Many encounter problems with their internet connections, home computers or cell phones. As gadgets become more important to people, their patience wears thin when things break.
Some 48% of technology users usually need help from others to set up new devices or to show them how they function. Many tech users encounter problems with their cell phones, internet connections, and other gadgets. This, in turn, often leads to impatience and frustration as they try to get them fixed.
Posts in category 'Usability'
With the banking sector moving towards consolidation, it is crucial that customers are understood, reacted to and rewarded for their loyalty. With the UK office of national statistics estimating that almost half of the UK population is now banking online, the role of the website in the customer journey has never been more important to financiers.
Our best advice is for banks to follow the examples set by some of the big online giants who we monitor. When looking at several of our top-rated commercial online retailers, their sites are well optimised, regularly updated and contain clear content and strong usability.
(via Usability News)
“As this study reveals, if we’re shown an object, we can often be very accurate and precise at being able to say whether we’ve seen it before. If we’re in a toy store and trying to remember what it was that our son wanted for his birthday, however, we need to be able to voluntarily search our memory for the right answer—without being prompted by a visual reminder. It seems that it is this voluntary searching mechanism that’s prone to interference and forgetfulness.”
User Experience is the quarterly magazine of the Usability Professionals’ Association (membership is a modest 100 USD) and its latest issue is devoted to usability in transportation. Here are the titles of the feature articles and you can find the abstracts online:
Taxi: Service Design for New York’s yellow cabs
By Rachel Abrams
Safer Skies: Usability at the Federal Aviation Administration
By Ferne Friedman-Berg, Ph.D, Kenneth Allendoerfer, Carolina Zingale, Ph.D, Todd Truitt, Ph.D.
Listen Up: Do voice recognition systems help drivers focus on the road?
By David G. Kidd, M. A., David M. Cades, M. A., Don J. Horvath, M. A., Stephen M. Jones, M. A., Matthew J. Pitone, M. A., Christopher A. Monk, Ph. D.
Get Your Bearings: User perspective in map design
By Thomase Porathe
Lost in Space: Holistic wayfinding design in public spaces
By Dr. Christopher Kueh
A Really Smart Card: How Hong Kong’s Octopus Card moves people
By Daniel Szuc
Recommendations on Recommendations: Making usability usable
By Rolf Molich, Kasper Hornbæk, Steve Krug, Josephine Scott and Jeff Johnson
Disclosure: my business partner Michele Visciola is on the editorial board of this magazine.
Interactions is the bimonthly publication of ACM. Better designed than User Experience, it has become, under the thoughtful leadership of Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko, both profound in its analysis and broad in its interests. At 55 USD for six issues, it is also a bargain.
Here is the latest harvest of articles, some of which you can actually find online:
Designing Games: Why and How
An Evolving Map of Design Practice and Design Research
Signifiers, Not Affordances
User Experience Design for Ubiquitous Computing
Cultural Theory and Design: Identifying Trends by Looking at the Action in the Periphery
Understanding Children’s Interactions: Evaluating Children’s Interactive Products
Janet C. Read, Panos Markopoulos
An Exciting Interface Foray into Early Digital Music: The Kurzweil 250
Richard W. Pew
Some Different Approaches to Making Stuff
Design: A Better Path to Innovation
A Call for Pro-Environmental Conspicuous Consumption in the Online World
Of Candied Herbs and Happy Babies: Seeking and Searching on Your Own Terms
Experiencing the International Children’s Digital Library
Benjamin B. Bederson
Taken For Granted: The Infusion of the Mobile Phone in Society
How Society was Forever Changed: A Review of The Mobile Connection
Audiophoto Narratives for Semi-literate Communities
David Frohlich, Matt Jones
Think Before You Link: Controlling Ubiquitous Availability
Karen Renaud, Judith Ramsay, Mario Hair
Disclosure: As of next year, I will be a contributing editor to the magazine (and I feel honoured to be in such esteemed company).
“Social interaction design works by respecting the psychological and social, the ambiguity not the clarity, the unintended not the intended. The best a designer can do is set up a social architecture that structures and organizes participation well enough that users know what’s going on, and therefore what to do. Social interaction designers start not from user needs but from user interests.
