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November 2006 Issue

By Joost Willemsen

Published: November 20, 2006

“Sometimes, one gets the feeling that Web developers implement richness just for the sake of making a Web site and the company that commissions it look cool.”

Over the last two years, Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) have been a hot topic of discussion. While the sheen has already begun to wear off the buzzword Ajax a bit among Web application designers, RIAs are bigger than ever with our clients and their customers. Everyone seems to love slider-based filtering, drag and drop, fisheye menus, and auto-completion for input fields. Web application designs that include none of these typical Ajax features are not well received. Sometimes, one gets the feeling that Web developers implement richness just for the sake of making a Web site and the company that commissions it look cool. Obviously, user experience design should be about a lot more than creating cool controls.

Having said this, I believe RIAs are here to stay, but not so much because of their cool controls as because richness can improve the way Web applications support complex, non-linear user workflows. Read moreRead More>

“It’s necessary to do an in-depth analysis of the context in which people will use a product and the behavioral aspects of an interaction. Only in this way can we truly satisfy future customers.”

By Laura Caprio

Published: November 20, 2006

On June 16, 2006, Frontiers of Interaction was held at the Bicocca University, in Milano, Italy.

Welcome

Speaker: Dirk Knemeyer

Dirk Knemeyer is an information and experience designer and a brand strategy expert. In 2004, he founded Involution Studios LLC, a company building applications and providing consulting services to leading technology companies.

In Dirk’s opinion, virtual reality is becoming more and more important—both as a topic worthy of deep reflection and as a design issue. When we design, we must begin with people—with customers. First of all, it’s necessary to do an in-depth analysis of the context in which people will use a product and the behavioral aspects of an interaction. Only in this way can we truly satisfy future customers. Read moreRead More>

By Luca Mascaro

Published: November 20, 2006

“There are not many interaction design conferences in Italy, so you can imagine the interest a conference about the frontiers of interaction design engendered.”

There are not many interaction design conferences in Italy, so you can imagine the interest a conference about the frontiers of interaction design engendered. Frontiers of Interaction 2006—the second edition of this conference—had as its mission the exploration of the future of interaction design. Though I’m Swiss, my native language is Italian, and this topic attracted my attention.

The event took place in Milan, Italy, at the Bicocca University. The slide shown in Figure 1 provided the backdrop in the hall where the organizers greeted participants. Read moreRead More>

By Giovanni Bellocchio

Published: November 20, 2006

“The recipe for this event was deceptively simple: Gather some fine thinkers in a room and let them speak about technology and people.”

Matteo Penzo was the brain, the hands, and the energy behind Frontiers of Interaction 2006. The recipe for this event was deceptively simple: Gather some fine thinkers in a room and let them speak about technology and people. The 2005 edition of Frontiers of Interaction had been just an appetizer—a taste of things to come.

Leandro Agrò was the idea man, always carrying sophisticated bits of hardware in one of his pockets; never afraid to throw heterogeneous concepts at the audience. In a very postmodern fashion, Leandro’s speeches flow, making references to pop culture and effortlessly painting visions of the future. He managed to carry on the show even during the lunch break, with a dazzling discussion with Giorgio De Michelis that left bystanders’ heads spinning. I was satisfied to hear a Sim City reference. Read moreRead More>

The survey has closed. To view the survey results, click this link: 2006 UXmatters Reader Survey Results

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Published: November 20, 2006

To those of our readers who have already participated in our first annual UXmatters Reader Survey, thank you! So far, 55 people have participated in the survey. To help our editorial staff better understand and serve your needs, we hope that more of you will share your thoughts and a little of your time with us and complete the survey before it closes on November 30, 2006. Read moreRead More>

“We began publication of this magazine for the UX community … in conjunction with the first ever World Usability Day.”

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Published: November 6, 2006

This month, UXmatters is celebrating its First Year Anniversary. We began publication of this magazine for the UX community last year on November 3rd, in conjunction with the first ever World Usability Day. Read moreRead More>

By Steve Baty

Published: November 6, 2006

“Some … have questioned the need for and benefits of doing user research rather than relying on the experience and intuition of designers.”

In recent months, there has been an interesting dialogue on the IxD Discussion mailing list, in which some participants have questioned the need for and benefits of doing user research rather than relying on the experience and intuition of designers. These comments led others to voice concerns about the actual quality of the user research companies are undertaking and the validity of any conclusions they have drawn from the resulting data.

Vox Populi

Three articles or posts have been particularly influential in sparking interest in and debate on this topic. The first was Christopher Fahey’s excellent five-part series “User Research Smoke & Mirrors,” which laid out some of the problems that Chris sees with user research and discussed where UX professionals go awry during research and analysis. Of special interest to me was the following statement in Part 1 of the series:

“Many Web designers and consultancies, however, feel it’s not enough to use research to inform their design process. They go further: They try to make “scientific” user research the very foundation of their design process.”—Christopher Fahey Read moreRead More>

By Whitney Quesenbery

Published: November 6, 2006

“HAVA called for improved standards for voting systems and required that they allow individuals with disabilities to vote “in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters.”

How do you keep usability, accessibility, and user experience requirements on track while developing standards? It is part of the very nature of standards to focus on details—and in the process, to sometimes lose sight of the real goals. This is especially true when a standards-making process goes on for a long time, a situation is highly political, or most people are focused on technology issues. For over two years, I’ve worked in just such a situation as part of the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) creating federal standards for voting systems in the United States.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) mandated the TGDC and its members—who include election officials, members of the US Access Board, and other experts, working with scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The TGDC is an advisory committee, so we don’t actually create regulations or standards, but offer our advice to the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC). Read moreRead More>

By Leo Frishberg

Published: November 6, 2006

Organization 5 stars
Content 4 stars
Copyediting 5 stars
Illustrations 5 stars
Book Design 4.5 stars

I must admit that I am not a fan of pattern books in general—especially in the field of design. I’ve always felt they are excellent sources of inspiration if you’re crafting a quilt or stenciling a wainscot for your living room, but for more involved design activities, I’ve concluded they are too simplistic—perhaps even limiting. I suspect this opinion was informed by my architecture professor’s intensely negative reaction to Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language and A Timeless Way of Building when they were first published. Years later, when I learned that software engineers were enamored of Alexander’s books, and the emergence of software patterns had its basis in Alexander’s notion of design patterns, I was bemused and skeptical.

So, I surprised myself the other day by picking up a copy of Jenifer Tidwell’s Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design. Its cover promised that it would provide a “valuable resource for software developers, interaction designers, graphic designers, and everyone who creates user-facing software.” Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Published: November 6, 2006

To help our editorial staff better serve the needs of UXmatters readers, we are currently conducting our first annual UXmatters Reader Survey. We hope that you will take this opportunity to tell us what you want and need from your Web magazine for UX professionals. Read moreRead More>