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01 January, 1970

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The 6th Annual Usability & User Experience conference took place at Bentley College on Wednesday, May 23, 2007.

Presentation Abstracts and Biographies

The Brave New World: Usability Challenges of Web 2.0

Presenter: Jared Spool

Summary: Once again, everything is exciting. The advent of social networks, APIs, mashups, RSS, aggregators, and folksonomies promise a world where the information and services we’ve always wanted are delivered right to our browser.

However, delivering on the promise is easier said than done. Moving from a great concept to an exceptional user experience proves to be more of a challenge than many people thought. What works on a small scale is a very different story, when put into production.

As Spiderman’s Uncle Ben pointed out, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Just because we can do all these things doesn’t mean we should do them. In the early 1980’s, the cheap availability of laser printers and digital fonts produced a plethora of documents that more resembled ransom notes than professional publications. We could easily imagine designers going wild with the capabilities of this new technology and not using the restraint necessary to ensure they produce an optimal experience.

In this entertaining and informative presentation, Jared will show examples of the usability challenges we face as the web continues to change and evolve. He’ll discuss the implications of “The Long Tail”, the introduction of a mashup mentality in business environments, and how basic techniques, such as usability testing and field studies, change when social network is at the center of the design.

Bio: Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
If you’ve ever seen Jared speak about usability, you know that he’s probably the most effective, knowledgeable communicator on the subject today. What you probably don’t know is that he has guided the research agenda and built User Interface Engineering into the largest research organization of its kind in the world. He’s been working in the field of usability and design since 1978, before the term “usability” was ever associated with computers.

Jared spends his time working with the research teams at the company, helps clients understand how to solve their design problems, explains to reporters and industry analysts what the current state of design is all about, and is a top-rated speaker at more than 20 conferences every year. He is also the conference chair and keynote speaker at the annual User Interface Conference, is on the faculty of the Tufts University Gordon Institute, and manages to squeeze in a fair amount of writing time.

Random Access Walkthroughs

Presenter: Kirsten Robinson

Summary: Some user interfaces need to behave differently in response to different variables, such as the user’s permissions, product or license configurations, previous actions, and so forth. For example, MathWorks customers have different options for downloading and installing products based on their choices before and during the download / install process and a variety of business rules. As the number of variables increases, it can become difficult to validate a user interface for all the possible combinations. Simply listing the different combinations quickly becomes cumbersome.

This presentation reports on a method using cards to quickly create different scenarios for walking through and validating user interfaces. There are several benefits to this:

The cards can be randomly selected to validate an arbitrary scenario, or the facilitator can select cards to set up a particular scenario of interest.
Using the cards engages and focuses walkthrough participants, making the walkthrough seem more like a game of chance and less predetermined.
Exploring new card combinations can reveal weaknesses in the design that need to be addressed.
Exhausting the complete set of cards through repeated walkthroughs of different scenarios exercises most of the possible paths through the interface, for more thorough validation.
My presentation will address how to create the cards, other materials needed for a walkthrough, how to facilitate, and how to document the scenarios and findings. This presentation is appropriate for usability professionals, analysts, and others who design multi-step processes driven by complex logic.

Bio: Kirsten Robinson is a senior usability specialist at The MathWorks, responsible for research, design, and evaluation for user interfaces for technical computing software. Before joining The MathWorks, she worked on requirements, information architecture, and design for software, web sites, and web applications. She holds a MS in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley College and a BA in Cognitive Science from Brown University.

Usability Research in an Agile Development Environment

Presenter: Ann Marie McCarthy

Summary: This presentation briefly compares waterfall v. agile development. It states the importance of customer input throughout the development process. It discusses the challenges of gathering input in short, iterative cycles. It presents parallel tracks for development and design based on a case study by Lynne Miller at Alias (Autodesk). It outlines the way we’re implementing the method at Kronos in an agile world. Lastly it recommends several typical research methods and tools that lend themselves well to an agile environment with co-located teams (paper prototyping and interactive issues matrix) and remote teams (Live Meeting and Morae).

Bio: Ann Marie McCarthy is a Senior Interaction Designer at Kronos responsible for implementing a new look and feel across a suite of sixteen web applications for workforce management. Kronos is an agile development environment. Before joining Kronos, Ann Marie worked independently in visual and interaction design roles for software and web site development. Her clients have included Plimoth Plantation, Family Education Network, Bitstream and Oracle.

Post-its and Affinities: low-tech tools for high-impact results

Presenter: Mary Beth Rettger

Participants will benefit most if they have a basic understanding of usability testing, formative studies, paper prototyping, and qualitative data. Mostly, they just need to know what all those words mean, they don’t need any experience in applying those terms.

This will not be an introduction to formative testing, paper prototyping or paper prototype testing or walkthroughs.

Participants in this tutorial will leave with:
A fast method for collecting, analyzing and disseminating information from a usability test that they can immediately use
An effective method for involving team members in data collection, eliminating the need to “sell” the results of testing
An extensible method that can be applied to other situations (e.g., dealing with brainstorming data).

How personal finance shoppers use the web to support decision-making: a new study from the UK

Presenter: Tom Wood

Summary: The presentation summarizes findings from a new UK study of consumer decision-making in personal finance. While the scope of the subject may seem limited (retail financial products in the UK market) it raises important questions about more general shopping behaviours and the limitations of ‘single-site’ user research as a basis for corporate decision-making.

The Online Shopping Survey (OSS) for Finance is an ethnographic study which examines shopping behaviours and attitudes regarding the purchase of financial products including Mortgages, Loans, Credit Cards, Home and Motor Insurance in the UK. It is a unique view of how shoppers piece together the myriad information resources available online in order to arrive at a purchase decision.