The bottom line for any social media company is know your users. Here again, social interaction design differs from non-social design. There is not just one user. There are not even several “personas.” Instead, users differ by their communication and interaction styles, their ways of being social, their understanding of what they are doing and of what others are doing. For simplicity’s sake, I segment users according to three types of interest: Self Interest, Other Interest, and Relational Interest.”
Chan then goes on to identify three types of social user interfaces: the mirror, the surface and the window, all based upon similar distinctions made by psychologists and sociologists.
The article is published on Johnny Holland, a brand new site on interaction in the broadest sense of the word, created by Jeroen van Geel in the Netherlands. Johnny Holland is set up as an “open collective for talking, sharing and finding answers about the interaction between people and products, systems or processes”.
The future of design could see the divide between able-bodied and disabled people vanish.
Don Norman , design Professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, and the author of ”The Design of Future Things,” is issuing a challenge to designers and engineers across the world: Create things that work for everyone.
“It is about time we designed things that can be used by ALL people — which is the notion behind accessible design. Designing for people with disabilities almost always leads to products that work better for everyone.”
Once the champion of human-centered design — where wants and needs of individuals are the primary consideration in the design process, Norman now believes accessible activity-centered design is a better approach.
His main argument is that nobody has any need for such a device.
Although the article itself is in French, much of it was written based upon English-language materials, including this overview of intelligent fridges currently on the market by Mike Kuniavsky, a short article by Nicolas Nova, and the study entitled “User acceptance of the intelligent fridge: empirical results from a simulation” by Matthias Rothensee.
Two recent ones caught my attention:
User Experience (UX): Towards an experiential perspective on product quality
This paper presented my personal view on UX and related phenomena and research. Instead of providing a one-size-fits-all-definition of UX, I emphasize its subjectivity, present-orientedness and dynamics, and the central role of pleasure and pain. In addition, I provided an approach to explain, where the pleasure and pain comes from, namely from the fulfilment of basic human needs.
Aesthetics in interactive products: Correlates and consequences of beauty
The present chapter focuses on the judgmental approach to the study of aesthetics/beauty. It starts with an attempt to define beauty in a way, which lends itself to its empirical/quantitative study in the context of HCI. This is followed by a review of research addressing correlates of beauty, primarily focusing on the relation between beauty and usability. After this, three consequences of beauty are considered in detail, namely beauty as added value, beauty as a way to accomplish self-referential goals and, finally, beauty as a way to work better. The chapter ends with a summary and conclusion.
“Major sites like Facebook are constantly being redesigned on the basis of little real understanding of how people engage with their computers.
Vast amounts of work have been done in our attempt to understand human psychology, and the investigation of how we can use computer systems for co-operative work has been going on for decades. Yet few of today’s user interface designers seem to make use of the things we already know.
The research carried out by psychologists is important because it involves proper experiments, with control groups, null hypotheses and statistical analysis – all the things that focus groups and usability labs don’t have.
Making use of the results in the real world is not easy, but it is very worthwhile, despite the temptations to skip the hard stuff and just get on and build the website or launch the computer.”
At almost 30 years old, is the computer mouse ready for retirement? Certainly, a growing band of human-computer interaction (HCI) specialists believe so. The crude language of “point and click”, they argue, seriously limits the “conversations” we have with our computers.
Among them is Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini, a veteran HCI expert who joined Apple in 1978 as its 66th employee and founded the company’s Human Interface Group during his 14 years there. These days, after spells at Sun Microsystems and online healthcare company WebMD, Mr Tognazzini is a respected consultant, author and speaker with usability company, the Nielsen Norman Group.
(via Usability News)
Contemporary wireless networks in people’s homes are already enabling consumer electronics devices to communicate with each other. Standards like Universal Plug and Play are being developed for interoperability between devices from different manufacturers. For example, a digital media player device is able to display video clips from a home PC or play music from portable devices. Development of the user experience is also needed to have devices perform tasks in concert. Homebird is a demonstration of a task- based user experience on a mobile phone. It discovers features of other devices automatically and suggests to the user that certain tasks can be performed together with those devices.
