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August 2009 Issue

By Janet M. Six and Chris Anthony

Published: August 17, 2009

Send your questions to Ask UXmatters and get answers from some of the top professionals in UX.

Today’s consumers have growing expectations for higher quality and ease of use in new products. They typically evaluate brand values and product specs before paying top dollar for products. Companies are scrambling to align their brand touchpoints and gain loyal customers for their current and future product lines. Without strong brands, consumers buy with their wallets, not their hearts. They may miss product innovations companies have designed to fill major gaps in their markets and increase their market shares—even products they’ve painstakingly tested with users.

In today’s market, user experience is a key differentiator for products. Companies are innovating more creative approaches to product definition and design and rushing to add talent to their existing product design organizations. Many business leaders are struggling with the issue of where to place new UX processes and professionals within their organizations. Read moreRead More>

By Joe Lamantia

Published: August 17, 2009

“With almost daily announcements about new AR applications, products, services, companies, and tools, the pace of innovation in augmented reality is torrid.”

Many people enter the inside-out world of augmented reality (AR) by doing something as ordinary as visiting a major city like New York and trying to get to a local friend’s favorite pizza shop, somewhere deep in Brooklyn, via public transportation. Standing in Times Square on a summer evening, they might hold up a new smart phone and pan it slowly around the Square to see a pointer to the nearest subway entrance overlaid on their phone’s video display of the buildings around them.

While ubiquitous computing remains an unpleasant mouthful of techno-babble to most people who know the term, and everyware is still an essentially unknown idea, the visibility of augmented reality has surged in the last twelve months. In addition to the spate of mobile applications—including Augmented ID, Wikitude, Layar, Nearest Tube, and the still unreleased TwittARound—augmented reality is increasingly visible in popular cross-media experiences. For example, Mattel is releasing new toys in conjunction with the James Cameron film Avatar that invoke online content when users scan them with a Web cam, and LEGO in-store kiosks have used augmented reality. With baseball cards from Topps and Pokemon cards, even the venerable trading-cards experience now includes augmented reality. Read moreRead More>

By Afshan Kirmani

Published: August 17, 2009

“Psychological factors such as thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition directly correlate with our customers’ online advertising experience.”

Psychological factors such as thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition directly correlate with our customers’ online advertising experience. Making customers feel like wanting to do something requires us to offer a completely enthralling experience, not one that has negative connotations for our customers. Today, we often see advertisements that clamor for our attention, begging us to view them. Customers’ past experiences with the Web set their expectations for online advertising today. How can we shift this prevalent advertising paradigm to one that instead has psychological appeal?

In this article, I’ll discuss the cognitive elements at the intersection of advertising and human behavior. By taking an approach to advertising that looks at the impact psychological factors have on customer behavior, I’ve learned that customers respond directly to online advertisements, as we can see from their emotions, behavior, and interactions on the Web. Read moreRead More>

By Daniel Szuc and Josephine Wong

Published: August 17, 2009

“Since the first User Friendly in 2004, the conference has matured into one of the best UX conferences in Asia.”

In October 2008, the UX community of China gathered once again for the fifth User Friendly event. User Friendly 2008 took place in Shenzhen, which was once a fishing village and is only about a 40-minute train ride from Hong Kong. The 2008 theme was Innovation in Asia. We were lucky to have a quality group of both local and international speakers, including, to name a few, our invited keynotes. Read moreRead More>

By Whitney Hess

Published: August 3, 2009

“I’ll try to give UX professionals an honest look at managing relationships with clients and provide some tips on how to turn unpleasant situations into winning ones.”

Last August, I took the leap into independent consulting after four years of full-time jobs and three years of freelancing on the side. While I thought I was prepared for what lay ahead, I’ve learned many things the hard way in the past year. In my new UXmatters column, Client Matters, I’ll try to give UX professionals an honest look at managing relationships with clients and provide some tips on how to turn unpleasant situations into winning ones.

Let’s start at the beginning: first contact. Oftentimes, when prospective clients get in touch and tell me about a potential project, it’s immediately clear to me that the amount of work is massive, and there’s no way one UX designer could handle it. Usually, they also need visual designers, content strategists, copywriters, programmers—a whole product development team. Such a job is much better suited to an agency with resources in multiple disciplines. Read moreRead More>

By Greg Nudelman and Ahmed Riaz

Published: August 3, 2009

“The shift toward content that is primarily visual introduces new challenges and opportunities for developing intuitive and powerful user interfaces for browsing, searching, and filtering visual content.”

When the Web began, pages were mostly text, but today, everywhere we look, it seems like image content is taking over the Web. The ubiquitous use of digital cameras and improvements in the picture quality of mobile phone cameras has likely helped this phenomenon along. The shift toward content that is primarily visual introduces new challenges and opportunities for developing intuitive and powerful user interfaces for browsing, searching, and filtering visual content. To help me cover this important topic, I’ve asked Ahmed Riaz—Interaction Designer at eBay and physical interaction design enthusiast—to contribute his insights and ideas.

Introducing Visual Browsing

What, you may ask, is visual browsing? Loosely defined, visual browsing user interfaces are those that let people navigate visual content—that is, search for content using pictures. We will discuss four types of visual browsing. Read moreRead More>

By Colleen Jones

Published: August 3, 2009

“Content analysis is an essential part of many UX design projects that involve existing content.”

To know your content is to love it. Content analysis is an essential part of many UX design projects that involve existing content. Examples of such projects include migrating a Web site to a new platform or design, merging multiple Web sites into one, or assessing Web content for reuse in a new channel. Just as you cannot nurture a garden without regularly inspecting its plants and flowers, you cannot take proper care of your content without looking at it closely. You must become familiar with your content to judge whether it’s effective, understand how it relates to other content, make decisions about how to use or format it, identify opportunities for improving it, and more. Content analysis, though time consuming, is fruitful, because your efforts provide the following benefits:

  • Content analysis results in a clear, tangible description of your content—which clients and stakeholders can perceive as nebulous—whether expressed in text or visually.
  • Content analysis provides the foundation for comparing existing content with either user needs or competitor content, letting you identify potential gaps and opportunities. [1]
  • Content analysis offers insights that help you make decisions about your content more easily—for example, what to prioritize.
  • Content analysis can reveal themes, relationships, and more.

In this column, I’ll walk you through a content analysis—and offer tips and tricks along the way that will help make your next content analysis more effective. Read moreRead More>

By Peter Hornsby

Published: August 3, 2009

“The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures.”—Fred Brooks

“EUP users become developers themselves, taking complete control of the software development process.”

The role of the UX designer is, in many respects, to mediate between users’ needs and software engineers—to translate user requirements into well?defined interactions that software engineers can implement. But End User Programming (EUP) bypasses this relationship completely. Instead, EUP users become developers themselves, taking complete control of the software development process. This could be the most effective approach. After all, users fully understand their problem domains and needs, so given the right tools, they should be able to create an optimal solution. However, few approaches to EUP have seen wide adoption by users.

An effective approach to EUP must support users in producing working code—users who have little or no formal training in programming. This is a difficult challenge. This column looks at some approaches to EUP and examines their strengths and weaknesses from a UX perspective. Read moreRead More>