Home > Events > Usability and User Experience 2011
25 May, 2011

Join us:

Tenth Annual Usability and User Experience 2011 conference took place on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 the Cambridge Hyatt and attracted over 600 attendees. The conference had four simultaneous tracks, giving attendees a choice of over 30 presentations.

Eventbrite Attendee List


Presentation Abstracts and Biographies

Certification of Usability Professionals

Presenters: Avram Baskin (Moderator), Manya Kapikian, Jennifer McGinn, Dr. Noah Shaffer, Ronnie Battista

Recent discussions in usability forums about certification of usability professionals have generated a large number of passionate postings for and against certification. This panel will discuss controversial issues in the great debate such as “Is certification desirable?”, “How should it be done”, and “Who should oversee the certification process?”

Attendees at this session will:

  • Hear key arguments for and against certification of usability professionals
  • Learn about the current status of the certification programs for usability professionals. We will discuss the existing program offered by Human Factors International and the program being developed by UPA
  • Discuss practical approaches to certification.

Attendees at this panel session will be able to participate actively in

  • Taking a stand on 7-10 statements about certification provided by the panelists.
  • A 25-minute discussion session where attendees can contribute their own views about the statements provided by the panelists.
  • Voting “agree” or “disagree” to key statements brought up by the panel.
  • Assessing how well informed they are about certification.

Bio: Jennifer McGinn is a Principal Usability Engineer at Oracle. Jen has worked at Nokia, SolidWorks, and Sun Microsystems as a designer and user resarcher. She is a reviewing editor for the Journal of Usability Studies, and recently joined the Boston UPA Board of Directors. For three years she taught Java and Solaris courses for Sun Microsystems, and earned her certification in both Java Programming and Solaris System Administration. She also helped to create the Java Developers Exam. She holds a BS in Information Systems from UMBC and an MS in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley University.

Bio: Dr. Noah Shaffer currently works for Human Factors Internatonial. He has a PhD in UX Applied to Digital Games and is a Certified Usability Analyst. At HFI he has worked on a variety projects, including expert evaluation of websites, usability testing, persuasion research, and Institutionalization Support. He has been especially involved in ongoing UX work for Research In Motion, the company that makes BlackBerry smartphones. Noah teaches two of HFI’s courses: The Science and Art of Effective Web and Application Design, and How to Design for Persuasion, Emotion and Trust (PET design). Before joining HFI, he did UX work on digital games at SNDA in Shanghai, China and at Mobile2Win in Mumbai, India.

Bio: Ronnie Battista is Executive Director, Account Strategy at a major US Company, where he leads the team responsible for Experience Design account management, growth and go-to-market strategy. He has co-conceived, developed and coined the term Strategic Experience Alignment, which is the alignment of all people and systems with the experience you want your customers and employees to have in order to achieved strategic business objectives. Previously, Ronnie was Managing Director of the US office of a Spanish gaming company, where he led global user experience research efforts for the organization. He has also served as Vice President of Online Customer Experience as a Senior Manager in a role where he built and led the User Experience Labs practice. Ronnie teaches the Mini-Masters in User Experience Design certificate course at a well-known US University. He is the former president of the Usability Professional Association’s New Jersey chapter, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for UPA International, leading the global Certification strategy.

Bio: If you count Avram Baskin’s time as a technical writer (which he does) he has been a usability professional for 15 years. He has an M.S. in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley University HFID, graduating in 2004, and he’s been formally working in usability since then. From 2004-2005 he worked as a contract Usability Specialist at Verizon Labs. From 2006 to the beginning of 2007 he worked at Avaya in a contract position as a Senior User Experience Designer. Since April, 2007, he’s worked as a Senior Human Factors Engineer at the MITRE Corporation.

Bio: Manya Kapikian is an User Experience Architect for Raytheon. Past work experience include academic, non-profit and corporate work environments. She is interested in collaboration tools & archives. She holds a MS degree in Library and Information Sciences from Simmons College and an MS in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley College.

Putting Design Psychology to Work

Presenters: Dan Berlin, Buck Beaudoin

As user experience designers, we design according to ‘best practices’ in the field. But what are the origins of these best practices? Psychological research! When creating a visual design, designers must take into account how humans think and see, so that the design is intuitive. This presentation will review visual cognition research and show how the resulting psychological principles are applied in an iterative visual design process.

The Gestalt psychologists gave designers the principles to create designs that minimize cognitive load. That is, the designs don’t make the users think. The Gestalt “laws” are derived from the fact that humans can unconsciously understand certain patterns. This “preattentive processing” is what makes designs intuitive – if elements of the design can be unconsciously processed, then working memory is freed to concentrate on decision making and attaining goals. Additionally, there are certain perceptual tasks that we, as humans, are good and bad at. For instance, it is easy for us to discern the relative area of a square, but harder to tell the relative area of a circle. In the first portion of the presentation, we will review research on preattentive processing, the elementary perceptual tasks, and the show how the Gestalt laws tie these together.

We will then discuss how these psychological principles are applied throughout the lifecycle of a visual design composition. The audience will see the evolution of a design, from the initial sketches to the final product. Throughout, we will show how the designer leveraged the Gestalt principles so that the design remained intuitive and easy for the users to parse. We will then discuss with the audience best practices for visual design, as derived from the psychological research.

Whether you are new to the field or an experienced practitioner, this presentation will either introduce new topics or serve as a review of subjects that you may not have thought about in quite some time. Through tying psychological principles to visual design, we aim to show how user experience theory is leverage in a real-world visual design project.”

Bio: Dan Berlin. After seven years working with hard-to-use interfaces in technical support, Dan found his User Experience calling after participating in a usability study. He then enrolled in the MBA+MS in Human Factors in Information Design program at Bentley University. After graduating from Bentley, Dan spent two years at an interactive agency performing usability and neuromarketing research studies. For the latter research, Dan investigated eye tracking, biofeedback, and neurofeedback methodologies, and has presented on these topics. He is now an Experience Research Director at Mad*Pow, where he conducts user research and helps determine research activities for projects. Dan is the Outreach Coordinator for the Boston chapter of the Usability Professionals Association, holds a BA in Psychology from Brandeis University, and is particularly interested in visual space perception and novel user research methods.

Bio: Buck Beaudoin. With over a decade of experience in interactive creative direction, Buck manages the Mad*Pow visual design team, providing creative direction to achieve successful execution for all of Mad*Pow’s clients. Prior to Mad*Pow, Buck was the principal and creative director at Amplify Studios directing client digital strategies, as well as the creative implementation of online deliverables for Citizens Bank, Sweet Baby Rays, Centex and Tyco International. Buck holds his AAS in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire and a BA in fine art from Plymouth State University where he earned the Karl Drerup Award for academic and artistic excellence. When he’s not providing creative direction, Buck can be found on the back roads of New Hampshire on his motorcycle or camping with his family.

Beyond Features and Flow: Finding the “Why” in Experience Design

Presenter: Sarah Bloomer

User experience design is often regarded as no more than taking a set of features, integrating them into a flow and calling it “experience design”. UX designers know, however, that experience design is so much more. Simon Sinek has a well circulated presentation called “Start with the Why”. He’s talking about purpose. That successful companies don’t focus on the What or the How, they start with the Why and determine the What and the How from there. Curiously, Sinek is a trained ethnographer, with “a life long curiosity for why people and organizations do the things they do”. Giles Colborne explores a similar concept in his book Simple and Usable: web, mobile, and interaction design. He offers a set of guiding principals for achieving designs which are not only simple, but focus on creating tools that deliver the why without users having to learn the how or what. This talk focuses on applications and websites that successfully deliver the “Why” for their customers and users. I’ll present examples that show successful implementations and illustrate design solutions which may inspire and even come in handy.

Bio: Sarah Bloomer has designed user interfaces for over 20 years. In 1991 she co-founded the interaction design company The Hiser Group. With Hiser, she helped establish the field of user-centered design in Australia. Since 2002, Sarah has been a senior interaction designer for MathWorks, Director of UX at Constant Contact, and principal consultant at Sarah Bloomer & Co, a consulting practice focusing on collaborative design facilitation. She’s delivered papers, tutorials and workshops at user interface design conferences around the world. Sarah’s favorite UX activities are design research and collaborative design

Localization Research: If we can do it, so can you!

Presenters: Anna Bradley, Jennifer Fabrizi

People of color (Asians, Blacks and Latinos) in the United States represent one of the most dynamic consumer market opportunities. The multicultural population in the U.S. has grown 24% over the last 9 years versus 2% for the White population. A higher percentage of Black people are on Twitter than any other group. Asian Americans are richer than any other race. And our Hispanic population growth will lead the multicultural market to become the majority of all consumers by 2050. If you apply resources to these underserved market segments your business can flourish. There is a gold mine here to uncover. Yet even with these attractive characteristics, there are few large scale efforts in the digital space addressing the unique needs of multicultural consumers.