The second wave of OSS Finance reports (published in January 2007) detail a longitudinal study combining:

– Quantitative data from 1,522 panel respondents who match the UK online adult population;
– Qualitative analysis of the online shopping activity of 130 consumers actively seeking finance products

The presentation will give a short summary of the research approach then explore four themes drawing on evidence from the study: Brand Visibility, Information Goals, Establishing Competence, and Channel Fluidity. The presentation will conclude by considering how knowledge from ethnographic market studies paint a much richer picture than can be drawn from mainstream user experience tools such as market research, site-tracking data, and user depth interviews. Despite their complexity and cost, market studies offer a very high return on investment to participating corporations.

Bio: Tom Wood is co-founder and Managing Partner of Foolproof, the UK’s third largest independent user experience consultancy. The company is in its fifth year, employing more than 30 people in two offices. Foolproof is proud of its commercial focus, promising clients measurable improvements to their online sales by helping them to understand and meet consumer needs and preferences. Tom is author of the OSS series of research reports one of the largest ethnographic studies of consumer behaviour in online retail environments. This has made him a familiar part of the UK usability scene and a regular speaker at conferences and UPA events.Before Foolproof, Tom ran advertising at Virgin Money, a UK retail financial services company. He pioneered usability in the Virgin group and has been planning, moderating and analysing qualitative research throughout his career. He has a business degree and holds a Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Design for Online Communities

Presenter: Lynn Cherny

Summary: Successful online community creation requires an understanding of both social and technical design challenges. Foundational principles for community come from sociology and anthropology and obviously predate the Internet. I’ll race through some academic background and I’ll illustrate current popular visualization techniques for online and offline community interaction, such as social network analysis (which also predates social networking sites). I’ll then explore some applications of online community from social networking sites to chat and discussion groups, and discuss some important design principles independent of technology. Finally, I’ll wrap up with handy principles for the IA or interaction designer faced with designing “community” in the web 2.0 world.

Bio: Lynn Cherny’s books Conversation and Community (1999) and Wired_Women (1996) were classic web 1.0 studies of online community that were used in many graduate classes, including the MIT Media Lab. Since her research days, she has been a designer and manager at Excite.com, TiVo, Adobe, Mathworks, and Autodesk. She is currently consulting and always happy to give talks and tutorials.

Implementing intranet standards without CMS… or a budget

Presenters: Stan Drozdetski and Sarah Rambacher

Summary: The intranet is a controlled environment, with a deliciously captive audience. Designing for it should be easy, right?

In theory, it may be. In practice, company politics, budget priorities, and other facts of life interfere with delivering the optimal user experience. What do you do?

In this experience report, we will use MITRE’s case to highlight the issues that affect organically-grown intranets, and discuss what makes intranet design different. In particular, we will examine UI consistency, and discuss the role of standards. We will reveal what has worked for us, and what has not in our efforts to improve the intranet.

Bios: Stan Drozdetski and Sarah Rambacher are interaction designers at MITRE, where they are working on improving the usability, accessibility, and effectiveness of the corporate intranet. Stan holds a M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction from the School of Information, University of Michigan, and a B.S. in Computer Science from Tufts University. Sarah earned her M.S. in Computer Science from Boston University, and a B.S. in Computer Science from Kent State University.

User Evaluation Methodology for Tactility and Dexterity of Military Aviation Protective Gloves

Presenter: Karla Eve Allan

Summary: For certain military mission situations, aviators require ensembles, including gloves, with special protective properties, for example, flame-resistance, cold weather protection, protection against chemical-biological agents, or a combination of properties. More protection frequently impacts upon glove thickness or attributes that can compromise the tactility and dexterity needed to effectively operate an aircraft. An applied laboratory evaluation was conducted to determine if the level of tactility and dexterity demonstrated by two current military protective gloves (“baselines”) could be surpassed by the introduction of novel protective glove designs.

To generate novel concepts, a Government Request for Information was published requesting new aviation glove prototypes composed of one or more layers that would provide the same protective properties as the baselines while minimizing negative impact on tactility and dexterity. Stakeholders met to determine which submissions were worth testing and they formulated additional novel glove concepts by selectively combining component layers among baselines and new submissions. A new inner glove layer might, for example, be paired with a baseline outer glove layer to form a novel glove system. In total, 17 novel glove systems were identified as worthy of testing.

To assess tactility and dexterity, military aviators performed three objectively-scored tasks. They also self-rated their ability to manipulate cockpit controls on aircraft simulator panels and completed self-report surveys. An approach for integrating the objective and subjective data for each glove was applied. Results indicated that there were three novel glove concepts that were standouts in terms of tactility and dexterity performance compared to the other glove concepts – both baseline and novel.

To give attendees an experiential appreciation of the evaluation approach, Dr. Allan would like to conduct one or more audience volunteer “face-offs” (e.g., barehanded versus thin gloves, thin gloves versus thick or multi-layered gloves) on the timed tactility-dexterity tasks. After this demonstration, the methodological challenges encountered during this study will be described and audience ideas for future methodological improvements will be actively solicited.

Bio: Karla Eve Allan specializes in military human factors test and evaluation. After receiving her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, she conducted human factors evaluations of U.S. Army vehicles during field tests just prior to DoD purchasing decisions. Since 2004, she has been employed by the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, MA. There she conducts human factors evaluations of early prototypes of items either worn or carried by Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. Using military subjects, these evaluations assess a prototype in terms of ease of use, comfort, safety, survivability, ability to perform the mission, and compatibility with other gear with which the prototype will be worn. Problems are flagged and design changes recommended. Dr. Allan feels especially pleased when recommended design changes to the prototype are incorporated and – as a result – our fighting troops receive a better product to use.

Techniques for Understanding the User Experience: Usability is not Enough!

Presenter: Demetrios Karis

Summary: What techniques are available to understand the user experience on web sites, and especially on complex commercial web sites? How can we obtain a comprehensive understanding of the user experience when users differ from each other so dramatically? Traditional laboratory-based usability evaluations are certainly necessary, but far from sufficient.

