Experience Design

User account security measures offer annoying barriers without a reasonable payoff

Random internet browsing brought me to a choice user response to "internet security measures":

Like, I know they are there for good reason, but so many web sites require so many different variations of passwords, I just can't keep up with them all. My bank for example...It's one of those "password must contain atleas 8 characters, upper and lowercase and atleast one number". Okay, I did that, I've managed to remember it...but then, I have to have 8 different security questions. It doesn't always promt me with one, but about every 5th time I log into the site they throw me one of the questions. I can't keep up with all the answers. There are multiple answers to most of the questions. I don't have a fave band, I have several. I don't have a fave candy, or movie or any of that other crap.... So, if I answer wrong 3 times, they disable my account and make me re-register it.....*grumble*

Demographics: female in her 20s on a social networking site (LiveJournal) with novice to intermediate internet savvy (i.e. email, web, url copying, picture/video uploads, IM, etc.)

I think the most interesting thing here is that a lot of internet security measures put up lots of barriers to entry but don't offer a comparable value to the usere either in terms of real security, or in perceived security.



Costs of Badly Done Customer Research?

In light of growing acceptance of user or customer research, it's worth considering the costs of poorly done research. For retailers, it seems especially important to make sure every contact with customers reinforces the values associated with a brand.

I just had a negative experience with customer research, that impacted my perception of the retailer and the associated brand. I spent some time thinking about it from my own viewpoint as a customer, and it seemed the most important cost to the retailer is in terms of closing a channel for business. In this case, the botched online survey I walked through makes me unwilling to engage with them on the web again.

I posted a quick writeup, with screenshots of the survey, here.

I know there's material on these costs from marketing perspectives, but I'm wondering if anyone's working on this from the point of view of IA and UX, when they're focused on better connecting the business with its customers and user?

The User Experience of Interactive Art: Boston CyberArts Festival 2005

Last week, an article in the NY Times named poor user experience as a barrier to engaging with several exhibits that are part of the Boston CyberArts Festival. The article focused more on how deeply frustrating the User Experiences were, rather than the quality of the artwork. I made a trip to see the exhibits this weekend; here's a summary of the article, photos of the exhibits, and a recap.

Peter Morville's sweet User Experience Honeycomb

When I broadened my interest from IA to UX, I found the need for a new diagram to illustrate the facets of user experience - especially to help clients understand why they must move beyond usability - and so with a little help from my friends developed the user experience honeycomb.
The ux honey comb is a value centered description of the different aspects of the user experience (unlike the experience cycle, with ux-as-user-process, or JJG’s famous ux-as-practice model). The UX facets Peter describes are useful, usable, desirable, findable, accessible, and credible - and these all contribute to the central facet - valuable As a value-centered design booster, I think this is the key, and builds a bridge between business and user value - projects need to produce both ROI and Return on Experience.

re:con gel 2004

Heath Row’s Fast Company blog summarizes the sessions at Good Experience Live 2004.

Captology blog

The Stanford Captology Group is also publishing a interesting blog.

Philadelphia Inquirer | 11/03/2003 | The Job | His work: Watching people use the Web

Here's a zen question from the weird, wired world of the Web: Can there be an architect of something that will never exist in a three-dimensional form?

This is Ben Levin's zone.

His business card says 'User Experience Architect,' and the title isn't something cutesy dreamed up by a human-resource consultant who has been to too many motivational seminars.

In the Web world, this is a common job title in the field of usability - the interaction of humans and computers.

The article gets a few things wrong here and there but it's interesting nonetheless to see how our profession is depicted in lay terms.

UCD / UX / IA Salary survey

There's a new salary survey that's open for participation until March 31, 2004 (The official announcement is available here). It's is focused on UCD & HCI but has a number of questions where Information Architecture can be selected, and it's fairly comprehensive in many other respects.

I think that it is beneficial for both practitioners and hiring managers to have accurate, realistic compensation information, and hopefully participating in this survey will help.

FYI, more salary and compensation info is available at the Salary Surveys page on the IAwiki.

Academics Turn to Video Games

Interesting article on Yahoo:

Some of the new questions in a very young field: How do you judge a game? As you would a novel? Should we think up a whole new vocabulary for evaluating games? What do the social dynamics of online worlds -- those massively multiplayer games -- tell us about human behavior?

In Copenhagen, Denmark, the IT University has established the Center of Computer Games Research, which just graduated its first Ph.D., Jesper Juul.

Juul appears to be the first person anywhere to ever get his doctorate exclusively in video game studies. His dissertation 'Half-Real: Video Games Between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds' seeks to define what video games are, and how academics ought to go about studying them.

...and here are some simultaneously interesting and heartbreaking quotes from old coworker Eric Zimmerman and Chris Crawford:

"What we try to do is provide not a single way of looking at games but a whole series of ways," Zimmerman said. "We would like to have an audience that thinks about games as more than boy power fantasies."

Some in the industry, however, are not so sure that games will ever mature. They fear games could be a dead end like comic books -- valuable as a social phenomenon, but outside a select few titles like Art Spiegelman's "Maus," not worth a great deal of individual study.

"I seldom play computer games, because it's such a depressing experience," said Chris Crawford, a game designer who is building a program to create interactive stories. "I end up shaking my head in dismay at how stuck the designers are in a rut."