In our two year process of researching how to design for American immigrant groups, we learned a number of surprising things. For example, there’s a difference between localization of design for international markets and localization of design for domestic immigrant markets.

Many UX professionals are aware that they should be doing more to address these audiences, but have a hard time knowing where to start or what to do.

We will present to the audience the lessons we learned, the mistakes we made, and some of the success we had during our 2-year journey devising a program of research and design for American Immigrant groups.

We will discuss our company’s goals of reaching new markets; how we collaborated with the Multi-cultural Marketing team to recruit appropriate participants; our design of the usability study including the physical setup; and how findings informed the next stages of IA design and additional research.

We’ll talk about the use of new tools and methods, including a remote-unmoderated study. We’ll provide the audience with our lessons learned and surprises that we experienced. We will also discuss some of the nuances we faced considering localization requirements for American immigrant groups vs. localization for a global market place.

This presentation is aimed at UX professionals with moderate to advanced experience in the general topics of UX research and design, but little or no exposure to designing for multi-cultural audiences. We welcome all levels of expertise as we present our practices and learn from each other.

Bio: Jennifer Fabrizi, Lead of User Experience Research and Design at MassMutual Financial Group in Springfield, MA, is responsible for growing the user-experience practice and developing user experience practitioners within the enterprise. Ms. Fabrizi also currently leads a small team of user-experience professionals on an agile, multi-channel customer experience program. With 20 years of experience, she has worked on websites and web applications in financial services, life insurance, law, and education fields from the design and usability perspectives. With expertise in areas such as agile, institutionalization of usability, ethnography for design, and technology-supported work processes, she brings user experience to the strategic table wherever possible. Ms. Fabrizi is currently pursuing a MS degree from Bentley University’s Human Factors and Information Design program. She has a Bachelor’s degree in classical music performance from Boston University’s School of Music.

Bio: Anna Bradley, Interaction Designer and Usability Analyst at MassMutual financial Group in Springfield MA, is a member of the User Experience Research and Design group. Her primary role is to provide design and usability services to enterprise project teams for customer, insurance agency, and employee user groups. She has a strong background in human factors as well as computer science, providing a useful partnership between design and development groups. Anna is pursuing a MS degree from Bentley University’s Human Factors and Information Design program.

Video Wall UX – Multi-Touch

Presenters: Tony Brown, David Henry

Touch tablet interfaces are becoming the norm for user experience design. The input techniques available for smaller displays are now available for wall-based user interfaces that are exciting, engaging, and provide unique challenges for usability professionals. This talk and demonstration will focus on best practices for user experience design around multi-touch video walls and the cutting edge possibilities that exist with this technology when following a user-centered design process.

Bio: Tony Brown is an Engineering Psychologist with 20+ years of experience who focuses on User Experience (UX) for large-scale web and mobile systems. He joined CSC’s SI&D division in Waltham from his own UX consulting firm outside of Boston where he has managed the delivery of services by usability engineers, visual designers, information architects, software engineers, and user experience professionals. He has sold and managed numerous engagements for Fortune 500 clients in areas such as Financial Services, Healthcare, Mobile, Energy, Consumer Products, and Manufacturing. Tony has overseen hundreds of software usability studies evaluating thousands of commercial users interacting with new design solutions. He is a world-class expert in evaluating the intuitiveness of software systems and working with clients to mitigate risks around the usability of their systems. Tony’s specific areas of user interface design focus have included online banking, securities lending, health insurance, retail e-commerce, medical systems, and entertainment software. He is an active member of the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society, the Usability Professionals Association, and SIG-CHI. Tony received his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Engineering Psychology (Human Factors) from Tufts University in Medford, MA. He can be reached at tbrown77@csc.com or 781-290-1482.

More Than Points: Architecting Engagement Through Game Design Thinking

Presenter: Dustin DiTommaso

“Gamification” is the process of applying game design maxims to non-game systems in order to drive user engagement, influence behavior and improve the user experience associated with digital products and services. The buzz surrounding gamification is currently reaching critical mass in our industry with the bulk of attention directed to points & badges but there’s more to unlock. Much more. By examining the tools game designers use to incentivize and motivate players and mapping these tools to their psychological underpinnings we can arm ourselves with a model for architecting user engagement, directing behavior and satisfying business goals.

This timely lecture is appropriate for anyone looking to level up their understanding of gamification and game design thinking – there are implications for designers, researchers, marketers and others. Attendees will learn about game design fundamentals, engagement models, metrics and measurements, feedback loops, player personas, flow states, motivation drivers, high level mechanics/dynamics and techniques for incorporating game design thinking into your design processes.

Bio: Dustin DiTommaso. I’m a designer of things big and small; digital, ethereal and tangible; pragmatic and theoretical; services, products and others. I’m particularly drawn to mobile platforms and touch interfaces, multi-channel experiences, customer lifecyles, transformative design, game layers and healthcare solutions. I’ve spent nearly a decade chasing the perfect blend of form and function and I tackle wicked problems daily as an Experience Design Director at Mad*Pow.

My work has been recognized by respected organizations such as Yahoo!, Macworld, MITX, New York Festivals and the Boston Phoenix. I have taught advanced typography and publication design at the Chamberlayne School of Design and am an active member and lecturer in a number of industry communities.

Design is more than what I do, it’s who I am and I love every minute of it.

GRID Systems: Building Blocks to a Better User Experience

Presenters: Dustin DiTommaso, Andrew Klein

A structural design method benefitting both the designer and the end-user, grid systems have been used for generations in print design, architecture and urban planning to lay out and optimize spaces for readability and comprehension, wayfinding and navigation, utility and usability. As a framework for screen-based design, grids enable efficiencies in the planning, execution and presentation of UIs and content and imparts a refined aesthetic and sense of order improving perceived usability and intuitive behavior.

Lecture attendees will learn how to reap the immediate benefits of designing to a grid for each stage of design – from staring a blank canvas, composing a page, carrying the logic across screen regions, elements and pages to visual design, development, usability testing, evaluation and revision.

We’ll start with a quick history and technical overview and move into techniques, tools and references you can immediately use to improve the user experience of your digital products and websites. From chaos comes order. From good grids comes good design.

Bio: Andrew Klein, Creative Director, Mad*Pow. As a Creative Director at Mad*Pow, Andrew’s passion for meaningful design fuels his agility in crafting refined solutions that are beautiful, usable and inspiring. A decade of print and interactive design experience fashioned the know-how to impart the best of both disciplines in the work he produces. An increasingly critical skill as these mediums continue to converge and reshape experience design.

Bio: Dustin DiTommaso, Experience Design Director, Mad*Pow. I’m a designer of things big and small; digital, ethereal and tangible; pragmatic and theoretical; services, products and more. I’m particularly drawn to mobile platforms and touch interfaces, multi-channel experiences, customer lifecyles, transformative design, game layers and healthcare solutions. I’ve spent nearly a decade chasing the perfect blend of form and function and I tackle wicked problems daily as an Experience Design Director at Mad*Pow.

My work has been recognized by respected organizations such as Yahoo!, Macworld, MITX, New York Festivals and the Boston Phoenix. I have taught advanced typography and publication design at the Chamberlayne School of Design and am an active member and lecturer in a number of industry communities.

Design is more than what I do, it’s who I am and I love every minute of it.

Usability of Electronic Health Records

Presenters: Kris Engdahl, Kaden Rushford, Lauren Zack, Trisha Flanagan, Jannis Brea

Usability of Electronic Health Records:
Interactive Discussion on How to Make EHRs Usable

If the recent HIMSS conference is any indication, Healthcare IT has only recently discovered the field of usability. Understandably, then, healthcare IT is a few years behind the curve on creating effective, efficient, learnable, satisfying interfaces for health care professionals to use. But times are changing. With recent healthcare reform legislation, new attention is being given to the usability of electronic health records.

What does it mean for an Electronic Health Record system to be usable? How can we apply usability principles specifically to EHRs? What special challenges are there in EHR usability?

In this interactive discussion, attendees will learn about efforts to define EHR usability and will participate in a moderated discussion of the application of user-centered design in the field of EHRs and the challenges involved in this application.

Presenters have 54 years of combined experience in usability and/or healthcare. We currently commit ourselves daily to improving the usability of the athenaClinicals EHR at athenahealth.

Session attendees should bring their experience with usability and with healthcare—at any level—and and be prepared to contribute to the discussion.
Bio: Kris Engdahl is a Usability Manager at athenahealth, where she conducts user research and usability studies to support athenaNet applications and services. Prior to athenahealth, Kris worked as a consultant at the Bentley University Design and Usability Center and as a usability practitioner at Oracle Corporation. She holds a Master of Science degree in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley University.