Based on almost ten years of experience working on SuperPages.com (an online yellow pages and shopping resource), I’ll describe a comprehensive program for understanding the user experience. I’ll describe the different techniques we’ve used, their strengths and weaknesses, their costs in time and money, and present some interesting examples and anecdotes. I’ll argue that no single methodology or source of information is sufficient, and that for a comprehensive understanding of the user experience, information from multiple sources must be combined. I’ll explain why both qualitative and quantitative techniques are required, and suggest that for many products and services some custom techniques should also be developed.

I will discuss usability studies (with novice, experienced, and special populations), comparative studies, field studies, the analysis of direct user feedback (i.e., email sent to the site), basic log analysis, and the use of a panel of experts over many months (diary studies), and discuss the use of Personas and two extensions to the basic log analysis work: the use of discrete choice models to understand the factors that influence the selection of listings on a search results page, and the tracking of user behavior based on log data both within and across sessions.

Although the user experience research program I’ll describe was tailored for commercial business-to-consumer web sites, I’ll end by presenting the basic principles behind it, and by discussing how it can be modified for use in many other domains. As an example, I’ll briefly describe our current work on DSL and FiOS installation and on the use of broadband value-added services such as online backup and sharing.

Bio: Demetrios Karis led the SuperPages.com User Interface group at Verizon Labs for almost ten years. He is now part of a team working to understand and improve the Verizon broadband customer experience (from DSL or FiOS installation to the use of value-added services such as online backup and sharing). Before SuperPages, Demetrios worked on a variety of telecommunication products and services, including Airfone and a number of speech-based systems (including both IVR and ASR technologies). He also carried out applied research. Demetrios has a BA in Psychology from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Cornell University. After Cornell, he spent five years doing basic research in the Cognitive Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) before moving to industry, first at Grumman Aerospace, and then at GTE Labs, which became Verizon Labs after the merger of GTE and Bell Atlantic.

If You Build It They Will Come – So You Better Be Ready: A Case Study of Building a User Experience Team

Presenter: Catherine Courage

Summary: Building a User Experience team from the ground up is a great challenge within any organization. Often the traditional obstacles in the early stages involve justifying the team’s worth to executives and trying to educate product teams about the role of the team and how and why user experience adds value to the process. When first joining salesforce.com I expected to spend my first six to twelve months dealing with these very challenges, but it was a very different story.

To my surprise and delight both executives and product management “got it.” I was preaching to the choir. My immediate problem was demand. All of the product managers were thrilled that a team was being created and they wanted ui and usability resources immediately. As our team and the company have grown, our challenges have evolved. The focus of this presentation is to discuss some of the many obstacles we have faced and how we have overcome them in the three years of our existence. In some cases, there are issues that we still struggle with today. Some of the topics to be discussed will include:

Strategies to deal with the demand.
We developed a series of support levels and communicated these to teams to set expectations about how we will work with them
Created an office hours program, so product managers and developers without assigned ui or usability resources could bring design problems and get assistance
A focus on hiring. We recognized that we need to expand the team and find experienced talent that could hit the ground running.
Dealing with constant process change in a rapidly growing company
We transitioned from chaos, to weekly feature team meetings to agile development. Making these transitions did not come without bumps in the road. Being successful meant we need to vocalize the needs of our team and make sure they were factored into new the process.
Developing and maturing the team
Moving from start-up mode to a mode with more process, without slowing the team down was a challenge. We recognized that there were some areas were we wanted to formalize our processes, but in other areas we decided to let each team member do what works best for them. For example, each designer creates prototypes in whatever medium is most comfortable for them.
We still struggle trying to find time for infrastructure related activities such as, documenting our processes.
Where should we live?
We have decided that the team will remain as a centralized group, but we still struggle with the question of where should the team live within the organization? We have had a number of homes within different departments, but we are still searching for the right fit.

Bio: Catherine Courage is the Usability Program Manager at salesforce.com. She joined salesforce.com in 2004 as the founding member of the User Experience team. Today she manages a rapidly growing team of usability analysts, and is a key member of teams responsible for leading the rollout of agile development and for accessibility compliance. Prior to joining salesfore.com she worked at Oracle as a Principal Usability Engineer and manager of the Customer Design Partners Program. Catherine is the co-author of the book Understanding Your Users. She is an active member in the Human-Computer Interaction community and frequently attends and presents at conferences such as UPA, CHI and HCII. Catherine graduated from the University of Toronto with a Masters of Applied Sciences specializing in Human Factors.

SuperUser Exhibit Created for World Usability Day (Lunch SIG)

Presenter: Mary Weinstein

Summary: Disaster is in the air! A stuffed cat dangles precipitously from a fake palm tree frond, a scant sixty seconds away from falling to the earth. A few feet away, unbeknownst to its hypothetical passengers, a cardboard train is about to encounter an enormous boulder lying in its path. Who could avert one, let alone both, of these impending catastrophes?

More than one child raced out of our activity area shouting “I’m a super user! I’m a super user!,” and one group of pre-teens even deemed our activities the “best thing we did all day.”

Come see for yourself, how SuperUser participants at the 2006 World Usability Day rose to the challenge. Or, better yet, create and test out your own SuperUser powers.

Bio: After being inspired by the vision of Chris Hass, Mary Weinstein conspired with UI Designers on her team, Chris Gibbons and Juan Gomez, to bring SuperUser to life for World Usability Day 2006 at the Boston Museum of Science.

Mary developed and currently leads the user experience team and is responsible for consumer websites at MetLife Auto & Home in Warwick, RI. For more than 10 years, she has managed web design and development efforts for major clients and companies, including Dell, GM, Minolta, and IBM, among others.

