Thursday, June 30, 2011
Ethnographers frequently use participant observation to gather data. As a participant observer, an ethnographer participates in the society or culture being studied by living amongst those people. Yet, through reflection and analysis, the ethnographer retains an analytical or observational position so that s/he can describe and interpret the subject of the study. Through immersion in the field (the project and the context in which the project is working), the ethnographer accumulates local knowledge. Research takes the form of diverse relationships and ‘conversations.’ Even when it includes apparently impersonal methods like surveys they are treated as part of an ongoing conversation or relationship with a place and with people. Every experience, conversation and encounter can be treated as ‘data’ alongside more formal research activities such as interviews.
A research approach such as this does not require interviews and conversations to be completely structured. While the researcher is broadly aware of the issues to be addressed, the precise questions, and their sequence, emerge only as conversations/ interviews progress. Thus, data is collected through ‘chains of conversations’. Similarly, the researcher begins by identifying key informants. The reliability and veracity of those chosen as key informants is crucial for the ethnographer. To ensure reliable information, ethnographic researchers triangulate anything learnt from key informants with others. Talking to the key informants points the researcher to people who may provide further information. Thus, the collection of data progresses through chains of conversations and informants, and the emphasis on sampling is not adequacy in a statistical or numerical sense but in identifying events/ people that contribute to the narrative. Nevertheless, this narrative is scientific i.e. its acceptance/ rejection is subject to testing.
To reduce the influence of personal bias or ideology, ethnographers are trained to be constantly self critical and reflexive, especially on the field.
Balaji, Parthasarathy, Aswin Punathambekar, G. R. Kiran, Dileep Kumar Guntuku, Janaki Srinivasan, and Richa Kumar. (2005) "Information and Communications Technologies for Development: A Comparative Analysis of Impacts and Costs from India" Project Report, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India.
Call for Contributions
Open to everyone includes business people, enterpreneures, academicians and service design practitioners.. initial submission last date is June 30.. For more details click here
- Design and business collaborating, what working, learning and building together looks like, what works, what doesn't
- Measuring success - what?where?when?how?
- Service Design and how it works at different levels of organizations
- Service Designers working on new, 'wicked' problems
- Service Designers designing business, business designing services
- Not everyone who creates a service calls themselves a service desinger
- How does the business community view service design?
- How organisations access, buy and value service design?
- What makes a successful (service) design business?
- Marketing and moitising service design
- What might designers learn from business and vice versa
- What will service desing look like 5, 10, 15 years from now?
Palace Hotel2 New Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
For more details click here
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I ran across an interesting article entitled “Six Things User Experience Designer Forget When They Criticize Websites” that discusses how UX designer are quick to criticize before understanding why certain decisions were made. This is something that I have caught myself doing.
In fact, recently, I was helping out a friend who is starting her own business. She has never created a web site, but had found a hosting company who catered to non- technical people. The site she came up with wasn’t what I would have done and I was quick to think about a million things she did wrong. Fortunately, I didn’t spit all of those out to her because it wouldn’t have sounded constructive at all which is what she asked for.
Once we were able to sit down to talk, I asked her what the purpose of the site was and who the target audience is. These two questions are critical for me to provide the best site design possible. After finding out those answers, several of the things I was criticizing actually made sense for her site. I was amazed at the amount of research she had done to come up with what she did and she was able to defend a lot of the decisions. Not all clients can do this, but when they can, it is very helpful.
One of the main points in the article talks about how business decisions can sometimes trump the user experience. In this example that was exactly what happened. Hopefully, when it does happen it’s not such a poor user experience that it hinders the bottom line.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of using A/B testing. A/B testing is also known as "split testing" or "bucket testing," A/B Testing is a method by which two design samples are presented to real life users in live circumstances. Each sample is tracked allowing for comparison of results. These results can make the business team can decide which option is better functionality for users.
For instance, one might typically test two different headlines on a landing page. One would then outperform the other, and you would know which is the top-performing page.
Why do we need A/B testing?
- Measure Minute Differences
- Resolves Conflicts
- Measures Actual Behavior
Before getting into Testing we need to make sure we accomplish few key points
1) Establish Testing Goals and Parameters
2) Determining the Sufficient Test Interval
3) Create 1-3 designs
4) Redesign based on testing results (After first round of results)
5) Evaluate the Redesigns in A/B Split Tests
In conclusion, A/B Testing is a valuable addition to other types of user research. It provides credible, real-world numbers and guidance to inform any design decision.
