Archive for the ‘ Further reading ’ Category

Class notes F14 – Week 6 – User research 1: Planning and Conducting

We began class with an overview of the user-centered review process.

UX process

We identified the specific activities taken in 2 of the articles we read and mapped them onto the steps of the UCD process.

We spent the rest of the class working on an exercise to create a plan for user research for a system that would improve the UX in the PMU food court. Some of the main take-aways about user research are below:

  1. Appropriate research goals: to understand users, their goals, needs, mental models, and current experiences.
  2. Inappropriate research goals: to figure out what users want, or to treat them as designers. Unless you’re doing participatory design, this research goal is not very useful. Remember: users are not designers.
  3. Observation is queen. Whenever possible, conduct some sort of observation – ideally coupled with interviewing, as in contextual inquiry.
  4. We usually aim for in-depth understanding – qualitative data from a limited number of people rather that shallow information from large numbers of people.

We briefly discussed the various methods used to conduct user research: contextual inquiry, ethnographic interviewing, diary studies. See an informative slide deck about diary studies below:

One method that you can use to gain an in-depth understanding of users is task analysis. We did not discuss it in detail in class, but please do read about it and ask questions in the comments below.

Finally, remember to let me know if these class notes are useful to you, and to indicate in some way, by rating, commenting, etc. that you have read this post.

Class notes F’14: Week 3 – Fundamental principles part 1 of 3

The first series of design principles were derived from what we know about visual perception and visual attention. They pertained to the Gestalt principles of visual perception, Visual structure & hierarchy, and a bit of Writing for the screen. The slides I used are on Canvas.

I’d also like you to know about:

In class, I mentioned resources such as:

Please look them up.

Not required, but for fun – look at some visual illusions. They really point out the role of the mind in visual perception. Here’s a freaky one I like.

Do remember that online participation on Facebook and here are required parts of the course. Please comment, Like, or somehow interact with this post to let me know you saw it. In the comments, you could let me know if such class notes are useful or not, or how I could make them more useful to you. Of course, questions about the material that I did not get a chance to answer in class should also go in the comments below.

Fall 2014 Class notes: Types of Design

We began class by furthering our exploration of “natural” and “intuitive” interaction with computers. We played around with the idea of tangible design, informed by the belief that using our bodies is natural and intuitive. The argument comes from Paul Dourish’s book Where the Action Is. See also the tangible interfaces lab at MIT.

Quick recap of the very big main points about the design process to take away from week 2:

  1. There are many types and approaches to design. UCD is not alone. The main differences among them are in philosophy (the central goal) and some of the methods and procedures. For example, the central goal of critical design is to raise awareness, to help people reflect upon and question the status quo. The central goal of GDD is to design for the users’ larger aspirations, whereas ACD focuses on structuring tools to facilitate an activity. Be sure to remember and be able to differentiate among UCD, GDD, ACD, participatory design and critical design. Interested in the theory behind critical design? Read up on critical theory – here’s a very quick introduction. Or, you might be interested in Norman’s controversial piece against human-centered design and in support of ACD. It’s a bit inflammatory, he has some clarifications to it, and overall, it does make sense, IMO.
  2. UCD is an approach and a process. It is a philosophy, a value system about how we approach design, but also a  specific set of steps, procedures, methods, and principles. The major steps of UCD are: user research, conceptual design, implementation, and evaluation.

If you have further questions about the things we discussed in class tonight, please ask them in the comments below.

How to assign severity ratings to usability issues

One of the tasks you will do for the next usability report is identify usability issues and assign them severity ratings. This blog post from Measuring Usability (a blog I recommend you follow) helps you learn how to assign severity ratings. Please read it and learn from it.

Emotional and seductive design

Since many of you are interested in emotional impact, I’d like to make some recommendations for future reading. You could start with this blog post on designing for the gut (and please add UX Magazine to your RSS feed).

The classic book on this topic is Donald Norman’s Emotional Design.

There is also this book on Seductive IxD: (SE – maybe you can share your reading notes about this book on your blog?)

And, if you’re serious about this, you should really read Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things:

Oh, and also? Google Don Norman. Stalk him. Research him. Watch his talks.


Website Experience Analysis

This post explains an alternative research protocol, website experience analysis (WEA).

Website experience analysis is a research protocol (set of procedures) that can help researchers identify what specific interface elements users associate with particular interpretations.

WEA focuses on the messages that users take-away from their experience with the interface.

All interfaces try to communicate something, such as:

  • you should trust this application with your credit card data
  • you should come study for a MS degree in CGT at Purdue
  • etc.

WEA allows you to find out:

  1. whether the interface actually communicates this message – do people actually take away the message that you intended, and to what extent?
  2. what specific elements of the interface users associate with those particular messages (trust, CGT is a good program, etc.)

The WEA questionnaire is based on prominence-interpretation theory. It works with pairs of items that ask:

  1. Ratings of user perceptions (e.g. trust – on a scale of 1-10)
  2. Open-ended: what about the interface makes the user feel this way?

WEA is based on a much more complex theoretical framework of the website experience. The framework breaks the website experience down into two major dimensions: time and space. WEA then explains the phases of the experience as they unfold across time, and the elements of the website space (elements are categorized according to element functions). The theoretical framework is likely only valid for websites, because the experience with another type of interface, even though it may have the same three main temporal phases (first impression, engagement, exit) will likely differ in terms of the steps within those phases and the nature of the spatial elements and their functions.

WEA is different from a regular questionnaire because it connects perceptions with specific interface elements. Questionnaires will tell you whether the user trusts the product, but they won’t provide specific feedback as to what particular elements may account for that perception.

WEA is modular, which means that a different battery of items can be used, depending on the focus of the research. I used WEA in 2 contexts:

  1. To evaluate the experience of visiting organizational websites. Here, I used the 5 dimensions of good relationships between organizations and their publics: trust, commitment, investment, dialog, etc.
  2. To evaluate whether emergency preparedness websites persuade users to take emergency preparedness actions. Here I used a battery of items derived from a theory of fear appeals (EPPM) and assessed whether users perceived there is a threat, believe they can do something about it, believe the recommended actions would be effective, etc.

I think WEA would provide excellent feedback about how prospective students perceive the CGT department, based on their experience with the website. It would be very valuable to find out exactly what about the website makes them feel that:

  • they would benefit from a CGT MS
  • they would fit in
  • they would have a good educational experience
  • etc. – we have to determine the relevant set of items. Ideally, we would have a theory to guide item development.

WEA can be used with other research questions, such as: How do HR managers look at job candidates’ online information? (hello, Jack!)

WEA can be improved upon to better tap into emotional aspects of the user experience. It can be modified to be a more inductive approach, that elicits emotions and interpretations from users rather than asking about specific interpretations (such as trust, etc.)  – thank you, Emma, for these suggestions!

If you would like to read more about WEA, you can find the relevant citations in Google Scholar. I can provide copies of the papers if you don’t have access to them.

For CGT 512, you can consider adding a couple of WEA items to traditional usability testing in order to capture more information. Please let me know if you would like to do so and what questions you have about this.


The Future of Interaction Design

I came across this Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design on Twitter. Liked it enough that I decided to research the author a bit. Who does s/he this s/he is? Oh, no biggie, just the person who created the interaction design for the iPad… Bret Victor, check him out.