Web 2.0: Developments in User Experience, Brand Strategy, and Rich Internet Applications

Presenters: Beth Loring and Gessica Silverman

Summary: Web 2.0 has created a completely new environment for both technology implementers and marketers – an environment with new rules and challenges, as well as tremendous possibilities. Online marketers are faced with creating user-friendly applications in a new digital world, while meeting consumers’ increased demands for greater interactivity and control. To accomplish this and maximize the rewards, companies must understand the critical importance of the entire user experience (UX), as well as the audiences they serve. Consequently, user-centered design techniques are being adapted to embrace new technologies, and online marketers are challenged with delivering a rich, immersive brand experiences online.

During this presentation, you will hear from two experts who will share their insights into the ways in which companies are developing, delivering, and evaluating creative online experiences.

First, Beth will discuss the continuing convergence of marketing and usability toward a more holistic user experience model. Using case studies, she will illustrate how companies are leveraging UX in brand strategy, through multi-channel marketing and interactive experiences such as brand micro-sites. She will discuss the need to adapt traditional research techniques to address the unique nature of these digital experiences, and share tips for how you can do so in your organization.
At the same time, rich internet applications (RIAs) are playing an enormous role in the new digital world by offering users a more interactive, application-like functionality. Gessica will demonstrate how organizations are leveraging the benefits RIAs to increase customer satisfaction and ROI. In addition, she’ll share tips on usability testing for RIA applications and creative ideas on how to integrate them into your site’s design.

Beth Loring
Director, Bentley Design and Usability Center
Beth Loring has 20 years of experience consulting on product design and usability, with expertise in the areas of user needs assessment, user interface design, usability evaluation methods, and ergonomics. She has both designed and evaluated consumer products, web sites, software applications, and medical devices. Beth also been a faculty member in Bentley’s Information Design certificate program since 2001. Before joining Bentley, Beth was a Principal Research Scientist at the American Institutes for Research, and before that she spent five years as the human factors team leader at IDEO Product Development in Boston. Beth holds an M.S. in Engineering Design from Tufts University and is a Certified Human Factors Professional. She has published extensively on usability and is co-author of a case study in “Understanding Your Users: A Practical Guide to User Requirements” (Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 2005). Beth is past chair of both the New England Chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and the Greater Boston SIGCHI.

Gessica Silverman
Senior Consultant, User Experience: Molecular
For nearly a decade, Gessica has developed and contributed her expertise in user experience strategy, information architecture and user information design. Within these fields, she specializes in the niche areas of interaction design for consumer and B2B web sites and web-based applications; in particular she yields a deep knowledge of rich internet applications and guided selling as it relates to the customer experience and the user dialog. She has provided this unique insight to countless projects for renowned brand name companies in the retail, healthcare, and financial services industries. During her tenure with Molecular, Gessica has led many high-profile Web projects and contributed her expertise to many prominent companies including PerkinElmer, Fidelity, Boston.com and Polymedica.

Prototyping Tools: Does Fidelity Really Matter?

Presenters: Michael Ledoux and Adam Hoffman

Summary: Our field has established a conceptual model of prototyping techniques as described by high and low fidelity prototyping. A common assumption is low fidelity prototypes should be used early in the process and that high fidelity should be used later. In this discussion we will introduce the “it depends” factor and explore the various approaches to prototyping and the factors that go into determining the best tools and approach to use. We will also focus on common software based solutions and explore their utility in addressing the various real world scenarios.

Michael Ledoux has spent the last twenty years in software development as a programmer, an information architect and as a usability engineer. Over the years he has worked for IBM, BMC Software and Varian Semiconductor. Michael is currently the senior user experience designer for Nexus Energy Software. He will soon be graduating with his MS in Human Factors and Information Design from Bentley College and holds a B.S. from Northeastern University. Michael is an active member in the Boston UPA chapter; this will be his 3rd Boston UPA presentation.

Adam Hoffman is a user experience designer at Bank of America, responsible for the user interface and workflow of online corporate banking applications. In previous roles, Adam represented users and elevated usability while managing the design and development of rich media, interactive websites and e-learning products. He has experience in a variety of industries including banking, healthcare, electronics engineering and information technology. Adam holds an M.S. in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley College and a B.S. in Studio Art from New York University.

Investigating The Usability of Sets of Software Tools

Presenter: Will Schroeder

Summary: Complex software applications are collections of tools and subtasks integrated into work sequences with varying degrees of success. The effectiveness of IntelliJ, PhotoShop, or MS Word is less than the sum of their parts due to problems arising from the need for user focus to shift between tools, and the difficulties in ensuring that tools work well together.

Usability techniques concentrate on one-task tools which solve steps in a linear workflow. Tests of complex software proceed tool by tool despite the fact that users apply the tools in different ways, with different frequency, in a different sequence, at different times. Treating components as isolated tools is seductive because there are always plenty of usability problems to be found.

The key to multi-tool usability is in the transitions to the right tool at the right time, every time, ensuring steady focus on the work, not the tools themselves. By comparing salient points of more successful and less successful workflows and tool usage we expect to demonstrate 1) how to help users make better transitions and transition decisions, and 2) to facilitate the transfer of critical information between tools, making the design of more productive and creative sets of integrated software elements.

This session will offer example problem transitions drawn from help and documentation tools and will identify new research topics and tools. It offers practitioners techniques for examining the usability and productivity implications of choosing and switching between tools in a complex software environments. Researchers will benefit from techniques for creating and administering open-ended tasks and a data-capture protocol.

Bio: Will Schroeder has spent seventeen years designing and testing hardware and embedded software at Foster-Miller, Inc. Twelve years as Principal at User Interface Engineering – usability consulting and research on hardware, software, and the web. Principal Usability Specialist – The MathWorks – since 2005.