This approach cuts down the number of steps needed to perform common tasks, and also makes it easier for users to find out what can be done in a particular environment. The implementation architecture makes it easy to add new tasks, and they can also have the phone perform actions in the background without user interaction. The task-based approach was evaluated with a small user study, and participants found it easy to understand and useful, if they were offered tasks that suit their daily life.
You can’t always get what you want – that was the EU’s message to rock star Sir Mick Jagger at a forum aimed at making internet shopping easier.
The veteran rocker was among a group of business leaders invited to help find ways to simplify the complex e-shopping rules that EU citizens face.
Online consumers often feel they are not getting a fair deal, EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said. [...]
The business panel also included: Apple boss Steve Jobs, the head of EMI Roger Faxon, Alcatel-Lucent boss Ben Verwaayen and the bosses of Fiat and eBay – John Elkann and John Donahoe.
“Canonical, the corporate backer of the Ubuntu version of Linux, is hiring a team to help make open-source software on the desktop more appealing and easier to use.
The company plans to sign up designers and specialists in user experience and interaction to lead Canonical’s work on usability and to contribute to other free and open-source desktop-environment projects, including Gnome and KDE, Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical chief executive and founder of the Ubuntu project, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.”
Why do we need a private company to do this? Why are usability and user experience still issues that open source is grappling with? Why are some of the best software development projects in terms of usability still privately developed projects? What would need to change in the open source movement so that these issues become engrained in development? Are there some serious best practices, aside from the encyclopaedic approach taken by such initiatives as OpenUsability and Interaction-Design.org?
The event was held to encourage debate, to share ideas about good practice, to hear others’ views on how usability can be promoted and to explore the themes of inclusive design and design for all. Attendees included industry, the voluntary sector, journalists, civil servants and academics. The keynote speech was given by the Minister for Digital Inclusion.
The full report is published this week, together with the contributions made by delegates via the ‘suggestions box’ and a list of the online resources mentioned by speakers at the event.
(via Usability News)
Bryce Rutter interview: “The tolerance for poorly designed products is decreasing dramatically”
The Globe and Mail – 2 August 2008
Paying a visit to Toronto recently, Rutter spoke to Globe Style about the beauty and necessity of good ergonomic design, whether it’s for toothbrushes or luxury cars.
Lifestyle drives medical device design: “Patients are becoming more demanding”
plastics & rubber weekly – 1 August 2008
In the issue of PRW published today, a four-page feature covers a roundtable discussion in London at which PRW brought together product designers and polymer materials specialists to discuss trends and issues in the medical devices market. According to the participants, patients are bringing consumer attitudes to their use of medical devices and this presents challenges when designing a product for such demanding users.
A host of providers including Amazon, Salesforce.com, IBM, Oracle and Microsoft are helping corporate clients use the Internet to tap into everything from extra server space to software that helps manage customer relationships. Assigning these computing tasks to some remote location—rather than, say, a desktop computer, handheld machine, or a company’s own servers—is referred to collectively as cloud computing, and it’s catching on across Corporate America. [...]
[Yet] many chief information officers remain concerned about the reliability and security of cloud-based services. [...] Another issue that worries CIOs is the ability to comply with [...] financial and health-care regulations.
Other articles in the special report:
Cloud Computing: Small Companies Take Flight
Small businesses are flocking to the new services, which provide secure IT infrastructure with little up-front investment and no heavy lifting.
Enter the Cloud with Caution
Here are nine questions to ask before trusting your company’s data or computing tasks to an outside provider.
It’s 2018: Who Owns the Cloud?
In 10 years—given that clouds will be evaluated based on transactions, user experience, and presence—Amazon, eBay, Apple, and Microsoft will likely be top contenders.
But perhaps we should also be reading this:
Why Free Software has poor usability, and how to improve it
About 300,000 motorists have crashed because of a satnav, the [UK] Mirror [newspaper] has found.
Around 1.5 million drivers have suddenly veered dangerously or illegally in busy traffic while following its directions.
And five million have been sent the wrong way down a one-way street.
