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November 2005 Issue

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Published: November 25, 2005

“There seems to have been some pent up demand for a publication that covers the breadth of user experience for digital products!”

To all of the bloggers who have written about UXmatters and people who have sent email messages and comments, thank you for warmly welcoming UXmatters to the UX community. We’ve been gratified by the high level of interest in and enthusiastic response to this Web magazine. There seems to have been some pent up demand for a publication that covers the breadth of user experience for digital products! Read moreRead More>

By Bob Goodman

“The stereotype of the suits versus the geeks is too simple to capture the situation. Still, there’s no doubt the conflict has often boiled down to two polarized positions.”

Published: November 21, 2005

Within the corporate world, the clash between marketing and IT (Information Technology) teams is a well-known, but little discussed subject. Often, the marketing or corporate communications team owns the vision for online efforts, while the tech team owns their execution.

The stereotype of the suits vs. the geeks is too simple to capture the situation. Still, there’s no doubt the conflict has often boiled down to two polarized positions.

On the one hand, we have marketers who feel that technologists don’t understand the value of brand communication; on the other, technologists who feel that marketers don’t understand the practical and architectural implications of technology decisions. Read moreRead More>

By Elizabeth Bacon

Published: November 21, 2005

“Opening your mind to understanding people’s true goals exposes the key elements of an experience and reveals those “dimensions of meaningful variation” that let you produce a properly tailored design for a product that truly fits its target audience.”

People from the UX community came together at DUX2005. I had eagerly awaited this second Conference on Designing for User eXperience, which was held November 2–5 at Fort Mason, in San Francisco, especially since I’d had miss the first DUX Conference in 2003. The conference lived up to my high expectations, providing fun and insight in equal measure. The surprising blue skies and sparkling vistas of the Golden Gate bridge didn’t hurt the experience either.

For me, the insights started with the two tutorials I attended: Layers of Experience, which Marc Rettig taught, and Whose Line Is It Anyway: Improv, Ethnography, and Innovation, which Steve Portigal taught. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: November 21, 2005

“The DUX Conference began brilliantly with an interactive performance by J.Walt Adamczyk and an opening plenary address by Bill Irwin. J.Walt’s live animation performance … took us on an odyssey following a convoluted path through an evolving 3D landscape.”

Everyone I spoke with at DUX seemed pleased by the quality and diversity of the tutorials presented on Day 1 of DUX2005. I really wanted to attend the Studio Tours that day, but was too busy launching this Web magazine, so missed them. Maybe next time…

The DUX Conference began brilliantly with an interactive performance by J.Walt Adamczyk and an opening plenary address by Bill Irwin. Beautiful ambient music accompanied J.Walt’s live animation performance. He took us on an odyssey following a convoluted path through an evolving 3D landscape. It was mesmerizing. Next came Bill Irwin’s performance, which was both very amusing and highly educational. Irwin, shown in Figure 2, is an actor, dancer, and clown who has made body language both an art and a science. He’s a wonderful, versatile performer, and I enjoyed his performance immensely. Comedienne Heather Gold hosted the entire conference and added just the right amount of levity to the proceedings. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Published: November 3, 2005

“When Don Norman came to Apple, in 1993, as Vice President of Research and head of the Advanced Technology Group (ATG), he brought with him the new term user experience design.”

We are very pleased to welcome you to UXmatters—a Web magazine created by and for UX professionals. Together, we can create the premiere source of information and inspiration for UX professionals.

From Human Interface to UX

At Apple® Computer in the early ’90s, I worked in what was then called human interface design. When Don Norman came to Apple, in 1993, as Vice President of Research and head of the Advanced Technology Group (ATG), he brought with him the new term user experience design. Shortly after joining Apple, he spoke to employees about user experience design. I wish I could remember his words, but I do recall coming away from his talk a convert to the idea of user experience design. What he said resonated with me. Read moreRead More>

By Dirk Knemeyer

Published: November 3, 2005

“There are those who look at things the way they are and ask ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were and ask ‘Why not?’”—Robert F. Kennedy

Imagine: A space for seeing the world in a different way is Dirk Knemeyer’s forum for asking “Why not?” and dreaming about things that never were—but certainly could be. This column will explore innovative and progressive topics in digital product design today and look at where current trends and patterns are taking us tomorrow.