What to Do with the Data? Data Exploration, Analysis, and Presentation of Quantitative and Qualitative Usability and Design Data

Presenter: Chauncey E. Wilson

Summary: Usability conferences are rife with talks about methods, selling usability, and enhancing the skills of practitioners, but there is a dearth of talks that focus on how to analyze and present quantitative and qualitative usability and design data. This tutorial will be a survey of data analysis and presentation techniques. The objective of this tutorial is to provide attendees with some new tools for exploring data, analyzing data, and presenting data to various stakeholders. The instructor will describe each method, go over the basic procedure, provide an example, and discuss when the method is most appropriate. Topics for the session will include:

Assumptions, Sampling, and Basic Descriptive Statistics. This session will be a quick review of the assumptions that we make about usability data, a bit on practical sampling considerations, a quick review of basic descriptive stats (for example, when to use the mean versus median), statistics for small samples, and confidence intervals

Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA) Techniques. EDA is a branch of statistics pioneered by Statistician John Tukey. EDA is a technique for examining data and generating (not confirming!) hypotheses about the causes of a particular phenomenon. The key tools in EDA are simple representations that include: Box-and-whisker plots, Stem-and-leaf plots, Pareto charts (a staple of quality engineering and summative usability engineering), Bubble charts – a way for displaying 4 variables simultaneously, and Radar plots.

Techniques for prioritizing data. How do we prioritize problems from usability testing or brainstorming data. We’ll examine techniques like threshold voting, Q-sorting, decision matrices, and other approaches for prioritizing data.

Qualitative Data Analysis. Many usability studies and surveys yield large amounts of qualitative data. Usability practitioners are often familiar with affinity diagramming as a way to organize data, but there are other techniques for getting deeper into the qualitative data. We will look at techniques like data coding, event listing, content analysis, triangulation, and matrix analysis.

Bio: Chauncey Wilson is a Principal Consultant for WilDesign Consulting and instructor at Bentley College with more than 25 years in the field. Chauncey has presented at CHI, UPA, HFES, and STC conferences and has co-authored chapters in the 1997 Handbook of HCI, and Cost-Justifying Usability, Second Edition: An Update for the Internet Age, Second Edition. He is currently working on a Handbook of User-Centered Design Methods and authors a bi-monthly column, The Well-Tempered Practitioner, for the ACM SIGCHI Interactions journal.

Highlights of Persuasive Technology 2007

Presenter: Carolyn Snyder

Summary: Persuasive technology is an important frontier in human-computer interaction. The Persuasive Technology 2007 conference will take place April 26-27, 2007. This 2-day conference will bring together more than 40 researchers who are studying how computers can be used to change people’s beliefs and behaviors. The organizer, Dr. BJ Fogg, is the author of Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do. The presenter will attend this conference, and the session will summarize the most interesting and controversial work from the conference. (For more information about the conference, see www.persuasivetechnology.org.)

This session will provide attendees with updates and analysis about the field of persuasive technology in summary form. It represents a new style of MiniUPA session: a State-of-the-Industry Update.

Bio: Carolyn Snyder is an independent usability consultant. For the first decade of her career, she worked as a software engineer and project manager. In 1993, she joined User Interface Engineering, where she worked with UIE founder Jared Spool for the next six years. She started her own business, Snyder Consulting, in 1999. Carolyn has conducted hundreds of usability tests on dozens of interfaces over the past fourteen years and has become the world’s leading authority on paper prototyping. Her book Paper Prototyping was published in 2003, and Carolyn is co-author of two other books on web site usability. Carolyn holds a BS in computer science from the University of Illinois and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Creating the Climate for Innovation

Presenter: Amy Cueva

Summary: The goal of the session is to discuss trends, observations and best practices for innovation. How can an organization facilitate the type of user experience innovation that will positively effect the business? How can an individual contribute to create a climate for innovation where perhaps they have very little control in the overall process?

This highly interactive discussion will begin by defining “innovation” in the context of current technology trends and weigh it against other factors such as consistency, creativity, and profitability. Then we will discuss techniques and challenges associated with fostering innovation, the feasibility of “innovation on demand” and the defining characteristics of collaborations that result in innovation. The discussion will lead to a group analysis of factors that support innovation, and the politics associated with enabling and institutionalizing innovation.

Bio: Amy Cueva is co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer at Mad*Pow, an interaction design firm based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She has extensive experience in user experience design, interface design, information architecture and usability. As the designer of Mad*Pow’s user centered design methodology, she has facilitated the business intelligence, research, analysis and strategy to create award winning user experiences for various clients including Monster.com, Starwood Hotels, Fidelity Investments, Aetna and Timberland.

Experience Design—what can we learn from games design?

Presenter: Sarah Bloomer

Summary: While most of our experience design focuses on web applications, graphical user interfaces and web sites, there is a whole other world creating highly engaging interactive experiences: the world of games. This presentation explores the way games are designed to deliver engaging experiences, looking primarily at user interface details such as: how are errors presented and dealt with, certainly not pop-up dialog boxes. How does the user interact with the game? Not always through a cursor floating across the screen. How is navigation and orientation handled? There are no global nav bars.

If time allows, the presentation may also touch upon the process of game design, exploring user research, how is storytelling applied and is user evaluation the same or different?

Popular games, both multi- and single- player games, will be used as examples. This talk will also draw upon some of the underlying principles of Csikszentmihalyi’s concept Flow as a way to focus the discussion.

Bio: Sarah Bloomer has been creating user interface designs for nearly 20 years. She cofounded The Hiser Group in 1991, an interaction design company based in Australia. With Hiser, she helped establish the field of user-centered design, built GUIs across multiple platforms, and designed web applications and websites for corporations and government. After 4 years as a senior interaction designer for The MathWorks, Sarah set up Sarah Bloomer & Co to focus on design research and design facilitation. Sarah has delivered papers, tutorials and workshops at HCI conferences in Australia and the USA. Sarah worked with games designers while a masters supervisor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in the Animation and Interactive Media Program.

