20 / 11 / 2009“The Not Usable File”

UserCentric_Consulting Firm

The Illinois’ based consulting firm User Centric produces a very informative monthly newsletter and usually finds a ‘not usable file’ each time…I really like their November 2009’s pick! Here it is! Enjoy 😉

The_Not_Usable_File_UserCentric_09

And please acknowledge users’ determination, they never give up and overcome usability harsh times whenever they can…here is a great example of users taking usability into their own hands! I LOVE IT! Many thanx to User Centric for publishing it! 🙂

Users_taking_Usability_into_their_own_hands_UserCentric09

The User Centric people also do serious user research and here is their latest publication: The Handbook of Global User research (2009).

Handbook of User ResearchBook Features

  • Presents a collection of hard won lessons from user research professionals around the world
  • Includes real-world examples of challenges involved with global user research and provides approaches to these issues
  • Contains problems, solutions, anecdotes, case studies
  • Outcomes from actual practice that illustrate actionable tactics

Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann (ISBN: 978-0123748522) and the price: $49.95

You can buy it here!

5 / 11 / 2008How does Web 2.0 Include the User Experience Perspective?

Tonia M. Bartz’s article “The Importance of Strong Usability within Web 2.0 Content Managed Systems“, which she has recently published in the November Issue of the UXProfessionals (Vol.3), raises very interesting questions regarding how poorly supported are the 2.0 key activities of creating/contributing, collaborating, and sharing in CMS (Content-Management Systems).

Tonia starts with identifying 3 major potential issues with CMS 2.0 features:

  • Disjointed Content Pieces
  • Poor Search Results and Findability
  • Fitting Unlimited Content into a Limited Space

    Then Tonia describes 3 important activities UX professionals can use to address these issues:

  • Creating strong guidelines through a style guide
  • Using card sorting to create a strong site map and controlled vocabulary
  • Flexible layout structures

    She ends the article with an encouraging conclusion for all of us:

    “Content managed systems combined with the arrival of Web 2.0 create an incredible opportunity for collaborative content development. The expansion of knowledge it brings will enhance everyone’s lives; these sharing and social media environments will create widely distributed communities for sharing and growth. However, as with any good thing, it will also bring its share of challenges. These challenges will only spark new opportunities for improving the user experience.”

    This article’s publication coincides interestingly with the release of a well documentated white paper, reporting how UX (User Experience) standards are definitely missing from the Web 2.0 Designs.

    The Chicago-based user experience research firm, User Centric, released a white paper today “urging usability professionals to be more involved with the development of Web 2.0 tools that allow users to contribute, create and collaborate online. The white paper, titled “Web 2.0 Needs to Include the User Experience Perspective” provides an overview of the business strategies and current standards of Web 2.0 technologies, as well as recommendations from the end user’s perspective to facilitate the adoption of these technologies.”

    “It’s amazing that more hasn’t been done to develop Web 2.0 usability guidelines,” says Robert Schumacher, Managing Director at User Centric. “There is a genuine need to establish standards based on solid research and analysis — and soon — or the users will have to adapt to a myriad of interaction styles.”

    I agree that the arrival of the Web 2.0 has largely come with an oversimplification of the user experience issue, incorrectly assuming that the official label 2.0 necessarily comes with bare interfaces Web sites, contextual links and adaptive menus, and therefore Web 2.0 sites can only usable – as if usability was relying on magic semantics and user experience on zen-like spirited guidelines…!

    Reading this report, two points echo with my own observations of the Web 2.0. phenomenon, as far as the user perspective is concerned:

    1) “Web 2.0 introduces new interactions”
    I agree and the new interactions must rely on higly-responsive 2-way communication interfaces which require new users’ models to solidly ground interaction design …and NOT just bare interfaces with large font styles…

    2) “Strategy and technology dominate recommendations”
    So unfortunately true. As soon as a new widget is “out”, it’s “in”, and on all Web sites…regardless of the UX that comes with it. At best, as the report states, some strategy books provide “lessons learned and strategic and tactical questions the reader should ask when implementing similar technologies in their own case”.

    Lots of Web standards are now well established for “1.0” Web sites design, but most people tend to forget that it’s been the end-result of more than 10 years of user research and Web interface design practice…For instance, as Kirsten Peters and Cassandra Slimmer, authors of this study mention: What about “the mental workload and disorientation caused by Web 2.0 tools that update information without a full page load”? Where are the research studies to find answers to these kind of fundamental questions? How ome there are so few?

    If interested, you can email Pamela Stoffregen-Gay or phone at 630-376-1185, to get a free copy of the white paper.

    Read the complete press release from User Centric’s Web site or Market Watch, freshly baked on Nov. 4th, 2008.

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