Monday, June 15, 2009

A Few Articles to Check Out

Now that project one is done (or is being wrapped up by some of you), I found a couple of links in my morning RSS feed that I thought some of you might have an interested in. Particularly, I think the report on Wikipedia's Usability Initiative will be helpful for all of you going forward with usability research as it details all of the steps they took in their evaluation process. Most corporate white papers and academic reports on findings don't detail their entire process, so having a resource available where they have put everything out there can be helpful in understanding the full scope of what goes on in usability research if you haven't had any experience outside of the limited scope of most classes (the scope for this project was slightly more realistic but due to the limited time frame shortcuts, of course, had to be made).

On a related note, and something I didn't emphasize enough on this project, is that a good designer documents all decisions and should be able to provide some type of justification for the decision. They might not like it, but that's the way the business world works (not just engineering)--if you can't give a reason then a firm hiring you is justified in dismissing your input since nothing backs it up. There should be a reason why the button is placed on the lower left instead of the upper right and you should have some type of reason behind choosing the line width and color (note: I only mean this to a degree, if the difference isn't perceptible to most people then there's no issue but a thicker line creates more of a disconnect between different types of content and different shades can convey different emotions). For this project I'm not making you justify the minor aesthetic details like that but be aware that some people will ask (and you better have an answer).

And here's something to get the marketing people all up in a tizzy (do people still use that word, really?), there's a piece written about how the products are worthless. This gets into a lot of what we're talking about with the social theories, Where the Action Is, and service design in that the product itself does nothing for a user until it becomes useful to the user in a given situation/context. For better or worse, we are transitioning into a service/knowledge economy in the Western world and talking about the world in terms of products is so last century--you have to think in terms of 'value added', 'experience', etc.

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