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User-Centered Interface Design. Heidi P. Adkisson Senior Interactive Architect, Blink IA Seattle Graphic Artists Guild December 4, 2002. What is user-centered design?. First, let’s see some everyday examples of design that is NOT user-centered. Classic Stove Example. Classic Stove Example.

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user centered interface design

User-Centered Interface Design

Heidi P. Adkisson

Senior Interactive Architect, Blink IA

Seattle Graphic Artists Guild

December 4, 2002

what is user centered design
What is user-centered design?
  • First, let’s see some everyday examples of design that is NOT user-centered
classic stove example4
Classic Stove Example

Do the controls work this way?

infamous butterfly ballot
Infamous “butterfly” ballot

To vote for the democrats do I punch the second hole or the third hole?

helpful color coding

Are you sure you want to delete all records from the data base?

Yes

No

“Yes” in instance is NOT a good thing

www.iarchitect.com/mshame.htm

“Helpful” color coding
many more interesting examples
Many more interesting examples

http://www.iarchitect.com/mshame.htm

http://www.baddesigns.com

what is the problem with these designs
What is the problem with these designs?
  • No designer purposes sets out to confuse or irritate users
  • Fallacy: the most usable design is OBVIOUS by thinking through interior thinking about the problem
reference information for java
Reference Information for Java

What frame controls what window?

but the target audience loved this approach
But… the target audience loved this approach
  • The organization was highly meaningful and powerful
    • It reflects how users think about the information

Packages

Classes

the lesson
The lesson
  • Relying solely on interior thinking is a risky approach to design
  • It risks making incorrect assumptions about the people who will use a system

!

user centered design
User-Centered Design
  • Focuses on who will use a system from the very beginning
  • Checks in with users each step along the way

A

B

User Research

Analysis

Design

Iterative Design

Prototyping & Testing

Development

user research

User Research

Focusing on users from the beginning

user research15
User Research

User Research

Analysis

Design

Iterative Design

Prototyping & Testing

Development

discovering user needs through direct research

User Needs

Observational

Studies

User Interviews

User Surveys

Discovering User Needs Through Direct Research
observational studies

User Needs

Observational

Studies

User Interviews

User Surveys

Observational Studies
  • Observing how people currently perform work within their “live” context
observational studies18
Observational Studies
  • People aren’t able to fully articulate what they do
    • Behavior is often automatic
    • Important factors in the social and physical context are taken for granted
example observational study
Example: Observational Study
  • Kitchen entertainment/information center
  • Physical context of use is very important
  • Frequent interruptions
  • Work occurs in a variety of locations
  • Cleanliness highly important
example findings user needs context of use
Example findings (user needs)Context of Use
  • User interface for system must be visible and controllable from a distance
  • Touch screen has limitations for use
    • Hands are frequently wet and/or dirty
    • Stylus must be attached to unit
user interviews

User Needs

Observational

Studies

UserInterviews

User Surveys

User Interviews
  • Asking users to describe how they perform work and what they think about it
user interviews22
User Interviews
  • Less open-ended than observational studies
    • Questions usually focus on getting information about particular user goals and tasks
  • Best conducted in the environment where users perform work
example user interviews
Example: User Interviews
  • Web Site targeted at software developers
    • How can we improve the information we provide to developers?
    • Questions about how they seek information
example findings user needs
Example findings (user needs)
  • Concentrate information on fewer pages
    • To leverage using browser search function to find information
  • Provide fresh technology news daily
    • Very consistent pattern of proactive information seeking
user surveys