I have no idea how one can actually get hold of such data, but yes, there seems to be a problem. Now TomTom, a Dutch manufacturer of automotive navigation systems, has hired Ken McAlpine, formerly at Apple, as senior vice president product design.
Ken McAlpine is an engineering professional with 27 years’ experience in consumer product design, manufacturing and project management. McAlpine was previously employed as director of engineering with Apple Inc, based at the head office in Cupertino, California. McAlpine was involved in the development of, among other products, the MacMini, AppleTV and iPhone. Additionally, McAlpine led Apple’s laptop engineering teams, which were responsible for engineering management, program management, electronic circuit design and support of all Apple laptop products. McAlpine will be responsible for product design and usability within TomTom’s PND division ensuring that the user experience is consistent across all TomTom platforms.
In three years we worked with some of the best companies in the field and some of the best people too.
Here they are in alphabetical order:
Alcatel-Lucent (France, Spain), Area Association (Italy), Arits Consulting (Belgium), AVIS (Italy), Barclays (Italy, UK), Blyk (Finland, UK), Cittadellarte (Italy), City of Genk (Belgium), Condé Nast (Italy), Conifer Research (USA), CSI (Italy), CVS-Pharmacy (USA), Design Flanders (Belgium), Deutsche Telekom (Germany), Expedia (UK), Facem (Italy), Fidelity International (UK), Finmeccanica (Italy), Flanders in Shape (Belgium), Haier (China), Hewlett Packard (India), IEDC-Bled School of Management (Slovenia), IKS-Core Consulting (Italy), Istud Foundation (Italy), Kodak (USA), LAit (Italy), Last Minute (UK), Max Mara (Italy), Media & Design Academy (Belgium), Microsoft (USA), Motorola (USA), MPG Ferrero (Italy), Nokia (Denmark, France, Finland), Research in Motion (Canada), Samsung (Italy, Korea, UK), Swisscom (Switzerland), Tandem Seven (USA), Torino World Design Capital (Italy), Voce di Romagna (Italy), Vodafone (Germany, Italy, UK), and Whirlpool (UK).
Our collaborators (interns, consultants and staff)
Sven Adolph, Ana Camila Amorim, Andrea Arosio, An Beckers-Vanderbeeken, Josef ‘Yosi’ Bercovitch, Enrico Bergese, Niti Bhan, Elena Bobbola, Janina Boesch, Giovanni Buono, Donatella Capretti, Manlio Cavallaro, Gaurav Chadha, Dave Chiu, Raffaella Citterio, Sarah Conigliaro, Piermaria Cosina, Marco Costacurta, Laura Cunningham, Regine Debatty, Stefano Dominici, Saulo Dourado, Tal Drori, Dina Mohamed El-Sayed, Marion Froehlich, Giuseppe Gavazza, Valeria Gemello, Michele Giannasi, Young-Eun Han, Vanessa Harden, Yasmina Haryono, Bernd Hitzeroth, Juin-Yi ‘Suno’ Huang, Tom Kahrl, Erez Kikin-Gil, Ruth Kikin-Gil, Helena Kraus, Francesca Labrini, Alberto Lagna, Shadi Lahham, Jörg Liebsch, Cristina Lobnik, Maya Lotan, Ofer Luft, Davide Marazita, Claude Martin, Camilla Masala, Myriel Milicevic, Kim Mingo, Emanuela Miretti, Massimo Morelli, Peter Morville, Muzayun Mukhtar, Giorgio Olivero, Pablo Onnias, Hector Ouilhet, Christian Pallino, Giorgio Partesana, Magda Passarella, Romina Pastorelli, Danilo Penna, Andrea Piccolo, Rachelly Plaut, Laura Polazzi, Laura Puppo, Alain Regnier, Enza Reina, Anna Rink, Michal Rinott, Silvana Rosso, Emanuela Sabena, Vera de Sa-Varanda, Craig Schinnerer, Fabio Sergio, Manuela Serra, Sofia Shores, Massimo Sirelli, Natasha Sopieva, Yaniv Steiner, Riccardo Strobbia, Victor Szilagyi, David Tait, Beverly Tang, Akemi Tazaki, Luca Troisi, Raymond Turner, Haraldur Unnarsson, Ilaria Urbinati, Carlo Valbonesi, Marcello Varaldi, Giorgio Venturi, Anna Vilchis, Dvorit Weinheber, Alexander Wiethoff, Junu Joseph Yang, and Mario Zannone.