Another interesting item I wanted to bring up in this post looks at the intersection of mobile computing and the psychological practice of "homing" (related of course to the sensation/feeling of "being at home"). What an article I read this morning highlights is that there are many psychological phenomena for which mobile computing could be adapted in order to enhance overall life experiences. For example, in this instance of "homing," there is a tendency for humans to "differentiate" based on location (some people have a house in an urban area and one in a more secluded, beach/suburban/rural area -- they leave different wardrobes in each to enforce "differentiation" of their various "homes"); what this rather directly entails in mobile computing is really context-dependent programming and functionality. How can devices and software be more tailored to the physical contexts in which we find and establish ourselves?
Like the REACTable example, this idea of complementing psychological "tendencies" with systems like mobile computing is one that I think we will see slowly evolve, and it has clear implications for practitioners of HCI and UX.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Collaboration is one of the central focuses of the Internet. The ability to use the Internet to improve communication, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas has become more important day by day. Those that work in the discipline of human computer interaction may also work with these virtual mediums to improve these highly engaging environments that offer few limits on the possibilities of what they can offer. Virtual worlds, like Second Life, offer a very dynamic and diverse virtual universe that has been proven successful in various applications like education. Presently, there is a large presence of real life universities, like Iowa State University, on the grid using this medium for engaging and collaborative purposes. Moreover, there are other entities that utilize virtual worlds in their everyday practices like IBM that depend on the medium to bring globally dispersed work groups together to help adjust to today’s globalization while saving money from travel expenses and the alike. Altogether, virtual worlds offer users an environment that is more dynamic and flexible as compared as SMS texting, email, and other lesser engaging technologies.
Virtual worlds may have positive impacts in other areas of HCI because a systematic combination of real life and virtual interaction is promising a huge benefit for electronic learning, in terms of (not only virtually) tangible E-learning interfaces that enrich the experiences of learners—and probably also those of teachers. By a felt-as-somatic interaction with the learning environment the cognitive capabilities of students can be exhausted to a much larger extent than in traditional classroom settings, where learners are typically acting in a much more passive and less individual way (Lucke, U., Zender, R., 2011). Learning using virtual worlds can offer learners the ability to experience inexpensive project-based learning of all ages from K-12, collegiate, corporate, and non-academic. Virtual worlds also offer a safe environment to learn cause and effect relationships that may help promote safety, education, collaboration, and various other needs that can extend far outside of the industrial realm and deep into the interpersonal human condition.
Lucke, U., Zender, R. (2011). “3D interaction between virtual worlds and real life in an e-learning
Retrieved June 27, 2011 from:
I remember as a kid enjoying going to the museum because of all the neat and unexplainable things that I became exposed to. The big problem is that I had no real idea what I was viewing and if I did, I may have known very little about the object or its importance in order to be in a museum anyway. Recently, I got to spend almost a week in Washington D.C. and I spent a lot of time at The Smithsonian. This museum is broken-up into various themed sub-museums that have audio devices that allow the user to stand in front of an exhibit and be given an audio presentation of what the artifact is and its importance. Therefore the device gave me a better user experience because it shared information, provided education, and possible inspiration to promote further study of certain artifacts of history that may have really interested me. The minor drawback of this technology is that because of the private nature of the device (the use of headphones); the user’s attention may be drawn away from the environment around themcausing them to focus harder on the current experience. Because the external environments noise can be drowned-out by the headphones and the auditory presentation I listened to, I found myself separated from my group many times which resorted in our savvy uses to find each other using our smart phones. Nevertheless, this personal presentation technology makes the museum experience more enjoyable and substantive over the unfulfilling experiences I remember when I was a kid.
Today, there are new technologies that can give a museum visitor an even greater interactive experience that remains personal but also collaborative not only with the museum artifacts, but also with other museum visitors as well. This new technology is a remote collaborative multi-touch experience that offers an additional channel for museum visitors to explore the exhibition and increase the sense of connectedness and awareness between the two spaces. The experience flow includes stages of offering opportunities for exploration, negotiation, and cooperation (Arroyo, E., Righi, V., Tarrango, R., Blat, J., 2011). For museums like The Smithsonian, this technology can make the visitor experience be richer and more immersive while allowing group discussion and video communication between other visitors. Visitors can spend more time enjoying the museums with less worry of keeping track of others and their geographical locations as well. This kind of device also has numerous uses outside of museums. Instruments like this can be used in construction, plant management, transportation, and in many other environments where people may have to be in distributed areas while needing maximum mobility and the ability to communicate.