WireTags: Tangible Subjective Feedback

Presenters: Rachael Acker and Jacqueline Stetson

Summary: How do you produce a usable design from a 500 page software requirements document? How do you stay ahead of technical advances and balance technical constraints? Rich internet applications (RIAs) have changed the way designers produce design specifications. Agile development method usually means quick iterations with no time for traditional lab testing. What if you could create an iterative living document that captured requirements through participatory design sessions? What if you could capture subjective emotional responses by evaluating user reactions remotely? WireTags may be a methodology to help drive design direction throughout the design life cycle.

WireTags for Rich Internet Applications enable you to: build communication between teams by creating click-through wireframes; facilitate the transition of a living document between requirements gathering, design, and testing; and document subjective reactions to comparative designs, thus providing tangible “show & tell” results to stakeholders. This presentation will cover WireTag design: how to create a component library and WireTag evolution: showing how “free play,” “reaction tagging,” and “show and tell” activities enhance designs.

Rachael Acker
Rachael completed her undergraduate degree in computer science at Boston University and undertook graduate level coursework in HCI at Tufts. She has since championed user-centered design processes at various software development companies. Rachael’s area of specialization is in the use of hi-fidelity wireframes, and developing UI components using style-sheets. During her ten year career, she has worked in various environments including multimedia e-learning, the insurance and energy industries, portal and e-commerce software development, and finance. Rachael is currently a Usability Specialist at Fidelity Investments.

Jacqueline Stetson
Jacqueline is a Bentley HFID alumna and has been working as a user experience consultant for four years. She has worked with Microsoft, Staples, HRBlock, Fidelity Investments, and Wipro. Jacqueline has worked in all phases of development, including Ethnography, Requirements Definition, Information Architecture, Interface Design, and Usability Testing. Prior to joining the usability community, Jacqueline worked in film and technology as a producer, project manager, writer, and designer.

What Makes User Interfaces Intuitive and Innovative?

Presenter: Jen Hocko and Jen McGinn

Summary: Do clients ever ask you, the interaction designer, to come up with an intuitive yet innovative design? If so, what exactly does that mean? In this presentation, the presenters and the audience will explore what makes a design “intuitive”, and how that seemingly contradicts innovation. We’ll also talk about what we can really rely on as designers to create these in-demand interfaces: things like Gestalt laws and physiological perception. Sound dull? Naaaa. We’ll quickly introduce the textbook definitions, move right along to some fun examples, and then discuss some best practices that designers can leverage. Have some intuitive designs to share? Bring them along!

Jen Hocko – While still at the University of Hartford working towards a B.S. in Computer Science and Professional &Technical Writing, Jen started her career as a Web designer / developer and worked at a few small to medium sized design firms. (This is back when banks had static pages and tables were popular for page layout!) Jen left the Web scene after a few years to become a technical writer for companies like Pfizer Central Research and BEA Systems. A few years after that, she decided that it was probably easier to fix the UIs instead of trying to explain them to death. As a result, she got her M.S. in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley College and basically came full circle. Jen is currently a Senior Usability Specialist working on improving web-based business applications at The MathWorks, and in her spare time she enjoys exploring the theoretical underpinnings of what we practitioners do.

Jen McGinn – Jen McGinn is a User Experience Engineer in the Software Experience Design (xDesign) group at Sun Microsystems, in Burlington, MA. She has written branded interaction guidelines for installation, developed personas for Sun Learning Services, and simplified the user experience with the Java Enterprise System. Jen has worked for Sun for over 11 years in user experience, technical training, and technical writing. Before joining Sun, Jen led other lives as a software developer and system administration consultant. She holds a BS in Information Systems from UMBC and an MS in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley.

Multiple Evaluations, Varied Findings: Good News or Bad News?

Presenter: Cathryn (Cay) Lodine

Summary: Nielson has claimed that using multiple evaluations of different kinds will reveal more usability issues than using one evaluation method alone. Most practitioners in the area of usability would accept this point. However, we rarely have the opportunity to demonstrate the reality of the statement. This presentation will discuss a pair of recent studies, conducted on the same product within weeks of each other, will highlight the difference in findings and discusses the pros and cons of conducting multiple tests.

Presented as a case study, the session will include a detailed discussion of the two techniques used, one being an independent in-home study and one being a more formal usability test and why the session types were chosen.

Special focus will be placed on the test results. The presentation will cover specific findings from both of the tests, including common issues and unique findings. The potential causes for these variations will be examined and the significance discussed.

The session will end with a discussion on the advisedness of conducting multiple types of assessment and conditions under which the two techniques discussed in this session might be used.

Cathryn (Cay) Lodine, Sr. Usability Analyst, Monster
Cay Lodine has spent the last 13 years advocating for the user in the fields of software and internet product development. Her primary work has been in usability and interaction design for consumer products. Experienced in a wide variety of techniques for collecting and analyzing user input, Cay has provided user insight into the development process for projects ranging from installed software, media products and internet applications.

Usability: The Elevator Pitch

Presenters: Debbie Cook, Eva Kaniasty, and Andrew Wirtanen

Summary: As usability professionals, we have a harder time explaining what we do than, let’s say, accountants. Our best attempts at explaining usability often meet with responses such as “You make things user friendly? They pay you for that?” and “Human Factors? Do you mean Human Resources?” We all have a responsibility to evangelize usability in the workplace as well as in our daily lives. How do we explain what we do in a way that is easily understood by people outside the industry, without trivializing the value of what we do (or our value for that matter)?

If you cringe every time somebody asks you what you do for a living, come to find out how usability luminaries, and…well…how we can address this thorny issue. We will share tips from seasoned user experience professionals on explaining the job we do – along with some video clips of them in action. We will also share our own perspectives on the key aspects of effective explanations of usability. You will come away with the skill to deliver the ideal usability pitch in any situation, whether it be a job interview or a cocktail party.

Debbie Cook is a member of Bentley’s MS+MBA program, pursuing a Master of Science in Human Factors in Information Design in addition to an MBA. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from The College of New Jersey and worked for over ten years at Bloomberg Financial Markets before returning to school to earn her master’s degree at McCallum Graduate School.

