroes, comics tell stories of your users and your products. Comics can provide your organization with an exciting and effective alternative to slogging through requirements documents and long reports. In See What I Mean, Kevin Cheng, OK/Cancel founder/cartoonist and founder of Off Panel Productions, will teach you how you can use comics as a powerful communication tool without trained illustrators.
Remote Research: Real Users, Real Time, Real Research
by Nate Bolt & Tony Tulathimutte
Remote user research describes any research method that allows you to observe, interview, or get feedback from users while they’re at a distance, in their “native environment” (at their desk, in their home or office) doing their own tasks. Remote studies allow you to recruit quickly, cheaply, and immediately, and give you the opportunity to observe users as they behave naturally in their own environment, on their own time. Our book will teach you how to design and conduct remote research studies, top-to-bottom, with little more than a phone and a laptop.
“As the scale of contact centre operations increases, it is becoming a primary area of focus and opportunity for the field of user-centred design. [...]
This domain has an inherent complexity that should not be underestimated. Designing user interfaces for contact centres is a balancing act that involves the ability to weigh multiple considerations, issues, and pressures. Usability professionals must be aware of some vital factors before they can design interfaces that are suited to the tasks of a contact centre end user.”
Although the global UPA website has not yet been updated, UPA Voice confirms the news.
Zimmermann is the first European to head the international organisation which has over 10,000 members from all over the world.
Silvia Zimmermann, who was a founder of UPA Switzerland, is in charge of the Swiss Institute for Software Ergonomy and Usability in Zurich, and became a UPA vice-president in 2008. She was also a co-organiser of the December 2008 European UPA conference on usability and design, in collaboration with co-chair Michele Visciola, president of Experientia (see photo).
Her major focus now is increasing the internationalisation of the UPA: “The dominance of the USA with regards to internet and software matters is often criticised. Our work at UPA shows that usability is a global matter. Experts from Europe and Asia are heavily involved in creating more useful technology.”
Complexity is preventing uptake and usage of mobile applications and services, according to a survey of US and UK consumers commissioned by mobile device management (MDM) specialist Mformation. 95% of consumers surveyed indicated that they would be more likely to try new mobile services if setup was easier. Complex setup issues are also preventing 45% of people from upgrading to new, more sophisticated mobile phones. Moreover, 61% of these mobile users say phone setup is as frustrating as changing a bank account.
NetLife Research, who is behind this initiative, got over 100k downloads last year, and are aiming even higher this year.
Some 61% of those interviewed in the UK and US said setting up a new handset is as challenging as moving bank accounts.
The survey found 85% of users reporting they were frustrated by the difficulty of getting a new phone up and working.
Of those questioned, 95% said they would try more new services if the technology was easier to set up.
The elaborate conference proceedings (277 pages) contain sections on Usability to Bridge the Digital Divide, Usability Engineering, User Experience Design for New Media, User Experience Research and Offshore Usability.
(thanks Anxo Cereijo-Roibas)
User experience design is NOT…
1. …user interface design
2. …a step in the process
3. …about technology
4. …just about usability
5. …just about the user
8. …the role of one person or department
9. …a single discipline
10. …a choice
Eric Reiss wrote a nice follow-up post.
“Technological advances have always been driven more by a mind-set of “I can” than “I should,” and never more so than today. Technologists love to cram maximum functionality into their products. That’s “I can” thinking, which is driven by peer competition and market forces. (It’s easier to sell a device with ten features than one.) But this approach ignores the far more important question of how the consumer will actually use the device. [...]
When I welcome my first incoming class this fall, I plan to focus on how RISD’s core ideals of art and design can humanize our advancing technologies. Or, put another way, to focus on what we should be doing, not just what we can.”
(via Steve Portigal)
“The real Achilles heel of Microsoft’s devices was their abysmal user interface – firmly wedded to the look and feel of old-fashioned computer desktops, a concept that doesn’t work on small screens.
At long last this is changing, although it is not Microsoft doing the job. Instead, phone manufacturers are busy building user-friendly interfaces to sit on the Windows platform.”