Arroyo, E., Righi, V., Tarrago, R., Blat, J. (2011). “A remote multi-touch experience to support
Collaboration between remote museum visitors”, 2011.
Retrieved June 27, 2011 from:
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Currently, I am also taking POL S 533X and this is a class where we research and understand what makes quality e-government web sites and how they should be developed. Between the state, local, and federal levels of government, all levels are facing serious financial constraints which is pushing the e-government initiatives even hard as government store-fronts shut down and resort to offering forms, services, and information via the Internet and the WWW. Outside of the digital divide being a competing variable in the success of e-government, one of the biggest concerns is privacy. As designers and developers begin roll-out these e-government sites, how can they provide measures to protect the public provide that their personal information that they enter online into these sites is safe. Privacy, like security, concerns risk, its perception, and its management. Privacy problems often lie in the potential future consequences of present behavior, which may be deemed risky or safe according to standards of judgment (not necessarily those of the participants involved). As such, privacy harkens back to HCI’s origins in ergonomics and the safe operation of complex machinery (Ackerman, M., Mainwaring, S., 2011). History tells us that if there is a database that stores key personal information, like the databases some e-government sites may have, there is the opportunity for this information to be compromised. One such example really hit close to home here in Texas recently. The State of Texas migrated hundreds of thousands of personal data on State of Texas employees onto a public e-government site by accident. This personal data resided on the public database for years; however, because a link to this information was never coded into the actual e-government site, the state “feels” none of this data was further compromised. The problem is that the information was still accessible if this e-government site was hacked or internal unauthorized personnel found this information and dishonestly managed or benefited from this mistake. I feel one of the keys to insuring privacy in the HCI process is that designers need to carefully plan and map how data moves throughout the whole e-government processes and provide safety checks and balances that help protect personal users information using external and internal controls that are sufficient.
Ackerman, M., Mainwaring., S. (2011). “Privacy Issues and Human-Computer Interaction”, 2011.
Retrieved June 26, 2011 from:
“Design and Implementation of a Human Computer Interface Tracking System based on Multiple Eye Features”
Accessibility and inclusion have become new buzz-words in HCI. As practitioners in HCI, we are ethically challenged to keep accessibility in mind because we have varying assistive technologies that are common and available to us to use to help those with disabilities that promote further inclusion. Human eyesight is one of mankind’s most major senses. The eye is different from the other body parts that make up the human’s sensor array. A person’s eyes convey a great deal of information with regards to the meaning behind certain facial expressions. Also, the direction in which an individual is looking shows where his or her attention is focused. By tracking the position of the irises, useful interfaces can be developed that allow the user to control and manipulate devices in a more natural manner (Azam, S., Khan, A., Khival, M., 2009). Pupil tracking also has limitless possibilities outside of becoming a valuable assistive technology for those who are disabled and for those that are not disabled. Pupil tracking can be used in medical, educational, military, entertainment, and other applications.
What I like the most about pupil tracking is that it may allow for greater cognitive control during situations of stress and heavy multi-tasking where the speed of the human mind can work in an integrated fashion with speedy technologies, illuminating the slower response time from using a mouse or other slower input devices. This may also reduce errors as well.
Azam, S., Khan, A., Khiyal, M. (2009). “Design and implementation of a human computer
Interface tracking system based on multiple eye features”, 2009.
Retrieved June 26, 2011 from:
Standard cognition would explain the brain as more of a computer, processing stimulae as it comes in from the senses. Shapiro says, "Embodied cognition, in contrast, imagines not that the brain can be isolated from the body and the environment, but thinks of the body as in some sense shaping, or constraining, or involved in the very processing of the kinds of information that an organism needs to interact successfully with the world. So, it’s no longer possible, according to people in embodied cognition, to think about cognition as being the middle stage in the sense-think-act cycle. Instead, thinking involves active exploration—use of the body with things in the environment."
I decided to try this theory by doing my next two usability tests not only on-site, but literally at the desks of the users who typically use the software. I was presenting a beta version of the software to them, a clickable prototype, actually. But I ran into a couple problems with this scenario. The first problem was attempting to get the software to the user's machine. In other words, preparation is difficult unless you take over the user's machine, which is probably not appropriate. The next issue was the noise factor. The test is loud and the heavy users of our products are not the execs that have offices. We bothered the coworkers and they were good sports, but this was an inescapable distraction. Observation by the product owner was done over remote software and this also had to be setup on the user's machine. After all this preparation and distraction, it's a wonder they didn't toss me out on my butt. They were cordial, though, and I learned quite a bit. The key might be to try to setup a test environment that is "like" a user environment or at least to streamline the setup process.
