UPA 2007 – The Challenges of Integrating Usability

Evangelizing Usability, Human Computer Interaction, Information Management, Tools, Usability, User Experience, UX Tasks and Deliverables

 

UPA 2007

Austin, TX – Thursday June 14th

The Challenges of Integrating Usability (Panel)

Panelists: Laura Seuschek (K12 , Inc.), Mary Beth Rettger (MathWorks, Inc.), Sean Fitzpatrick (Aquilent), Beth Toland (Revolution Health)

The Challenges of Integrating Usability

The following are the suggested solutions to the questions posed by the panel moderator and the audience. Each of the panelists have different backgrounds working in different situations, so their solutions to a problem may contradict each other. Please contact Laura Seuschek (lseuschek@k12.com) with further comments, questions, or suggestions.

Challenges getting traction for UX:

  • Increase visibility. Provide consistent deliverables both in time and form
  • Understand business language. Learn to talk the talk.
  • Have an advocate.
  • Change the language of the discussion from business or statistics to User Experience vocabulary. That is the language we are fluent in and can defend.
  • Create and maintain channels of communication both into and out of UX to start conversations
  • Bring in the users. Good PR for UX.

Rapid Expansion Causes team isolation and break down of process:

  • Get a seat at the table early
  • Try to reclarify company and group processes to identify the problems

Qualitative vs. Quantitative data. Why is UX data valid?

  • Use academic and accepted usability field research as foundation for justification
  • Don’t talk numbers if it is not your strength
  • Bring nay-sayers in to watch a usability test
  • Research is cumulative. Results of a test aren’t just those results but an analysis based on as accumulation of insights and experience from all past research

Who can see\use the data? When?

  • Hire a research and data coordinator for the company to deal with this issue
  • Attach a UX team member to the data to help with interpretation and proper usage
  • Discuss results upfront to try and prevent overreactions. Use other metrics to balance results

Customer communication (blogs, groups, wikis) is being monitored and causing overreactions:

  • Allow and encourage user to user communication. They can help each other put out fires to company doesn’t have to scramble every time for small issues.
  • Encourage users to step up as in product community in “leadership” roles. They will help the customer base and be an advocate.
  • Create a template and database to log all complaints. Give each a ranking so most important will be dealt with first. This will slow the process to a manageable speed.
  • Give an outlet to users to complain but prepare the company to deal with the results.

Budget \ Time \ Resources – How to deal with these factors:

  • Don’t over-stretch. Do only what you can do. Work only on priorities. Gaps and pain-points will be felt more strongly and then resourced.
  • Core UX skills are not technology dependent. Without the resources just figure it out. Be inventive, flexible, and creative. Focus on methodology.
  • Don’t spend time on embellishments.
  • Tie research to highest risk areas.

Explaining the usability intangibles:

  • Use common language to help developers “see” the user experience. Parables, stories, etc…
  • Decisions are not based on tests. Decisions are based on the analysis of information which comes from a test.
  • Give examples of when statistical data does not show the real picture and field testing will

Marketing usability internally:

  • Put up posters of research results on the walls and in the lunch room
  • Give the UX team a brand
  • Use and socialize UX vocabulary and language
  • Make the information interesting. About the user not just about bug fixes.
  • Create a team culture and wear it proudly
  • Send internal emails with research results
  • Market to the VPs. Let UX staff talk and present to senior staff.
  • Bring in the users. Connect the developers to the end user.

Iterative Design vs. the need for rapid development:

  • Build iteration into project development from beginning
  • Give immediate debriefs
  • Get UX involvement from start of project
  • Do some internal selling and set realistic time expectations
  • Show results, even incremental
  • Create Hollywood prototypes to placate

Visibility after project finishes:

  • Have an advocate
  • Train an evangelist
  • Train developers in basic UX processes and ideology
  • Provide tutorials, templates, and workshops
  • Tie product success to UX
  • Match UCD standards to other company standards to show group is aligned with company goals

What does a UX team do?

  • Focus on strengths and expertise of the group.
  • Focus on priorities and resources
  • Socialize what the team can and will do
  • Accommodation is a slippery slope
  • Have a slush fund. 20% (?) of your time to do projects you want to do and you think are important. Pet projects. Professional development. Etc.
  • If you have to say no, give other options on how to get the job done without direct UX involvement.

