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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Ideas for World Usability Day – Nov. 14

Evangelizing Usability, Human Computer Interaction, Usability, User Experience

As posted on UPA-DC-Metro Listserv

Participate in World Usability Day, Nov 14: “Make Yourself Useful!”
http://www.worldusabilityday.org/

Dear UPA-DC-Metro Listserv members,

“Usability” is the big differentiator between great websites and mediocre ones.

One way to educate people to ask for and expect good usability is through World Usability Day, which involved over 130 events in 70 cities and 30 countries last year. On behalf of the Web Managers Forum Usability Task Group, we invite you all to participate in this year’s World Usability Day. It’s a fantastic opportunity for you to highlight usability among your web team and throughout your agency or organization.

Go to Webcontent.gov to read all about World Usability Day, or see the details below:

WHO: Web managers, usability specialists, information designers, web developers, and others

WHAT: World Usability Day — sponsor an event at your agency or organization

WHEN: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 (see www.worldusabilityday.org for worldwide information and posters)

WHERE: At your agency or organization

WHY: To heighten awareness of usable websites and user-centered design activities in government

HOW: “Make Yourself Useful!” by organizing one of the following activities:

1) Assess the usability of your public website
How Usable is Your Website? Take the Usability I.Q. Test and rate your site against the top 25 usability guidelines to see how it stacks up.
Usability for $1.98. Using a laptop or paper prototype, conduct a “usability-study-on-the-cheap” in the lobby or cafeteria of your building. Ask users to find the three most important items on your website.

2) Improve your Intranet
Re-architect your agency or organization’s Intranet home page. The Intranet is often the ugly stepdaughter of websites; it never gets asked to the ball. On copies of the Intranet Home Page, ask employees to highlight or write-in the three areas they find most useful. Have them scratch out areas they never use.
Create personas for your Intranet. Ask employees to complete a simple demographic survey so you have a better idea of whom your typical users are and what they need.

3) Think about usability beyond computers
Redesign an important form. Choose a form (electronic or paper) and ask employees to help redesign it. Do a “lobby card sort” with cards or stickies or ask employees to highlight important fields with a marker. Choose the parking application, a health insurance explanation of benefits, the pay and benefits statement, or other “troublesome” form.
Revise signage in your building. Post new signage for the day. Make sure employees understand the connection to World Usability Day by staffing a table in the lobby and soliciting feedback on the new signage.

How can I get people involved and share what we learn?

Incentivize!

Give every participant something for helping. Even an apple or a roll of mints shows appreciation.

Report Your Findings

Photograph the event. Immediately (or the next day), consolidate and document your findings. E-mail a summary (with pictures) to your web team; the head of human resources; the agency/organization head–and the employees. Ask for follow-up.

Bonus – Give Commendations

Have you seen a website, an online form, or some other product that reflects great usability? Or just the opposite? Have some fun and use the Usability Commendation (PDF, 665 KB) and Usability Violation (PDF , 617 KB) to rate the status of usability in and around your agency or organization.

Print and give commendations to owners of websites and applications that are usable (or not usable). Print blank commendations to hand out in the lobby. Doing so will help people see what’s working well and what needs improvement.

Many thanks,
Nicole Burton and Sanjay Koyani, Co-chairs
Web Managers Forum
Task Group on Usability, Accessibility, and Design

———————————————-
Nicole Burton
Usability Specialist
Office of Citizen Services and Communications / Web Best Practices Team
General Services Administration

Sanjay Koyani
Web Management Team
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Tufte in DC

Data Vizualization, Usability, User Experience, Visualization

This from Dan

“During my talk at the last UX Week in August, I mentioned Edward Tufte, who has done lots of work in the area of information visualization. (You may have seen PeterMe‘s review of Tufte’s new book Beautiful Evidence on his site – here, here, and here.) Tufte’s work can inform how we
develop user experience documentation.

Tufte will be giving his workshop in the DC area Nov 14-16 this year at the Marriott Crystal Forum. I *highly* recommend this session. The session is a full day, and costs $360. This includes ALL FOUR BOOKS!

You can learn more about his workshop here:
http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/courses

If you do attend, please let me know! Perhaps DCIA will host a happy hour in which attendees can share what they learned!”

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