But Shapiro says, "the last thing you want to do is place the subject in a kind of artificial environment where you’re removing all the kinds of what cognitive scientists think of as distractions, but what we embodied cognition people think of as necessary props in the environment that the subject uses to collect or simplify the sorts of information that the subject needs to be performing his or her cognitive tasks." So, what to do? I tend to believe the theory of embodied cognition but it puts us in a testing conundrum. I like the idea of testing in a user's own habitat so I'm going to continue working toward that. I think it can be done effectively with the right tools and process.
BRAIN SCIENCE PODCAST With Ginger Campbell, MD
Interview with Lawrence Shapiro, PhD, Professor of Philosophy and
Author of Embodied Cognition
Saturday, June 25, 2011
I've had Rosenfeld's polar bear branded O'Reilly book about information architecture for as along as I can remember. It's one of the books I recommend to folks getting started in web design. So I enjoyed this set of slides that I only discovered this week.
While there is not accompanying audio, for those who've been in the business of UI design for any time, the slides themselves tell the story.
I was particularly struck by this presentation because I work at a University and Rosenfeld's examples of how his alma mater continued to redesign and rebrand their home website hit close to home. Our communications department does much the same thing. They have a total homepage redesign schedule of every 3 years. This isn't based on user feedback or any analytics or, apparently, common web sense. It's a decision made years ago by someone in marketing. And it makes me nuts.
I'm a fan of "refine" rather than "redesign", and that is one of the central points of the slides. Hope you guys find the information interesting.
In a recent lecture Dr. Oren mentioned having the ability to code is an extremely good skill to have and I would agree. I discovered many years ago after doing basic coding in ColdFusion and PHP that I don't particularly like it because it's extremely frustrating for me. However, I like to code in HTML and CSS. These two tend to be a more visual way to code at least that's how I look at it.
Either way, understanding different languages of coding is a good skill even if you can't code things yourself. In many cases, I'm able to tweak code that someone else has written or at the very least understand how and why a programmer may ask the questions they do.
Another skill that is very valuable for me in my daily routine is the understanding of databases and data fields. This is especially important when designing data-driven sites, but even something as simple as a form. Knowing how a simple name change of a field could cause issues within a database, understanding the different data types and lengths and why they are important.
Both of these skills can also help in bridging the gap between the business/client and the designer/programmer. This has been a skill set that I didn't develop on purpose; it just worked out that way.
I found this article by Jared Spool who discusses three ways in which knowing how to code could make you a better designer.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Congress instituted section 508 in 1998 to make new online opportunities available to people with disabilities and to encourage the development of software and technologies to help make this happen. An amendment of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 508 requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology available to disabled citizens. Under the amendment, agencies must give disabled employees and citizens access to information accessible to others.
Why is Section 508 –Web accessibility Important!
To make sure everyone has access to all the websites, section 508 compliance was introduced. It has a number of features that make navigation easier for people using screen readers and uses a large high-contrast display for people who have difficulty seeing traditionally formatted web pages. The standards of Section 508 are extensive and greatly dependent upon the type of disability at hand. The standards establish a minimum level of accessibility, but many Web companies are going above and beyond for the disabled members of society.
Areas of compliance:
Website Navigation - All the web designers/developers now have a lot of stake. Website navigation is crucial for 508 compliances by which users can navigate all across websites.
Flash – Flash is extremely useful in catering to the hearing impaired. It allows Web designers to create complex and detailed pictures and charts that cannot be created with basic HTML. Flash is a valuable tool in Section 508 compliance.
Resizable Text – It gets difficult for people with disabilities to read some of the small text found on various Web sites. It is important to provide the resizable text option so they can adjust the size based on their visual needs.
Text Only Versions – Web sites must have a text only version for the hearing impaired individuals, especially if Web site has a lot of videos that require hearing important details.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
One of the things I have found exceptionally important in the business world, especially as of late, is the need to communicate effectively. It can literally make or break the content you have to share. I have found over and over that it doesn't matter what you have to say, how amazing it might be, if you cannot connect with your audience.
I am constantly looking for ways to simplify and improve the way I present information, findings, and concepts to business leaders and stakeholders within our organization.
And that's why I wanted to post this link. Simon Sinek is speaking at a TEDx event and shares his thoughts on why some people are good at inspiring people and rallying them around their beliefs, and why some others are not - even when they may all be great speakers.