Eva Kaniasty is working toward the MS in Human Factors in Information Design degree at Bentley College, and works at the Bentley Design and Usability Center. She holds a BA from Boston University in Psychology and a Certificate in Client-Server Programming and Web Development from Clark University. Her past work experience includes web design and programming in the non-profit, healthcare, and corporate sectors.

Andrew Wirtanen is a usability specialist and web developer working at the Bentley Design and Usability Center and at The MathWorks. He holds an MS and BS in Information Technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and is working toward the MS in Human Factors in Information Design at Bentley College.

Pedal to the Metal: e-Marketing, Blogs, and the Ford Autoshow

Presenter: Jason Levin

Summary: Blog software creates an extremely easy way to rapidly publish content to the web. These platforms allow authors to easily create text, images and video, categorize that content around multiple facets, syndicate that content and allow users to respond and interact. However, most blogs interfaces tend to be too raw and free-form for traditional corporate marketing goals. We will approach these ideas from a theoretical standpoint, but also rely heavily on some case studies and examples of best practices. We will focus particularly on the recently-launched Ford Global Auto Show site.

Bio: Jason has spent the past eight years creating online experiences that focus on users while fulfilling client needs. By understanding business drivers and measures of success on the one hand, and motivators and usability patterns of target personas and segmentation on the other, he is able to envision new modes of interactivity. The results are innovative solutions with improved interfaces that generate measurable ROI.

Among other clients and companies, he has worked for Fidelity and Staples as an Information Architect at TVisions; the Lincoln Center and Akamai as a Principal Experience Designer at ZEFER; Royal Caribbean as Lead Information Architect at Arnold. Jason is currently working with Ford, TimeWarner and Boston Scientific as a User Experience Lead at Avenue a | Razorfish. Jason holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Bates College. He does not like saying Web 2.0, paradigm, or low-hanging fruit.

From User Stories to User Requirements

Presenter: Elizabeth Rosenzweig

Summary: Stories provide a way to understand the world around us. Useful data can be extracted from people’s stories that can lay the groundwork for user product requirements. The presentation is for usability professionals, designers, researchers and product developers, and anyone how can benefit from gaining better understanding of other people through their stories.

People tell and listen to stories for many reasons, but the most common reason is to make a connections, to bring people out of their own world, to share feelings and ideas and to understand something. When we look as stories people tell about their leisure time, their struggles and fears, we can understand what their problems are and then, how we can design or develop technology products and services that truly meet the needs of their users. These stories, when examined carefully, can provide data which can translate into customer needs and issues.

People navigate through their world by using knowledge that is commonly held, such as when you drop something it falls, water feels wet, etc. This type of information is informing a new area of study in artificial intelligence called “Commonsense knowledge” and is opening up new ways to provide computers with information about people and the world. Commonsense knowledge can be derived from stories and be used to develop a system that learns from stories that people tell. This talk includes some of my previous work on Customer Scenarios and Commonsense Knowledge, but builds on it by adding information about storytelling and how that can produce customer requirements. I will also provide a template for the storytelling process and creation of the requirements.

Bio: Elizabeth Rosenzweig is Principal Consultant at Bubble Mountain Consulting company where she conducts user centered research, design and development of software and technology products and services.. Previously, she was a Principal Research Scientist at Eastman Kodak Company for 14 years where she built the Boston Usability Lab. Elizabeth holds a MS from the MIT Media Lab and has over 20 years experience in user centered design, technology transfer and team collaboration techniques. She holds 4 patents for unique and intelligent user interface designs. Elizabeth is Founder and Director of World Usability Day. She frequently publishes in industry journals and presents at conferences around the world.

Coming to terms: Comparing and Combining the Results of Multiple Evaluators Performing Heuristic Evaluation

Presenter: Jen McGinn

Summary: In this talk, I will describe a new way to perform heuristic evaluations, which allows multiple evaluators to easily compare and combine the results of their reviews. This method was developed to provide a single, reliable, result to the client, but it also allowed us to easily negotiate differences in our findings, and to prioritize usability problems identified by the evaluation. An unexpected side effect is that, by using this evaluation method, the practitioner can measure and predict the effect of usability improvements.

Bio: Jen McGinn is a User Experience Engineer in the Software Experience Design (xDesign) group at Sun Microsystems, in Burlington, MA. She has written branded interaction guidelines for installation, developed personas for Sun Learning Services, and simplified the user experience with the Java Enterprise System. Jen has worked for Sun for over 11 years in user experience, technical training, and technical writing. Before joining Sun, Jen led other lives as a software developer and system administration consultant. She holds a BS in Information Systems from UMBC and an MS in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley.

Starting a Usability Group at Your Company: Panel Discussion with Audience Roundtable

Presenter: Bryn Dews

Summary (Session Outline):

Panel: Each company’s background (~ 10 min. each)
Audience: Roundtable
All: Lessons Learned/Q&A (moderated)
Company Backgroud:
Background or Environment
First thought of adding HF/UCD to development process…
Current state
Lessons Learned (prep for moderated portion)
Roundtable questions for audience:
15 minutes to discuss in your group
Output: Question to ask the panel
Possible areas of discussion
How do you get buy-in from developers/PLs?
How big are your typical project(s)?
Any politics working for/against you?
What was your first project? First Success?
Question from group 1
Panel responses
Audience responses
Question from group 2…
Panel responses
Audience responses
Wrap up/Thank You!
Bryn Dews is the Team Lead for the User-Centered Design group inside MITRE’s IT division. Starting in 2000, she was the proponent for bringing Human Factors engineers inside IT to be part of development teams. She was rewarded with a team of four Human Factors engineers in May 2003 and the team has grown in both size and accomplishments ever since.

