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July 2007 Issue

By Mike Hughes

Published: July 23, 2007

“Walkthroughs have a deeper, even more valuable impact as a social mechanism for creating and distributing organizational knowledge.”

In my previous job as a UX designer, I learned the value of collaborative design walkthroughs. During walkthroughs, the UX designer would step through a user scenario—using the wireframes or mid-fidelity prototypes—with a cross-disciplinary team comprising product management, other UX designers, business analysts, developers, product testers, and technical communicators. The motivation for doing these walkthroughs was to reduce the amount of churn around product requirements that was occurring during coding and testing. No matter how well-written a requirement or use case was, it wasn’t until stakeholders could interact with a design within a tangible context that the full implications of a requirement or its lack of sufficient specificity became evident.

Beyond the benefit of clarifying requirements and gaining agreement among the team that a design met the requirements, I have found that walkthroughs have a deeper, even more valuable impact as a social mechanism for creating and distributing organizational knowledge. Read moreRead More>

By Paul J. Sherman

Published: July 10, 2007

“The current US patent system—in combination with the litigious nature of many high-tech companies—make it likely that, somewhere down the road, something you design might incur the wrath of a patent troll.”

Imagine, if you will, that you’re working for a small Web-application startup. For the sake of argument, let’s say the company wants to build a Web-based application to help product marketers and brand managers—the primary user group—manage and maintain the digital assets for their company’s products and services.

Further assume the application would also allow users to publish updated digital collateral to the distribution channel—that is, resellers such as retail stores and ecommerce sites who sell a company’s products.

The startup has asked you to create a user interface for this Web application, and you’ve struggled for weeks to come up with an elegant, efficient way for users to quickly and efficiently upload, manage, and publish a wide variety of digital collateral, including product box shots, spec sheets, warranties, coupons, rebates, and so on. Read moreRead More>

By Kevin Silver

Published: July 10, 2007

“Most design jargon deals with how to design rather than what to design and why.”—John Arnott

“I prefer design by experts—people who know what they are doing.”—Donald Norman

“Interaction design lies at the junction of several design disciplines.”

Interaction design is a blended endeavor of process, methodology, and attitude. Discussions of process and methodology are pervasive in the interaction design milieu and often revolve around a perceived tension between process and methodology and the role of design within this discipline. To be clear, process is the overarching design framework—for example, an iterative, or spiral, process or a sequential, or waterfall, process. Conversely, a methodology is a prescribed design approach such as user-centered design or genius design. Read moreRead More>

By Isabelle Peyrichoux

Published: July 10, 2007

“I wasn’t really turned on by the opening plenary.”

On Sunday, April 29, 2007, when flying from Montréal to San Jose to attend my first CHI conference, I worried I might have made the wrong decision by choosing CHI as my conference for this year. When reviewing the program a few days before, I had found myself thinking “I really don’t think these academic-centric and very specific papers will interest me and help me in my practice. Oh! I shouldn’t have chosen this conference!” I even thought of changing my return ticket to go back to Montréal earlier, so I could get back to work on my mental model project, which I’d been enjoying so much. My first morning at CHI seemed to confirm my feelings and even made me feel worse. I wasn’t really turned on by the opening plenary, and listening to the day’s program during CHI Madness—a great concept other conference organizers should use—confirmed my impressions. To give you a bit of context, I’m a practitioner who thrives on user research and on learning new insights and methods from others in a practical, didactic, and clear way, including many concrete examples I can relate to and learn from.

Surprisingly, just four days later, after the Silicon Valley tour I’d signed up for, my mood was exactly the opposite: I just didn’t want to leave San Jose and my fellow CHI attendees, with whom I’d had so much fun. I was ecstatic about my CHI experience. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: July 10, 2007

Organization 3 stars
Content 3 stars
Presenters 3 stars
Proceedings 5 stars
Venue 4 stars
Hospitality 5 stars
Community 5 stars

This year, SIGCHI celebrated its 25th annual Computer/Human Interaction (CHI) conference. CHI 2007 took place at the Convention Center in San Jose, California, USA, on April 28 through May 3, 2007. Its theme: Reach Beyond. The organizers asked us to “reach beyond …our comfortable methods and praxis; beyond our exciting and innovative technology; beyond our established scientific frameworks and reputations; beyond the common ground of professional and national cultures; and beyond our far-flung social networks.” To what?

Opening the conference, Mary Beth Rosson, Conference Chair, said, “HCI folks are in the middle of everything now, and we’ve earned that.”

While Design Community Co-Chairs John Kolko and Bill Lucas brought us Bill Moggridge’s remarkable opening plenary, “Reaching for the Intuitive,” and the exceptional interactive session “Who Killed Design?” I still found the overall amount of design content at CHI 2007 lacking. This was particularly disappointing, because the conference convened in the heart of Silicon Valley—world center of the technology industry and home to many UX professionals. If ever there were a CHI that should have been centered more on practice than academia, this was it. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Nieters and Garett Dworman

Published: July 10, 2007

“Just as designers solve user interface design problems, their leaders solve organizational design problems.”

When leaders of UX organizations get together, we always seem to talk about how our UX groups are structured and why. Just as designers solve user interface design problems, their leaders solve organizational design problems. It’s what we do. At CHI 2005, Kartik Mithal, Director of User Experience at Sun Microsystems, and Jim Nieters, Senior Leader of User Experience at Cisco, spent hours sharing insights about how to best structure their groups for future success. Kartik and Jim agreed that the opportunity to learn from one another was one of the more valuable reasons for leaders of UX groups to attend CHI.

This manifest need for UX leaders to learn—and share—best practices was the rationale for the authors, Jim Nieters and Garett Dworman, to write and present a CHI 2007 Experience Report on the organizational structure that Jim Nieters created for his UX group at Cisco [1]. It also motivated us to follow up that presentation with a CHI 2007 Management Special Interest Group (SIG), “Comparing UXD Business Models,” in which participants compared different models of UX organizational design [2]. Our intent was to share experiences and systematically explore them in the hope that this information will aid companies in structuring their internal UX functions. To this end, we generated SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analyses of four UX business models. Read moreRead More>