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April 2011 Issue

By Janet M. Six

Published: April 18, 2011

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

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our experts discuss integrating UX design and user research into agile software development.

Every month in Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts answers readers’ questions about a broad range of user experience matters. To get answers to your own questions about UX strategy, design, user research, or any other topic of interest to UX professionals in an upcoming edition of Ask UXmatters, please send your question to us at: ask.uxmatters@uxmatters.com. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: April 18, 2011

Organized by ASIS&T and a dedicated cadre of volunteers, the 12th annual IA Summit took place at the Hyatt Regency in Denver, Colorado, March 30 through April 3, 2011. The theme of the conference was Asking better questions. Figure 1 shows the Colorado Convention Center across the street from the Hyatt. Read moreRead More>

By Traci Lepore

Published: April 18, 2011

“Good artists copy; great artists steal.”—Pablo Picasso

“Creative people—if they are any good—constantly absorb input and stimuli that influences their own creative output. By nature, they imitate and play with the ideas of other creative people. It’s how they learn and grow.”

It is a fact of life that creative people—if they are any good—constantly absorb input and stimuli that influences their own creative output. By nature, they imitate and play with the ideas of other creative people. It’s how they learn and grow. It doesn’t matter whether you call this trait awareness, empathy, or even stealing. No innovative or successful design happens in a vacuum. Regardless of whether you realize it, what you see and interact with around you every day influences your work. Picasso just happened to be a master when it came to using stolen goods for the benefit of his own artistic pursuits.

My knowledge of Picasso has always been a bit limited. Modern art has never been my cup of tea. However, despite this, the Museu Picasso was on my list of things to see while in Barcelona on a recent trip. I’m open minded and willing to learn about new perspectives after all. But true excitement surged through me, when I realized a new exhibit called Picasso Looks at Degas was going to open while I was in town. Degas is one my ultimate favorites, so I figured this was going to be good and impatiently waited an hour in line to get in, capturing the photo shown in Figure 1. I didn’t yet know I was about find out how masterful Picasso truly was at the game of reinterpretation for innovation—or what some may call stealing. Read moreRead More>

By Mia Northrop

Published: April 18, 2011

“The ideal interviewee does not exist. Some people are harder to interview than others, and sometimes, interviews drift off into unproductive territory due to factors beyond our control.”

Despite our best efforts to prepare for and run an interview smoothly, there are often challenges that crop up in the heat of the moment. Ideally, our interviewees are cooperative, well motivated, eloquent, knowledgeable, truthful, consistent, concise, precise, and coherent, states Steinar Kvale in his book InterViews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. However, like the typical user, the ideal interviewee does not exist. Some people are harder to interview than others, and sometimes, interviews drift off into unproductive territory due to factors beyond our control.

In this article, I’ll introduce you to six types of people who can potentially jeopardize the quality of the data you’re able to collect during stakeholder and behavioral interviews or usability tests. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: April 18, 2011

“Short of espionage or spending years living with a group of people conducting true ethnography, user research will always be somewhat unnatural.”

Short of espionage or spending years living with a group of people conducting true ethnography, user research will always be somewhat unnatural. In Part I of this series, I discussed unnatural aspects of user research that can prevent us from observing realistic user behavior, including the

  • representativeness of the people we recruit
  • effect of incentives
  • location of the research
  • way we explain user research to participants
  • realism and meaningfulness of tasks
  • fidelity of prototypes
  • effect of thinking aloud
  • presence and behavior of a facilitator
  • presence of observers
  • prominence of recording technology

To minimize the negative effects of these unnatural aspects of user research and get more realistic results, there are many things we can do to keep user research as natural as possible. Now, in Part II of this series, I’ll discuss some of the things you can do to make your user research seem more natural. Read moreRead More>

By Jim Ross

Published: April 5, 2011

“From the perspective of a participant, user research is not very natural.”

