2004-2005 Meetings

Nov. 17th, 2005 Next Generation Search
Panel of Presenters: Vivian Bliss, Taxonomist, Microsoft Corporation, Dr. Joe Janes, Associate Dean, UW Information School, Marianne Sweeny, Daedalus Information Systems, Kirby Winfield, Program Manager, Marchex Inc.
Location: Microsoft, Redmond, WA
Attendance: 100

Finding answers used to be simpler. First we asked our moms and the librarians. Then we asked Altavista, Dogpile, Excite, and the other first generation search tools. Now we "google" for answers. User-directed search gave way to machine-directed search that is making way for what direction in Search technology. Join us for a collective peering into the crystal ball to see how we will be finding the information that we need.

November 3, 2005 Tutorial: Envision: Translating Data into a Design Concept
Presenter: Kim Goodwin

Location: Adobe, Seattle, WA
Attendance: 55

Kim Goodwin, director of design at Cooper Interaction Design, led a one-day seminar on the process of turning findings from user interface and usability studies into workable designs.

Oct. 27th, 2005 Software Design: Ending the Death March
Presenter: Alan Cooper
Location: Kane Hall, University of Washington, Seattle

Software construction experts agree: Your software project has a 50 percent chance of failure. The other 50 percent suffer what is commonly known as a "Death March" where the project can only be completed on schedule by jettisoning half of the functionality, most of the flexibility, and all of the user friendliness. What's more, the programmers are exhausted, the managers are frustrated, and the users are reduced to quiet weeping.

In Alan Cooper's latest talk he will show how executives can take control of their technical efforts and vanquish the Death March. As usual, his comments will provide you with insights and techniques that are as effective as they are unexpected.

Sept. 22nd, 2005 Remote Usability Testing
Presenters: Michael Medlock, Microsoft, Ken Becker, Boeing, Susan Todd, Microsoft, Julianne Bryant, Getty Images, Domenick Dellino, Washington Mutual
Location: Adobe, Seattle, WA
Attendance: 50

New tools and improved bandwidth have made remote usability testing a reality for many in the user research field. Remote testing offers a variety of benefits, including lower costs, greater flexibility in scheduling, access to remote users, and a choice of application hosts. It also offers virtually all of the benefits of a traditional lab, including remote observation and recording. We have assembled an experienced panel of usability professionals from a variety of backgrounds to talk about how and why they use remote testing, the tools they use, and the benefits and challenges that this method offers.

July 21, 2005 Usability 2.0: Trends in User-Centered Design You Can't Ignore
Presenters: Jared Spool & Ben Shneiderman
Location: Getty Images, Seattle, WA
Attendance: 200

Usability gurus Jared Spool and Ben Shneiderman discussed the future of User-Centered Design and Human-Computer Interaction. Spool, founder of the usability research and consulting firm, User Interface Engineering, focused on the need for new approaches to usability practice, which he contends has barely changed in two decades. He made a strong call for more attention to usability science, so practitioners can achieve repeatable results and better advise clients on where to focus improvement efforts to achieve ROI. Shneiderman, A professor at the University of Maryland, discussed his new book “Leonardo’s Laptop” and focused on the future of computing, which he contends is social rather than personal. He touched on challenges such as comprehensive security management, creativity support tools and spam-free email.

July 21st, 2005 Usability 2.0: Trends in User Centered Design You Can't Ignore
Jared Spool and Ben Shneiderman
Ben's Presentation slides (PPT - 4Mb)
Jared's will be posted soon.

June 8th, 2005 Brand-Driven Information Architecture
Jesse James Garrett, Adaptive Path
Presentation slides (PDF - 1.2Mb)

April 28th, 2005 Web Site Usability, Accessibility, and Universal Accessibility: Users' and Designers' Perspectives
Melody Y. Ivory, PhD, University of Washington

The Web enables broad dissemination of information and services, yet many sites have inadequate usability and accessibility. The presentation will describe a study which examined a fundamental web site design question: What makes a site usable, accessible, or universally accessible? Results suggest little commonality in users’ and designers’ perceptions. Furthermore, designers who have different levels of experience have differing perceptions. If we consider the predominant concepts that users discussed as representing the most important web site features for them and similarly for designers, then it is possible that this mismatch may lead to the design of sites which do not match users’ expectations. Perhaps this mismatch is at the crux of the current state of the Web (i.e., the preponderance of sites with inadequate usability and accessibility).
Mar. 24th, 2005 Designing for Truly Personal Computing: A Case Study
Arnie Lund, Director of User Experience, Microsoft Mobile Platforms

Arnie will provide a case study of the user experience program within the mobile computing division at Microsoft. To set the context, he will review trends in ubiquitous computing and talk about the implications for design in the future, including a model of what makes a successful user experience that is shaping the response to the trends. He will discuss how the user experience team is characterizing their users, and then using that characterization to drive user-centered design requirements.

Arnie will also share some of the latest design activities that are underway for the newest version of Windows that is expected in 2006, as well as possibilties for future activities. He will present some of the methods and approaches that are being developed and implemented to increase the impact of the design work, and approaches to integrating user-centered design into the product development process.