Bio: Kaden Rushford has 7 years of experience in the Web industry and a HCI Certificate from Tufts University. As a Usability Manager at athenahealth he is focused on conducting user research and running usability studies to support their Electronic Medical Records product, athenaClinicals. Prior to joining athenahealth, Kaden was a User Experience Analyst for the New York Times Company, supporting positive experiences on local news and information sites.

Bio: Lauren Zack, Director of Usability at athenahealth, has more than 18 years experience in UX, Usability and User Centered Design. After completing her graduate work at Georgia Tech’s Center for Human-Machine Systems Research, Lauren grew up at IBM, where she performed the full gamut of user research and user centered design activities. She has worked with consumer products, web-based and stand alone software, at companies such as The New England, Monster and Authoria. She is currently building the Usability team at athenahealth and integrating User Centered Design processes into the established agile methodology.

Bio: Trisha Flanagan is the Usability Manager for Clinical Risk at athenahealth, where her work focuses on patient safety. She is a Registered Nurse with clinical, nursing leadership, and risk management experience. She has worked at Children’s Hospital Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Massachusetts General Hospital. She holds a Master of Science degree in Nursing from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions.

Bio: Jannis Brea is a User Experience Associate at athenahealth who works both in usability and design. Prior to working in user experience, she studied neuroscience and also performed research on language development at RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan and at Harvard. She gained her appreciation for usability issues working as a student computing technician at Harvard. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in Neurobiology.

Designing Enterprise Dashboards

Presenters: Jonathan Follett, Eric Benoit

In the design of enterprise software, the dashboard is becoming an increasingly popular solution, often advertised as the cure all for corporate information overload. Whether you’re fitting together disparate pieces of a legacy software puzzle, deep diving into custom system analytics, or surfacing knowledge from a giant proprietary database, a custom dashboard might be the right choice for monitoring and mining your data.

However, dashboard design can be extremely tricky: With many possible user groups, from executives to project managers to administrators to domain specialists, no two dashboard solutions are the same, and one size never fits all.

At their best, enterprise dashboards convey key information at a glance to decision makers, saving companies time and money by creating process efficiencies and improving performance. At their worst, dashboards become glorified Google home pages stacked with widgets and UI cruft. So, how do we achieve the former and avoid the latter?

In this session, we’ll discuss user interface design tenets for quality dashboard design—how to balance complexity, aesthetics, and information design; walk though examples of dashboard designs both good and bad; and examine case studies.

Dashboard design is an area of UX practice fraught with bad metaphors (computer software should not at all resemble an aircraft cockpit), and misguided best practices (like designing your dashboard for the newbie, rather than for the repeat user).

We’ll debunk the bad practices, celebrate the good ones, and take a comprehensive look at the place the dashboard now holds in enterprise software design.

Bio: Jonathan Follett is a Principal at Involution Studios, where he designs software for companies such as AstraZeneca and Survey Sampling International. Jon is a recognized UX thought leader, having published over 25 articles for a variety of industry publications including UXmatters and A List Apart. Jon recently contributed a chapter to “Beautiful Data”, published by O’Reilly Media.

Bio: Eric Benoit is a Software Designer at Involution Studios. He has designed services used by millions of people for clients like the National Football League (NFL), ABC Sports, and President Barack Obama. A staunch believer that great designers should also understand engineering, Benoit specializes in creating elegant solutions to big, hairy problems that create both profits and happiness for his customers.

Conducting Multiple-Method Design Research with 6-8 Year Olds: A Case Study

Presenter: Debra Gelman

In the fall of 2008, I had the great good fortune to lead the research and design phases of Planet Orange, a virtual world developed by ING Direct to teach 1st through 4th graders financial literacy. Despite my many years designing for kids, developing a preliminary user-research plan for this particular group was a daunting proposition, as kids in this age range are able to understand concrete ideas, but have difficulty grasping abstract concepts. Conducting early design research with these kids is challenging, as assets, screens and flows typically haven’t been developed yet, so there are no real elements for them to react to. They are asked to extrapolate ideas across different experiences, yet they don’t have the cognitive maturity to do so effectively.

This session will present a case study of the multiple-method research approach I used to gather behavioral and attitudinal data from these young users. It will focus on the tactics that worked, the concepts that didn’t, and will highlight the findings that ultimately influenced the final design.

Participants in this session will:

• Gain an understanding of user-research methodologies for kids 6-8
• Understand the opportunities and limitations of working with this age group
• Learn how to create a research plan to match the cognitive capabilities of a particular audience
• Experience research techniques such as Participatory Design
• Understand how to use qualitative data from kids to improve designs

Bio: Deb Gelman has been involved with kids and media since 1993. After earning bachelors’ degrees in visual media and psychology from American University in Washington, DC, Deb worked in children’s television, creating educational programming for elementary-school kids. She moved into interactive media in the late 90s, studying information design and technology at Georgia Tech. Her masters’ thesis, and subsequent work, focused on digital experiences for kids.

Since that time, Deb has been designing kids websites, software, and virtual environments for companies including Crayola, PBS Sprout, Scholastic, Pepperidge Farm, Campbell’s Soup Company, and Comcast. Her most recent kids’ project was the award-winning Planet Orange, an initiative of ING Direct designed to teach 1-4th graders financial literacy. Deb currently manages a user-experience team at Comcast Interactive Media in Philadelphia, PA.

4 mobile apps 2 dev teams 1 Enterprise mobile solution – An (sleepless) Interaction Designer’s experience doing mobile design in Agile!

Presenter: Vijay Hanumolu

Last year Kronos decided to make Workforce Management solution mobile. You have heard the caption “When you want it. Where you want it”. Sounds easy right, but even after all the due-diligence of understanding the market, user needs, technical know-how, performance & scalability, security & access control, and cost, it was a whirlwind experience. We developed 4 native apps (iPhone, Andorid, Blackberry, and J2ME) with 2 development team – 1 in US and 1 offshore, all at the same time within a 7 month period, and 1 Interaction designer.

In this session I will share my experience as a the lead designer on the project, how we planned the design aspects of the project, some creative ways of doing quick usability evaluations as mobile phone is such a personal device, how we achieved consistency across the various platforms, some of the creative ways we came up with to effectively use designer-developer collaboration so that I don’t have to create Hifi’s for every screen on every phone platform we supported. I’m hoping audiences will learn from my experience – who are either planning to design/build mobile apps across multiple mobile platforms or who have already started the process. This will also help attendees to learn how and what is required when the development team is offshore or non co-located, especially in an Agile Scrum framework. And at the end of the session I will also provide a list of useful design resources that I used over the project to help design and usability go faster.

Here is a quick outline of the presentation:
• Introduction
• Enterprise Mobile Applications and how they are different from your apps
• Planning Research & Design activities
• Guerrilla usability studies and how you can leverage your colleagues, spouses, and kids (even for Enterprise mobile apps) to test and provide quick feedback on your mobile design
• Usability Goals for Mobile
• App designs across 4 mobile platforms, what we learned and where/how the differences impact design
• A simple concept called “drawables” and how it allowed us to make our design fluid (especially helpful for Android, BB and J2ME where we have varied screen sizes and resolutions)
• Designer-developer collaboration – we did 1 wireframes and 1 Hifi per headline, for the rest it was all designer-developer collaboration. Worked very efficiently, but there are some lessons learned
• How and what Design consistency means when you are building across 4 different platforms. And how you as a designer can manage acceptance when dealing with on-shore and off-shore team within the Agile framework.
• Testing
• Internationalization – it is not just translating your strings, how do you handle device preferences, etc.
• Lessons learned and Take aways
• Useful design resources (Yes, there is help out there)
• Demo

Bio: Vijay Hanumolu is a Lead Designer at Kronos Inc. He has 10+ years of experience working in User Centered Design, Human Computer Interaction, Mobile, Tablet, Web & Software application development, International user research, consulting, and product management.

Prior to joining Kronos he was at Oracle Corporation primarily working with International customers, and at Virginia Tech’s Research Park (CMI) primarily working with Federal and State agencies.

He has a Masters Degree in Computer Science specializing in Human Computer Interaction from Virginia Tech and Bachelors degree in Computer Science & Applications from Regional Engineering College, India.

Beyond Usability Testing: Assessing the Usefulness of Your Design

Presenters: Michael Hawley, Dan Berlin

Usability tests are meant to find usability problems. If your question is, “where are the usability problems in this design”, usability testing is right for you. With usability testing, you can study how well someone can get from point A to point B and where are the problems along the way. Finding usability problems is the focus, and the method works great.