Amberlight, Design for Lucy, Fecit, Finsa, Flow Interactive, Foviance, Italia 150, Launch Institute, Prospect, Savigny Research, Syzygy, Torino World Design Capital, UPA, URN, Usability Partners International, Usercentric, UserFocus, User Interface Design, and UXnet.
Our friends (insofar not covered by the above)
Nik Baerten, Valerie Bauwens, Toon Berckmoes, Ralf Beuker, Marco Bevolo, Daniella Botta, Stefana Broadbent, Francesco Cara, Jan Chipchase, Allan Chochinov, Elizabeth Churchill, Gillian Crampton-Smith, Regine Debatty, Federico De Giuli, Jesse James Garrett, Adam Greenfield, Hubert Guillaud, Wilfried Grommen, Laurent Haug, Bob Jacobson, Marguerite Kahrl, Anna Kirah, Simona Lodi, Peter Merholz, Bill Moggridge, Donald Norman, Nicolas Nova, Bruce Nussbaum, Laura Orestano, Vittorio Pasteris, Gianluigi Perotto, Carlo Ratti, Hans Robertus, Bruce Sterling, John Thackara, Joannes Vandermeulen, Lowie Vermeersch, Judy Wert, and Younghee Yung.
Thanks to you all!
Pierpaolo Perotto, Mark Vanderbeeken, Michele Visciola and Jan-Christoph Zoels
The Experientia partners
PS. We are constantly looking for great talent! We currently have openings for interaction designers, communication designer, information architect, IT staff, usability consultants, etc.
In his paper for receiver Clavin argues that for better design, we must first of all understand different user needs around the world. The prime design challenges he sees are: richer communication, social tools and reconfigurable interfaces.
“Current mobile interfaces and services are not designed for the developing regions of the world – many users have problems reading and writing, some services are not relevant and native languages not always supported. Many users complete only the basic functions of dialling a number or answering an incoming call.” [...]
“The current mobile experience is designed for a literate section of the world who can expect interfaces in their native language. Another section of users have problems navigating text-based interfaces and need to reinforce links with the families they have left behind.
For successful mobile experience design we must provide alternative interfaces, social tools and better native language support. The mobile experience for developing regions will be rich with audio-visual communication, genuinely useful social networks and reconfigurable interfaces.
Designing for these user needs creates better experiences also for advanced countries. Simpler audio-visual interfaces will benefit children, elderly people and users with learning difficulties. Social networks will mature from hipster hangouts into tools for achieving meaningful and progressive goals. Touchscreen devices will become cheap enough for anyone to afford and the languages of cosmopolitan populations fully supported.”
Neil Clavin is a design manager for Vodafone Group User Experience. He worked as a user experience designer for BBC New Media & Technology and as a research assistant for Interaction Design at the Royal College of Art, London, before joining the Vodafone User Experience Concept Development Team based in Düsseldorf, Germany. There, he leads concept design for mobile communication, information and entertainment experiences.
“By 2020, 25% of the EU’s population will be over 65. To respond to this growing demographic challenge, the Council of Ministers approved today a Commission plan to make Europe a hub for developing digital technologies designed to help older people to continue living independently at home.
The proposal, presented by the Commission on 14 June 2007 [see earlier post], will provide some additional €150 million funding to a new European Joint Research Programme, resulting in a total investment of over €600 million.
Through this new programme companies will be able to develop highly innovative digital products and services to improve the lives of older people at home, in the workplace and in society in general. Smart devices for improving security at home, mobile solutions for vital sign monitoring and user friendly interfaces for those with impaired vision or hearing – all of which will improve the quality of life of elderly people, their careers and families. [...]
20 EU Member States, as well as Israel, Norway and Switzerland will participate in this Joint Research Programme.”