Thanks for coming in today. I appreciate your taking time away from work in the middle of the day to drive downtown, park, and find your way to our office. Most people wouldn’t do that, but the recruiting company said you’ll be getting a big check, and who can’t use some extra money these days?

Let’s go into this room here. Oh, the big mirror? Yes, as you can imagine, there is a room full of people behind it who are watching and listening to us, but try not to think about that. We also have some people who couldn’t be here who are listening in through this speakerphone, and we’ll be recording the entire session through these cameras and microphones. But don’t worry; no one outside the project will see the videos. Ha ha! No, they won’t end up on YouTube.

Let’s sit down at this computer. I’ll show you a Web site and give you some things to find and do. They may not be things you would normally do, but try to imagine that you really want to accomplish these tasks. Read moreRead More>

By Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain

Published: April 5, 2011

“Early games established gaming conventions that paved the path for Zynga and other social-gaming companies. The experiences these companies offer tap directly into childhood memories, creating a feeling of nostalgia….”

Many of us remember playing Atari and Nintendo games growing up. If you asked any thirty-something about what it was like to grow up as the video-game industry evolved, you would probably hear something like this: “When Nintendo came out, it changed everything. I loved playing Zelda and Mario and Excitebike.” The Nintendo gaming experience created a sense of excitement, wonder, and intrigue. These emotional experiences have stuck with us, and those early games established gaming conventions that paved the path for Zynga and other social-gaming companies. The experiences these companies offer tap directly into childhood memories, creating a feeling of nostalgia and taking us back to a time when discovering the next pixelated dungeon was the highlight of our week.

Likewise, many of us remember Hollywood’s early forays into 3D filmmaking. We saw our favorite slasher and monster movies in theaters, wearing goofy red-and-blue tinted glasses. Eventually, polarized lenses in plastic frames and other more sophisticated technologies replaced these. But it wasn’t until recently that 3D film began to fully realize its potential with the creation of newly immersive movie-theater experiences. Read moreRead More>

By Colleen Roller

Published: April 5, 2011

“Compromise choices, in which people avoid the extremes and choose the middle option, enable people to more easily justify their decisions.”

In previous columns, I’ve talked about how the number of options in a choice set can influence decision outcomes, and I advised that it’s often best to limit the number of options to reduce a decision’s level of complexity. I also said that, when a decision is too complex, people adopt simplifying strategies to make the decision easier.

Compromise Choices

Sometimes, people’s strategies for simplifying decisions are very predictable. For example, if you present two options at different price points, people will generally choose the cheaper of the two. But if you present three options, they’ll generally choose the mid-priced option. Such compromise choices, in which people avoid the extremes and choose the middle option, enable people to more easily justify their decisions. Read moreRead More>

By Peter Hornsby

Published: April 5, 2011

“Our assumption has generally been that products and systems that are easier to use are preferable to those that are harder to use.”

People generally regard improving the usability of products or systems as a major part of our role as UX designers. While there are tradeoffs in all aspects of design, our assumption has generally been that products and systems that are easier to use are preferable to those that are harder to use. However, despite what seemed to be a common understanding, a number of articles have recently reported on research that suggests increased ease of use can be detrimental—specifically:

A study of text in different fonts found that information in fonts that were harder to read had better recall among test subjects than fonts that were easier to read. Researchers hypothesized that increasing the subjective feeling of task difficulty leads people to think harder about things. Read moreRead More>

By Arun Joseph Martin

Published: April 5, 2011

“The conference was a one-day event consisting of workshops, which was followed the next day by a social outing for attendees: a trip to Cheung Chau Island.”

In this review, I’d like to share my experiences while attending the UX Hong Kong 2011 (UX HK) conference on February 17 and 18 in Hong Kong. The conference was a one-day event consisting of workshops, which was followed the next day by a social outing for attendees: a trip to Cheung Chau Island.

Daniel Szuc and Josephine Wong of the globally known UX consultancy Apogee organized the conference. Read moreRead More>