User Needs

Observational

Studies

UserInterviews

UserSurveys

User Surveys
  • Asking people specific questions on use and satisfaction
user surveys26
User Surveys
  • The Internet makes these easy and inexpensive to deploy
  • Good for getting specific data on existing features
example user survey
Example: User Survey
  • Developer Web site
    • Used to get more data on specific issues identified in open-ended interviews
example findings user needs28
Example findings (user needs)
  • Optimize PDFs for on-screen use
    • PDF Printouts used less frequently
  • Replacing search engine is not a high priority
    • Satisfaction level with current search technology is relatively high
user research potential pitfalls
User Research: Potential Pitfalls
  • Methods misapplied or executed poorly
  • Results may point the wrong direction
potential pitfall just asking people what they want
Potential Pitfall: Just Asking People What They Want
  • Here’s what Homer Simpson says he wants in a car:
    • “I want a horn here, here, and here. You can never find a horn when you're mad. And they should all play ‘La Cucaracha’.”
pitfall asking people what they want
Pitfall: Asking People What They Want
  • Think of the doctor analogy
    • People are expert in understanding what the symptoms are, but not the underlying disease or how to treat it
    • The user researcher must be skilled at diagnosis
prototyping testing

Prototyping & Testing

Checking in with users each step along the way

prototyping testing33
Prototyping & Testing

User Research

Analysis

Design

Iterative Design

Prototyping & Testing

Development

early prototypes are low fidelity
Early prototypes are low fidelity
  • They may be very exploratory designs
  • Mostly, paper prototypes are used
    • Pages may be hand-drawn or computer-drawn
  • Goal: Get user feedback early when changes are easy to make
usability testing of prototypes
Usability Testing of Prototypes
  • Create task scenarios
  • Recruit participants to perform the tasks using the prototype
  • Use the results of testing to fix any problems
  • Repeat Steps 2-3
conducting test sessions
Conducting test sessions
  • Usually involves the “Think Aloud Protocol” (TAP)
    • User expresses thoughts out loud as they perform tasks
    • Clip shows testing a system in the final design stages
usability testing with paper prototypes
Usability Testing with Paper Prototypes
  • Participants “click” by pointing
  • They enter data by writing on the page

Picture-in-picture video captures people’s actions, what the they say, and their facial expressions

in the tap the facilitator must remain neutral
In the TAP the facilitator must remain neutral
  • Key to the success of the method
  • Participants will look to the facilitator for reassurance
    • May feel like they are “failing” the test
    • Some participants become highly stressed
    • Sessions can be long and unpredictable
how many users do you need to test
How many users do you need to test?
  • 6-8 users
  • Clients are initially skeptical
  • But after watching the first set of sessions they believe
    • You start seeing the same problems again & again
    • Conserve your participant budget for additional rounds of testing
how much of the system do you test
How much of the system do you test?
  • Some testing is always better than none
  • There are always time and budget trade-offs
  • Prioritize the most risky areas of a design
    • Or focus on “mission-critical” areas such as the check-out flow for e-commerce sites
reality bites
Reality Bites…
  • The time and expertise for user-centered design may be absent on many projects
    • Small projects
    • Engineering-driven company culture
      • Focus on internal thinking to solve design problems
      • “We know what users want already”
options
Options
  • Conduct a heuristic evaluation
    • Heuristics represent user interface design best practices
    • Jakob Nielsen is a good starting point

www.useit.com/papers/heuristic/

options46
Options
  • Test with even one or two users
    • Nielsen: zero users yields zero insights

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20000319.html

options47
Options
  • Test with internal people
    • They should have no involvement with the design
    • Get folks close to the target audience as possible
      • Risk of misleading information
some books
Some Books
  • The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web
    • James Jesse Garrett
  • User-Centered Design: An Integrated Approach
    • Karel Vredenburg, et al
a few web resources
A Few Web Resources
  • Jakob Nielsen
    • www.useit.com/
  • Usable Web
    • www.usableweb.com/
  • IBM - Ease of Use
    • www-3.ibm.com/ibm/easy/eou_ext.nsf/Publish/570
new uw certificate program
New UW Certificate Program
  • User-Centered Design
    • Subset of Evening Master’s Degree in Technical Communication
      • www.uwtc.washington.edu/programs/usability_cert.htm