But, we are finding that many of the questions business sponsors and stakeholders have are not about finding usability problems. The questions they have are more about the overall usefulness of a design, its potential for success, and how well it meets expectations. For example:
• In a transactional application, what data is missing for users to make an informed decision, find things faster, or help with an analysis?
• On a marketing site, does the branding make sense or resonate with potential customers?
• In a content rich experience, does the overall organization of content align with participant perspectives?
• Which conceptual approach to a design problem will resonate best and provide the most value?
• How would the design fit into customer daily/personal/workplace flow?
• In a social experience, what perspective should the sponsoring company take while participating in discussions on a site, if at all?
• What objections do participants have to the information presented? What else would the participant need to take action? What’s missing?

It’s natural to bring people in for a one-on-one interview in front of a prototype. But researching usefulness is not “usability testing” – we are not trying to find the usability problems. It may look like usability testing (i.e. one-on-one sessions with a moderator and design artifacts), but there are different goals and different approaches.

Theoretically, in a perfect world, a full user centered design (UCD) process would uncover the needs, values, and functional requirements in up front user research. But, typically it is hard for participants to articulate what their needs are without reacting to some concept – without having context. To give users context, it is best to show them a prototype or design composition and then get feedback. Additionally, projects don’t always have the time or budget for a foundational research – we sometimes need to quickly get into sketching and get user feedback. Usefulness research addresses both of these problems: we can show users a low fidelity prototype to give them context in an early phase of the project.

This presentation will define usefulness research, show how it is different from usability tests, and offer different approaches for asking the right questions of users. Whether you think this is slap-your-forehead obvious or a method that needs to be expanded and refined, we seek to have a lively conversation.
Bio: Michael Hawley, Chief Design Officer, Mad*Pow. As the leader of Mad*Pow’s Experience Design team, Michael Hawley leverages 15 years experience in the software industry and expertise in user experience research and usability design to deliver value to Fortune 1000 clients.

Michael holds his M.S. in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley College McCallum Graduate School of Business, and a B.A. from the University of Michigan. He continues to explore trends in alternative user experience research methods as a published columnist, with articles appearing in publications such as UXMatters, UX Magazine, TMCNet, and CPWire. Michael is actively involved in the user experience community, currently serving as President of the NH chapter of the Usability Professionals Association.

Outside his professional life Mike can be found climbing one of the mountains of New England with his growing family.

Bio: Dan Berlin, Experience Research Director, Mad*Pow. After seven years working with hard-to-use interfaces in technical support, Dan found his User Experience calling after participating in a usability study. He then enrolled in the MBA+MS in Human Factors in Information Design program at Bentley University. After graduating from Bentley, Dan spent two years at an interactive agency performing usability and neuromarketing research studies. For the latter research, Dan investigated eye tracking, biofeedback, and neurofeedback methodologies, and has presented on these topics. He is now an Experience Research Director at Mad*Pow, where he conducts user research and helps determine research activities for projects.

Dan is the Outreach Coordinator for the Boston chapter of the Usability Professionals Association, holds a BA in Psychology from Brandeis University, and is particularly interested in visual space perception and novel research methods. Dan can often be found flying a stunt kite, cooking a mean French onion soup or hiking in the woods of Vermont and Maine.

Mobile App Design for Behavior Change

Presenter: Eva Kaniasty

The study of behavior change, or captology, has a huge number of applications in web and mobile experience design. The quantum leap in the availability and capacity of mobile devices means that users are now reachable by technology during most of their waking hours. The optimists among us argue that the power of technology to impact behavior can be used to improve the human condition by making us happier, breaking bad habits, and helping solve societal problems.

In this presentation, I will introduce design for behavior change, starting with BJ Fogg’s behavior change framework. We’ll use examples from iphone application design to illustrate approaches to behavior change, including game-like interfaces, triggers, computers as social actors, and other key issues in UX design for mobile devices.

The presentation will include an interactive portion which will give attendees a chance to contribute to the conceptual design of an application which seeks to change health-related behaviors.
Bio: Eva Kaniasty has spent the last ten years living and breathing the
web. She is the founder of Red Pill UX, a user experience consultancy providing user research and interaction design in the Boston area. Eva has improved user experiences in a range of industries, including healthcare, education, financial, and software. She received her Master’s in Human Factors from Bentley College in 2007, serves on the board of the Boston UPA, and is a repeat presenter at local and national conferences.

Diary Studies: An Overview and Practical Advice

Presenter: Demetrios Karis

Diary studies can provide insights into how people are using your product or application in their everyday lives, the problems they’re experiencing, other ways in which they’re achieving the same goal, their unmet needs, and a variety of other information. Diary studies are relatively easy to run and don’t require a lot of time, money, or other resources. The focus in this talk will be on methodology, although I’ll quickly go through the results of several studies. In diary studies I’ve run we’ve recruited 20 participants and continued the study for two weeks. During the first week, participants are instructed to use a product or service naturally whenever they want. We collected information in daily emails, and then during the second week we gave specific tasks to each participant every day, as well as asking them to continue using the application whenever they wanted. Interviews were a critical part of these studies, and we interviewed participants at the beginning and end of the study. There are many other ways to run a diary study, and I’ll review several published studies, discuss how having participants capture events via photos, video, and audio recordings can help, and present some practical considerations and methodological choices you’ll have to make. These choices will include the number of participants, the duration of the study, how to reduce drop-out rates, and ten different methods of data collection (from paper diaries to email, blogs, and SMS). I’ll discuss the potential problems that can occur, along with some ideas for how to prevent them. Experience Sampling Method (ESM) and Day-in the-Life observation are two complementary techniques, and I’ll briefly describe them and discuss their advantages and disadvantages compared to diary studies. Questions and discussion will be encouraged both during and after the presentation, and handouts will include a reference list. After this presentation you should feel confident about conducting a diary study by yourself.

Bio: Demetrios Karis has been researching, designing, and evaluating consumer products and services for over 25 years at Verizon Wireless, Verizon Telecom, GTE, Grumman Aircraft Systems, and the University of Illinois. He helped design GTE Airfone and several speech-based systems, and then for ten years led the SuperPages.com user interface group at GTE Labs, where he established a program for developing a comprehensive understanding of the user experience. He also worked on home security, online backup and sharing, smartphone user experience, femtocells, and mobile phone applications and accessibility. He has published dozens of articles in diverse areas, including usability evaluation methodologies, human factors, automation using speech recognition, cognitive psychophysiology, and autobiographical memory. Demetrios received a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Cornell University. He is now an independent consultant, as well as an adjunct faculty member in the User Experience certificate program at Bentley University.

See me, feel me, touch me, heal me: Accessibility and opportunity in mobile computing

Presenter: Justin Kaufman

At first glance, touch screen mobile devices seem to present insurmountable obstacles to accessibility, but this could not be further from the truth. This presentation seeks to dispel the myths surrounding mobile accessibility and educate practitioners and developers on the accessibility features available in today’s smartphones. It will review the state of the art and provide demos and instruction on extending existing applications for accessibility.


  • A mile-high review of mobile access tech and its history, including mobile convergence.
  • A comparison of accessibility features on Android, iOS, and other platforms (device demos).
  • The impact of accessibility considerations on the design and development process.
  • Guidelines for building accessible mobile apps and how to extend existing apps to meet them.
  • Cutting edge mobile apps and future direction.

The key measures required to expose an application to accessible control are consistent across platforms and user needs. It may not be feasible to hit every single guideline, but each significantly improves the experience for some subset of users.These guidelines are an extension of general best-practices for web accessibility.

  • Make controls easily understood using labels, state, and interaction hints.
  • Extract text from images so that it can be read aloud by the system.
  • Provide a consistent experience across application launches and screens.
  • Offer contextual hints for each screen and a clear path through the app.
  • Prefer platform-standard interface hierarchies and controls over custom solutions.
  • Design large hit targets to facilitate discoverability and ease of use.
  • Use large and/or adjustable font sizes (especially important considering varying display resolutions and technologies).
  • Expose alternative controls for actions that are undiscoverable or impossible in accessibility mode (touch gestures, accelerometer gestures, device orientation).
  • Never rely on sound, alone, to communicate application state.
  • Exercise care when updating content underneath the user.
  • Set the logical ordering of controls and fields, which may not be the same as their location on screen.
  • Group controls that share a context or purpose.
  • Adhere to platform-specific development guidelines for custom controls and navigation.

Bio: Justin graduated from Boston University with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Computer Science. He has contributed to the design and development of more than 30 apps for iOS and Android for startups and name brands, alike. His particular interests lie in the user experience and development constraints of mobile computing. Justin Kaufman can be reached at jkaufman@raizlabs.com or @j_kauf.

Let’s Put it All Together: Why UX Practitioners and Marketing Researchers Need to Join Forces Now

Presenters: David Kozatch and Susanna Kirk

Companies often keep UX research and marketing research in separate “silos,” which can have a serious impact on the sharing of information relating to key insights re: customer experience. Although senior management gives considerable lip service to the importance of online user experience, they often set up obstacles and budget constraints to realizing its true potential to the business.