Manya Kapikian is a Research Associate in the Design and Usability Center. She graduated from Simmons College in 2001 with a MS degree in Library and Information Science. She has work experience in academic, non-profit and corporate sectors. Currently, Manya also works on enterprise search at Raytheon Company. Manya also holds a BA from Northeastern University and is currently pursing an MS in Human Factors in Information Design at Bentley College.

Joshua Ledwell is User Interface Product Manager at Salary.com. An interactive professional with ten years of experience, he has applied design and usability expertise at consumer, small business, and enterprise businesses. He is currently enrolled in the Bentley College Human Factors in Information Design masters program. Visit his blog “Compete on Usability” at http://joshualedwell.typepad.com/.

UX Research beyond software design: a comparison of customer centered research techniques

Presenter: Sarah Bloomer

Summary: User Experience design is understood to refer to the design of interactive software, yet we have experiences with all manner of things in our lives: products, stores, processes, forms and entertainment. This panel will bring together practitioners who can debate how user centered design techniques are applied across industries. What can we learn from each other?

Panelists will include UX experts from fields including industrial design, store design, process design and, of course, software design.

Sarah Bloomer has been creating user interface designs for nearly 20 years. She cofounded The Hiser Group in 1991, an interaction design company based in Australia. With Hiser, she helped establish the field of user-centered design, built GUIs across multiple platforms, and designed web applications and websites for corporations and government. After 4 years as a senior interaction designer for The MathWorks, Sarah set up Sarah Bloomer & Co to focus on design research and design facilitation. Sarah has delivered papers, tutorials and workshops at HCI conferences in Australia and the USA.

Steve Mulder is Principal Consultant in the User Experience group at Molecular (an Internet consulting firm in Boston), author of The User Is Always Right: A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas for the Web, and a regular speaker at web conferences. With over ten years of experience in user research, information architecture, interaction design, and usability, Steve practices what he preaches by delivering successful user experiences that drive business results. He has brought his expertise to a wide range of companies, including Morgan Stanley, PC Connection, 3M, CVS, Estee Lauder, Talbots, Wired, Terra Lycos, and ZDNet.

Amy Cueva is co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer at Mad*Pow Media, an interaction design company based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She has extensive experience in UX design, interface design, information architecture and usability. As the designer of Mad*Pow’s user centered design methodology, she has facilitated the business intelligence, research, analysis and strategy to create UX designs for clients such as Monster.com, American Express, Fidelity, Aetna and McGraw Hill Publishing.

Aaron Oppenheimer is a Principal in Continuum’s product innovation group. His career has been a zigzag through electrical engineering, software development, human factors design, and product design, before ending up in a position where he applies all of these in the creation of coherent user experiences. He developed the “Product Behavior” discipline at Continuum, working for clients including General Motors, Sunbeam, Sprint, OXO, and Pepsi, as well as numerous start-ups in medical and consumer products. He enjoys simplifying the complicated. Aaron is a regular speaker at interaction design and design research conferences.

Tom McCann is responsible for providing usability and human factors support to the Staples Retail business and its Branded Products Group with a focus on making the shopping and purchase experiences as ‘easy’ as possible for our store customers. Tom’s approach to usability has been significantly informed by his early work experiences as an assessor of the impact of the design of military equipment on operator performance. During this period of his career he witnessed the impact of confusing targeting information on the accuracy of tank gunnery operators, the frustration that poorly designed keypads can provoke in radio operators, and the devastating loss of face of his inability to accurately interpret direction and distance data displayed on ‘state of the art’ navigational equipment while wandering (it seemed like forever!) in heavily wooded Australian hillsides. Since successfully managing to work out how to leave the military, Tom has worked in Consulting, Financial, Telecommunications, Software and Retail industries in Australia, India, and the USA and holds a Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of Sydney, Australia.

A More Complete Model on Sample Size Issues in Usability Testing

Presenter: Minmin Yang

Summary: “Five users are enough” has become a guideline for usability practitioners and it has been widely followed. However, in the research domain, “how many users are enough in usability testing/evaluation” has been in a debate among researchers.
The presentation will first review the research by previous researchers and discuss about the problems with the previous research. Then it will describe a more complete model on the sample size issues in usability testing to address the limitations in the previous research. The more complete model includes five sections: severity levels (the difficulty levels users have with a certain user interface component), distribution of users at different severity levels (the proportion of users that are each severity level), impact (the effect of having less than perfect usability for a given user interface component), benefit (the reduction in the impact from pre- to post-improvement of a given user interface component), and decision-making (prioritizing the problematic user interface components for improvement). Examples will be given when describing each section of the model. After that, an empirical study and sample simulations will be presented. The purpose of doing the empirical study is to give real-world examples to the more complete model and to provide guidance in choosing parameters for simulations. This empirical study involved the usability testing with a very large sample size (N= 103). User performance on each interface component of the two products was obtained. Simulations are done by randomly drawing users of different sample sizes from 103 tested users in order to demonstrate the influence of sample sizes using the more complete model proposed in this presentation.

To sum up, this presentation is aimed at proposing a more complete model on the sample size issues in usability testing. With a big picture in mind, usability professionals can make an informed decision on how many users to test in a real-world case.

Bio: Minmin Yang is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Human-Computer Interaction program at RiceUniversity. Her research and professional interests include quantitative usability methodology, interaction design, and user experience research.

“It does Take Two to Tango:” the design management AND product design of project Tango

Presenters: Gregg Almquist and Chris Whelan

Summary: Like most projects central to User Experience professionals, Tango – H&R Block’s new consumer online tax preparation product, offers two important stories: product design AND managing product design. While clearly dependent, the business of usability (management) and the practice of usability (design) presented very unique and distinct challenges. Project Tango was a meaty stew of conflict, design process, celebrity consultants, ego, cultural differences, expectations and hype, a case study from the minute it kicked off. Gregg Almquist and Chris Whelan will share their experiences from working on this high-stakes, high-drama project in which doing best by the user required a delicate balance of cunning and patience.