Widgetopia

Widgetopia - Over time, Christina has pulled together a heap o' widgets... interesting... a blog being used as a notebook... ...

link [Other Blog (Tom Smith)]

Experience People recruting firm

Challis Hodge has launched the UX recruiting firm, Experience People, LLC.

Experience People (XP) is a specialty firm with a laser focus on recruiting Experience Design and User Experience professionals for intermediate to senior level executive positions.

XP works across industries matching the best companies with industry leaders in Design Management, Experience Planning, Creative Direction, Interaction Design, Information Architecture, User Research, Interface Design, Graphic Design and Academia.

Personas: Setting the Stage for Building Usable Information Site

Personas: Setting the Stage for Building Usable Information Sites by Alison J. Head [via InfoDesign (Peter J. Bogaards)], a good article on personas, showing more than telling, with good example personas and a brief case study using BBCi.

Includes pointers, necessary details, and a tutorial featuring a well-explained example.

Nathan Shedroff interviewed re: experience design

Jared Spool's U.I.E. Tips interviews Nathan Shedroff regarding information design: www.uiconf.com/8/articles/shedroff_interview.html

The interview is kind of a basic introduction to the discipline of Experience Design.

(The interview is available on the User Interface 8 conference website.)

What being user-centered means for UX professional groups...

Tog's initial branding argument for Interaction Architects has touched off a lot of discussion (even a mailing list dedicated to defining the damn thing). So far, it's generated a lot of heat and little light.

However, three more formal responses have been interesting:

  • Lou Rosenfeld discusses how defining the damn thing is a waste of time. (Not) Defining the damn thing - Discussions of how we should label ourselves and define our work are like flu epidemics. They break out from time to time, follow a fairly predictable course, and often make us want to barf. [Boxes and Arrows] Update: Lou dropped a note to let us know that he wrote this article before Tog's article was posted. Still very applicable.
  • Mark Hurst thinks that usability professionals should disappear...that a good UX professional is invisible like a good interface - we just facilitate things. While the point that the whole defining the damn thing discussion is narcissistic and not user centered at all, the notion of a disappearing act seems naive - unseen functions become re-engineered functions.
  • Finally, and most interesting, is Beth Mazur's notion that the key need is not a new dedicated specialist organization (as Tog is proposing), but an umbrella organization to evangelize user experience with executives, analysts, government, and media. Her nominee: spin off AIGA-ED from AIGA.
    I completely agree - the Interaction Architecture Association is all well and good, as is a new Information Design professional group, if some people have their way. But they don't address the real reasons the UX disciplines are seen as tactical. It's not a branding problem. It's an understanding problem...and largely for UX professionals not understanding business, and not speaking to business on its own terms.
    An umbrella organization can address executives and other decision makers and influencers with language and messages tailored to those audiences, and educate practitioners about how to do the same. That's being user-centered, instead of navel-gazing terminology debates. That's something to get excited about. I hope it happens soon.
Amazon Plan to offer full-text search of some non-fiction texts

Very interesting news from Amazon today in an article in the NY Times. The retailer is planning a new full-text searching service called "Look Inside the Book II" that will combine some of the functionalities of a digital library with the retailers' current methods for helping customers find and evaluate products. The full-text service will extend the "Peak inside" service that users get when previewing TOCs, indexes, and sample pages with "Look Inside the Book". I couldn't surmise from the article whether full-text searching would be offered only when viewing a single book or if it would be possible to do full-text searching across a corpus of digitized e-texts.

The new service is being met with some wariness from publishers and authors who worry that the service will make Amazon more like an information service a la ebrary and netLibrary and undoubtedly Amazon will have to do a lot to protect copyright.

Being someone who uses e-text vendors and full-text digital libraries, I think the service could be a boon to the book selling industry. There is no reason that full-text searching of some non-fiction works can be offered without protecting copyright. If brief keyword in context (KWIC) displays of search terms are given to offer some help in filtering out and refining your search without publishing too much information, then how can this hurt publishers? No doubt, some works such as reference books would give away too much in even a brief KWIC display, but surely there must be a way to make this work. I think it's a good step in making the Amazon shopping experience even more valuable. It's amazing that they continue to innovate the experience of buying online.

Information Design: The Understanding Discipline

Information Design: The Understanding Discipline - There is not consensus on exactly what information design is. Definitions of the discipline from stakeholders who associate themselves with the field are consistent only in that they are typically high level, not very concrete and do not offer much in the way of direct practical application.

Kneymeyer makes the "Information Design" as uber-discipline argument in a more polished way than when we first covered the discussion over at IDblog. While I completely agree that there needs to be a vision holder, I really don't think that it's in ID's best interest to claim that. And finally, what Dirk is calling "information design" I think is far better served being called "experience design"...

And the shiny-designy winners are....

The Industrial Design Excellence Awards 2003 (IDEA) - "The Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) are dedicated to fostering business and public understanding of the importance of industrial design excellence to the quality of life and the economy and showcase the best industrial design from across the US and around the world."

I actually find Industrial Design to be closer to IA and user experience practice than many visual design practices, largely because ID deals with creating artifacts that are used, while much print work is designed to create an impression, but not used. Of course, environmental design for signage, or information design for medical labelling are very much "used artifacts" rather than exercises in one-way messaging. thanks [Xplane, Xblog]

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