“I've been thinking a lot about metadata recently…. My interest is in the future of content ownership, delivery, and value. I see a future for media that looks very different from the media of today.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about metadata recently, but not from the standpoint of XML or programming or helping to organize and index data. My interest is in the future of content ownership, delivery, and value. I see a future for media that looks very different from the media of today. The germ of this idea actually came from my experiences with online movie rentals.

I’ve been a Netflix® customer for a few years now. Their user experience adds tremendous value beyond traditional brick-and-mortar video rental stores, with home delivery of movies, a no-late-fee policy, and robust management of information about my previous rentals on their Web site, shown in Figure 1—through their ratings and cataloging features—as well as keeping track of my selections for future rentals. Read moreRead More>

By Whitney Quesenbery

Published: November 3, 2005

This column, Universal Usability, will explore the social benefits of human-centered design and ways in which we can create better conversations that include more people.

“In our rush to solve the technology challenges, it’s too easy to forget the people for whom we are, after all, creating these systems in the first place.”

I’m writing this while listening to news reports and public discussion about the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The thought that keeps running through my head is this: the real disaster was not the storm, but our response to it.

The work of planning for crisis response may seem mundane. Long before a catastrophe, officials must prepare emergency and evacuation plans. To be ready for a disaster, they must make arrangements for essential needs like transportation, food, and shelter. This real-world, logistical planning is a lot less exciting than working on cutting-edge, high-tech systems like data mining for surveillance, but people’s lives depend on its being done well. Once a crisis occurs, officials must respond quickly, making and communicating the right decisions, organizing volunteers, and transporting supplies. And they need systems—both online and off—that help them do just that. We won’t know what really happened in the aftermath of Katrina for a while, but my guess is that people far from the daily reality of crisis response were seduced into thinking that technology could supply all the answers. Read moreRead More>

By Luke Wroblewski

Published: November 3, 2005

“When you design an interactive product, you are creating the setting for thousands of conversations, which will be spoken between product and person.”—Marc Rettig

“It is ultimately the presentation of an interface—layout, look and feel—that tells users what a product has to offer and how they can make use of it.”

Though carefully structured organizational systems and well architected interactions are key components of effective interface designs, it is ultimately the presentation of an interface—layout, look and feel—that tells users what a product has to offer and how they can make use of it. As a result, creating usable and engaging interactive products is dependent on our ability, as designers, to communicate with our audience. The better at communicating we are, the easier it is for our audience to understand our messages and intentions and the easier it is for them to use and appreciate the products we design.

Interactive products, by their very nature, tend to be complicated. They allow us to create and control large amounts of information and enable many unique interactions. As a result, there’s a natural tendency for interface designs to over-communicate, or establish multiple forms of dialogue and vocabularies within a single application or interaction. Complicated concepts require more explanation, right? Not always. Read moreRead More>

By Robert Reimann

Published: November 3, 2005

“The most interesting aspect of reflective processing as it relates to design is that, through reflection, we are able to integrate our experiences with designed artifacts into our broader life experiences and, over time, associate meaning and value with the artifacts themselves.”

When Don Norman’s most recent book, Emotional Design, [1] hit the shelves in early 2004, it sent a ripple through the user experience world. Norman introduced the idea that product design should address three different levels of cognitive and emotional processing: visceral, behavioral, and reflective. This idea seemed like old news to some and a revelation to others in the UX community. In either case, Norman’s ideas, based on years of cognitive research, provide an articulated structure for modeling user responses to product and brand and a rational context for many intuitions long held by professional designers.

Norman’s three levels of cognitive processing are Read moreRead More>

By Dan Brown

Published: November 1, 2005

“The explosion of content and functionality on the Web and the new ways in which we’re making use of Web content has recast the role of the information architect.”

The typical information architect thinks about structure—how one item in a group relates to all the other items in the group and how that group relates to all other groups. In the early days of information architecture (IA), groups and their related items tended to be well defined. For example, in the heyday of e-commerce, an information architect translated a product catalog into a storefront on the Web. Today, these problems seem old hat.

Modern Web technologies permit greater flexibility in navigation, search, retrieval, and display. At the same time, the quantity of information is growing exponentially, and users expect greater control over content. Read moreRead More>