Google, Apple and their mobile user experience: Twitter review

An interesting peek at Google Usability Labs in NYC

The patent system is broken and Apple stays in the way of the future:

Best April’s fool ever: Google Translate for Animals!

iPhone is getting a big brother… actually twins! (via @intomobile)

Every time you make a Powerpoint Tufte kills a kitten

Follow me at @gventuri


Why Forrester got it wrong on User Experience?

I found a very good post on Laurie Gray’s blog on Catalyze

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.I also got some Forrester Research reports on Customer Experience and the beginning I was very curious about how they were approaching User Experience in their reports. And – I have to say – I was very disappointed by their slapdash take on the subject.

For example, their report How Rich Interfaces Fix Task Flow Problems, says :

“Multiple minor problems can add up to major user experience headaches on Web sites. But one of the most common Web design problems – inefficient task flow – can be rectified by enhancements such as page overlays that put content and function in context […] Firms can improve user task flow with rich interface features like: Two for the Money psp

In principle, nothing wrong. But – features and patterns should never be the primary focus of a User-centred Experience Design process. We should rather research on user most frequent tasks before jumping into designing RIAs (Rich-Internet Applications). In a nutshell, before looking at your patterns library, get to know users and tasks!

UCD in a nutshell

As Laurie effectively says:

On the surface, this all looks ok. However, without careful thinking from skilled UX designers, this runs the risk of not delivering what is expected […] This article would be a lot more valuable if it went about this discussion differently and said something to the effect of “you can employ rich interface conventions to fix task flow problems, and here is how:

  1. study the problems your users are really having
  2. analyze those problems for similarities and differences across users download Club Dread movie download Clash of the Titans movie Children of Dune hd
  3. create patterns or consistent approaches to solve these problems across all interfaces, including the use of overlays, guided interfaces, and inline input validation. If this is beyond your skill set or doesn’t interest you, hire a skilled professional who can all make it come together for you.”

Well said!

Further reading:

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UX Trends in the 2007 UPA Salary

I just found a fresh UPA 2007 salary survey out in my mailbox… there are a couple of interesting thoughts that I would like to share with you.

  1. First of all, the survey has a quite a large sample: 1523 people answered to the survey, with the vast majority in US (999) and then the other countries: Spain (86), Canada (75), the United Kingdom (74), India (66), and Australia (51).The figure of Usability professional in Spain is quite striking, I didn’t know that User Experience has such a strong foothold over there. Are there any Spanish UX people out there? I would like to have your view on this data.
  2. The job title that most people use is “User Experience” practitioner (240), while “Usability” practitioner is only 4th in the ranking (124). This fact is quite surprising to me, considering that the sample of this survey is clearly skewed towards Usability Professional Association members (about 70% of the total). Let’s have a look at the ranking:

The Rookie
Job Titles

3. The last interesting thoughts is about the techniques mostly used by the respondents: the most frequently used were heuristic/expert review (I would recommend to have these two as different options next time, as heuristic review is a specific type of expert review), Informal usability testing, Interviews/surveys, Interaction design and prototyping.

This results positively match the findings of a research I carried out between 2004 and 2005, that showed a significant increase of the usage of hi-fi and lo-fi prototyping techniques. Based on these results and on my knowledge of the usability industry trends from the early ’90s (where usability and user experience were still carried out in R&D departments) onwards, my feeling is that the increasing use of prototyping should be regarded as one of the main credibility factors for our profession in the industry. Are Information architecture and Interaction Design going to shadow more “traditional” qualifications?

It makes sense to me. We have increasingly sophisticated tools, that allow quicker, cheaper, more hi-fidelity prototyping. We have remote usability testing. Do we still need usability labs? I don’t think so.

UCD Techniques

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Windows and cash machines

Today I had the exciting experience of seeing a windows installation on a Barclays cash machine… maybe funny for some, but from a user experience point of view it is not exactly what I would like a don’t-make-me-wait customer to see..

Windows on a cash machine


New Year, new life

After the end of my research contract in October, I realised that there were plenty of opportunities around me (I live in London) and I decided to turn back to User Centred Design (UCD) consultancy.

I am not a newcomer in UCD and I have a clear view of how the field of web usability (and web in general) has changed in three years. When I somehow left the field in 2003 to work in Thales on Decision Support Systems and Command & Control Systems (C3) I wanted to expand my horizons to see how user centred design could be applied to other kind of systems.

It has been almost two years of research and I have discovered how deep and how rich is the body of Knowledge in field. Kudos to D. Norman for using this phrase first time in 1986 (‘User Centred System Design’), but to be definitively fascinated by UCD you must look into Human Factors field(s) and what has been done in aerospace since WWII.

Human factors is an umbrella term for several areas of research that include human performance, technology, design, and human-computer interaction. It is a profession that focuses on how people interact with products, tools, procedures, and any processes likely to be encountered in the modern world”. (Wikipedia.
In fact, Human Factors is a quite wide area, it’s like saying you are in the field of “engineering”. In fact, What I was trying to do was “Macroergonomics”: defining a UCD process tailored to the company I was working with. It has been a challenging task, which mainly involved several internal reviews and iterative process modelling with a number of stakeholders to find a process suitable for the concept definition and iterative, user-centred development of C3 systems.

Another task was to define the “reason why” UCD had to be employed. While in UCD for the web the reason lies primarily in competitive advantage (e.g. e-commerce: competitors are oneclick away!) and increased productivity (web applications in general), C3 systems are mission-, safety-critical systems where one error could cost hundreds of lifes.

Want to read more? More meat is here .