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April 2007 Issue

By Jonathan Follett

Published: April 26, 2007

“Actively influencing a person’s emotional state throughout an experience … is still an evolving concept in the realm of user interface design.”

Actively influencing a person’s emotional state throughout an experience—in particular, his or her sense of anticipation, involvement, and desire for a certain outcome—is still an evolving concept in the realm of user interface design. However, this is very familiar territory for makers of music, film, television, and video games. While UX designers may not be storytellers, we can create more engaging product user experiences by learning from their examples.

Many UX designers—myself included—approach projects from a combination of information architecture, information design, interaction design, and visual design perspectives. These disciplines and their methods are fundamentally different from those people use to construct the continuous linear narratives we see and hear in film, video, and music. However, as the technologies for creating interactive user experiences become more robust—especially in the realm of Rich Internet Applications (RIAs)—we have an opportunity to draw upon a much wider visual vocabulary. This will also make narrative elements such as timing, pacing, and rhythm increasingly important. Using such design elements may enable us to move users from mere understanding to engagement and, ultimately, to immersion in our digital products and services. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: April 26, 2007

Organization
Content
Presenters
Proceedings
Venue
Hospitality
Community

In 2006, I attended my first Information Architecture (IA) Summit. It was the best of the many conferences I attended that year, making this year’s conference a must-attend event. The 8th annual ASIS&T IA Summit was at the Flamingo in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, March 22–26, 2007. The theme of the conference was Enriching Information Architecture—“examining three trends: rich information…, rich interaction…, and rich relationships…”—but the sessions I attended were more about process, methods, and strategy.

Opening Keynote: The Lost Art of Productively Losing Control
Presenter: Joshua Prince-Ramus

The Web That Wasn’t
Presenter: Alex Wright

The Brave New World: Usability Challenges of Web 2.0
Presenter: Jared Spool

WebPatterns: Design Patterns in Web Site Architecture and User Interaction
Presenter: John Allsopp

Communicating Design: An Astonishingly Close Look at IA Documentation
Presenter: Dan Brown

Where Does IA Fit in the Design Process?
Moderator: Peter Boersma
Panelists: Larisa Warnke, Peter Merholz, Livia Labate, Leisa Reichelt, and Josh Seiden

Maximum Value Information Architecture: Big IA Is the Way You Do, Not What You Do
Presenter: Austin Govella

Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: April 26, 2007

More session reviews and the conclusion of my conference review.

Finding Innovation in the Five Hundred Pound Gorilla: Or Overcoming Fear, Building Trust, and Making Believers
Presenters: Kevin Cheng and Tom Wailes

Communal Computing and Shared Spaces of Usage: A Study of Internet Cafes in Developing Contexts
Presenter: Jason Hobbs

Startup Case Studies: How Five of Us Started Our Own Businesses
Presenters: Victor Lombardi, Frank Ramirez, Lou Rosenfeld, Gene Smith, and Christina Wodtke

Closing Plenary: Fast, Cheap, and Somewhat in Control: 10 Lessons from the Design of SlideShare
Presenter: Rashmi Sinha

Read moreRead More>

By Paul J. Sherman

Published: April 9, 2007

Welcome to my UXmatters column—Envision the Future. In this column, I will share my perspectives on the role UX professionals will play in the future and answer a few forward-looking questions about the field of user experience such as:

What is the future of user experience as a practice, as a philosophy of design, and as a research topic?

What are the challenges and opportunities facing UX practitioners as we strive to better integrate our methods, processes, and philosophies into traditional ideation, design, and development processes?

“User experience happens whether someone has designed the elements influencing a user’s experience thoughtfully or accidentally.”

These are big questions. User experience happens whether someone has designed the elements influencing a user’s experience thoughtfully or accidentally. Anywhere there’s a user interface, there’s an interaction waiting to happen and a user experience about to occur.

I intend to explore these areas of inquiry in several ways. I’ll write about particular topics relating to the questions I’ve posed and carry out interviews and discussions with a variety of people in our field—from the visionaries to the UX managers and individual contributors who daily create and validate the user experiences of products and services. Read moreRead More>

By Isabelle Peyrichoux

Published: April 9, 2007

“Observing a user perform a task provides more reliable information than simply asking the user how easy it would be to perform the task.”

One of the principles underlying usability testing is that observing a user perform a task provides more reliable information than simply asking the user how easy it would be to perform the task. By observing users, you can assess whether they are actually able to use a product. By asking them, you simply cannot.

  • misleading—because often user behaviors that you observe can have many different interpretations. For example, if a user did not click a link, perhaps the user did not see the link or did not understand it. You cannot know the reason with certainty without asking the user. Your assumptions might be biased.
  • limiting—because you lose the opportunity to gather valuable verbal data by relying only on observational data.

While some usability professionals might claim that you cannot rely on what users say—and there are some risks in relying on users’ comments—there are means of avoiding or minimizing those risks. To understand these means, we must leave the realm of objective science and enter the realm of human relationships and empathy. Read moreRead More>

Review by Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Published: April 9, 2007

Organization 5 stars
Content 5 stars
Copyediting 4.5 stars
Illustrations 5 stars
Book Design 5 stars

Stephen Few’s Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data defines the state-of-the-art of information dashboard design. Few, who is an expert in data visualization for the communication and analysis of quantitative business information has provided a complete, practical, and illuminating guide to dashboard design. If you are designing front-ends for executive information systems for Business Performance Management (BPM) or for monitoring and analyzing the performance of sales, marketing, or information systems, Information Dashboard Design provides all you need to know to ensure your dashboards communicate efficiently and effectively.

According to Few, while today’s business intelligence (BI) software vendors have developed technologies that can gather data from disparate sources, transform data into more usable forms, store huge repositories of data in high-performance databases, and present data in the form of reports, “we have made little progress in using that information effectively.” This book provides a sound foundation in the principles of visual perception and communication that you must understand to design effective dashboards and offers guidelines for creating dashboards that provide engaging interactions “for exploring and analyzing structured, domain-specific information… to discern business trends or patterns.” Read moreRead More>