As UX professionals, we have a great many analytical and descriptive tools available to us. In fact, there are so many that it can sometimes be difficult to decide which tool is most appropriate for a given task! Hierarchical task analysis (HTA) is an underused approach in user experience, but one you can easily apply when either modifying an existing design or creating a new design.
This technique has applications across a range of different problem domains, including time-and-motion studies, personnel selection, or training, and provides a broad and deep understanding of task performance. While there are core principles that guide a hierarchical task analysis, it’s possible to adapt the basic approach in a huge number of ways to support the needs of any domain under consideration. In this column, I’ll examine one approach to hierarchical task analysis that enables UX designers to quickly understand both what a system does and how its capabilities translate into the system’s user experience. You can also use this approach to support the UX development process. Read More
I recently attended the Eurogamer Expo, which gave me a chance to look at what was new in the world of gaming and play with some of the Cool New Stuff coming out over the next year. In addition to playing with the Xbox One—which was disappointing—and the PlayStation 4—which, though interesting, was underwhelming—I also had an opportunity to use the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset. I like new, cool hardware. Occasionally, I’m disappointed—Leap Motion, I’m looking at you—but every so often I find a gem, and the Rift is one such.
A few gaming stands at the show featured the Oculus Rift headset. Most of these were high-definition headsets. But the queues were around an hour long, and while I am keen and dedicated, there were better things to do with my time. So I tried a standard-definition headset that a university was demoing. Read More
In my spare time, I’m a keen gamer—particularly a player of Battlefield 3 on the PS3. Recently, the game developers DICE applied an update to the online multiplayer game that tweaked a number of its weapons. As often happens, this triggered a vigorous debate online. Gamers will appreciate that this is a euphemism for “lots of anger, expressed with varying degrees of coherence and literary merit.” I’m sure DICE had conducted alpha and beta testing of the changes, listened to feedback, and made further refinements based on it; just as I’m sure they made the changes in response to feedback from users on the forums. But this whole update process demonstrates how the release cycle of products has changed: systems, including games, now have vast, permanently connected user bases. Users are now learning to accept change as the norm—whether producer-driven or user-driven change—or typically, both. Read More