Give it a watch if you can. It will be worth the time invested.
Reading through the excerpts, I began drawing parallels between recent changes in my department and this act of corporate ethnography. Prior to my arrival, the standard practice with creative deliverables (say, for re-designs of the site or sections of it) would be to convene rather large stakeholder meetings, complete with the VPs from every single department. I had the chance (chance in terms of the motivation it gave me to do things otherwise) to attend such a meeting and, as an initial outsider, be able to identify its pitfalls. Amongst others, the size of the meetings made it hard to progress through a sequential list of deliverables and/or topics -- personalities would clash, departmental special interests would be aroused in light of others, etc. Since then, we've gone a far way. In the recent re-design I'm leading, we've separated wireframes and visual designs based on "groups" that represent certain sections on the website. In turn, these groups also represent specific departments. What this highly compartmentalized layout of deliverables has allowed us to do is to completely strike out the idea of a general stakeholder meeting. Instead, we've made for a plan that will allow us to meet with each stakeholder group that a certain group of wireframes is relevant to.. this brings down meeting attendee numbers from 15+ to 2-3... making such meetings simply more useful and manageable. This, in the end, helps us iterate more quickly.
Although my example definitely doesn't nearly touch the breadth nor specificity with which the book approaches the role of ethnography in corporations, I think it does show the value of either investing in actual corporate ethnographic studies or at least performing some internal, reflective operational reviews. As a newbie in the corporation, I was pretty much an unbiased observer "in the field" -- however, it was that outsider perspective that made the large stakeholder meetings seem a bit out of place to me, and that eventually led me to the idea of carrying out the re-design in this new way.
Much like HCI espouses user-based iteration in research, design, and implementation, internal user-based iteration (e.g., in this case, modifying the structure of creative-related debriefs to stakeholders based on "outsider" impressions of past practices) re: organizational practices can also help refine the productivity and efficiency of internal teams.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
As my team has begun to engage, we strongly recommended doing user research as a component of our work. Pretty obvious, right? Not so fast. In this case, it requires us to fly another office, in this case NYC, and will require some substantial expenses. Not to mention extending our project timelines.
That said, I have confidence, that this work will pay-off with 5,10, and maybe even a 100x ROI.
But then something unexpected happened. During a meeting one of our executives asked me this question: "So why are you going to NYC? Team X has already done all of the requirements gathering. Why can't you just start the design work?"
That question left me wondering - so how do you answer this question in a way that a business executive can easily understand?
Which brings me to the point of this post – to share a diagram that was developed during a whiteboard session, that has become a tool we use, when answering the question of "Why do user research" to the business crowd.
The BA team that did the requirements spent most of their time asking "What do you want to be able to do?" But what they never asked, "Why is this a problem for you?
In the diagram, the point is this. When you start with tools and features, in the end you will have the same problem you started with, just in a different tool. But if you ask "Why" is it a problem, you have a chance to solve the root issue and fix the problem.
Example: if a fileshare is a mess, introducing a new tool is not going to fix the problem, unless the new tool accounts for the root cause. In this case – why is the fileshare an unorganized mess in the first place?
I'll end with a short anecdote, that has seemed to work for me in a few instances.
Imagine your neighbor comes out complaining about his shovel. "This darn thing never works. Can't stand it." So as the generous person you are, you go to your shed, and bring back a different shovel for you neighbor to try. A few minutes later, he comes back out and complains about the new shovel not working very well either. This prompts you to ask "Well. It works fine for me, what are you trying to do with it? Your neighbor replies: " I've been trying to trim my bushes!"
The other section I found useful was "Criticisms of UX as a Profession". With a variety of arguments that companies might have about hiring a UX professional, this gives us, as those UX professionals, a chance to define why we are useful. When you have your argument planned out, you will be more prepared when confronted with opposition.
The article rounds out with a very long list of UX resources – UX Magazine, UX Booth, etc. I glanced at some of what is listed - most seem to be good resources, but so many seem to be lacking in tasteful graphics (I'm looking at you www.uxmatters.com!).
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
One of the new technologies that have already come out has been very impressive to me has almost infinite uses; especially, in HCI. The flexible display is light and dynamic enough to be used with keyboards with auto-changing layouts, low-power shelf tags and point-of-sale ads, and display windows on credit-card-size smart cards. But designers are also rethinking product design around these new screens possibilities. Carl Taussig, director of Advanced Display Research at Hewlett-Packard, notes the Dutch company Polymer Vision has demonstrated a cell phone with a roll-out display, and suggests other possible form factors. “You might have a display that you keep folded up like a piece of paper, “ Taussig says. “You might open it halfway and use it that way, or you might open it all the way. You might have it partitioned with a keyboard on one part and a screen on the other (Communications of the ACM, 2011). These new possibilities can help promote limitless innovation in future product design and safety.