Meanwhile, these same organizations are demanding more from their online communication, hoping not only to convert customers but to create loyal brand “promoters.”

This presentation will cover some of the new trends in marketing research that will have a profound impact on UXers and provide a deeper understanding of how to get these disciplines to play better together. How can we break down the silos to better serve the customer, elevate the importance of UX within the organization, and ensure the success of our business?

As a consultant with experience in both traditional marketing research and UX/usability, David Kozatch has been passionate about trying to move client companies in the direction of sharing information and techniques across the two disciplines in order to better understand and communicate with their customers.

The information from this discussion is a follow-up to a published article on the topic for uxmatters.com: http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2008/05/breaking-down-the-silos-usability-practitioners-meet-marketing-researchers.php

Bio: DAVID KOZATCH is principal of DIG, a marketing research and UX consultancy he started in 1998. He has conducted literally hundreds of qualitative and quantitative research projects in the areas of telecommunications, business services, software, hardware, and Web/interactive services. David has also served as an interviewer/moderator at a number of technology seminars, and is a contributor to UX Matters, an online publication that brings insights and inspiration for the user experience community. He has been a featured presenter at UPA and IxDA events on the subject of providing meaningful experiences for customers. He occasionally sounds off on his user experience blog “Can you dig it?” at blog.digsmarter.com.

David’s user experience research was integral in successful launches online for Google, HBO, Verizon, and Absolut Vodka. And, more recently, he has conducted usability research for clients FedEx, ADP, Samsung, and several mobile applications, including iPhone apps.

Prior to forming DIG, David spent five years at the ad agencies McCann Erickson and Hill, Holliday overseeing and conducting research studies for clients AT&T, American Express and Lotus Development Corp. Mr. Kozatch started his career as a research analyst conducting new product marketing research for the firms Unilever and Warner Lambert.

Bio: SUSANNA KIRK is senior consultant at DIG and has been with the company since 1999. With a
background in cognitive psychology and graphic design, she brings a fresh perspective to her work as
an interaction design analyst and consultant. Prior to joining DIG, Susanna worked with Dynamic Logic,
a company specializing in online advertising and marketing research. Susanna is finishing her MS in
Human Factors in Information Design at Bentley University in Spring 2011. Her research emphasis is on
interaction design for intelligent systems and user experience design for mobile applications.

Agile 101

Presenter: Jeremy Kriegel

Agile has been gaining a lot of momentum over the past years. However, the term has been subjected to the Inigo Montoya effect, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” In this presentation, I’ll break it down. We’ll start with the origin of agile, move on to the values and principles, and finish with the basics of scrum, one of the more common agile methodologies. By the end, you’ll have a good conceptual foundation for agile and scrum.

Bio: Jeremy Kriegel is the UX Manager at CIDC, provider of online poker and gaming software. He has been a UX practitioner for over 15 years and coached, lead, and contributed to teams in multiple agile environments.

I’m in the user’s shoes, now what? How finding an empathetically user-centered perspective on design builds innovation

Presenter: Traci Lepore

Many of us talk about being user-centered, and most of us want to be user-centered designers. But what does that really mean? And how do you take the understanding you gain from user research and do something meaningful with it for an innovative outcome? In this talk, I will cover some easy and quick ways to infuse existing UX processes with some theatrical technique that will help to drive empathy that leads to true understanding, and therefore innovation. Come learn a little about storytelling, ensembles and RRI (Representation, Repetition, and Iteration) – the real ROI of UCD – and what it all means to user-centered innovation.

Bio: Traci Lepore, Principal Interaction Designer: Traci has 10 years experience as a professional interaction designer including over 8 years experience at InContext. In addition to helping mentor junior designers and enhance UX process and strategy, she has acted as the designer on several projects including software redesign supporting a review workflow in a manufacturing environment, mobile application product development, as well as web site redesigns that include information architecture restructuring. Traci is also a columnist for UXmatters.com where she authors “Dramatic Impact: Theater and the Creative Process of Design”. She holds an M.A. in Theater Education from Emerson College and a B.S. in Communications Media from Fitchburg State College.

Are the in-store and e-commerce shoping experience really that different?

Presenter: Tom McCann

Combining years of behavioral observations and customer interviews with recent data captured through mobile eye-tracking technology, we can now paint a reliable picture of what customers attend to when navigating and making purchase decisions while shopping in a retail store.

The objective of this session is compare and contrast customer behavior in the in-store and on-line shopping environments. The presenter will provide a detailed outline of what we know about in-store shopping behavior and call on attendees to compare and contrast this with their understanding of the on-line shopping experience.

Bio: “Tom is the Director of the Retail Usability Research group at Staples. This group is responsible for providing usability and human factors support to the North American Retail and the Staples Branded Products businesses. The primary focus of his teams’ work is to understand customer behavior and decision making processes when shopping for office supplies and technology within Staples stores. Armed with this knowledge his group provides advice and direction on how to improve our customers’ shopping experience while maximizing customer loyalty and value to the business.

Prior to working at Staples Tom worked as a consultant across a range of industry categories in Australia, India and the USA. He completed a Masters Degree in Psychology at the University of Sydney under an Australian Army scholarship program and spent the following nine years working in a variety of roles as an officer in the Army Psychology Corp.

Persona Development: Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask

Presenter: Jen McGinn

The value of personas is often debated — specifically, when and how should they be used? In this talk, we’ll cover that quickly and then move onto practical tips and tools for developing personas for two specific cases: new product design (who will your users be?) and existing product design (what resources can you leverage to learn about your users?). Along the way, we’ll cover specific issues, such as: how can you get stakeholder buy-in? How can you develop personas that resonate with your developers? Where can you find pictures? How much detail should you include in your personas? How do you know when you have enough, too many, or too few personas? And what about validating the personas? Do you need to do it? What are the different ways to validate your personas? How long will it take, and how much will it cost?

In this tutorial, I’ll answer those questions, and give you pointers to the most valuable resources from the literature, including a technique that a colleague and I developed for creating data-driven personas, which is self-validating, relatively inexpensive, and produces statistically significant results — qualities rarely achieved in persona development.

This tutorial will be informal and interactive — bring your own questions, problems, and opinions, and you’ll leave with answers, solutions, and possibly a new outlook on how you approach persona development the next time.

Bio: Jen McGinn is a Principal Usability Engineer at Oracle, who is experienced with both user research and interaction design. She has written branded interaction guidelines, developed personas for multiple teams, and simplified the user experience of complex software products.

Jen has most recently led the user research on Oracle’s software designed to create protocols for clinical trials. Before joining Oracle, Jen worked at Nokia where she conducted expert reviews, competitive analyses, concept validation studies, and usability tests to improve the user experience with Nokia’s flagship software products, Ovi Store and Ovi Mail. Before Nokia, she consulted to SolidWorks, where she conducted fieldwork and designed prototypes which she then validated through user testing. Jen worked for Sun Microsystems for over 12 years in user experience, technical training, and technical writing. She holds a BS in Information Systems from UMBC and an MS in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley.

Can “Smart Home” technology change the future of how older adults live?

Presenters: Dharmesh Mistry, Kate Fleming

The proportion of senior citizens continues to grow. The number of centenarians is projected by UN population studies to rapidly increase fifteen-fold, from approximately 145 thousand in 1999 to 2.2 million by 2050. Given this challenging trend, the results of studies on aging are being examined with great interest by governments worldwide.

This presentation is an investigation of the history and current capabilities of “Smart House” technologies, specifically as they apply the safety and well-being of older citizens wishing to live independently at home as long as possible. Attention is paid to research being done worldwide, with specific focus on the US, Europe and Japan. “Smart Home” studies and models being developed by Duke, MIT, and Georgia Tech. are explored in greater detail. This presentation also reviews some technologies that, while not under the umbrella of “Smart Housing”, nonetheless could have potential benefits in future home elder care.

Towards the end, this presentation analyzes the future potential of these technologies and the problems, benefits and probability of wide-scale adoption. Additional attention is paid to the moral issues and debates that are brought forward by the possible adoption by these technologies.

This presentation is catered to audience(s) who are interested in the needs of older adults, the future of how we live and accessibility. The session also intends to encourage discussion towards the concerns and thoughts of UX professionals in this research subject.

Bio: Dharmesh Mistry. Dharmesh Mistry is the usability specialist for Acquia.Inc. He has masters in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley University and Bachelors in Computer Science Engineering from Mumbai University. Prior to Acquia, he worked at Bentley Design and Usability Center and interned at Intuit, Inc.

He is passionate about usability of open source and now he is getting increasingly involved in accessibility, how we live and the needs of older adults.

