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.

 

 

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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Concept Mapping

Tools, Uncategorized, Visualization

Cmap

I’ve been posting about various “mind mapping,” “flow charting,” and “concept mapping” tools that might be useful to use during brainstorming sessions. Well, I’ve come across another promising piece of software that is completely free. It is called Cmap (concept map), and it is the brainchild of the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. It seems you can also export a drawing as a PDF, so it can easily be shared with others who do not have the software installed on their machines.

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Best Practices – Data Visualization

Business Intelligence, Data Vizualization, Movie, Tools, Visualization

I’m not sure if you are familiar with TED, but one speaker presented data in a way that was both elegant and simple at the same time. Here’s the brief bio:

“Hans Rosling is professor of international health at Sweden’s world-renowned Karolinska Institute, and founder of Gapminder, a non-profit that brings vital global data to life.” (Recorded February, 2006 in Monterey, CA.)

[Runtime: 20:33 | Please make sure you have the latest version of Macromedia Flash installed on your computer to watch this video. To download it, please visit: http://www.macromedia.com ]

Business Intelligence and Data Visualization

Business Intelligence, Data Vizualization, Information Management, Tools, UX Tasks and Deliverables, Visualization

Tableau Logo

I’ve been working on a data/business intelligence project for the company, and in the process of thinking about some BI solutions, Zach pointed me to a tool called Tableau.

Our group has been discussing data visualization, and since the data project I am working on might move towards recommending a reporting tool, I wondered what your impressions are of this tool.

Tableau

Demo here

Example of output for satisfaction data here

In the meantime, Juice Analytics recommends a quick little Excel fix that can make charts more Tufte-compliant.

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Online Mind Mapping?

Tools, Visualization

Gliffy Logo

The rage now is converting every MS Office application to the web (web 2.0) so you can access tools and files from anywhere, enabling better collaboration among team members. One suite of tools that comes to mind is Zoho, which includes most of the MS Office tools, but with less functionality.

This morning I read an article about Gliffy, a web tool that looks to provide Visio-like functionality. I wonder if it can provide the mind-mapping functionality like we were discussing? The cool thing is that we could easily embed the results into this site.

Update

I think it might fit the bill – I signed up for free, played around with it for a minute or two, and am impressed with what I see. It can be exported in formats including specific image files, which could then easily get dumped into a Word document or put up on our web space.