Communications of the ACM. (2011). “The Promise of Flexible Displays”, 2011.
06/2011 Vol. 54 No. 6 pp(s): 16-18.
Since these pages are likely to pop up from time to time, you need to think about their design and how to get the person back on track. The message should do the following:
- Explain what happened and why
- Explain how to fix it or who to call
Here are a few sites of some really good and sometimes funny 404-error page designs:
To have a better understanding about users & their usage patterns online, we can do usability testing through “heat maps”. By using heat maps, we can produce visual displays of where end-users are actually clicking and which ones are the popular locations on your website (or a specific page).
The core idea of using a heat map is to analyze/test how a user is interacting with a web site. What links are they clicking on? What kind of page design may work well? What functionality placed at different zones can work better? We can get help from such heat maps to understand some missing factors in our application.
For example, if a link is not getting any or less clicks even though it’s a link, then there is a serious issue of “affordance“, which tells us that the design of the button is not intuitively implying its functionality and use.
There are tools like Heat map, Click map, Hover map which helps the Interaction designers/Business to decide the move things around in the websites and make a improvements for Information Architecture, optimize link and advert placements.
Features of Heat Maps
The heat maps display red-hot zones where most users spend longer periods, and blue or cold areas where your users spend the least amount of time.
A very nice feature is the Form Analytics tool, which displays aggregate form field information. This information includes time of field completion, the number of entries and clicks as well as which form fields have the highest abandonments, or take the longest to complete, or have the most backtracks due to errors or confusion.
Sample of heat Map
Sunday, June 19, 2011
As a web/UI designer, I have been asked to specifically design to fixed width and sometimes flexible/liquid layouts. When there is no specific direction, depending on the amount of information to be displayed on each page, I would either choose fixed width or flexible layout.
About six months ago, I received an email with the subject ‘Responsive Layout’ from my boss. The body of the email had few links, videos, and podcasts about the responsive layout. I was very curious to find out what it really is, so I clicked all the links that opened in my default Chrome browser with separate tabs. I went back to finish reading the rest of my email and in short, my boss had asked me to start thinking about converting our products to responsive layout. Here are the links that my boss had sent me:
You might find many other sites that are adapting to the responsive layout design…
So, basically responsive layout design is a technique using flexible grids, images, css, and media queries to adjust layouts. Initially, I misunderstood and thought that this technique is not new. Well, it’s not new. But, how you do it—is, what’s new. Responsive layout adjusts to the size of a browser window, whereas the traditional way of supporting multiple devices would be to detect if a device is a desktop or mobile. For example, go to about.com on your desktop browser and resize the window, and notice the layout adjusts to fit perfectly to your viewing preference. Do the same with cnn.com. You might want to try this in your mobile browser; about.com would adjust to fit, whereas cnn.com would detect if the platform is desktop or mobile.
If I were to design a brand new site or redesign an existing site, I would prefer responsive layout over the platform detection technique. But, if an organization just wants their site to be on a mobile device and does not want to edit their existing source code, then I would choose the platform detection technique. I believe both of these techniques can be very effective if applied properly. But, the responsive layout adds to the list of choices for web/UI designers and probably stacks additional work to be done.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Lately I've the opportunity/stressful task of learning how to incorporate user experience methods into a bigger systems engineering process. Most of the things that I learned early on in my HCI studies focused on web design. Then as I my work life demanded and my research capabilities grew, I learned more about application design. Now the needs before me are taking me into yet another new direction. As I know that some of you all are working in defense orother complex system oriented industries, I thought I would share what I'm learning so far. For now I'm going to focus on the requirements part of system engineering because that's where the cycle begins and where we as UX/HCI folks want to start working on a project. (Not as the people who have to pretty something up at the end!)
Systems engineering typically follows a "V" process. If you are familiar with waterfall type software development process (versus an iterative or AGILE process) then you will notice that the systems engineering process is designed to go with that process. If you are not familiar with a waterfall process then the takeaway is that these processes want you define all of your requirements up front before you work on other tasks. In small projects this strategy makes sense. If you have lots of time this strategy can make sense. If you are a huge project with tight deadlines and large disparate groups, this strategy is not the way to go.