Bio: Kate Fleming. Kate Fleming is a BFA holder from Mass Art in three-dimensional fine arts and has a MS in Human Factors and Information Design from Bentley University. Kate has lived all over the world, with a number of years spent in England, India, San Francisco and Boston both as a small business owner and with over 11 years as a Business Applications Specialist at BBNT; a renowned Cambridge R&D company. In addition to her degrees, Kate has a certificate in Visual Basic from Microsoft. An avid gardener, Kate now works for Liberty Mutual in Boston and Portsmouth NH in the Human Factors Department. Kate Lives in Belmont and Kennebunk, ME.

The Nuts and Bolts of Running a Single Person Consultancy

Presenters: Joe Ranft, Matt Belge, Brian O’Neill, and Joan Vermette

I’ve been an independent user experience consultant for 3 years now, after 11 years in agency and corporate roles. I’ve learned a lot about running my own practice. This knowledge has come the hard way at times, by doing something wrong and learning, and very often from picking the brains of others.

I will assemble a panel of three or four, including myself, and we’ll cover the following:

  • getting started
  • billing practices
  • managing your business
  • networking
  • proposals
  • teaming up with others
  • working with large corporations
  • working with agencies
  • setting your rates
  • time tracking and management
  • travel policies
  • virtual working techniques
  • co-working spaces and options

Bio: Joe Ranft is a consultant specializing in product strategy and management, online strategy, design, customer experience, usability, and user research. His clients have included Fidelity Investments, athenahealth, Motley Fool, Weather.com, Cars.com, and several early stage Internet start-ups. Joe has also held positions as VP of Product & Design for UpDown.com a virtual investing platform. Prior to joining The UpDown, Joe was VP of User Experience for Fidelity Investments, where he managed the design teams for www.fidelity.com, 401k.com, Active Trader Pro, and several other Fidelity Web sites and Windows applications. Prior to the Internet, Joe taught high school English and Spanish in Memphis.

Bio: Matt Belge has been doing user experience design since before the name user experience designer existed. He began his career in UX after many years as both an electronics engineer and a software developer. His career took a sharp turn in the early 1980s, when he talked his way into graduate school at Mass College of Art in Boston and pursued a career in Fine Arts.
Working on GUI platforms in the mid 1980s, Matt had a chance to see the UX world grow up around him. In the early days he helped design such primitive technologies as text editors and graphic editors, and then progressed to the world of shrink-wrap software. By working at such a fundamental level, and across many platforms from PCs to UNIX Workstations to Macs, he got a first hand education in the fundamental building blocks of user interaction. In 1993, Matt formed his own UX consulting business, Vision & Logic. Since that time, he?s had achance to work for a number of clients across a huge range of domains, including Finance, Medicine, Automotive, Retail, Science, and Education, designing software applications, web applications, and mobile applications. Clients include American Express, AT&T, Athena Health, Symantec, Citizens, Swiss Air, Hewlett Packard and Fidelity. He?s won several awards, including PC Magazine Editor?s Choice Award (twice) and has published at the national CHI conference. From2004 – 2007, he was the Chair of BostonCHI. The continuing thread throughout all these endeavors is creativity forged by a keen interest in human capabilities and human aspirations.

Bio: Brian O’Neill (rhythmspice.com, @rhythmspice) has been designing websites and software applications since 1997. Wearing many hats (IA, UI/visual designer, developer, project manager, product manager) has helped him turn Rhythmspice Media into a busy, independent consulting firm of one.
Prior to consulting independently at companies such as MITRE, Accenture, NetApp, and startups like Akorri, DataXu, MeYouHealth, UpDown.com, LanguageInternational.com, and others, he was design director for Eons.com and also held design lead positions at Fidelity, JP Morgan Chase (BrownCo), and Lycos. He is a co-founder of TravelDragon.com, a unique search engine allowing people to compare boutique trips and tours in the adventure travel space using a single website. Originally trained as a classical and jazz percussionist, Brian maintains an active performing schedule and has performed with acts as diverse as the Arizona Opera Company and Donna Summer. He is the artistic director for Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica (orchestrotica.com), an exotica quartet he leads on vibraphone, and which occasionally swells into the world’s only 22-pc space- age pop big band performing Brian’s transcriptions of the lost, stereophonic hi-fi music of Juan Garcia Esquivel. You can catch the Orchestrotica’s CD release June 3 at the Lizard Lounge (note to reader: Brian occasionally also wears a marketing hat).

Bio: Joan Vermette: It’s hard to tell what Joan enjoys restoring more; long-neglected back-office applications or her 200 year old farmhouse on Prince Edward Island. Joan is a Experience Design Consultant with over 13 years in website and application design. She has a magic touch for creating clarity and simplicity from confusion and complication.

Joan specializes in compiling and curating component and pattern libraries, coordinating large-scale website redesigns. Joan has a keen interest in thedesign process, while moving projects forward by driving a clear consensus within large organizations. Joan has over 10 years of design experience in the financial industry. She also has extensive knowledge designing in the heath care, human resource, benefits, museum and retail business sectors. Her specialties include: administration, coaching, competitive analysis, concept development, conferences, consulting, content management, design, ebusiness, editing, employee relations, financial, GUI, human resources, information architecture, internet software, investments, management, marketing, mediation, messaging, presentation skills, process engineering, project planning, public speaking, reports, retail, sales, seminars, supervisory skills, teaching, technical writing, training programs, web site production When not restoring her farmhouse, Joan enjoys writing a historical novel and moonlighting as a torch singer in local clubs and private events.

When 98% is more than 100%: how number format influences judgment and decisions

Presenter: Colleen Roller

  • Why are people more willing to purchase safety equipment when it will save 98% of 150 lives than when it will save all 150 lives?
  • Why do people prefer a gamble with a small chance of loss over a gamble with no chance of loss?

Many industries, such as financial services and healthcare, regularly provide numeric information to people, anticipating that they possess the skill and motivation to properly comprehend, interpret, and use that information to make good decisions. But research shows that almost half of the general population has difficulty understanding and interpreting numbers.

How, then, is numeric information best presented?

  • Does the format make a difference?
  • Should you display natural frequencies, percentages, fractions, decimals, or charts and graphs?

This research-based workshop is structured to provide practical insight that can be directly applied to your design and business challenges. Using an engaging quiz-like format, the workshop will help you understand:

  • How different numeric formats are perceived differently, and why
  • Which numeric formats work best, and why
  • How to increase comprehension and improve interpretation of numeric data to help people make better decisions

Bio: As a Vice President and Senior Usability Engineer at Bank of America, Colleen Roller has over 10 years of experience in making websites easy to use. One of her primary interests is in Decision Architecture – designing websites for user decision-making that increases customer satisfaction and achieves business objectives. As a columnist for UX Matters, she writes about Decision Architecture, and has presented on this topic for corporate audiences such as Fidelity and VistaPrint, as well as for the Usability Professionals Association and as an invited speaker at Bentley University. She is forever fascinated with the workings of the human mind, and with the art and science of designing for it.

Values in design: A hands-on workshop

Presenter: Amanda Rotondo

As usability professionals, it’s our job to understand our users, and we’re generally pretty darn good at it. But how deeply must we understand our users? Is it adequate to stop at mapping their cognitive models around a given work flow, or do we need to understand their deeper motivations and the cultural influences and basic humanity that compels and influences them?

Great advantages lie in understanding the core values that drive the individuals using our designs, and the values of the organizations in which they operate. Perfectly usable designs fail all the time because they conflict on some level with user values like privacy, fairness, transparency, and even with loftier values like social justice and equality. Designing with sensitivity toward the values held by a particular user group can take designs from usable to integral; from adopted to viral.

Beyond the benefit to the users, value awareness allows us as designers to feel a deeper investment in our work and an increased awareness of and pride in the products we help send into the world.

In this hands-on activity session, participants will explore how values are implicit in everything from board games to knowledge management systems. We will touch upon high-level academic theories including embodied cognition, value sensitive design, and agency, while staying grounded in everyday practices that we can use regardless of the given process or framework within which we work.

Participants should come prepared to engage in flexible thinking exercises, team challenges, and discussions of complex issues. They will walk away with new vocabulary, anecdotal and theoretical understanding of the how values can affect the success of designs, tools and techniques to apply this thinking in everyday work, and a new facet on the lens through which they view their role as a designer.

Bio: Amanda Rotondo works through Mad*Pow as an independent consultant in the Boston area, where she has 10 years’ experience in the user experience research and design field. Her love of the field stems from being both a “problem solver” and having a fascination with people’s cognitive and affective processes, motivations, and the thoughts and actions that result from these.

She holds a PhD from Rensselaer (RPI) where her research focused on Human-Computer Interaction, specifically social/psychological factors in determining the success of design teams working through computer-mediated communication, and on value-sensitive design practices. Amanda stays active in industry and academia through academic and professional conferences and societies, including The ACM and The Consortium for the Science of Sociotechnical Systems. She is currently part of a group co-authoring a book on Values in Design, forthcoming in 2012 from MIT Press.