 

 

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IA Summit Redux – DC Style

Evangelizing Usability, Human Computer Interaction, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Usability, User Experience, UX Tasks and Deliverables

Is anyone going to the recap of the IA Summit 2007? Unfortunately, I will be unable to but I’d highly recommend going. Here’s the announcement:

If you missed the IA Summit in Vegas this year, fear not! DCIA will be holding a redux on Saturday, May 12 at 9am. We have commitments from several speakers to recap their talks.

Details:

Where: BCC Services Center
When: Saturday, May 12, 9am – 1pm
What: Mini-sessions, panel discussions, five-minute madness, networking, and bagels — lots and lots of bagels.
How much: $5 to cover the cost of food and venue

Speaker Detail Presentation File
Celeste Lyn Paul on card-sorting description PDF (519 KB)
Hallie Wilfert on her grandmother as IA description PPT (10.8 MB)
Stacy Surla on Second Life description PPT (6 MB)
Thom Haller on clear and useful content description PPT (8.5 MB)
Dan Brown on IA documentation description PPT (3.5 MB)
Austin Govella on IA’s impact on business description PPT (1.3 MB)
Lorelei Brown on lessons from failures description SlideShare (online)

We’ll be breaking into small groups to talk about several of the themes that emerged during the Summit, including: documentation for rich internet applications, management issues, and design processes.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: If you attended the Summit and would like to talk about your experience or lead a small group discussion, please drop me [Dan Brown] a line at brownorama@gmail.com.

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Creating the Adaptive Interface

Human Computer Interaction, Information Architecture, Information Management, Interaction Design, User Experience

Stephen Anderson offered an inspiring presentation from the IA Summit in light of our CALMS vision.

[Runtime: 136 slides | Please make sure you have the latest version of Adobe Flash installed on your computer to watch this slideshow. To download it, please visit: http://www.adobe.com/ ]

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Storyboard Templates – Customer Service Style

Evangelizing Usability, Human Computer Interaction, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Template, Usability, User Experience, User Observation, UX Tasks and Deliverables

A new storyboard template was released by Martin Hardee last week. This templates focuses on phone conversations. Click the image below to access the file.

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Storyboard Templates

Evangelizing Usability, Human Computer Interaction, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Template, Tools, Usability, User Experience, UX Tasks and Deliverables

In a recent post I prematurely touted a template that could be used to storyboard user experiences using a computer-based product. Martin Hardee had provided slides depicting a specific scenario. However, I am pleased to pass along news that Martin has graciously offered 3 templates that user experience professionals might use for communicating design to a variety if audiences.

Below are the 3 templates that you can use. Please be sure to give Sun Microsystems credit for the use of the template (hat tip to Martin Hardee). I have taken the liberty of converting the Open Office file format to the MS PowerPoint file format.

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Design Comics

Human Computer Interaction, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Template, Tools, Usability, User Experience

Other than Calvin and Hobbes, I’m not much of a comic guy. There’s been a number of contributors in the web design arena who have advocated using comics to communicate a user’s experience interacting with an information system (web or client). Typically, I think of the folks over at OK/Cancel, but I know others, such as Dan Brown, are influenced by Scott McCloud.

Today I came across a post by Martin Hardee of the Sun Design Team. His team has been using comics to convey user experiences with the sun.com site. Interestingly, he has provided a template that is freely available to use, provided you have access to Sun’s Office suite (OpenOffice is freely available). Unfortunately, I am unable to install OpenOffice on my work machine, so I’ll have to look at the template when I get home.

As I mentioned to Martin, since I’m an information architect without the gift of artistic design, I am eager to use any existing templates. I’m a visual learner by nature, so having the ability to succinctly depict user experience issues to technical teams or end users alike in a visual (versus text) format is something I hope to do more of in the future. I truly hope that the template will provide some good images like that seen below. Thanks to Martin and Sun for graciously allowing me to copy content from his blog and repost it here.

Click here to see an example of the comic template in action.

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Findability in DC Webcast

Information Architecture, Information Management, Search and Retrieval, Usability

Ambient Findability

The Library of Congress has posted its webcast of Peter Morville’s July 20th talk on Ambient Findability. I found the talk to be most informative since we often do not consider “search” when people look for information on web sites. Peter Morville is considered the father of Information Architecture. You can view the 45 minute webcast here.

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