Feb. 24th, 2005 The Seattle Times’ redesign: Clarity, consistency and navigation
Heidi de Laubenfels, Seattle Times' asst. managing editor for graphics, photo and technology.

The Seattle Times newspaper renovated its print presentation in June 2004 as the result of a two-year-long redesign project. While the goals for the project were numerous, the key drivers were for improved navigation, clarity, readability and enhancing the brand image of The Seattle Times.

Improved navigation meant making it easier for readers to find what they are looking for in the newspaper, as well as for related information on seattletimes.com. Important too was identifying more ways to present information in order to serve different reader segments.

Heidi de Laubenfels will talk about the research that was done to inform the Seattle Times' decisions, and break down the results regarding various solutions. This presentation is intended to be interactive so as to allow for audience reaction and for the free exchange of ideas.

Jan. 27th, 2005 Visual Interfaces for Databases
Chris Stolte, Ph.D. and Jock Mackinlay, Ph.D., Tableau Software

Although visual interfaces and databases are two of the success stories of the computer revolution, their synergy to date has been modest, probably because visual interfaces have focused on human capabilities while databases have focused on efficient query processing.

In this presentation, we will describe an interface for exploring large multi-dimensional databases that extends beyond the well-known Pivot Table interface. The novel features include an interface for constructing visual specifications of table-based graphical displays and the ability to generate a precise set of relational queries from the visual specifications.

Visual interfaces started with the GUI (Graphical User Interface), which supplanted the command line interface by exploiting the power of the human visual motor system. Research on Visualization to examine how visual representations of data amplify cognition began in the mid-1980s due to technological advances in graphics hardware.

Mackinlay’s dissertation, which will be briefly described, formalized Jacques Bertin’s design theory, and added psychophysical data that resulted in a system that could automatically design graphical presentations. The 1990s were a fertile time for Visualization research, culminating in a formal reference model for describing visualization systems.

Nov. 17th, 2004 How to best integrate usability engineering with Use Cases and Agile Programming
Jon Meads, President - Usability Architects, Inc. & Dan Rawsthorne, Ph.D
Presentation slides (PPT - 347Kb)

Usability engineering and software engineering are often considered as separate aspects of the development process. Indeed, there is a strong tendency to keep them as separate efforts. However, a new technique and development philosophy called Agile Development claims to solve many of the inherent usability issues. It advocates quick turnaround and incorporating user evaluation in order to develop a system that the user wants.

Agile Development also employs Use Cases, a technique used by analysts to define the “functional contractEbetween the system and “actorsEusing the system. All system components, from users to sensors to networks, that interact with the system are “actors”– if the actor is a person, the personal characteristics and human aspects are not presented, as Use Cases are focused on functionality, not usability.

Dan Rawsthorne and Jon Meads will present their concerns about usability practices and pertinent development techniques from the perspective of the software developer (Dan) and the usability engineer (Jon). They will then discuss and debate the associated issues from their respective point of view. Audience participation in the discussion will be encouraged.

Oct. 28th, 2004 The R.I.T.E. Method (Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation)
Dennis Wixon, Ph.D., Microsoft Games Studios
Presentation slides (PPT - 754Kb)

Dennis Wixon Ph.D., will present an overview of the Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation (RITE) usability method, which was developed at Microsoft by Michael Medlock for Age of Empires II. The RITE method is now commonly used by Microsoft and other companies too, such as Oracle.

RITE is one example of a new series of methods that focus on effectiveness in an applied environment through the close collaboration of user testing, design, and project management. Recently, a toolkit for standardizing the RITE approach was developed by Melissa Federoff. Examples of the RITE method will be discussed in the second edition of Cost Justifying Usability by Randolph G. Bias and Deborah J. Mayhew, that is due out next year.

Sept. 23rd, 2004 TUTORIAL SESSION
User Interface Update
Bob Bailey, President of Computer Psychology, Inc.

Bob Bailey keeps up with the studies on user interfaces and usability and he will be presenting a one-day class on the latest findings. Bob dives into the reports, talks with those who designed and performed each study, sifting through all the details of a study to draw out conclusions and design implications that are germane to the field of human computer interaction. This year, for his User Interface Update, Bob will present findings on usability methods, web prototyping tools, personas, wireframes, eye movements, design guidelines, the 3-click rule, left vs. right navigation, and usability testing, among others.
Sept. 22nd, 2004 Research-based Web Design and Usability Guidelines
Bob Bailey, President of Computer Psychology, Inc.

Dr. Bob Bailey will briefly discuss the origin, value and intended use of a recently published book containing an up-to-date set of usability guidelines. The Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines were developed under a contract from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). They represent the only publicly available collection of evidence-based website guidelines.

Dr. Bailey led a project that started in 2000 of a small group of usability specialists at the National Cancer Institute. After identifying over 450 prospects, they systematically reduced the number to 187 guidelines. Each guideline also contains a rating of its ‘Relative ImportanceEto the success of the website, and a rating of the cumulative ‘Strength of EvidenceEsupporting the guideline.

This set of guidelines, complete with comments, examples and references was published in August, 2004.

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