Rock! Paper! iPad! Comparing UX Tools on the iPad to Traditional Methods

Presenter: Michael Ryan

Digital tools offer many advantages over traditional paper methods, but paper is generally preferred for its convenience. Apple’s iPad offers a form factor and interaction model which is more convenient than PCs for some tasks allowing it to challenge paper methods and realize the full benefits of digital tools.

Since April of 2011 I have been substituting paper and PC tasks for iPad tools on many UX activities in my position as an Interaction Designer. I found that the iPad offers a viable alternative for many UX tasks and has become my preferred method for some. Other tasks are more effective using paper or software in a PC environment. This session will summarize these experiences, report survey results of iPad usage by UX professionals and compare the advantages and disadvantages of paper, PCs and the iPad.

The iPad will challenge Paper and PCs on the following UX tasks:

  • Notetaking
  • Sketching
  • Prototyping
  • Creating Flow Diagrams
  • Creating Affinity Diagrams
  • Acting as a Whiteboard
  • Reading UX Books & Articles

This session will be an interactive conversation with the audience. For each UX task, I will share my experiences and the survey results. The audience will be invited to contribute their opinions in a discussion and ultimately vote for a winner: Desktop, Paper or iPad.

Goals for the Session:

  • To share useful User Experience Apps
  • Discuss what the iPad excels at and what are its shortcomings
  • Define the iPad’s role vs. paper, PCs and mobile phones

This session will benefit:

  • Interaction Designers
  • User Experience Designers
  • Information Architects
  • iPad users and skeptics
  • Paper enthusiasts

Bio: Michael Ryan is an Interaction Designer for Thomson Reuters who designs research software for global trademark professionals. Michael has been working in user experience since 1995 for companies including Trend Micro, HP, Welch’s, Keds, and The MathWorks. He graduated from Bentley University’s Master’s Program in Human Factors and Information Design in May 2008. He is an active member in the Boston UX community. He freely admits that his iPad is the other half of his brain.

Lightning Prototyping Strikes Again: Very Rapid Design and Test Revisited

Presenter: Will Schroeder

Last year at this forum I described an approach to very rapid prototyping and testing of software features, in which a team was able to develop, prototype, and test three different approaches to a design problem in two hours.

From last year’s program:

This experimental project grew out of the frustration we all feel when told that time and resources are not sufficient for design and testing of small (but possibly important) features and changes. We decided to see just how fast a new feature could be designed, prototyped, and tested. To ensure that we produced a winner, we did three designs – and tested them, in two hours.

One participant said “It created an understanding of the challenges involved in creating an optimal solution.” The developer in charge said, “You guys came up with a couple of things we never thought of although we have been working on this for a month,” and “This was a very efficient exercise.”

I’ll begin with a quick recap of this first experiment to bring everyone up to speed. As you will see, important questions surfaced in the first round:

  • How best to prepare a group for this exercise so that they all start from the same place, focusing on the same problem. (This is critical in order to make best use of the time.)
  • Is the time within the compressed schedule properly allocated? (Are some of the activities compressed too far; others wasting precious minutes?)
  • Are the sub-teams working together as well as possible? (Should we assign roles or ratchet up facilitation?)
  • Can we debrief (record enough detail) so that those who go on to build the feature lose nothing essential – and keep to the tight schedule?
  • Since then we have applied this technique successfully in four additional projects, and produced some pretty good answers for these questions. The original framework (build, show/critique, rebuild, show/critique, fix, test, debrief – all within a few hours) has become more flexible and manageable. We begin better, manage time better, and debrief better. And get better designs.

And it’s still really, really fast.

Hopefully we will have time for some discussion as to how some of you might use this approach in your own work.

Bio: Will has been a Principal Usability Specialist at The MathWorks since 2005. Prior servitude included 17 years designing and testing hardware and software at Foster-Miller, Inc. and 12 years research and consulting at User Interface Engineering. He designed and implemented an eye-gaze target acquisition system (what you see is what you shoot) for DARPA (when working for DARPA was fun), and a real-time multi-target tracker that almost worked. He took a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Math at Harvard, an MBA at Babson, and a certificate for High-Temperature Corrosion at MIT. His work on water-spray mixing of air and methane at coal faces filled two full issues of the Journal of the Mine Ventilation Society of the Union of South Africa. Achievements in stage lighting design have earned the nom de theatre “Prince of Darkness.” He holds several patents, including one for a construction system for geodesic domes.

Collaging: Getting Answers to the Questions You Didn’t Know to Ask

Presenter: Kyle Soucy

When conducting user research, we all know asking the right questions is just as important as how you ask them, but how do you even know what questions to ask? What if the discussion topic is extremely personal and private? How do you get a complete stranger to open up to you? There is a better way to conduct an in-depth interview and it doesn’t involve using a clipboard. Just imagine what you could discover if the participant’s answers weren’t limited to a predetermined set of questions.

Collaging is a needs-elicitation technique where users randomly select images to represent how they feel about a specific topic. Users then explain the reason they chose each image to the moderator. The collage becomes an instrument for participants to express the needs that they might not otherwise have been able to articulate. This information allows us to better understand the user’s world and how to design for it.

This presentation will explain the history of collaging and other projective techniques, what you can learn from it, how to conduct it, and how to analyze the findings. A demonstration of a Collaging exercise will also be performed with participants from the audience!

Bio: Kyle Soucy is the founding principal of Usable Interface, an independent consulting company specializing in product usability and user-centered design. Her clients have ranged in industries from pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer to publishing powerhouses like McGraw-Hill. She has created intuitive interfaces for a variety of different products, everything from web sites to touch screen devices.

Kyle is the Founder and Past President of the New Hampshire Chapter of the Usability Professionals’ Association (NH UPA), she has served as the Chair of PhillyCHI, the Philadelphia Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (ACM SIGCHI), and she was the local UXnet Ambassador for New Hampshire. She is very passionate about the continued growth of the usability and user experience design community.

Fact or Question? Analytics for User Experience

Presenter: Julie Strothman

Analysis of online activity (analytics) has growing attention in the work of user experience design. How do we know when our findings are actionable answers and when they serve as refined questions begging for further exploration through qualitative user research? Can you really learn about your users through analytics?

This session will demystify web analytics, addressing common misconceptions. Through tips and examples of tactical applications of free tools and web analytics data in a ‘UX friendly’ context, this session will show that analytics can be an efficient tool for gaining rapid insight into user behavior and improving the value of our designs. We will explore ways to recognize findings that demand further investigation.

By incorporating web analytics into our projects we gain the ability to iterate rapidly and with more precision, resulting in increased satisfaction for both our clients and their users. The session will illustrate ways analytics data can be brought into play with familiar user experience techniques and provide examples of how metrics extend the life of our user research and demonstrate return on investment. Personas help drive search analysis, audience targeting drives useful segmentation, internal search data informs content strategy, and suggested metrics support project closure. We will demonstrate useful tools and show how easy it can be to access the data you need. Join in as we hear business goals from the audience and generate metrics and insightful data on the spot.

Bio: Julie Strothman directs web strategy at Landmark College, a small college for students with learning disabilities. Julie generally works as a team of one, collaborating with subject matter experts and administrators to cover a gamut of design activities. Previously, she managed user research at Landmark, working on NSF-funded projects to broaden participation in computing among under-represented groups. Julie’s current challenges include building a culture and practices that focus on consistent user experience across environments. Strothman works to expand the range of data sources we use to improve design, and ensure accessibility is a guiding principle for all we create.

Designing for Awareness in the Attention Economy

Presenter: Brian Sullivan

Do you feel like you are being pulled in 10 different directions? You need check-in to Gowalla or Four Square, check your emails, check your voice mail, update you Facebook status, take a picture, post the picture to Flickr, tweet about the picture, and more. Does your online life affect your real one? Does it all seem to blend together?

You are not alone!

Today’s uber-connected online environment creates an Awareness Economy, where everything competes for your attention. Designers need to use the right strategy to make people aware of certain changes within the user’s own network.
In this session, you will learn about:

  • The Different Levels of Awareness in Everyone
  • The Modes of Awareness
  • Awareness strategies being used now
  • Real-world examples of successes and failures

You will walk away with the ability to recognize good and bad awareness designs.

Bio: Brian Sullivan is a community organizer, speaker, and usability engineer from Dallas, Texas. He offers usability and design advice to help product teams improve the customer experience and usability of their designs. Brian spends an inordinate amount of time organizing events, including monthly DFW-UPA meetings, quarterly workshops, and the annual Big Design Conference. He has worked with AT&T, Burger King, American Airlines, SkyChefs, United Airlines, and Carter Blood Center. At home, Brian takes orders from his wife (Susan), their son (Sean), and the cat that owns them all (Junior).

