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July 2006 Issue

By Steve Baty

Published: July 24, 2006

“A positive user experience has a direct correlation to positive brand perception.”

Much has been written in the past decade about the importance of usability and the user experience to customers’ perception of an organization’s brand. Jared Spool’s 1996 article “Branding and Usability” correctly identifies the importance of Web site usability to brand experience and provides evidence that a positive user experience has a direct correlation to positive brand perception. More recently, authors such as Dirk Knemeyer have expanded on this theme.

  • recognizing that both online and offline customer experiences contribute to brand image
  • highlighting the importance of consistency between the customer experience across all touch-points
  • working from the premise that an organization engages in a broad, complex set of interactions with its customers, of which the brand experience portrayed through its Web sites is only one
  • acknowledging the fact that brand is inherently something we can only influence, not control

Read moreRead More>

“Jared [Spool] is a very engaging speaker and his knowledge about product usability is both broad and deep, so his presentations are always both enjoyable and informative.”

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: July 24, 2006

Conference: Day 1: Monday, April 24th, continued

On Monday, after Scott Cook’s excellent Opening Plenary Session, I attended a series of three courses presented by Jared Spool, CEO and Founding Principal of User Interface Engineering (UIE). Jared is a very engaging speaker and his knowledge about product usability is both broad and deep, so his presentations are always both enjoyable and informative. For me, this was a day well spent. Read moreRead More>

A CHI 2006 Special Interest Group (SIG): Presented by:

  • Emilie W. Gould
  • Aaron Marcus
  • Apala Lahiri Chavan

Reviewed by Michele Marut

Published: July 24, 2006

The CHI 2006 program provided this summary:
In this SIG, practitioners will discuss challenges they faced in selecting and customizing methods for international usability design. Facilitators and then participants will contribute experiences, case studies, and helpful multicultural contacts.

The CHI conference provides SIGs to enable conference attendees who share similar interests to meet for 90 minutes of facilitated discussion.

“Our tried-and-true methods themselves can have limitations, depending on the context in which we apply them.”

Like many UX practitioners, I’m often involved in designing products that will be sold across the globe. Half of the challenge is acknowledging there is no one-size-fits-all set of design criteria. The other half is knowing the tradeoffs when choosing between usability methods for requirements gathering and evaluation. What many may find surprising is that our tried-and-true methods themselves can have limitations, depending on the context in which we apply them. Read moreRead More>

By Matteo Penzo

Published: July 12, 2006

“We were able to subject Luke’s theories to usability testing and enrich them through the power of numeric data.”

In using eyetracking to evaluate the usability of search forms for my previous article for UXmatters, “Evaluating the Usability of Search Forms Using Eyetracking: A Practical Approach,” we discovered much interesting data. I’ll provide an in-depth analysis of that data here.

Please note that our ad-hoc test setup didn’t resemble real-world conditions. Since I had to properly measure saccadic activity and saccades times, I had to eliminate all elements that would force users to visually browse through the pages we used during testing.

We based our test setup on Luke Wroblewski’s article “Web Application Form Design.” Luke provided valuable insights and feedback during both our test preparation and results analysis. Thank you, Luke! Thus, we were able to subject Luke’s theories to usability testing and enrich them through the power of numeric data.

During the process of building the forms that we would test, we tried to respect Luke’s suggestions regarding the relationship between label placement and formatting and the type of form content—well-known data versus unfamiliar data that requires thought. Thus, you’ll find both types of data on each of the pages that we tested. To add some real-world flavor, we paired inputs fields for well-known data with other slightly more difficult form elements such as drop-down list boxes. Moreover, doing so helped us to confirm our previous findings about forms. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: July 12, 2006

Prologue—CHI 2005, which took place in Portland, was the first CHI conference I had attended since CHI 1992, in Monterey. I spent most of my time at CHI 2005 in an exhibit booth, but attended the ACM SIGCHI Member Meeting, where there was much heated discussion about the need for CHI conferences to serve the needs of practitioners better. Some sponsors even threatened to withdraw their support from the conference unless this situation were remedied. I resolved to return to CHI in 2006 to assess the progress the organizers of CHI have made toward addressing this issue.

According to a SIGCHI Bulletin report about CHI conference fees by Dennis Wixon, it’s imperative that the organizers succeed in making changes that will make the conferences profitable. He said, “Diversity of participation was at risk with sponsors, practitioners, designers, and non-traditional researchers [such as] ethnographers leaving. … We increased our outreach to a range of communities including design, education, engineering, management, and research. … Broader participation in the conference benefits everyone.”

“One of the great things CHI offers to both practitioners and academics is an opportunity to reconnect with people from their respective communities.”

The twenty-fourth annual CHI conference—CHI 2006—was held at the Palais des Congrès in Montréal, Québec, Canada, from April 24th through 27th, 2006. In setting the theme Interact • Inform • Inspire, the organizers encouraged “researchers and practitioners from all segments of the CHI community—design, education, engineering, management, research, and usability—[to] interact, inform and inspire each other.” Two days of workshops preceded the conference on April 22nd and 23rd; however, I did not attend the pre-conference workshops. Read moreRead More>