Building Out a User Experience Team: Making UX Relevant Companywide

Presenters: Christopher S. LaRoche (Moderator); Sarah Bloomer, Jennifer Fabrizi, Amy Kidd, Michael Ledoux, Bob Thomas (Panelists)

Our experience is varied: some of us have been hired as the first user experience professional in our organization. Some of us have worked in companies where one day we were an individual contributor in another department, and the next day we were acting manager of the user experience team. And some of us have been charged with gathering together the few usability professionals within the organization and creating a user experience (UX) group that can improve our products and services. What all our panelists share in common is the experience of building out and managing user experience teams. All of our panelists have worked in corporations large or small, where we’ve started with teams of one or more, and built out teams of over twenty user experience professionals. We will share with you stories where things went very wrong, and where they went very right.

Our panel topics will include:

Evangelizing for and Selling the Idea of UX:

  • Demonstrating the value of UX
  • Making a case for more people, and recruiting talent

Building the UX team:

  • Building an infrastructure: support needed around UX to ensure it succeeds
  • Creating a collaborative team environment

Integrating UX into Company Work Processes:

  • Distributed versus centralized teams
  • Integrating UX into the Agile process

Retrospectives on Building the UX team:

  • Stories where methods and processes went right, and where they went wrong
  • Finding advocates, and gaining traction with stakeholders and within business units

Our panelists currently work in the engineering, financial services, energy management, and insurance industries. No matter the industry, we have all been tasked with making user experience relevant within our companies. This includes evangelizing the value of usability within the organization, finding advocates within the company, creating a collaborative team environment, establishing user experience processes and best practices, recruiting and hiring UX talent, integrating UX within the product development cycle and within development practices such as Agile, and working with the executive or management team to build up the right infrastructure to support UX and make it successful.

We believe our panel is relevant not only to those interested in building out a UX team but also those who strive to make user experience an integral part of their consultancy or organization.

Besides the discussion of these topics among the panelists, we’ll also take questions from the audience.
Bios: Moderator
Christopher S. LaRoche is a Senior Lecturer at the College of Professional Studies (CPS) at Northeastern University. He teaches graduate courses in usability, information architecture, and interaction design. Chris has worked as a technical writer, information designer, user researcher, and usability consultant in the computer industry for over fifteen years. Chris currently works as an internal usability consultant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Sarah Bloomer has designed user interfaces for over 20 years. In 1991 she co-founded the interaction design company The Hiser Group. With Hiser, she helped establish the field of user-centered design in Australia. Since 2002, Sarah has been a senior interaction designer for MathWorks, Director of UX at Constant Contact, and principal consultant at Sarah Bloomer & Co, a consulting practice focusing on collaborative design facilitation. She’s delivered papers, tutorials and workshops at user interface design conferences around the world. Sarah has been researching effective UX teams for 5 years, through an annual survey called “Effective UX Teams,” a UPA workshop on running consultancies, and teaching courses on UX teams and strategies. Her most recent course was the UIE virtual seminar “Upgrading your UX Team,” and she’ll be teaching The Business of User Experience at UPA2011 in Atlanta. Sarah’s favorite UX activities are design research and collaborative design.

Jennifer Fabrizi, Lead of User Experience Research and Design at MassMutual Financial Group in Springfield, MA, is responsible for growing the user experience practice within the enterprise. Under her leadership, formal lab testing has roughly tripled and the team now offers a full range of user experience services focusing primarily on high-value strategic projects. She has expertise in UX strategy, design, and testing. Jennifer is currently pursuing an MS degree from Bentley University’s Human Factors and Information Design program. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in music performance from Boston University’s School of Music.

Amy Kidd is Manager, Usability, at MathWorks in Natick, Massachusetts. She manages a user experience organization of over 20 people who contribute to user research, design, and evaluation for MathWorks products, web applications, and internal applications. As a member of the Usability management team, Amy has been present for significant growth (her group tripled in size over a few years). She has been part of establishing programs to foster the desired culture, facilitate knowledge transfer among the group, and provide a structure for individuals to coach each other. In addition, she is responsible for hiring usability specialists and visual designers, and deploying those resources to meet the needs of her Development organization. Beyond MathWorks, Amy is co-chair of the UPA International Conference for 2011 and 2012. She has an MS in Humans Factors in Information Design from Bentley College and a Bachelors in Cognitive Science and Math from University of Virginia.

Michael Ledoux is the Manager of User Experience at EnerNOC Inc., a green company that focuses on energy management. He brings many years of experience to this panel, as a software developer, a UX Designer, and the manager of UX teams in 3 companies. His current interests involve visualizing energy usage and management and how a UX team can effectively integrate into an Agile development process. He is also an MS-HFID Bentley graduate.

Bob Thomas is Manager of User Experience at Liberty Mutual, where he has worked for the last 3 years expanding usability best practices and building out a user experience team. His background includes usability research, usability testing, graphic design, and product management, and he has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry. Bob holds an MS in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley College, an MBA from Suffolk University, and a Bachelors in English from the University of Nebraska. His current interests include integrating web analytics and market research into the usability process.

How Should Text Links Be Presented?

Presenters: Tom Tullis, Marisa Siegel

This presentation will describe the results of two studies addressing the presentation of text links on web pages. The first study looked at whether or not links should be underlined. Two link treatment styles (underlined or not) were studied in the context of three web pages. Link treatment was a between-subjects variable in an online study with 1,026 participants. For the majority of the tasks, link treatment made no difference in performance overall. However, for one particularly challenging task, users performed better in the underlined condition. On the other hand, when the tasks involved finding information that was contained in the links themselves, users were more efficient when the links were not underlined. The results suggest that if the primary purpose of a link is navigational, it should be underlined, but if the primary purpose is to display information, it should not.

The second study looked at whether or not visited and non-visited links should be distinguished by color. In a series of three online studies with a total of 1,037 participants, visited and non-visited links had either the same color or different colors. Further, two different colors were studied for visited links, and these links were shown in the context of two different web pages. In all cases, non-visited links were blue. When the visited links were a slightly brighter purple, users actually performed worse than when there was no distinction. But when the links were a darker purple, they performed better.

Bio: Thomas S. (Tom) Tullis., Ph.D., is Vice President of User Insight at Fidelity Investments. He joined Fidelity in 1993 and was instrumental in the development of the company’s usability team and a state-of-the-art Usability Lab. He received his B.A. from Rice University, M.A. in Experimental Psychology from New Mexico State University and Ph.D. in Engineering Psychology from Rice University. With more than 30 years of experience in human-computer interface studies, he has published over 35 papers and holds eight U.S. patents. Prior to Fidelity, he held positions at Canon Information Systems, McDonnell Douglas, Unisys Corporation, and Bell Laboratories. He is co-author (with Bill Albert) of the book “Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics”, and co-author (with Bill Albert and Donna Tedesco) of the new book “Beyond the Usability Lab: Conducting Large-scale User Experience Studies”.

Bio: Marisa Siegel is a User Experience specialist with the User Insight team at Fidelity Investments. She has a a BS in Management Information Systems, with minors in Psychology and Spanish, from Worcester Polytechnic University. She has published over 10 journal articles or conference papers, and is co-author (with Tom Tullis and Fiona Tranquada) of the chapter on “Information Presentation” for the new 2nd edition of the “Handbook of Human Factors in Web Design”.

Creating an online community for user research: moving beyond Facebook and Twitter

Presenter: Tom Vollaro

Have you seen our Facebook page? Did you ‘Like’ it? Of course. But a “liked” page does not a social strategy make. Online social networking has been utilized successfully in every conceivable industry for product marketing. These networking tools seem tailor-made for conducting user research. It is now possible to reach many, many more users than in the past. In these days of limited travel and research budgets, this is an enticing proposition. However, as with marketing, you cannot use a “build it and they will come” mentality. This presentation will illustrate lessons learned from a small team naively venturing into the wild west of social media. The primary persona for this team was a graduate student of architecture. The natural inclination was to go directly to where this persona lives: online. The team learned quickly that simply establishing a Facebook page and a Twitter feed is only the very beginning. This is a story of building a community of users and learning that not all social media is equally effective for fostering a sticky user community.

Discussion topics include:

  • Facebook’s “black hole wall” and non-threaded discussions
  • Using YouTube for generating interest and disseminating learning materials
  • The value of expert bloggers
  • Collecting user stories and sample datasets
  • Vetting early design sketches
  • Reaching unexpected users in unexpected locales
  • Tying everything together into a sticky, branded community site that gives users a direct line to the project team, fosters discussion among users and gives them a sense of ownership in the product.

The audience will be encouraged to share their experiences with using social media to build user communities for conducting user research.

Bio: Tom Vollaro is a Senior Principle User Experience Designer at Autodesk’s Strategic Technology Group in Waltham, MA. He holds a MS in Human-Computer Interaction from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Architecture from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is a happy generalist with his hands in all aspects of design, user research, usability, prototyping, and social media strategy.